A growing number of unbelievers have become more committed to stifling the gospel than believers are to telling it. When we accept the idea of a silent witness as the proper way to do evangelism, we fall into the very hands of those who want to neutralize our story. This should come as no surprise, yet many of us are not alert to the danger.
Some well-meaning Christian brothers and sisters have eagerly accepted a non-Christian viewpoint of how they should do their Christian duty. They’ve been influenced by a series of seemingly harmless, but insidiously manipulative dialogues” between well-meaning evangelicals and certain Jewish leaders. These leaders are working to prevent the evangelization of our people and evangeficals who listen to them have some difficulties sorting out facts.
Consider the following quote from Evangelicals and Jews in an Age of Pluralism (naively published by prominent Christian publisher, Baker Book House) which suggests born again believers should (in keeping with standards set by the World Council of Churches) renounce the traditional understanding of evangelism. Rabbi James Rudin calls for all Christians to adopt a method which is founded on the concept of “presence evangelism.” He perverts the respect certain evangelical leaders have publicly shown for our people in the following way:
This powerful affirmation has led many evangelical leaders to see mission and witness in a different light. They make a distinction between the two, since mission may sometimes be insensitive and even coercive, while witness is the actual living out of one’s faith without attempting to proselytize or convert another. Witness, by this definition, is what Jews and Christians do every day as they attempt faithfully to serve God.…To witness to our faith means to translate our religious affirmations into ethical action in our homes, schools, shops, offices, and factories. As Jews and evangelicals, we can do this without seeking the conversion of the other.…”
Good works are the only way that Jews can show the religion of Judaism. But Christians must tell of Christ. Yet some Christians have eagerly swallowed Rudin’s line of thinking and congratulate themselves on having bettered Jewish/Christian relations. Having come this far, they are vulnerable to his real agenda, exposed in the next few paragraphs:
I fully recognize the religious imperatives of evangelical Christians to carry out the “Great Commission,” to witness to their faith. However, I do not believe that deception, misrepresentation, and, distortion are part of the “Great Commission.” When an evangelical church or institution affords a Hebrew Christian group a platform, when otherwise well-intentioned evangelical Christians make financial, contributions to such group, or when evangelicals condone the duplicity of some Hebrew Christian and/or the Jews for Jesus groups—such actions compromise the integrity of the authentic dialogue now under way between our two faith communities. I urge the evangelical community to end any support it may be giving to the Hebrew Christian groups. There is such a thing as authentic Judaism and authentic Christianity, but the Hebrew Christian groups are neither.…”
Marc Tanenbaum, Marvin Wilson, James Rudin. Evangelicals and Jews in an Age of Pluralism. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 40, 42-43
Now what believer in Jesus really thinks that deception, misrepresentation, and distortion are part of the Great Commission? Yet we have well-meaning Christians who are rushing to protect the Jewish community from these monstrous deceivers. Who are the monstrous deceivers? They are you and they are me.
You might think that if you do not consider yourself a “Hebrew Christian” or a “Jew for Jesus,” Rabbis Tanenbaum, Wilson and Rudin are not referring to you. But the real issue is not terminology or labels. Any Jew who openly claims to believe in Jesus and who thinks other Jews need to accept him will be lumped in with us missionaries and labeled as false and deceptive. That, dear mishpochah, is an unpleasant but inescapable fact of life.
Have you ever had a non-Jew tell you, “I don’t usually like Jewish people, but I really like you. You’re not like the others.” I have. And it makes my blood boil. I don’t want that kind of acceptance. Well brothers and sisters, that is how we should feel when unbelieving Jews and confused Christians offer us acceptance by saying we are different from “those other more aggressive and obnoxious” Jewish believers.
We should not allow ourselves to be bribed by acceptance, and affirmation, which is designed not only to keep us quiet, but to alienate us from mishpoctiah who are committed to not keeping quiet.
Should we listen when the Jewish community tells believers what kind of evangelism is appropriate and acceptable? Yes! Because we know they will reserve praise for the kind of “witness” that isn’t likely to bring our people any closer to accepting Yeshua. Yes, we should listen. We should listen and learn how not to witness! We should listen and then look at our evangelistic strategy, to make sure we are doing it according to God’s plan and not the plan of those who are committed to keeping our people away from Yeshua! And we should help our gentile Christian friends to listen and learn as well.