“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
Rooted in the Flesh is a series of articles which will examine the interpretive and hermenuetic ideology of the Hebrew Roots Movement.
To be clear and upfront from the very start, this series of articles is intended to show that the HRM doctrine and dogmas result from a carnal mindset as well as a carnal interpretation of the Bible and the things of God. We’re going to see how the HRM got to where it is today and then we’ll be looking at certain examples of carnality within the HRM as it pertains to Biblical interpretation and dogma. We will examine some of the major philosophical platforms of the HRM and reveal the carnal nature of these philosophies which make up the greater and overall position of the HRM.
In most cases of sectarian and denominational distinctions, the distinctions or divisions that exist can often be reduced to personal preferences of Biblical adherence or interpretation. This simply means that certain groups or persons have decided to emphasize or prefer certain aspects of scripture and despite the battle lines which certain groups may draw between their own preference and the preference of others, it’s generally always just a matter of preference and emphasis rather than right or wrong.
However, the apparent distinctions that exists between the HRM and Protestant Christianity is often times, far more than a preference of scripture or practice. The HRM has and is, touted by many of its adherents, to be a worthy departure or exodus from Christianity rather than just a preferential interpretation or correction of Christianity.
Therefore, in keeping with the scope and aim of this blogsite, this series entitled “Rooted in the Flesh”, will seek to discover the underlying factors that create as well as cultivate the HRM position beyond scriptural preference.
Previously, many of the articles on this sight have sought to show that the solution between Christianity and the HRM, is not a matter of pitting one scripture passage against another. The previous articles have sought to show that what is missing from the HRM, are huge blocks of scriptural concepts, themes or narratives. Nevertheless, this effort can reach its point of exhaustion as well. Therefore, we must examine this from yet another perspective.
In Biblical debate, when single scripture verses can be countered or cancelled by other singular verses, then you must move into debating theology and larger Biblical texts and persistent themes or principles and narratives. When this fails or reaches exhaustion, a person must then move into the realm of philosophy and psychology where you must discern things such as prejudice, presupposition, motives, worldviews and various philosophies or mindsets. This is the stage to which we have arrived and it has become necessary to undertake this subject matter and explore this level of apologetics of the Christian faith against the claims of the HRM. This series of articles is the next step or level in apologetics for the protestant Christian faith against the anti-Christian HRM and similar claims that may occur in Seventh Day Adventism as well.
I believe it can be said with full confidence that Hebrew Roots in Shallow Soil has previously met the demands or criteria against the HRM on both a scriptural and theological level so please understand that this series of articles is not just a shot in the dark for presuming and accusing the HRM of certain motives. It is the inevitable next level that must be explored and exhausted.
I would rather explore and examine Biblical theology and literal texts rather than deal with things that can be presumptive or speculative about a persons motives. It is a delicate matter to investigate a people group, and in doing so, it’s important to stay above personal prejudices and unproductive criticisms.
On top of that, it’s always a difficult task because you run the risk of pulling up the wheat while pulling up tares and damaging good intentions as Jesus explained in scripture.
While recognizing our need to be careful when examining these issues, we must not decieve ourselves, because the fact is that the HRM has been very vocal against Christianity and often times slanderous and combative. We would also be intellectually blind to think that this is a purely Biblical and textual issue as if no one has any personal bias invested in the issue. Many times, and in various cases, all people may have to go on are personal biases and sentimental based beliefs. Biblical scholarship is an exception to the norm, and what that implies is that many people are not entirely educated or textually objective and without bias in their belief. We must never underestimate the amount of personal bias that makes up the foundation of belief for certain people or groups. Much of the world operates on some level of bigotry. Bigotry is what many people use to solve the mysteries or inadequacies that exist between themselves and others.
Whatever the case may be, we are going to move past or circumvent the common religious and scriptural venires or pretenses and examine the roots of the Hebrew Roots.
This blogsite as well as this article series, are simply a response to the preexistent criticisms made by the HRM.
-THE CARNAL CONTEXT AND HOW IT ALWAYS BEGINS
To begin this series, we are going to take a look at history and the church at large and show how a faulty post salvation Christology and one dimensional Atonement view is at the root of the Hebrew Roots Movement.
The carnal context is inevitable when there is no post conversion context.
Despite the common accusation and labeling as Judaizers, the Hebrew Roots movement does not exist because of the influences or infiltration of Judaism. In actuality and in most cases, the HRM would seem to exist as a default or residual effect of liberal Protestantism. Liberal Protestantism does not normally offer any certainty of a Biblical context for post conversion living and this creates a vacuum. This vacuum of uncertainty is consequently filled by many different things and if they are not the right thing, then they are simply carnal things despite all supposed good intentions. The Hebrew Roots movement is in most cases, one of these good intentions but nonetheless, carnal.
Carnal is an interesting word, and many believers may be accustomed to hearing this word, or only know of this word when it is used to describe the Corinthians of scripture who were struggling with sins and other dysfunctional problems.
So while the word carnal may refer to sin or moral baseness, we will be looking at this word in a more neutral sense as it simply pertains to those things that are not spiritual or supernatural. Our use of the word carnal could also be understood with the synonym of “natural”.
Many of my fellow Christians or Protestants attempt to combat the HRM, but in doing so, these Christians groups or persons often reveal that they themselves either have no post conversion theology or they are simply contending for their own carnal context.
The dilemma of the HRM is not a dilemma of soteriology or salvation doctrines, but when certain Christians try to combat the HRM on the basis of soteriology, these Christians are revealing themselves to have no theology other than soteriology and they have no real post conversion theology by which they may correct the HRM. Therefore, the attempt is to try and make it a salvation issue in order to leverage the debate, but this often fails because the HRM dilemma is simply not about soteriology. I do believe that many in the HRM around nformer evangelicals and full understand salvation by grace through faith so its not a salvation issue but a post salvation issue.
As it was stated at the beginning of this article, the creation and formation of HRM may very well be attributed to Christianity rather than Judaism. We may be justified in saying that the HRM is indeed a creation of Christianity and it will continue to be created by Christianity, so long as Christianity fails to provide the proper context for post conversion living. Understand?
We fail when we think that the HRM is a result of some outside influence such as Judaism. In my estimation and from careful observance and experience, the HRM is more often a product of neglect on the part of Christianity. Cults or sects are not created because of bad salvation doctrines, they are created because of bad post salvation doctrine, or the lack of good post salvation doctrine.
I do believe that almost every version of sectarianism or branch of western Christianity, has at least some degree of sound, Biblical salvation doctrine and when we try to rein in, or correct their subsequent errors as a salvation issue, then a great deal of time and energy is wasted.
What we have are the “Salvation by Works Police”, or the “Grace Police”, who with all good intentions, try to bring certain accusations against different sects but it often fails because these sects are not promoting false soteriology. It is beyond that.
The dilemma of the Galatians was not an issue of how they began, but how they continued. They entered the faith on a supernatural level, but continued with a pre-conversion hermeneutic of living on a natural level.
The one dimensional atonement view of Christianity has been a plague upon the Gospel since the time of the Galatians and in many cases, it has nothing to with whether a person follows certain parts of the Law. The Law is just what happens to be the substance which the HRM uses to define their post conversion lifestyle but all other forms of Christianity who hold to a shallow and one dimensional view of the atonement, are just as guilty for taking up carnal pursuits and structures or disciplines to define their post conversion existence.
People may claim proper salvation doctrines and justification by grace through faith on the basis of the blood and Cross and work of Christ, but they usually isolate this aspect of their faith and develop a perfection or righteousness along some other line. Their identity becomes that of a fleshly and carnal identity and the confidence of their faith, subconsciously rests upon, and is measured by how they perceive themselves in their body.
These persons may agree to salvation by grace through faith lest any man boast but they don’t apply that to post conversion living and they seek to be defined by some distinction of their natural or carnal life rather than a supernatural distinction.
The reason why the Law is so problematic is simply for the reason that it involves the bodily life as a means of defining post salvation righteousness.
Nevertheless, the most important thing is to realize how much of Christianity is in a Galatians or carnal context of post conversion living according to the flesh.
It can be moral reform, the study of doctrine, church work, socializing, ministry, emotionalism, sensationalism, gaining wealth, marriage and family prestige or even indifference and liberalism. For the HRM, it just happens to be a Judaic style of observance to the Law but the sky’s the limit whenever there is no understanding of the role of impartation which Christ fulfills in our walk with Him.
All of these things can provide some sense of completion and fulfillment but they generally appeal to what is tangible and outward. These activities or observances are not a guarantee in themselves of originating in the Spirit although they can be found in scripture. They can seem to add to, or complete a person’s religious identity but God is not after these carnal identities. God is trying to establish His image and what is of His own making through the Spirit rather than what is of the body and making of man.
The true post conversion context is to walk or assimilate one’s self with what God has created by His Spirit just as He did at the original creation.
The HRM may be just as bad as Christianity in its failure to see the finished work on the Cross as the beginning of Christ’s ministry to the world. Our salvation in Christ is the beginning of our walk in the Spirit and the beginning of a new ministry of righteousness and not just some reform to our outer religious life.
In conclusion, we need to see the scope of Bible the Galatian dilemma to understand that salvation is not a supernatural beginning in the Spirit that descends into dependency upon the natural plane. There are many good things to do and obey, but if we could make ourselves righteousness by natural means after we come to Christ, then we could have presumably delivered ourselves out of the house of bondage as well. But that was not the case.
“I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…”
The fall of man and especially the story of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael is our biggest object lesson for understanding that man fails to see or trust the providence of God in continuing circumstances and for the fulfillment of our lives.
In Luke 4, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness also reveals that man at his lowest is tempted rely upon himself in order to fabricate an identity and sense of self worth based upon his natural efforts.
“It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts.”
The necessity for believers is to remain within the context and work of the Spirit. For those in the Old Testament, their duty was to remain in the context of the Law because the Spirit was not manifested in the earth and within man. Because of Christ and the tearing of the temple veil, the Spirit of God is poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2) and the duty of the believer is to remain in the context of the Spirit rather than the natural realm or plane.
If you’re involved in the HRM and your basic response to this article is to say
“well, we still need to obey God’s commandments”,
then you’re not listening to what the Bible is saying. You’re not realizing that the Bible is trying to make a distinction between the carnal realm and supernatural realm that exists because of the fall of man. Through Jesus Christ, God has repaired the breech that never formerly existed until man was tempted to deify himself and depend the natural plane. This is clearly shown with Abraham, the temptation of Christ and the Galatians.
The HRM is habitual in their self promotion and self observation when it comes to righteousness but this is not what is prescribed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the advent of Pentecost.
In the next article of this series, we will be examining the actual dynamic or logistics of the Atonement and how this carnal context of living is in conjunction with a failure to see the supernatural aspect of scripture and the Law.
Click the menu screen for the list of articles.