The Hebrew Roots Movement: A Fundamentalist’s Dream

If there is one thing that has harmed Christianity over the years, that’s fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the concept that Christianity ought to be reduced to small asinine maxims that are based less on Scripture than they are based on cultural innovations from Western civilization. It has opened the faith of the Bible up to well deserved ridicule and criticism, and has turned the greatest source of human progress (the Bible) into a regressive ideology fit for people that have no interest nor ability to engage with any kind of critical thinking.

Interestingly enough, I’ve spent the last seven years with a group of people that seemed to have perfected fundamentalism to an artform and truly have somehow obtained the patent of all the worst parts of fundamentalism. Oh yes, my friends, the hounds of fundamentalism have been loosed on the world, and they are armed with anti-scholarship sentiments and the internet. These people have transcended the need for any scholarship that exist beyond their personal reading of their English Bibles and Google searches. This group is known as the Hebrew Roots Movements.

The Hebrew Roots Movement is a hotbed for fundamentalists of the most fashionable sort. These people, while claiming to be people committed to the text of Scripture, oftentimes couldn’t be more contrary to the text of Scripture. They decry Biblical scholarship and Christianity as a whole. They soothe their own ignorance by making the claim of being led only by the Holy Spirit, and often these “leadings” lead them to reject any sense of orthodox doctrine or modern scholarship. They are, in many cases, either anti-Christian or antisemitic. They believe themselves to be “voices in the wilderness” much like John the Baptist, but are much more akin to the early Gnostics. There is certainly such a thing as a healthy skepticism of institutions, but this healthy skepticism has been overturned in favor of outright pseudo-scholarship. This anti-intellectualism isn’t limited to theology, but extends to nearly every institution that one could conceive of. You name it. The Hebrew Roots Movement has replaced medical institutions with “natural medicine”, politics with conspiracy theories, and science with… well nothing.

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly. Proverbs 15:2

Is the Torah great? I offer my most hearty and sincere “absolutely”. The Torah is awesome and has dynamized my theology in ways that crushes any conceptions of antinomianism. Pronomianism is the only nomianism that jives with the entirety of Scripture from start to finish. That said, those rushing to the consistency of pronomian theology have no prepared ecclesiastical leadership to receive them and disciple them once they’ve arrived. Needless to say, when a mass of laymen arrive to this newfound theological position, the only ones there to foster their theology are those lacking everything except zeal. Ignorance + zeal = bad… very bad. What results, ladies and gentleman, is a train wreck of cults, heresy, and congregations with the lifespan of the average birthday candle.

What do we do about this? Well, first off, we’d do well to stop listening to any teacher or leaders that have no real qualifications to be making the claims that they are. We stop building fellowships and ministries around personalities and people that simply have the “gift of gab”. That’s a good start. Secondly, we build institutions and actually train our people. Imagine with me, if you will, a Torah movement that has people formally trained in hermeneutics, history, and Biblical languages. Now I want you to imagine that these people coming out of these colleges with their training are assisting us in building organizations that disciple, counsel, and grow communities that are advancing the ideologies and purposes of our awesome and powerful Creator. I’m having fun just thinking about it, aren’t you?

I love the Torah. I love pronomian theology. I believe in the Torah/Pronomian movement. God’s law is “perfect, reviving the soul”, as the Scripture reads. But, we have to do better. We have to expect better. We must resist those poisoning this movement. We can continue to push Christianity forward with this awesome theology. We can share this theology with our Christian friends and neighbors, and have intelligent and amicable conversation. We just have to stop being crazy, and tolerating crazy people. Say no to fundamentalism, my friends.

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9 thoughts on “The Hebrew Roots Movement: A Fundamentalist’s Dream

  1. You’re absolutely right that Hebrew Roots has suffered a great deal from conspiracy theories, pseudo-medical woo, anti-science thinking, and anti-scholarship viewpoints. It has hurt our credibility.

    You may be interested in a post I recently wrote, in which a dear friend in the Lord left the Hebrew Roots movement and explained his reasons for doing so: Responding to ‘No Longer Torah Observant’. The post echoes some of your sentiments and urges reform.

  2. IMHO there are way too many people that consider themselves teachers. They are puffed up with pride and full of SELF. One thing most have in common is the lack of humbleness and the neither the ability or desire to accept correction. THEY CAN’T! It would admit they have been wrong all the time. If you may disagree with them they don’t want to hear you yet they wish and expect to be listened to.

    It doesn’t matter how many books you may have written, videos you have put together, speeches and presentations you have given….

    1Co 13:1  I may speak in the tongues of men, even angels; but if I lack love, I have become merely blaring brass or a cymbal clanging. 
    1Co 13:2  I may have the gift of prophecy, I may fathom all mysteries, know all things, have all faith—enough to move mountains; but if I lack love, I am nothing. 
    1Co 13:3  I may give away everything that I own, I may even hand over my body to be burned; but if I lack love, I gain nothing. 
    1Co 13:4  Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, 
    1Co 13:5  not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 
    1Co 13:6  Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth. 
    1Co 13:7  Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. 
    1Co 13:8  Love never ends; but prophecies will pass, tongues will cease, knowledge will pass. 
    1Co 13:9  For our knowledge is partial, and our prophecy partial; 
    1Co 13:10  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass. 
    1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, argued like a child; now that I have become a man, I have finished with childish ways. 
    1Co 13:12  For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me. 
    1Co 13:13  But for now, three things last—trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love. 

    1. Thanks for this comment.
      However, I have observed many who “camp” on v.7, tolerating teachers who prophesy falsely, etc, all while say we need to “just love one another”, but they don’t pay much attention to v.11, which encourages growth and maturity, and should be cross referenced to Heb. 5, which tells us that discernment is a hard, God-empowered WORK, and also that if we don’t bother with discernment, we can go BACKWARDS in maturity, and get where we can’t even handle mature “food”. This you will notice when the “lovers” are explained something historical or grammatical about the text, and they can’t receive it. It’s not an “either/or”, it’s a “both/and”. We need both love AND training in discernment!

  3. I read my comment and I am reflecting on the ‘teachers’ I have come across in the HRM that really need to take 1 COR 13 to heart. You follow the ‘wrong’ people and you will go down the wrong path and that is a path you may never return from. There are some really ‘knowledgeable’ people in regards to Torah but they are mean spirited and I mean, REALLY MEAN though they may come across as gentle spirits. Then there are others that tell you what to do and if you don’t do as they say they block you. I could name names but I am not going to. Shalom.

  4. As a “pronomian fundamentalist” I too enjoyed this article. I too have grown weary of those who know everything better than anyone else. This is not isolated to the Hebrew-Roots movement of course. I first experienced it as a Catholic until the age of 22, as a Protestant until age 50, and the last ten years in HR. I would love to connect with a knowledgeable scholar in HR who is not arrogant. In the meantime, since I don’t know when that will happen, my family is buying an apartment in Jerusalem where we intend to continue to study Tenach in Hebrew, grow fluent in Modern Hebrew, and learn from the most original source about the Land, people, and culture of Yeshua. Isaiah 2.2-3.

  5. Really appreciate this, Jeff!
    I hadn’t gotten ’round to the term “Pronomian” as a label… (folks are always asking me what I “am”, and I’m sure NOT going to say “Messianic”, lest they Google that, to try to find out what I believe!)
    Perhaps I’ll just say “Pronomian”, next time they ask, and then refer them to Ps. 19.
    BTW, are you aware that the Father has already begun the process you dream of, with Torah Resource Institute?
    (click the drop-down tab under “Institute”)
    I’ve been taking courses with them for several years, and a couple of their “graduates” are really decent scholars in their own right, and one instructor, Rob Vanhoff, is the only “pronomian” scholar that I know of with the exposure and invitation to speak frequency to some of the highest level “nerd” conferences (SBL, Heb. U in Jerusalem, etc)

    You might be interested to read the thesis of one graduate:
    Blessings in your journey!

    1. Hi morgfam,
      I am aware of Torah Resource Institute. In fact, I’ve taken classes there and spoken with their staff a few times, including Rob Vanhoff. I really love their ministry and I’m blessed by the work they’re doing. Thanks so much for your response and your commitment to good scholarship!

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