Thursday, April 10, 2014

Addressing the Hebrew Roots / Sacred Name Movement [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)
"What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." (Matthew 15:11)
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1-5)  
"One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God." (Romans 14:5-6)
"On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, 'Get up, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky." (Acts 10:9-16)
Matthew Henry's Commentary on Peter's vision in Acts 10: "The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it."
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The Hebrew Roots Movement/Sacred Name Movement is a fast-growing works righteous movement which is a modern day form of "Judaizing," the heresy that the Apostle Paul had to address several times in his ministry. From an article posted at The Berean Call by Richard Fisher, the movement is described this way:
"(The Hebrew Roots Movement) is a very modern movement that insists that we must resurrect first-century Judaism (our Jewish Roots) and the milieu and lifestyle of first-century Jews and impose them on both Jewish and non-Jewish believers. This is not just an academic study to better understand Scripture and its setting but is rather a movement of restoration that claims that the church has moved off its Jewish foundation and must return to a more Jewish way of life to be authentic." (online source)
To gain a better understanding of the heresy of Judaizing, please listen to this excellent talk by Phil Johnson of GTY. Please note that when Phil Johnson gave this talk, the Hebrew Roots Movement did not yet exist, so you will not hear Phil mention this movement by name. But if you listen to his excellent talk, you will have a very biblically grounded understanding of the markers of this current and ongoing Judaizers movement.

 My Comments 

I had my own brief flirtation with some Hebrew Roots-like legalism, early in my Christian walk, which primarily centered around following the Leviticus food laws. I was a brand new Christian, saved in a seeker/emergent church, and I was constantly going around with my Bible open saying, what is this? and what about this? and explain this to me? My new Christian friends kind of patted me on the head, and didn't give me what I felt were thorough, Biblically-reasoned responses. But when I came upon the legalists, they did have answers. And they had their Bibles open, and were just as intent and serious as I was. I think that's the edge that lots of cults have, they will give answers, albeit the wrong ones, and they will use scripture, albeit twisted out of context. I praise the Lord for allowing me to be humbled by that season in my Christian walk, and for keeping that season mercifully brief. And of course, after that, I was all, praise the Lord, and pass the bacon :)

 A Few Pointers. . . . .  

It's important to note that when someone is going into Hebrew Roots, you will notice one or more of the following: 
- dietary changes (going back to the Leviticus food laws),
- a heavy emphasis on Jewish festivals (with the implication that those who observe Christmas/Easter are sinning), 
- a rejection of the Apostle Paul's writings, 
- a denial of the Trinity, and 
- the usage of "Yeshua" instead of "Jesus" when speaking about Jesus
Now, someone doing some of the aforementioned things, or holding to those beliefs, doesn't necessarily mean they are whole-hog into the Hebrew Roots heresy........but it could mean that. And so these are good markers to bear in mind when trying to evaluate this.

Hebrew Roots Movement/Sacred Name followers often claim that they are just exercising their liberty and freedom in Christ, but this often quickly escalates into those things becoming law, and binding upon themselves and other Christians........ meaning, their expressed "freedom" and "joy" in doing these things often turns into them thinking that they (and you!) are sinning if they (and you) don't do these things.

Below are some excellent resources for getting up to speed on what the Hebrew Roots Movement is, and how to biblically respond to those ensnared in it:
Debate Between Christian Apologist Chris Rosebrough and Hebrew Roots Leader Jim Staley
The Sabbath, The New Covenant and The Hebrew Roots Movement (Stand Up For The Truth)
■ The Hebrew Roots Movement (Watchman Fellowship)
What is the Hebrew Roots Movement? (Got Questions?)
■ What Is The Sacred Name Movement? (Got Questions?)
Who Were The Judaizers? (Got Questions?)
Torah Fulfilled: Why Christians Don’t Keep the Sabbath and Other Mosaic Laws (Fighting For The Faith)
Are you a Sabbath Keeper or Sabbath Breaker? (Fighting For The Faith)
Should Christians Keep Kosher? (Word of His Grace)
The Hebrew Roots Cult (Cy Shift)
An Examination of the Hebrew Roots Movement (Fighting For The Faith)
A Discussion About the Hebrew Roots Movement (Andy Olson, Echo Zoe Radio with Chris Rosebrough)
Joyfully Growing In Grace Website
The Sacred Name Movement Debunked (video)
Who Were The Judaizers? And What Do They Look Like Today? (Phil Johnson, GTY)
Bewitching Believers Through the Hebrew Roots Movement (The Berean Call)

 Hebrew Roots Ministries and Teachers 

Below are some Hebrew Roots ministries and teachers (please note that this is not a comprehensive list, as this movement continues to grow rapidly, and new ministries and teachers keep popping up):
■ Jim Staley (Passion For Truth Ministries) [UPDATED BELOW]
■ Mark Biltz (El Shaddai Ministries)
■ Michael Rood (A Rood Awakening)
First Fruits of Zion
119 Ministries
■ Bill Cloud (Shoreshim Ministries)
Monte Judah (Lion and Lamb Ministries)
■ Brad Scott, Preston McNutt (Wildbranch Ministry)
■ Victor Schultz (Torah Teachers
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UPDATE January 2015: Since the posting of this article, Passion For Truth pastor Jim Staley has pled guilty to defrauding elderly investors of $500,000 in an investment scheme. Sentencing will be held in July 2015, with a possible maximum of 20 years in jail and/or fines of up to $250,000. Jim Staley is perhaps the most widely known leader in a movement known as Hebrew Roots. Hebrew Roots adherents observe Jewish festivals, follow Old Testament dietary laws, refuse to call Jesus "Jesus" (they call Him Yeshua instead), and deny the Trinity. (News report about Jim Staley's conviction - KSDK St Louis News)

UPDATE August 2015: Hebrew Roots Movement teacher Jim Staley (Passion For Truth) has been sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding elderly investors of $3.3 million dollars in an investment scam.

NOTE: Even though Hebrew Roots leader Jim Staley has been convicted of fraud and is currently in prison, his Facebook ministry wall still boasts more than a quarter of a million followers, and is currently very active, with daily postings.

After being initially charged with multiple counts of investment fraud the summer of 2014, Staley claimed in a teaching session at his church (which has since been removed from YouTube), that a member of his church had shared a vision with him in which Staley was portrayed as the victim of spiritual warfare, with angelic beings being "seen" coming to his aid to destroy those coming against him (presumably meaning those bringing charges against him for the financial fraud he has now pled guilty to). The vision also portrayed Staley as the leader of a massive spiritual revival in the church. From the YouTube video:
JIM STALEY ("Pastor Jim Staley Explains Indictment" [6-29-14] - starting at 25:18): I'm gonna share with you some unbelievable dreams and visions and words from the Lord that have led us to this place, and even one that happened today that will encourage you to know that the power of God is moving..........So I'll take you back to August of last year, where our Russian prayer team, some of you have heard this story, but our Russian Prayer Team called us immediately because something unbelievable happened in their prayer time, where the husband, apparently was in a different room, and the rest of the group was together. And there was a word of knowledge and a vision that was shown to them. And for those of you that don't have a supernatural grid, I know it's difficult, if you've never had a vision or a dream, it might be difficult to believe, but after about three or four of these, you'll start to develop a radar. But what happened was they called a meeting, and what she said was, she said, 'I saw two high ranking generals, demonic generals. And these generals, she said, are working among you and have been working among you for quite some time. And then she saw a door in heaven, and behind the door were angels, and the angels were packed up against the door waiting to be released because they saw the plan of these generals, and they wanted to foil the plan. And God smirked. She said it was very clear, she saw a smirk, as if God knew something that they didn't know, and said 'No, it's not the right time. I have a surprise for the generals. At the last minute, I'm going to let my surprise come, and it's gonna come out of nowhere, and it's gonna strike fear into the hearts of the generals.' At the same time, the husband had a, what's called an open vision. I've never had an open vision, where I see something with my eyes open. I've had multiple visions, many visions, with my eyes closed, but he had an open vision where he saw two angelic beings, they were demons, and they were high ranking uniformed soldiers. And he came back in the room and said, I just saw two demonic generals. And so they didn't know what it meant, but they were in high nine one one alert, so they called our ministry. Natalia was there, she was translating, the whole deal, we got through the whole thing, and honestly it scared me. I didn't know what that meant......And then we were receiving other visions. I don't know how old that woman was, 84 I think is what I heard. [off-camera correction] 83 year old woman, who flew here from the east coast because she said that God told her......she didn't even know about us for very much time, but God said, I want you to fly to St. Louis, to Passion For Truth, and I want you to pray over their building because there's a catastrophe coming.......And she just showed up at the airport, trusting God. She ends up getting here, she spends a month here, walking up and down the hallways and the sanctuary, praying and praising the Lord and worshiping, and she shared two visions with me at that time. And she said, I saw a 747 -- now what you have to know about this is there's another vision that happened in 1984 by a gentleman by the name of Dean Cozzens ["Two Prophecies 27 Years Apart Are Coming True Before Our Eyes"]...... where he saw a vision of a 747, and it had four engines, with four different movements of God. And the last one, it was a faith movement, a pentecostal movement, the charismatic movement, and this thing called a Hebrew movement. And this last engine on this plane, as it revved up, every previous engine revved up, revved down, everybody got excited, thought the thing was gonna take off, but it never did. And when this last engine revved up, it revved up and then all of the other movements, engines, revved at the same time: the faith movement, the healing movement, the charismatic--- it all moved, because everyone had a piece of the truth. And then the plan started to move, and everybody got excited, and the dream ended.
Well, this senior citizen [the 83 year old woman who flew to PFT Ministries] had a dream, or a vision, that she saw the 747, and I don't know if it was the same one, but it is an amazing connection. She saw it sitting on the runway for a long time and eventually it took off, and right when it took off, she saw two missiles come from nowhere. Two generals, two missiles. And these missiles came right toward the 747. And everyone, she saw closeups of people looking out the window, they were very scared. And right at the last minute, the missiles hit some sort of a barrier that was around the plane, and they never hit the plane.
She saw another vision of, she was in the sanctuary, and she saw come and it went through the top of the sanctuary, and came down and stuck into the ground. And she was scared at first until what came out of it, it was the angelic hosts of God. They were intercessors. They were prayer intercessors that had been called to pray for Passion For Truth.
And since then, it's been unbelievable, how many people have contacted us, saying that, you know what? this doesn't surprise me because God gave me a word of knowledge two months ago, three months ago, four months ago, six months ago, two weeks ago, a few days ago, to pray for Passion For Truth, because something is coming. I can't tell you how many times we've heard this. Have we not? It's been unbelievable. The visions continue......