A friend of our ministry wrote to ask, Do you have any knowledge of a group called On Wings of Eagles, a ministry of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews?”
This friend had heard that On Wings of Eagles was helping Jewish people return to the Land of Israel and, since it is under the umbrella of an organization with the word “Christian” in it, wondered if it might be an appropriate way for Christians to show support of Israel.
Let me say that we do have some knowledge, mainly that the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Rabbi Eckstein does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah and discourages Christians from witnessing to Jews in the strongest terms possible. In fact, it seems that his intention has been to develop relationships with committed Christians—not merely to raise funds for Israel, but to undermine evangelistic efforts directed toward Jewish people. He’s apparently a very personable man and very subtle in his approach. He has cozied up to evangelicals and many see their friendship with him as a step forward in “Jewish-Christian relationships.”
Unfortunately, friendships between evangelical Christians and Rabbi Eckstein cannot help foster the most important relationship of all: that is the relationship that Jewish people need to have with Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. Eckstein’s misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what it means for a Jew to believe in him have misled many well-meaning evangelicals into the false notion that it is disrespectful and even harmful to share their faith with Jewish people. For example, in his book titled What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, Eckstein wrote, “When directed at Jews, however, Christian missions conflict with and even jeopardize the central ethic guiding Jewish life today—Jewish survival. While Christians have sought to convert Jews to Christianity for almost two millennia, after the holocaust those attempts are regarded as especially pernicious threats to Jewish survival—indeed, a form of spiritual genocide.”
Eckstein does not have a relationship with Jesus, does not believe that the New Testament is the word of God and cannot be expected to know that “no one [Gentile or Jewish] comes to the father” except through Jesus. Christians who believe that Jews need Jesus should know that supporting Eckstein’s causes will not help Jewish people in the long (eternal) run.
Our readers need to understand that the government of Israel provides airfare for any new Jewish immigrant who remains two years. Not only that, Israel provides new immigrants with rental subsidies, partial grants toward the purchase of a home, free language instruction, a stipend for those without employment and free elementary schooling.
I realize that many well known Christians have seemingly endorsed what Rabbi Eckstein is doing. It’s entirely possible that they aren’t aware of all of the facts.
With regard to a fellowship between Christians and Jews, this is another matter for theology. Is it possible to have fellowship with people who don’t share our faith that Jesus is the promised crucified and risen Messiah for Jews and gentiles?
In II Corinthians 6:14 we read, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (emphasis added). That doesn’t mean that all believers always behave righteously and all unbelievers behave unrighteously, but even as you can’t bind righteousness and lawlessness together, so you can’t find unity in matters of faith between believers and unbelievers.
Most evangelical Christians fail to recognize that fellowship is a function of faith and that there are not many different kinds of faith. “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5, emphasis added).
I’m not advocating we stay away from unbelievers; we’ve got to reach out to them in love with the gospel. However, I will not advocate a friendship with someone who uses his friendship to make people ashamed of telling the gospel.