The Messianic Jewish organization Jews for Jesus has loudly condemned a recent Vatican document which discourages Christians from attempting to convert or missionize Jews.
The new document, entitled “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable”, was released on Thursday by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate. That declaration, issued in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, led the way to a formal Catholic-Jewish dialogue, easing a relationship which had been, to say the least, strained for several hundred years.
Thursday’s document discusses Christianity’s Jewish roots in depth, recognizing Judaism’s vital place in the history and development of Christianity. “Judaism is not to be considered simply as another religion; the Jews are instead our ‘elder brothers’ (Saint Pope John Paul II), our ‘fathers in faith’ (Benedict XVI),” the document reads.
It goes on to address the “awkward” topic of the “mission to the Jews”, pointing out that it is “a very delicate and sensitive matter for Jews because, in their eyes, it involves the very existence of the Jewish people.”
As a result, the document concludes, “The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views.”
It went on to state flatly that the Church does not support converting Jews, saying, “In concrete terms, this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.”
David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus, soundly denounced the document, announcing in a statement on Friday that his organization finds the Vatican’s position “…egregious, especially coming from an institution which seeks to represent a significant number of Christians in the world.”
Brickner also accused the Vatican of pandering to Jewish leaders when he said, “How can the Vatican ignore the fact that the Great Commission of Jesus Christ mandates that his followers are to bring the gospel to all people? Are they merely pandering to some leaders in the Jewish community who applaud being off the radar for evangelization by Catholics? If so, they need to be reminded that they first received that gospel message from the lips of Jews who were for Jesus.”
Jews for Jesus, which claims to have been “established 32AD, give or take a year”, is deeply focused on missionizing Jews.