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More on That Hebrew Roots Movement Book

Two weeks ago we posted details of a new book exploring the Hebrew Roots Movement. KEDS is involved in its publication. We asked the author Rubén Gómez for some thoughts on the issue and his new book.

My studies at KEDS, which led to a Master’s degree from the University of Chester, focused mainly on Hermeneutics and Jewish Christian Studies. Specifically, I took all the courses available in the latter area. That required much reading about Israel and the Church, supersessionism, antisemitism, Messianic Judaism, Christian-Jewish relations, etc.

At that point, I had already done some years’ worth of research for the writing of my earlier book, Jacob I loved: A biblical, theological, and historical analysis of the place of Israel in God’s plan(currently only available in Spanish). More research would ensue when the time came to work on my MA dissertation (Supersessionism redivivus. An analysis of the renewed onslaught against Israel and the Jewish people).

Somewhere along the way, I encountered a reasonably new phenomenon called the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM).

Much to my chagrin, HRM could not be addressed from a strictly academic point of view since it lacked any reputable publications. Aside from a few articles from outsiders or Messianic Jewish scholars, most of the information about this movement seemed to come from a handful of popular books, blog posts, and tons of videos and posts on social media.

Nevertheless, given the growing influence of its teachings and its impact in some Christian circles, I decided to study the matter in more detail.

Eventually, I gathered enough material to write a book. Not that I wanted or had planned to. It all happened as a natural development of my research interests. Also, although HRM threatened traditional Christianity, I felt that most treatments were unfair to Jews in general and Messianic Jews in particular. After all, this was a movement comprised almost entirely of non-Jews who, nonetheless, were claiming to be Israel!

The Hebrew Roots Movement: A critical analysis of its origins, teachings & biblical interpretations (King’s Divinity Press, 2023) is my small contribution to a highly controversial subject and much-understudied movement. Anyone who spends more than a few minutes a day on social media will have come across some form or another of the HRM. Its adherents are very vocal and highly critical of Christianity.

Many self-proclaimed Hebrew Roots teachers have taken the Internet by storm with their claims about going back to the roots of the faith, the need to observe the law of Moses, celebrate the Jewish festivals, and keep a kosher diet. In the beginning, many Christians laughed them off until it became apparent that some of their doctrines and practices had the potential to cause great division and harm.

Pastors began to worry about the well-being of their congregations, and since they knew no better, they began to push back against anything that smacked of Judaism or Judaizers. That, in turn, created more problems than it solved.

I discovered many interesting facts about HRM. Unbeknownst to most, HRM had more than external links with recent Christian cults and was built upon what we call today conspiracy theories and fake news. Moreover, for all its “Hebrew” flavor, it was intensely antagonistic to Messianic Judaism. It led to a reverse replacement theology that erased the Jewish people’s unique divine call and function.

Ultimately, as I soon found out, it was as if well-meaning people had adopted a supposedly purer form of faith that had brought them back to a “pre-Christian” state. Their unbalanced emphasis on the Law had transformed Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, into a mere teacher of the law and role model instead of a divine Saviour.

Author of Hebrew Roots Movement book
Rubén Gómez

A sound exegesis of the Scriptures is the best tool to ward off false teaching. HRM mixes just the right amount of truth and error to lure unsuspecting Christians into thinking they are missing something. However, the Bible is clear that the Lord Jesus is enough, that grace is enough. It is not obedience to the law of Moses that perfects our lives, but the confident faith in him who has offered up his life as a sacrifice for our sins. A faith that results in a life of discipleship, attachment to a person, and love of God and neighbor.

In the final analysis, HRM is a rehash of many teachings Christians have found wanting under the light of Scripture. Consequently, The Hebrew Roots Movement offers some tools and advice to keep the menace of HRM in check. Still, it also tried to be fair and acknowledge valid criticisms against unhelpful Christian practices regarding the Old Testament (what I have called elsewhere functional Marcionism) and the Jewish people (any form of replacement theology or the delegitimization of the Messianic Jewish movement).

Thus, I offer my work as a primer on the subject, hoping to spur much-needed study and debate beyond the usual memes and out-of-context Bible verses so ubiquitous on social media.

Find out more about the author and his new book, including how to purchase, at his personal website. Rubén recently joined the faculty at KEDS as a tutor in Jewish Christian issues.

Biblical Hebrew biblical prophecy books Hebrew roots movement HRM Jerusalem Land of Israel study supersessionism

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