The "Mystery of Israel" and the Readjustment of Christian Theology According to Menahem Macina, by Prof. Y. Chevalier

Published in French, under the tiltle: «Le "mystère d'Israël" et le redressement de la théologie chrétienne », by Sens, N. 387, March 2014, p. 223-227 (original French text).

 

After having published four books by various publishers [1], Menahem Macina decided to publish his considerations and the fruit of his work through digital publishing and created, with some friends, the “Editions Tsofim” (Limoges, France). This series of six titles is therefore downloadable for only $2.99 (i.e. €2.32), each one - but the reader has to read them on screen (with the ability to "click" on the many links inserted throughout the text), using a (free) software, for example Adobe Digital Editions 2.0 for Windows, which requires therefore some flexibility to this mode of consultation, more and more widespread nowadays. The acquisition of these books in electronic format entitles the reader to read them in all formats (Pdf, Word, etc.).

This series includes volumes that can be read independently but which complement one another and provide an in-depth analysis of what the author calls "the mystery of Israel", that is, and should be, according to him, the attitude of the Church (and of the believers) towards the Jews and Judaism. Except for the first opus, this series contains texts accompanied by a large number of comments. While the author has fortunately well differentiated, typographically, these quotes from his own writings, if one reads these volumes after having printed them on paper, the references are unfortunately positioned at the end of each chapter (or section), and not at the bottom of page.

In Confession d’un fol en Dieu [2], the author presents the reader with his autobiographical testimony. He relates spiritual experiences that have marked the first decades of his life as a fervent Christian layman [...] and the belief he acquired, after more than half a century of meditation and after having undergone a radical inner conversion. In the 1st part, he retraces what he calls the five visitations (and, throughout the pages supernatural events) he experienced more than forty years ago, between 1958 and 1969. These events have been for him the signs he finally came to understand and to accept, of a specific "mission": the transmission of an interpretation of the Scriptures which would justify Israel and enlighten the Church on what should be its theology of Judaism.

Hence, in a second part, his efforts to present the two major points which according to him, Christian theology is not faithful to God's plan: basing this conviction on the doctrine of Irenaeus of Lyon (II-III centuries) in his Adversus Haereses (book V), there is no doubt for the author that 1) the Millennial reign of Christ will take place "on Earth", with the first resurrection; 2) the gradual return of the Jews to their ancient homeland, since the end of the 19th century, matches the plan of God on this people. Even if the Nations are still far from considering such prospects, it is the duty of Christians to reflect on their scriptural roots and to prepare for welcoming them and to accept the consequences arising therefrom, which requires a serious commitment.

 

The five other volumes are, somehow, a mere deepening of the insights mentioned above. The second one, Le signe de Saül [3], subtitled: "About Paul’s severe warning to the Christians (Rm 11: 19-22)", is an analysis of the passage in the Epistle to the Romans where Paul reminds the Wild olive-tree that he should not be arrogant at the expense of the branches [of the original olive tree, which were cut]. It is therefore a first approach of the "Replacement Theology," which remains, even today, a temptation for the Church. This volume also raises a few subsidiary questions such as whether "the Jews [should] believe in Christ in order to be saved?" and whether "the Shoah [was a] ‘compensation’ for the crucifixion of Jesus".

He concludes that "the Church badly needs ‘watchmen’" who must constantly remind Her what the Scripture says, in particular through the prophets. If the generation of Jesus was given the "sign of Jonah", ours is given a “sign of Saul" [the first King of Israel that God rejected and replaced with David], which requires that we look lucidly at contemporary events (the Holocaust, violences against the State of Israel, the decline of our civilization known as "Christian", etc.) and that we should draw conclusions from these events.

In the third volume: Les Églises face à la déréliction des Juifs (1933-1945). Impuissance ou indifférence chrétienne ? [4], the author extends the analysis of the attitude of the Churches during the Nazi era he had already proposed in the book published with the Éditions du Cerf [5] (and which was almost exclusively devoted to the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Jews during the Second world war). He studies first, using many quotes duly referenced and contextualized, the "reactions of the Protestant churches to the persecution of the Jews (1932-1945)," and "the extreme public discretion which [Protestant and Catholic] religious leaders exhibited about the persecution of the Jews;" he then shows that "the climax of Catholic anti-Semitism in the 30-40s [is indeed the] continuation of the anti-Semitic trend rooting back in the 19th century".

This leads the author to qualify "the realpolitik of the churches against the Nazis," based on silences, resignation, indifference and even, in some cases, complicity (even if, on the other hand, there also existed among Christians an opposition and acts of resistance). A series of annexes (Declaration of the Synod of Barmen, May 1934, and Memorandum of October 1938 on the Jewish question, timeline of the main events related to the relationships of the Churches with Germany from 1929 to 1945, with, in addition, a reminder of three positions taken by the Churches: Nostra Aetate (1965); Synod of Würzburg (1975); and the statement by John Paul II (2005) complement this presentation, the author being aware of the brevity and imperfections of this presentation, but wishing to offer these questions to the reflection of the readers, so that they can form an opinion, having in hands the main elements of the issue.

The fourth volum is totally different. La pierre rejetée par les bâtisseurs [6], subtitled « L’“intrication prophétique” des Écritures », is, according to the author, rather a spiritual testimony and committment [than] a theological essay, though it’s somehow also that. Starting from the Scriptures, and adopting a line of interpretation called « literalistic » by many experts, the author tries to demonstrate that the contemporaneous events are the prodromes of an accomplishment of the Scriptures. In a nutshel, he sums up his reflection : the central thesis of this volum is that God has reestablished the Jews, and that it is time for Christianity to take seriously the fact that the purpose of God's salvation, if it includes the whole of humanity, concerns a fortiori His people, too long regarded as having no role to play anymore. He bases this strong conviction on a certainty: the power of the Word of God, transmitted by traditional Jewish and Christian traditions. « The Prophetic entanglement », a concept he creates in analogy with the theory of Quantum entanglement in Physics, conveys one of the Scriptures’ characteristics, which is, according to Ireneus of Lyon commenting upon Gn 2, 1 : « both a tale of what happened in the past, as it happened, and a prophecy of what will happen » (Adversus Haereses, V, 28, 3). It’s therefore a long meditation divided into five parts, on the consequences to draw from the fact that God has reestablished His people and that Christians must become aware of their deficient knowledge of the mysterious design of God for « both » [peoples which] Christ has made « one » (Ep 2, 14). Indeed, while according to Christian theology, Jesus, « The stone the builders rejected », and which Psalm 118 (v. 22), and the New Testament (Mt, 21, 42 ; Ac 4, 11 ; etc.), affirm that it « has become the cornerstone » […], this verse might also, precisely by the unique mediation of Christ, have a different scope, eschatological, in the collective person of the Jewish people who, in a time known only by God, will be, in turn, this stone, rejected by the nations with the implicit indifference of a part of Christianity that is priding in itself and that has become flavorless salt […].

Therefore, in the 1st part of his book, the author studies the (dual) meaning of election in the Bible, and underlines the long theological ignorance which led the Church to elaborate its “Replacement theology”; in the 2nd part, he re-explores the Nations’ hostility towards Israel, based on an analysis of this theme throughout the Bible; he also reflects, in the 3d part, on « genetical » trends of the Scriptures, in general, and peculiarly on the eschatological proclamation and meaning of the restitution of David’s kingdom to Israel; then, in the 4th part, he considers the meaning of the alienation of Israel by Christianity and the contestation of the contemporaneous State of Israel’s legitimacy by some Christians ; and he finally concludes (in the 5th part) on the necessity of a true Christian repentance, Israel being somehow a trial for the Nations and for the Church itself. The Scriptures teach us, he claims, that both Israel and the Church were elected by God; therefore, he concludes, we must understand what role the first and the latter are called to play together, and in particular for the Churches to truly appreciate the value of the Jewish people’s role in the final phase of God’s plan of salvation.

Such is the subject of the fifth volume: Un voile sur leur cœur [7] subtitled “Le « non » catholique au Royaume millénaire du Christ sur la terre” : the understanding of the accomplishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth, between the return of Christ and the Time of Judgment (what is usually called “pre-millenarism”). This earthly Kingdom, which was described and praised by some early Fathers of the Church and has been considered orthodox for four centuries, has been subsequently almost totally rejected by the Magisterium. This study aims at understanding the cultural, theological, or even psychological reasons for this reluctance, and even declared hostility of the Catholic Magisterium towards this venerable belief, to the detriment of the Scriptures(Ap 20, 2-7 ; 2 P 3, 8) and of the Tradition of the Fathers (moreover Justin, Dialogue and Ireneus, Adversus Haereses). in this book, the author deals with the thorny problem of eschatology, or more exactly of Jewish and Christian opinions on the fulfillment of God’s plan through End of Times, or Messianic Times (in Hebrew, yemot hammashiah). But in doing so, the author faces a defective theology of the respective roles of Jews and Christians in the purpose of God's salvation. Hence the task he has set to himself to denounce this deficiency and to outline the bases of this alternative theology

The sixth volume : Si les Chrétiens s’enorgueillissent [8], dédicated to Jan Kozielewsky (Jan Karski), explores again the theme of “the Apostle Paul’s warning in Romans 11, 20”, already explored in the second volume, but which is the subject here of an in-depth-analysis. Menahem Macina discusses here, in a first part entitled “Vos frères qui vous haïssent (Is 66, 5), [the] christian reprobation of the Jewish people”, the Church’s traditional attitude regarding this question, basing on numerous quotations from anti-Jewish texts from the beginning of this era to the XXth century, and on extracts from educational manuals and the teachings of the Popes from the XIXth and XXth centuries. This devastating anthology illustrates what Jules Isaac called l’“enseignement du mépris” [“teaching of Contempt”], and was therefore necessary to underline how Christian attitudes were then impregnated with visceral anti-Judaism, or at least with the Replacement theology. In the second part : “Un autre regard : l’Église redécouvre le peuple juif…”, he then retraces what was, first privately, then more openly, a more formal self-examination by Christians, between 1920 and 1950, to create, albeit not without difficulty, more positive relationships between Christian and Jews. In the third part, “Résistance à l’apostasie”, the author shows that through slowness and human resistance that seem so discouraging that one would be tempted to despair, the Spirit of God leads irrevocably towards its accomplishment the salvation of all humanity, including the reconstitution of His people having reached its messianic fullness by the union, in its midst, of the Christian nations remained faithful, at the time of the supreme trial. The author himself says he has written these pages from a perspective of faith and hope, convinced of the importance of the road already covered, and longing to a Christians’ commitment towards a reconsideration of the Paul’s say when speaking about Israel’s mystery: "and so all Israel will be saved" (Rm, 11, 26).

 

It is understandable that this series, by its novelty and the depth of reflection to which it invites, may put off the reader (regardless of the fact that the reader may not be accustomed to reading on screen). However these six volumes must be taken into account for what they are: a benevolent admonition against the transgressions of a certain theology which has caused so much evil to Jews but also to Christians, and a careful reporting of the Scriptures’ parts which must be taken into account by whoever wants to straighten the teaching of the Church on this subject. It is only after an honest taking into account of what Menahem Macina asserts that it will be possible to discuss the assumptions and the prospects he opens.

We must of course thank the author to force us to question a number of certainties so unfunded and to immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, which we are too inclined to read with not always relevant but pre-established schemas.

 

Yves Chevalier



[1] Chrétiens et Juifs après Vatican II. État des lieux, historique et théologique, prospective théologique (Ed. Docteur Angélique, 2009) [cf. Sens, 2010 n° 351, pp. 563-565] ; Les Frères retrouvés. De lhostilité chrétienne à l’égard des Juifs à la reconnaissance de la vocation d’Israël (Ed. de l’Œuvre, Paris, 2011) [cf. Sens, 2011 n° 362, pp. 674-677) ; L’apologie qui nuit à l’Église. Révisions hagiographiques de l’attitude de Pie XII envers les Juifs (Éd. du Cerf, coll. Histoire, Paris, 2012) [Cf. Sens, 2012, n° 374, pp. 836-838] ; and Confession d’un fol en Dieu (Ed. Docteur Angélique, Avignon, 2012).

[2] Ed. Tsofim, Limoges, 2013 (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/323520). Reworking of the book edited by the Éditions Docteur Angélique in 2012.

[5] Lapologie qui nuit à l’Église. Révisions hagiographiques de l’attitude de Pie XII envers les Juifs, op. cit., [Cf. Sens, 2012 n° 374, p. 836-838).

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Date de dernière mise à jour : 04/05/2014