Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 11

AiG: “A very common teaching in the HRM is that faithful believers must only celebrate the holidays that were part of the Mosaic Covenant. Leviticus 23 describes the proper protocol for celebrating the following feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Weeks (Pentecost), Trumpets, Tabernacles, and Day of Atonement.”

Me: This statement is a bit wrong. We believe that we are supposed to celebrate the feasts perpetually because the Word of God says that (Leviticus 23:14, 21, 31, 41). However, the Torah does not tell us that we cannot keep other holidays. I don’t think I’d call them “holidays” though, because that means holy day, a day which has been set apart as holy by the Father. The reason we don’t keep Christmas, Easter, etc. is not because they are extra, but because they are pagan. You might have to do a bit of research, but it’s easy to find out whether I’m telling you the truth or not.

We are not supposed to incorporate pagan rituals into our worship of the one true God. He specifically tells us not to, and He gives us the reason why in Deuteronomy 12:28-32: “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God. When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” How did the pagans figure out how to commit every abomination that the Lord hates? It’s my opinion that the demons taught them early on. Either way – God says not to worship Him that way, so we don’t worship Him that way. There’s no confusion over how exactly we should worship Him, because He tells us in black and white how He does desire to be worshipped (in the Torah).

The feast days are a big part of that worship, and they will remain so, as long as the earth endures. Remember that one jot or tittle shall not fail from the Law until all is fulfilled? Until heaven and earth have passed away? Read about it in Matthew 5: 17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” We will still be keeping the feasts during the Millennial Reign of Christ: Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel chapters 44-46, and Zechariah 14. “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

AiG: “First, as discussed above, Christians have the freedom to esteem any day higher than any other or to not hold one day in honor above another (Romans 14:5). While this particular verse might have been written to specifically address the issue of the Sabbath, it can still be applied to any holiday, and Paul taught the same type of freedom applied to the festivals (Colossians 2:16). Neither did the apostles at the Jerusalem Council instruct the Gentile believers to celebrate the Levitical feasts.”

Me: I have addressed all of these issues in prior posts. I have demonstrated that Romans 14 was most likely talking about which days to fast, which has always been left up to the believer because weekly and monthly fasting is not addressed in Torah. The word “sabbath” appears in Romans 14 zero times. Paul is not giving people permission here to break God’s Torah. If he were, he would be a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 13. Also, nobody has the authority to add to or remove from the Word of God. This is what Jesus was constantly condemning the Pharisees for: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” I talk more about Romans 14 in a different post. I also address Colossians 2 and the Jerusalem Council in previous posts. Because of faulty doctrine that assumes that God’s Words are temporary, and that God’s righteousness changes with the “dispensation,” millions of people have been brainwashed into believing that this is the only way to interpret these “proof” texts that Mr. Chaffey keeps using. They are wrong. God’s instructions have always been righteous, and they always will be. Read Psalm 119 today. It looks like a long chapter, but it’s a pretty quick read nonetheless, and so worth your time, especially if you want to understand the love that the Psalmist had for the Torah.

AiG: “Second, it is quite hypocritical to accuse Christians of celebrating pagan holidays (because extrabiblical ideas have become associated with the celebrations for some people) when their own celebrations are loaded with extrabiblical ideas. For example, HRM proponents criticize Christians who celebrate Christmas for a variety of reasons. One popular reason is that the Bible never says anything about things like Santa, reindeer, and mistletoe being connected to the birth of Jesus Christ. While it’s true that the Bible does not mention these things, it does not follow that every Christian who celebrates the Lord’s birth in December does so using things like Santa, reindeer, and mistletoe. Furthermore, this criticism is a wee bit like the clover calling the grass green. When HRM followers celebrate the Passover, they include several items and practices that are not mentioned in Scripture, such as a roasted egg, the hidden piece of matzah bread called the afikomen, a bowl of salt water representing tears of Hebrew slaves and the Red Sea, and an extra seat for Elijah. These “traditions of men” were added over the centuries and are not found in the Bible. So why is it acceptable for traditions to be added to the Passover celebration but not to holidays deemed unacceptable by the HRM?”

Me: I don’t think that most of us believe there is anything wrong with keeping traditions, even if they are not commanded. We do not elevate extra traditions to the level of the actual commands to keep the feast days, and that’s why many of the traditions that Mr. Chaffey mentions are not kept by every HRM believer. What we have a problem with is the adoption of pagan traditions and the relabeling in the name of Christianity. We don’t keep December 25th as the birth of our Savior for two reasons: he was not born in winter because the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks, so that date is not even a possibility as the birthday of our Lord. It is, however, the celebrated birthday of a pagan god, and the mixture of the two religions is how we came to celebrate Jesus’ birth on that particular date (Saturnalia). Dig a little bit into the history of the catholic church during the days of Constantine, and you will begin to understand our problem. Easter has some of the same problems, and is even called by the name of the goddess.

AiG: “Third, if it is highly offensive to God to celebrate any holiday outside those mentioned in Leviticus 23, then why do so many HRM adherents often celebrate at least one holiday not found in that chapter and did not arise until more than 12 centuries after Moses? Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday to remember the rededication of the temple following the Maccabean Revolt (c. 167–160 BC). Why would the HRM celebrate such a festival when it is not mentioned in the Mosaic law?

The HRM certainly cannot condemn those who celebrate Hanukkah for a couple of reasons. Their followers highly esteem Jewish practices, and Hanukkah is a very important Jewish celebration. But the greatest argument against the “Leviticus 23 only” position is that Jesus almost certainly celebrated Hanukkah, “the Feast of Dedication” in the “winter” mentioned in John 10:22. If he was not in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday, then what was he there for? And if it were wrong to celebrate it, why did he not take the opportunity to set people straight during the “Feast of Dedication”? So if Jesus did not violate the law by celebrating a holiday not found in Leviticus 23, then why would it be wrong for Christians to celebrate a holiday not listed in that chapter? It should be mentioned that many HRM followers also celebrate Purim, another Jewish holiday that started long after Moses (Esther 9:26–28).”

Me: I agree, and I think this is why most HRM folks do not take the “Leviticus 23 only” position. Again, our problem is with paganism being relabeled as Christian, not specifically man-made traditions (unless said traditions are being imposed upon believers and/or being elevated to the authority of scripture – then there is a big problem with man-made tradition).

AiG: “There is nothing wrong with a Christian taking part in a Passover seder or celebrating Hanukkah, as long as he realizes that such practices are not required for salvation or sanctification and do not grant any special favor with God. Observing these festivals can help one acquire a better grasp of the Bible’s context.”

Me: Thank you. I agree, except that being set apart and being sanctified is the same thing. So while not necessary for salvation, keeping God’s Torah does physically set us apart from those who don’t. All believers are spiritually sanctified, however, by the blood of Christ.

AiG: “The reason for this critique of the HRM is that many in the movement go far beyond the desire to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the historical and cultural background of Scripture and have fallen for false doctrine. These are not minor disagreements that can be swept under the rug, but are egregious errors that often have serious ramifications and must be addressed. When it condemns Christians for not following the Mosaic law and Hebrew traditions, then the HRM has crossed a line repeatedly rejected by the apostles. They need to hear the same rebukes that Paul delivered to the Galatians who had been bewitched by teachings very similar to the HRM.”

Me: I am still not seeing any false doctrine. How could following the very Words of God, His righteousness, His Torah, be false? How could following Christ’s example be an egregious error? Unless you are telling people that their salvation is dependent upon their own righteousness and not the righteousness of Christ, the doctrines that Mr. Chaffey has brought to our attention are quite sound and not at all dangerous to the soul. However, works-based salvation is not a belief that the HRM clings to or promotes. Because of their deep respect for the written Word of God, and for the Word made flesh, and because of their willingness to obey the righteousness of the Father, HRM believers are misunderstood by Mr. Chaffey and many others the world over. As long as we know that we are incapable of walking a perfect life from birth to death, then we know we can’t earn our own salvation. It is the “Christian thing” to do your best to abstain from sin, and by now I think we all know the NT definition of sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

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