Posted by: celticanglican | July 4, 2007

Some Thoughts for Christians Contemplating Judaism

I’m not sure how many of us are in existance, but there are many Christians who have nearly left Christianity for Judaism at some point. Of the major world religions, for me, Judaism seems like the most attractive. However, there were some doctrinal issues that ultimately made me realize I could never be Jewish. I retain much respect for Jewish culture & beliefs and enjoy Shabbat services, but couldn’t convert.

Here are some issues helpful to consider:

1. Who is Jesus to you? If you believe in, and accept Him, as your Lord, why would you want to forsake Him? While some Jews revere Jesus as a teacher, most do not accept Him as a prophet and none accept Him as the Messiah or God.  Belief in Jesus as revealed by the New Testament is not compatible with Judaism. In fact, some Orthodox Jews regard Christian beliefs in Jesus as polytheism.

2. Depending on the Jewish tradition followed, adherance to the 613 laws of the Torah might be expected. Are you prepared to live by the Law instead of by grace?

3. Judaism is not an evangelistic faith. In fact, most rabbis will discourage conversion unless they are certain of its sincerity.

4. Judaism, like Christianity, discourages “private religion”. Regardless of how much Jewish ritual one is involved with at home,  it would probably be difficult for a Gentile to be accepted as a member of the Jewish community without formally converting.

5. Are you willing to give up celebrating Christian holidays? While some Jewish people do celebrate Christmas, this is often discouraged by other Jews. If you’re not willing to give up these holidays, ask yourself if they do still mean something to you.

6. Are your objections to Christianity doctrinal, or are they due to poor behavior/examples on the part of other Christians? If it’s the latter, the issues need to be dealt with and joining another religion won’t resolve it. The counsel of a spiritual director would helpful in this case.

A special note I’d like to add, too, is that “Messianic Jewish” congregations may not be ideal choices. Messianics are not accepted as a Jewish group by any branch of Judaism. Many Jews are offended by such groups. Also, in these groups, adherance to the laws in the Torah are generally considered necessary, despite New Testament teaching to the contrary.

So, if you’re contemplating conversion, please carefully consider the reasons and the points above. You may be surprised & realize there’s a place for you in Christianity after all.

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