IRVING, Texas (BP) – Messianic Southern Baptists are among Jewish and Gentile Christians issuing a statement decrying anti-Semitism that is rising globally and spiking since the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas.
“The Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship (SBMF) is in full agreement with this North American Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) statement against anti-Semitism,” SBMF Executive Director Ric Worshill told Baptist Press.
The LCJE issued the statement at its annual gathering June 6-9 in Irving, with the approval of representatives of 25 agencies, seven congregations and many individuals, LCJE North America coordinator Jim Sibley, a longtime Southern Baptist, told Baptist Press. Messianic congregations, Jews for Jesus, Chosen People Ministries, Ariel Ministries and others are among statement supporters.
“Our group wanted to set an example, to be a model and to provide leadership for Christians, and also taking an unequivocal stand against anti-Semitism,” Sibley said. “Too often I think it goes right past the notice of Southern Baptists and of evangelicals in general because we’re focused on other issues. But it’s important for us to be aware of this trend and to stand solidly opposed to it.”
Documented physical assault and “worse,” hate speech, vandalism of Jewish places of business and graffiti including swastikas on synagogues are among anti-Semitic violence LCJE references in the statement. The statement references findings from Pew Research and the Anti-Defamation League.
“We, as Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, lift our voices in unity with and love for the global Jewish community to address this scourge now in the strongest of terms. While our society is polarized in many ways, we respond with one voice to express the love and hope our Messiah brings to a broken world,” the statement reads in part. “We know God’s heart is grieved when ‘the apple of his eye’ (Zechariah 2:8) is under attack. We affirm that help for the Jewish community comes from on high.”
Worshill, a longtime chaplain based in Illinois, said he has experienced and witnessed anti-Semitism for years.
“In the past several years I have seen a rise in the frequency and intensity of those attacks against the Jewish people group,” Worshill said in written comments. “There has also been a rise of Supersessionism (Replacement Theology) in some church groups. This theological premise is also felt to be anti-Semitic by most Jewish believers all over the world, including the members of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship. The L-rd made covenants with the Jewish people that are without limitation. Throughout the Tanach (Old Testament) the L-rd confirms that point numerous times.”
The LCJE referenced a Pew Research survey of more than 4,700 Jewish Americans, 75 percent of whom say anti-Semitism has increased in America in the past five years. Six in 10 of respondents of the study conducted over seven months through June 3, 2020, said they had personally experienced anti-Semitism in the preceding 12 months.
The LCJE also referenced in its statement an Anti-Defamation League (ADF) report that in the week after fighting erupted between Israel and Hamas, May 7-14, the ADF “found [on Twitter] more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase ‘Hitler was right.’”
Sibley encourages Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to show themselves friendly toward Jewish people and to pray for their salvation.
“A lot of Jewish people assume that evangelical Christians are anti-Semites, and of course that’s not true,” Sibley said. “But there is that lingering suspicion. And by showing friendship, a genuine concern for our Jewish neighbors, it may provide opportunities for evangelism.
“But it should be made clear that our expressions of love for the Jewish people are sincere. They’re not efforts to manipulate for a decision. Yes, we (Southern Baptists) need to share the Gospel. That’s who we are. And Jesus is the only hope for the hatred and for the lostness that we see all around us. … At the same time, however, the history of Jewish-Christian relations has often been marred by arrogance and a lack of real expressions of love for the Jewish people.”
The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, part of the Lausanne Movement for global missions, birthed the LCJE after the 1980 Consultation on World Evangelism in Pattaya, Thailand. The LCJE has grown to include regional chapters in North America, Europe, Israel, South Africa, Australasia, Japan, Korea and Latin America.
The full statement is available here.