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How a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview)

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managed wordpress hostingHow a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview) 1

A secular Jew who has come to faith in Jesus contends that Americans do not recognize how powerful the intellectual current of unbelief is in society, a culture where atheism is the default setting.

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And that intellectual current is washing people in an ocean of untruths.

In a recent interview with The Christian Post about how he encountered the living God and about his new book, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, author Andrew Klavan notes that he is doing much more than merely recounting his conversion to the Christian faith.

“My story wasn’t just my story,” Klavan told CP. “It was actually a story that affected a lot of people.”

“While, obviously, not everybody is Jewish, not everybody has my upbringing,” he continued, “we are living in a world where the assumption is that if you’re an intelligent person, an insightful person, a sophisticated person, you don’t believe [in Jesus].”

How a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview) 2How a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview) 3

Those searching for an intelligent, insightful, and sophisticated read need to look no further than Klavan’s memoir. Poignant and beautifully written, Klavan describes his journey into faith, chronicling his deep questions and emotions in captivating prose.

Klavan, 62, was raised in Great Neck (Long Island) but now resides in Hollywood Hills, California with Ellen, his wife of 36 years with whom he has two children. Having spent most of his professional life as a novelist —he is a two-time winner of the Mystery Writer’s of America Edgar Award — today Klavan spends his time as a screenwriter and is the host of The Andrew Klavan Show, a cultural and political commentary podcast of The Daily Wire.

Although not from a religious Jewish family — his parents didn’t even believe in God — his father ensured he was connected to his heritage. But Klavan found Judaism mostly meaningless; the religious rituals meant nothing to him. As he recounts in the book, against his objections he was bar mitzvahed and he said he found Passover Seders “uproariously comical.”

Since coming to Christ, the author notes — and much to the chagrin of his Jewish friends — finding Jesus has enabled him to experience his Judaism.

Critics have roundly praised his work — some have called Klavan a “master storyteller” — and his writing gifts shine through brilliantly in this deeply personal memoir. Breakpoint’s Eric Metaxas has said The Great Good Thing “deserves to become a classic of its kind.” Each chapter is punctuated with moments of revelation, where it became clear to Klavan that it was the God of the Universe who was apprehending him.

Although not from a religious Jewish family — his parents didn’t even believe in God — his father ensured he was connected to his heritage. But Klavan found Judaism mostly meaningless; the religious rituals meant nothing to him. As he recounts in the book, against his objections he was bar mitzvahed and he said he found Passover Seders “uproariously comical.”

Since coming to Christ, the author notes — and much to the chagrin of his Jewish friends — finding Jesus has enabled him to experience his Judaism.

Critics have roundly praised his work — some have called Klavan a “master storyteller” — and his writing gifts shine through brilliantly in this deeply personal memoir. Breakpoint’s Eric Metaxas has said The Great Good Thing “deserves to become a classic of its kind.” Each chapter is punctuated with moments of revelation, where it became clear to Klavan that it was the God of the Universe who was apprehending him.

As a curious teenager, much to his father’s displeasure, he began reading the New Testament and his intellectual interest in Christianity stayed with him. Though he was not drawn to faith and identified as agnostic, functionally he was an atheist.

“I did think religion mattered, though,” Klavan writes in the book. “I thought of it as a living myth that shaped the human mind and expressed our innermost fears and desires. Many of the thinkers I knew and read dismissed the power of religion over people’s lives. They thought faith was just a relic of mankind’s superstitious past, something we were growing out of now in our scientific age.”

Unlike his father, Klavan was not particularly worried about anti-Semitism growing up in the United States, but is growing more concerned today in light of rising hostility toward Jews in Europe and even here in America.

The answer, Klavan opines, is pretty evident: “People hate Jews because they hate God.”

“The Jews are the chosen people of God and they brought the notion of God back into humanity after we lost track of it after the fall, they were the doorway for God to re-enter the world and people hate them for it. To take it even one step further, people hate the Jews because they hate God, and you hate God because you hate yourself. I really do think that that is the failure to accept original sin essentially.”

Klavan’s coming to faith took place over a process of many years where he wrestled with many philosophical quandaries and the author is quick to point out that reason can only get you so far.

CP asked Klavan how important he thinks experiencing God is in light of how contemporary culture values thinking over feeling, particularly the reasoning that what we think is objectively true and the things we experience are subjective and therefore invalid.

Among other things, Klavan noted, the subjective experience of falling in love with his wife over the course of many decades was an epiphany of sorts; love showed him that just because something might be subjective it does not mean it is not real.

“That led me to start to think ‘Now, wait a minute, maybe if you can be deceived in your subjective perceptions, then maybe you can be right in your subjective perceptions,” Klavan said.

Along the way, Klavan’s rejection of atheism was in part because he found important truths in places many devout Christians rarely look. Klavan told The Christian Post that one of the most important engagements he had with a work of art was with French author and philosopher Marquis de Sade.

How a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview) 4How a Secular Jew Came to Faith in Jesus Christ (Interview) 5

“De Sade wrote some of the most sadistic pornography — some of the most disgusting stuff I ever read — and his books are laced with atheistic philosophy. And when I read that atheist philosophy and I saw that pornography that accompanied it, I said to myself, ‘That is honest atheism. That is only true, truly reasoned atheism I ever saw, that if you wanted to be an atheist, this was the logic of it and it turned me away.’ I turned my back and walked away from it.”

“So here’s this ugly guy but writing brilliant art, brilliant psychopathic art, that contained a truth that I needed to find,” he continued.

CP asked Klavan what Christians might do to be more thoughtful as they engage the intellectuals and the broader culture.

“The one thing I would love to see Christians do, is to stop leaping to condemn art that doesn’t immediately echo their deeply held beliefs. Because I truly believe that all great art is speaking truth. God is god of the real world, he’s not God of fantasy land. When you shut people off from the ugliness of life, from the physicality of life and the passion and the lust that are in the Bible and in the arts, you shut people off from the real God,” he said.

“I think that the arts are one of the ways that human beings relate their inner experience to one another. And I think in that inner experience is where we are going to find our faith and find our God. So learn how to read the arts, learn how to read something that repels you, it actually may have a truth inside that people need to know.”

When asked what he would most like readers to take away from his memoir, Klavan reiterated the importance to examining the evidence for faith for oneself, against the fierce cultural tide of unbelief.

“You have to step out of that current, as hard as it is, and see the world fresh and start to find the truth from there,” Klavan said. “Because as the X-files always told us, the truth is out there. And it really is staring you in the face, and it really is speaking to you, singing to you, virtually, from every corner of the world.”

“And I feel like if you will experience my story with me, it might resonate. You might turn to your own life and say, ‘You know, once I start to listen I hear that song and it might help to draw you out of this tide that is washing you in something that is utterly untrue,” he concluded.

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