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Important Note: It should be pointed out that not all Christian groups conduct missionary activities, and that not all missionary groups target Jews. The questions in this section are focused primarily on those groups that target Jews for missionary activities, and use a Jewish basis for this targeting.
With respect to the beliefs of missionary groups, their own statements express their beliefs. Although beliefs vary between the various groups that missionize, clear examples of the goals of these groups can be found in the ministry statements for such groups that are on file at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountabily (ECFA) <http://www.ecfa.org/>:
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry is an evangelical faith ministry proclaiming the need for personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to Jewish people and their Gentile neighbors.(http://www.ecfa.org/mbrprof.asp?memberid=685)
Jews for Jesus: Jews for Jesus is an outreach by Jewish Christian evangelists. (http://www.ecfa.org/mbrprof.asp?memberid=207)
Light of Messiah Ministries: Light of Messiah Ministries exists for two purposes. First we want to overcome the misunderstanding that Jesus is not for the Jewish people. We want to help our people know that Jesus is our Messiah and that the most Jewish thing that anyone can do is believe in Him. We also want to help our brothers and sisters in Messiah understand the Jewish roots of their faith in Jesus. (http://www.ecfa.org/mbrprof.asp?memberid=1249)
Shoresh USA, Inc.: Shoresh teaches the Church to reclaim its Jewish roots, so that it is encouraged in deeper discipleship and equipped to share the Gospel with the Jewish people. Shoresh reaches Jewish people with the Good News of their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, so that they will receive Him with joy and fulfill their unique calling to bear the Gospel message to the world. (http://www.ecfa.org/mbrprof.asp?memberid=105)
Chosen People Ministries: The purpose of Chosen People Ministries is to serve the Messiah in fulfilling the Great Commission with specific emphasis on the Jewish people. (http://www.ecfa.org/mbrprof.asp?memberid=9)
The beliefs of the organizations are also clear once you start looking at the doctrinal statemenst on the organizations websites. For example, one can learn quite a bit about the real Jews for Jesus by visiting their web page at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/, or the home page of the Messianic Jewish Alliance for America at http://www.mjaa.org/. Their statements found on these pages are both candid and Christian:
Jews for Jesus:
The Jews for Jesus statement of faith, at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/faith.htm, says that members of Jews for Jesus believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments [emphasis added by FAQ maintainer] are divinely inspired, contain no errors and are the final authority in matters of faith and life. Although members of Jews for Jesus recognize "the value of traditional Jewish literature," they do so only insofar as "it is supported by or conformable to the Word of God." (Note that, by their definition of the New Testament as divinely inspired, this "Word of God" includes the words of Jesus). However, Jews for Jesus regard this literature (including books such as the Talmud) as "in no way binding upon life or faith."
According to this statement, although members of Jews for Jesus believe only in one God, they believe it exists in three persons: a father, a son, and a Holy Spirit (which goes counter to Jewish theology). They believe that God had a physical son, and gave that son for the redemption of the world (again, counter to Jewish theology, but a key aspect of Christian theology). The doctrinal statement goes on to express the belief that Jesus is the messiah (according to Jewish theology, the messiah has not yet arrived), and is "co-equal with God". They believe that Jesus was born through "the virgin birth", led a "sinless life", and they hold with the concepts of Jesus' atoning death, burial, and bodily resurrection. All of these are key Christian theological elements, but not part of Judaism.
The Jews for Jesus doctrine believes that all human beings, with the exception of Jesus, are sinners by nature and practice, and that Jesus died for the sins of humanity. Again, key Christian concepts.
The Messianic Jewish Alliance for America statement of faith, at http://www.mjaa.org/StatementOfFaith.ihtml, says that the Tenach and the later writings commonly known as the B'rit Hadasha (New Covenant) are the only infallible and authoritative word of God. It indicates that they accept the teachings of those documents as their final authority in all matters of faith and practice. These are the approximately the same words as Jews for Jesus; as with Jews for Jesus, they include the words of Jesus and his disciples as "divinely inspired". In terms of belief, although they hold with God as defined by the Shema, they believe that God exists as a trinity. More significantly, the hold with basic Christian doctrine: "Messiah Yeshua's deity (Is. 9:6, John 1:1,4), His virgin birth (Is. 7:14), His sinless life, His atoning death (Is. 53, Ps. 22), His bodily resurrection, His ascension, and His future return in power and glory." They also believe that all Christians are Jewish: "Gentiles who place their faith in Yeshua, are "grafted into" the Jewish olive tree of faith (Rom. 11:17-25) becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29)."
Remember these excerpts when a Hebrew-Christian tries to claim that his or her practice is Judaism. The reality is that the belief is not Jewish (the Jewish belief is one undivided God, and that the Messiah has not yet arrived) and that the goal is to serve as a witness for Christianity to the Jews ("....introduce to the Jewish people...")
If an MJ is technically Jewish, try teaching the MJ about Judaism, which teaches that one should love one's neighbor as oneself, that one should not bear a grudge, that the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come, that G-d is close to all who sincerely call, and that the Messiah will usher in a time of peace.
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.
Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at email@example.com.
© (c) 1993-2002
Daniel P. Faigin <firstname.lastname@example.org>