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Jewish evangelism conference highlights Jesus’ deity, Arab-Jewish relations

HELSINKI, Finland (BP)–Participants in an international conference on Jewish evangelism Aug. 7-12 adopted a statement underscoring Jesus’ deity and, among other items, applauding improved relations between Arab and Jewish believers.

The seventh Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism international conference took place in Helsinki, Finland, drawing more than 200 participants, a record, from 18 countries. Participants presented reports and heard updates on Jewish evangelism from around the world.

The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism was born in 1980 at a meeting in Thailand sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism. Participants with an interest in Jewish evangelism formed LCJE and began meeting every three or four years. The committee also has local chapters, including one in North America.

“We call on believers worldwide to share the Good News with the Jewish people, making every effort to relate the gospel in culturally appropriate ways, while maintaining that there is salvation in no other name,” the statement reads.

The statement further goes on to “observe with concern” that some people “do not consider verbal proclamation of the gospel to Jewish people a necessary part of the Great Commission. While we appreciate all those who care for the material needs of Jewish people, we are saddened when the eternal need of the Jewish people is not directly addressed.”

Jim Sibley, coordinator of Jewish ministries for the North American Mission Board, told Baptist Press that the LCJE statement made clear that true evangelism must involve a verbal witness.

“If [ministry is] divorced from a felt need to share the Gospel then it’s a perversion of the Gospel,” he said.

The statement also praised the improving relations between Arab and Jewish followers of Jesus.

“We rejoice in the progress towards reconciliation between Jewish and Arab believers which testifies that the bond believers share in Jesus transcends all political and geographic barriers,” it reads.

But the statement criticized Christians who place their national identity above “their unity with others in the universal body of believers.”

Addressing the instability in the Middle East, the statement acclaimed Christ “as both the road and map to true shalom with God and one another….”

The statement defended the deity of Christ against those who claim he was only human. Sibley said a “fringe” element of the Messianic movement is questioning Christ’s deity.

“A proclamation of a lesser Jesus, though more palatable to the Jewish community at large, will inevitably lead to a false gospel message,” the statement reads.

A growing Messianic movement within Russia was recognized, as was the need for churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America to embrace Jewish evangelism. Sibley said the statement recognizes a shift in strength of Christianity to Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Yet in those countries there is not a significant Jewish population, and so our brothers and sisters on these continents may not have as much concern for the Jewish people,” Sibley said. “So this is a call for them to be more aware of the need for prayer and evangelism among the Jewish people.”

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  • Michael Foust