“I was a Baptist from birth, dedicated to my Christian faith, until I fell in love with Judaism.” Mary Beth Howe, author of A Baptist Among the Jews, describes her journey to conversion in a BeliefNet column. Here are some excerpts:
… In Judaism, no one ever had the last word, the final answer, on anything Divine, and I loved the endless imagination this evoked in me. Most important, I experienced God's presence more deeply and powerfully than I had in my life. This didn't reflect negatively on Christianity; it merely meant that Judaism spoke most powerfully to me.
* * *
My church, however, was deeply hurt. I had held three volunteer positions, including chairperson of a large committee, outreach leader of my Sunday school class, and faith partner to a pastoral intern, and their shock was tangible. Often, in the middle of a workday, I'd lay my head onto my desk and sob over the pain I felt I'd caused them.
Undoubtedly, much of their pain stemmed from the change in my beliefs about Jesus. Nearly two decades ago, I had begun having doubts about the deity of Jesus, but was too terrified to express these doubts to anyone.
Unlike in Judaism, fundamentalist Christians are taught not to question. We are often sheltered from "the world," and we question the spirituality and "salvation" of other people-even other Christians who don't believe like we believe.
Questioning orthodox Christian beliefs, especially when the questions revolved around Jesus, filled me with terror.
Yet the doubts wouldn't go away. When I read the Gospels, I simply didn't see Jesus in the way other Christians saw him. He seemed like a great Jewish teacher, someone who, like the Hebrew prophets, wanted to shake people out of their spiritual lethargy-a lethargy people of all religions go through at times.
* * *
For several years, however, I still didn't talk much about my loss of belief in the divinity of Jesus. I had been a Baptist for more than four decades, and I loved my church. I also knew how much this would hurt people I cared about.
Further, because I'd been a Christian for so many years, it seemed impossible to simply become indifferent to Jesus, something I wrongly thought would be required of me if I became a Jew.
Because of this, I fought to remain in Christianity. I tried to re-interpret sermons, hymns, and even communion to fit in with my changing beliefs. I visited more liberal denominations, thinking that might satisfy me.
But in the end, I knew that I was merely putting off the inevitable. Judaism fulfilled my deepest spiritual needs, and it was within Judaism that I most powerfully experienced God's presence. I needed to follow the deepest call and yearning of my heart.
(Extra paragraphing added; hat tip to TitusOneNine.)
I expect we’d be surprised how many Christians entertain similar doubts about the deity of Jesus. If you really dig into Scripture with an open mind, you’ll find you can’t avoid such doubts.