“Ask a Priest: Am I an Apostate for Converting to Judaism?”

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Q: A few days after my 60th birthday, I received a powerful revelation from Almighty God directing me to convert to Judaism. The only other time in my life that I’ve had a revelation was at the age of 18 as I lay dying of major injuries following a cataclysmic auto accident. It was then that an angel appeared to me and said, “Your time has not yet come, you must fulfill your destiny.” For the next 42 years I prayed and prayed to God to reveal my destiny — but there was nothing but silence. When I first approached a rabbi, I said, “Rabbi, I truly believe that God has directed me to this (conversion).” I didn’t want him to think me crazy, but I would have much rather said, “Rabbi, the Most High has commanded this of me, through a divine vision, to abandon my past and convert to Judaism.” Whatever the case may be, I’ve left my lifelong Christian beliefs behind to follow the directives of Adonai (God). And so, my question is whether I’m a recognized apostate who has committed the ultra-sacrilege in light of Pope St. John Paul II’s declaration that “Judaism is a sister religion”? And if so, then how can a Catholic commit the high crime sin of apostasy when he does the command of God? -S.A

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: In fact, the answer to your question is pretty simple. It is unlikely this revelation to convert to Judaism came from God. Why do I say this? Because the fullness of God’s revelation came in the person of Jesus Christ.

And what did Jesus tell his disciples? To seek converts to Judaism? No. Rather he commanded, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Notice what Jesus commands: baptism (a Christian sacrament) in the name of the Trinity (a Christian revelation). God will not contradict himself, commanding that people be evangelized and baptized and brought into the Church, on the one hand, and then turning around and telling you to convert to Judaism. That is not how God works.

Judaism can be thought of as the precursor to Christianity, but the latter supersedes the former in its revelation. John Paul II’s description of Jews as “our elder brothers and sister” in the faith should not be interpreted as his somehow equating Judaism and Christianity.

And what about your “powerful revelation”? We could heed Scripture again: “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Now, the Catechism defines apostasy as “the total repudiation of the Christian faith” (No. 2089). Still, the Church recognizes a person’s freedom of conscience in regard to religious belief, even if he is mistaken. And in practice the Church won’t be running around pinning the apostate label on this person or that person. God alone knows the hearts of men.

I pray that you reconsider your decision and take it to prayer, so that the Spirit may guide you to all truth.

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