The Church and the Jews
Reviewed by John Beaumont
Most readers of Culture Wars will know well the editor’s remarkable book, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, much of which was serialized month by month in the pages of Culture Wars itself, before being published in 2008. One reviewer of that book summarized his thoughts directly in the following way in a published letter to the author:
Thank you for giving us this incredible work of scholarship and unparalleled historical revisionism that has transformed the way I look at the world we live in. This must be one of the most controversial histories of any people ever written, depicting the tragic history of the Jews in rejecting Logos, the rational universal order personified in Jesus Christ, incorporating the earthly political and social order that He embodied in his human nature and the rejection of which constitutes the very badge of Jewish revolutionary identity and activity from that day to this.
The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit is also a brave book. Dr. Jones takes issue expressly with the modern liberal consensus about the position of Jews in history and in the present. For doing this, Jones has been bitterly attacked. He has been characterized in many negative ways, most notably as an anti-Semite.
In reality all that Dr. Jones was doing in that work was to draw attention to the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church. He has set this out in great detail in several of his writings and nowhere have his arguments been refuted. In addition, in relation to a specific context, that of oppositional movements against the Church, Jones states that Jews have on many occasions taken a prominent role. Once again, however, his massive research, very often using texts written by Jews, has established the truth of his thesis in this respect.
The attacks on Dr. Jones are totally misplaced. The following statement by him, dealing with the consequences of the turning away from the Supernatural Messiah to support anti-Christian revolutionary movements, and taken from the conclusion of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, shows this to be so:
Does that mean that every Jew is a bad person? No, it does not. Jewish leadership controls the “synagogue of Satan,” which in turn controls the ethnic group into which Jews are born. No one has control over the circumstances of his birth. That is why anti-Semitism, if by that term we mean hatred of the Jews because of immutable and ineradicable racial characteristics, is wrong. Over the course of their lives, Jews come to understand that theirs is an ethnic group unlike any other. In spite of the propaganda of racial superiority which the Talmud seeks to inculcate in them, many Jews come to understand that a peculiarly malignant spirit has taken up its home at the heart of their ethnos. Once they become aware of the magnitude of that evil, Jews are faced with a choice. Depending on the disposition of the heart, which only God can judge, they either dedicate themselves to that evil or they reject it—completely as in the case of St. Paul, Nicholas Donin, Joseph Pfefferkorn and other Jews too numerous to mention—or inchoately, as in the case of the Jews of conscience who refuse to go along with something which they know is morally wrong, be that abortion or the eviction of Palestinians from their ancestral lands.
Now, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit is a very long and densely argued text with copious references. It is a book that requires considerable time and effort from the reader. Not all of its chapters deal with absolutely central issues, since Jones ranges widely through the history of well over two thousand years and explores the historical context in great detail. In relation to the length of the book it has to be acknowledged that in the modern world not everyone has time to explore all of these matters. This explains the present book, which (a) concentrates on the key issues presented in The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, but also (b) explores relevant matters that have occurred since the publication of that work. In relation to the former, the main arguments of the larger book are taken and presented in a logical and ordered way, either from The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit itself, or in one case (chapter five) from separate material published in Culture Wars magazine. The process of argument is as follows. First of all the important comparison between the approaches of Christianity, Islam, and the Jews is drawn, delineating the essential nature of each. Next follows an introduction to the Jewish revolutionary spirit illustrated by the evidence from history. Next an analysis is made of the key modern document, the Vatican II Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, known as Nostra Aetate. This is followed by a consideration of a number of case studies, namely (i) the question of whether the Gospels are anti-Semitic; (ii) the Jewish contribution to the rise of Bolshevism and Communism; (iii) the question of the Holocaust, notably the policy adopted by Pope Pius XII; (iv) the role of the Jews in the development of modern media, notably Hollywood; (v) the attitude of Jews to the practice of abortion; and (vi) the approach of the Jews to "gay marriage." Finally, some conclusions are then drawn, taken from The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit itself.
Since this book was prepared, a disturbing new document has been published. This is entitled The Gifts and Calling of God Are Irrevocable, and is the Vatican’s “Reflection of Theological Questions pertaining to Catholic Jewish relations on the Occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate.” In view of this, a postscript has been added to the book in which the issues raised in the new document are discussed in detail.
Three appendices are also included. The first is an interview with Dr. Jones in which the salient points of his thesis are summarized in a more informal way. The second is an extract from Blessed John Henry Newman's Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent in which that great English cardinal, in a passage very much in line with the thesis of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, expresses beautifully the fate of the Jews in the light of Christ. Finally, and this is where the book takes up a more recent and particularly important development, a third appendix discusses the question of supersessionism, i.e., whether the old covenant is revoked or not. It is a reflection of the strength of Dr. Jones' work that the American bishops amended an heretical statement in their Catechism on this issue as a direct result of an article published in Culture Wars, edited, of course, by Dr. Jones.
Whatever conclusion the reader reaches, they will have to confront the fact that Dr. Jones represents the traditional teaching of the Church on the question of the Jews and, in spite of what many Jews say, the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate, does not abrogate that teaching. In fact it reasserts it. That being the case, there is no theological basis for many of the current policies of the Church towards the Jews. The book makes this point very powerfully.
Dr. Jones has been accused of anti-Semitism, but such an accusation is preposterous. He has answered for himself on many occasions, for example in the following extract from the interview reproduced in Appendix Two of this new book:
Anti-Semitism is a form of biological determinism or racism which claims that Jews are prisoners of their DNA. This would manifest itself in the Church, for instance, if someone were to say that a Jewish convert could not be trusted. This ugly attitude has always been repudiated by the Church, which has always maintained that Jewish converts are to be accepted “without calumny"...
Anti-Semitism is a racial concept. Being anti-Jewish is something else. It can be rational, as, for example, in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, where it is a manifestation of the rejection of the rejection of Christ that is obligatory for all Christians, or it can be irrational, but it's fundamentally different from anti-Semitism, which is racial.
The present reviewer has worked with Dr. Jones over several years and admires greatly his massive contribution to the explanation of many aspects of the modern "culture wars". It is to be hoped that this book will bring one specific aspect of his work more to the public notice and lead readers on to tackle The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, together with the many other fine writings produced by Dr. Jones.
John Beaumont is the author of The Mississippi Flows Into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Converts to the Catholic Church.
This review appeared in the March 2016 issue of Culture Wars.
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