Comments on Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel Research Study Part 2:
Evangelicals, the Gospel, and the Jewish People
February 28, 2018

Thank you so much for attending this event. I am Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries – a mission to the Jewish people that began in 1894. We are based in New York City, operate in seventeen countries around globe, and have deep concerns for the well being of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. I am grateful to Dr. Jerry Johnson and those planning Proclaim 18 for the ways in which the modern State of Israel is being honored at the conference in celebration of her 70th anniversary.

Along with New York Times best-selling author, Joel C. Rosenberg, we sponsored a survey entitled, Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel, designed, administered, and analyzed by LifeWay Research under the leadership of Scott McConnell. We released the first set of data at the National Press Club on December 4, 2017, and we are releasing the second set of data today.

The information gleaned from the survey motivated a few dozen evangelical Christians and Messianic Jews to form the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem. The Alliance is a group of evangelical scholars and leaders committed to educating and influencing the Church as a way of responding to theological trends and generational shifts taking place at this time, and alerting evangelicals to the decline in support of Israel and the Jewish people, in particular – unless action is taken.

Has the Church Has Replaced Israel?

One of our theological concerns involves the rise of what is commonly called, Replacement Theology or Supersessionism. As the survey indicates, those who affirm these views tend to be less positive towards Israel and less engaged in bringing the gospel to the Jewish people.

When asked to respond to the statement, “The Christian Church has fulfilled or replaced the nation of Israel in God’s plan,” 41 percent of the respondents disagreed with the statement and another 32 percent claimed to be unsure. Thirty percent agreed with the statement that the Church has replaced the Jewish people.

The survey shows the importance of viewing the Middle East conflict through the lens of Scripture. For example, those who disagree with the idea that the Church has replaced Israel are more likely to indicate the most important reason for their support of Israel is that, “The Bible says God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish People.” (42 percent v. 23 percent), and less likely to agree that, “Biblical passages about Jewish people having a right to the land of Israel no longer apply today” (6 percent v. 36 percent). Additional details may be found on pages 11-14 of the survey results.

More focused Bible teaching that includes Israel as part of the biblical story, especially for the next generation of evangelicals, is critical. The Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem intends to prepare resources and provide tools and experiences to help the Church, especially those under the age of 40, better understand that God has an ongoing plan for the Jewish people today and tomorrow which is consistent with the teaching of Scripture.

Sharing the Good News with the Jewish People

In general, the survey affirms that 86 percent agree (71 percent strongly) that evangelicals who are generally pro-Israel also believe sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important. Clearly, in the minds and hearts of most evangelicals, the Jewish people are included within their understanding of fulfilling the Great Commission of Mathew 28:19-20. A very important part of showing God’s love to Jewish people is sharing the good news of the Messiah with the children of Israel. This is critically important for Palestinians, as well.

However, theology does impact evangelism, according to the survey. Whereas, there was only a slight difference among those who believe the Church has replaced Israel when it comes to believing in the importance of sharing the gospel with Jewish people, the numbers of evangelicals who have spoken to their Jewish friends about the Lord increased by 11 percent.[1]

However, the survey also indicates that evangelicals need help in bringing the good news to the Jewish people, as “30 percent of those with evangelical beliefs have Jewish friends. Thirty-five percent of those with Jewish friends have prayed for the salvation of their Jewish friends in the last week. Sixty percent of those with Jewish friends have not shared the gospel with any of them in the last year.”

The 70 percent of evangelicals without Jewish friends might simply be a geographic fact, as evangelicals are concentrated in traditionally non-Jewish areas of the United States. If this were not the case, it is assumed that many more evangelicals would have Jewish friends, because the survey indicates that evangelicals are positive towards Israel and the Jewish people.

The Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem hopes to strengthen this resolve and understanding of evangelicals so that they become more effective in presenting the gospel to both Jewish people and Muslims. This goal alone makes the Alliance unique in that it prioritizes bringing the gospel to both the Jewish people and Palestinians, as well as helping evangelicals work towards peace in a variety of ways.

A Growing Number of Evangelicals Who Are Jewish in the United States

The survey discovered that 2 percent, over 870,000, of the evangelicals surveyed, are Jewish, either through their parents or grandparents. We really cannot comment beyond the survey to try to determine what level of Jewish identification they practice or observe; whether or not they celebrate Jewish holidays, or identify with the Jewish community in other ways. However, the numbers themselves are remarkable.

Assuming the United States has 6.7 million Jewish people, this group of evangelicals who identify as Jewish represent approximately 7 percent of the U.S. Jewish population. This population is larger than we assumed.

The 2013 Pew survey[2] identified a group of 1.5 million people with Jewish parents or grandparents who were raised in Christian homes, though not necessarily evangelical. This increases the usual determination of the Jewish population in the United States to about 8.2 million and the number of Jewish people with Christian beliefs to 5 percent.  Depending on how the U.S. Jewish population is determined, it is clear that the Pew and LifeWay numbers are similar.

The Apostle Paul speaks of an end-time turning of Jewish people to Jesus in Romans 11:25-29. This is a well known belief among evangelicals and, according to the survey, 55 percent of evangelicals believe the Bible teaches that one day most, or all, of the Jewish people alive at the time Jesus returns will believe in Him. Only 16 percent disagree, and 47 percent agree that Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus. Evangelicals often view this Jewish turning to Jesus as a sign of the second coming. Therefore, these numbers are significant to evangelicals.

The Apostle also speaks of a present day remnant of Jewish followers of Jesus, like himself, which may very well be the group identified by the survey.

“In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” (Romans 11:5)

In fact, it is thought, there may have been as many as 250,000 Jewish believers in Jesus who died in the Holocaust.

The above number is articulated in the article, Jews Become Christians, written by Presbyterian leader, Rev. John Stewart Conning in 1931. He quotes Sir Leon Levison, the well-respected president of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance regarding the 230,000 plus Jewish people who were noted as professing Christians during the first third of the twentieth century:

“According to Levison’s research, 97,000 Jews in Hungary alone accepted the Christian faith; in Vienna 17,000; in Poland 35,000; and in Bolshevik Russia 60,000 Jews became Christians. We also found Jews turning to Christ in Germany, Sweden and Denmark.  Not a few have done likewise in Britain. In America, careful estimate places the number of Christians of the Jewish race at no less than 20,000.”[3]

This is an increase of Jews who became Christians beyond the 224,000 Jews mentioned by Rev. J. F. de le Roi who became Christians during the 19th century.[4]

There does appear to be a growing trend of Jewish people becoming Christians and in modern times, many of these identify as Messianic Jews who also tend to strongly identify with the Jewish community. In a recent article by Itzhak Rabihiya in the Jerusalem Post, the writer encourages the Israeli government to be more accepting of Jews who believe in Jesus, as they form the most natural bridge between the Jewish community and evangelicals.[5]

Perhaps the numbers of evangelicals with Jewish ethnicity will be persuasive to those within the government of Israel to give greater acceptance to Jewish believers in Jesus who want to make Aliyah and become citizens of Israel. We hope so. Jewish evangelicals should be considered Jewish and not disqualified based on their beliefs.

The Alliance hopes to honestly engage in both theological and practical issues that will benefit both Jewish people and Palestinians in the days ahead.

[1] McConnell, Scott, in an email to Mitch Glaser, February 27, 2018, “Those who agree that the Church has replaced Israel (41 percent) are more likely to have shared the gospel with any of their Jewish friends in the last year than those who disagree the Church has replaced Israel (30 percent).”

[2] ( chapter 7

[3] Missionary Review of the World, New York, London, Missionary Review Publication, 1878-1939, 1931:905.

[4] De le Roi, J. F. International Jewish Missionary Conference of the Church Missionary Society. London, 1903.

[5] Itzhak Rabihiya, Jerusalem Post, February 17, 2018, Evangelicals and Israel: Perhaps the government of Israel should start viewing Messianic Jews as diplomatic assets rather than a religious threat.