On Sept. 29, 2005 Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, condemned the Southern Baptist Convention for encouraging Messianic Jewish members to witness to Jews. "If people convert, that's their own business," Foxman said, "but don't use them as a tool to convert other people." Foxman protests such evangelism, stating the Southern Baptists are using Christian Jews to "go after other Jews."
Attempts by evil Jewish leaders to forbid proclamation of the Gospel to the Jewish people is an old story. In the book of Acts the Pharisees "commanded them (the Jewish disciples) not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." But Peter and John refused to be silenced, "for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:18) These Jews kept on preaching to the Jewish people.
A few days later the Pharisees again seized them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." Peter and the apostles answered firmly, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:27-28)
The disciples' defiance earned them a flogging and threats of imprisonment and even death, but Scripture tells us, "Every day…they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." (Acts 5:42)
The spiritual and physical ancestors of ADL/B'nai B'rith were attempting to impose "speech crime" edicts upon Christians, limiting speech and free expression of politically and religiously incorrect ideas. They were also determined that no one should remind the world that it was they who had crucified Christ. They clearly considered that to "bring this man's blood upon us" was an act of bias-motivated ethnic intimidation, i.e., a hate crime.
It is remarkable how little has changed in the last 2000 years!
Will Southern Baptists Obey God - or Jewish Leaders?
How will Southern Baptist leaders react to Foxman's demand that their Jewish members stop witnessing to Jews? Will they go ahead boldly "teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ?" Or will they cancel plans to develop their unique Messianic Jewish outreach, particularly on Jewish holidays? Especially at such times, when Jews are spiritually sensitized, Foxman resents Christian evangelism as "offensive."
About four years ago the government of Israel informed evangelical organizations worldwide that members of Christian tour groups visiting Israel would no longer be permitted to witness to Jews in that country. Some 50 evangelical organizations complied. In doing so, they reaffirmed their willingness to abide by Israel's anti-missionary law, passed on Christmas Day 1977. Such thought crime legislation threatens up to five years in an Israeli prison to any Gentile who offers as little as a Gospel tract to an Israeli.
In agreeing to Israel's ban on evangelism, did the leaders of these 50 organizations respond as the disciples did? They did not. They feared the Israeli thought police more than they feared God. They wanted nothing to do with New Testament-style boldness in witnessing. They were unwilling to suffer loss of income or approval by man, much less endure public shame and imprisonment for Christ. They did not quote the disciples' defiant words to the Israeli government or argue that Israel's demand violated their conscience and those of millions of evangelical tourists they bring to Israel.
Instead, they encouraged Christian visitors to accept, while in Israel, not only lack of free speech but also an end of any possibility that the Holy Spirit might lead them to witness to an Israeli. Such is negation of Christ's command to preach the Gospel "to all nations." (Matt. 28:19) This is unholy violation of a Christian's conscience while visiting a supposedly "holy" land.
Perhaps these leaders thought that protesting the Israeli ban on free speech might seem "unloving" or even "anti-Semitic." Perhaps they feared a Divine curse if they did not "bless" Israel by complying with its demands. Of one thing we are certain: These leaders were in no mood to lose lucrative income from Holy Land tours - a cash cow that can only be milked by appeasing the government of Israel. In short, unlike the apostles, they were ashamed of the cross of Christ.
Israel: Land without Free Speech
Israel is a nation reestablished after millennia of pogroms, dispersions, and restrictions on Jewish rights. Today it has flourished largely because of tremendous moral and financial favor from nations of the Christian West. It receives annually much more than five billion dollars in aid from Christian America. Some compute that the whole Israeli experiment during the last 50 years has cost America and the world three trillion dollars. (See Thomas R. Stauffer’s article, “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,” June 2003.)
Israel touts itself as a land enjoying free speech: "the only democracy in the Middle East." Yet remarkably, after a full century of unprecedented approval and total support by Christians, Israel still denies its Christian visitors a very simple privilege: a free religious discussion with an Israeli.
How will the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention respond to the threatening of Abe Foxman, high priest of the New Sanhedrin? I don't know. But I must remind them that: Jesus meant what He said when He warned, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)
Three powerful video documentaries by Rev. Ted Pike explain what the Bible really says about God's plan for the Jewish people and the Christian's relationship to Israel. Come to www.truthtellers.org for a 7-minute preview of The Other Israel, Why the Mideast Bleeds, and Zionism and Christianity: Unholy Alliance. Order VHS or DVD at www.truthtellers.org, 503-631-3808, or the address below.
National Prayer Network, P.O. Box 828,
Clackamas, OR 97015