Professor Beverley invites Christian readers
to contribute conversion stories and
reasons for faith in Christ for his new book.
( JamesBeverley@Sympatico.ca). Read more of his
columns at www.Faith Today.ca/Religion Watch.
Last summer I began to plan a book on the truth of Christi- anity. On the lookout for new authors, I stumbled
across Andrew Klavan’s autobiog-
raphy The Great Good Thing ( Thomas
Nelson, 2016). I would’ve bypassed
it except for the subtitle: “A secular
Jew comes to faith in Christ.”
Eric Metaxas, the well-known
Christian writer, states that The
Great Good Thing “deserves to be-
come a classic” in apologetics and
spiritual autobiography. I agree.
Klavan’s tremendous writing
ability (shown in literary awards) is
enhanced by wide reading and
penetrating analysis. He offers profound insights into his secular Jewish upbringing, temporary forays
into Freudian ideology and Zen
Buddhism, and descent into depression and contemplation of suicide.
The great good thing is his turning to God and trust in Jesus, a
miraculous spiritual journey to
baptism at an Episcopal church in
Manhattan and beyond.
Few Jews, secular or religious,
are attracted to Christian faith.
This disinterest comes in part from
longstanding persecution of Jews,
culminating in the Holocaust, and
deep-seated belief that to become a
Christian is a betrayal of Jewish
Klavan initially rebelled against
participating in Jewish ritual be-
cause he, like his mother, was an
atheist. “Subtract the Almighty and
what was the purpose of it? It was
just an empty temple, its founda-
tions resting on nothing, its spires
pointing only toward the dark.”
What led this secular Jew to God,
despite his abusive father and neg-
lectful mother? The answer is
manifold. First, his earliest positive
Christian memories came from a
Yugoslavian woman named Mina
who helped in Klavan’s home.
Second, Klavan came to Jesus
through his love of literature. Even
as a young boy with no belief in
God, he “began to understand that
at the heart of all Western mythology, all Western civilization, all
Western writing, all Western
thought, and every Western ideal,
there stood a single book, the Bible,
and a single man, Jesus of Nazareth.”
Third, Klavan’s conversion story
amplifies the power of prayer. He
risked talking to God, not sure if
anyone was listening, and kept
praying as God became real and
Jesus became Saviour. He came to
see prayer is best anchored in
self-awareness and honesty, while
taking notice of our ability to fool
ourselves in prayer.
He writes, “The human heart is
so steeped in self-deception that it
can easily outrun its own lies. It can
use even meticulous honesty as a
form of dishonesty, a way of saying
to God, ‘Look how honest I am.’ So
I let it go. I let it all go. I just flung
wide the gates to the sorry junkyard
of my soul and let God have a good
look at the whole rubble-strewn
wreck of it. Then I went ahead and
told him my thoughts as plainly as
I knew how.”
Last, before his baptism Klavan
had to wrestle with the historicity
of Jesus’ miracles, death and resur-
rection. In time he came to believe
that the “great good thing” about
Jesus was more than a myth or
story. There was an empty tomb.
Thankfully, Klavan has experi-
enced little attack for his faith. This
is not true of all Jews who have
become disciples of Jesus.
Consider Rabbi Jeff Forman. He
was raised in the conservative Jewish world of northeast Philadelphia.
His introduction to the Messiah
came through his sister’s coming to
faith, then his mother’s. At their
Messianic Jewish congregation, he
prepared for the rabbinate and
served in its leadership for a decade,
then accepted a call in 1995 to pioneer another such Messianic congregation in Toronto.
However, that congregation became the target of a broad and aggressive campaign from the Jewish
community against their presence.
Things eventually quieted down,
but Forman had to have bodyguards
for quite a period.
There is a common thread in the
life stories of Klavan and Forman.
They have both found deep joy in
their turn to Jesus. This, of course,
brings to mind the conversion
narrative of C. S. Lewis. His auto-
biography is called Surprised by Joy.
All three Christians, two Jews
and one Gentile, are proof that
biographies conversion to Christ
are often the best signs of the truth
of Christian faith. /FT
JAMES A. BEVERLEY
The Great Good Thing
A new classic in spiritual autobiography
OCCUPATION: AU THOR,
SOCIAL CRI TIC
BIRTH: JULY 13, 1954
(GREAT NECK, LONG
ISLAND, N. Y.)
RESIDENCE: SAN TA
FAMILY: MARRIED TO
T WO ADULT
RELIGION: CHRIS TIAN