Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) claims to be a Christian religious movement that advocates the return and adherence to the first century walk of faith and obedience to the Torah by Jesus (known as Yeshua HaMashiach, the Hebrew name for “Jesus the Messiah“) by seeking a better understanding of the culture, history, and religio-political backdrop of that era which led to the core differences with both the Jewish, and later, the Christian communities.
Joseph Good provides a good summary of religio-political history: “To support the Jewish people, or even Jewish customs, was interpreted as not being loyal to Rome…pressure was being put on Jewish believers from three sides: first, from the non-believing pagans who hated anything Jewish; second, from the non-believing Jews who feared their power among the people; and third, within their own congregations by the new gentile believers who were entering the faith already affected by the rampant antisemitism.”
While this so called “Hebrew Roots movement”(HRM) uses words and phrases from the bible and Jewish culture, there is nothing either Jewish or Christian about this group as you will see.
Why haven’t I heard about the Hebrew Roots movement?
As a rule, this spreading wave of false doctrine is not being addressed by the church. This is due to several reasons:
• There is a fear of appearing anti-Semitic
• The depth of the movement’s doctrinal heresies is not generally known
• There is within the church in general a reluctance to address false doctrine
The movement usually hides their beliefs and presents itself as simply seeking to educate Christians concerning their Jewish heritage. As they become acclimated to the Jewish orientation the more aberrant doctrines are slowly introduced.
Some of the warning signs
• All Christians must adhere to a kosher diet
• The Sabbath can only be observed on Saturdays
• The Jewish festivals and holidays must still be observed today
- The Hebrew Roots movement is referred to as a group of heretical, non-Christian, and non-Jewish cults:
- Hebrew Roots repeats the heresy of the Judaizers. (also known as the Incident at Antioch.)
The root of their symptomatic heresies (a deviation from the truth) is hermeneutics ( interpret scripture, especially of the Bible) in nature. The Protestant Reformers used a grammatical-literal hermeneutic when interpreting scripture. In other words, it means what it says unless there is a significant reason to believe otherwise. This movement uses a grammatical-historical hermeneutic with a twist. Their underlying assumptions when approaching any scripture are:
Whatever God has ever commanded of those who seek Him (i.e., the Jews, their ancestors, their descendents, and Christians) is still in effect today (including the Levitical Law – Ritualistic Sacrificial Law, or Law of Atonement and the Law of Purification )
Gentile followers of Christ were “grafted into” the Jews which they interpret to mean that Gentiles must assume Jewish customs if they really want to mature and please God.
Based on those unquestionable assumptions, they then decide how they can best interpret a given scripture to support those beliefs. The farther down this rabbit hole they go, the more bizarre their doctrines become. Many see the New Testament as inferior to the Old (or a conspiracy by the Catholic church). More still say that Paul’s teachings are contrary to Christ (since they have trouble with his obvious statements against their beliefs) and, therefore, reject his epistles as scripture. Some say that the only reason we aren’t still sacrificing animals and stoning people for their sins is because there is no Temple and no Sanhedrin.(“sitting together,” hence “assembly” or “council). But when they are restored then these will resume. Others go so far as to eventually reject Jesus as the Messiah and simply say that He was just a Rabbi. The inevitable outcome of following this train of thought is to put people back into bondage to the Law.
The proof is in the Scripture
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. ¶ And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” Acts 15:5
The issue of how to treat the gentile believers is not a new question in our day, the Apostles themselves dealt with this issue on more than one occasion. Acts 15 shines ample light on not only the question, but the answer as well. As we read in Acts 15, we see the bible “heavyweights” like Paul and Barnabas called on the carpet along with the rest of the apostles to figure this out. And as with most issues in the church, the whole problem started with a small handful of troublemakers:
“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1
A few bad apples…
Now, we are not told who these troublemakers are, but it was sufficient to throw a monkeywrench into the whole deal:
“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” Acts 15:2
And deal with it they did…”And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as [he did] unto us; Act 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:7-9
They acknowledged that while e gentile does not become a Jew when believing on the Messiah, the line of division between them no longer exists. From God’s perspective then, there is no difference between a Jewish and Gentile believer in Christ. But they didn’t stop there, they continued on to answer this question in a most resolute and final way.
The Apostles settle this question once and for all
“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:10-12
Peter is so bold that he stuns them all into silence, and uses this time to allow Paul and Barnabas to recount all the awesome ‘miracles and wonders that God had wrought among the Gentiles by them’. Just when you think it can’t get any more intense that it already is, James steps in begins to wrap it up:
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men [and] brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. ” Acts 15:13-18
Then, the knockout blow:
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.” Acts 15:19-21
In an amazing display, James through the “Holy Spirit,” tells us once and for all what God expects from Gentile believers…and it is not to be placed under the Law of Moses. There exists no evidence in the New Testament that mandates that any Gentile believer observe Jewish holidays, eat kosher foods or worship only on the Sabbath day. What was the reaction from the entire assembled group of elders? They said this:
“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell [you] the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” Acts 15:24-29
Did you catch that line? Go back and reread the Apostles themselves saying that they never gave any such commandment for Gentiles to be placed under the Law of Moses. Never. Ever. Do you believe the Bible? Don’t take my word for it, look it up and read it for yourself…
The believer in Christ is not called to law, but to “freedom in Jesus.” And for those who still need further proof, Paul provides it in Galatians 2:
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:11-16
The roots of Christianity grow deep in Jewish culture, and it is highly recommended that all Christians learn about the Jewish feast days, holy days and other customs. They will only deepen our appreciation and understanding of our common ancestry that we have, Gentiles together with Jews. But to suggest that any Gentile believer who follows Jesus must be placed under Old Testament law is nothing but cherry picking the Bible, and this deception that the Bible speaks against not only in the verses quoted here, but in many other places as well.
- 1 History
- 2 Theology
- Jewish Roots Cults:
- Horn, Thomas. 2014. July. The Coming War on True Christianity. Personal Update. p18. “In a chapter for the new book Blood on the Altar: The Coming War Between Christians vs. Christians, Dr. Chuck Missler…describes how so many real believers today have already started their exodus from institutional Christianity and are reemerging in home groups, just as the church began in the book of Acts.”
- Barna Group.2006, June 19, 2006. House Church Involvement. https://www.barna.org/organic-church-articles/151-house-church-involvement-is-growing Retrieved 7-24-14
- Daniel Botkin. 2001, March–April. Who Were the Judaizers? Gates of Eden. http://www.gatesofeden.org/pdf/GOE%20Volume%2007.pdf
- Chumney, Eddie. 1999, April 23. Hebraic.Heritage.Newsgroup. http://www.hebroots.org/hebrootsarchive/9904/9904_j.html Retrieved Sept 19, 2014.
Chumney, Eddie. 2009, Jan 9. Hebrew Roots 101—The Basics. p11 http://www.hebroots.com/101notes.pdf Retrieved 10/28/14
Heresies (a deviation from the truth)