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Responding to Criticism On My Use of “Pronomian Christianity”

It is no secret that I have been employing the phrase Pronomian Christianity a lot these past 12 or so months. Just check out my website if you want to see how much I do. However, there have been some people criticizing me lately on my usage of the term by expressing their concern that I’m taking a “theological position” and making it our new movement. Let me first say that I am sensitive to their concerns and would never dismiss them without giving careful consideration, but I do believe that what I am doing is not an issue, especially not one as significant as my critics are saying it is. For that reason, I will take time now to answer specific criticisms I’ve received in hopes of explaining my motives and reasoning.

Criticism #1 – I am Hijacking the Term “Pronomian” by Attaching It to a Set of Beliefs

I have recently been accused of hijacking the term Pronomian by a fellow brother in the Lord because he is convinced that I am attaching non-pronomian issues to the term itself. His comment came in response to my posting of this on my ministry Facebook page:

“Pronomian Christianity is a camp of Christianity which affirms the ongoing validity and applicability of the Torah (ie. The Law of Moses) for Christian life in addition to the authority of the entire Old and New Testaments. What this means is that Pronomian Christians are Christians who affirm orthodox Christian doctrines like trinitarianism, the 66-book Christian canon, salvation by Christ alone apart from works, and many more, as well affirming the validity of the commandments contained within the Torah that many Catholics and Protestants deny.”

The concern that he has raised is that I am hijacking or redefining the term Pronomian by attaching the ten doctrinal articles of the Rock Hill Statement, perhaps because he believes some of the articles are not directly tied to the Torah, though I would disagree on the grounds that I believe that all ten doctrines of the Rock Hill Statement necessitate a foundation laid by the Torah. In any case, I believe that his concern is actually the product of an honest mistake which can be demonstrated by his following concern:

“Saying ‘this is what pronomian Christians believe’ is like saying, ‘this is what Sabbath-Observers believe’ and then throwing all of Seventh Day Adventist doctrine in with it.'”

When I use the phrase Pronomian Christian, I am utilizing the independent definitions of both Pronomian and Christian as to form a joint identity. With the term Pronomian comes its definition of ‘law-positive’ or ‘pro-law’; with the term Christian comes its definition of ‘follower of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings’. So Pronomian Christian carries the joint understanding of ‘a law-positive follower of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings’. That is why I can say that Article III of the Rock Hill Statement is what Pronomian Christians believe—because law-positive followers of Jesus believe he is God incarnate and the promised Messiah of Israel who gave his life as a propitiation for our sins, which is taught by God’s Law, Jesus himself, and his disciples/apostles. 

My friend is wrong to equate this kind of attaching of doctrines to the term Pronomian Christian to the attaching of Seventh Day Adventist doctrines to the term Sabbath-Observers because there is nothing in the term Sabbath-Observer to indicate that Seventh Day Adventist doctrines are found in that term. With the term Sabbath-Observer comes its simple definition of ‘one who observes the Sabbath’, which is absolutely not limited to Seventh Day Adventism. Had I simply said that pronomians believe the ten articles of the Rock Hill Statement, I believe my friend would be right, but my use of the joint term Pronomian Christianity goes beyond the definition of pronomian as to marry it with traditional Christian doctrine. This is why I have been careful not to call myself just a pronomian, because pronomian does not carry with it the idea of Christianity; an Orthodox Jew, for example, is pronomian but he is not Christian. Therefore, I believe my friend’s criticism is unfounded, though appreciated, due to a misunderstanding of my attaching the Rock Hill Statement to Pronomian Christian rather than just pronomian.

Let me also say that I am open to the idea of changing names to something other than Pronomian Christianity, but every effort so far at offering a suitable alternative has been weak. I, therefore, remain convinced that this term is the best term to explain who and what we are as law-positive Christians.

Criticism #2 – I’m Trying to Reform the Hebrew Roots Movement

Another recent criticism I have received from a brother in the Lord, though appreciated, is also a misunderstanding of my intentions. Though not by name, I was accused of trying to rebrand the Hebrew Roots Movement. In a section of his podcast, my friend had this to say:

“A lot of the people who are trying to make the name pronomian and Pronomian Christian its own like movement, really what they’re trying to do is rebrand the Hebrew Roots Movement.”

First, I am not trying to make the name pronomian its own movement, as I explained in my response to criticism #1 above; I am, however, trying to make Pronomian Christian a title for those in the Pronomian Christianity movement and I will not deny that because I see a need for such an effort to be made and prove successful. Yet, I absolutely am not trying to rebrand the Hebrew Roots Movement, as I have not used that term to describe myself in almost ten years. Just try to search the phrase ‘Hebrew Roots Movement’ online and count how many times the results contradict each other in just one page one of the search because there exists no overarching, unifying set of beliefs that defines the Hebrew Roots Movement, which results in numerous heresies being taught within places calling themselves Hebrew Roots. And without a set of beliefs over the Hebrew Roots Movement to address, reforming would be near impossible. Therefore, I would rather cultivate a grassroots movement called Pronomian Christianity by beginning with an overarching, unifying set of beliefs under which we can grow and develop against heresies that would otherwise creep in.

A demonstration of my intention not to be a reformer within the Hebrew Roots Movement can be found in the preamble of the Rock Hill Statement (which I planned, drafted, and published with feedback from others). Section I of the Preamble says this:

Christians around the world are awakening to the validity and applicability of God’s commandments—including those in the first five books of the Bible. Over the past few decades, we have seen a surge in support for God’s righteous Law. This Rock Hill Statement is, therefore, an attempt by those who call themselves Pronomian Christians to codify an official set of beliefs and distinguish themselves from other groups often associated with them—namely, Messianic Judaism & the Hebrew Roots Movement.

Preamble, Section I, the Rock Hill Statement

So, no, I am not trying to rebrand the Hebrew Roots Movement or reform them from within; rather, I recognize that the Hebrew Roots Movement is often a place where heresy runs wild because of a lack of doctrinal confession and ecclesiastical structure in place over the movement and I want no part of that. Yes, I have discussions with those who call themselves Hebrew Roots and I regularly try to convince them that Pronomian Christianity is the right path for living a pro-Law Christian life, but I have not and will not do so as a member of the Hebrew Roots Movement myself. I am not and will never be a member of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

Criticism #3 – A Distinct Movement Is Unnecessary

This final criticism happens often so I am not providing a specific citation of a recent example, but I do believe it is a genuine and legitimate criticism of what I am doing. Essentially, some people are unsure why starting a movement called Pronomian Christianity is necessary or what benefits it would produce. These comments of criticism seem to come from one of two places: 1) people within the Hebrew Roots Movement who believe that another name is unnecessary and distracting, or 2) people who do not consider themselves part of any specific group, sometimes opting to label themselves as something generic like “whole bible believer” or nothing at all.

First, the primary reason I believe that a distinct movement called Pronomian Christianity is necessary is because there are no official, overarching statements of beliefs by which we can vet sermons, teachings, and discipleship efforts via network for any existing “Torah-observant” churches. Again, the Hebrew Roots Movement is littered with heresies because they lack exactly this. When a family visits a Hebrew Roots fellowship—or anything “Torah-observant” without a distinguisher—they’re unaware of what that fellowship believes if there is no statement of faith listed on their website or posted in the facility. Personally, I do not visit a fellowship or church unless they are clear on foundational issues prior to my visit because I do not want to subject my family to heresies if that can be prevented. And as a future father (Lord willing), I would not be comfortable allowing my children to be discipled by a youth program unless it is made clear where the teachers of that program stand on foundational issues. Bottom line: movements with hard lines drawn around doctrines help us know what churches will be teaching our families.

Second, another reason I believe that a distinct movement called Pronomian Christianity is necessary is because there are no official, overarching ecclesiastical structures maintained by any existing “Torah-observant” churches. This becomes a problem because of the lack of accountability I have seen in many of these churches and fellowships. Oftentimes, these places are established by one or few people and grow into large groups, but the original person or family that started the group necessarily defaults into the leadership position(s) without any sort of formal vetting or pastoral training. As a former pastor myself, I assure you that accountability and vetting of the leadership is healthy and necessary for the life of the church. Accountability and vetting reminds the leadership that they are human and can make mistakes and that it is okay to have fresh eyes on what they are doing and teaching.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am happy to welcome any and all criticism of my efforts in growing this Pronomian Christianity movement, but I do believe that sometimes the criticism is misguided, perhaps because I am not communicating my intentions well enough, and for that I take responsibility. I hope that this formal response to these honest criticisms is helpful in demonstrating to you that though I am but an imperfect man, the life and growth of the Church is my primary focus. If you would like to learn more about this movement and what we are trying to do within in, check out my website where you can read, watch, and listen to various works on defending a pro-law Christian faith.

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