From time to time, Jewish religious leaders who have felt threatened by the bold effectiveness of our gospel message have accused Jews for Jesus of propaganda tactics.” Some of them have devised certain phrases designed to serve as red flags to both the Jewish and Christian public. The catch phrases, like “deceptive practices,” and “cult-like tactics” are emotionally manipulative.
These “red herring” attacks are neither valid nor new. We have come to expect them. Actually, each time they appear they serve as a success barometer for us, because they seem to be raised in direct proportion to our effectiveness. Often they occur when a local church advertises one of our programs, speakers or musical groups, and they are almost certain to occur during or immediately after our Summer Witnessing Campaigns or our extensive gospel advertising campaigns. (Perhaps you have noticed our many gospel ads over the years, especially this year’s “Don’t Ask!” Campaign.)
Perhaps you have also read some of the opposing response articles and letters, like the letter-to-the-editor from Rabbi Mark Greenspan of Beth El Temple in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania we have reprinted at the right. It appeared in the Patriot News after one of our holiday media campaigns:
(Actually, it had been some other group handing out literature at the Washington, D.C. Soviet Jewry rally. The Rabbi’s confusion over that point merely emphasizes the fact that most Jewish religious leaders have taken a blind stand against us. They do not care to know who we are or what we are saying.)
Jews for Jesus put on media blitz
In recent weeks a media blitz has been conducted by the so-called “Jews for Jesus” in which they tried to convince the public that Christmas is somehow a Jewish holiday.
In major newspapers and periodicals such as Newsweek, Time, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, full-page advertisements which begin “Why can’t Christmas be a Jewish Holiday?” have appeared. This should be added to the fact that in major cities the Jews for Jesus have taken to the streets to hand out their propaganda. They even had the nerve to use the recent Soviet Jewry rally in Washington, D.C., where over 200,000 Jews gathered, to practice their strange brand of proselytism.
I think it is important to emphasize to the public that this campaign is typical of the deceptive practices of the Jews for Jesus and similar groups. These groups try to sell Christianity by confusing Jewish and Christian theology. They try to convince Jews that it is OK to remain Jewish while accepting the premises of Christianity. They also encourage church-attending Christians to assume Jewish practices that are not part of their faith. Rather than strengthening Christianity, these organizations use cult-like tactics to delegitimize the majority faith of America.
Many Christians follow a sincere belief that they have a religious responsibility to witness the Gospel. I can accept this premise just as I can respect people of any faith who sincerely believe in the tenets of their own religion. Groups like Jews for Jesus do a disservice both to the Jewish community by confusing the public concerning Jewish tradition and to the Christian community by turning Christianity into something it is not. Not only should these groups be ignored but churches and Christians of sincere faith should avoid offering financial or physical support to groups which clearly use such deceptive tactics.
We are fortunate to have developed a climate of openness and dialogue between Jews and Christians in the religious community of the United States. Today, groups like the Jews for Jesus are the single greatest impediment to such open dialogue between communities who respect one another’s differences.
Let the public beware. Jews for Jesus are neither Jews nor Christians.
Mark B. Greenspan, rabbi
(Rabbi Greenspan is the spiritual leader of Beth El Temple.)
Those who care for the Lord and for the ministry of Jewish evangelism ought to find such letters of disinformation disturbing. We hope you care. If Jews for Jesus finds itself the target of another diatribe after this year’s media campaign—as well we may—and you find yourself wondering what you can do to help, read on and see how some concerned Christians responded a couple of years ago to the above letter. If you see something in print about us or our ministry that you feel is incorrect or misleading, you too can help our cause by writing a letter to the editor like these two:
Messianics are returning to roots
Rabbi Greenspan has shown himself to be rather ill-informed concerning Jews for Jesus (Messianic Jews) when he said Jews cannot be Christians. The word “Christian” and Messianic are synonymous and mean Messiah-follower. To say that a Jew cannot be Christian (Messiah-follower) is ridiculous. Even the ultra-orthodox Jews call themselves Messianic.
The true issue is not the labels but the person called Jesus the Messiah (Christ). Jesus did not stop being Jewish. The first “church” was entirely Jewish and was looked upon by the Jewish community as another sect of Judaism. Modern Judaism is unrecognizable when compared with first-century Judaism. The Messianic Jews are going back to their roots in a desire to return to purity of worship centered about the person of Messiah Jesus. I would hardly call that deceptive and it is certainly no call for irrational fear or prejudice against Jews who choose to abandon modern Judaism in favor of biblical truth.
Rabbi Shertz brings up the issue of the Holocaust as a reason not to follow Jesus. The holocaust is man’s inhumanity to man. The State of Israel with its Avenue of Righteous Gentiles is story to God’s truth. Don’t give Hitler power to reach beyond the grave and prevent you from seeing God’s truth. No one has the right to hinder another man’s spiritual search.
Lura P. Maiman
Mrs. Maiman’s husband, Milton, is spiritual leader of the Messianic Congregation Ro’eh Yisrael.
Jews for Jesus mean to be loving, not divisive
I recently read a letter to you from Rabbi Greenspan of Harrisburg. He seemed to find fault with Jews for Jesus and their attitude toward Christmas. I am not Jewish and not affiliated with Jews for Jesus, but I would like to offer a few comments on his letter.
In the Bible in Acts 11:26 (NIV version), indication is made that Barnabas and Saul, who were both Jews, went to Antioch and taught great numbers of people. These followers were called Christians who were Jews and Gentiles. Also Peter, a Jew, who was ministering to Jews, writes in I Peter 4:16 that if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Christmas to many Christians (many of whom are also Jewish), is a celebration of a birthday of someone we truly love, that of Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew.
So to me, to say that it is not OK to remain Jewish while accepting the premises of Christianity (inferred in the letter), is to deny the very foundation of the Christian faith which developed as a result of love, by many Jews, who know Jesus as Messiah.
Christianity to me and many others is not considered a religion, but a way of life; a love for others based on the love of God made possible by the grace of God through his son Jesus.
So you see, I do not see Jews for Jesus as a threat or divisive wedge between Jews and Christians; they are no different from the original disciples of Jesus. They are simply following the instruction of the Messiah: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of age.” Matthew 28:18-20.
I agree that we are to respect one anothers’ differences, but by the same token it is a responsibility, not to religion but to God, to demonstrate love for others through Jesus as he demonstrated his love for us. What you see demonstrated by Jews for Jesus is love for Jewish people and a desire that they may recognize as the prophet Isaiah foretold, that Jesus is Messiah. Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53.
William C. Nearhoof
Lower Paxton Twp.