This is part of a testimony of someone who came out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, written as an apology and explanation to a friend that she had convinced should become part of HRM. Posted with permission.
I left the BL congregation a couple of months before I moved to the west coast, and I never really looked back. I had a member call me, and when he found out I was moving, I never heard from any of them again. The last few times I attended, I had a heaviness I could not explain. I was crying a lot at home, I was burdened, and I felt confused. I felt something in my soul urging me to not go back. Why? I felt my relationship with Christ was becoming diluted; replaced by the Torah…the SHADOW of what He came to do. It’s far more profound than that, though. Do I think Believers should know and understand the Feasts? Yes. Should we understand Torah and know its purpose? Absolutely. But the doctrine that “We are Israel,” and other ideas are false.
There is such a sense of pride and arrogance with the Hebrew Roots Movement, and in a way, it’s essentially culture idolatry and Torah worship. It took me a while to be content that I’m a Gentile, to not let that make me feel “less spiritual,” or like a “regular old Christian like the rest of ‘em.” I went to BL because I was in pain from my Mom’s death and wanted answers. They told me she was not in Heaven, and would not be until Christ’s Second Coming. Heresy. Before, I’d been dissatisfied at my former church. I was jumping from one disappointing congregation to another. I think we all do it, as we wrestle with getting to know the Lord, to shut out doubts we have about the world. But something I noticed at BL after being there a while, is that they twist scripture to their own benefit, to keep this movement going. That elated feeling I had when I first attended had waned, because I began to see through so many things. I was given sarcastic, snappy answers sometimes, because the “rabbi” clearly couldn’t explain how the Gospels, the TRUTH in Christ, refuted what he was saying.
I know that there are some doctrinal problems there, but after much praying, seeking, studying, I’ve realized this is universal with Hebrew Roots and their Systematic Theology. If I ask you anything, it is to forgive me for influencing you in any way. I have felt bad for quite a while about this, and when you told me your family is divided, I just wanted to get you all on a conference call and apologize. And I know even recently I’ve said some things that can be construed as in support of it. Mainly out of confusion and just feeling uneasy about all of it. My prayer is for forgiveness and that you don’t think of me as double-minded or two-faced. What the Lord had shown me is the New Covenant is one of grace. No, it doesn’t mean “do as you wish,” it means as a saved Believer, you’re going to WANT to obey the Lord… Gentiles were not given the Mosaic Law. (I can see the folks at BL shouting “blasphemy.”) We know what’s right and wrong, but FAITH and LOVE is what dominates…two things I struggle with and why I floundered into HRM.
BL thrives on pulling people in who are already saved, giving them the idea that Christ is not enough and they must be an “exclusive club that knows things from a Hebraic mindset that ‘the church’ doesn’t.” The Lord clearly says he hates secrets. Why would we witness to those already redeemed by HIS blood? Why would we focus on His race, a covenant not made with the Gentiles, why try (and fail) to learn a difficult, ancient language, when he came for “all nations, tribes and tongues?” Don’t get me wrong, Hebrew is beautiful and the Lord’s chosen language for the Jewish people. But He created us Gentiles as an entirely different culture for a reason.
One night, I printed out the laws of the Torah. My mouth dropped. There is no way one can be “Torah observant” without (just a few I’ll list here)… stoning an unruly child, stoning adulterers…stoning those who’ve had sex before marriage, not leaving your dwelling on the Sabbath, etc. Even driving or studying on the Sabbath is considered “work,” so that’s one that I was breaking, trying to “keep” it. The Torah was given exclusively to the nation of Israel – the biological Jews – and even THEY couldn’t keep the Law – and some of course were absolutely fanatical about it. And because of that…we have the whole purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection. This is one simple truth, the whole POINT of salvation, and I overlooked it, because I felt something was missing from Christianity. What was missing was MY faith problem and MY poor relationship with Christ because of my own problems. The way I’d been let down by people and the church had nothing to do with my relationship with the Father through his Son.
That’s another point. I noticed we at BL went straight to the Father. They disregarded that Christ said no one can come to the Father except by Him. Christ was mentioned here and there, sort of like salt and pepper on the “meat,” which was the Torah… (And…do know how long it took for me to be able to call Him “Jesus” without feeling I was calling on the name of a pagan god?) Again, that was more brainwashing. I was weak and fell prey to lies.
I realized when the itinerary for the home Shabbat service followed that of BL, I became concerned. The worship services of the HRM are based on rabbinical tradition, the Talmud and Kabbalah. All I can say is…Judaism is definitely not Christianity, and when one tries to incorporate a little of one into the other, a bit of what each means is lost. And that’s more confusion. I don’t want my relationship with Christ fade even more because of that, especially with the tough times I’m going through right now. I do want to add that I sat down over a few weeks and read the Gospels, then I read Galatians, more than once. There’s no way one can reconcile being Torah observant with what Paul writes, without twisting scripture and coming up with a far-out, exaggerated translation. And believe me, when I asked the rabbi at BL questions about why Galations refutes everything about the Sabbath and keeping Torah, he had the strangest explanations that were so convoluted it was ridiculous. And sadly, I became suspicious of anything Paul wrote and still have difficulty with things because of the intense influence that I encountered at BL. They want to be Christians, but Jewish… “just in case.” And that is a theme that resonates throughout all of the Hebrew Roots Movement and Torah Observance.
Looking back, I see that they are planting a destructive seed that takes the focus off of Christ, and puts it on Laws that were not even given to us, but those who were set-apart to bring Christ’s birth and death to fulfillment. The key is the focus which IS NOT on the strength, the power, or the salvation which is CHRIST, as it should be. The Gospels, of course, focusing on the person of Christ, and the rest of the New Testament focusing on our purpose in Him. I think the Lord can use the HRM for his Glory, like he used the Jews’ short-sightedness to His Glory. I believe I was allowed to get involved to show me how we all want some type of “exclusivity,” a sort of “us” vs. “them.” But the Gospel is inclusive, not an exclusive club. And even though I know the home services don’t operate like that, the foundation is the worship style at BL, and that’s the agenda.
We now have the freedom to choose to celebrate the feasts, to choose to adhere to the dietary laws, but we are not obligated, because of the sacrifice Christ made. Before going to BL, I never let the Gospels and what Paul said sink in. I was just restless with “church.” But it has gotten to the point…I realized I either need to believe the Gospels, the words of my Savior and of Paul, or focus solely on the study guide/tutor (Torah) and neglect the entire purpose of Christ’s finished work.
I hope and I pray that this makes sense, and again, I ask that you forgive me for the influence I had in leading you to look into HRM. I didn’t even know it was called that. They were very careful at BL to not “label” anything. But the whole idea that all things Christian are pagan…well, again I will tell you the Talmud and Kabbalah, which is where their worship styles, Bible interpretations, and doctrines come from, are more pagan than most things you’ve ever seen. I do hope this does not in any way affect our friendship. And yes, I was so happy to share my newfound knowledge with you back then. That was before I was confronted with the heresies that began surfacing very quickly once I dug deeper into it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what the Son did for us, why, and what that accomplished for the world. And thank the Lord for that!