Category Archives: Leaving Christianity

Jewish Lawyer Converts to Christianity – What’s Missing in this Testimony?

Supreme Court Building

When I saw this woman’s testimony I was compelled to respond for a couple reasons:

  • A. It represents so much about what is wrong with Christianity – i.e. so much of Christianity is grounded in emotions rather than scripture.
  • B. My Christian testimony was marked with these kinds of “visceral” spiritual and providential experiences.

First, let me be clear, this article is not about questioning her experience. That is a very personal and subjective thing (which she has opted to make public).

But, do these subjective experiences serve as the plumb line for validating the nature and character of the God of the Bible? For the fact is that people throughout the world, religious and nonreligious, have these types of experiences.

I do not doubt that this woman seems to have had some kind of powerful, visceral experience, and that she is sincere in her belief of what they meant to her. What I do doubt is her interpretation of those subjective experiences… Why? Because subjective experience does not determine objective truth.

Her story begins while in an airport bookstore one day. She sees and purchases the book Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton, takes it onto her flight and as she begins reading it a lady sitting near her strikes up a conversation asking her about the book.

Now, here’s where the story get’s very compelling. Because several providential experiences happen to her:

  • The lady who strikes up a conversation with her is an author and a Christian
  • In a dream she hears part of a Zeph passage “He will delight with you in song”
  • She receives a book and note from the author she met on the plane
  • The note references the same scripture, Zephaniah 3:17
  • She calls her sister who just happen to be reading a review on same book
  • She gets invited to church…has more feel good experiences
  • She is shocked at how beautiful the service and music is
  • She meets the pastors, who are both Jewish
  • She has a strong emotional response to this encounter
  • A woman asks if she can pray for her
  • During the prayer she has a feeling of electricity running through her
  • As a result she felt a strong sense of truth of who Jesus is

The speaker explains in her testimony that she is going through an especially emotionally painful period in her life and suddenly these things start happening to her. Could it be that with the attention that is directed towards her by the Christians, she feels and receives their compassion, concern and simple kindnesses colors her interpretation of her visceral and providential experiences.

Let us examine some of her statements from the video and in the light of common sense, objective reasoning and of course scripture:

“I felt goosebumps…it was like electricity…. I’m having this visceral feeling…”

What do goosebumps mean? Whenever a person feels goosebumps or electricity is this a sign that they are encountering truth?

 The Hebrew scriptures tell us that God’s word is life and truth (Deuteronomy 4:1, Psalm 119:142).

“I’m Jewish. My family is Jewish. Everyone I know in the family is Jewish.”

Notice that she mentions being Jewish and also being a member of a synagogue, but never mentions any scripture, nothing about God, nothing about what she believed about God and His Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures. The point here being that just because she and her family members are “Jewish” in no way suggests she know and understood the Hebrew scriptures. Thus, what is compelling about a Jew coming to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, if they cannot reason from the scripture in the first place about the biblical criteria for the Messiah.

Could it be that these emotionally charged experiences in a time of grief and emotional pain paved the way for her to “experience Jesus”. She explains that when the lady prayed for her

“I just felt this huge sense of truth of who Jesus is, I felt it, I could feel it”
and she was asked, “Will you accept Jesus as your messiah.”

Her position and reputation in her synagogue was compromised when she explained “I believe in Yeshua now” and she was asked “What happened to you?”

She explains…

“The beauty of how this happened to me, is that I was so hit with the truth of it, at such a deep level, that all I could answer was, with great conviction, ‘I can’t explain why, but it is true. I know it is true. I know it is true in my heart. And I have the rest of my life to read scripture and understand the why – but I know it is – it is the truth.’ ”

 

 

She can’t explain why it’s true, she just knows it is true. Keep in mind, this is an attorney speaking — Read that statement again. Is that how you would want your attorney to defend you before the court of justice?

“Well your honor, I know my client is innocent, I can not explain why, I just feel it deep within my heart. I have no evidence, except for my feelings and what I know to be true, based on, well my feelings and you should believe me because, i know it is true…I’ll research it and tell you why it’s true later. But for now, I just know it’s true.”

 

How do you know Jesus is who you think he is? Is he God, messiah, son of God, torah teacher etc? Can you concisely explain why what you believe is actually true? Do you see a difference between what Jesus taught and what is taught about him? By addressing any of these questions, you will begin to scratch the surface of discovering for yourself what you believe and why. Also, consider whether you are you free to come to your own conclusion about who Jesus is without fear of hell fire and damnation?

Remember, test everything against the light and lens of Torah.

Call Upon The Name Of The LORD And Be Saved?

man-praying.jpg

Through out my Christian walk I loved studying theology and learning the doctrines of the faith…however I also was aware that sometimes, many times, Christian doctrine and theology just couldn’t pass muster…when it came to what I call “where the rubber meets the road test” that’s where all sorts of circular thinking and hoop jumping seemed to happen. The cliched answers to the doctrinal conundrums always seemed to center around the “just have faith” or “God can do what ever He wants, after all no one deserves God’s favor” line of reasoning.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Christianity teaches that forgiveness and a relationship with God are only possible through Jesus Christ. Simplistically, that requires an individual to “turn from their sin and accept Jesus into their heart.”

Now let’s look at a possible real life scenario

Person A just happens to hear or read chapter 45 of Isaiah. They only have the Hebrew scriptures and have heard no other teachings. They embrace with all their heart what Isaiah 45 says about who God is – His name is YHVH, He is creator, He is redeemer, He is Savior etc. They are convicted, repent and respond and follow God’s ways.

Person A essentially calls upon the name of YHVH in the spirit of Joel 2 for his salvation – trusting that what he is reading is true.

Person A has never heard about Jesus and if he has, it never even dawns on him that YHVH and Jesus are the same people.

Does person A…

  • Have a genuine relationship with God?
  • Have salvation from Hell fire?
  • Have forgiveness of sins?

I have asked several Christians (all the way from doctors of theology to seminary students to lay teachers in the “church”) not one christian has been able (or perhaps willing) to give me an answer.

Christian please consider the following…

  • If Person A can enter into a relationship with God this way, that means there is another way of salvation other than Jesus
  • If even one person has salvation through YHVH and not Jesus that means he did not really have to die
  • If you think Person A cannot have salvation through believing in YHVH and repenting of their sin and following Him, what is your reasoning?
  • If you think Person A cannot be saved by calling upon YHVH how complicated is it to attain salvation? Does one need to know theology and doctrine are they saved by their knowledge or are they saved by God who simply calls us to humble ourselves before Him and walk in all His ways.


Let me hear your thoughts. Please leave your comments below.

On That Day – What Are You Going to Say?

gavel

Do you believe what you do about Jesus being God in the flesh because of what you have been taught or because you have reckoned for yourself the teachings of the old with the new testament?

Recently this question popped up, “What position (A or B) would you rather find yourself in on the day of judgement, standing before YHVH and explaining why you worship Him the way you do?”…

  • A. I tell YHVH, “I continued to follow Jesus because of what the gospel writers said Jesus said; I followed Jesus because of what Paul said: Sproul said: Calvin said: Luther said: Moody said etc…and they all said Jesus was you!” “I followed Jesus because “they” told me the Christian writings were inspired and inerrant, and I believed them.”
  • B. I tell YHVH, “I stopped following Jesus because You said, ‘I am God and there is no other, I am Savior and there is none other...Fear YHVH your God, serve him only’ and I believed You.”

Through out the many years of studying Christianity I would have questions and concerns but they were always silenced by slick theological doctrines and stuffed away into the recesses of my heart.

Over the last few years, I gathered the courage to face these issues and dig deeper than ever before. This time as the doctrinal problems surfaced, I faced them and followed them and confronted them with Torah – our baseline for knowing what is authoritative. I could see that my studies were beginning to lead me in a direction I never imagined. I cried out to YHVH with fear and trembling, asking and begging Him to reveal truth. At one point I realized, there were so many doctrinal problems, I had to put Jesus on the truth table.  Clinging to YHVH I did that and trusted that He was big enough to show me the truth…Numbers 13 says…

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

When the “Jesus glasses” came off and I allowed myself to view the Christian teachings in a more objective light I saw strange and disturbing contradictions with the very words of YHVH Himself.

I gave over to Him my fear of Hell and heresy and pressed on into the word…I did not like what I was seeing, I was fearful, I was kicking and screaming (metaphorically) as my studies took me further and further from Jesus. So many times I cried out to the Father over what I was seeing, what my mind was comprehending – as I systematically read and studied the Bible (both the Hebrew scriptures and the christian writings) …slowly, steadily, one Christine doctrine fell after the other.

With fear and trembling, I took solace in “search for Me with all your heart and I will be found by you.” Is God a liar or can any of us trust His word and take it at face value. Now the obvious problem with this is, people search for Him and draw different conclusions … but I will save that discussion for another time.

So I ask the reader, “Does God hate me for this? For seeking Him with fear and trembling? For trusting in His word? Do I now become God’s enemy because I choose to worship Him alone and I cannot honestly and with my intellect intact see Jesus in the Hebrew scriptures? Does YHVH mislead those who earnestly seek Him?”

Of course neither your opinion of the matter or mine really matters. Only God’s opinion matters. These are meant to be rhetorical questions to stimulate the reader to get off the doctrinal high horse and examine their own beliefs about the Bible, God and Jesus as it relates to real individuals in real life.

So you Think You Know What Isaiah 53 Is Really About?

jew-near-wall

Coming out of Christianity has made me more aware of the stereotypes and the propaganda that are perpetuated about Jews within the confines of some forms of Christianity…here is one common misconception that is perpetuated by well meaning Christians:

From a pastor responding to learning that one of his congregants was listening to the teachings of a Rabbi about the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

“You know the Rabbi’s will do every thing they can to point you away from seeing Jesus in those passages. They don’t want to see Jesus in these passages.”

Really, they categorically don’t want to see the messiah in those passages? Why not? That statement/concept suggests Christian’s are judging themselves to be more sincere in heart than Jews…is it not?

The above is a very common misconception about “Jews” in general fueled by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

 

So all Jews are put into the same box. Not one of them really loves God or else they would see Jesus, right? But this verse states essentially, one can’t see Jesus until one turns to Jesus…hmmmm…that presents a conundrum doesn’t it?

There are 2 points to this conundrum:

  1. I mean, how would the Jews, who read, study and follow the Tanakh (OT) as their holy Bible be able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah unless God had shown them who to look for and how to recognize him in the Tanakh?
  2. How can I put all Jews in the same box, when I’ve not even spoken to one of them nor listened to their understanding of those same presumably “Christological” scriptures?

Many conservative Christians claim that God did show everyone very clearly from the Tanakh that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact I use to read all the christological OT scriptures and think “how could the Jews have missed Jesus so badly. I mean, even the scriptures that pointed to Jesus were capitalized and had little stars next to them.” Of course I had never, until recently, listen to a learned Rabbi speak about Isaiah 53 and other christological scriptures.

Proverbs 18:17 states:

 “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.”

Consider the video teachings below as a second witness to the Christian teaching of Isaiah 53. Then you be the judge…

One final thought, do you have a thorough understanding of the book of Isaiah? Do you know what chapters 1-66 are about, specifically? If not, how can you be so confident that you understand Isaiah 53?

 

 

Invite Jesus Into Your Heart to Be Saved: Are You Sure?


Do you believe that what you think is real is actually true?

Today’s topic is about whether it is really true that if you, “Invite Jesus into your heart” you will be saved.

But before we get to it just a reminder that if you want to be part of this dialogue and not miss any of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Question to contemplate: At what point in time did God flip the switch and require people to “invite Jesus into their hearts” to be saved? Please leave your comments below.

I think this is probably a modern idea, but an idea which may have come from Peter’s preaching on Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 where he quotes Joel 2:32 and elsewhere. It may also come from Paul’s letter to the Romans in ch 10 where Paul also quotes Joel 2:32.

Since they both quote the same passage it might behoove us to look at that passage in context and see what it actually says…you might be surprised!

“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

Joel 2:32

Let’s dig just little deeper into this passage…Did you notice that the word LORD is in all caps? Whenever LORD is in all caps we have the Tetragrammaton – normally transliterated as YHVH or YHWH – some translators spell it out as Yehovah or Yaweh – the big point here is that the passage does not at all say, Lord, it says, and Joel is quoting God here…so this is straight from the horses mouth so to speak…

“Whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved.” Joel 2:32

Here is another question to contemplate: Is it ok to just plug in the name “Jesus” wherever you read “Lord” or “LORD” in the bible – whether it be in the Old Testament or the New Testament? Wouldn’t it be best to know what the existing manuscripts actually say and mean? Do you think that makes a difference in how one would understand the text?

If we back up to Joel 2 verses 12-13 for some additional context we read…

“Now, therefore,” says YHVH “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to YHVH your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.

Clearly this passage from Joel says that those who are saved and forgiven and restored to God are those who repent with a sincere heart and turn back to YHVH.

What do you think? Do the scriptures teach that the way to salvation, i.e. forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father is through “inviting Jesus into your heart.” If you think that is true… please consider at what specific moment in time did God make this a requirement for forgiveness of sins?

Leave your comments below.

Correction: In the video I state that the extant manuscripts have the Tetragrammaton not the word LORD or Lord. Some of the extant manuscripts do use the title Lord (Adonai (Hebrew) or kurios (Greek) in place of the Tetragrammaton.

What About Animal Sacrifices And How Are Jews Forgiven?

It is a common teaching in Christianity that it was animal sacrifices performed in the temple that was the mode and method for “Jews” to be forgiven of their sins. As Christians, we would often ponder, “how do Jews think they are forgiven since they don’t have a temple anymore?” ” Have you ever subscribed to this belief? Is this really what is taught about forgiveness in the Old Testament or Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures)?

To my shame the answer was always as plain as the words on the page of the “Old Testament.” Here are just a few of the passages that declare YHVH’s plan for forgiveness of sins:

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name (YHVH) will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.
  • Psalm 51 You do not delight in sacrifices or I would bring it, you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.
  • Isaiah 1 – “I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats…stop doing wrong, learn to do right!…though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow…”

Notice that the only mention of sacrifices in the above passages is in the context that, it is not the animal sacrifice that God takes pleasure in, but that God “hears” or takes pleasure in the soul who truly repents and seeks after Him.

Question to contemplate: If YHVH takes no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats…how could he take pleasure in the blood of his only begotten son Jesus? Christian, how do you explain that? Let me caution you not to regurgitate what you have been told, but to seek after OT scriptural validation.

But what About the Need for Justification?

If God says he will forgive on the basis of repentance – defined as turning away from our wicked ways and following his ways of humility, justice and mercy (Micah 6) – then is the doctrine of justification fact or opinion? The doctrine of justification, at least as I learned it from reformed teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, requires that God’s just wrath be satisfied by the pouring out of the blood of His only son. I was taught that only the blood of a God/man would do, because it had to be a totally unblemished sacrifice in everyway.

But, do the Hebrew scriptures support a need for legal justification to occur in the way the reformers teach it? Many would point back to the “legalism” of the sacrificial system. However, who said this was a “legal” system? Who planted that concept into the minds of Christians? Just as the mode and method of forgiveness of sin was as plain as the words on the pages of the Tanakh, so is the answer to the sacrificial system, what it is and what it is not.

Take some time and read and study Leviticus, not through “Jesus” eyes, but through the context and time in which it was written. Even a brief study concludes that it was not only animal sacrifices that God instituted with the Israelites…but there were fine flour offerings that were also accepted as sin offerings for those who could not afford one of the animals (Leviticus 5:11).

Question to contemplate: If fine flour could be used as a sin offering (i.e. no blood required for the forgiveness of sin) why would YHVH sacrifice His only son in a cruel punishment and death like Roman crucifixion?

So what was the sacrificial system all about? The video below explains more on the meaning and purpose of the temple sacrifices from a Jewish perspective.

Which leads me to my final question: How do YOU know which or who’s perspective is the correct perspective when it comes to Bible interpretation?

Recent Entries »