Since the formal announcement of our new congregation, the Northland Hebrew Roots Fellowship, I have received some good feedback and some folks with concern. So I will elaborate on the name of the group and some of our motivations. Our core group is comprised of three families, so keep in mind that this is primarily my motivation. The Bridges and the Schorks most definitely have different perspectives and they will surely be explaining them as time goes on, posting them at the church website http://www.hebrewrootsgroup.com.
First is a link to a sermon I gave yesterday entitled “Adoption” http://www.hebrewrootsgroup.com/adoption-into-the-house-of-abraham/. It’s text only because we aren’t doing any recording or streaming, at least not yet. Those of you who have heard me speak before or have known me for years might recognize this message because I have given it at least two times before! It’s a foundational teaching about the New Testament congregation and the basis for why those of us who do believe like this do what we do. Essentially, First Century Christianity and Hebrew Roots Christianity are synonymous and this message applies today under the Hebrew Roots title just like it has in the past and will in the future.
The Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) has a lot of Old Testament tendencies, from what I have seen, and those who would call themselves HRM (and/or Messianics) tend to stay away from the letters of Paul. The message I link to above does something quite unique; it explains the Hebrew Roots of Christianity using almost exclusively scriptures from Paul. Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians all speak about the Gentile believers being adopted or grafted into something that already exists. What we know today as Christianity did not start out as a new religion 1900 years ago. It was (and is) a continuation of the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus. When we look at future prophesies, we see that the Sabbath, the Holy Days, and the Torah will absolutely be kept in the future by all mankind. The first century congregations understood this and we actively looking for a soon fulfillment of these prophecies, as we do today, while applying Torah to their lives as the learned and studied.
One large reason for using the name “Northland Hebrew Roots Fellowship” is that the Hebrew Roots Movement is growing. People are coming to the same conclusions from all walks of life and seeking out fellowship. 119Ministries, a leading resource in the Hebrew Roots Movement, has a map where believers can self-identify and it grows daily http://119ministries.com/hebrew-roots-map and TuneinRadio has a number of Hebraic Christian radio channels http://tunein.com. From my perspective, this is the venue that Yahweh is using to reach his called-out ones today and since we fit this mold, it makes sense to use a title that identifies us as such.
There were a number of reasons for staying away from a name involving the term Messianic, not all to be written about here. Messianic Judaism is, well, Judaism. Judah is only one tribe out of 13. Judaism has a whole lot of extra-biblical doctrines and Yeshua was not happy with the Pharisees, the fathers of modern day Judaism, specifically for adding stuff to the law. My walk has been one of pruning the extra-biblical stuff from my faith and returning to a pure foundation. Messianic Judaism is also very much focused on rebuilding Herod’s temple and the fulfillment of prophecy without focus on the millennium and beyond. My focus is more on the coming kingdom, with the true temple coming down from heaven and a complete restoration of all things under the Hebrew Messiah, Yeshua, when He returns in power and glory (much like the first century church).
Now for the touchy subject; Why not use the name Church of God? While I love my brethren in the Independent Churches of God very much and look favorably on my time with them, past and present, for me to try to use the title Church of God would misrepresent that title. The COG title represents a set of doctrines and history that I don’t share and it brings baggage that I don’t carry. Using the name Church of God wasn’t discussed.
Now to list some things that we are doing that are somewhat different from my past but are positive changes our group has implemented:
- Weekly potluck – our congregation does not believe in buying and selling on the Sabbath and we want to be together, so we have resolved to eat a fellowship potluck every week. Eating together is a fabulous way to build relationships and fellowship.
- An uplifting service – we prefer a livelier service with congregational participation. This includes a little Hebrew style dancing at the beginning (that we are learning) and congregational prayers.
- Blessing/Including the children –the children are the future of our belief system and we need to embrace them and make them part of the service. The children receive a special blessing each week and they participate in the service.
- Hebrew words and singing mixed in – learning some Hebrew songs and words in order to gain more insight into the bible and the faith. The Hebrew names Yahweh and Yeshua are used but by no means exclusively. We all still use God and Jesus as well and we sing contemporary Christian music, traditional hymns, and Hebrew themes music. We put the words on a projector so everyone can participate, too.
- Not freaking out about women participating – While Paul did write about women keeping silent in church, there are other numerous places in scripture, both New Testament and Old, of women having the spirit poured out on them and being blessed with talents. For some reason there is a tendency to want to take Paul’s writing extra-literally and create an anti-woman atmosphere in the congregations. We’re not going to go that route. If the women in the congregation have the musical talent, for instance, then what’s the problem with the women taking the lead on the music?
In effect, we are just trying to strike the right balance between Old and New Testaments and following the scriptures where they lead. We are really going to strive to stay away from the mistakes of the past and also away from the negative stereotypes that are too often true in Sabbath, Holy Day, and Torah Observant groups. Hopefully this blog post helps to explain the rationale for the Hebrew Roots name.