Sunday, January 15, 2006

Judas, And The Theology Of The Vatican

There is a movement among Vatican scholars to take a kinder look at Judas Iscariot. Whether Judas has been misjudged or not is beside the point. The arguments and surrounding circumstances that lead them to this conclusion is disturbing.

First, they argue "that in betraying Christ Judas was fulfilling a divine mission, which led to the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus and hence to man’s salvation." At the same time they argue, "If Christ died for all, is it possible that Judas too was redeemed through the Master he betrayed?" The presentation of both of these arguments is theologically unsound. They use a hyper-Calvinistic argument (which is historically not a Roman Catholic position) to deny Judas' culpability while applying the decidedly Arminian tenet of universal atonement to give him a means for redemption (which is logically unnecessary anyway).

Second, "the move to clear Judas’s name coincides with plans to publish the alleged Gospel of Judas for the first time in English, German and French." The rebuke for this comes from within the Vatican itself. "Monsignor Giovanni D’Ercole, a Vatican theologian, said it was 'dangerous to re-evaluate Judas and muddy the Gospel accounts by reference to apocryphal writings.'"

Third, this movement falls in line with a "The Pope’s drive to improve Christian-Jewish relations, which he has made a priority of his pontificate." It may be coincidental. If not, however, then it follows a pattern of theology rooted not in Biblical revelation but in convenience for the sake of Vatican politics: one that has marked Roman Catholicism since its inception.

Perhaps Judas has been misjudged. If so, then we must have better reasons for believing so.

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