Many people have wondered why I would convert to Judaism, why I left the faith of my childhood and embrace Torah, wondering why I would do such a thing. The puzzled looks come not only from former Christian friends and family, new non-Christian friends, but Jews as well. I usually give the short answers: Christianity never made sense and always felt connected to Judaism. I always wanted to learn how to read Hebrew and understand the faith of Jesus. The more I searched, the more I learned; I realized that Judaism is true, not Christianity. This answer does not satisfy a lot of people, so I thought I would write out the full story of Christianity to Judaism. Let's compare Christianity vs Judaism and find out.
To answer the question about why I am choosing Judaism, you first have to understand something of my religious upbringing—you need to know why I was a Christian. I was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas and was adopted. I grew up in Maryland where my father was the pastor of my local church. I grew up having a solid Christian education.
My father passed away in 2001 shortly after I turned 6. I continued my Christian education at the Christian school where my mom taught. We continued to go to church and I wanted to learn more about Christianity and more about the Bible. When I was about 10 years old, I voiced my desire to be a pastor. I began studying Hebrew and learning the “Old Testament.” That’s when the questions began.
“Why do Jews reject Jesus?” That was the question on my mind. The Jews are the chosen people of G-d; G-d send them prophets and promised them a messiah — and Jesus fulfilled over 300 messianic prophesies — Jesus must be the Messiah!
After doing a lot of research, I learned about Messianic Judaism. I found Jews for Jesus, Hebrew Roots, Chosen People’s Ministry, and more. They had a vast library on information about Judaism and that is where I got most of my introduction to Judaism. Then, I began to discover things on the internet that disturbed me.
I had a problem with the fact that they targeted Jews for conversion to Christianity. A lot of what they were doing was very deceptive to me – they threw kippot on their head, called their leaders a Rabbi, held services on Saturday, and calling themselves a synagogue or congregation — even though most had no Jewish genealogy and admitted they were not Jewish. Even more disturbing, they claimed to be Jewish and thus different from traditional Christianity, yet their theology was exactly the same as the Southern Baptist church I grew up in.
One of their most common tactics was to suggest to born Jews, many of whom were severely lacking in their own religious education, that the most natural and most Jewish thing in the world would be to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. I found it interesting that they would target Jews with little knowledge of Judaism – not big named Rabbis and Yeshiva students.
Christianity vs Judaism
My questions of Christian theology grew bigger. Why does the Torah say you shall keep the Sabbath for all generations and virtually no Christian today keeps the Sabbath? Why does the Torah say that the bris is an eternal covenant between the Jewish people and G-d, and Paul says that circumcision is self-mutilation? I asked my local pastor and my Sunday School teacher and was left with no answers.
In my studies, I came across Tovia Singer, Michael Skobak, and Jews for Judaism. I began to read their counter-missionary material aimed at providing a reasoned, scriptural basis for rejecting Christianity’s various claims, particularly the deity of Jesus, his status as Messiah, and the Pauline rejection of the Law.
Reading and debating non-Christian material was nothing new to me. I read Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and others. I’ve always enjoyed reading and studying other religions and other cultures, out of a desire to see how “true” they were. When I began to read the Jewish response to Christianity, my faith was shattered. The Jews were providing a very good reason for rejecting Christianity and their interpretation of the scriptures made a lot more sense than the Christian understanding.
I would read the materials for hours, determined that I would find an answer to their questions and responses. Finally, I realized that Jesus was not the messiah; Jesus is not god, and G-d is not a trinity.
Let me share with you what I learned. I learned that for an in-depth understanding, you need to read your own Bible thoroughly, compare what your church is teaching to what the Scriptures say and read through Jews for Judaism, Outreach Judaism, and Tovia Singer.
Do not take my word for it. Look at the Scriptures yourself. Ask the question: “If I were reading this passage for the first time, how would I understand it?” That was the end of my faith in Jesus. I realized that in order to be intellectually honest, I have to let the Scriptures speak for themselves.
What do I believe today? I’m glad you asked! The Rambam (Maimonides) summed it up in the 13 principles of faith:
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner like His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, has no body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
- I believe with perfect faith that to the Creator, Blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
- I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
- I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both those who preceded him and those who followed him.
- I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him.
- I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be exchanged and that there will never be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed be His Name.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and all their thoughts, as it is written, "Who fashioned the hearts of them all, Who comprehends all their actions" (Psalms 33:15).
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
- I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.
- I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, Blessed be His name, and His mention shall be exalted for ever and ever.