18 October 1975 Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews (FCTJ) condemns Messianic Judaism #otdimjh

On October 18, 1975, the Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews concluded: “BE IT RESOLVED, therefore, that the FCTJ stand apart from and in opposition to Messianic Judaism as it is evolving today”

The following is taken from Yaakov Ariel, Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000. David Rausch and Rich Robinson also give the details:

Harold Sevener of ABMJ (now Chosen People Ministries), William Currie of the American Messianic Fellowship (sic – the name had not come into general usage to describe Messianic Judaism but referred specifically to the Messianic ministry of Yeshua) and Marvin Rosenthal –

Rich Robinson writes in The Messianic Movement: A Field Guide for Evangelical Christians, Purple Pomegranite Productions, 2005), 47-48.

The Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews (FCTJ) was formed in the early 1950s by Fred Kendal and Emil Elbe. Kendal was General Director and founder of a Jewish mission called Israel’s Remnant that was based in Detroit. Elbe was Superintendent of the Midwest Messianic Center in St. Louis. Meeting every one or two years at various locations in the U.S. and Canada, the FCTJ was intended for those engaged in Jewish ministry in those countries to be of mutual encouragement to one another and to exchange ideas on methods and issues in Jewish evangelism. Of particular note was its production of Ha’Or, an evangelistic publication used by various mission agencies for about twenty years. Fred Kendal was the first editor, followed by his son-in-law Avi Brickner in the late sixties. Brickner (father of David Brickner of Jews for Jesus) was also elected president of the FCTJ at that time.

Perhaps the most interesting moment in the history of the FCTJ was in 1970 when Jewish rabbi Sid Lawrence was invited to speak to its annual conference. When asked what the image of missionaries to the Jews was in the Jewish community, he replied that they had no image! His words served as a challenge to the various Jewish missionaries (among them Moishe Rosen who later founded Jews for Jesus) to be more visible and effective.

The FCTJ was originally a somewhat loose association of individuals who had the right to vote on various issues. Some of the mission boards felt they did not want to see that kind of power in the hands of individuals rather than mission boards.  In the early 1970s, there was discussion of making the organization to be an association of missionary societies in order to develop the kinds of standards in ethics and operations that other mission organizations shared. The FCTJ constitution was changed so that only mission boards could be members.

Around that time the FCTJ began objecting to certain trends that it saw among some in the Messianic movement. At the annual meeting in 1975, a resolution was put forth that essentially took issue with many of these trends, such as those who would declare Messianic Judaism to be a fourth branch of Judaism. The resolution was authored by Harold Sevener, then with the American Board of Missions to the Jews; William Currie, director of the American Messianic Fellowship; and Marvin Rosenthal who headed the Friends of Israel.

The FCTJ went out of existence in the 1980s. One reason for its demise was the conservatism of the organization; some of its members became closed to new approaches. Another reason was that when it stopped being an organization of individual missionaries and changed so that only mission societies could be members and vote, the attendance at the conferences dwindled to mostly mission leaders. The new constitution also required unanimous approval for all new member organizations. None were approved after the new constitution was put in place.

Personal note – I met Harold Sevener and Marvin Rosenthal at LCJE meetings in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I appreciated very much their testimonies and ministries, but did not agree with their analysis. Sevener changed his position, but I don’t think Rosenthal did. Currie presented a paper at an LCJE meeting in 1985 still critical of the Messianic movement, but more mild in tone. See here


Yaakov Ariel, Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000 (Univ of North Carolina Press, 2000)

Rausch, David,  Communities in Conflict (USA:  Trinity Press, 1991)198

Rich Robinson Fieldguide, Fieldguide to the Messianic Movement p56


David A. Rausch, Communities in conflict: evangelicals and Jews 1991 “Messianic Judaism is Old Hat,”

Currie, Bill, “A Jewish Missions Response to Messianic Judaism”, April 10, 1985, LCJE conference, ??. Online: http://www.lcje.net/papers/1985/Currie.pdf

Request- does anyone have any more information on the FCTJ apart from this episode and the Sid Lawrence presentation? Photos, copies of minutes, papers etc most welcome – eg material noted below:

www.worldcat.org/title/seminar-manuscripts/oclc/17629744 Publisher: Nyack, N.Y. : Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews, Nyack Missionary College, 1969. Edition/Format: Book : Conference publication

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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2 Responses to 18 October 1975 Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews (FCTJ) condemns Messianic Judaism #otdimjh

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow interesting history…never heard of FCTJ before until now. Obviously them going out of existence didn’t help with their popularity…


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