Sunday, June 22, 2008

Missionaries, Messianic Jews & Christian Theology - from Aish HaTorah

Aish HaTorah published:

Evangelizing the Jews: The New Techniques
by Rabbi Tovia Singer

To bring about the Second Coming, fundamentalist Christians believe they must convert the Jews. Having failed in the past, they are now armed with a new arsenal of deceptive techniques.

No Sunday services take place here; this congregation meets only on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. You will never see a cross or an altar; there is an Aaron Hakodesh (holy ark) with a star of David adorning its velvet cover, and a Bimah (stage for prayer services) in the center of the sanctuary. The majority of the men who worship here wear kipot, and their tzitzit hang down the sides of their pants. This congregation's rabbi, among many other functions, reads from the Torah and makes Kiddush every Shabbat. Most of the women are modestly dressed. Joyous shouts of "Shabbat Shalom" and "Baruch Hashem" can be heard as young couples greet each other. The sanctuary pulsates to a modern Israeli musical beat.

If this sounds like a description of a traditional Jewish house of worship, think again. The above is actually a description of any one of the hundreds of Messianic "synagogues" which flourish throughout the world.

Confused? Many are.

Such congregations are designed to appear Jewish, but they are actually fundamentalist Christian churches which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks. Messianic "rabbis," many of whom are Jewish by birth, are committed to bringing the Jewish people to know Jesus. Their agenda is to make Christianity more palatable to the uneducated Jew, and to the astonishment and horror of the Jewish community, their marketing ploys are proving to be successful.

Twenty-two years ago, twelve Messianic congregations existed in the United States. Today, more than 300 actively attract and recruit Jews who, because they lack a sound Jewish education and support system, are buying the manipulative rhetoric and persuasive techniques of the Hebrew-Christian missionary movement.

Additionally, there are over 600 Christian missions dedicated to converting the Jewish people. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 Hebrew-Christians in North America and Israel. As an exit-counselor who works with families to reclaim their Jewish family members from these churches, I can testify that the cost in terms of Jewish souls is dear.


In order to understand the dynamics of the missionary problem, we must first understand who exactly these missionaries are.

To the Jewish community, the word "missionary" is a charged word, with a multitude of misconceptions attached to it. Typically, the word "missionary" is associated with those people who stand on street corners, annoyingly and ubiquitously distributing literature that tries to persuade individuals to believe in Jesus.

When we think of missionaries we might think of an organization with members, mailing lists, secretaries, and buildings to which we can point and say, "You see that building on 31st street, between Lexington and Park (New York headquarters of Jews For Jesus)? They are the missionaries."

This is merely one of a variety of misconceptions we have about missionaries and how they operate.

A number of years ago I lectured at a large university campus in Ohio. In my conversation with a dean we began to discuss the work I do. He immediately reassured me that at his university, they did not have a missionary problem. He recalled how years earlier there were indeed missionaries on his campus who distributed pamphlets and misused traditional Jewish symbols for the purpose of evangelizing. "But we don't have that here anymore," he insisted.

"Tell me, are there any fundamentalist born-again Christians on your campus?" I asked.

He quickly snapped, "What? Are you kidding? This is the Midwest! We're packed with them!" I then told him that indeed he had a serious missionary problem on his campus because, in reality, fundamentalist, born-again Christians are dedicated to the idea of bringing every Jew to a belief in Jesus.

Our second mistake is that we tend to view the Christian world as a monolithic group of gentiles who all essentially believe the same thing. In fact, the Christian world -- with hundreds of variant denominations that differ on numerous fundamental theological issues -- is far more diverse than the Jewish world. At a baseball game, it is sometimes difficult to know who the players are without a scorecard. Let's break down the Christian world for a moment so that we know precisely to whom we are referring.


The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest denomination in Christendom. Yet despite its past often-bitter relationship with the Jewish people, today Catholics are for the most part not interested in converting Jews. I need not worry that a Catholic priest is going to evangelize any of my patients at a hospital. If anything, he is one of the people who will show me where I can secure a kosher meal.

Another significant segment of the Christian world, especially in North America, is the Protestant community. For our purposes, we will over generalize and divide the Protestant world into two groups.

One group, the mainline or liberal Protestants (Methodist, Unitarian, etc.), is not at all interested in converting Jews. Liberal leaning Protestant denominations tend to shy away from any form of Jewish evangelism. It is, however, the other highly motivated and vocal segment within the Protestant community -- the fundamentalist, born-again Christians -- who are unyielding in their staunch commitment to convert the Jews.

There are two rules about Jewish evangelism that must always be kept in mind.

  • The first rule is that the Christian who makes the very first critical and successful contact with the Jew is never a professional missionary. It will not be a paid staff member of Jews for Jesus or Chosen People Ministries. Rather, it is almost always a layperson -- perhaps a secretary at the office, a roommate in college or someone on the same swim team -- who makes that initial connection. Only after the lay evangelical Christian has made this preliminary contact will the professional missionaries step in to the conversion process.

Secondly, the Christian layperson who makes that all-important first contact with the Jew is invariably a gentile. It is extremely rare for a "Hebrew-Christian" to successfully make that initial contact with a Jew. The perceived betrayal of the Jewish people by the Hebrew-Christian's apostasy sullies his message in the mind of a Jew. Only after the lay gentile born-again Christian has made that first crucial and successful encounter with a Jew will the Hebrew-Christian missionaries step in to finalize the conversion.

In essence, the central role that Christian missions like Jews for Jesus plays is to act as a clearinghouse and support system for evangelical churches around the world. As a result, these "Jewish missions" spend much of their resources and manpower teaching lay missionaries in gentile churches.

How serious a problem are these Protestant fundamentalist Christians? How many born-again Christians are there in the United States?

Their numbers are not small. According to most estimates, there are well over 50 million Americans who identify themselves as born-again Christians. That is, approximately one in five Americans is part of this army of lay people dedicated to "share" their faith with a Jew. When I spoke in Nashville a number of years ago, an Assemblies of God minister bluntly told me that he would rather convert one Jew than 50,000 gentiles.


A question that naturally comes to mind is: Why the Jews? Why are these fundamentalist Christians so consumed with bringing the Jewish people to "know Jesus?" Why has the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, passed numerous resolutions encouraging more than 15 million American members to target and evangelize the Jewish people?


Why are these at-risk Jews so desperately susceptible to this current missionary assault? Why do evangelicals cull our Jewish youth with relative ease? The answers to these questions will be discussed in Part 2 of this article.


  1. "I need not worry that a Catholic priest is going to evangelize any of my patients at a hospital."

    1. My father was laying in a hospital unconscious and my brother came into the room and saw a Catholic priest (the hospital chaplain) on his knees praying. My father's intake card specified "Jewish" and also "Kosher diet" (we checked to find out if there was a mistake, there was no mistake, the priest said that he prays for everyone).

    2. It is VERY common for middle class Catholic women to take jobs as maids in Jewish homes in order to missionize Jewish children.

    3. In my neighborhood, there are Catholic missionaries who go door to door on Shabbat morning.They only knock on doors with mezuzot. They come every week, hoping to find children home alone or with a housekeeper who will let them in.

    Here is a website all about the Catholic campaign to Evangelize Jews

    In case you might think that this is some renegade movement, the Catholic mission to the Jews has the blessing of the Pope himself:

    "the mainline or liberal Protestants (Methodist, Unitarian, etc.), is not at all interested in converting Jews. Liberal leaning Protestant denominations tend to shy away from any form of Jewish evangelism."

    Sounds good, if only it were true.

    Zola Levitt Ministries' Jeff Seif was ordained by Southern Methodist University, Dallas as a minister to Hebrew Christians.


    Here is a history of Presbyterian ministries to the Jewish people 1820-2001.

    "The elderly are also perilously vulnerable to Jewish evangelism"

    Yes, and often when it happens, the children, grandchildren, Rabbis and social workers do not believe it.

    My grandmother had surgery and was recovering at home. The Federation sent over a home aide. When my grandmother was up to it, she asked the aide to please take her shopping. The aide instead drove to a Catholic Church!!! and asked my grandmother to go in with her to pray for her continued recovery!!

    My grandmother was outraged and called the Federation. No one believed the story, but it is not an uncommon one.

  2. Wow!! The things you get wrong when you don't know what you're talking about - or don't care!!

    Or maybe the many falshoods in Singser's diatribe are on purpose?

    Either way - don't believe everything you read.

  3. Richard wrote:

    Anonymous said...

    Wow!! The things you get wrong when you don't know what you're talking about - or don't care!!

    Or maybe the many falshoods in Singser's diatribe are on purpose?

    Either way - don't believe everything you read.
    Your comment could be a bit more helpful by informing us what exact are his errors? Your statement as it stands doesn't have much credibility.


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