I usually say it began when I was 31, which is true, in a way. In another way, it’s more true to say it began when I was about 13 or 14. At that time, I read Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”. The chapter that bothered me is his chapter on the prophecies Jesus is supposed to have fulfilled. See, I looked them up and read them in context, and I found it troubling.
Around the same time, I got a New King James Bible that had footnotes. I was very excited. And I would, just as with McDowell’s book, go look up the footnotes.
If you read Matthew 2, you’ll find that Matthew says that baby Jesus went to Egypt to fulfill what is written “through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son” (v. 14). And there will usually be a footnote that tells you this is from Hosea 11:1. But if you read Hosea 11:1 it says, “When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I have called my son.” It’s not talking about the Messiah. It’s not talking about Jesus. It’s talking about Israel.
And it’s not this one verse. Just about any verse you read quoted in the NT is warped. Hosea 11:1 most people consider small potatoes. But it’s one of the first ones I looked up, and it has stuck with me. But this is all over, and they get worse. When John says that Jesus fulfilled the scripture that says that he would eat bread with the one who betrayed him, there’s a real problem. That same psalm says that the person who is being betrayed has sinned. But Jesus is not supposed to have sinned. It’s no good to apply one verse from a passage, or a few words, and then ignore the rest of it. Nothing in the psalm would let you know it’s about the Messiah. The most natural reading makes it about Jesus.
Now we come to the part of which I’m ashamed. I didn’t let it bother me. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t continue to investigate. Instead, I assumed that there were really good explanations. I accepted all the testimonies of those whose lives were changed by Jesus in McDowell’s book. I told myself that if these were real problems, then someone would have noticed by now, and the Church wouldn’t have lasted for 2,000 years. (This is terrible logic, since every false religious system is full of contradictions, but some of those are older than Christianity. And some are still growing today. And obviously I don’t hold that all of those are true, and I didn’t then.)
What’s worse, is that I freely quoted these as proofs that Jesus was the Messiah and divine. When I witnessed to people, I talked about all the proof the prophecies offer. I would ask how people living hundreds of years before Jesus could have predicted the things that would happen to him. I would love to say that I had this doubt in the back of my mind, gnawing on me for years and years. But I didn’t.
It wasn’t until I was 31 that I really gave things an honest look. At that time I had been in conversations with a couple friends of mine regarding religion. I got to thinking that I wasn’t being fair. I wanted them to convert to Christianity. I was hoping they’d really investigate their beliefs and see that they couldn’t be true. But I wasn’t being fair. I wasn’t examining my beliefs to ensure they were sound. I decided that I needed to check my own faith and see if it was consistent.
And I knew where to start. I started going through the NT again, looking up the sources and seeing if they really match up. It didn’t take long to see that they don’t. I couldn’t say Jesus fulfilled any of these prophecies, if these prophecies are being misrepresented. I started to get nervous. I bought Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”. I carefully went over the book. It’s a poor case. I picked up other Christian apologetics. I quickly unravelled them.
In studying the NT’s claims about Jesus, I had a framework. I knew that the OT was assumed to be true by the NT writers. Therefore, everything they wrote had to agree with the OT. And that’s the problem. Virtually nothing they write agrees with the OT. It misrepresents it at every turn. I realized that they are untrustworthy, either liars or ignorant. I don’t know which. I only know that the faith in which I was raised cannot be true. My faith was misplaced.
I could have known this much sooner. I ignored the question. I did not logically walk through the arguments of apologists. I read C.S. Lewis religiously, and I often quoted from “Mere Christianity”. But I hadn’t checked his logic. Going over his arguments, I realized they are not sound.
Once I’d destroyed my own faith, I wasn’t sure what that meant. Was the OT true? Was there even a god? So, I kept studying, investigating these questions. The short answer is that I found the Torah to be true.
So, then I didn’t know: do I need to convert to Judaism? And through study I found that no, I don’t. God gave commandments to Noah that are universally applicable. Anyone can have a relationship with God, not just the Jewish people. Now, I would like to convert to Judaism one day, if I am afforded the opportunity, but it isn’t necessary.
The seven categories of the Noahide commandments are:
1. Do not commit idolatry 2. Do not commit blasphemy 3. Do not murder 4. Do not steal 5. Do not have forbidden sexual relations 6. Do not eat the limb of a living animal 7. Establish court of law
You asked once, if I’d truly repented. I have now. I have left behind the worship of a man. And I pray to the One God, the Creator of the Universe. I study those parts of the Torah applicable to me as a non-Jew. And I find Ezekiel 18 so comforting. One can leave his old ways and turn to God, and he will be counted righteous. Forgive this for being so long. Even so, I’ve obviously truncated it.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal