Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Hebrew Root?
The Hebrew Root is simply a way of describing the idea that the church is in-grafted as wild branches into the "olive tree" of God's elect. The apostle Paul was crystal clear that this is the case. (Romans 11:17-21, in particular is the key text here although all of Romans 9; 10; 11 should be read to get a biblical understanding of this). The church is not an independent or free-wheeling "religion" – it is "rooted". When the roots of a plant suffer then the whole plant suffers. If we have dry roots our "Christianity" will also be dry. In the same way we need to absorb spiritual nutrients through the root. The plant is not the root, nor is the root the plant. The two are inseparable.
The church has artificially separated root from plant and suffered accordingly. Whilst there are numerous reasons for the churches' patchy record down through history, PYF believes (and we are far from alone on this) that artificial separation of root from branch has made the church "proud" and too willing to ignore the Jewishness of its Saviour. The Bible reminds us that pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
Why is it important?
The Hebrew Root is the root in which the God's church is to grow. (Romans 11:18)
By acknowledging the Hebrew Root we express joyfull and confidently the uniqueness of Jesus, our Lord, who was born, lived, died and was raised again as a Jew living in a Jewish context. We love Him as Saviour, we love Him as Shepherd and we want to recognize His voice ever more clearly. Part of that is to understand Jesus the Jewish teacher; Jesus the Jewish observer of the Law; Jesus the fulfillment of prophesy; Jesus within His Jewish community and hinterland. We should not knowingly neglect any aspect of Jesus our Lord – and His Jewishness is surely an aspect for which we need to make room in our appreciation of His beauty and His holiness.
Is this a 'front' for Christian Zionism? Is this 'political'?
No. There are a range of views about what is loosely called Zionism (and incidentally what sort of Zionism does this question address? Is it Jewish Zionism? Or Jewish anti-Zionism? Is it Christian Zionism or Christian anti-Zionism? Is it Covenantal Zionism or Classical Zionism?). If we were to choose a 'label' for our understanding here at PYF it would be Classical Zionism as adopted by the likes of Charles and John Wesley, the Puritan John Owen, Charles Simeon of Cambridge, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, the Baptist Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Scots Andrew Bonar and Murray McCheyne. Also William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, and some politicians such as David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and Harold Wilson. These are just some notable UK people who have subscribed to what is now called a 'classical' understanding of God's ongoing purposes for Israel.This is not political at all. The manager of this website subscribes broadly to the ideas set out by Rev Alex Jacob in his helpful short book "Receive The Truth!" (published 2011) in which the author sets out 20 FAQs and 10 short bible expositions relating to key issues in contemporary Christian-Jewish relations and Christian Spirituality. This book is available from CMJ (the Church's Ministry among Jewish People). It is also available via Glory to Glory Publications. David Pawson's "Defending Christian Zionism" is also a helpful short book exploring Classical Zionism.
What is God's signature?
God has chosen to reveal Himself first through a chosen people (the Hebrews) and the Laws which He gave to them. And then through God's Son, Jesus/Yeshua, who came to fulfil God's Law and become the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of all Mankind. UK writer Steve Maltz has used the term “God's Signature” to describe the wonders of the Hebrew Scriptures, which teach us so much about the nature of God, as we delve into His word, as well as the wonderful promise of a Saviour or Messiah who would come at a distinct point in the history of the world. Steve Maltz wrote a short book called “God's Signature” which looks into how and why the Old Testament came to be written, at some of the things we often miss because we do not appreciate those same Scriptures in their Jewish context, and at a range of other questions. Google Steve Maltz and God's Signature if you want to know more.
Is the Hebrew Root divisive?
No – the very opposite. It unites believing Jew to Believing Gentile. And in a church riven with theological and praxis differences, the Hebrew Root will become increasingly important in the 21st Century in enabling Believing-Christians (and Believing Jews) to see and to strengthen those things that unite them rather than those things that divide them.
Is the Hebrew Root secondary?
It is arguable that the church has misunderstood its root from the time that the church ceased to be predominantly Jewish – in other words from the Second Century onwards. Once the church in effect became 'nationalised' (this is a gross over-simplification, but people will have a sense of what this means!) by the Roman Emperor Constantine, the church began to identify ever more closely with the State and this has been an issue for the church ever since. As the church relies more upon the State, arguably it relies less upon the Lord! Again this must be an over-simplification but the history of the church and its close dealings with the State - with temporal 'powers' - has led to many compromises. How can we forget that the present "Church of England" was born out of a divorce controversy!
Few Christians would argue that the church is in a healthy state. The emptying pews in the older established churches suggest it is unhealthy – possibly terminally unhealthy. (This is not true of the non-denominational churches nor of the church in the developing world). The Bible suggests, in any case, that the church will seriously rebel against the Holy Spirit towards the end times – and we have no real idea as to how close we may be to those end times.
Remedying the defects of the past is becoming a priority. The Bride must make herself ready for the Groom (Revelation 19:7–8). It is arguable that a rediscovery of the Hebrew Root will be an important part of the church's preparation for His return in Glory. That is certainly the broad view of PYF 'friends'.
So no, rediscovering our Hebrew Root and exploring it as a wonderful fresh vista showing us God's utter faithfulness is surely not secondary - indeed the reverse must be true. Reevaluating our Hebraic inheritance may be a real key to facing the undoubted challenges ahead – not least of which will be heightened persecution.
How does the Hebrew Root help us to draw closer to Jesus?
Simply by better recognizing and understanding our Saviour – the Jewish man, the itinerant Jewish teacher (rabbi), the true Yeshua who lived in our world as the perfect man and as the Second Adam. As God decided to place Yeshua into a recognized and indeed "chosen" people-group, within their 'promised land', it is surely less than honouring to God for us to ignore the context into which our Lord was placed. It is the expectation of most Christians that at His triumphal return He will return to Jerusalem – to the place from which He left His disciples (see Acts chapter 1 and especially verse 11). These things surely speak of the importance of the Hebraic connection?
Which is the best/most reliable translation of the Bible?
In our basis of faith we affirm a high view of Scripture. Some translations are paraphrases and others use a theological translation technique called dynamic equivalence. Whilst not ruling out the usefulness or efficacy of many translations, we prefer the use of the New King James Version (NKJV) in the English language. The New International Version (NIV) is good. We merely caution our friends that not all Bible translations are equally good, and some adopt a rather partisan approach. It is important, then, to select a good, trusted version – and preferably not a paraphrase, which can actually be rather misleading.
Ten things we should understand about our Hebrew roots as Christians
- Yeshua (Jesus) lived, died and was raised again as a Torah-observant Jew. Ironic as it may seem, we really cannot call our Lord a "Christian".
- The earliest Believers in Yeshua were not called Christians, they were called "The People of The Way". Is there a case for making the mental adjustment to consider ourselves, also, The People of The Way? (Jesus described Himself as the Way, The Truth and The Life in John 14:6)
- Of the 66 books that make up the Bible, certainly 64 were written by Jewish men. Is this a mere coincidence? The two that may have been an exception are the Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles. But even here there is a suggestion that Luke MAY have been a gentile convert to Judaism before discovering Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah.
- The Old Testament and the New Testament are intimately linked. There are over 900 prophesies in the Old Testament that point towards Yeshua (Jesus). To help understand our Lord's teachings we do well to understand more of His cultural hinterland and His cultural mindset.
- The New Covenant grows out of the Old Covenant. It is difficult to argue (as some attempt to) that the Old Covenant is extinguished by the New.
- When our Lord returns physically in Glory to this World, it is clear that He will return to Jerusalem.
- It is powerfully argued that God's purposes for the Hebrew people continue to this day and that in God's good time, the majority of Jewish people will also joyfully recognize and receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their Saviour.
- There are powerful allusions to Yeshua (Jesus) throughout the Old Testament. This is often called "typography" of Christ – one powerful such "type" is the sense in which The Tabernacle in its physical "furnishings" speaks powerfully of the life and ministry of Yeshua (Jesus).
- However uncomfortable or controversial it may be there are many who understand the return of the Jewish people to the lands we now call Israel as being a fulfillment of prophesy both in the New Testament and the Old Testament. Is the church ready to welcome Jewish Believers in Yeshua?
- The debt owed by Christians as chosen people (chosen individual people - Ephesians 1:4) to The Chosen People, the Hebrews, is enormous, as set out in Romans 11.
The ten thoughts above are aimed to help stir-up an interest in your Hebrew root, if you are a Christian. We are "wild olive branches" grafted into the Hebrew root stock (Romans 11:17). This is a vital allusion made by the apostle Paul; we need to understand it and to live it. We do not do so by becoming Jews! Such an idea is absurd and already dismissed by Paul (see Galatians 5:1-15).
Ten ways in which our discipleship will be blessed as we acquire a more Hebraic understanding
- We see the beauty of Yeshua (Jesus) magnified. He was a real man living in a real community, among God's chosen people.
- Jesus the real Man becomes the Saviour we understand more closely. We grow to love Him more intimately and want to serve Him more truly.
- Our understanding of Scripture is enhanced and our trust of the Word is increased. This has to be a good thing as the world becomes increasingly hostile to "Christianity" and as persecution increases.
- Our desire for the Holy Spirit will be increased and we will want to be more open to Him
- We acquire insights that help us to resolve decisively some of the protracted questions that have impacted the church down through history, such as free will versus election
- We are better able to deal with the recurrent heresies that emerge and then re-emerge like a virus down through church history
- We can find ourselves freed from denominational theologies that can be destructive and divisive. We begin to acquire the mind of Christ rather than the minds of "theologians"
- Our love for our neighbour will become more reflective of our love for the Lord – the two loves will tend to work "hand in glove". We will grow to love our Lord more so our love for our neighbour increases.
- We begin to see our walk with the Lord as being not so much a lifestyle adopted, but a reality that we joyfully see infect every aspect of our lives – our discipleship is enhanced
- Our gift of discernment will be strengthened.
There are no doubt other ways in which our discipleship will be blessed. But the above seem to be the most visible benefits of acknowledging our Hebrew lineage.
Beware of Greeks bearing ……… Ideas!
There is a growing consensus that early Christianity leaned heavily upon Greek Philosophy as a mechanism through which to share the gospel. Whilst no doubt God graciously allowed Christianity to flourish in the ancient Graeco/Roman world, the wholesale adoption of the Ideas of Plato and Aristotle seems to have led directly to the "spiritualizing" of parts of the Bible and to a slow dilution of key Biblical themes.
It is helpful for Christians to see how these ideas seeped into the church and to seek to think Hebraically rather than think within a Greek mindset. The Greek mindset is the mindset of the world. We are called to be distinctive within the world. Thinking more as Yeshua (Jesus) thought will help us to approach life's problems and questions more in the manner that our Lord Himself would do so.
Why is the Christian Church too often such a poor witness to the Gospel?
There is an enemy out there (the Bible calls him the devil) who seeks to spoil and to destroy. He particularly likes to keep the church on its back-foot, focusing on side-issues rather than preaching the gospel of Yeshua (Jesus). One weapon in his arsenal is Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy is sharp contrast to the certainties of Hebraic thought patterns. Hebraic thought patterns often allow us to see innumerable Godly possibilities where Greek thought patterns restrict us only to 'logical' thought processes. This is not to suggest that there is anything 'illogical' in Hebraic thought, or in the Gospel, but where we use the "tools" of Greek philosophy to settle what Scripture means, we often end-up by undermining Scriptural truths.
It is noteworthy that in the eighteenth century, during what historians call "The Enlightenment", Greek philosophy was reinvigorated in Western thought and Greek philosophy once again became popular and dominant among the intelligentsia and ruling elites. The church once again became subject to these philosophical "norms" and during this period there began two centuries of attack upon the truthfulness and dependability of Scripture. It is arguable those attacks continue unabated in our own day.
The Greek mindset is not the sole culprit in the Churches' weakened witness BUT it is one area of Church weakness that can be addressed by consciously seeking-out a better and fuller understanding of the Hebraic dynamic underlying the Christian faith.
Just how reliable is the Christian Bible in its various 'translations'?
This website is not the place to settle so profound a question as to the reliability of otherwise of the various translations of the Scriptures. Searchers will find a wealth of guidance elsewhere.
The point we would like Friends to note is that to honour Scripture in the way that our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) honoured Scripture will bring those Scriptures alive to us in a much more profound way that we may have experienced in the past.
It has been argued that the philosophy called "Replacement Theology" (the idea that the Church has replaced the Jewish people in God's affections) probably owes much to Greek thinking and Greek philosophizing. A helpful corrective to this is the adoption of a more consciously Hebraic approach and understanding.
One New Man
This is the reality that Believing-Jew and Believing-Gentile are brought together as one before our Lord, through repentance (turning away from known sin) and placing our faith in Yeshua (Jesus). So we can declare along with Paul "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
This is what it means to be One New Man. This is the effect of the New Covenant that grows out of the Old Covenant; the blessings of God's promises are extended to all Mankind (all people) and are no longer experienced by observing the Law; they are experienced only by faith in Yeshua (Jesus).
Jewish people still need to receive their Messiah. Jewish people do not need to become culturally "Christians" (whatever that may mean – and the definitions of Christianity are numerous and confusing!) but they, as all people everywhere, do need to become Believers, to repent, be baptized and be discipled by Yeshua (Jesus). Yeshua is the Saviour of Jews as much as He is of Gentiles. The consequences of rejection of Yeshua is the same for Jew as it is for Gentile.
I'm interested! What should I do next?
If you are not yet a Disciple of Jesus and what to know want it truly means to be His follower, then please go to this website which should help you.
If you are an established Christian / Believer but sense that there is something missing in your walk with the Lord and that exploring the Hebrew dynamic could be a key to growing deeper into Jesus, then please go to this website which will introduce to you workshops, seminars and interested churches and individuals. [see Kesher Web]
If you really want to absorb more and pray through the issues raised by PYF, then we do highly recommend Steve Maltz's trilogy, all published by Saffron Planet:
- How the Church Lost the Way – and how it can find it again
- How the Church Lost the Truth – and how it can find it again
- To Life! – Rediscovering Biblical Church
There are probably the best detailed popular introductions to the issues we have started to explore in this PYF website. If you want to buy them then please go to this link. Alternatively these books are available via the book-chain CLC in UK.
We think the works of David Pawson at a more generic level are also very helpful. Go to the http://davidpawson.org/books/ for details of these.