A few days ago, Answers in Genesis, a ministry I love, promote, financially support, and am blessed by, posted The Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement.
Now, I am a Hebrew Roots believer. If the caricature of the Hebrew Roots movement as presented by AiG existed in practice, I would call it dangerous, too. However, as most of the dangers the article raises are based on misunderstanding, something which can be clearly shown in that I have addressed each of the points raised as long as ten years ago, and others have addressed the same points long before that, I think just a simple clarification of each point will suffice. This will be a multi-part series as there is far too much to cover in one post.
Broadly speaking, followers of the HRM [Hebrew Roots Movement] believe that Christians are obligated to follow Jewish laws and practices from the books of Moses.
First of all, there is a difference between “Jewish” laws and practices, and “Biblical” laws and practices. There are many different denominations, if you will, within Jewish faith and practice, just as there are within Christian faith and practice. One such distinction is between what is known as Rabbinic Judaism, and Karaite Judaism. It is a major difference, as major a difference as there is between Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholic Christianity.
Rabbinic Judaism, since the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and with it the destruction of the Levitical priesthood as the authority determining Jewish faith and practice, has flourished. In Rabbinic Judaism, the recognized great rabbis of the faith are the authoritative voice determining Jewish faith and practice. They disagree with each other, and with Scripture on some points. This lively back-and-forth debate of what Jewish faith and practice should be, which has carried down through the centuries, has given rise to the common proverb, “Two Jews, three opinions.”
I would venture to say there is not a concept akin to “heresy” within Jewish faith and practice, because without the Temple or the priesthood, there is no single authority. Thus, the ever-changing debate among the rabbis is the faith standard.
Rabbinic Judaism, to cite one example, celebrates the commanded feast days according to the rabbinic calendar, and not according to the calendar guidelines set in Scripture. This practice arose because after the dispersion of the Jews from Israel following the Temple destruction, the Jews in far off lands could not learn in a timely manner when the new moon was sighted in Israel. The sighting of the new moon, in olden days, determined the first day of the month, the foundation for the Biblical calendar upon which the feast day system rests.
One of the rabbis developed a calendar based on mathematical calculations, so that any congregation anywhere in the world could celebrate the feast days on the same day. Sometimes the calculated or rabbinical calendar is in sync with the Biblical calendar, and other times it is not. However, it is the most common calendar in use in Jewish faith and practice today.
In juxtaposition to this are the Karaite Jews, who take Scripture alone for their faith and practice and do not deviate from it. They are very alike the Reformed Protestants in their cry of “Sola Scriptura” or Scripture Alone. They differ from Rabbinic faith and practice in many ways. In our example above, they sight the new moon to determine the first day of the month, just as was done in Biblical times according to Scripture. Often their feast day celebrations are a day or two off (or sometimes a whole month off) of Rabbinic celebrations.
When a Gentile speaks of “Jewish” faith and practice, he is often referring solely to Rabbinic faith and practice, which does differ from Scriptural commands in some instances. While Rabbinic Judaism is the most commonly practiced form of Judaism, it does not speak for everyone. At last count there were eleven different calendars in use in the broad brush of Judaism to determine feast days, and possibly even more among Hebrew Roots believers.
Do Hebrew Roots believers advocate that Christians follow “Jewish” faith and practices, now that we know there is a wide variation among those practices? There might be some who do this, and they argue among themselves as to which Jewish faith and practice to follow. But most I personally know, and most Hebrew Roots teachers I personally know, seek to follow Scripture.
More: The righteousness that is of faith.
answering answers in genesis, part two
answering answers in genesis, part three
answering answers in genesis, part four
answering answers in genesis, part five
answering answers in genesis, part six
answering answers in genesis, part seven
answering answers in genesis, part eight
answering answers in genesis, part nine
answering answers in genesis, part ten
answering answers in genesis, part eleven
answering answers in genesis, part twelve
I absolutely love AiG, and am grateful for their ministry… and yes, I am a Hebrew Roots believer … I am also looking forward to reading your post on this topic as well. In addition to your blog, articles and books… that you have written – yes, grateful for the balance – clarification – that is so needed.
However I will add… after eight plus years of walking in my Hebrew Heritage… I have seen the extreme right and the extreme left… and quite honestly the negative effects of these extremes has caused much damage… within our home, our relationships and communities.
I will be the first to say be there… done that. And it concerns me greatly. More often… I myself walk out, or away… at conflict, pride, hate, anger, and the attitude of ‘I know more than you’. It makes me ill of stomach -when I see it in me and in others… because of this, and my dislike for worldly attitudes and exspression… etc.
I just sit back and try to live my best for my Abba and seek His forgiveness and guidance… may it be in a surrendered position of love. ❤
There are some things which are rightly called out in the article, and you have hit the nail on the head Andi. I will be addressing these things as well when I get to them in the article. I hope you stay tuned. <3
So thankful for your perspective. I am staying tuned for “the rest of the story.” 🙂
Thank you so very much for your kind comments D’vorah. I do hope you come back again. <3
Loretta McCarthy says
Thank you for taking the time to address these matters. Those who have come out of a traditional church and feeling their way into Messianic need all the support they can get with good scriptural backup. Your writings are clear and well presented and I look forward to sharing more of your work. Blessings to you and your family from a fellow Messianic follower of Yeshua, Loretta McCarthy.
Thank you so very much for stopping by today and leaving your kind comments Loretta. <3