Friday, August 25, 2006

Jews for Jesus

[Sometimes they hand out fliers and such...]
Jews for Jesus is a Christian Evangelical organization based in the United States. It was founded in 1973 by Moishe Rosen, an ordained Baptist minister of Jewish heritage who self-identifies with the Judaic tradition. The long-term goal of Jews for Jesus is one of religious conversion of all Jews to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah — a position which is usually characterised as Christianity and is incompatible with Judaism (see Schism between Jews and Christians, Anti-Judaism, Supersessionism, Dispensationalism). The organization claims to be "one of the most extensive evangelistic outreaches to Jewish people in the world today." While Jews for Jesus is based in the United States, they have also sent their branches as far afield as Ukraine, Germany, France, England, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Russia, and South Africa....

Jews for Jesus' official mission statement is "to make the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide." They claim that belief in Jesus as Messiah is a fulfillment of the prophecies of Hebrew scripture. Rosen argues that Christianity is the fulfillment of scriptures....

Jews for Jesus is widely opposed by both Jewish groups (secular and religious) and Christians who oppose attempting to convert Jews. Many Jewish groups see Jews for Jesus as a thinly-veiled attack on Judaism, while many Christian churches, particularly the more liberal denominations, see Jewish religious practice as valid in and of itself and thus object to evangelizing Jews.

Another criticism of the group is that one of the most important Jewish principles of faith is the belief in one God and one God only with no partnership of any kind, and it is therefore impossible to profess Judaism and believe in Jesus at the same time.

The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, an umbrella organization that includes Muslims, Jews, and church groups from the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, has condemned Jews for Jesus as promoting activities "harmful to the spirit of interreligious respect and tolerance." The conference is opposed to religious proselytizing in general. The conference also denounces the group's "deceptive proselytizing efforts", stating that when practiced on "vulnerable populations" such as the young or the elderly, these efforts are "tantamount to coerced conversions." (2) The Rev. Clark Lobenstine, a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister and executive director of the Conference, has stated that his group condemns Jews for Jesus and other messianic Jewish groups by name because they "go beyond the bounds of appropriate and ethically based religious outreach." (3) Rick Ross, an alleged "cult expert", has been critical of the organization as well and has included them on his website.(5)

The Board of Governors of The Long Island Council of Churches, a group that is opposed to proselytizing of Jews in general, voiced similar sentiments in a statement that "noted with alarm" the "subterfuge and dishonesty" inherent in the "mixing [of] religious symbols in ways which distort their essential meaning", and named Jews for Jesus as one of the three groups about whom such behavior was alleged....

Jews for Jesus defends its actions against these charges, stating:

"If a person believes the Bible and believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9,10) and then that person declines to tell a Jewish friend about Christ, it indicates one of two things. Either that person has decided that the Jews are not worthy of the gospel, in which case he would be a racist, an anti-Semite and a hater of people instead of the lover of people that God wants him to be. Or perhaps he has judged the gospel as being unworthy of the Jews in which case he has trivialized the passion of Calvary and the awesome significance of Christ's resurrection." (4)

Jews for Jesus is a member of numerous evangelical Christian groups: The World Evangelical Alliance, Canadian Council for Christian Charities, Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, Evangelical Alliance of Great Britain, Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability, Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, National Association of Evangelicals, The Internet Evangelism Coalition, and the World Evangelical Fellowship....


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