Tuesday, 7 February 2012
The Talented Mr Hathaway
The Rosh Pina Project features a lengthy, detailed and devastating critique of ‘evangelist' David Hathaway. The post consists of a lengthy Open Letter to one of the senior pastors of a pro-Israel Pentecostal church in Derbyshire, England which has invited Hathaway to address a conference it has organised for this coming Saturday.
On his website, Hathaway claims that, as a direct result of his preaching, thousands of Holocaust survivors in Israel have become believers in Jesus.
Thousands of Holocaust survivors attended David Hathaway's November meetings in Israel … After listening to David preach and pray, they found a new hope and faith. We have developed a long term relationship with these survivors – we were able to provide humanitarian aid, food and other essential items – also, our representatives will keep co-operating with them to help them grow in their faith.
Hathaway (caught in an unfortunate pose preaching to Holocaust survivors, above) has claimed that a thousand Jews became believers through his April 2011 meetings and that last November 6,000 unbelievers attended his meetings, of which ‘over 90%’ were ‘unbelieving Jews’ and the response rate from these was ‘at least 80%’. That implies a minimum of 4,320 new Jewish believers in Jesus!
If the claimed results of Hathaway’s six meetings were true, it would be totally unprecedented in Jewish evangelism. Zachor has investigated the reports using a number of different methods, and his conclusions make for disturbing reading.
He reveals, among other things that a ‘Messianic Jew’ who was at the meetings ‘did not see the reported events.’
Noam Hendren, who is the chairman of the National Evangelism Committee in Israel, has asked if anyone can confirm Hathaway’s claims. The messianic community within Israel is relatively small, and Stern and Hendren, by virtue of their roles, will be widely connected and will know what is happening. If these people have to ask if Hathaway’s claims are true, that immediately suggests they may not be.
Those interviewed on a video of one of Hathaway’s meetings testify not to new-found faith in Jesus, but to supposed physical healing, using typical Christian language.
A senior member of staff at a Jewish mission says that the Messianic community has not even heard of David Hathaway, which is inconceivable if he had actually held such a major event with such amazing results.
An Israel-based Messianic Bible teacher with an international ministry says Hathaway’s claims are entirely unsubstantiated, and have little relationship to discernible truth.
A pastor who spent several years in Israel with a Jewish mission has concluded that Hathaway’s claims are false and were written to raise money. He is disgusted by Hathaway’s behaviour.
Zachor points out that Jewish people are extremely resistant to the message that Jesus is the Messiah. This results from centuries of Christian persecution and the huge differences between Christianity and Judaism. The Holocaust is frequently viewed as an event in which those claiming to be Christians played a major, if not central, role. Many Jews, especially older people, are not afraid to say that they hate Christians.
Hence it is extremely unlikely that large numbers of Jewish people, especially Holocaust survivors, would attend a meeting hosted by a Christian evangelist, let alone respond to his message. Hathaway’s reports contradict the experience of numerous other people involved in Jewish outreach.
If Hathaway’s claims are true, then thousands of new Jewish believers would be found in Israeli churches or messianic congregations, and the resulting increase in numbers would become public knowledge very quickly. This has not happened.
If Hathaway’s claims are true, his activities would have immediately attracted the attention of aggressive Jewish anti-missionary organisations such as Yad L’Achim.
Furthermore, if the April trip did result in around 1,000 Jewish people becoming believers in Jesus, as claimed, news of this would have reached the anti-missionaries and the response to his November visit would have been extreme. They would have tried to block his entry into the country and sent large numbers of activists to violently picket and disrupt his meetings. All this would have been reported in the media. There have been no such reports.
The report is sobering and depressing. But Hathaway is not alone in making grand unsubstantiated claims. The lesson is, if claims of large numbers of Jewish people coming to faith sounds too good to be true, they probably are.