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Jews for Jesus’ Moishe Rosen praises Southern Baptists’ evangel

LOS ANGELES (BP)–Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with Jewish friends may be one of the most difficult things for Christians to do, but it nevertheless should be a “litmus test” for Christian denominations professing to be evangelistic, the founder of the San Francisco-based Jews for Jesus said.
Moishe Rosen, speaking at the North American Mission Board’s annual interfaith evangelism state directors meeting, lauded the board’s shift in recent years toward including Jews among other non-Christian faith groups specifically addressed through interfaith evangelism materials and training.
“When you go to a people that have more education than you, with a message that originally came from them that they now deny … when you make a commitment to that people, it is only for one reason,” Rosen said during the March 20-23 conference in Los Angeles. “And that is that you know Jesus.”
Rosen founded Jews for Jesus 25 years ago after serving as a missionary to the Jews since 1954. His premise with the new organization was that evangelism efforts to that point had been too careful about avoiding conflict, when there was really no effort to preach the message of the cross without risking offense. The bold efforts of Jews for Jesus eventually became a key part of the modern movement of Messianic or Christian Jews.
Rosen noted Christians often attempt to rely heavily on scriptural evidence from the Hebrew Bible — the Old Testament — pointing to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, when even Orthodox Jews do not hold all Scriptures to the same standard as evangelical Christians. Like many groups, so much of their belief system comes not from the original Scriptures but from the teachings of their leaders.
“Jewish people have been systematically indoctrinated that they do not have ability to understand or judge apart from the rabbis,” Rosen said. “And they don’t understand that the rabbis don’t agree among themselves on anything except one thing — that Jesus is not the Messiah.”
It is only recently, Rosen said, that he has realized the vast majority of Jewish believers were not convinced of the gospel by arguments from the Old Testament. “You know what influenced them? Something that you have right at your hand: the person of Jesus himself.” Testimonies of several Jewish Christians at the conference illustrated his statement; several noted how they discovered the truth of Christ only after reading about him and his teachings in the New Testament.
Reaching Jews with the gospel today is especially difficult because of the shift in focus of Jewish anti-defamation groups during this century, Rosen said. During the 1920s, he said, such groups were organized because of the overt anti-Semitism and fear of Jewish power.
The Holocaust demonstrated all too well the evil of anti-Semitism to the world, he said. But rather than disband when anti-Semitism abated, the anti-defamation groups shifted their emphasis. The focus became improving relations with liberal Christian groups, trying to prevent Christians from evangelizing Jews, advancing a liberal political agenda and promoting the nation of Israel.
Rosen said it is because of this emphasis that evangelical Christians have been made to feel anti-Semitic — even though Christ and the first Christians were Jews and it was only later that Christianity was purged from the synagogues.
His advice to gentiles witnessing to Jews: Don’t back down from the message of the cross, which by its nature is offensive.
“Opposition gives you an opportunity,” Rosen said, noting one opportunity is to craft well-written responses to public articles denouncing the right of Christians to share their faith with Jews. “There’s almost an obligation to publish that,” he said.

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  • James Dotson