Last weekend, Methodist Pastor Keith Johnson held a three-day Bible conference in Charlotte, North Carolina with a lofty goal: to teach Christians how to learn the Bible in Hebrew. The pastor enlisted the help of a rabbi named after his grandfather, the man who restored the Hebrew language to the Jewish people.
The roots of the conference, called Return to the Book, began in 2002, when Pastor Johnson established the Biblical Foundations Academy to inspire people around the world to build a Biblical foundation for their faith. He began to teach in a way few pastors do: in Hebrew. “Biblical faith has to be based on the Book,” Pastor Johnson explained to Breaking Israel News. “Christianity offered the little book and the big book. The little book, the New Testament, spoke all about the big book: the Torah, Prophets, and writings. But we didn’t really learn it. Too many Christians think the New Testament is all there is, and that the Torah is good for stories.
“The reason the Church is in crisis today is because they left the book. Through the translation, the Septuagint, we’ve missed the blessing of the book. The Torah has guided so many people for thousands of years. Any tradition that is not based on this will not last.” As preparation for establishing the academy, he traveled to Israel, bringing along an empty suitcase with the intention of returning with a Torah scroll. He succeeded in his mission and now learns directly from the parchment scrolls. “The Torah was written by the finger of God so the blessing is there,” Pastor Johnson said. “You can see this in the way the Jewish people treat the scroll. It is holy, and they treat the scrolls accordingly.”
On the cloth covering of the pastor’s Torah is a verse from Isaiah.
The pastor took the verse to heart. When he sought out a Hebrew teacher in order to fully access the blessing, he went to the source: a rabbi born in Jerusalem with a powerful connection to the Hebrew language. Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yehudah, who lectured at the recent conference, was named for his grandfather, who worked to revive Hebrew as a modern language for the fledgling state of Israel one hundred years ago.