Is the Hebraic Roots Awakening a cult?
by Dr Stephen Pidgeon
There are those who make accusation that the Hebraic Roots Awakening (Hebrew Roots movement) is a cult. One such commentator is Geoffrey Grider. It is time to address this issue.
We begin with the first question: What is a cult?
There are indications that a group or organization is a “cult” where there is dependence upon a charismatic leader, who becomes the sole decision-maker, excommunicating those who disagree, and calling people into conformity in thought and deed.
However, there is more involved in creating a cult, particularly when you are discussing a religious cult. Let’s start with a definition, according to Merriam-Webster:
Definition of cult:
1: formal religious veneration: worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents <the cult of Apollo>
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (see spurious 2); also: its body of adherents <the voodoo cult> <a satanic cult>
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>
5: a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) <criticizing how the media promotes the cult of celebrity>; especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b: the object of such devotion
c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion <the singer’s cult of fans> <The film has a cult following.>
If we accept this definition, we can see who falls under this camp. In reliance on definition 1, we can see that any formal religious veneration and worship is defined as a cult. It looks like everybody qualifies, from Christian to Jew to Muslim, and all points in between.
Alright, let’s see if we can get some differentiation in definition 2. Which of the groups mentioned above have a system of religious beliefs and ritual? We know that Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and all of the Christian denominations have religious beliefs, and all of them have rituals as well, whether you are talking about the pattern of worship, the rite of baptism, the rite of marriage, etc. It is the same thing with Judaism, and the same with Islam; all have a system of religious beliefs and ritual.
So, we move to definition 3: a religious cult becomes a cult when its religion is regarded as unorthodox or spurious. For those of you who are students of the faith which has its origins in the teachings of YAHUSHA (Jesus in the Latinized form of the Greek substitution, Iesus (1611 KJV; 1560 Geneva; Wycliffe; Tyndale); Iesous in the Orthodox teaching; Isa in Islam), you will find that the orthodox practice of the ekklesia prior to the creation of the Constantinium Cult practiced the feasts days set forth in Scripture and the Sabbaths, worshipping on the 7th day.
Therefore, Constantine began with unorthodox and spurious practices. However, the church which emerged under the Eastern Roman authority came to be known as Orthodoxy (correct). It was from this Orthodox grouping that Rome separated, calling itself Catholic (universal), such separation considered by the Orthodox to be unorthodox and spurious. From this splintering came the splintering of Protestantism, the doctrines of which have been considered unorthodox and spurious.
Now the Protestants are the pot calling the kettle black when they allege that the Hebraic Roots Awakening is a cult.
Let us consider definition number 4, which declares a cult to be a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator. A religious cult has a fundamentally different purpose.
Let’s continue with definition number 5: A cult is defined as 5: a) great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) b) the object of such devotion; c) usually a small group of people characterized by such devotion.
If you look up this definition in a printed Bible, you will find pictures of Wesley, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and of course all the famous cult leaders in America, like Joseph Smith and Ellen White. Rest assured that the Catholics desired to burn all of these people at the stake, and the Orthodox still to this day consider the Roman church to be rogue.
Nonetheless, the Protestants ascribing to the dogma introduced by Henry VIII (who created his cult because he needed a divorce), and its follow-up writings found in the King James Bible and the catechism of the Anglican cult, call the Hebraic Roots Awakening a cult. Interesting.
Well, of course, this definition number 5 would describe all of the various faiths in Messiah, wouldn’t it (if we are discussing the person of YAHUSHA and not the divinity). However, this also describes Lutherans and Calvinists, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it also describe the Pauline cult?
We hear those who denounce the Hebraic Roots Awakening constantly quoting Paul (usually Galatians or Colossians) but rarely do they quote the disciples of YAHUSHA (Kepha, Ya’aqov, Yahudah, and Yahuchanon [Peter, James, Jude and John]), and almost never the Gospels. And the inordinate devotion of these Paulinists to the KJV is also interesting. In most cases, they are not devoted to the KJV Authorized Version; rather, they hold to the Benjamin Blaney KJV (unauthorized) which was given legs by the Westminster Confession – a political dogma surrounding the beheading of Charles I – and this particular text is the object of their devotion, not the underlying Greek, and not the underlying Hebrew; but rather, the English as interpreted by Benjamin Blaney. Hmm.
Finally in our discussion of the definitions of the word, a cult is defined by a small group rather than a large group. Given the size of the Catholic Church, one might wish to ask them about whether the KJV followers are a cult or not.
So, let’s take a look at another definition of a religious cult, particularly a cult based on the Bible. In addition to the definition above, it is my contention that a biblical cult is a movement predicated by reliance on some verses, but not others. They hone in on this verse and that verse and breath an interpretation that is inconsistent or contradictory to other Scriptures. If you have a teaching based on the writings of Paul which is directly contradicted by the gospels or other teachings found anywhere in Scripture, such a teaching is the earmark of doctrine found in cults.
For those whose teaching runs contrary to the remainder of Scripture, I have a question: Is the Bible inerrant, or not? Who wrote the Ten Commandments? Was he a liar? Or did he change his mind to accommodate your spin on Paul?
How many churches claim to be just “New Testament” churches? Do they teach the doctrine of abrogation? Sure they do. The gospels override the Tanakh (in their view: the Tanakh was “fulfilled”), and Paul overrides the gospels. Therefore, their teaching is virtually all Pauline doctrine, as though Paul was the one crucified, and the one Resurrected. You will often hear these cultists respond to gospel teaching with, “well Paul says . . .”
How are these churches not cults?
Now, let us discuss the Hebraic Roots Awakening.
One of the great difficulties in this “Awakening” is the mess that is the Messianic movement.
First, we begin with Daniy’el 12:3-4
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, O Daniy’el, shut up the words, and seal the cepher, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Knowledge is increasing now like never before.
By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. industrytap DOT com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950
Just a mere 70 years ago, knowledge was doubling every 25 years; now it is doubling every 13 months, and will soon be doubling every 12 hours.
We, at the Eth CEPHER, were called out by the Ruach HaQodesh to help bring this knowledge explosion to Scripture. We are not “rightly approved” by the Hebraic Roots Awakening (although we are broadly accepted), because we did not find in our research that the sacred name was pronounced “Yahweh” or “Yehovah”; nor did we find that the name of the Messiah was Yeshua. We were not inspired by or motivated by the Hebraic Roots Awakening to restore sacred Scripture in the first place.
Our testimony begins in 2008 when it was widely publicized that the public charities in the country who are the 501(c)(3) churches were preparing to move from the substantially redacted English forms of the Westcott & Hort heretical “textus receptus” (such as the NIV, the ESV, and the NASB) to even more politically corrected, gender neutralized, distorted and textually destroyed editions for the “seeker friendly” churches in order to better facilitate new enrollment. This was around the time the Message was making its rounds through the churches.
We took umbrage to this practice. So I looked to Brad Huckins (who at that time was a KJV only adherent), and I said, would you be interested in restoring Scriptures with me to a more accurate rendition? He agreed, and we embarked on a mission to restore Scripture. We did not embark on a mission to create a religion or denomination, or to service one particular denomination over another, or to create a “Hebraic Roots” Scripture. We just began a journey of study as to which text was which, and how could we find credible sources.
Initially, we relied on the exact same source documents as did the King James interpreters. This should mean something to the critics, yet most critics suffer the truth of the declaration of MASHIACH found in the Besorah Yahuchanon (his name without substitution) which you would know as the Gospel of John in 4:22: Ye worship what ye do not know:
If you worship in a town full of Baptists, you can rest assured that it is much easier to worship on the broad path, because that is the road that your friends are taking, whether or not it is the truth. You will find no sword of division there.
Mattithyahu (Matthew) 10:34-39
Do not think that I have come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household. 37 He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he that loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that does not takes his staff, and follow after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that finds his life shall lose it. And he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.
In some cults, this statement of MASHIACH in the gospel is overruled by Paul, and the teaching of Paul thereof.
Nonetheless, one wonders if the KJV-only crowd is aware that Scriptures weren’t originally written in English. The translation came from somewhere, and if they took the time to look at the source of their KJV, they would find the same primary sources for the Eth CEPHER.
Unfortunately for those who refuse to look or know, the Authorized Version of the KJV also included the books of the Apocrypha. But the Pauline cultists rarely go the left of the book of Romans, and almost never go to the left of the gospel of Matthew.
A pastor who gives you Paul non-stop and teaches you to judge the words of MASHIACH by the edicts of the epistles of Paul is obviously and by definition not teaching the gospels as given – instead you have the twisting of Scriptures, using a book that has been redacted without authorization from King James (by definition), and using the teachings of Paul to teach lawlessness from the pulpit. Yet, it is from these that we get the accusation that the Hebraic Roots Awakening is a cult.
Now, there are those who believe that we should have relied on the Septuagint as our source text for the Old Testament. We did not disregard the Septuagint at all, and we have made comparative changes in respect of certain verses which are set out differently in the Septuagint. For those who insist that we at least consult the Septuagint, I remind you that the Septuagint was a translation from origin HEBRAIC scrolls into Greek, following the conquering of the Levant by Alexander the Great. I remind you also, that the Septuagint contained the books of the Apocrypha as well, including 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees.
Then of course, we relied on the Stephanus Textus Receptus in Greek for the New Testament writings. This was the same source text used by the KJV interpreters (not the text used by Westcott & Hort). Those who criticize our text might want to advise us of a better source, and explain why the KJV interpreters didn’t find it.
Nonetheless, there is substantial evidence that the gospels were originally written in Hebrew. For instance, MASHIACH quotes from Scripture in many places. Is it reasonable to believe that YAHUSHA spoke Aramiac (Syrian) in the synagogues? Do you really believe that his words from the cross were in Aramaic and not Hebrew? If you think that the dominant language in the land at that time was Aramaic, then explain while Pilate made the sign in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew to be put over MASHIACH’S head, and not Greek, Latin and Aramaic? While you’re at it, discuss Eusebius’s notes known as the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Given that all of the disciples were of Jewish heritage and lived in Judea where they spoke Hebrew (and if you recall, when MASHIACH spoke to Paul, he spoke to him in the Hebrew language [look it up!]). In fact, when Paul was arrested and put on trial in Jerusalem, what language did he speak to the people? Hebrew of course! Therefore, we can conclude that Hebrew was the language spoken in Judea at the time of the crucifixion and thereafter.
So, ye who claim we are fools for asserting that the books of the New Testament were written in Hebrew initially, might want to inform the world why the Jewish followers of MASHIACH would write in Greek, when Hebrew was their native tongue, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Peter, John, James, Jude, Matthew or Mark spoke anything but Hebrew.
According to Yocephus (Josephus), Greek wasn’t spoken in first century Israel. Josephus said that it was extremely rare for a Jew to speak Greek in first century AD, writing as follows:
I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains.” —Antiquities of Jews XX, XI.
The gospels originally written in Greek? I don’t think so. So we have taken the perspective that some of the critical concepts found in the New Testament are better stated in Hebraic terms. Did we do this to create a Hebrew Roots Bible? No. We are here simply to bring a comprehensive restoration of sacred Scriptures in the English language.
Why is there resistance to the work of the Eth CEPHER? Maybe it has to do with difficulty of dealing with the increase of knowledge in these latter days. We are simply adjusting the Scriptures to more accurately reflect what was known at the time of MASHIACH and among his Talmidiym.
In the meantime, disputes over the calendar, disputes over how you pronounce the sacred names, disputes over one-house/two-house, and now disputes about whether the earth is flat or round have made a mess inside the Hebraic Roots Awakening. Another indictment has rightfully arisen in respect of the failure of the HRA to extend the love of YAH to those around them, electing instead to dedicate hours and hours to berating one another for the failure to agree as to the exact number of angels who can fit on the head of a pin.
For those of you who wish to accuse, however, one group or another, as being a cult, consider the plank in your own eye.