Dangers of the Anti-Nomian Movement: A Rebuttal to Answers in Genesis

I have long been a supporter of the ministry Answers in Genesis. Going on nearly two decades, I've been an avid and outspoken devotee of their work, consuming as much of their science and apologetics material as I could. When it was first announced, I had huge aspirations for working at the Ark Encounter in some capacity. I was, and still am, an ardent Young-Earth Creationist, both on biblical and scientific grounds, and I owe most of that to the ministry of Answers in Genesis.

Imagine my surprise, then, to wake up one Shabbat morning and find an article written by Tim Chaffey (whom I have always held in high esteem) condemning my religious beliefs as a dangerous heresy. In his article, “Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement,” Tim writes in criticism of the small but growing movement of Christians from all stripes returning to obedience to the commandments of Yehovah our God. While the article's abstract would present itself as a mere exposé of the beliefs and practices held by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM), the title of the article is a dead giveaway of the critical spirit behind Mr. Chaffey's intent.

[I wrote this rebuttal over a roughly two-week time frame, then held onto it for another week or so while I tried to find a good platform through which to publish it.]

What Is the Hebrew Roots Movement?

Chaffey is right to say that the HRM is vast and disorganized. There are several ministries which have a similar standing to popular teachers in evangelical Christianity, and some teachers have come together to pursue rigorous academic study into the history of Hebraic thought and early Christianity. But as there is no cohesive body of doctrines and no label with which one can brand us and move on, I will hereafter only speak for myself and my own experiences in the movement.

[After listening to Zachary Bauer's video “Answers In Genesis Response - Part 1,1” I realized that I had fallen into the same shortsighted error that Mr. Chaffey committed in this statement. It is true that there is no HR version of the Southern Baptist Convention. We don't have anything rivaling the Westminster Confession of the Faith (because, frankly, ours is vastly superior). In my zealousness to combat the many errors within the article, I overlooked something critical to this discussion. We do have a body of doctrines—the Torah. We do have a manifesto—the Decalogue. We do have a creed—the Shema. (I say this just about every morning and evening, as well as when I enter and leave my house, to help ground myself in who I am as a bondservant of Christ2 and how I should live my life because of it.3) And most importantly, we do have a leader—Yehoshua, whom we call in English “Jesus.” He is the founder and perfecter of our faith,4 after whom we are instructed to walk in the same manner5 to make disciples of all nations by teaching them to obey all that he instructed.6 Thank you, Zach, for reminding me of this essential truth.]

He says that we oftentimes elevate extrabiblical traditions and rabbinic practices to the level of Torah. Does he have any examples of these things? Jesus did this himself by blessing God before beginning a meal.7 (The Torah only commands that we thank God after eating.8) Jesus also used the extrabiblical water libation ceremony9 which took place during the Feast of Tabernacles as a teaching tool.10 Surely if these rabbinic practices were sinful, Jesus would have spoken out against them rather than embracing them. I could give many more examples, but my purpose is not to defend rabbinic Judaism or suggest that Christians ought to submit to the Talmud. I only want to point out the lack of familiarity which Chaffey brings to the topic. Jesus didn't teach against all the teachings of rabbinic Judaism, so Christians shouldn't be so quick to equate Jewish tradition with bondage and heresy.

Mr. Chaffey also insinuates that we in the HRM habitually break or neglect certain commandments in favor of the big ones like observing Shabbat and the Appointed Times of Yehovah. It would be great if he could provide some examples, again. If there are really some in the HRM who do this, I would rebuke them with Jesus' words in Matthew 5:19, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”11 While there are certain commandments which we cannot keep for various reasons—and attempting to keep them would be a worse grievance than not doing them at all—we do not ignore any of them. Rather, we hope and pray for the day when we can return to the Land under the kingship of our Messiah, so we can walk in full obedience to our God.

Chaffey's citation of the Jews for Jesus group is telling. First, it shows his overreliance on denominational structures and dogmas to keep people in tight theological cages. He says that Messianic Jews are okay because they observe Jewish tradition as their faith heritage, but they're also Trinitarian and dispensationalist. (Note: Dispensationalism is not a litmus test for authentic Christianity.12) They check enough of his theological boxes to be kosher to him. I wonder if he would be so quick to cite Jews for Jesus if he knew they defended the Trinity by citing the Zohar,13 a book of Jewish mysticism (held in suspicion by many Jews as well as Christians)14 which is used by many in the New Age movement today.15

In my experience, no one in the HRM writes “God” as “G-d.” That is a Messianic Jewish practice which, incidentally, is also found in nearly every English translation of the Bible. While English Bibles don't censor the word “God,” they do substitute God's name for “LORD.” Much more common in the HRM is a heavy focus in the opposite direction by transliterating God's name as Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuah,16 etc. This is done because of verses such as Ezekiel 39:7, which say that God's name will be known to the nations. Additionally, some in the HRM substitute “God” for the Hebrew word Elohim, as the English word doesn't convey quite the same nuance as it does in Hebrew. For myself, however, I am content to say “God,” just as the New Testament writers were content to use Theos. Yet since Christian Bibles nearly universally adhere to the Jewish tradition of substituting God's name with “LORD” (in Hebrew, Adonai), I don't see why it would be inappropriate if Hebrew Roots believers did that with the word “God.” In other words, this criticism (if that's what it even is) has no bearing on the discussion because AiG frequently writes “the LORD” instead of “Yahweh.”

Moving on, Chaffey brings up a variety of other “problems” within the HRM: “[Some of them] eat kosher foods, claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew (or at least several books were), condemn numerous Christian traditions as pagan, and dismiss teachings from Paul's epistles.” This is quite an eclectic grouping of practices, Tim! What is wrong with eating only the animals God provided to us as food in Leviticus 11? What is wrong with thinking several of the New Testament books were originally written in Hebrew? (There is strong evidence for at least Matthew being written first in Hebrew or Aramaic,17 and the abundance of Hebrew words in Revelation suggests the same.18) I fail to see how accepting a growing trend within New Testament scholarship constitutes as “dangerous.” I know that many in the HRM condemn certain Christian traditions as pagan. Many of them are given a bad rap because of the book The Two Babylons19 by Alexander Hislop. While I don't believe Christians should replace Yehovah's Appointed Times20 with Catholic festivals,21 I do not subscribe to the “everything is pagan” mantra espoused by many in the HRM. There are many obnoxious voices who speak critically against Christians who observe the Catholic holidays, and I wish they would stop. There is a difference between teaching and criticism, and that is an area of evangelism where we tend to be unrefined. Now as for rejecting Paul's teachings, Tim needs to provide concrete examples. The rest of the things he mentioned here come down to a matter of opinion. When I lived in Cincinnati, I attended the same church as him for a short time, and very few of the women covered their heads while praying or reading the Bible. Since the HRM is not a monolithic entity, I cannot speak to which of Paul's teachings some of us might ignore. However, I will call him out on ignoring Paul's instruction on head coverings. This is not meant as a personal attack against him, but he needs to be above reproach before pointing fingers at others.

He says that some have even rejected the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Since he doesn't address these issues any further in this article, I won't either, beyond this paragraph. But these doctrines took centuries to be defined and codified into the foundational doctrines they've become today.22 What is wrong with examining Church traditions to find the truth in Scripture? That's how we got the Protestant Reformation. Such examination should be encouraged by Christians as it gives all of us a better grasp on what we believe and why. First John 5:1 says only, “Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” Yeshua himself said, “Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”23 Who did he claim to be? Just a few verses earlier, he said, “I am the light of the world.”24 A few sentences later, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.”25 The New Testament requires our affirmation that Yeshua is the Messiah/Christ and the Son of Man, but it does not make affirmation of his deity a matter of salvation. It is a shame that evangelicals fall into the same habit of excommunicating those they deem heretics as their Catholic fathers do, despite the claim to reject papal authority.

He quotes G. Richard Fisher from The Berean Call in his condemnation of the HRM. He can criticize our movement as “very modern,” but I wonder what Pope Leo X thought of Martin Luther in his prime? All reformations must begin somewhere. Perhaps Messrs. Chaffey and Fisher should take the posture of Rabbi Gamaliel: “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”26 Of course, our views must be evaluated based on how they stand up to Scripture. I wouldn't expect Tim or anyone to give us a free pass simply because of our relative novelty. Yet this highly uncharacteristic attack on the HRM does not constitute a well-researched biblical analysis of our practices or essential doctrines. It's quite unusual for Answers in Genesis, who almost always take a neutral stance on matters of doctrine.27 I know of several HRM families who have supported the ministry financially despite their disappointment that the Museum and Ark stay open on Shabbat and serve unclean meat at its restaurants. AiG does less to alienate Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians or the various Oneness Pentecostals I knew who were employed with them in the past (despite the obvious conflicts with their Statement of Faith28).

Covenantal Confusion

Do those in the HRM misunderstand the covenants? Does Mr. Chaffey hold the keys to proper exegesis? He cites Matthew 5:17, in which Yeshua straightforwardly stated, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Yet he left out the rest of the statement, wherein Yeshua clarified what he meant: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.”29 Have heaven and earth passed away? Has all been accomplished? If by this Yeshua was referring to all that is written in the Prophets, then we are still waiting on quite a bit—namely everything associated with his second coming. The reference to heaven and earth passing away comes from Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” We know when heaven and earth will finally pass away—after the Messianic Kingdom has come to completion.30 Until then, they stand as witnesses against all of us who claim to belong to the God of Israel. “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”31 Yeshua will be king of the kingdom of heaven when he returns to earth. We must live according to his standards, not our own. Do you want the title of “least in the kingdom of heaven”? I know I don't aspire to that shameful and completely avoidable position.

Chaffey also misunderstands the rabbinic style of argumentation Yeshua employed in verse 17. It was common rhetoric in Yeshua's day to claim one was “fulfilling” (that is, filling up) the Torah whilst one's opponent was “destroying” it.32 Besides that, let's deviate to do a quick word study on the Greek verb plērōsai, which is translated “to fulfill” in this verse. At the outset of his ministry, Yeshua said he must be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.”33 Does that mean all righteousness was accomplished and done away with on our behalf so that we don't need to be righteous—or even need to be baptized? Paul wrote, “May the God of hope plērōsai you all with joy and peace in believing.”34 Did Paul desire that God fulfill (that is, complete and do away with) all joy and peace for them? To Colossae, Paul said his purpose was to “[become] a minister… to plērōsai the word of God.”35 Did he really intend to complete and do away with the word of God for them, so they would not need it? Another definition of this word is “to fill up,” which fits the context much better in every example. Yeshua didn't come to “complete” the Torah, he came to “fill it up”—that is, bring it up to the standards God had envisioned, contrasted with his Pharisee opponents who were “destroying” the Torah.

Let me take another moment to deviate from Answers in Genesis' article and play a simple game of logic. If Yeshua truly came to “complete” the Torah so we are no longer under its instructions, then why did he spend so much of his ministry correcting the false teachings of the Pharisees? That was truly just wasted breath if he was about to render all of it null and void. I know those in Chaffey's camp will counter that if a command is repeated to the church in the NT, we are still obligated to keep it, so Yeshua's teachings are still important—but beyond that, we don't need to follow any of the 613 laws (by traditional rabbinic count) given to Israel. Yet that is perilous ground to walk on. We don't have the whole counsel of everything Yeshua taught,36 Paul wrote,37 or any of the other apostles communicated. Are we to assume that everything they taught was captured in the twenty-seven books we have in our New Testament? Perhaps that is the case, but what if Yeshua or one of the apostles addressed another one of God's commandments that wasn't recorded? Should we be willing to stake our eternal reward on the assumption that because a command isn't restated, it isn't important? That idea is never communicated in the New Testament. On the contrary, Yeshua flat-out contradicts it. Surely the words of the Son of God should hold more merit than they are given with this dismissal.

Before returning to the article proper, let me pose one more question to consider. Did Yeshua (or Peter or John or James or Paul) have the authority to change the Torah? At face value, the question might seem scandalous to most Christians. Why wouldn't the Anointed King and Son of God have the right to change the Torah? Well the author of the Book of Hebrews affirms the blessed truth that Yeshua was completely without sin.38 And Paul wrote that Yeshua was “born under the law.”39 Since Mr. Chaffey equates being under the law with being beholden to obey all the Torah, that means Yeshua needed to obey the Torah perfectly to be without sin. Peter told the Jews assembled at Solomon's Portico that Yeshua was the prophet prophesied to succeed Moses.40 Since Peter drew this connection, we must examine what God said through Moses said concerning this prophet. Since Yeshua is this prophet, and since he was under the law, he could not teach anything different than what Moses had taught. “The prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, … that same prophet shall die.”41 Yeshua did not have the authority to change the Torah, since God said the Torah would outlast heaven and earth. I have no doubt that the religious leaders of Israel thought they were being obedient to this commandment in putting Yeshua to death. After all, they had taken their own traditions and held them up above the Torah.42 Had Yeshua actually changed the Torah, they would have been justified in executing him because he would have committed sin. That is not my opinion; it is a legal requirement imposed by God himself on the Prophet like unto Moses. In order for Yeshua to be perfect, he could not have changed one yod in the Torah.

Getting back to the article and his argument that the Christ “fulfilled” the Torah for us, he cites 1 Corinthians 5:7, which says that Christ was sacrificed as our Passover lamb. I wonder if he took the time to read one verse further, which states, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”43 (emphasis added). Even though Paul was using the elements of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as imagery for spiritual issues, there is no hint in this letter or his follow-up that he did not want the Corinthians to celebrate Passover and Unleavened Bread. Mr. Chaffey bemoans that Answers in Genesis is flooded with messages from those in the HRM who say we ought to observe the biblical feasts instead of Catholic traditions. Let the record stand that the apostle Paul sent AiG the first letter in favor of Passover over Easter, and they have chosen to ignore it. Maybe the HRM folks' arguments are “flawed, being based on revisionist history, shoddy scholarship, and the misinterpretation of Scripture,” but what does AiG say to Paul? He commanded us in the New Testament to keep Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (I am not condoning the method or tone used by many of these critics. Their condescending Facebook comments were likely the instigation for this article, and they set a poor example for “do[ing] to others as you would have them do to you.”44)

Colossians 2:14 does not say that Yeshua “fulfilled the law.” It says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”45 The verse plainly says that God canceled the record of our debt against him. In what way does this imply that God put an end to the rules that we broke? We are told to forgive others “as God in Christ forgave you.”46 Does this mean we should eliminate all personal boundaries and let people abuse us however they want, and we shouldn't even care? That isn't what forgiveness is. We need to have boundaries for others to trespass for a forgivable offense to be committed. In the same way, the Torah must always stand as God's eternal standard for our conduct for there to be anything to forgive. A law must exist for us to either be under it or not. Being “under the law” doesn't mean that we are required to obey it. It means we have already broken it and are under its penalty. If I never exceed the speed limit, I am not under the law. But if I get caught speeding, I am now under the law. If someone else pays my fine, I am suddenly free from the penalty of the law. That does not mean the law is eliminated or I am now free to speed with impunity.

Mr. Chaffey writes, “It is highly questionable to assume that Yeshua had the Mosaic law in mind when he told the disciples to keep his commandments.” Why is that? Since Chaffey accuses some in the HRM of denying the Trinity, he obviously believes that God the Son is the same God who gave the Torah to Moses. Why would God the Son invalidate his own commandments? Or did only God the Father give them, and we are witnessing a heavenly coup? If Yeshua is God, then the Torah is his commandment. It is true that Yeshua gave his disciples a “new commandment,”47 but was commandment truly new? Yeshua said the second greatest commandment in the Torah is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”48 He didn't invent this. It's a direct quotation from Leviticus 19:18. Therefore, this “new commandment” he gave to his disciples was not truly new as in formerly unbeknownst to the Torah, as Mr. Chaffey states. The “newness” of it came from the comparison with his own love for his disciples, which they were about to experience firsthand. Yeshua didn't add to the Torah, he just explained it in a new way. As for Tim's statements concerning the Great Commission, this just betrays his ignorance of prophetic Scripture concerning the Messianic age. It deserves another article entirely, so I won't go into it here.

Oops, it looks like I shouldn't have skimmed through the article so quickly the first time I read it. Tim foresaw my “trinitarian misdirection,” and I didn't even notice until now. Yet he has a perfectly valid (in his mind) explanation for why Yeshua wasn't talking about the commandments he gave to Moses when he told his disciples to teach everything that he had commanded.49 Using the example of God's instructions to Noah about building the Ark, Tim tries to make the case that since all Christians aren't supposed to obey those, we are free to ignore everything else in his Torah that isn't restated in the New Testament. (It looks like Answers in Genesis missed the memo! I love the Ark Encounter, but somebody should've told them they didn't need to build it before they put in all that time and money.) I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Chaffey can't see the difference between an order given to one man specifically and an eternally-binding50 constitution written for God's chosen people to define their status as people in covenant with Yehovah.

Chaffey says, “The Mosaic law was given to a specific group of people at a specific time.” Yes and no. Yes, it was given to the first generation of Israelites who left Egypt. But it applied equally to their children who entered Canaan51 and all subsequent generations up to and through the time of Christ. Furthermore, he writes that “God made this covenant with the people of Israel (the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).” That is patently false. The Torah says, “There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you52 (emphasis added). The first generation of Egyptians who fled Egypt with Israel were called a “mixed multitude.”53 By the second generation, that group of people had disappeared, implying they were fully grafted in just as Ruth was. (Alternatively, they could have been rejected from the camp, but surely that would have generated some press like it did in Nehemiah's day.54) The Torah is not only for physical descendants of Israel. I can also prove this from the New Testament. In Ephesians 6, Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”55 But the commandment which Paul was quoting limited the blessing to “the land that Yehovah your God is giving you.”56 So if this commandment, given to the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, can be expanded to apply to Greeks in Ephesus, then God's Torah is not limited by bloodline or geography.

Who in the HRM says that believers in Yeshua are Jewish? I am unaware of anyone who says that. Many in the HRM hold to what is known as “Two-House Theology.”57 That is, we believe that Judah was never formally divorced from the original covenant like Ephraim was,58 so when Yeshua said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,”59 he meant what he said. His purpose was to regather Ephraim from the four corners of the earth and reunite the two sticks into a single stick again.60 The invitation is open to every gentile, whether their genealogy extends back to the Northern Kingdom or not.61 This obviously has implications for the salvation of Judah, since she was never divorced from the covenant. That issue is far too complex to address here, as that is not the point of this rebuttal.

Mr. Chaffey says again that the law has been fulfilled. Let's briefly return to Matthew 5:17 to examine one more flaw in his interpretation of Yeshua's words. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (emphasis added). That phrase about the Prophets always gets overlooked in these discussions, but it has a huge impact on how we understand Yeshua's usage of plērōsai. Whatever Yeshua did to the Torah, he necessarily did to the Prophets as well. Are all Old Testament prophecies done away with? Are they all completed in Christ so that they have no bearing on us? Are we foolishly awaiting a future paradise in the Messianic Kingdom prophesied by Isaiah when Christ has already fulfilled it on our behalf? On another note, I can understand “fulfilling” a prophecy, but how does one “fulfill” a law? Laws are standards, not check boxes. If I don't lie to my parents, that doesn't free me to lie to my boss because I already “fulfilled” the commandment. When we treat God's instructions for righteousness as a to-do list, we badly mistake their purpose and offend our Father who gave them for our blessing.62

We do not argue that “Christians are under the Mosaic law.” As I already explained, being “under the law” refers to being under its judgment because of our infringement of it. That does not invalidate its authority as God's righteous standard for our conduct. Chaffey tries to use James 2:10 as a “gotcha” verse to prove our hypocrisy. I will use it to prove his. “HRM adherents do not follow the 613 commands (by traditional count) in the Mosaic law—they focus on only a small fraction of those.” So? Neither does he. Just because he doesn't care about God's dietary standards or guarding Shabbat doesn't mean he thinks we are free to break every commandment. In Ray Comfort's Gospel presentation in a video playing at the Ark Encounter, he uses several of the Ten Commandments to illustrate how sinful we are. I applaud him for this. But if Mr. Chaffey teaches his children not to lie or steal, yet he breaks the commandment not to commit adultery (by lusting) or eats the pulled pork from the BBQ joint on site, he is guilty of breaking the entire Torah just as we. I would recommend anyone who uses this argument to take a good, long look into that “perfect law of liberty”63 and tackle a few of those planks protruding from your own eyes before you start going after the splinters in the eyes of your brethren.64 I am far from perfect and would never claim to be. But Chaffey is speaking hypocritically by accusing us of legalism for trying to clean up obvious sin from our lives when he does the same thing with the commandments he thinks are valid. I'm not suggesting we be lenient on sin, but instead of harassing another man's slaves,65 we ought to make sure we're living up to the standard we expect from others.66

“In fact, they could never keep all of those laws because they do not have access to the Levitical priesthood.” As I wrote earlier in this response, “While there are certain commandments which we cannot keep for various reasons—and attempting to keep them would be a worse grievance than not doing them at all—we do not ignore any of them. Rather, we hope and pray for the day when we can return to the Land under the kingship of our Messiah, so we can walk in full obedience to our God.” We readily admit that we can't obey everything perfectly. Nor are we trying. Self-righteous perfection isn't the goal—Christ-likeness is the goal.67 We obey what we can because we love our God and want to honor our Savior. What's heretical about that?

Did the Apostles Believe That Gentiles Should Follow the Mosaic Law?

This is an important question that deserves serious scrutiny. No doubt, the writings of Paul can be interpreted to say that we have no obligation to the Torah. I spent the first few decades of my life in conservative, theologically-orthodox churches (including fundamentalist, Presbyterian, and Southern Baptist). I've been convinced of Arminianism and Calvinism both at various times over the years. When I first encountered the Hebrew Roots Movement, I was a committed dispensationalist who was in the middle of writing a layman-level study to explain the doctrine. My understanding of the Bible has been completely upended since I first began studying the relationship between the Torah and followers of Christ. All this to say, I'm sympathetic to Mr. Chaffey's position. I could've written his article myself a few years ago. (For the record, I do not consider myself part of the HRM anymore. I am not writing to defend the movement, but the underlying doctrines that Tim felt the need to condemn.)

It is at this point that we get into the meat and potatoes of the debate: the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. What happens here is vital to understanding everything else in the apostolic writings, since probably every letter was written after this time except the epistle of James, the head of the Jerusalem assembly. James was extraordinarily influential in Jerusalem, even among the non-Messianic Jewish population. He was said by Josephus to have knees like a camel's because he spent so much time in the temple bowed prostrate in prayer before the altar. Again, according to Josephus, the non-Messianic Jews apparently attributed Jerusalem's fall to Rome to James' despicable execution by the Jewish authorities.68 Paul might've written the bulk of the instructional letters, but he held James in high regard and deferred to his authority—as should we.

The way Acts paints this conflict, it was Messianic Pharisees versus Paul and Barnabas. But this is a simplistic framework (suitable for the time in which it was written, but not so clear now). When we look to other passages in and out of Acts, Paul himself proudly affirmed his status as a Pharisee.69 The issue of circumcision as a prerequisite for conversion was not limited to the fledgling Messianic sect. It stemmed from a debate between two camps of rabbis contemporaneous with Yeshua—Hillel and Shammai. I already mentioned them before, but given their temporal proximity to the events in Acts (Hillel's grandson, Gamaliel, was prominent in these days, and Shammai died a few years after Yeshua), their conflict must be understood to fully grasp what was happening at this time.70

Hillel was known as being especially gracious with gentiles who sought to worship the God of Israel. He championed what are known as the Noachide laws for gentiles who desired obedience to God.71 (Several of these laws made their way into James' verdict at the Jerusalem Council.72 I don't know if James had them in mind when he gave his decision or not, but at the very least, the overlap shows they were on the same page.) That is not to say that Hillel taught this was all gentiles needed. But he taught that their basic salvation required only these things. Full participation in the blessings of Abraham could only be achieved through full conversion. (I suspect that Hillel would've been a disciple of Yeshua had he come after him rather than before.)

Shammai, on the other hand, was staunchly legalistic and insisted that all gentiles must fully convert before being they could partake in the resurrection of the dead. The Shammaites taught that circumcision (as well as the rest of Jewish conversion, a very complicated process73) must precede acceptance by God. So, when we read of “Paul versus the Pharisees” in Acts or elsewhere in the New Testament, we must keep in mind that the real lines were between a Hillelite Pharisee and the Shammaite Pharisees. In the case of Acts 15, all the Pharisees in both parties were followers of Yeshua. They genuinely wanted to come to an agreement based on Scripture.

As Mr. Chaffey begins to explore this pivotal moment in Messianic history, he rightly points out that verse 21 mentions Moses being taught in every city, but the conclusion he draws is baffling. “One HRM follower told me that this verse meant that the Gentiles would go to the synagogues in those cities to learn about following the law. But that is not even close to what James said. The reason for the restrictions was so that the Gentile Christians who were not under the Mosaic law would not unnecessarily offend the Jews.” I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If the gentiles weren't already attending the synagogues on a weekly basis, they never would have encountered the Pharisee believers who were pressuring them to be circumcised. Note that virtually all of Paul's debates with other Jews took place in synagogues, so that was very likely the seat of this debate as well. The worship of Yehovah according to the Hebrew Scriptures was generally protected by Roman law,74 leading to every city possessing a synagogue.75 Despite their freedom, there is no reason to think that the Jews would concern themselves with gentiles who worshiped Yeshua (in their minds, just another foreign deity amid the vast pantheon of Rome) unless these gentiles were attempting to join their synagogues. The Jewish population already lived in a climate of religious diversity. The only way the gentile converts would offend them is if they were joining the synagogues.

To drive the point home, let us dissect verse 21. “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Shabbat in the synagogues.” When we see a sentence begin with “for” (or “after all” in some translations), we can logically assume it is the reason for whatever was said previously. In this case, the reason James was content to pull out four commandments as mandatory for the new converts is because Moses is taught in every city on every Shabbat. Since James didn't mention Shabbat in his letter (which we could realistically call “First Galatians,” since Antioch was in the region of Galatia76), the most obvious conclusion is that the converts were already attending the synagogues. That makes much more sense than Chaffey's illogical assertion that James said this in some bizarre way of not offending Jewish people the gentiles would never encounter anyway. No one, whether brought up in the faith from birth or converted in adulthood, can obey perfectly; our faith is a walk,77 not a checklist. It is a burden to have the entire Torah heaped on us all at once. But when we realize that it contains God's instructions for how to live a long life78 and receive his blessing,79 then we ought to desire to obey God more and more.80

Chaffey concludes that since James didn't mention Shabbat (or the Appointed Times,81 or circumcision) to the gentile converts in Antioch, those things weren't important for them. Well he also didn't mention lying, theft, or murder. He didn't define porneia, which is kind of important if former pagans are supposed to avoid it now. The only time porneia is defined in Scripture is in Leviticus 18. If we should live by those standards, then we ought to live by other regulations for holiness, such as Leviticus 11.82

One big argument used by dispensationalists to claim that the Torah isn't important for Christians is that it “was given to a specific group of people at a specific time.” Well, Chaffey, let's see how that holds up to Scripture. We know that Jacob married two sisters, Leah and Rachel.83 Yet Leviticus 18:18 says we should not marry the sister of our wife while our first wife is still alive, so as not to provoke either woman to jealousy. Since that commandment was apparently unknown to the Patriarchs but was only given to Israel (a specific people at a specific time), are we no longer obligated to live by it? That is the rationale for tossing aside Leviticus 11 (coupled with copious eisegesis), so what in the New Testament is stopping me from marrying sisters? After all, Leviticus was written for a specific group of people at a specific time.

Do the New Testament Epistles Teach That Gentiles Should Follow the Mosaic Law?

“As mentioned earlier, the HRM often ignores relevant passages in the New Testament epistles.” Grass, meet clover. I've found over the years that the surest way to turn one's social media account into a warzone is to post verses such as Hebrews 10:26-31 or 1 John 2:1-6 without any commentary. Christians who normally wave the banner of Tota Scriptura suddenly encounter the full moon and become ravenous werewolves. I'm not speaking hyperbolically; I've been victim to this myself when I had no intention of starting a debate. Evangelical Christians are great at pointing out when others ignore passages of Scripture, but they hate being told they do it themselves.

Paul's epistles are certainly important, but they serve three primary functions: First, they explore the complex relationship between Jewish believers and gentile converts (e.g., Romans). Second, they are manuals for how these new assemblies should structure themselves out in the Roman world (e.g., 1 Timothy). Third, they bridge the connections between many Old Testament concepts and their new significance following the teachings, death, and resurrection of Yeshua (e.g., 1 Thessalonians). They were not written to supersede the Torah or anything else in Scripture, and Peter even strongly warned the readers in his second letter to take enormous care in reading Paul's letters, since “there are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless [Torah-less] people and lose your own stability.”84

The Gospel: Yeshua Plus Nothing Else

Perhaps if Mr. Chaffey understood Peter's warning concerning Paul's letters (including Galatians), he would abandon dispensationalism and tie himself a set of tzitzit. Galatians is certainly the most complicated of Paul's letters to understand, but we must consider a few things before diving in. First, Galatia was a region that included Antioch, where Paul spent a year in ministry before setting out as a missionary,85 and it was apparently his home away from home, as he returned there often.86 It was on one of these furloughs when the Shammaite believers began teaching the necessity of circumcision. The Galatians, therefore, weren't new converts, but they were being confronted with alarming notion that their salvation had been in vain because they hadn't fully converted to Judaism proper. That led to the Jerusalem Council and later the epistle to the Galatians. (It amuses me that Mr. Chaffey thinks the HRM exists solely because of a misunderstanding of this letter. Yet the HRM is a new movement; nearly everyone in it converted from a traditional understanding of Galatians. It isn't as if we are uneducated on what traditional views on this book claim. It is unfairly dismissive to claim our theology is rooted in a mere misunderstanding of this book.)

It is true that Paul condemned anyone who would preach a false Gospel.87 So what was Paul's Gospel? At face value, that sounds like an obvious question. But we know that Paul taught the same Gospel as Yeshua taught,88 and in my experience, very few Christians understand what Yeshua taught.

Yeshua taught the Gospel of the Kingdom.89 There are very few hints in his words of the significance of his own death and resurrection. Paul does a great job of fleshing that out, but that must be understood as supplemental to Yeshua's own message, or it would be Paul who was guilty of changing the Gospel that Yeshua taught. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not primarily about salvation from sins, although that is a big feature of it. The Old Testament says relatively little about personal salvation in comparison to kingdom prophecies, which make up the bulk of Messianic promises.90 As I explained in my summary of Two-House Theology, the Gospel of the Kingdom is about God restoring Ephraim (who has been thoroughly integrated among the gentiles) into the nation of Israel again vis-à-vis a new covenant. This new covenant includes the forgiveness of sins, but also includes the Torah being inscribed on our hearts so we stop sinning.91 The entire epistle to the Romans was written to explain the Gospel of the Kingdom and how it is worked out practically in a heterogenous assortment of believers. I won't go into that any more at this point, but that is what Yeshua—and Paul—taught.

I would also like to point out that if there were a difference between what Yeshua taught and Paul's message, then Paul would have no justifiable reason to criticize the Corinthians of picking their favorite teacher and sticking with him.92 Perhaps the Corinthians misunderstood Paul's writings as much as Tim Chaffey does. Now thankfully, he does admit that we in the HRM do not teach salvation by works, but that footnote stands in feeble opposition to his lengthy heresy-hunting hit-piece. He claims that his purpose in writing is to address the fact that we who (try to) keep the Torah call others who don't to repentance, as if that's a bad thing.93 But isn't that what Christians ought to do when we see a brother in error?94 That is clearly Tim's purpose in writing this article, so he should be grateful that other Christians feel the burden of leading their brethren from error into truth.

Mr. Chaffey misrepresents Paul's intent in his quotation of Galatians 3:1-3 by equating “being perfected in the flesh” with obedience to God. As Paul wrote throughout that letter, he was specifically addressing circumcision as a necessary prerequisite of salvation.

Let's run another thought experiment. There is a highway speed limit of 70 mph. If I drive within the bounds of the law, I have a much higher chance of living a long and happy life. If I speed, I have obviously broken the law and am liable to be fined, assuming I don't get in an accident. But even if I never speed, that does not guarantee that I will never transgress the law in some other way (say, running a red light) or avoid injury from others' trespasses. Obeying the speed limit doesn't guarantee my salvation, but it does mean I have less reproach than someone who makes a habit of speeding through school zones. In the same way, the Torah cannot save us from mortality. It is simply God's plan to offer a better life. If we routinely scorn his instructions in favor of our own traditions, we are snubbing the one who gave it to us and showing that we don't truly love him.95

Regarding Paul's exhortation to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,”96 we see in Romans what he means by that: “For we know that the law is spiritual.”97 Properly understood, the Torah tells us how to walk by the Spirit. That is the entire message of Romans 7. It is impossible to argue that the Torah is not applicable to Christians when we consider Romans 7. Trust me, I've sat through baffling sermons where my dispensationalist pastor attempted that very thing. And as I've belabored to explain repeatedly, being “under the law” refers to a state of judgment, not responsibility. How much plainer do I need to say it? “What can we unreservedly say about those who are led by the Spirit?” Great question, Tim. I think we can say, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [i.e., those things which oppose the Torah], but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit [i.e., the Torah].”98

Christ set us free from the yoke of slavery, true. Let's see what Yeshuahimself had to say: “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”99 What is Yeshua's yoke? It was the Torah he said he came to fill up (that is, preach accurately in contrary to the false teachings of the Pharisees).100 This is the same Torah which God told Israel is not too hard for us, nor too far off to accomplish. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”101

Paul elaborates upon that passage in a beautiful way in his epistle to the Romans: “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.102 But the righteousness based on faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?”’ (that is Christ to bring down103) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?”’ (that is Christ to bring up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”104

God spoke through Moses that the Torah is not in heaven or across the sea (a euphemism for being in Sheol), so we ourselves are able to obey. But our ancestors were still disobedient, living like the Torah were in heaven or in Sheol and too far removed from them to be expected to obey—like how they removed themselves from earshot of God's instructions and asked Moses to mediate for them105. Therefore, Christ was sent from the Father106 to bring us the Torah as it was intended (fulfilling his role as the Prophet107). Not only that, but God confirmed his message by raising him from the dead.108 So “the word of faith that we proclaim” is intimately related to the Torah, since that is what Yeshua came to bring us. When we “confess with [our] mouth[s] that Yeshua is Lord and believe in [our] heart[s] that God raised him from the dead,” we are proving that the Torah “is in [our] mouth[s] and in [our] heart[s], so that [we] can do it.” True faith in Christ goes hand-in-hand with obedience to the Torah, which he taught.

The Gospel Does Not Depend on the Works of the Law

By this subsection title alone, I am half-tempted to just say “I agree” and move on. While I can't speak for everyone (neither can Tim, though he lumps us all together), I am unaware of anyone who says that our works save us or the Gospel hangs on our obedience. But I have a feeling Mr. Chaffey will once again take Scripture out of context whilst accusing us of doing the same, so I feel compelled to address his claims in full.

The first thing Chaffey brings up is the “circumcision made without hands.”109 He attributes this to the Holy Spirit, which I don't think we should assume right off the bat. It is certainly true that the one who does this circumcision is God, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the word “Spirit” in verse 29 should not have been capitalized.110 First, Paul is talking about the Torah in this entire section. He says that those who sin without the Torah (meaning they have never been told what sin is111) will perish without the Torah's judgment.112 Then he makes the bold statement, “For it is not the hearers of the Torah who are righteous before God, but the doers who will be justified.”113 How has that verse escaped the notice of millions of Christians for the past two thousand years? Paul continues by contrasting the gentiles coming to faith who respond with genuine trust in God and obedience to the Torah without having been taught with the Judeans who were hoisting up their own status of being Jews. Paul isn't saying the Torah is meaningless, he's saying that the gentile believers show signs of true conversion because they obey the Torah while many of the Jews self-righteously lorded their status of chosen people over the gentiles without actually obeying the Torah God had given to them.114 But here's the clincher: “Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the Torah, but if you break the Torah, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.”115 So let's examine that idea for a moment. I know Chaffey would say this is bona fide proof that keeping Torah is bondage. But how does that hold up to Scripture? My favorite verse for this type of debate is Luke 1:5-6, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah… and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of Yehovah.” Does this mean that Zechariah and Elizabeth were perfect? His prayer in verses 69 and 77 seems to contradict that. So how could Zechariah be a sinner in need of God's forgiveness and yet be blameless according to the Torah? Did his circumcision count for nothing because he undoubtedly sinned? I'll leave you to ponder that for yourself.

Second, the concept of circumcision of the heart does not have its origins in the New Testament. In Jeremiah 4:4 we read, “Circumcise yourselves to Yehovah; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” But even further back, God himself said that he would circumcise the hearts of his people at a time in the future.116 Now the context of Deuteronomy 30 is interesting. Beginning in chapter 28, God gave Israel a bunch of conditional blessings for obedience,117 followed by a bunch of conditional curses for disobedience.118 In chapter 29, Moses renewed the covenant with them once again, then reiterates the outcome of some of the curses. Finally we get to chapter 30, which speaks of God undoing the curses for their disobedience, followed by a charge “choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving Yehovah your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.”119 We can look back in hindsight and see the order of events as being prophetic, but they were not framed that way to Israel. These promises were conditionally based on how faithful Israel stayed to God. The overarching timeline of events from Covenants to Christ120 do fit the Two-House framework of disobedience, dispersion, and regathering, but they are also true for each one of us individually and corporately. All that to say, God has been circumcising the hearts of those who love him and choose to obey his commandments since he first called out our father Abraham. That is how Zechariah and Elizabeth (not to mention everyone righteous in the Old Testament) could be righteous according to the Torah while still being sinners.

So, when I say that the word “Spirit” in Romans 2:29 shouldn't be capitalized, I mean that I don't think we should read the verse in this way: “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Holy Spirit, not by the letter.” Such a reading doesn't fit Paul's thesis. All throughout Romans 2, Paul was arguing that true circumcision of the heart is a result of following the Torah, to the point that gentiles who followed the Torah without being taught were more circumcised than the Jews who bore the mark of the covenant but didn't abide by it in their actions. When Paul contrasted the spirit with the letter, he was talking about the “spirit of the Torah”121—i.e., what the Torah intends versus just a legalistic, external application for the sake of piety.122

What is circumcision, anyway? Put simply, circumcision is mark of being in the covenant by our trust in God. Abraham had been walking in obedience to God for nearly thirty years before God commanded him to be circumcised.123 Circumcision is not a guarantee of our status in the Abrahamic covenant, but an outward reflection of it (and pertaining to children, a sign that we will raise them in it124). What guarantees our inclusion in it is our trust in God and faithfulness to obey him—the very things for which Abraham was declared righteous.125 Abraham's circumcision late in life allowed him to be both the father of those who aren't physically circumcised in the flesh and those who are physically cut and also walk in faithfulness to God.126 The Shammaite Pharisees were trying to teach the Galatians that circumcision was a necessary entrance into the covenant of Abraham (and perhaps the most important part of it), whereas Paul argued that it was an outward sign of one's acceptance into that covenant, as it was with Abraham.127 So getting back to the “spirit of the Torah” matter, the “spirit of the Torah” comes when we hear the truth and respond in faith,128 which leads to obedience as an outworking of that faith.129

I must give Chaffey credit where credit is due. He is aware enough of what the Bible says130 to anticipate the responses he will get from HRM teachers131 when he takes it out of context. A perfect example of this is his treatment of Colossians 2:16-17, which says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Shabbat. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Out of context, this sounds like a cut-and-dry argument against gentiles eating clean meats, keeping Shabbat, celebrating the new moon, or rejoicing in the Appointed Times of Yehovah. But once we read beyond these two verses in either direction, we see his argument dismantle itself. I really ought to cite all the previous paragraph to do full justice to Paul's words and expose the hubris of Tim's own arguments.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”132

Does Tim believe the Torah amounts to nothing more than “philosophy and empty deceit, … human tradition,” the invention of the “elemental spirits of the world,” and contrary to Christ? Most of the events in the Gospel of John center around Yeshua's visits to Jerusalem for various Appointed Times. Why would Yeshua participate in something described so darkly? Furthermore, what does it say about God if his Torah is “philosophy,” “empty deceit,” “human tradition,” etc.? Tim's apparent view of God is nothing short of Marcionism133—that is, roughly, the belief that the god of the Hebrew Scriptures is evil and enslaved humanity, but Yeshua came to free us from his tyranny. It is the heavenly coup I mentioned before. Moving on, Paul speaks of the “circumcision made without hands”134 which we've already explored was in God's mind for his people from the beginning of the covenant.135 Since the gentiles were uncircumcised,136 the relevance of circumcision as a religious rite must have been explained to them at some point for them to grasp Paul's words at all. Next, Paul refers to the “record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”137 Is the Torah ever called a “record of debts” anywhere else in the Bible? Is the sign saying “Speed Limit 70 MPH” a record of debts against me? Or rather, is the ticket the cop writes a record of my transgression when I speed? Let logic be the judge of that.

Whenever we see the word “therefore” in Scripture, we must as, “What is the ‘therefore’ there for?” In this case, a simple paraphrase will suffice. “Because your hearts have been circumcised by Christ through putting off the body of the flesh, being buried with him in baptism, and raised through faith in the powerful working of God (who also raised Yeshua from the dead), let no one pass judgment on you because you obey God's Torah, which formerly condemned you. These things are prophetic for what is to come, and they all point to Christ.” Do you see how this radically changes how we read verses 16-17? Do you see how taking two verses out of context can be used to blaspheme God (albeit unintentionally)? When we take this position, we miss the great prophetic significance of the Appointed Times in redemptive history. I won't go into them here, but I have written about them elsewhere.138

Moving forward in Colossians 2, let us consider all of verses 16-23, as they are a continuation of the same thought. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Shabbat. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

Does the Torah “insist on asceticism and worship of angels”? Does it “go on in detail about visions”? Is it “puffed up without reason by [a] sensuous mind”? Do God's instructions forbid handling, tasting, and touching of all material things “according to human precepts and teachings”? Is the constitution of Yehovah's covenant people that he gave them “promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body” without any value in “stopping the indulgence of the flesh”? If Chaffey thinks any of these things are true, then he has much in error in his theology. Paul was talking about Greek philosophy, particularly the branch of philosophy that condemned any enjoyment of physical pleasures. The Ascetics were prime candidates to discourage their Messianic friends and families from enjoying God's Appointed Times, since they viewed any physical pleasure as evil. The Appointed Times—especially Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles—were times of revelry and celebration where we are invited to splurge in festivities.139 This is why Eli believed Hannah was drunk in the temple140 and the Jews gathered for Pentecost assumed the same of the Messianic believers.141 Given all this, it is sad that asceticism has worked its way so deeply into Christianity today, whether it be in monastic traditions or even Christian temperance movements. The Bible teaches self-control, not legalistic self-denial. This is a bigger tangent than I intended to take, but it is necessary to understand Paul's intended purpose in writing, so we don't take two verses wildly out of context like Chaffey has in order to preach lawlessness for former gentiles who've converted to the faith. “The fear of Yehovahis the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”142 Could it be said that equating God's Appointed Times with Greek paganism is not practicing the fear of Yehovah?

The Law of Liberty and the Weaker Brother

Chaffey predictably moves on to Romans 14 to argue for the abolition of God's eternal instructions.143 Once again, he demonstrates how important context is when understanding anything in Scripture, especially Paul's writings. I will get into the context in detail in a moment, but first, let's look at the most important verse in the passage he cited, Romans 14:5, which reads, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” When are we EVER given the freedom to decide for ourselves whether we want to obey God or not? Let's replace “day” here with another, equally important aspect of obedience—sexual purity. “One person esteems sex within marriage as better than any other relationship, while another esteems all sexual relationships alike.” Do you see how absurd this is? The Bible never gives us permission to be arbiters of our own holiness. On the contrary, Chaffey is encouraging the sin of Israel in the book of Judges: “Everyone did as they saw fit.”144

So, what is the context of Romans 14, and how does knowing it help us understand Paul's intended message? To get that, we must first realize that chapter and verse markers were not inspired by God along with the text itself. The context for chapter 14 begins in 13:8, but it is easy to overlook this since they are broken up into separate chapters in the text. We must also remember that Romans was written to a congregation of mixed ethnicity. It is believed the Jews in Rome (including Messianic believers) had been exiled for a period of time.145 When they returned, they encountered gentile believers who held to the same faith but were weaker in their understanding because of a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures.146 The entire book addresses how Jews and converted gentiles must relate together in the assembly of Christ—according to the Torah, which defines what it means to love one another.147

With that in mind, we can begin to understand chapter 14. This chapter is centered around areas of personal practice, not Torah obedience. (Note that Shabbat isn't mentioned once in the Book of Romans.) In the first century, it was common practice for the Jews to fast twice a week.148 This is not commanded in the Torah, but there is nothing wrong with it. There was presumably no such practice among the Romans coming to the faith.149 Additionally, the Jewish believers in Rome had no problem eating meat because they knew what was acceptable to eat and what was not, but the gentile converts refused to eat any meat for fear of transgression.150 Again, vegetarianism is totally acceptable as a lifestyle choice (with the exception of Passover151). So the whole of Romans 14 can be boiled down (pun intended) to a simple instruction: If you observe a tradition not commanded in the Torah, don't use it as a measure of judgment against those who don't, and vice versa.152 Perhaps all Christians (including those in the HRM) should keep that in mind before jumping down the throats of our Messianic Jewish brethren who practice certain rabbinic traditions not mentioned in the Torah. While I do not endorse embracing such traditions (I avoid most of them myself unless I've thoroughly studied the rationale behind them), one's personal practice of faith is between oneself and God—provided our traditions do not overrule the Torah.153 Do you see the danger of taking verses out of their textual and historic context? Yet that is a prerequisite for the antinomian arguments employed in AiG's article.

Special Foods

In this section, Chaffey tries to explain why the doctrines154 of the God-who-never-changes155 have changed over time and thus are not important for us today. Now he does make some valid points here that must be dissected to isolate truth from error. That said, his opening paragraph contains the first error off the bat: “We have already seen that Paul permitted his readers to eat whatever they chose, as long as their decision did not injure the conscience of the weaker brother.” As we've already seen, this is false. Paul never said our conscience is more authoritative for determining sin than God's word. He was talking about situations which had nothing to do with the Torah but were matters of personal preference. It is insulting to offer a steak to a vegetarian if you know that he's a vegetarian. We ought to be sensible to the preferences of our brethren, but not if it involves sin.156

Ironically, in Tim's timeline of dietary changes, he overlooks something that bolsters his case even more. He says there was a shift from Genesis 1:29 to 9:3—eating plants to eating meat. But he misses a middle stage. In Genesis 1:29, Adam and his wife were given fruit and berries as a food source. In 3:17-19, we were cursed with having to cultivate grains for bread, effectively turning us into sophisticated livestock who subsist on grasses. Finally, God allowed us to eat meat after the Flood.157 This shift from only sweet, succulent fruits to suddenly eating grass and leaves like cattle was part of Adam's curse. Eating meat like an unclean carnivore, then, is indicative of an even greater descent, since we now must take the life of another nephesh chayyah (living creature) for our own survival. (I am not arguing against eating meat. But it is illustrative of our “devolution” from creatures made in the image of God to rule over Creation into creatures who behave the same as the animals we were supposed to rule.)

Now Chaffey says that with Genesis 9:3, there was no restriction on eating unclean animals, so we can safely assume it was not part of the rule. And, in fact, the verse does permit “every” moving thing to be eaten. He may well be right. However, there may also be a good reason to think that only clean animals were intended here. When determining the carrying capacity of the Ark, Answers in Genesis make a lot of unprovable assumptions. For example, they say, “It is still necessary to take account of the floor spaces required by large animals, such as elephants and rhinos. But even these, collectively, do not require a large area because it is most likely that these animals were young, but not newborns. Even the largest dinosaurs were relatively small when only a few years old.”158 This is a perfectly reasonable guess to make, although it's based on deductive reasoning, not Scripture. If we assume this is true, then how many of the animals were sexually mature and having babies on the Ark? There's no way of knowing the answer to that, but with the conditions they were in, I doubt very many felt safe enough to reproduce. Even if all of them had offspring, their babies would be at most a few months old when leaving the Ark. The mammals probably wouldn't even be weaned yet. Since there were only a single pair of each kind of unclean animal, the numbers leaving the Ark would've been quite small indeed, perhaps even limited to the pair that had boarded. If Noah had butchered one of them, it would mean wiping out an entire baramin159 of animals that just escaped the destruction of the Flood. Maybe that's what happened to the T-Rex! It is much more likely that Noah and his family would've gone after the more numerous clean animals and birds, which had a minimum of fourteen members of each kind leaving the Ark.160

Whether or not Chaffey is right about Noah being allowed to eat all animals, it is ultimately irrelevant. He states, “If God changed the dietary restrictions at the time of Noah and the time of Moses, then there is no reason he could not have done so at the time of Yeshua (Mark 7:18-19).” Mark 7:19 was the verse that shocked me into realizing how wrong I'd been about thinking the Torah was only for “a specific group of people at a specific time.” But before getting into that, I wrote an article a while back concerning the “Taking Back the Rainbow” campaign at the Ark Encounter.161 I pointed out the hypocrisy of a campaign which condemns homosexuality as being an abomination (which it is)162 yet frivolously states God changed his mind concerning eating unclean animals—which is also an abomination.163 You know what else is an abomination? The prayers of whose who reject the Torah!164 Take heed, Mr. Chaffey.

Now, onto Mark 7:19. Tim doesn't even justify this verse with an explanation. He throws out the citation like it proves something on its own. In fact, it proves the exact opposite of what he wants to say. This verse is one of the greatest examples of translator bias in all the New Testament. In the New Living Translation, we get this asinine rendering, “(By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God's eyes.)” But in the King James Version, it merely reads, “…purging all meats.”165 There is an impassable chasm of difference in meaning between these two quotations, yet they are both translations of four words in Greek. I will do my best to explain it here, even though I am by no means an expert in the language. The four words of import here are “καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα” (katharizōn panta ta brōmata).166 Starting from the end, brōmata means “food,” ta means “the,” and panta means “all.” That leaves us one word from which to extract an entire doctrine. We're off to a great start. It got even more interesting when I realized that certain Greek texts, such as the Nestle GNT 1904 and the Westcott and Hort 1881, used the spelling “καθαρίζων,” while the RP Byzantine Majority Text 2005 and the Greek Orthodox Church 1904 wrote “καθαρίζον.” Again, I'm by no means an expert in Greek, but I know enough about linguistics to realize a spelling change in a verb probably indicates a change in tense. What is going on here? I turned to Rabbi Google and stumbled upon a gem of an explanation in the form of a discussion on StackExchange.com.167 In one of the responses to the question, someone answered that the different spellings of the word in question change the gender of the verb, effectively determining who the subject of the verb is. A single letter variant in a single word forms the basis of an entire doctrine that God changed his mind regarding unclean animals. Let that sink in!

With that groundwork laid, let's see if the context of Mark 7 can help us determine which reading is correct. At the beginning of the chapter, the Pharisees noticed that some of Yeshua's disciples were eating bread without washing their hands.168 (Mark went on to mention other traditions the Pharisees follow.169) When the Pharisees criticized the disciples for this, Yeshua responded by quoting Isaiah 29:13, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”170 It's obvious from this encounter that Yeshua equated hand-washing with a human tradition, not Torah. As Karaite scholar Nehemia Gordon explains, “When the Rabbis talk about ‘washing the hands’ they do not mean to take a bar of soap and cleanse oneself: that's just common-sense hygiene. What the Rabbis mean is a very specific ritual-washing of the hands. The Rabbinical ritual begins with a special jug that fulfills certain requirements and specifications. This jug is filled with water and then placed in the left hand and used to pour water over the right hand. Then the jug is passed to the right hand and water is poured over the left hand. The process is repeated a second time and according to some tradition a third time. At the end, a blessing must be recited: Blessed art thou Lord, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wash the hands.”171 So far, the issue is about rabbinic ritual being elevated to the level of a commandment in the Torah. They weren't even eating meat at the time.

When the disciples asked Yeshua to explain everything that they'd just heard, he replied, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled, purging all the food?” The Pharisees believed that it was necessary to wash one's hands in a ritual ceremony before eating any meal. This was an extrapolation from the Babylonian Talmud, which required only the priests to wash their hands before eating meat that had been offered in sacrifice.172 That is why Yeshua accused them of “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” As for 7:19 specifically, the italicized translation above (taken from the KJV) makes the most sense in context. The parenthetical expression found in the NLT and other translations makes no sense in context, since unclean animals weren't even being discussed. According to Leviticus 11:2, the only animals to be thought of as food at all were clean animals, so when Yeshua or anyone else at that time heard the word “food,” fried vulture breast was the last thing on their minds.

Finally, we need to see what the other Synoptic Gospels have to say about this. Surely if Yeshua so casually overthrew an entire chapter of Leviticus (making him a false prophet worthy of death according to the Torah, but I digress), more than one Gospel author would've recorded it. Yet Matthew 15:17 says only, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?” Luke doesn't even record this event. Clearly, it was not as earth-shattering as if Yeshua had declared a set of commandments in the Torah null-and-void. In the end, Chaffey is left with a single letter variant in a single word in one out of four Gospels to defend an entire doctrine that supposedly undoes a section of instructions which God links twice to being holy as he is holy.173 I can almost hear the serpent whispering, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any animal that he created?’”174

Chaffey concludes this section by providing a paltry defense for certain commandments still being applicable, such as the prohibition against murder. That is easily defensible throughout Scripture, but we get into bigger trouble when we come across commandments that aren't mentioned in the New Testament at all, such as bestiality.175 If Leviticus 11 is no longer valid for us, then there is no justifiable reason for Christians to condemn physical relationships with animals. Heaven help us.

Now it is true that certain commands were added where they had not existed before. In the article, “Who Was Cain's Wife?” Answers in Genesis explains why a prohibition against marrying close relations was given176 when Moses' own mother was his father's aunt.177 I have heard some in the HRM say that the patriarchs had the Torah before it was given to Moses. This is also generally accepted in Judaism.178 I disagree. I believe the Torah was given to us at the time of the Exodus to teach us how to be like God. This gets at the heart of God's purpose for humankind.

We know that God created man in his image.179 But with the Fall, we became more like the beasts we were to rule, even eating grass alongside them.180 In the course of time, the sons of God1 lusted after human women and condescended to the earth to marry them.182 (I know Mr. Chaffey doesn't dispute this, since he himself stars as a naphil in an exhibit at the Ark Encounter.) The New Testament refers to us as “children of God” a lot, but the first time that expression is used is in Deuteronomy, “You are sons of Yehovah your God. … For you are a people holy to Yehovah your God, and Yehovah has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”183 Immediately after that, God restated the dietary laws from Leviticus 11.184 (It's almost as if God connects what we eat with being holy. Fancy that.) So, we went from being created in the image of God to being cursed to eat grass like an ox to being given meat (requiring us to further maim Creation in order to survive); but now with Israel, God called out a specific group of people from the nations to be his sons (with an open invitation for the nations to join in, I might add185). That is why he gave us his Torah. Whereas once God was patient with our ignorance and debased behavior, now he is calling all of us to repent before he judges all of us through Yeshua.186

Paul said that the Torah is spiritual,187 but what does that mean? It means the Torah is what transforms us from being fleshly, like the animals, to being spiritual, like God.1 At his resurrection, Yeshua still had a physical body,189 but Paul described his resurrected body (and the one we will receive) as spiritual.190 Truly, none of us can achieve this by our own efforts. That false doctrine is a major reason why Mr. Chaffey wrote his article, and I completely agree with him on it. We cannot make ourselves like God by our own power.191 But at the same time, if we have been forgiven through the death and resurrection of Christ, then we are called to demonstrate that through our obedience.192 It doesn't mean we'll do it perfectly, but God has graciously made a way for us to become his children and attain the holiness to which he called us from the beginning.193

Special Days

I agree with Chaffey in his condemnation of the rude and belligerent people who condemn Christians for celebrating holidays like Christmas and Easter. Unlike Halloween, which AiG condemns,194 many of the claims of paganism are dubious at best.195 I suspect this obnoxious (but well-meaning) outcry from many in the HRM forms the background for this antinomian article. It wouldn't surprise me if it had been published now specifically because Easter is coming up, and the good folks at AiG assumed his article would be enough to shut down the detractors before they even set hands to keyboard. If the article didn't turn out to be a hit-piece against a large movement of believers who are rejecting Papal authority in favor of the word of God, it might've had a better impact.

Part of why I do not consider myself to be in the Hebrew Roots Movement is because of this belligerence. I felt like I needed to reply because of how sloppily Scripture was handled and how this article inadvertently maligned God himself by insinuating that he is just a tyrannical dictator imposing rules on his people that condemn them whether they try to obey or not. But I disavowed the HRM a while ago because of many of the uneducated, obnoxious things they say to mainline Christians.196

I do not celebrate the Catholic holidays, but that isn't because they're pagan. I choose to celebrate the Appointed Times of Yehovah because they tell the story of redemptive history, from the time that God called Israel out of Egypt to the time that Christ was sacrificed to the time when he will come again to put his enemies under his feet. To me, celebrating Easter is pointless because it lacks so much symbolic depth and merely serves to replace Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, an outworking of Catholic Replacement Theology.197

Once again, Chaffey flings Romans 14:5 at the wall and hopes it sticks. A verse about not judging each other for voluntarily choosing to fast on certain days cannot be twisted to say we can pick and choose whether we want to obey God or not (and no, Tim, that verse has absolutely zilch to do with Shabbat). Tim is using Scripture to advocate for sin.198 I won't retread his shoddy treatment of Colossians 2:16, but it is worth pointing out again why the Jerusalem Council didn't instruct the gentile converts to celebrate the Levitical feasts: “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Shabbat in the synagogues.”199 James didn't think it was necessary to instruct the new converts because they were already meeting on the Shabbat and hearing the Torah preached to them. But that didn't stop Paul (the great Christian champion of lawlessness) from instructing the gentile converts in Corinth to keep Passover and Unleavened Bread.200

Chaffey paints with a broad brush when he describes HRM folks celebrating Passover with a traditional Jewish Seder. I have no problem with this, myself, but I also don't do it. I do know some HR families who practice a Messianic Seder.201 I also know many Christians who do it alongside Easter.202 For myself, I tend to play it by ear. That doesn't mean I take it frivolously, but I do things a little differently each time as I learn more about it. But to suggest that all people in the HRM follow a Jewish Seder is silly. Once again, Chaffey is speaking of things he doesn't understand. It would've been helpful had he actually asked someone in the Hebrew Roots Movement about what we believe before writing this slanderous article.

Regarding Hanukkah, I have encountered some in the HRM who want nothing to do with it. To each his own. It is not inherently bad to celebrate holidays that aren't expressly commanded in the Torah.203 Most people in the HRM have no problem with celebrating civil holidays like Thanksgiving.204 Some even celebrate St. Patrick's Day.205 Hanukkah adds a lot of spiritual significance to our faith,206 and Yeshua taught on related themes all throughout the feast.207 Celebrating these holidays has nothing to do with replacing God's Appointed Times with Christmas and Easter. You might ask, “What are we replacing with Christmas, since Hanukkah isn't required?” Great question. There is a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.208 (Incidentally, this would place his conception around the time of Hanukkah.) When Christians celebrate Christmas but neglect the Feast of Tabernacles, they are effectively replacing a commandment of God with a human tradition. The same goes for Easter and Passover. That's what Yeshua was so angry about in Mark 7, and here we have Christians committing the same error.

“There is nothing wrong with a Christian taking part in a Passover Seder or celebrating Hanukkah, as long as he realizes that such practices are not required for salvation or sanctification and do not grant any special favor with God.” Tell that to Yeshua.209

Final Considerations

If the HRM needs the same rebukes that Paul gave to the converts in Galatia, then Mr. Chaffey and whoever else signed off on this travesty of an article need the warning given by Peter: “There are some things in [Paul's letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”210

No one I have encountered in the HRM teaches works-based salvation. Actually, I take that back. I knew of one man who did, but he walked away from faith in Christ entirely.211 What the rest of us believe (speaking from my own perspective and for those I know who follow the Torah) is that God's instructions give us life and teach us how to be holy as he is holy. Our faith in the atoning work of Christ is what saves us, but the proof of our salvation comes through our changed hearts leading to obedience. We don't have the right to pick and choose how we want to obey. Rather, we do the best we can and trust that God is gracious to forgive us when we fail. It is one thing to be a child who misses the mark but tries again. It's another thing entirely to be a child who rejects his father's rules entirely and flaunts his rebellion.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that Tim Chaffey and anyone else involved with this from Answers in Genesis repent of this article and retract it. It is the Antichrist, not Yeshua, who is called the Man of Lawlessness.212 I fear this piece was inspired by that spirit rather than the spirit of Christ.213 AiG embraces the foundations of the Gospel, but they misunderstand so much regarding what it means to be holy to Yehovah.

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘Yehovah will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”214

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a matter worthy of Yehovah, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”215

Grace and shalom to you in God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Mesiah.

1 YouTube: “Answers In Genesis Response - Part 1” by Zachary Bauer
2 Romans 1:1
3 Romans 6:1-23
4 Hebrews 12:2
5 1 John 2:6
6 Matthew 28:19-20
7 Luke 24:30. According to Jewish historian Alfred Edersheim, the Christ most likely spoke this familiar prayer of thanksgiving before breaking bread: “Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, King of the world, Who causes to come forth bread from the earth.” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1.64).
8 Deuteronomy 8:10
9 The Temple Institute: The Festival of the Water Libation
10 John 7:37-39
11 All Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
12 Protestant Reformed Churches in America: Dispensationalism (1)
13 Jews for Jesus: Kabbalah's Best Kept Secret?
14 Judaism 101: Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism
15 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: "The New Age of Kabbalah and Postmodern Spirituality" by Boaz Huss
16 There is some overlap between Hebrew Roots and the Sacred Name Movement. Most in the HRM use the traditional name of Yahweh or use Yehovah, which has become increasingly popular due to the scholarship of Karaite Hebraist Nehemia Gordon (nehemiaswall.com). I am personally convinced by his work, but I do not take a dogmatic stance on it like some are wont to do. The name “Yahuah” comes from the Sacred Names Movement and is based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew language. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to hear that name as it's made its way into a variety of recent Bible translations which were published to capitalize on the Sacred Name Movement.
17 “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church” (Against Heresies 3.1.1). There is potential linguistic evidence that the other Gospels were written in Hebrew, as well as Acts, and Romans might have been a translation from Aramaic. None of this is really that important, though, because we trust that God preserved the essential truths of his word to be understood in any language, so long as we do our due diligence to study for ourselves and not assume the translators got everything perfect (as due the KJV-only crowd).
18 Biblical Research & Education Resources: "Revelation: A Hebrew Book" by Blaine Robison, M.A., M.R.E.
19 The Two Babylons by Rev. Alexander Hislop
20 Leviticus 23:1-44
21 Even the great preacher Charles Spurgeon spoke out with vitriol against Christmas, saying in a sermon, “When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, ‘Is this a law of the God of Jacob?’ and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.” (Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4).
22 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: History of Trinitarian Doctrines. For a detailed examination of the development of the Trinity doctrine, read The God of Jesus in Light of Christian Dogma by Kegan Chandler.
23 James 8:24
24 John 8:12
25 John 8:28
26 Acts 5:38-39
27 Answers in Genesis: “Where Do We Draw the Line?”
28 Answers in Genesis: Statement of Faith
29 Matthew 5:18
30 Revelation 21:1
31 Matthew 5:19
32 En-Gedi Resource Center: “What Does It Mean to ‘Fulfill the Law’?” by Lois Tverberg
33 Matthew 3:15
34 Romans 15:13
35 Colossians 1:25
36 John 21:25
37 StackExchange: "Did Paul write other letters that are not in the Bible?"
38 Hebrews 4:15
39 Galatians 4:4
40 Acts 3:22-23
41 Deuteronomy 18:20
42 Mark 7:8
43 1 Corinthians 5:8
44 Luke 6:31 NIV
45 Colossians 2:13-14
46 Ephesians 4:32
47 John 13:34
48 Mark 12:31
49 While Chaffey is content to claim that “everything” doesn't mean “everything” here, when Noah is given “all” things that crawl on the ground as food, you'd better believe that “all” means “all.”
50 Deuteronomy 29:29
51 Deuteronomy 8:18
52 Exodus 12:49
53 Exodus 12:38
54 Nehemiah 10:1-17
55 Ephesians 6:1-3
56 Exodus 20:12
57 New2Torah: “Jews and Joes ~ Two Houses”
58 Jeremiah 3:8
59 Matthew 15:24
60 Ezekiel 37:17
61 John 10:16; cf. Ruth 1:16-17
62 Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 30:19
63 James 1:25
64 Matthew 7:1-5
65 Romans 14:4
66 Luke 6:31
67 John 2:6
68 The Nazarene Way: James the Brother of Jesus
69 E.g., Acts 22:3
70 Bible Commentator: “Christianity: A Jewish Perspective” by Rabbi Moshe Reiss
71 My Jewish Learning: “The Noahide Laws” by Jeffrey Spitzer
72 Acts 15:19-20
73 Chabad.org: “Why Is Conversion to Judaism So Hard?” by Tzvi Freeman
74 PBS: “Jews in Roman Times”
75 Acts 15:21
76 Corner Fringe Ministries: “Galatians Unearthed Part 1: Peter's Endorsement and Warning; Five W Questions; II Galatians”; MasterToolkit: “Four Cities of Galatia”
77 Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1
78 Deuteronomy 5:33
79 Deuteronomy 28:1-14
80 2 Thessalonians 1:3. As our faith grows, our obedience grows, since true faith is demonstrated in obedience (James 2:21-24). Also, as our love for each other grows, our obedience must grow, since all the Torah defines how we are to love God and each other (Romans 13:8-10).
81 Yet we know that Paul did instruct the Corinthians to keep Passover and Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:8).
82 Cf. Leviticus 11:44-45 and Leviticus 19:2
83 Genesis 29:1-30
84 2 Peter 3:15-17
85 Acts 11:25-26
86 Xenos Christian Fellowship: “A Chronological Study of Paul's Ministry” by Dennis McCallum
87 Galatians 1:8-9
88 1 Corinthians 11:1
89 The True Gospel: “What Did Jesus Preach?”
90 YashaNet: “Book of Romans Study: Background - Part 2”
91 Jeremiah 31:31-34
92 1 Corinthians 1:12
93 1 Corinthians 15:34; 1 John 3:4,9
94 James 5:19-20; Jude 1:22
95 1 Peter 2:1-6; 3:4-10
96 Galatians 5:16
97 Romans 7:14
98 Romans 8:5
99 Matthew 11:30
100 Matthew 5:17-20, 23:1-36
101 Deuteronomy 30:11-14
102 Lest you think that this is meant as a negative, this statement from Leviticus 18:5 is spoken as a blessing. Those who walk in obedience to God's commandments will live because of them. The converse is also true; when we don't walk according to the Torah, its commandments become judgments against us. But the act of living by them is life to us, not death.
103 In these two parenthetical phrases, I have slightly reworded the phrase from how it is rendered in the ESV. This is not an arbitrary move but is based on my own personal study of this passage. What is Paul intending to say? It is obviously not easy to render in English, since the typical way the phrases are rendered themselves make no sense. “That is, to bring Christ down” and “That is, to bring Christ up from the grave” don't make any sense on their own, and they make even less sense in the surrounding text. When the word order is adjusted like I have done, Paul's point suddenly jumps off the page.
104 Romans 10:5-10
105 Exodus 20:18-21; cf. Deuteronomy 18:16-17
106 John 8:42
107 Acts 3:22-23
108 Acts 2:22-36
109 Colossians 2:11
110 Romans 2:29
111 1 John 3:4
112 Romans 2:12 This is entering another area of dogmatic invariance in AiG's doctrinal positions, although I don't think they've caused quite the same stir over it as they have with this antinomian manifesto. Answers in Genesis holds to the traditional, Catholic perspective of eternal torture in the lake of fire. I would like to hear how they explain “perish[ing] without the law” in contrast to being “judged by the law.”
113 Romans 2:13
114 Romans 3:1-2
115 Romans 2:25
116 Deuteronomy 30:6
117 Deuteronomy 28:1-14
118 Deuteronomy 28:15-68
119 Deuteronomy 30:19-20
120 This might be as good a time as any to nitpick about the “Seven Cs of History.” It has always struck me as odd that Christ and Cross are mentioned, and yet there is nothing from Genesis 12 through the end of the Old Testament. And as we have seen in this article, the teachings of Christ take a backseat to those of Paul. It would be much more balanced for Answers in Genesis to modify their mnemonic to read, “Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Covenants, Cross, Consummation,” or something like that. As it is, it seems like they've ignored a good two-thirds of the Bible by skipping from Babel to babe in a manger. But I digress.
121 Romans 7:14
122 Cf. Matthew 23:5
123 Cf. Genesis 12:4 and 17:1,9-10
124 Acts 21:21
125 Romans 4:3. Paul states that there were no works involved whatsoever, but this covenant was made over ten years after Abraham had initially stepped out in faith (Genesis 16:3). So, it cannot be said that there were no works of obedience, but simply that, as James said, Abraham's faith was displayed by his works (James 2:21).
126 Romans 4:12
127 Romans 4:11
128 Galatians 3:2,5
129 James 2:17,22
130 Please understand this as sarcasm. I do not mean to insult Mr. Chaffey, although his article has been less than courteous at times.
131 Including Zachary Bauer, whom he cites. Incidentally, my first exposure to Torah was because of Answers in Genesis and Zachary Bauer. I've been a committed Young-Earth Creationist since high school. I came across several videos from New2Torah (http://www.new2torah.com/) about creationism, so I subscribed to his YouTube channel. Years later, a Messianic friend pointed me to one of his videos concerning the “freedom” to eat unclean meats. Zachary's video provoked me to rigorous study and ultimately convinced me I'd been wrong on that issue. The rest, as they say, is history.
132 Colossians 2:8-15
133 GotQuestions: “What is Marcionism?”
134 Colossians 2:11
135 Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4
136 Colossians 2:13
137 Colossians 2:14
138 I have an ongoing series on my blog where I write about each holy day in detail to explain them to my family, all of whom are still in the Christian Church. At the point of penning this response, I've written four of the eight letters. They are available here (after Thine own heart: “Letters to Home”). [Note: I will be importing all of my posts from Tumblr to Blogger as time allows. I will try to remember to update the links when that is done.]
139 Deuteronomy 14:22-26
140 1 Samuel 1:13
141 Acts 2:13, 15
142 Psalm 111:10
143 Psalm 19:7-11
144 Judges 17:6, 21:25
145 Bible.org: “An Introduction To The Book Of Romans” by David Malick
146 Romans 3:1-2
147 Romans 13:8-10
148 Luke 18:12
149 Romans 14:5 in context
150 Faith & Fotografia: “Romans 14 talks about fasting, not the Sabbath”
151 Exodus 12:8
152 Mark 7:8
153 Romans 14:22. This verse implies that we can pass judgment on ourselves based on what we approve. Take note, Mr. Chaffey.
154 1 Timothy 4:6. Timothy was a committed Jew before ever hearing the Gospel and following Christ. As such, the doctrine to which Paul referred is almost certainly the Torah.
155 Malachi 3:6
156 Romans 1:32; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13. I am not suggesting that Torah-observant followers of Christ should cut off fellowship with Christians who believe differently. There is far too much confusion regarding these contentious matters, so our emphasis should be humility, grace, and instruction. However, wanton and rebellious sin is never to be tolerated. Every believer must use discretion in this matter. On the one hand, we cannot tarnish our own reputation or put ourselves in an environment that will tempt us (which I have regrettably done on occasion), but we also desire to see our loved ones understand the truth. There is a difference between a lack of understanding and open rebellion.
157 Genesis 9:3
158 Answers in Genesis: “Caring for the Animals on the Ark”
159 Creation Wiki: “Baraminology”
160 Answers in Genesis: “Get Answers to Animals on the Ark”
161 after Thine own heart: “Taking Back the Rainbow”
162 Leviticus 18:22, 20:13
163 Deuteronomy 14:3-21; Isaiah 66:15-17
164 Proverbs 28:9
165 For a comparative look at how all the most well-known English translations render this verse, go here (BibleHub: Mark 7:19).
166 BibleHub: Mark 7:19 English/Greek
167 StackExchange: “Mark 7:19 - Does Jesus Really Declare ‘All Foods Clean’?”
168 Mark 7:1-2
169 Mark 7:3-4
170 Mark 7:6-8
171 “Chapter 2: Washing the Hands.” The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus: New Light on the Seat of Moses from Shem-Tov's Hebrew Matthew, by Nehemia Gordon, Hilkiah Press, 2006, pp. 35–36. Also see Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 60b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 4:1 [vol. 1 p. 15]; Siddur Rinat Yisrael (modern Rabbinic prayer book) p. 108. The rules of washing the hands are detailed in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch §40 [Basel ed. Pp. 223-231; Goldin Translation pp. 125-130].
172 Eruvin 21b and Shabbat 14b – 15a. I normally try to stay away from Wikipedia as a source, but their article on Handwashing in Judaism thoroughly explains the evolution from a sensible consideration for the priests into a requirement for all Israelites with every meal, besides other occasions (Wikipedia: “Handwashing in Judaism”).
173 Leviticus 11:44-45
174 Genesis 3:1
175 Leviticus 18:23
176 Answers in Genesis: “Who Was Cain's Wife?”
177 Exodus 6:20. Leviticus 18:12-13 forbids marrying one's father's or mother's sister.
178 Chabad.org: “How Did the Torah Exist Before It Happened?”
179 Genesis 1:26
180 Genesis 3:19
181 The Divine Council: “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God” by Michael S. Heiser
182 Genesis 6:1-2. It is intriguing to consider that the apostle Paul might have had this story in mind when he gave his instruction concerning head coverings (Sentinel Apologetics: “Michael Heiser - A ‘Testicle’ instead of a ‘Head Covering’ (1 Corinthians 11:13-15)”).
183 Deuteronomy 14:1-2
184 Deuteronomy 14:3-21
185 Psalm 22:27
186 Acts 17:29-31
187 Romans 7:14
188 John 4:24
189 John 20:24-29. Precisely how our resurrected bodies will work is uncertain, since the text stresses that Yeshua appeared in the room through a locked door. This could be supernatural, or there could be a natural explanation that isn't evident from what we have written. Either way, by having Thomas touch his wounds and later by eating with his disciples (John 21:15), Yeshua proved that his body was still physical; he was not a disembodied spirit.
190 1 Corinthians 15:44
191 Genesis 3:5-6
192 Ephesians 2:8-10
193 1 Peter 1:14-19
194 Answers in Genesis: "Halloween History and the Bible"
195 Christadelphian Info: “The Two Babylons - Hislop's hypothesis debunked”
196 I would also include the Sacred Name Movement, the Flat-Earth Movement, and other ridiculous associations the HRM has made for themselves. I know of other very solid HRM teachers who have rejected that label recently because of the negative image it carries these days.
197 New Advent: “Easter Controversy”; The Vineyard יהוה: “Quartodeciman Controversy: Rome Enforces Easter/ Outlaws Passover”
198 1 John 3:4; 2 Peter 3:16
199 Acts 15:21
200 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
201 There are Messianic guides available for anyone who wants to do this (Hebrew4Christians: “Worthy is the Lamb: A Messianic Passover Haggadah”).
202 Foundations Church: Christ in the Passover Seder. I don't know anyone affiliated with this church. It's just the first one I found in Google. But they are a great example, since they're holding a Passover Seder hosted by none other than Jews for Jesus and have Good Friday and Easter messages on their events page.
203 davidwilbur.me: “Is It Wrong to Celebrate Hanukkah?”
204 The Vineyard יהוה: “Thanksgiving and the Feast of Sukkot”
205 The Vineyard יהוה: “Ireland's Patrick: Saint YES! Catholic No!”
206 The Vineyard יהוה: “Why Disciples of Yeshua (Christians) Should Celebrate Hanukkah!”
207 The division between the events at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1-52) and Hanukkah (John 10:22-23) is uncertain. There are thematic elements in much of what Yeshua said from chapter 8 and onward that relate to Hanukkah, but there is no clear line to determine when the events of the Feast of Tabernacles ended and those of Hanukkah began. The Gospel of John primarily relates what went on each time Yeshua returned to Jerusalem for one of the Appointed Times, so it seems there is a seamless jump cut from the fall to the winter in the narrative. The actual events of the Feast of Tabernacles end on 7:52, but whether the events in chapters 8 and 9 happened before Yeshua let the area or after he returned in December are unclear.
208 Hebrew4Christians: “Christmas – Was Jesus born on December 25?”
209 Matthew 7:21-23
210 2 Peter 3:16-17
211 Beit Tefillah Productions: “The New Testament Unveiled”
212 2 Thessalonians 2:3
213 1 Corinthians 15:45
214 Hebrews 10:26-31
215 Colossians 1:9-12


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