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How did I Even End up a ch'ristian, to Begin With?

By Patrick Cotroneo

When I realized that things in the ch'ristian faith just weren't adding up, I asked myself; how did I become a ch'ristian in the first place? This question really got me thinking back to how this all happened.


My first significant memory of a church is when I was younger and attended Sunday school. We would sing songs like ‘Father Abraham had many sons’ and ‘Jesus loves me, yes I know,’ all the while not even really knowing who these people, I was singing about were. We would color pictures of a man talking to groups of people, mixed in with pictures of Noah’s ark with animals sticking their heads out of windows or Moses holding the Ten Commandments. This was all lead-up to what would be a story about a man who gave it all up for me so that I could go to heaven. But who was this man? I didn’t care then; I was a kid making friends and having fun, and I equated friends and fun to going and hearing about this man, Jesus.


The second memory I have is going from church to church. My mom wanted to be a part of a church and, of course, wanted her family to be a part of that with her. We, as kids, didn’t really know the difference between one or the other; our only comparison was which one had the most kids our age to hang out with. They all talked about the same person; the only difference was the building and the format in which it was delivered. This went on for quite some time until right before my teenage years. At this point, my mother had decided on a church that she wanted to be at: the Witnesses or the J.W.’s. This was her childhood church/Hall that she was brought up in, and she made her way back.  


This was a very interesting new environment for my brothers, sister, and me. There were kids there, the people were friendly, and they still talked about this man Jesus, but something just wasn’t right. Not that the other churches we went to were right, but it was out of the norm for us children. Let's be honest; we were there to make friends and have fun. This was none of that. It was very structured, sad, and almost at times intimidating. There was no hanging with your friends or doing fun things while the parents did “the real work”. No, the kids at this place (including myself) did talks, were engaged in studies, and were held accountable for not meeting the congregation's demands. Looking back now, it seemed more like they were trying to get us programmed to a set of beliefs instead of teaching us about having a genuine connection with G-d.  


This went on for a few years, and then I started going to youth groups with friends at other churches. This was refreshing. Not only was I able to hang out with my friends and do fun things like play pool, table tennis, and foosball, But I was also able to check off the box that I was doing it for God. This became comfortable for me. This serving God stuff seemed easy now; all I had to do was show up! This then went on for some time until after I left school. I always wanted to be close to God; I just didn’t know what that meant.


After I left school a little later in life, my father became involved in the church. It was the Seventh Day Adventist and boy, that brought a new spin on things. Not only did they talk about this Jesus guy, but they also talked about “prophecy”. (Which was very interesting to me) They also seemed like the adult version of what I was used to and enjoyed as a kid. They had fellowship gatherings after church that included food. (This was probably my new selling point) The latest hook that got me here was things they said other churches were missing. Observing the Sabbath and eating uncleaned foods were their big talking points, and coming from someone who didn’t know much of anything about the bible, it all seemed real and attractive. They showed me scripture that backs up what they are saying, so it has to be true. Boy, was I wrong, but I wouldn’t realize until many years later.


After some time with the Adventist church, there were a few things that I couldn’t get on board with that caused me to leave. One was that they claimed to have a prophet named Ellen White, who was part of the church. They put a lot of stock in this person, which never resonated with me. The other big thing for me was their view that “the church,” specifically “their church,” had replaced the Jewish people as God's chosen ones. At this point, I couldn’t even tell you if I knew a Jew or anything about their teachings, but one thing I did know, for whatever reason, was this didn’t add up, and I wasn’t sticking around to find out why.


So, after leaving the adventist church, I went on a journey of church hopping. This time, it was in nondenominational churches. They all were pretty much the same, talking about this man Jesus, with the only real difference being the size of the congregation. This went on for years; for those years, I never felt a connection to God that felt genuine or like something wasn’t missing. At this point in my life, I was starting to pay attention to things being taught, and things didn’t seem right, but I could never really put my figure on them. Was it because they didn’t teach about unclean food? Was it because they worshipped on Sunday? Was it because prophecy wasn’t even being taught? I didn’t know; I just knew I needed to find out, and that I did.


Looking back now, I can see how someone, myself included, could get pulled into the Christian belief system. It starts so subtle, simple, and attractive. I mean, why wouldn’t someone quickly grasp onto the belief that if you believe in this one guy, it will give you a pass to live your life without accountability, and you will still go to heaven? The reason it sounds too good to be true is that it is; it’s a fairytale, except this fairytale doesn’t have a happy ending.

Written by, Patrick Cotroneo

Student of the Noahide Academy of Israel.


Patrick is a Chassid Humot HaOlam who lives in Miamy, Florida with his family. He is a model student of the Noahdie Academy of Israel.

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