Jews for Jesus Criticizes Evangelicals; Pressure to Mute Gospel Cited

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Jews for Jesus Criticizes Evangelicals; Pressure to Mute Gospel Cited


Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The nation's largest Messianic Jewish organization is criticizing leading evangelical Christians - including the Rev. Billy Graham - of caving into Jewish pressure to downplay the Gospel.

"There are those who have worked both overtly and subtly to demonize Jewish believers in Jesus and to make the work of Jewish evangelism seem unacceptable," David Brickner, president of Jews for Jesus, wrote in a six-page letter titled "The War on Jewish Evangelism" sent to 110,000 donors.

"If you press [certain evangelicals], they will say, 'We believe everyone needs Jesus to be saved, but we don't want to be offending people,' " Mr. Brickner said in an interview. "Pastors are nervous about taking the heat, and a lot of churches, especially the megachurches, are looking for the big-tent philosophy. They do as little as possible to offend and as much as they can do to attract."

Most damaging, he said, was a 1973 statement by Mr. Graham who said, "In my evangelistic efforts, I have never felt called to single out the Jews as Jews."

Mr. Brickner wrote, "That comment ... is still quoted by Jewish community leaders as proof that Graham does not approve of evangelistic ministry directed to Jewish people."

Jews for Jesus - based in San Francisco with 240 staffers worldwide and ministries in 11 countries - is the largest organization of Messianic Jews, who believe Jesus was the Messiah foretold by Hebrew prophets.

About 3,000 churches host Jews for Jesus speakers each year and supply 10 percent to 15 percent of the group's annual $15 million budget. But in 2003, there was a $371,130 drop in offerings and a 25 percent drop in speaking invitations.

The Rev. Lon Solomon, a board member of Jews for Jesus and senior pastor of the 9,000-member McLean Bible Church, the Washington area's largest evangelical congregation, said the group had to speak out.

"I am deeply concerned about the growing tendency in evangelical Christian circles to accept the idea that Jewish people have a separate arrangement with God than gentiles," he said, "and that Jewish people therefore don't need personal faith in Jesus as their Messiah to go to heaven. …

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