Friday, July 11, 2008

Finding Where the Way Points

I have decided that it is finally time to write this blog, it is finally time to write a blog about renouncing my Christianity. My recent blogs have taken on (I hope) a more Jewish tone, that is because I have left the faith I've held precious for so long. Here is what I have to say on this topic.

I'm not sure where it started, though I can speculate. Even though I had read some posts on some forums written by Jews-posts that begot a few questions in my mind-for the most part I think the thing that started it was a class I took at California Baptist. I was a Christian Studies major so I took some Christian Studies classes: Paul & the Early Church and Latter Prophets and Writings.

I've been complimented on my intelligence before, but I don't think I've ever been complimented for my work ethic. Latter Prophets and Writings was a class that demanded a strong effort from the student, the class was designed to obliterate the lazy. Regardless of the fact that my grade reveals my laziness, that class was one of the most interesting classes. The Old Testament finally began to seem important to me, it finally seemed interesting, I began to gain a deeper appreciation for the Old Testament and it's record of G-d's chosen people.

Earlier in the year I had come to the realization that most of the arguments for the existence of god were less valuable than I had previously thought. Finely tuned? By what standard? Uncaused cause? How can we derive a Trinity from that? It is here that two things developed in me: 1) an appreciation for first hand accounts of religious experiences (most of which are useless, though) 2) a deep resentment for Christianity's claim that our salvation is dependent upon our belief in Jesus. I resented it because Christianity is not obvious; if you are not raised in Christianity or a country with strong Christian beliefs then there is a high probability that you will not be saved.

At CBU I am surrounded by Calvinists, a system I have never bought into. It always troubled me, but personal study began to make it seem almost appealing. Mostly because my thought process was this:
Belief is out of human control, Salvation is dependent upon belief, therefore salvation is out of human control. I only saw two options here, either salvation was only given to those fortunate enough to believe the proper doctrines or G-d was in control of it and salvation was dependent upon his will. Neither appealed to me too much, but I would much rather believe that G-d was behind it than chance, besides I found much more evidence for this in Paul's letters and Acts.

All the while I tried to maintain a skeptical mind, I never wanted to shut down my ability to question Christianity. But is that what G-d wanted? Maybe G-d wanted me to shut down my ability to question. I've always been told that he doesn't, but so many people teach so many things, maybe I was supposed to just be faithful. Maybe I needed to retake my leap of faith? I would go to the mandatory church services and hear about things like a missionary who saw an angel when he was young and was miraculously healed from the effects of a poison that should have killed him. I began to think that this could be my proof. My proof was the voice that told Augustine to read, my proof was Brother Lawrence's great faith that allowed him to say “to one Brother that he almost no longer believed in the presence of [G-d] in his soul, but by this luminous faith, he already saw something of [G-d's] intimate presence,” and the spiritual experiences that I had in my own life that pale in comparison to these.

So, I loved the Old Testament all the more. It was full of men who were close to G-d, it was full of men who spoke to the Almighty and men who experienced his love, his wrath, his interaction. Philosophy, which I loved, could only get someone so far, they really had to experience G-d I began to believe.

Then I was presented with a devastating problem in my Basic Reasoning (how appropriate) class. Since I'm at a Baptist school I'm surrounded by missionaries and street preachers. I don't remember what the topic was, but a girl volunteered a story about an argument she had with a Buddhist girl. She told the Buddhist that she should convert to Christianity, the Buddhist responded that Buddhism had helped her through some tough times and she had no reason to leave it. This troubled me, and I had to come to terms with the fact that Christianity did not have a monopoly on changing lives.

Where could I go from here? The only way to defeat the Buddhist would be by engaging her in a battle of logic, however, I no longer believed that logic alone would lead to Christianity. I was stuck, personal experience does not just lead to Christianity, nothing leads just to Christianity, if belief was necessary for salvation then plenty of perfectly reasonable individuals would be going to hell.

I don't remember what happened from there, the semester ended and I was just ecstatic to be done. I came home, hopped on World of Warcraft and let my mind deteriorate. I decided I would deal with everything later, for now it was time to let my mind relax. Then it began to slowly happen. My mind began to whisper “Judaism.”

It was strange, I don't remember ever really considering Judaism too much. I knew a man online who is a studying convert and I enjoyed reading what he had to say, but would I really want to become a Jew? I told myself I would deal with it later, I would look at all of the evidence later, right now I just wanted to let my mind relax. In that time something very strange happened. In the past I had been faced with concepts and issues I had to deal with, and I would always defend my faith with passion! Suddenly, I did not want to defend it anymore.

I barely knew anything about Judaism, but something in me wanted to learn more. I didn't know why, but my faith in Jesus no longer seemed worth fighting for. That's when I realized something: the only ones who defeat Christianity are the Jews. The Jews have the prophecies that Jesus claimed to fulfill, the Jews are what Christianity is built upon, I have to look at Judaism if I am to continue being a Christian.

I looked, and I laughed, I have fought so hard for a faith that does not stand up. The prophecies were a joke. One that stood out was the prophecy that Matthew claims was fulfilled in Matt 1:23; the prophecy, so far as I can tell, was not messianic, and was not pointed to a far off savior it was pointing to the immediate future. Beyond that, I began to realize that the Jews were right to reject Jesus. It was the only reasonable thing to do, he claimed to be G-d and that is not was the Jews were looking for. The Jews had no reason to expect the G-d-Man, they were perfectly right in rejecting Christ.

Yeshua did not accomplish what they expected the Messiah to accomplish, and rejecting him was the right thing to do. I now joined them in rejecting him. I would have fought hard to keep my faith, but I did not feel I was losing it. I felt as though G-d were calling me out of Christianity. I felt as though he were telling me “Yes, you have spent your time on the Way, but where does the Way lead? Jesus is the Way, but he is not the destination. Your time with Jesus is through, now it is time to go further.” Where does Jesus point? Jesus was a Jew, he claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, why is he worshiped so dearly by me and my fellow gentiles? Maybe he points to Judaism?

So, that is where I am. Once I was a Christian Studies major who read C. S. Lewis and Saint Augustine. Now I am below a layman. I am almost completely ignorant of the new path I am on, yet, I could not be an honest man and continue to follow Christianity now that it's interpretation of prophecies seemed false. So, with my JPS Tanakh and with Rabbi Telushkin's Jewish Literacy, I begin taking the early steps in a new path.

Will I convert? I don't know. I have let G-d lead me here, but considering I wanted to excel in Christianity should I now give up once I have found something truer? For now, I shall try to be a Child of Noah, while learning what I can.

No comments:

Post a Comment