The gentile question was a topic that troubled the early fellowship of Catholic Church believers. The gentile question was wether or not Jews should be circumcised if joining the Catholic Church. This question was brought up at The Council of Jerusalem, a meeting of Christian Apostles, who decreed that Judaic Christians did not need to be circumcised if wanting to join the Catholic Church. Christians were freed from circumcision and also food laws at the Council (circumcision being the main issue).
What made this question such a big deal was that there were so many different opinions on the topics. Many believe that being circumcised showed ones loyalty towards the church. It shows respect for what God has said in the Old Testament to Abraham, “This is the covenant between me and you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. This will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.
Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised … thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. If a male is uncircumcised, that is, if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away, such a one will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:10-14). On the other hand there were many who thought that circumcision was not needed to enter the Catholic Church.
A famous example is St. Paul, he was against circumcision and taught that Jesus accepts people as they are. He doesn’t not judge off of appearance but he judges who they truly are inside, “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). As one can see, this question was very controversial. The apostles at the council agreed and disagreed with one another.
But, when thinking about the topic of entering the Catholic Church, it is not likely to think of is circumcision. Many think of Jesus’ words known as the Great Commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 18-19). As one can see, when Jesus made the establishment of the Catholic Church he never mentioned circumcision being part of the initiation.
He said that for anyone to join the church all that needs to be done is becoming baptized in the of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.