How should faith and reason work together?
What is the real Hebraic Roots movement?
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This has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to write. I am suggesting that ideally we need to install a new operating system and then reboot our brains. Knowing that this is impossible, I am then going to further suggest that a more reasonable approach is an incremental one, a gradual process to encourage us to think more as God would want us to and less as the world has trained us to.
The problem is that the Western mind, certainly for the last few hundred years or so, has been taught to think in a certain way, a Greek way. This hasn’t always done us much harm as it has enabled all of the scientific advances that make life so comfortable and safe for us. But of course there has also been a flip side, a darker side of technological advances in warfare, population control and such infringements. Greek thinking, the deductive and empirical reasoning that flowed particularly from the writings of Aristotle, has provided us with a form of human progress, though it has come at a cost. It has provided us with safety and comfort and convenient living, but it has taken us away from our relationship with God, who surely provides a better way.
Here’s the problem. This Greek mindset, encouraging us to rely on brainpower to think everything through, is totally unsuitable for discerning the ways of God. And since the goal of every Christian is to discern God’s ways for his/her life, we have ended up with an imbalance.
God’s revelation to us, His Holy Scripture, was written on His behalf by people who operated in the Hebraic mindset, a way of thinking that put God at the centre. And, just as you wouldn’t use a Spanish dictionary to translate from Italian into English, the Greek mindset isn’t the best tool to use to feed one’s soul with God’s instructions. So here we are, a folk who have learned to think in a certain logical, deductive, Greek way since our schooldays, encountering a Book that will only fully reveal its secrets to those who are trained to read it.
What I am not saying is that we can’t read the Bible and get great joy, assurance and instruction from doing so. But what I am saying is that we probably miss out on much and certainly get some things wrong if we are not using the right tools.
I’ve said this before, but I will repeat it, the people who first possessed the Hebraic mindset, the Jews from Bible times, were trained from early childhood to think this way. Scripture was fed into their minds and spirits as soon as they were on solid food, in much the same way as we do with “reality” TV and celebrity gossip. By teenage years, The Torah was memorised in much the same way as song lyrics and celebrity biographic details are by today’s youth. The ways of God came naturally (even if they weren’t always followed) just as our current insatiable appetite for the ways of whatever men or women are being currently blogged or tweeted about come naturally.
Do you really think God considers it the ideal situation for us to engage with Him with just the small part of our mind uncluttered with nonsense and trivia? Yes, this sounds very old-fogey-ish, but one of the first things we must train our minds to do, if we want to start thinking Hebraically, is to say to ourselves, what would God think about this? We have to switch perspectives and learn to think, speak and act accordingly. And, boy, this ain’t easy!
Before we go any further this is a good place to address the one thought that may be troubling you over this Hebraic thing.
Isn’t this a Jewish thing? I’ve heard of the Hebrew Roots movement – doesn’t this mean that we are obliged to keep the Sabbath and the Jewish festivals, eat kosher, wear a kippah, speak Yiddish and learn some acceptable Jewish jokes?
This is the common perception … and it is wrong … mostly.
The Hebrew Roots movement started as a sincere and welcome desire to explore the Jewish roots of Christianity and see where that leads. It has led to many ways – some good, some bad and some dangerous. In many cases it has led to division and spiritual arrogance; in other cases it has been a real enrichment and a rekindling of a desire to go deeper into the things of God. It is not my intention here to analyse this further except to say that this is not what I mean by the Hebraic mindset.
The Hebraic mindset is a way of thinking and exploring the consequences. It is not purely a way of acting, particularly if these actions just lead to confusion, resentment and a blurring around the edges between Jew and Gentile. The Hebraic mindset has been demonstrated in history by Christians who couldn’t tell the difference between a menorah and a fedora and there are many within the current Hebrew Roots movement who are more Greek in their thinking than the current Pope!
Being Hebraic is not necessarily celebrating the Sabbath and the Jewish festivals, or wearing a kippah or a tallit, or speaking Yiddish/Hebrew, or supporting Israel, or going to a Messianic Fellowship. These can all be the result of a Hebraic mindset (correctly applied), but not necessarily. These are all external actions and, unless they are prompted by a sincere Hebraic heart, then they are just observances. Similarly, being Hebraic does not mean that you have to celebrate the Sabbath and/or Jewish holidays or wear a kippah or tallit or have to speak Yiddish or Hebrew or have to support Israel or have to go to a Messianic Fellowship …