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Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Bad News about The "Good News"

Posted by Ellen W. Horowitz

The World Evangelical Alliance has launched a major campaign which defends the practice of EVANGELIZING THE JEWS

Now let me get this straight...
WEA deems it acceptable for Jews who became Christians to pretend to be Jews in order to get Jews to accept Jesus the Jew as their lord and savior. I kid you not. The statement which was a
full page insertion in the New York Times says:
"We deplore the use of deception or coercion in evangelism; however, we reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews (Romans 11:1)."
Leave it to the Romans to pull something off like this.

The statement (which can be read it full below) will appear in Christian magazines, as well as major secular newspapers throughout April and May.
http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/view.htm?id=1733

Christianity Today got a jump start on the campaign and published an article last week entitled:
Why Evangelize the Jews? God's chosen people need Jesus as much as we do.
(Excerpt)
... As we continue the good works of dialogue and practical ministries among our Jewish neighbors, let's renew our commitment to also sensitively but forthrightly persuade them to receive the Good News.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/march/31.76.html


NEW YORK TIMES ad insert (sent by a friend):

THE GOSPEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE: AN EVANGELICAL STATEMENT

As evangelical Christians, we want to express our genuine friendship and love for the Jewish people. We sadly acknowledge that church history has been marred with anti-Semitic words and deeds; and that at times when the Jewish people were in great peril, the church did far less than it should have.

  • We pledge our commitment to be loving friends and to stand against such injustice in our generation At the same time, we want to be transparent inaffirming that we believe the most loving and Scriptural expression of our friendship toward Jewish people, and to anyone we call friend, is to forthrightly share the love of G-d in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • We believe that it is only through Jesus that all people can receive eternal life. If Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, He cannot be the Savior of the World (Acts 4:12).
  • We recognize that it is good and right for those with specialized knowledge, history and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).
  • We deplore the use of deception or coercion in evangelism; however, we reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews (Romans 11:1).
  • We want to make it clear that, as evangelical Christians, we do not wish to offend our Jewish friends by the above statements; but we are compelled by our faith and commitment to the Scriptures to stand by these principles. It is out of our profound respect for Jewish people that we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them, and encouraging others to do the same, for we believe that salvation is only found in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the World.

The ADL was not too pleased, and issued the following statement:

Ad Targeting Jews For Conversion 'Offensive And Insulting'
New York, NY, March 28, 2008 … A statement by an Evangelical Christian group which defends targeting Jews for conversion by Christians who grew up as Jews, was labeled "offensive and insulting," by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).


Sponsored by the World Evangelical Alliance, "The Gospel and the Jewish People: An Evangelical Statement," appeared as a full-page advertisement in the March 28 edition of The New York Times. ADL said the statement validates and defends those who converted from Judaism to Christianity for using their religious and cultural Jewish experience as tools to proselytize Jews, such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews."


Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement:
The World Evangelical Alliance Statement defending the targeting of Jews for conversion is offensive and insulting to the Jewish people and brazenly dismisses Jewish self-definition. Instead of validating God's irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people, and ongoing Jewish covenantal life, themes also found in their Scripture, this group of religious leaders does the opposite.


It is especially odious to defend the duplicitous proselytizing of Jews by groups such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews." While they claim to deplore the use of deception and coercion, they "reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews," thus turning the meaning of deception on its head.
ADL said the statement also stands in contradiction to Rev. Billy Graham who said: "I believe God has always had a special relationship with the Jewish people, as St. Paul suggests in the book of Romans. In my evangelistic efforts I have never felt called to single out the Jews as Jews..." In 2000, Graham defended Jews during the Southern Baptist Convention's major effort to proselytize Jews, saying, "I normally defend my denomination. I'm loyal to it. But I have never targeted Muslims. I have never targeted Jews."


The statement, signed by 44 Christian academics, clergy and journalists, states that "we recognize that it is good and right for those [Jews who converted to Christianity] with specialized knowledge, history and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people."

http://adl.org/PresRele/ChJew_31/5263_31.htm

I'm glad to see that the ADL - an organization with a very mixed record - was on the ball this time. But it seems that back in 1972 the Reverend Billy Graham would have liked to have targeted the Jews - albeit in a different sort of way - if given the chance:

''I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,'' he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper's executive editor. ''And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.''

http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_fundamentalist_032608

2 comments:

Harold Finnis said...

There is another good article on the antisemitic statement here:

http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/bible-scholars-join-wea-call-conversion-jews

The article's author, Charles Gadda, has been critical of recent Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits (organized in large part by evangelical "bible scholars") on similar grounds. See

http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/korean-public-gets-learn-all-about-dead-sea-scrolls

and

http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/did-christian-agenda-lead-biased-dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-san-diego

Why hasn't the ADL said a single word about these museum exhibits, in which the Jewish perspective has been trashed and from which a major group of Jewish researchers have been excluded?

ellen said...

Hi Harold,
I just saw your comment now, and plan to take a look a these links.
I am very concerned about the spin that certain evangelical archaeologists are putting on excavations in Israel.
Thanks so much for your concern.