The Theological Basis of Christian Witness to Israel’s Ethics:
We believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is God’s inspired and unchanging Word.
We believe that the Triune God can only be truly known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the uniqueness of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, the Jewish Messiah and the Saviour of the world.
We believe that Messiah’s death is the only atonement for sin.
We believe that salvation is solely by God’s grace through faith in Messiah.
We believe that it is our unchanging responsibility to fulfil Messiah’s Great Commission by sharing this message with people of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
We believe that Jesus is the Messiah, in fulfilment of the Jewish Scriptures, hence our conviction that the Gospel continues to be “for the Jew first” (Romans 1:16).
We uphold the Reformation and Biblical conviction that “God alone is the Lord of the conscience” (Westminster Confession, Chapter XX, Section 2. James 4:12, Romans 14:4).
We therefore believe that everybody, including the Jewish people, should have the right and liberty before God to hear the Gospel message and to make their own personal response. This liberty is enshrined in our democratic institutions, as upheld by the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” of the United Nations (Articles 18-19. See Appendix).
These being our convictions, we see ourselves as under a moral and spiritual obligation to share the Gospel with the Jewish people.
OBJECTIONS TO JEWISH EVANGELISM
Pluralism and Evangelism
It is alleged that because we live in a pluralistic society we have no moral right to endeavour to change another person’s beliefs. It is often said that we should rather pursue dialogue in a multi-faith context on the assumption that all beliefs are equally valid.
We affirm that Christianity was originally established by peaceful means, through the proclamation of the Gospel to both Jew and gentile, in a pluralistic society. In line with this, and on the basis of the convictions stated above, we believe that we have every ethical right to continue the work of the Gospel in the same way in a modern pluralistic society. We affirm this because the Bible teaches the uniqueness of Jesus the Messiah and denies the possibility of salvation for any person apart from faith in Christ.
It is alleged that it is unethical to “target” a specific ethnic or religious group, such as the Jewish people, by singling them out, over and above others, as the special object of evangelism. Such targeting is alleged to focus especially on the vulnerable members of Jewish society – the elderly, the very young, the sick, the lonely or the mentally unstable.
We affirm that our particular concern for the Jewish people is part of a much broader concern to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Christian Witness to Israel is just one of many world-wide Christian evangelistic organisations. The Bible calls on all Christians to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in a multi-national and multi-cultural world.
It is alleged that evangelistic work among the Jewish people is essentially a denial of their right to be Jewish and is therefore anti-Semitic.
We affirm our opposition to all forms of anti-Semitism. We believe that it is anti-Semitic to withhold the Gospel from the Jewish people whilst proclaiming it to others. We believe that accepting the Gospel does not depend on birth or nationality and does not eliminate cultural or ethnic identity.
We affirm that the distinctiveness of the Jewish nation in God’s purposes is based on His covenant with Abraham.
We affirm that this includes not only the right to retain cultural distinctives, but also the right of each person to define his or her own identity, without having to conform to any pre-conceived pattern or stereotype.
Further, we also affirm that because Jesus the Messiah has “broken down the middle wall of division” (Ephesians 2:14) between Jew and gentile, we seek the fellowship and unity of Jew and gentile within the one body of Christ.
It is sometimes alleged that Christian evangelism is inextricably linked to dishonest and unethical practices such as:
A misleading use of Jewish themes (from the Old Testament or other sources) to make our message seem Jewish.
The misinterpreting the Hebrew Scriptures to prove our message.
The use of high-pressure and manipulation to coerce Jewish people into believing the Christian gospel.
The use of bribes in terms of offering practical assistance to people on the condition that they hear or accept the Christian message.
CWI’S ETHICAL PRINCIPLES
CWI bases its practice on the following principles.
The teaching of the Bible
We believe that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are conscious therefore of the responsibility of handling them faithfully. We therefore seek to use every reasonable means to understand them accurately and to communicate our convictions fairly in our literature and conversations.
In our concern to be true to the Bible, we also endeavour to subject all of our evangelistic methods to the principles and examples of Scripture.
We believe in the essential unity of the Old and New Testaments. We therefore use the Hebrew Scriptures because they contain the essence of the Gospel message which reaches its fulfilment in the New Testament.
We believe that the whole Jewish nation is “beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28) and therefore seek to share the Gospel message with all who are willing to hear it. We accept that not all want to hear the Christian message. We do not target those who appear to be vulnerable.
We believe that we should “honour all people” (1 Peter 2:17). Whilst our underlying convictions cause us to disagree with various aspects of Jewish teaching, we nevertheless endeavour to approach Jewish people with due regard and respect for their sincerely held beliefs, traditions and practices.
We seek to be aware of Jewish cultural distinctives as well as our own, not to score any unfair advantage in the misuse of such understanding, but to present the Gospel sensitively and meaningfully to Jewish people.
We believe that all men share in the image of God and, regardless of status, wealth, creed or nationality are worthy of our respect and honour; we therefore endeavour to be sensitive to people’s individual concerns and circumstances.
We recognise with sadness that tensions may arise when one member of a family accepts the Gospel. We encourage all who come to Christian faith to honour their families, especially their parents. However we do not believe that we have liberty to compromise Christ’s claim to the trust and obedience of all men, Jews and gentiles alike.
Notwithstanding the Jewish conviction that thirteen year-olds are responsible for their own spiritual development, we exercise restraint towards minors, especially the very young, believing that we should normally only share our convictions with them in the context of their family and with their parents’ consent.
We believe that God is “full of compassion” (Psalm 145:8) showing concern for people in the entirety of their personality and relationships. Whilst we are concerned primarily for the spiritual needs of Jewish people, we nevertheless believe that true Christian compassion is to be directed to meeting people’s practical or material needs when necessary.
We believe that “God is light” (1 John 1:5), that His “Word is truth” (John 17:17) and that real faith is grounded in truth and results in integrity of life. We therefore do not believe we can serve God’s cause by wilful deceit and lies. We repudiate any methodology based on manipulative pressure, false claims, misleading invitations, or bribery. We deplore any attempt to induce a superficial change of religious affiliation. We believe that Christian faith must be based on honest personal conviction, held in good conscience, that the Gospel is true and worthy to be believed.
As a Christian organisation, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity we consider ourselves to be accountable to God and men. Our affairs and finances are open to public scrutiny and investigation.
Extract from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” of the United Nations.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.