Eleison Comments

ROMANS X

By Bishop Richard Williamson in Eleison Comments on July 6, 2024

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To Sunday Mass a Catholic must go!

“I just need chocolate in my own breast” – NO!

That the Israelites were, under the Old Testament, the race chosen from among all mankind to provide for the Son of God His means of living on earth a human life so that He would be able to suffer and die for all men as their Saviour and Messiah, and that the Israelites yet refused to recognise Him as their Messiah when finally He came among them, is a great mystery. One may well refer to human nature, to original sin, to human pride for an explanation, but the mystery remains. How could any race on earth have been better prepared over the two thousand years since Abraham for the coming of their Messiah, and yet have refused to recognise Him, turning themselves instead, down the two thousand years that have followed since, into His most skilful and motivated persecutors?

In Romans Chapter IX St Paul began his answer to the question by declaring that the People of God have not failed, only while under the Old Testament it consisted purely of Jews by being born in their race, under the New Testament it now consists of Jews or Gentiles by their faith in Jesus Christ. And if God freely chose to favour with that gift of faith Gentiles over Jews, that was His prerogative, and the Jews had, and still have, only themselves to blame for their refusal of that gift. That refusal serves to highlight His mercy to the Gentiles previously unable to belong to the People of God, now able by the Catholic Faith to belong to the Catholic Church, the true Israel of the spirit, whereas Jews refusing Jesus Christ and clinging to the Mosaic Law for salvation make up a false Israel of the flesh, unable to save their souls.

In Chapter X, St Paul similarly contrasts two “justices,” or states of salvation before God, also called “justifications” (v.1–4). Old Testament justification required that one should fulfil all the works demanded by the Mosaic Law, which was humanly impossible, says St Paul (v.5). On the contrary, New Testament justification requires no such demanding tasks beyond human strength, but merely that Jew or Gentile believe in Jesus inwardly and profess Him outwardly (v.6–13). Now it is true that to believe in Jesus Christ one must know about Him through a preacher (14–17). But not all men choose to believe, even if they know about Christ (16). Thus the Jews have both heard (18) and understood (19) the Gospel of Christ, but they have chosen (and freely choose down the centuries) not to believe in Christ (21).

In this Chapter X of Romans, these verses 6 to 13 are of special importance, because they were used by Luther as one of the key texts from Scripture to found Protestantism, and launch the whole modern world. In context, St Paul is contrasting the simplicity and ease of making a profession of Faith with the inhuman difficulty of fulfilling the works of the Mosaic Law (see Romans VII), but he is not here specifying what else is necessary for that profession of faith to enable a soul to enter the Catholic Church and be saved for eternity. For instance, a man may have a very forgetful son, so if the son is going to use the family car, his father may say to him, “The car needs petrol.” Now in order to run, the car needs also oil and water, but the father does not say to him, “The car needs petrol and oil and water,” because in context, that is not what the son needs to hear, although it is perfectly true and more complete.

But Luther uses the Scripture quotation as though to be saved one needs only an inward and outward profession of faith in Christ, as though the father above was saying “The car only needs petrol,” which is obviously false. To join the New Testament People of God, the Catholic Church, one must also be baptised – “He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. XVI, 16). That is not what St Paul needed to add in Romans X, 8–13, but by pretending that St Paul was saying that Christian salvation needs only the subjective profession of faith, as though cars only need petrol, Luther was using the quote to cut out the entire Catholic Church! Subjectivism (man before God) has slowly but surely been taking over Catholicism ever since. Today it is “Wokeism.”

Kyrie eleison