‘But Look at How Believing in Jesus Changed My Life!’



Dear Rabbi Singer,

I am certain that the question will surface somewhere in this general commentary I am making. I hope you will bear with me until the question does arise.

For one who has been a Christian all his life, I find your commentaries very compelling and thought provoking, but, at times, dismaying, while there have always been questions in my mind inherent to matters of truth concerning the Gospels, and the remainder of the New Testament. The question is, as Pilate said it, What is truth? Everyone has a different version, and all claim their particular version to be the final word. Regarding your commentaries, I do not find anything that I would consider to be misleading or mean-spirited in your answers to your reader’s questions when you criticize Christianity, but it is obvious to me that you base practically your entire criticism on legalism. Jesus Christ had much to say about the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees in the context of how it applied to their religious worship. The one thing you seem to miss is that much of the teachings of Jesus related to the depth of the love of the individual towards God. I can understand how you can use legalism to apparently refute many of the claims of Christianity, so I believe my question is: How do you refute the almost unbelievable change in the character and personality of people after they are converted to Christ?

I have seen this again and again, so I believe my observations are, at least, reasonable. I have seen this change continue throughout lifetimes. What you seem to observe as a zeal to convert others is actually a zeal to help others, and of course to witness to that person for Christ. I am not aware of any pressure to convert. The basic premise is to show other people the change in your life and how it came about. As much as I am swayed by your legal criticism, I cannot deny the knowledge of Christ in my being, even when I sin. Surely, the God of all mankind would preempt a false religion, proclaimed in His name, which would lead millions from the true path and towards damnation. If this is not the case, then the existence of man on this world appears quite pointless.

Thanks for your time.


I am certain that many readers will not fully grasp the importance of your main point because your letter touches on an intangible condition rooted in the heart of the believer. It would not be an overstatement to say that your thoughtful letter contains one of the most important questions that could be asked of me.

Ever since I began working to help Jews return to the Jewish faith, I have received numerous letters, and listened to many stories from people just like yourself. Their accounts are filled with personal anecdotes illustrating how their lives miraculously changed as a result of their newfound religion. Many of the accounts describe how their drug addiction and alcoholism inexplicably ceased.

Recently, I received a letter from a middle-aged Jewish woman who maintained that as a result of her conversion to Mormonism, her festering infection in her swollen leg was miraculously cured. Following a recent lecture, a young man vividly recalled how his plaguing depression had lifted soon after he embraced the Catholic Church.

For him, the euphoria that had now replaced his nagging bouts of depression bore testimony to the validity of the teachings of Roman Catholicism.

While I was speaking in Southern California a number of years ago, I met four young men who were members of Hare Krishna. It wasn’t a planned encounter; we just happened to strike up a conversation as we were crossing the same busy street in Los Angeles. To my utter shock, three of these lost souls were Jewish. As I listened attentively to the testimonials of these oddly dressed fellows, each of them enthusiastically described how their newfound religion had transformed their lives.

As they joyfully spoke of their joining this eastern sect, I could sense the elation and inner peace they experienced. They were certain that what they believed was true; it was apparent that they were more spiritual now than they had ever been in their former lives.

When considered individually, each of these moving accounts appear quite impressive. Once these remarkable testimonials are examined as part of a larger pattern, however, they present us with a serious theological problem.

Although each of these personal anecdotes appears to the novice as evidence of the validity of their newly acquired faith, the fact remains that these variant religions cannot all be valid. When it comes to spiritual experiences and miraculous occurrences, things get very messy.

The realm of faith would be very tidy if only one religion produced life-altering transformations and miraculous occurrences. To the dismay of the fervid believer, however, this may be the most disorganized arena of organized religion.

In fact, the life-changing experience that you describe in your letter is a phenomenon found among adherents of all religions. Followers of every religion claim an “almost unbelievable change in the character and personality,” regardless of the truth of the doctrines they preach. In essence, there is no relationship between spiritual transformation that occurs in the heart of the believer and the spiritual truth which he espouses.

Bear in mind, our planet is brimming with world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, each of which boast many hundreds of millions of adherents. The multitudes of these devout believers, in their competing diverse faiths, all remarkably speak of the very same “character and personality” transformation that you describe within the context of your newfound religion – Christianity.

Yet, when their personal testimonials are scrutinized and considered, as they recount how their religious faith has transformed their lives, it seems as if they all somehow belong to the same religion their testimonials all pulsate with the experience of an encounter with the divine.

According to your doctrinal barometer, however, billions of these devoted faithful are lost souls merely following a “false religion.” Realize, therefore, that their startling religious experiences cannot possibly speak of the validity of their beliefs.

For example, Hinduism and Islam have radically different teachings on the nature of God, yet, how is it that Hindus, Christians, Mormons, Muslims and those that embrace New Age movements, all experience this profound religious conversion, which you describe?

This question becomes particularly puzzling when we consider your implied assertion that spiritual transformation among the faithful will point us in the direction of spiritual truth.


Faith Healing claims have been made by many religions, and the sick have visited their shrines in hopes of recovery.

I have visited Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, healing shrines of the Christian Virgin Mary. I have also visited Epidaurus in Greece and Pergamum in Turkey, healing shrines of the pagan god Asklepios. The miraculous healings recorded in both places were remarkably the same. There are, for example, many crutches hanging in the grotto of Lourdes, mute witness to those who arrived lame and left whole. There are, however, no prosthetic limbs among them, no witnesses to paraplegics whose lost limbs were restored.

— John Dominic Crossan

John Dominic Crossan; Richard G. W atts (1999). Who is Jesus?: answers to your questions about the historical Jesus. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 64.


All of these religions cannot possibly be transmitting truth; nevertheless, each of them can ignite profound spiritual changes within the character and personality of their devoted masses.

This is the profound question that comes to mind: Why would God allow all religions, regardless of the theological untruths they espouse, to spark a spiritual passion within the heart of the believer? The Bible contains a record of many individuals and nations who possessed fervent devotion to their idolatry. Nonetheless, their spiritual adultery is condemned as an utter abomination, regardless of the spirituality and transformation they experienced.

Why would the Almighty permit religions whose fundamental teachings have no basis in truth to produce life-transforming experiences and miraculous occurrences in the lives of their devout followers?

The answer is found in the beginning of Deuteronomy, where the Torah addresses this dilemma with a more startling scenario than the anecdote you presented.

In Deuteronomy 13:1-2, the Bible raises the question of how to respond to a “prophet” who offers to show a miracle to support his message. How are we to respond if, in fact, the promised miracle comes to pass just as he predicted? Should we then follow this “prophet” even if he encourages us to worship other gods which our fathers did not know? “You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer,” the Almighty emphatically declares. “I did not send him,” says the Lord.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them. You must not listen to that prophet or dreamer of dreams.’”

(Deuteronomy 13:1-2)

In the following verses, the Torah reveals why God allows prophets who teach unsavory doctrines to produce miraculous transformations:

The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.

(Deuteronomy 13:3-4)

In other words, your experience was a test from God. This is your choice in a world where freewill hangs in perfect balance. Will you worship the God of Israel alone, or turn to gods whom the nation of Israel has not known? If we lived in a world where only one religion could produce spirituality and miraculous life-altering experiences, the balance of freewill could not exist.

In the 18th chapter of I Kings, Elijah proposes a direct test of the powers of Baal and the Almighty. The people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah are summoned to Mount Carmel. Two altars are built, one for Baal and one for God. Wood is laid on both altars. Two oxen are slaughtered and cut into pieces; the pieces are laid on the wood. Elijah then invites the priests of Baal to pray for fire to light the sacrifice.

The Bible vividly recounts how they enthusiastically entreated Baal and prayed fervidly for a miracle from morning to noon without success. It seemed as though there was no doubt in the minds of these pagan worshipers that Baal would hear their supplications, intervene on their behalf, and consume their bullock with a heavenly fire. They even climbed on top of the altar and began to prance beside their sacrifice. Elijah ridicules their efforts.

When no heaven-sent flame appeared, a peculiar and gruesome spectacle followed. They responded by frantically cutting themselves with swords and lancets, adding their own blood to the sacrifice (such mutilation of the body was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic law).

These prophets of Baal were clearly enraptured and devoted to their gods. Regardless of their unyielding zeal for their idols, they were commanded to turn away from these abominations.

In fact, the prophet Jeremiah warns us that the spirituality gained from following false prophets and corrupt teachers may become so encompassing and overwhelming that one may begin to have dreams regarding these prophets. Jeremiah concludes,

…for thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed; for they prophesy falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them, says the Lord.”

(Jeremiah 29:8-9)

Jeremiah’s message is clear: If messages of false prophets so completely permeate you psyche, to the point that you are having dreams of these presumptuous messengers, you alone are responsible for these improper apparitions. God did not send them.

Furthermore, at the very end of your question, you suggest “the God of all mankind would preempt a false religion in His name, which would lead millions from the true path, and towards damnation.” This claim is unfounded.

If your assertion were accurate, why do masses of spiritually blind believers make such deplorable choices about their religious affiliations? Why didn’t God preempt false religions and foil their success? Why is Islam the fastest growing religion in the world when your Christianity is supposedly the only life-transforming truth? In essence, how could so many be so wrong about something so crucial as religion when, according to your reckoning, the Almighty would never “lead millions” away from His true path?

A careful reading of the Bible reveals that God never led mankind away from a pure and true path. The prophets of Israel were given the power to preach repentance to those who do not want to hear the message, and to warn of God’s wrath for disobedience.

The decision to indulge in sin is an individual decision alone, and it will forever remain man’s domain. Your Creator never removed freewill from your grasp, as the Torah declares,

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. If, though, your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

(Deuteronomy 30:15-19)

God permits man to become enraptured with false religions for the same reason He permits a married man to be attracted to women other than his wife. Freewill is within your grasp.

Virtue is only possible when sin is alluring. If alien religions were unappealing, there would be no merit for rejecting their blandishments. If this tender balance of freewill were ever injured or compromised, virtue would be impossible.

God has given all humans the gift of moral agency. Only the proper exercise of unfettered choice leads to the ultimate goal of returning to God’s presence. Having the choice to do right or wrong is vital, because God wants a society of a certain type —those who are devoted to His eternal laws. The belief in freewill is axiomatic in Jewish thought, and is closely linked with the concept of reward and punishment, based on the Torah itself:

“I [God][/God] have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life.”

(Deuteronomy 30:19)

Don’t, though, seek out miraculous life-changing events as your guide to God’s sacred truth. Look to the Bible alone for this eternal instruction. Once you have committed your life to truth in the God of Israel, joyously take part in the spiritual food it provides. Never permit spiritual expressions to become your barometer for truth. Your foundation must be the Jewish Scriptures alone.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Very sincerely yours,

Rabbi Tovia Singer

Categories: Bible, Christianity, God, Wisdom

34 replies

  1. Look to the Bible alone for this eternal instruction.

    He means the OT alone, the TaNaKh alone. (Torah, Nebe’im (Prophets), and Khetovim (writings))

    So, not only did he get rid of the New Testament, but even more, denies the Qur’an.

    The Rabbi makes a good point that personal experience is not the test of whether a person has found the truth or not. there has to be something more objective about it.

    The historical reality of the life and teachings of Jesus the Messiah, the fulfillment of prophesies, His miracles, His character of purity and love, the crucifixion of Jesus, His death, and the empty tomb, and the growth of the church under persecution for over 300 years (off and on), are objective realities that speak louder than claims of personal experience.


  2. “…the fact remains that these variant religions cannot all be valid.” The Rabbi

    Although people claim a variety of religious experiences, and obviously not all of them can be based on truth, that has nothing to do with the reality of spiritual rebirth and the accompanying experiences of a genuine encounter with God Almighty. Indeed, how could it be possible to meet God personally and not be filled with a sense of something other worldly, something profoundly beautiful and life changing?

    Even the esteemed hero of many anti-christian zealots, Bart Ehrman, was changed dramatically when he received Jesus Christ as his Lord.


    • You can never be sure what he “received” was the same as your own personal “Jesus”

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Jesus’ teachings of love, and mercy and forgiveness, I think, really should dominate our lives,” he says. “On the personal level, I agree with many of the ethical teachings of Jesus and I try to model my life on them…” Erhman

      Ehrman said, “For me, at the time, it felt like an enormous relief, a lifting of burden, a sense of connecting with the universe in a way I never had before. Very powerful!” “At that point Jesus became not only my Lord and Savior, but also my best friend and closest ally.” “Jesus was my model of self-giving love…”


    • For some people LSD, aliens or fairies are their best friend and closest allies, for some Buddha is model of self-giving love…

      Nothing special really, and certainly no measure for objective truth


    • “For some people LSD, aliens or fairies are their best friend and closest allies, for some Buddha is model of self-giving love…

      Nothing special really, and certainly no measure for objective truth”

      fine. each to his own way, i don’t mind.


    • Fine


  3. In traditional Judaism and Christianity, the Bible has been more than a historical document to be preserved or a classic of literature to be cherished and admired; it is recognized as the unique record of God’s dealings with people over the ages. The Old Testament sets forth the call of a special people to enter into covenant relation with the God of justice and steadfast love and to bring God’s law to the nations. The New Testament records the life and work of Jesus Christ, the one in whom ‘the Word became flesh,’ as well as describes the rise and spread of the early Christian Church. The Bible carries its full message, not to those who regard it simply as a noble literary heritage of the past or who wish to use it to enhance political purposes and advance otherwise desirable goals, but to all persons and communities who read it so that they may discern and understand what God is saying to them. That message must not be disguised in phrases that are no longer clear, or hidden under words that have changed or lost their meaning; it must be presented in language that is direct and plain and meaningful to people today. It is the hope and prayer of the translators that this version of the Bible may continue to hold a large place in congregational life and to speak to all readers, young and old alike, helping them to understand and believe and respond to its message.

    For the Committee,
    Bruce M. Metzger

    Bruce Manning Metzger was an American biblical scholar and textual critic who was a longtime professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies.


    • what has this quote got to do with the post – ‘But Look at How Believing in Jesus Changed My Life!’?


    • Based on these comments of Ehrman’s mentor, quite a few excellent reasons substantiate why encounters with God’s Son are profoundly life-changing, wouldn’t you agree? Next, Ponder the hundreds of millions of people world-wide who have had their lives altered by this One man. Then, consider how Western Civilization as we know it developed as the direct result of his teachings and His life.

      Remember, no one in recorded history has influenced others like Man-God, not even close. People have had and will have various experiences, ask William James. If you decide that their experiences invalidate those of the Christian, you have reached an incorrect conclusion.


    • Hank L. III

      “Remember, no one in recorded history has influenced others like Man-God, not even close.”

      Hmm, usually Christians of your kind (what denomination do you follow) claim that EVERYONE from the start is basically remote-controlled by the devil.


    • Burhanuddin1

      “Hmm, usually Christians of your kind (what denomination do you follow) claim that EVERYONE from the start is basically remote-controlled by the devil.”

      Do you believe that human beings can be completely free of sin?


    • i belong to no organized religion.


    • Oh so you are an evangelical then?


    • Hank L. Birnbaum III

      “i belong to no organized religion.”

      Hmm, that does’t make it easier. So which “Man-God Jesus” are you talking about exactly?

      There are quite a few floating around, as you may have noticed.

      Who is the real McCoy? The trinitarian one?


    • “There are quite a few floating around, as you may have noticed.”

      Would you name the top 20?


    • “Oh so you are an evangelical then?”

      Would you define evangelical?


    • Do you agree that Billy Graham is an evangelical Christian?


    • “Would you name the top 20?”

      Stop playing games.
      Just say what you believe. Otherwise you come across as just another deceptive missionary guy who wants to impose his looney personal fairy tales on everybody else.


    • Ask Billy Graham.

      Flattered by your inquiries into what I believe, don’t get off the track. “Then Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way, He questioned His disciples: “Who do people say I am?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say You are one of the prophets.” “But who do you say I am?” He asked. Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”…

      Who was He? That’s the question He asks you. Who?


    • Oh dear. An evasive reply. I assume you are yet another American evangelical type that frequents this blog.

      Jesus was the Christ, a prophet of God, he did not claim to be Yahweh. He did not ask me that question. He was a Jew from 2000 years ago. I do not possess a time machine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Jesus was the Christ, a prophet of God…”

      Why do you say that?


    • Because of two reasons: historical critical scholarship and the teaching of the Quran.


  4. “Stop playing games.
    Just say what you believe. Otherwise you come across as just another deceptive missionary guy who wants to impose his looney personal fairy tales on everybody else.”

    You believe missionaries were deceptive and I, like they, want to impose a looney personal fairy tale on others? To which looney personal fairy tales are you referring? Why do you care about the way I come across?


    • Why can’t you missionary types just stand up for themselves? What’s your belief? Come on. Don’t be shy?. You claim you know ultimate truth but cannot define it? That’s lame. If you don’t know, ask the HS that inhabits you.

      Is your “Jesus” still a man? Has he still assumed a human nature? Yes or no.


  5. “You claim you know ultimate truth…”



    • Come on dude, stop playing games. I wasn’t born yesterday. The “”Jesus” is not a religion, it’s a personal relationship” routine … bla bla

      “…that has nothing to do with the reality of spiritual rebirth and the accompanying experiences of a genuine encounter with God Almighty.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Insulting others is an odd way to interact with others who do not respond to or initiate insults.


  7. Then, he smiled at me
    The new born king


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