Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 147:588 (Oct 1990)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“The Willowbank Declaration on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish People,” Tormod Engelsviken, Mishkan 11 (1989): 71-84.

The Willowbank Consultation on the Gospel and the Jewish People met at Willowbank, Bermuda, April 26–29, 1989. The consultation was sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship and supported by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. It was thoroughly international in makeup with 15 scholars and thinkers from eight countries. Vernon Grounds was chairman for the proceedings.

The main goal of this consultation was to address an apparently growing view “which denies that the evangelization of the Jewish people is an obligation for the church today” (p. 73). What made this necessary is that among some evangelicals who have been characterized as “Christian Zionists” the position has been advanced that there are in effect two ways to salvation: one for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. These “Christian Zionists” believe that Christ is the only source of salvation for the Gentiles, but that Jews are under the everlasting Abrahamic Covenant in which God saves them without reference to trust in Christ.

The Willowbank Declaration denies categorically that there are different means of salvation for Jews and for Gentiles. It denies that the Great Commission was given to Jewish evangelicals for the purpose of evangelizing Gentiles only. The validity and necessity of Christian gospel outreach to Jews is established in 27 pairs of affirmations and denials that give great clarity to the Declaration.

Engelsviken’s reporting of the proceedings reveals that extensive historical, theological, and biblical consideration was given to the topic of Jewish evangelism. He acknowledges the growth of antipathy toward Jewish evangelism among ecumenical and Jewish thinkers. He did not use the names of the “Christian Zionists” who gave rise to the consultation, but some are identified in other articles on “two-covenant theology” in this same issue of Mishkan.

The concept of a people of God of two parts—”the church which acknowledges Christ; the other…Israel, which rejects Him but which in spite of their rejection remain especially loved by God”—was advanced by H. Croner (Stepping Stones to Further Jewish-Christian Relations, 1977, p. 81) and cited by Engelsviken. But Croner is an ecumenist, and does not develop the concept of two covenants advocated by evangelical “Christian Zionists.”

Engelsviken’s article is valuable for having set forth clearly the necessity of continued attention to Jewish evangelism—and for advocating respect, love, and support f...

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