You may have heard of Messianic Judaism, but have you heard of the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM)? I met some Messianic Jews about 45 years ago and learned a lot about them and their beliefs, but it would be another 20 years before I would hear from members of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Are they the same? Different?
I started blogging online in March of 1995 and began hearing from people around the world who agreed and disagreed with what I wrote. Many challenged my use of the Apostle Paul’s writings in Bible studies and commentaries on Christianity. They told me Paul’s letters were not to be trusted and should be avoided.
Here is one of those comments.
Paul of Tarsus preached lies and lawlessness and the Jewish ‘Christians’ and Apostles were doing all they could to keep this charlatan in check, while keeping the flock’s eyes on Christ.
Paul of Tarsus was a heretical ‘hippy’ who burst onto the scene preaching the tenets of free love along with axioms of anarchy, thus it appears he was being called to Jerusalem by St. James, in order to be officially ex-communicated from the church.’“Damascus Document” – Dead Sea Scrolls
When I asked some of the people who contacted me what New Testament writings could be trusted, they said Matthew’s Gospel as written in Hebrew rather than Greek as well as James and Jude – also as written in Hebrew rather than Greek. They emphasized the importance of reading the New Testament in Hebrew instead of Greek. They said the Greek text of the New Testament was corrupt and only the Hebrew text could be trusted. What Hebrew text of the New Testament? We’ll look into that as we continue our study.
I asked them to tell me more about themselves and many said they were members of the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). Others identified themselves as modern Ebionites. You can read some of their comments to my series about the Apostle Paul here.
One of the people who commented on my views concerning the Ebionites wrote that he was a member of the Messianic/Jewish/Hebrew-Roots (MJHR) movement and that they were working hard to fight the rise of neo-ebionism.
Indeed there are a *lot* of us in MJHR who hold to these truths, and combat Ebionism on a regular basis.
I thanked the writer for his response and told him the comments that concerned me were those people who did not believe Jesus Christ is God and did not believe Paul’s letters were Scripture. We’ll look deeper into both of those important areas in our series.
I also came across an off-shoot of the movement during research into New Apostolic Reformation and Christian Zionism.
First, let’s learn more about the Hebrew Roots Movement (aka Hebraic Roots, Jewish Roots, Hebrew Roots Awakening).
What Is Hebrew Roots?
It’s important that we use the language of people involved in HRM. It’s a matter of objectivity and fairness. For an answer to the question, “What Is Hebrew Roots?”, let’s look at how self-identified members of that movement respond to the question –
Hebrew Roots is a movement emerging around the world that advocates returning to the understanding of the Scriptures, perspectives, and beliefs of first-century faith. We are removed from Protestant Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Messianic Judaism because of core belief differences. House of David Fellowship
Hebrew Roots ® is a teaching ministry dedicated to exploring the Hebraic roots of the Christian Faith … Much of the teaching taking place in the Christian Community today ignores the fact that Y’shua is not only our promised Savior, He was also a first century Jew. He was reared in the Jewish lifestyle of that day, as were nearly all of those with whom He came in contact.
Many believe that the Apostle Paul did away with all the “Jewishness” of the Old Testament and began a new religion (called Christianity) based totally on the New Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth, for near the end of his ministry Paul stated very clearly that he still considered himself to be a member of the sect of the Pharisees: “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; … ‘ (Acts 23:6)” Hebrew Roots ®
The organized Christian church has, for two millennia, cut herself off from her roots. The modern church has, instead, planted an entirely new tree. This tree has rejected the fruit of YHWH’s feasts, His Shabbat, His Torah, His dietary laws, and even His Name. Wildbranch Ministry
Our desire is to help lead people to salvation through the One and Only True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His Son Yeshua the Messiah. Therefore we lift up and magnify the Torah of Moses (first five books of the Bible) as the foundational document that instructs us on how to walk out our faith. With the Torah as a firm foundation, we promote the study of the remainder of Scripture, including the prophets and the writings and the New Testament … Our primary goal is to teach the Torah from a thematic perspective, since it is the foundational document given to us by The Holy One to teach us how to draw near to Him. A good understanding of the Torah will provide the foundation for properly interpreting the rest of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the New Testament writings. Restoration of Torah Ministries
Hebrew Roots is an “awakening” – an awakening to the walk of faith God gave the Hebrew people. It is an attempt to pattern one’s life after the examples of righteousness God gave us . . . men like the ‘fathers’ – Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and of course – the ‘Hebrew of Hebrews’, Messiah Yeshua. We believe we are a part of the restoration of all things that must take place before the end of the age and the restoration of the Kingdom of God on Earth … Ami Yisrael (“My people Israel”) is a Sabbath keeping, Torah pursuant, Hebrew Roots fellowship that is firmly grounded on the teachings and example of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Ami Yisrael
The 20th century saw a variety of movements and groups focused on returning Christianity to its Hebrew roots (e.g. Torah observance, Sabbath keeping, annual Feast Days keeping, Kosher diet, etc.) – including:
- Sacred Name Movement (Clarence Dodd and A.B. Traina)
- Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong)
- Triumph Prophetic Ministries (William Dankenbring)
- Hebrew Roots ® (Dean and Susan Wheelock)
- Hatikva Ministries (Joseph Good)
- Wildbranch Ministries (Brad Scott)
- Alliance of Redeemed Israel (Angus and Batya Wootten)
- Open Church Ministries (Dean Cozzens)
- Hebraic Heritage Ministries International (Eddie Chumney)
- Shoreshim Ministries (Bill Cloud)
- Shofar Ministries (Sheila Crawford)
- Lion & Lamb Ministries (Monte Judah)
- A Rood Awakening International (Michael Rood)
Here are some of the beliefs I found to be prominent within the Hebrew Roots Movement. Keep in mind that groups that identify with Hebrew Roots do not necessarily agree with each other on every point of belief (much like Protestant denominations), but these are some of the beliefs that appear to be primary.
- Restoring Christianity to its Hebrew (Jewish) roots
- Requiring the use of the name Yaweh rather than God or Lord and Yeshua rather than Jesus
- Belief that Jesus (Yeshua) is God (Yaweh) (there seems to be some disagreement by different HRM groups about whether Jesus is God in the Flesh or if God elevated the human ‘man’ Jesus to a position of deity .. we’ll look into that as our investigation continues)
- Helping believers express their faith in Yeshua as Messiah by returning to and keeping the Torah of Yeshua
- People are not saved by works, but the precepts of the Torah are eternally binding
- Viewing the Torah as the primary document for living the life God intends for followers of Jesus (Yeshua)
- Every believer should walk a Torah-observant life
- Believers must ‘endure to the end’ in their observance of the Torah
- The original Hebrew versions of Gospel writings are superior to Greek texts, which many in the HRM believe were corrupted. (Hebrew Roots has its own Bibles – Qodesh Cepher, Sacred Name New Testament, Sacred Name Bible, Holy Name Bible)
- The Epistles of the Apostle Paul are often ignored and sometimes rejected
- Pagan traditions adopted by Christians are not to be followed
- Hebrew terminology is used in meetings along with Jewish symbols and ‘Messianic’ music and dancing (known as Davidic Dancing)
- Believers should keep the seventh-day Sabbath and annual Passover
- Believers should keep the annual Feast Days (e.g. Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles)
- Removed from Protestant Christianity because of core belief differences
- Removed from Messianic Judaism because of core belief differences
- Removed from Rabbinic Judaism because of core belief differences
- Gentiles keep the Law through the One Law theory and Two House theology
In the next part of our special series, The ‘Hebrew Roots’ Movement, we will look at some of the writings of HRM during the last several decades to see what they’ve been telling Gentile Christians they should do to be faithful followers of Jesus (Yeshua).