Jokes, Jerry Falwell and The Jerusalem Post
It almost seemed like Purim had come early this year when I read an article on the front page of the “Jerusalem Post” entitled, “Falwell: Jews can get to heaven: Evangelical leader persuaded that conversion not prerequisite.”
- More information at Jpost.com
You see, according to Jewish custom, the festival of Purim is often accompanied by practical jokes, spoofs and fake news reports somewhat akin to the pranks people pull for “April Fools”—or in this case, more like Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” For Jerry Falwell to suddenly decide that Jews don’t need Jesus seemed to me as likely as that Martian invasion! But the reporter was serious. According to him, televangelist John Hagee and Orthodox rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg had persuaded Dr. Falwell to adopt a “dual covenant theology,” that Jews do not need to go through Christ to get to heaven.
Thankfully, the story was false. It took just a few phone calls to learn that Dr. Falwell would be issuing a categorical denial of the “Jerusalem Post” article, which he did.
- You can read his statement in full, along with commentary by Dr. Albert Mohler, at AlbertMohler.com
The fact that the “Jerusalem Post” felt free to print the article is no laughing matter. For some time now certain Jewish community leaders have made concerted efforts to influence Christian theology. They hope evangelicals will reject the doctrine of the uniqueness of Christ for salvation—at least as far as the Jewish people are concerned—and have been lobbying evangelical leaders on this very issue.
Sadly, Jewish leaders have had some reason for optimism. Numerous Christian leaders have concluded that faith in Jesus is not necessary for Jewish people to be saved.
Another recent story highlights the growing cooperation between the so-called emergent Church movement and an organization called “Synagogue 3000.” Christian leaders and pastors like Brian McLaren have joined with Jewish leaders to discuss ways to revitalize their respective spiritual communities. Says McLaren, “We have so much common ground on so many levels. We face similar problems in the present, we have common hopes for the future . . . I’m thrilled with the possibility of developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God’s dreams come true for our synagogues, churches, and the world.”
- Quoted from the pagittBlog
It is understandable that evangelical leaders want to develop friendships with Jewish community leaders. I don’t mean to impugn their motives. Nevertheless, while Christian leaders may simply be interested in collegial relations with their Jewish counterparts, Jewish community leaders have a definite agenda. They hope to use their relationships with evangelical ministers to persuade them that forthright evangelism to the Jewish people is at the very least offensive and unnecessary and at most, harmful.
This agenda is brought to bear in numerous joint efforts, including a recent event in Kansas City known as “The Gathering,” a local rally in support of Israel. Hosted by Raytown Baptist Church, the program featured well-known fundraiser and Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. As we have written in the past, Eckstein’s efforts to marshal Christian support for various Jewish causes have turned into a $50 million a year enterprise. Numerous Christian leaders eagerly endorse his efforts, despite the fact that the money he raises is not being offered to the Jewish community in Jesus’ name. Eckstein is only a middleman, giving away evangelical Christians’ donations to Jewish organizations of his choosing.
The average Christian who sees Eckstein’s infomercial or reads his mailings may not realize that Eckstein is not a Christian, much less that he opposes efforts to tell Jewish people that Jesus is Messiah and Lord. However the leaders who have more of a personal relationship with him must come to terms with this, because it is Eckstein’s policy to avoid partnerships with anyone who is supportive of Jewish evangelism: “The Jewish community and evangelicals are to cooperate whenever possible . . . ” but “If they (evangelicals) are involved in targeted missions toward Jews, like Jews for Jesus, we won’t work with them” said Eckstein.
- See: JewishAgency.org
Eckstein encourages Christians to give money for his cause but he does not want them telling Jewish people that they need Jesus—and he expects Christians who work with him to choose one way or the other. That is the Jewish community leaders’ strategy in a nutshell. Extend a conditional friendship to evangelical Christians and let them know they have a choice. They can either support Israel or they can support evangelism to the Jewish people, but not both. This has long been a problem with certain well-known Christian organizations. Groups like Bridges For Peace, The Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and now John Hagee’s new organization, Christians United For Israel. They have all made promises to various Jewish community leaders not to allow those associated with them to engage in direct Jewish evangelism.
I recognize that not all Christian organizations are called to witness specifically to Jews. And of course there can be opportunities for Jews and Christians to join together over other issues of concern such as supporting Israel or helping the poor. But no Christian should ever be put in a position to keep quiet about Jesus and the salvation that is found only through faith in Him. When you see organizations like John Hagee’s Christians United For Israel or Bridges For Peace, or anyone endorsed by Yechiel Eckstein, know that you are encountering people and organizations that have distanced themselves from a forthright witness for Christ to my Jewish people.
When I say that some Jewish leaders are working to weaken Christian resolve to evangelize the Jewish people, I can hardly blame them. They are lost, without Christ. They are blind guides who honestly do not know that their efforts to stop the gospel can only harm the very people they seek to serve.
But what of my Christian brothers and sisters who give in to this pressure? When Christians interpret their duty to Christ or to the Jewish people through the eyes of unbelievers, it brings shame. It weakens the cause of Christ and undermines sound doctrine. Jerry Falwell nearly got painted with that brush but he had the courage to stand strong. Unfortunately more and more Christian leaders are lacking the courage of their convictions. Without the pillars of courage and humility to uphold them, convictions tumble and fall. And that’s no joke.
Executive Director, Missionary
David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live. David’s daughter, Ilana is a recent graduate of Biola. His son, Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife, Shaina, have one daughter, Nora, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.