One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written was on what I called the “Hebrew Roods Movement.” These are (usually) folks who believe that historic orthodox Christianity has gotten it wrong for thousands of years, and they know the truth. It’s important for Christians, real Christians, to go back to living by the statutes and ordinances (at least the ones they pick) of the OT. I think one of the most harmful elements of the HRM that it is a huge distraction. When we focus too much on HRM, we’re taking our eye off the ball…
When I was a kid I loved to play baseball, I still play the occasional softball game (every man’s platform to live out his Major League dreams). One of my favorite things to do now is to watch a good baseball game. I like the Cardinals, but I love the Texas Rangers and my favorite player is Josh Hamilton. He’s not a perfect guy, but he loves the Lord and he can hit the ball about 10 miles :-). The great thing about Josh is that he doesn’t just hit home runs (though he does, 21*), he also gets a lot of hits (batting .341*) which leads to RBIs (runs batted in 58*). In fact, he is leading* MLB in both home runs and RBIs.
Why is he doing so well? Because he can hit! He is the ideal “money ball” player. He can hit because he keeps his eye on the ball.
This is an allegory for most of life, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball, meaning you have to focus on the “main thing” and you can’t get caught-up in distractions. This is incredibly important in Christianity. Our “main thing” is the Gospel, it’s about Jesus and what He did so that by grace through faith anyone can have a relationship with God. There are all kinds of distracting issues that we can get us off of the Gospel, but we need to keep the main thing the main thing. Here are a few problems with HRM, I think we need to identify them, and then get on with the business of sharing the Gospel with people:
- They are trying to make Gentiles into Jews. There’s a pretty good post on this by Matt Rosenburg. Paul makes it really clear that it’s not important to try and change your ethnic/cultural identity when you come to Christ. (cf. 1Cor 7 …Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision…).
- They are ignoring the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church throughout history. They believe, essentially, that all of Christianity have been 180º wrong about Paul and what he taught. Though there are people who get things wrong, overall, the church, as a group, gets it right because together we have the Holy Spirit to guide us (e.g. Galatians, Colossians, Romans, etc.), and we’ve been wrong for 1,700 years (cf. Rev 1:5-6 …To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.).
- They are ignoring the work of Jesus in fulfilling the Old Covenant by the New. Jesus said that he did not come to “abolish” (destroy, prove void) the Law, but rather He came to “fulfill” (to bring to its intended end) the Law that Moses received at Sinai (cf. Matt 5:17ff). This is a complex issue, but obviously the cross changed things. There is a difference between the way things were and the way things are after Jesus’ death, and those changes are greater than the HRM would have you believe.
- They are ignoring the plain teaching of Scripture. A friend of mine who has taken his eye off the ball and drifted into a HRM group was trying to describe how to interpret a scripture verse. It was John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another… His first statement was “well, it’s not a new command…” I was able to stop right there. When your opening argument is that the truth of a scripture passage is 180º opposite of what it plainly says, I don’t need to hear the rest. The Bible is true, it is inerrant and thus does not affirm anything false.
- They ultimately have a different source of truth. They claim to want to test everything and that they hold to the Bible as ultimate truth, but what you will quickly find (as with the last point) they have an existing “theology” (a set of beliefs) and when the Bible contradicts their existing beliefs, they do hermeneutical backflips to change the Bible to fit their views. As an example, Mark 7:19 is a clear statement by an Apostle that Jesus declared that all foods are clean. HRM folks don’t believe all foods are clean, thus they twist the clear words “all foods clean” or try to remove it from the Bible (even though all the oldest and best manuscripts have these words).
Here’s the bottom line… HRM is not the Christianity of the Bible. It’s good to recognize it as such, and point it out to our friends who’ve slipped into these false beliefs, but don’t spend a lot of time here. Wipe the dust from your sandals and move on (cf. Matt 13:53-58)
What about you?
Have you come across HRM folks? Are you an HRM follower (I’m sure many of you will read this, you spend a LOT of time online…)? Where has historic Christianity gotten it wrong?
* as of 6/8/2012