Tampering with the Text
A. WHAT IS AN ANTI-MISSIONARY?
An anti-missionary is a rabbi or a lay volunteer who is somewhat knowledgeable in the New Testament or New Testament theology. They are earnest and honest people who feel that the Jewish community is threatened by Christian evangelism. They believe this so strongly that they dedicate their time and their lives to countering Christian evangelism efforts.
B. WHAT DO THEY DO?
The mission of the anti-missionary is to rescue Jews caught in the clutches of the church or to steady wavering Jews who are coming under the influence of evangelical Christians. Anti-missionaries accomplish their mission by teaching Jewish people that Jesus is not the Messiah and that Jesus is not for the Jew. They do their best to refute the Christian understanding of Messianic Prophecy and the person and work of the Messiah. They do this by teaching in synagogue presentations, synagogue classes and through one-to-one counseling.
When I lived in Seattle I was familiar with one anti-missionary. He went so far as to picket churches that were hosting Jews for Jesus presentations. This is a sticky point today because evangelical Christians are the Jewish community's best friends. This is a sticky point today because eighty percent of the Jewish people won to the Lord are won through the influence of a personal friend. You are the front-line soldiers when it comes to Jewish outreach.
We hope you see the dilemma the anti-missionary faces. On the one hand he has to convince the Jewish person that Jesus is not the Messiah and the Christians are all wrong, but on the other hand he does not want to erode the good relations the Evangelical community and the Jewish community enjoy.
C. WHY DO THEY EXIST?
Anti-missionary organizations exist because of four needs that have cropped up in the Jewish community during the last 40 years.
The first reason they exist is the success of Jewish outreach since the mid-1960's. In 1965-1967 the Jesus movement hit America. God moved in an unusual way among the young people of our country and especially among Jewish young people. Hundreds and hundreds of Jewish people became believers during those years. Many of us in ministry today were saved during that movement of God; I became a believer in 1966.
Those numbers have continued to grow for the last 40 years. Today there are more Jewish believers around than there has been for 2,000 years. Jewish Christians only number about one percent or less of the total Jewish population, we are a distinct minority. The faithful remnant is very small today; however the Jewish community sees this growth as a horrifying and unacceptable trend. Anti-missionary organizations have been formed especially to offset this challenge.
A second reason for their existence is the ignorance of the rabbis. Most rabbis are biblically ignorant. They know the Talmud and the traditions but they spend very little time in the Bible. A common approach when confronted with Messianic Prophecy is to turn to the commentaries. They look in the commentaries and whatever the respected commentators or sages say is good enough for them. The anti-missionaries are called in because they specialize in understanding the Bible.
A third reason for the anti-missionary lies in the ignorance of the Jewish masses. We are no longer the "people of the book." Ninety percent of the Jewish community today is biblically ignorant. Ninety percent of the Jewish community today is secular and atheist or agnostic in position. Only about nine percent of the Jewish community believe in God, the Orthodox, and they focus on the traditions - the Talmud rather than the Bible. When you approach a Jewish person with the Gospel you are probably more biblically literate than they are. In order to deal with this problem the anti-missionary experts are brought in.
The final reason they exist is the fact that specialization is needed to deal with the missionary threat. The average rabbi is like the average pastor, they have too much to do to be an expert in this area. So in order to fill that need anti-missionary organizations have been founded.
D. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN A FRIEND CALLS IN AN ANTI-MISSIONARY?
Do not panic. The arguments of the anti-missionary will sound impressive on the surface but when examined they lack substance.
Stick with the Scriptures. In my experience I have found that anti-missionaries do not like to stick to the biblical text. They like to head off in other directions. So do not let them do that, stick with what the text of Scripture says. We can beat the rabbis with one hand held behind our back if we just stick with the Scriptures. Why? Because they say what they say and there is no getting around that.
Do not be intimidated. As I said, in my experience anti-missionaries tend to avoid dealing with the issues. Instead, they tend to use other strategies aimed at discouraging consideration of the Messiahship of Yeshua. These tactics, unfortunately, include scorn, shame, and social ostracism. The tactics also include quibbling, creating smoke screens, creating diversions and confusion and even intellectual intimidation. Please do not let tactics like these dissuade you from dealing with the true issues, the biblical issues and the biblical text. Here are the true issues:
Is the Hebrew Bible true and trustworthy?
Does Yeshua fulfill the Messianic picture presented in the Hebrew Bible?
If He does what are you going to do about it?
These are the only three issues you really have to stick with tenaciously.
E. WHAT THIS STUDY IS NOT...
This is not a Messianic Prophecy study. I will be touching on Messianic Prophecy, but I will be dealing with only one small segment of the subject-objections. I will not be going into all the details of the prophecies. I will not be dealing with all the objections out there, only the ones I have had to deal with in my interactions with anti-missionaries. All the objections I will present to you have come from exchanges with Jewish people, some have been formal anti-missionaries and some have not. The common denominator is that they all object to our position that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior of the World.
In regard to Messianic Prophecy itself, I expect you to know and be able to clearly present the prophecies to your Jewish friend. After you do that and your Jewish friend goes to the rabbi and comes back with an objection is where this study fits in.
This is not a highly detailed technical study. I know some of you are going to think this is a highly detailed and technical class, but I will do my best not to make it so. I will do my best to present you with what you need to know, not with everything there is to know. A lot of this material will be new and strange to some of you and that's because it comes from a Jewish frame of reference and out of Jewish culture. Believe me, it will not be highly detailed or technical. However, the fact that it is unfamiliar will probably make it seem that way.
F. WHAT THIS STUDY IS...
Okay, if that is what the study is not-then what is it?
I will be preparing you to deal with common objections that your Jewish friend may present when you witness to him. This will provide you with a valid reply to the objection. You will see very clearly that all the objections that people throw at the Bible have valid and reasonable solutions.
I will be showing you that there is very little substance behind a good number of the objections. They look significant on the surface, but they evaporate when examined. This should build your confidence in the Scriptures and in your ability to stay on track with the true issues.
I will be providing you with resources that will enable you to dig deeper into the objections if you desire. You may find that you enjoy the challenge of apologetics. The word apologetics is not a negative or defeatist word. The word apologetics does not mean you are making an apology, or saying you are sorry for the Bible. The definition of apologetics is this:
"The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.1"If you find you like challenging objections, this course will provide you with resources to do so. I will be sharing from a Jewish perspective. That means I will be sharing rabbinic material with you. This material could be very new and strange to many of you. Even though this may be new and strange, it will give you a glimpse at the way the rabbis have handled Scripture for centuries. You will see and understand the reasoning that led to the rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus.
Finally, I will become a resource for you when you get stuck or when you are faced with an objection that you cannot answer. With that in mind I want to encourage you to take a look at the HaDavar witnessing packet that we have developed. You can order that packet from HaDavar.