Chris Rosebrough: The Hebrew Roots Movement

August 1, 2013

Chris Rosebrough
Chris Rosebrough is the host of “Fighting for the Faith” on Pirate Christian Radio. For this episode, he joins me to discuss the Hebrew Roots Movement, a growing group that seeks to bring believers back into subjection to the Law of Moses in the Torah. Chris explains what they believe, how they relate to Orthodox (Pharisaical) Judaism, and warning signs your friends or loved ones may be caught in the movement.


Outline of the Discussion
  • The Hebrew Roots Movement is a resurgence of the Judaizing heresy.
  • The movement says that Christians are required to keep the Mosaic law, and calls itself “Torah observant.”
    • It sometimes calls itself “The sacred name movement.”
    • They require the observance of a Saturday sabbath.
    • They require circumcision.
    • Many require men, or sometimes men and women, to wear tassels, called tzitzit (pronounced “Sit Seat”)
    • The forbid the celebration of Christmas or Easter, and require the celebration of the Hebrew Feasts (Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, etc.).
  • The Hebrew Roots Movement is alluring to Biblically illiterate Evangelicals that are looking for “more” than the shallow, vapid preaching found in so many churches today.
  • So much of the Hebrew Roots Movement is what the book of Hebrews was written to warn against.
  • A “tangent” into Orthodox Judaism
  • Contemporary Orthodox Judaism is the direct theological descendent of the Pharisaical Judaism that Jesus confronted during this Earthly ministry.
  • The Pharisees were the last ones standing after the fall of Jerusalem. They reworked their religion, and they claimed the authority to do so.
  • The five “pillars” of Pharisaical Judaism, including:
    • There is not one Torah, but two: the written and the oral. The oral is a set of traditions passed down orally. The oral was written down in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds.
    • The absolute authority of the Rabbis to interpret the scriptures. From this, long-held traditions eventually become elevated to the level of Law.
      • Th Hebrew Roots Movement seeks to bring believers back under the authority of the man-made laws the same way the Pharisees did.
  • This movement is a form of pietism and legalism. Pietism looks not at what God has done for us, but what we can (or must) do for God. Legalism is the enforcement of man-made laws on people as if they are laws handed down from God.
  • The inevitable result of this sort of pietistic legalism is that people either:
    1. Despair of their inability to keep the Law.
    2. They eventually leave the Faith and/or may constantly feel that God is mad at them.
    3. They become total hypocrites and fool themselves into thinking that they are keeping this stringent law.
  • The laws that the Hebrew Roots Movement places on people comes off as plausible because much of it is written in Scripture (Old Testament).
  • The remedy is a proper understanding of the Gospel. The Gospel is not just the news of salvation that brings us into the Kingdom of God. It is also the means by which we grow in faith. It is not just the beginning, it's also the middle, the end, and everything in between (see Galatians 3:3).
  • The Feasts of Israel are not commanded, but neither are they forbidden. There is a lot to be learned from them, but when it crosses the line from “allowed” to “required” it becomes a serious problem.
  • A bizarre, but somewhat seductive teaching of the Hebrew Roots Movement is that if you are a gentile believer in Christ, it is probably because you are a descendent of one of the ten “lost tribes” of Israel.
  • Chris recommends that if you know someone who is falling into this movement, to listen to them and then ask tough questions about what they believe in light of Scripture, “you say _______, but God's Word says ________, how do you explain the discrepancy?”.
  • To assist in not being drawn into bizarre or overly complicated interpretations of Scripture, keep in mind that all of Scripture was written in such a way that a seven year old living at the time it was written could understand it (I call it “the Grade-school hermeneutic.)
  • The surest signs that someone is caught up in the Hebrew Roots Movement are:
    • They have drastic diet changes (they're keeping Kosher)
    • They wear the tassels known as tzitzit
    • They warn against celebrating traditional Christian holidays (such as Christmas and Easter) and argue that those holidays are pagan.
    • They are adamant about Saturday Sabbath keeping.
Scriptures Referenced
  • Galatians
  • Hebrews
  • Colossians
  • John 2
  • 2 Corinthians 3
  • 1 Timothy 1
  • Romans 3
  • Isaiah 53
Additional Resources
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    2 Responses to “Chris Rosebrough: The Hebrew Roots Movement”

  1. By JGIG on Oct 25, 2013

    Hey there!

    I’m the author of the ‘How I Became Aware of the Hebrew Roots Movement’ article linked to above. Thanks for the plug, btw =o). I just wanted to make you and your readers/listeners aware that I’ve just published an article on Jim Staley’s Identity Crisis and other related teachings. There is also a section at the end of the article that details his leadership style and an account given by Staley about how Passion For Truth Ministries was started.

    The title of the article is “Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley” and can be accessed through the Articles tab at the top of Joyfully Growing In Grace.

    Just an FYI =o). Thanks for helping to shed light on the growing Hebrew Roots Movement. It is a very divisive and destructive movement. The more believers that are aware of it and equipped with the simple Truths of the Gospel the less will get sucked in by the HRM.

    Grace and peace to you,

  2. By Andy Olson on Oct 25, 2013

    Thanks JGIG, I appreciate the articles and the feedback.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

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