Row over messianic CCJ link

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2009

The former director of the London branch of Jews for Jesus has advised the Council of Christians and Jews on an educational pack about Passover.

Richard Harvey, who lectures at All Nations, an independent evangelical college in Hertfordshire, is described on the CCJ website as “a leading Torah scholar and expert in the Jewish roots of the early Christian church”.

But Rabbi Shmuel Arkush, director of the anti-missionary Operation Judaism, was surprised at the choice of adviser.

He said: “He has a very clear past, none of which he has recanted. I would like to know what an organisation looking to foster genuine respect between faiths is doing using such an individual.

“To convert Jews to Christianity and to try to persuade them they are still leading a Jewish life is not showing that respect. Any Jewish people who have an understanding of the issues will be appalled.”

The CCJ pack offers members “valuable insight into a ritual celebrated…by the very earliest Christians” and information to “put together a great Seder experience”.

Mr Harvey, who remains on the board of Jews for Jesus and has a new book out soon on messianic Jewish theology, said: “I’m still Jewish, I still believe Jesus is the Messiah. I am very keen for Christians to understand the richness of the Jewish roots of their faith.”

David Gifford, chief executive of CCJ, said: “We were genuinely unaware of Richard Harvey’s connections to Jews for Jesus when we spoke to him about our Passover pack. However, we now realise that it was a mistake to consult him on this subject.

“His input, while helpful, had no bearing at all on the direction and tone of the pack and he was only one of many advisers whom we contacted.”

Last updated: 3:58pm, March 10 2009