The Haters: The Hebrew Roots Movement

A more recent addition to our list of "haters" are proponents of what is generally known as the Hebrew Roots Movement. What does the Hebrew Roots Movement believe? Essentially, their goal is to restore the Jewishness of Christianity. Those in the Hebrew Roots Movement argue that Christianity has strayed way too far from its Jewish roots. There is definitely some truth to this argument. For instance, western Christianity has no problem observing holidays the Bible does not mention, but virtually ignores the Jewish holidays the Bible does mention. But, the Hebrew Roots Movement is not just about the Jewish holidays. The ultimate goal of many in the Hebrew Roots Movement is to put Christians under the bondage of the Old Covenant law, with strict adherence to all of the commands, other than the sacrificial system.

The Hebrew Roots Movement is a perfect illustration of Solomon's statement that "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In the early centuries of Christianity there was a sect known as Ebionism which taught the necessity of keeping the Jewish law. However, this false doctrine goes back even further. Requiring Gentiles to obey the old covenant law after they became Christians was soundly refuted at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Essentially, the Hebrew Roots Movement are the Judaizers that the Apostle Paul thoroughly refuted in the Epistle to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:16, "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."
Galatians 3:11, "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
Galatians 5:12, "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!"

The mistake of the Hebrew Roots Movement is the same mistake of the Judaizers. They fail to understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:40).

We have freedom in Christ! That freedom includes the ability to choose whether or not one observes the Jewish holidays. That freedom even includes the choice whether to observe the Old Testament dietary laws and other regulations. A Christian has the freedom to live his/her life essentially as an observant Jew if that is what he/she believes is God's desire. But, there is no requirement for Christians (New Covenant believers) to live in bondage to Old Covenant regulations. Jesus fulfilled the Law, all of it, not just some of it. What Jesus' death means for the sacrificial system, it also means for the rest of the Law. Jesus died to free us from sin and its penalty. Jesus did not die to transform us into Jews and place us in bondage to the covenant that God made exclusively with the nation of Israel.

The advocates of the Hebrew Roots Movement can be very aggressive in their arguments, hence their inclusion on our list of haters. Their arguments can sound very biblical, and sadly, they are increasingly successful in their proselytization. It is a good thing to be reminded of the Jewish roots of Christianity. It is beneficial to understand the Jewish holidays and how Jesus fulfills each of them. But, if you run across someone who claims to be "restoring the Jewishness of Christianity," be very careful. Should any of their arguments concern you, read the Book of Galatians and email us in the morning.

S. Michael Houdmann

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The Haters: The Hebrew Roots Movement