A Brief Look at the Hebrew Roots Movement
When making an assessment of the HRM, my ultimate goal is to elevate whoever may be involved with it, above and beyond, so that they may see what is truly available through the finished work of Christ by faith.
I’ve encountered enough individuals in the Hebrew Roots Movement to know that they are just as people are in every other group or denomination. In every group, people will range from militant fundamentalists, to passive and indifferent liberals, or somewhere in between.
It becomes difficult when describing a religious group because not everyone is always of the same mindset. The main obstacle I had when creating this blog, was how to avoid presuming or putting words and beliefs in anyone’s mouth and mind, because I wish to be fair before God and men.
With that said, any attempt made at pinpointing the actual doctrines of the HRM is like herding cats. The HRM is so broad and so diverse, it is virtually impossible to define its beliefs along one particular point. I can relate to the idea of having ambiguous beliefs especially since the Bible does not demand a denominational distinction, but the HRM has so many grey areas that a person cannot really be faulted for presuming what the HRM believes. Everyone in the HRM which I have spoken to or debated with, has their own personal line of doctrines. Both churches and people of the HRM differ in certain beliefs, and if there is any unity of belief, many still hold to a certain amount of autonomy and ambiguity. The fact that it is difficult to pinpoint their beliefs says a great deal about how there is more ideology than theology in the HRM.
I firmly believe that there are some in the HRM who are God fearing people that live chaste and upright lives, but fail to realize that they have adopted very un-biblical, if not anti-biblical beliefs and completely unfounded doctrine.
My overall opinion though, is that the HRM is a noble but misguided ideology that attempts to honor God and confront what may be viewed as liberalism or paganism in modern Christianity. It is a purely works-based ideology that has been very creatively, and neatly repackaged as faith-based by simply maintaining an element or component of Jesus Christ. It is promoted according to works, and it is defended by works. We can all identify with the disgust that many of them have in regards to the deplorable state that modern Christianity is in, and the prevalent abuse of faith and grace, but instead of returning to the New Testament principles of holiness and purity of heart by faith in Jesus Christ, they have sought out the physical, outward works of the law, as a solution. On the surface, the HRM may simply appear as legalistic or works-based, but I can tell you by conversing with them, there is far more than simple legalism.
Even though there has been similar religious ideology that predates the 1900’s, my suspicion is that much of what we see today has re-gained some momentum due to the rebirth of Israel, modern Hebrew and the rise and introduction of Messianic groups in the U.S. It is a fantastic concept, that Jewish people have come to Christ, but many Gentile Christians have thrown away or abandoned Christianity either out of intimidation or fascination over the idea and substance of Israel, Christian Jews, and the Jewish/Hebrew/Biblical practices that we have all been enlightened upon because of them. These practices no matter how Biblical, have given people not only an alternative, but a disdain and contempt for those who do not feel it is necessary to assimilate with these practices.
From what I gather, the majority of the people who hold to HRM doctrines, rarely attend any established church. Because of this, there is a great deal of personal autonomy coupled with contempt for modern churches, which leads very many to base their beliefs off of internet sources that have no accountability. The worst part of this is that, in their attempt to mesh Israel, Jews, the Old and New Testaments, along with Evangelical theology, they have relied upon non-Christian, Jewish and Hebrew resources that ultimately lead to contempt for Evangelical theology, and promote a works-based righteousness.
In all my studies, and debate with HR individuals, I have found that there is little concept about the Cross of Jesus Christ and a personal “experience” which accompanies it. Of course they affirm a personal relationship, but not through an identity with the Cross, but through Moses and the works of the Law, along with Jewish/Hebrew practices, observances and abstinences. They believe that everything in the Bible and person’s life, pivots upon the literal written works of the Law, and the study of Hebrew, rather than the Cross of Jesus Christ and righteousness by faith. They adamantly deny this, but the proof lies in the fact that rarely is there talk about any part of the Bible without the attachment of the physical works of the Law. The Law defines their belief and position, period. The Cross of Jesus Christ should define our lives, and explain every other mystery. Anything less, or more, is not righteousness by faith.
To put it plainly, the HRM believes it is called to lift up the Torah or Law of Moses, not Jesus Christ, or even Yahshua. Whether it’s at a church, in a book, or on the internet, much of what the HRM espouses has little if any to do with purity of heart, or circumcision of the heart. When listening, you will hear of the Law of Moses, Bible Feasts, Jewish dates and times, Hebrew studies about word origins, all of which offer some mental and physical gratification, structure and sense of purpose.
The problem with all this is that the theme of New Testament places more focus on inward issues such as, “Those who are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh and its passions.”, and also “The fruit of the Spirit”, and “The inward man”. The reason I say this is because both Jesus and the NT apostles all speak from the point that the complete will of God can be, and must be done by having and inward, spiritual work and revelation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.