Closing The Case on Hebrew Roots (Apologetics)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
Some of you may recall eight blog posts I wrote a while back concerning several aspects of the Hebrew Roots movement (HRM). Since then, I have been privileged to debate a popular Hebrew Roots proponent, Zachary Bauer, video of which is found here. However, as we had originally planned to engage on different issues, Mr. Bauer now seems to be avoiding me. I do not know if this was due to the debate, or if his schedule filled up. Whatever the case, I am comfortable in closing the case on the Hebrew Roots Movement, at least until future debate/discussion opportunities arise.
I wrote my own review of the debate which can be found in our archives, so I will not go into that here. Rather, I want to close the case, as it were, by revisiting some questions or objections I felt Zach and others have left unanswered.
- Vindication of the HRM standard of hermeneutics
In one of the first posts I wrote concerning the HRM, I pointed to the fact that they have a flawed, or even non-existent, standard for Biblical interpretation. This is in contrast to the Protestant Reformed Christian position where we hold that Scripture interprets itself. We believe that God’s Word has become crystal clear in the revelation of the Person of Christ in the New Testament. We also believe that Jesus and the Apostles provide a standard for Biblical interpretation in the way they interpret the Scriptures.. Furthermore, both mainstream models of Covenant Theology within Protestant Reformed circles provide a framework for sound, Biblical interpretation, and this framework is seen to be derived from Scripture itself.
In contrast to this, the HRM does not enjoy this same standard. Rather, it seems that they work from the Law rather than looking at the Law through the lens of newer, clearer revelation. Of course, there are certain nuances here which we will not visit here. But, it can be seen that there is no Biblical footing for the way in which the HRM proponent interprets the Bible. In other words, the way they interpret Scripture is not Scriptural.
I never received any information which sought to justify the method they use for interpretation, not in the debate nor in any other interaction.
- Exegesis of related passages
It seemed as if the depth of exegesis on the part of the HRM is limited to a shallow understanding at best. Their habit was to isolate some verses which, upon a cursory glance, seemed to fit their agenda, but this is not the right way to interpret Scripture. This goes back to my first objection concerning their hermeneutical standards.
According to their standard, there is no reason to think it would be wrong to cherry-pick certain verses which support their cause if placed out of context. For this reason, in various instances of interaction between several supporters of the movement, I have experienced this very issue. Verses are often quoted or cited without any context and without any bother to understand said verse correctly. As long as the way in which it was used supported the HRM, it was the right way to use it!
This very issue arose in my debate with Mr. Bauer. We were hung up, predominantly on Mark 17:9, concerning clean foods. Mr. Bauer refused to accept any other interpretation besides his own despite a wave-top examination of the Greek in both the Textus Receptus (their preferred GNT) and the Morphological Text (NA).
I still have not received answers pertaining to this issue. My objection continues to stand, that the HRM performs eisegesis of favored texts thus coming to erroneous conclusions about what the Bible actually says.
- Objective proof vindicating rejection of Church History
The HRM, at least in Mr. Bauer’s brand, posits that the church was corrupted in the 1st century. This sort-of appeal to conspiracy is typical amongst cultic thought. If important aspects of the opposing position can be eliminated by way of a “convenient” problem, then it makes that position appear superior over against the opposing position. Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, and Islam all engage in this sort of fallacy.
When pressed, Mr. Bauer was unable to provide me with objective proof that would justify his rejection of 1st century church history. Indeed there were pitfalls within the early church, but these did not go unidentified. It is not as if the church, as in all the elect of God, were mislead from the 1st century on. This is true for two reasons:
A) Jesus promised that the Gates of Hell would by no means prevail against His church. (Matt. 16:18)
B) Heresy has been identified and polemically disputed since the days of Christ and the Apostles. The anti-nicene church fathers are of no exception. Heresy continued to be identified and condemned for what it was.
There has not been any word from the HRM concerning this issue.
I was hoping to engage with Mr. Bauer once more to talk about their rejection of the Trinity and also some important passages in Hebrews, but I have not received any word back from him.
If the opportunity arose to debate or discuss these things with him (or any other leading proponent of the movement), I would be delighted to do so. Until that time comes I consider this case closed, and will probably not be writing on it again unless public, live discourse becomes a reality.