Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 1

Introduction

On March 17, 2018, Answers in Genesis (AiG) released an article challenging the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). To read it for yourself, click here: https://answersingenesis.org/presuppositions/dangers-hebrew-roots-movement/?utm_source=facebook-aig&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebook-aig

First of all, let me state that this article does not properly represent any of the Torah-observant Christians that I know (whether they are part of the HRM or not). The article itself is severely misleading, due to the fact that the author, Tim Chaffey, misunderstands what the HRM believes. For instance, if you’re a Baptist, how would you feel if you read an article stating that Baptists get saved as a sort of “fire insurance” against hell, and that they don’t really care whether people keep sinning or not? If you’re Pentecostal, what if someone wrote an article stating that you believe that you have to work your way into heaven? If you’re Presbyterian, and you’ve read any articles on “the dangers of Calvinism,” then you know the kind of misrepresentation I’m talking about. Now imagine for a moment that one of your favorite ministries released such an article, a ministry that’s respected by believers around the globe. Imagine thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, who take the time to read the article and take it at face value without doing any research themselves — because they already trust the research standards of Answers in Genesis.

I’m not angry. I don’t believe that the misrepresentation is intentional on the author’s part. I think Mr. Chaffey incorrectly assumes that he understands what the majority of the HRM believes. While I do appreciate the fact that the author reminds the readers that not all HRM believers will fit what he is describing, he doesn’t tell us that only a very select few will even begin to fit the description (probably because he doesn’t know). For instance, there will be a few Baptists who do purchase “fire insurance” and a few Pentecostals who work daily for fear that they won’t be “good” enough to get to heaven. There are probably a few Presbyterians who think that soul winning is unimportant because people are already elected or they’re not. That doesn’t mean that the vast majority will fall into those categories, and you certainly wouldn’t want tens of thousands of people believing that most Baptists, Pentecostals, or Presbyterians believe what I’ve just described.

Secondly, my family and I do not consider ourselves part of any “movement.” We are Torah-observant because we believe that God wants His covenant people to abide by the terms of the covenant. The HRM consists of Torah-observant believers for the same reason. However, my family began to consider Torah observance before we knew of any other families on earth that were living that way. Our change in lifestyle was not due to any movement, but rather due to the conviction of the Word of God and His Holy Spirit: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). “And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:18-20).

Thirdly, I highly respect AiG, and I am in no way attacking them or their ministry. In fact, I encourage all of you to follow and support their work. However, I believe that we are living in the last days, and that citizens of Israel are waking up (including both natural-born and adopted citizens). “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (I Corinthians 15:34).

Ezekiel 11:14-17: And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’

If you look on AiG’s FaceBook page, specifically this post in question (https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/posts/10157311064584899), you will see that many Torah-observant Christians are engaging with AiG. While some in the HRM might come across as extremely arrogant or judgmental, many (like myself) have long harbored the hope that those at AiG are sincere seekers of the Truth of the entire Word of God. AiG has done so much already to prove and teach the integrity of the Word, and I believe that Torah observance is the natural next step toward the whole Truth. Hopefully, the backlash that they are currently now receiving will cause some of the employees to pause and reconsider (meanwhile reading the entire Word of God to test for and discover Truth).

As I mentioned earlier, we do not follow the Hebrew Roots movement or any movement. We only do our best to interpret what the Bible really says, although I readily admit that we do not always agree with mainstream Christianity about its interpretation. So when I answer this article, I will tell you if the concerns raised by the author apply to my family or not.

At a Glance

While the AT-A-GLANCE sidebar may apply to a few in the HRM, it does not apply to our family at all, nor does it apply to any Torah-observant Christian that I have fellowshipped with. We do not hold ourselves to any man-made traditions, Jewish or otherwise. We do not treat the traditions like scripture. We are interested in some of them, specifically in how they got started – especially the ones that foreshadow Christ, unbeknownst to the Jews who partake in them. But elevating man-made traditions to the level of the Word of God is precisely what Jesus had against the Pharisees (Mark 7:7). He also reprimanded them because they made the commandment of God of none effect by their own traditions (Mark 7:8; 13). To the best of our ability, my family follows God’s own commandments, which is what Jesus told satan that people should do: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Satan comes to us as an angel of light, deceiving and tempting us, trying to nullify the very Word of God (which is the oldest trick in the book – quite literally: Genesis 3:1), and if we truly were to follow Christ’s example, this would be our response to him.

The second AT-A-GLANCE point says that the Hebrew Roots Movement misunderstands the extent and scope of the Mosaic Law. Let me just remind you of something you already know: Moses didn’t invent the Law – God gave it to Moses to give to His covenant people. Moses recorded it and passed it on to them and to us. We assume that Moses is responsible for writing down most of the Pentateuch in addition to the commandments. This is what is meant when we refer to the “Mosaic Law” or the “Books of Moses,” but it is just as correct to refer to it as “God’s Word” or “the scriptures.” As the discussion proceeds, and as you read through the scriptures and do your own research (please do), you will have to decide for yourself whether we misunderstand the Law or not.

The third AT-A-GLANCE point is completely misleading. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) determined not to burden the Gentiles with the entire Mosaic Law. Obeying the Law has never been a salvation issue, not even before Christ came and obeyed it for us (see Galatians in its entirety); obedience is done out of a desire to please God. Not all Christians have that desire, and many that do have that desire do not believe that keeping the Law is the way to please Him, so they aim to please Him in other ways. (I am not saying that the Lord has no delight in you if you worship Him improperly. See 1 Kings 3:3-5. However, once we know better, it then becomes direct disobedience to worship Him improperly. See Leviticus 10:1-3). Anyway, the Jerusalem Council determined to give the Gentiles four commandments (that were also not salvation issues) to get them started, and to make them clean enough that the Jewish Christians (who were still keeping Torah) would be able to hang out with them. It was determined by the Jerusalem Council that the Gentiles would pick up the rest at their own pace as they learned more about the Law. The council had no need to include all of the commandments in their letter because: “…Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21).

The fourth AT-A-GLANCE statement says that: “The Apostle Paul refuted many of the most popular teachings of the HRM.” I agree with everything the apostle Paul ever said concerning the Law, and He agrees with everything that the Father ever said: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come” (Acts 26:22).

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