Re-Post from February 14, 2013
What “Isn’t” the Hebrew Roots Movement?
This article serves as a response to an article at gotquestions.org.
Original article can be found here:
(Quotes from the article are in quotes and italics)
“Although there are many different and diverse Hebrew Roots assemblies with variations in their teachings, they all adhere to a common emphasis on recovering the “original” Jewishness of Christianity.”
This is partially true. Israel was divided into two houses, House of Israel (Northern 10 tribes) and the House of Judah/Jews (Southern 2 tribes). Hebrew Roots focuses more on just “Jewish Roots” but all of Israel, and really “Hebrew Roots,” hence the sometimes self appointed label “Hebrew Roots.” It is through this emphasis on the original backdrop, culture, and language in which the Scriptures were authored and understood, that beneficial perspective and application is gained. The emphasis is not on recovering “Jewishness” but actually the recovering the complete “Word of God” that has been admittedly discarded as obsolete and invalid by mainstream Christian doctrine.
“Those of the Hebrew Roots belief hold to the teaching that Christ’s death on the cross did not end the Mosaic Covenant, but instead renewed it, expanded its message, and wrote it on the hearts of His true followers.”
This is a correct statement, as derived from the Prophets definition of the New Covenant itself, noting the only declared changes in the New Covenant is that the Law will be written on our heart (which those at Sinai failed to do – Hebrews 3-4), and that eventually (not happened yet) we will not have to teach anyone the Word of God any longer.
“Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
“Many affirm the existence of an original Hebrew-language New Testament and, in some cases, denigrate the existing New Testament text written in Greek. This becomes a subtle attack on the reliability of the text of our Bible. If the Greek text is unreliable and has been corrupted, as is charged by some, the Church no longer has a standard of truth.”
Many do point to evidence of an original Hebrew written New Testament, in whole or in part. Much scholarly work has been done on this matter, even in mainstream Christians circles. Some early witnesses testify to this. Regardless, it is irrelevant. It is not claimed that the oldest and best preserved Greek manuscripts need to be discarded for better understanding. That is a false claim. In reality, much focus is on actually digging into and understanding the Greek texts.
“celebrating the Jewish feasts and festivals”
Yahweh declares that they are His feasts, not “Jewish feasts.”
And the Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.
In addition, there was more than 2 tribes of Israel at Sinai, but 12. All of Israel received the Law of God, not just Jews. This is a common mistake in mainstream Christianity.
In most cases, they elevate the Torah as the foundational teaching for the Church, which brings about the demotion of the New Testament, causing it to become secondary in importance and only to be understood in light of the Old Testament.
This is incorrect. The New Testament agrees with the Old Testament. One part of the Word of God is not favored over another, nor is that theologically possible. It is true that those in Hebrew Roots claim that the Word of God (which also includes everything written in what is called the Old Testament) as the foundation for all believers. This claim is exposing mainstream Christianity bias that the whole Word of God is no longer true. Those in Hebrew Roots maintain that all of the Word of God is still true, and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Also, since every author of the New Testament only quoted the Old Testament as scriptural support for their theology, including Yeshua, does it not make sense to employ the same process in our study? Did not Paul require us to “test everything” (1 Thes. 5:21)? Did not the Bereans test everything Paul said, which of course would have been to the Old Testament, since the New Testament had not yet been written. Is it not an odd process to declare that we should not attempt to understand the end of the Book by the front of the Book?
“As opposed to what the Hebrew Roots movement claims, the New Testament teachings of the Apostle Paul are perfectly clear and self-explanatory. Colossians 2:16,17 says, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Paul also stated that he believed everything in the Law and Prophets to be true, and that is indeed what he stated he taught (Acts 21, 24:13-14, 25:7-8). EVERY time that he was accused of not teaching what Moses wrote he defended himself in this way. He also made many pro law statements in Romans and other letters. Yeshua also said that that the Law was not going to change (Matthew 5:17-19). And contrary to what the author of this article is saying about Paul in light of the Hebrew Roots understanding, Peter argued that Paul was “hard to understand” which would mean he was certainly not “perfectly clear and self-explanatory.” According to Peter, Paul’s letters in matters of the law and can lead to the “error of the lawless.” Hebrew Roots subscribers simply say the same thing as Peter, and encourage a little more work and due diligence to understand him, especially since we are no 2,000 years removed from Peter’s warning. We expect Peter knew Paul and his writings better than the author of gotquestions.org. Obviously, Peter stands as a witness against gotquestions.org’s claim. Paul never taught against the Law of God, and perhaps right behind Yeshua, he may have been the next best Torah teacher in reading his letters in its original contextual and written backdrop.
In reality, Col. 2 is quite easy to understand by actually applying what scholar’s already know about Col. 2. Most mainstream Christian scholar’s already know that Paul was teaching against Gnostic doctrine in Col. 1-2. Gnostic doctrine taught AGAINST the feast days and Sabbaths because of matters of food and drink. Gnostics taught that everything physical was evil, and thus feasting was evil, and they even believed that God (of the Old Testament) is evil. The Gnostics were teaching this to the Colossians and convincing them that they should abandon the Feast days and Sabbaths.
Paul encourages them (the Colossians) to keep the Feast Days and Sabbaths and not let themselves be judged by the Gnostics telling them otherwise. Sadly, mainstream Christianity has flipped around what Paul was teaching, as though Paul was telling the Colossians to abandon the Law of God. In other words, in mainstream Christianity’s eyes, Paul would be agreeing with the Gnostics in that verse, but yet still be against them in every other verse in Col. 1-2. Obviously that does not make much sense. In addition, we know that Paul defended himself against every accusation against not teaching what Moses wrote. This of course would include teaching that not one commandment can be added to or taken away from what Moses wrote (Deut. 12:31) and that the whole law is even for the foreigner/alien (Gentile) grafted in (i.e. Numbers 15;15-16). Yet, mainstream also accuses Paul of not teaching what Moses wrote. Paul is STILL having to defend himself. Mainstream Christianity creates the contradictions in Paul’s writings. Hebrew Roots doctrine reconciles and solves them.
For more on Col. 2:
Romans 14:5 states, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Scripture clearly indicates that these issues are a matter of personal choice.”
Romans 14:5 is about fasting according to the context, not about Yahweh’s Feast days or Sabbaths.
For more on Romans 14:
Already we should see that the author of the Anti-Hebrew Roots article at gotquestions.org is highly suspect if we are just intellectually and theologically honest.
“Gentile believers are not grafted into the Judaism of the Mosaic Covenant; they are grafted into the seed and faith of Abraham, which preceded the Law and Jewish customs. They are fellow citizens with the saints (Ephesians 2:19), but they are not Jews.”
Actually, Ephesians 2 states that we are now “citizens of the commonwealth of Israel,” in which we were once excluded. In addition, we know that there is only one seed, and Yeshua defined that seed as the Word of God (Luke 8:11, 1 Ptr. 1:23). The same seed that was in Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and in Yeshua, is to be in us. There may be several covenants, but they are all based on the one Word of God.
For perhaps one of the most enlightening studies and teachings on this subject that one could ever experience, we highly recommend “Identity Crisis” by Jim Staley of Passion for Truth.
Paul explains this clearly when he tells those who were circumcised (the Jews) “not to seek to be uncircumcised” and those who were uncircumcised (the Gentiles) “not to become circumcised” (1 Corinthians 7:18).
Circumcision is a complex topic in Paul’s writings because it was a complex topic in the first century. In short, there were several false Jewish sects that taught circumcision unto salvation. That is a false circumcision that Paul taught against. Paul taught that it was keeping God’s commandments in the faith that matters, not for salvation, but because of our salvation. Which is why Paul says in the very next verse:
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Obviously, circumcision can be found as a commandment from God in the Word of God. But here, Paul was concerned about the commandments of men, that commanded circumcision for salvation. Paul taught in Galatians that such doctrine was a false usage of God’s law and was bondage and not of value.
This is also why Paul states just a few verses later:
”You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”
Paul’s point is that redemption and salvation came through Christ, and that circumcision unto salvation is doctrinal bondage from men, not a commandment from God.
Circumcision is an outward sign of our heart being fully cut out for God and His law.
Paul had a perfect opportunity to state that circumcision as commanded by God was abolished, but instead he focused on how it was being incorrectly applied by men. It is critical to consider employing a full study on all that Paul taught regarding circumcision to understand what the true debate was in the first century. Paul was teaching on a problem we really do not have today, unless you are traveling to modern day Israel and encounter orthodox Jews.
Acts 15 Video:
Acts 15 Written:
Galatians 2 Written:
“The influence of this movement is working its way into our churches and seminaries.”
This is almost humorous. It is humorous because it is true. You don’t see Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witness’s penetrating the doctrines and teachings of established churches or seminaries. People are stepping out and testing doctrine for themselves. They are comparing doctrine to the established Word of God. The Pharisees, who were full of doctrines and traditions that nullified what Moses wrote (Mark 7; Matthew 23), also had the same problem. Believers began leaving the Pharisee doctrine with John the Baptist (a type of Elijah) and were being called back to the true Word of God. They also did not like it to much. It made them angry. Sadly, mainstream Christianity also retains much doctrines and traditions that is an obstacle to the whole Word of God reaching the hearts and practices of believers today. That is beginning to change. Test things for yourself (1 Thes. 5:21).
Romans 7:6 says, “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
The Spirit teaches and gives us the desire to live the Word of God (Ez. 36:26-27). We die to the Law of Sin and Death according to Paul’s concluding statement found in Romans 8:2, just a few verses later. This is of course just after he also says that he delights in the law of God, the law is holy, just, and good, and that His mind is after the Law of God. That does not sound like someone really teaching against the Law of God. In fact, Romans 8 is all about how the fleshy and carnal do not like the law of God and only those in the Spirit go after the law of God. Paul taught that we can not just go after the written code, because that does nothing without the spirit and the faith behind it. Paul’s statement in Romans 7:6 creates several contradictions in Romans 7 and 8 alone if were to interpret that Paul was against the Law of God. It turns out that Paul’s writings are letters. He likely intended his audience to read them front to back and know the reason and context of why he sent them the letter.
Christ, in keeping perfectly every ordinance of the Mosaic Law, completely fulfilled it. Just as making the final payment on a home fulfills that contract and ends one’s obligation to it, so also Christ has made the final payment and has fulfilled the law, bringing it to an end for us all.
Sadly, you will not find any verse in the whole Bible that teaches that once someone does the Law of God in whole, it abolishes it for all others. Obedience to God’s law is NEVER portrayed as payment to anything, but is declared to be our love back to God and others (1 John 5:2-3). This is a poor analogy used by gotquestions.org. They obviously missed the whole point of the Law of God. God’s law is never a means to buy anything or earn anything. It is the perfect way to live that is given to us as a gift because of our faith in the Word of God. God’s law is stated to be truth, a blessing, perfect, freedom, holy, just, the way, life, the light, and many other positive things. If the Bible is true in all of those things used to clearly describe the Law of God, then in reality, we should be quite upset that Christ ended all of those great things for us! What did we supposedly do so wrong for Christ to take such great instructions and ways from us?
Here are some teachings to consider on this matter:
Heaven & Earth, and the Law of God
What Does Fulfill Mean According to the Bible?
“God is glorified when we accept one another in love and come together in unity as “one” in Christ Jesus”.
Unity can only be achieved when we realize that Christ Jesus (Yeshua) is the “Word of God” in the flesh (Rev. 19:13, John 1:14) and is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13.8). It is through the spreading of the “truth in love” (Eph. 4) that REAL unity will be obtained. Currently there are 33,000 denominations in 258 countries. That is not unity by any stretch. It is time for all to come back to the faith once delivered to ALL of the saints, the one seed, the one way, the one truth, the one light, the Word of God…not just embrace only some of it.
“It’s important to understand that there is no superiority in being born Jewish or Gentile.”
No one is claiming any type of genetic superiority, but there certainly is an advantage in being Jewish and understanding the Word of God according to Paul.
What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles (Acts 7:38) of God.
Most of us however are not genetically Jews, but we have access to the same oracles handed to them. It is time to equip ourselves with the same advantage they had to understand what Paul really taught. We need to stop making the same accusations against him that those in the first century were making. James and Paul declared those accusations to be false, and is similar to the “false witnesses” set against Stephen on the same matter (Acts 6-7).
Test what you are taught, because in the end, we are all accountable for what we believed.