Conversion to Judaism: How It Started

Posted on Nov 14, 2021

Preachers like to tell a story of an atheist who, wishing to refute Christianity, decided to study it only to land on a church pew in the end. Maybe the story was about Edward Feser, an LA-based philosopher. Who knows.

That’s not what happened to me. I went the other way. After 21 years believing the 66 books of the Bible are the written words of God, the beliefs I held for so long evaporated.

Not all beliefs.

What I Hold On To

I hold on to the first 39 books, what Christians call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible that is. By now I think you know what I’m talking about – I have converted to Judaism.

I din’t see it coming. I held the Westminster Confession of Faith in high esteem and knew it inside out. I was a Presbyterian, member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Christianity entered my life the same way it left it – out of nowhere. One day I held a vague notion of God in my mind and then the next, the next day, or something like that, I read James:

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell … no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.

No one can tame the tongue, he wrote, it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. He knew, and so did I. We’re rotten. Why and how to fix this should be in the Bible. This is how it started. The reading, the studies, the prayers, going to church.

Took me years to organize the Bible’s information, analyze the scholars' and the theologians' views to settle on a belief system some people call Christian Scripturalism, formulated (but not named so) by the late Dr Gordon H. Clark.

My kids grew up signing psalms in meter and reciting the Shorter Catechism. Their voices still sound in my head to this day:

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

The Foundation I Stood, And Still Stand On: Propositional Revelation

The world view bastion I built stood on a rock theologians call propositional revelation. You start with ‘the Bible alone is the Word of God’ and go from there. Truth (epistemology) is ‘either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture’ (see WCF, ch. 1:6). It’s the heart of Scripturalism. Truth is Scripture plus any proposition deduced from it by deductive logic. That’s it. All other truth claims outside of that paradigm is an opinion.

My faith boat sailed with tailwind for 21 years until one day the wind stopped blowing. Don’t know why it did. Doubts? Never had any. Never doubted anything. It’s that principle, ‘the Bible alone…’ You start there, accept that first proposition and doubt dies with it. Brick by brick, you build your house knowing the first cornerstone will hold the rest of the building. Except, what if your first principle, your axiom, is wrong?

The Axiom of a World View

Every world view has to have its first, starting axiom. Without one, you have nothing. It can be whatever you want but you have to start somewhere. I started with ‘the Bible alone…’ The ‘Bible’ stood for 39 books of the Old and 27 New Testament books.

The Old Testament stands on its own. If it’s the Word of God written (and I believe it is), it doesn’t need the other 27 books. That is, it’s possible the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible are the Word of God written and the 27 books are not. This is Judaism (the foundation of).

The reverse is not possible. That is, if the Hebrew Bible is not the Word of God written, the 27 books are not either. These 27 books, the New Testament, depend on the Hebrew Bible being God’s words written down. Without it, there’s no Christianity.

A Novel Thought

Don’t know why this thought never crossed my mind before. When it did, to figure out if the belief system I built had a leg to stand on, I went for its jewel – Jesus Christ. If he was what the gospels claimed he was, what Paul, Peter, James, and Jude claimed he was, then nothing is wrong, the ship will keep on sailing on. If not, well, it’s a problem. A problem with eternal consequences. If I’m wrong about Jesus, about the veracity of the New Testament, then, as Paul wrote to Corinthians, my faith is in vain.

The Source: Hebrew Bible

From there, I went to the source – the Hebrew Bible. New Testament claims Jesus is the messiah God promised will come one day to save God’s people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). If so, it should be easy to find these promises in the Hebrew Bible.

I knew where to find them except, until now, I never checked them. I never placed the source (the Hebrew Bible) next to the New Testament claim based on that source.

When I did, this is when the wind stopped blowing. It stopped blowing because, well, there was no wind.

The New Testament claims about Jesus, when checked, were empty as the sound of one-hand clapping. And here’s the kicker – the fraud is right in front of you, in plain sight. The writers of the New Testament didn’t even try to hide it, or maybe couldn’t, or thought why bother, or whatever. All you need to do is read the source (the Hebrew Bible) and compare it to the claim (the New Testament) and wait for your mind to blow up. Mine did.

So compare I did, but this for the next post.