NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 28, 2018 – A surprising number of Americans with Evangelical beliefs have Jewish roots, and the vast majority of Evangelicals believe it is important to share the Gospel with the Jewish people, according to a study by LifeWay Research underwritten by Chosen People Ministries and New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg.
- Eighty-six percent of Americans with evangelical beliefs say sharing the Gospel with Jewish people is important; and
- An estimated 871,000 Americans with evangelical beliefs – almost three times the most generous previous estimates — have a Jewish parent or grandparent.
“The study indicates unprecedented openness and responsiveness to the Gospel among American Jews and Americans with Jewish roots,” said Rosenberg, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. “What’s more, a significant percentage of American Evangelicals without Jewish roots say they believe sharing the Gospel with Jewish people is important, though not all of them are doing so.
“We must always be loving and humble when we share the message of Jesus with anyone,” Rosenberg continued. “But the Church must never be ashamed of the Gospel because it is, as the Apostle Paul instructs us, the power of salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles.”
The study also found 30 percent of Americans with evangelical beliefs have Jewish friends. But only 32 percent of those told their Jewish friends about Jesus in the past year, and Evangelicals in general seem unclear about how Jews fit into God’s plan.
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed embrace “supersessionism” or replacement theology – the claim that the Christian church “has fulfilled or replaced the nation of Israel in God’s plan.” Forty-one percent reject that idea, and 32 percent are not sure.
Younger Evangelicals – those between 18 and 34 – are more likely to say Christians have replaced Jews in God’s plan. Thirty-four percent agree, and 30 percent disagree. Thirty-six percent are not sure.
In contrast, 48 percent of Evangelicals 65 and older disagree with replacement theology. Twenty-three percent agree, and 29 percent are not sure.
“To see nearly 40 percent of younger evangelicals unsure of how Israel fits into God’s larger story tells me we have a huge opportunity to educate the next generation to appreciate God’s love and plan for both Israel and the nations,” said Esther Fleece, international speaker, author and millennial influencer. “Millennials don’t need help getting involved, we need help understanding a theology that gives Israel and the Jewish people a place in God’s ongoing story.”
About half (55 percent) believe “the Bible teaches that one day, most or all Jewish people, alive at that time, will believe in Jesus.” Sixteen percent disagree, and 29 percent are unsure.
“We are thrilled with the growth of the messianic movement both within and outside of the nation of Israel,” said Dr. Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries. “The number of Evangelicals saying they have a Jewish parent or grandparent is far greater than we imagined. Probably one of the reasons for this, according to the LifeWay Survey, is because over 70 percent of Evangelicals in the United States believe in the importance of reaching out to their Jewish friends with the good news of Jesus.”
Although Evangelicals see a clear tie between Bible prophecy and the rebirth of the nation of Israel, they’re less certain whether Jewish people play a role in the return of Jesus.
“According to the survey, many Evangelicals believe the Gospel will be spread to all people in the world before Jesus returns,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But they aren’t sure if Jewish people have a special place in God’s plan anymore.”
About half (47 percent) agree with the statement, “Jewish people continue to be significant for the history of redemption as Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus.” Twenty-three percent disagree, and 31 percent are not sure.
“The Scripture places God’s commitment to Israel as an expression of his faithfulness and grace. God made promises to Israel as a people long ago Scripture says he will keep,” said Darrell L. Bock, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
When the first part of the study was released in December, showing a need to educate all, especially the young, about Israel’s place in God’s plan, key faith leaders formed the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, an organization dedicated to facilitating a better public understanding of the complexities of the Middle East including its roots in history and the Bible. Glaser, Rosenberg and Bock are all founding members of the Alliance.
LifeWay Research conducted the “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process” study Sept. 20-28, 2017. The survey asked 2,002 Americans with evangelical beliefs about a wide range of issues involving Israel.
This study found that among American adults almost 40 million have evangelical beliefs using the NAE LifeWay Research Evangelical Beliefs Definition (39,912,710). Two percent of these evangelicals (.021816884) indicate that one or more of their parents or grandparents are Jewish. This yields the estimate of 870,771 adult Americans who have evangelical beliefs and self-report that they have at least one Jewish parent or grandparent.
STATEMENT BY JOEL C. ROSENBERG ON THE NEW SURVEY REGARDING EVANGELICALS, THE GOSPEL AND JEWISH PEOPLE
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace-makers.” What does it mean to be a peacemaker?
It means understanding that God is not “either/or.” He’s “both/and.” He loves all people on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and He commands us to do the same.
It means praying and working for calm and quiet and justice and reasonable peace treaties that bless all people in the Middle East.
Above all, it means communicating to every Jewish and Muslim person the good news that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and the only way to make true and everlasting peace with God – and our fellow man – is to repent of our sins, and receive Jesus as Messiah by faith.
The Gospel is the ultimate Mideast peace strategy. Presidents and Prime Ministers won’t preach it, nor should they. Only we can. And we must, for the fields are ripe for harvest.
In the 1950s, there were fewer than 1,000 Jewish believers worldwide. Today, there are 871,000 Jewish believers in the U.S. alone – a spiritual earthquake of historic proportions.
In recent years, when asked how many Jewish believers there are, I’ve said the number was “about 300,000.” My source was the 2001 edition of Operation World, a study that endeavored to compile the most accurate statistics of Christ-followers in individual countries, and distinct people groups.
Page 362: “Globally there has been a significant response [to the Gospel] among the [world’s] 15 million Jews; around 132,000 are linked with Messianic congregations and a further 200,000 with Gentile churches. Most of these believers are in North America, and also in Russia-Ukraine and the U.K.”
In other words, eighteen years ago, Operation World reported 332,000 Jewish believers in Jesus worldwide.
Even that number struck many experts as high. Jews For Jesus says on its website that “estimates [of Jewish believers] range from as low as 30,000 to as high as 125,000 worldwide.” Chosen People Ministries says the number is “maybe 200,000.”
But the study we’re releasing today indicates that Americans with Jewish roots are far more receptive – and responsive – to the Gospel than any of us previously thought.
The veil that has covered the eyes of my people for nearly 2,000 years – that has obscured our understanding of Jesus’ true identity – is lifting.
This is deeply encouraging, and it reaffirms that the Gospel message works – it transforms and betters the lives of all people when they receive it, including Jewish people. But first they have to hear it.
This is why the Alliance calls pastors, theologians and believers all over the world to sign the Statement we’ve introduced today, and in so doing to recommit themselves to preaching the Gospel of peace to all people everywhere – including Jews and Muslims – with love and humility and a profound sense of urgency.
Let us say what the Apostle Paul said, that “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”