As is true of most other "religions" or "denominations" there are many dangers lurking in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots faith (those who have found their way to YHWH/Y'shua AND Torah). "Wolves" lurk everywhere, and only those who seek YHWH with all their minds, bodies and souls, and who know Scripture from cover to cover will recognize these deceivers and their deception (Matthew 7:13-14).
One of Webster’s definitions of a cult is: "It is a system of intense religious veneration of a particular person, idea, or object, especially considered spurious or irrational by traditional religious bodies." If you ever recognize that this is being done, RUN, don't walk, away from that person! And don't be afraid to let them know why you are choosing to exit their life....
Below is a list of things to start watching out for within your own congregation, in your association with social media such as Facebook, or while perusing the Internet.
- Antagonists - Orthodox or Christian "moles" within the Messianic and Hebrew Roots faith; those who promote certain doctrines and concepts designed to shake our faith or question our Bible knowledge.
- Those who deny the Messiahship and/or Deity of Yeshua.
- Those who insist that anything that is not Hebraic and/or Jewish, is pagan.
- Those suggesting women "are to be seen and not heard" or insist women must have long hair and wear only dresses, etc.
- Those who claim they are the only legitimate expression of the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement.
- Those who resort to extreme usages of Hebrew words and refuse to use their English equivalents.
- Those who claim they have secret knowledge and or doctrine no other movement has.
- Those who focus on pet doctrines such as Sacred Name, Lunar Shabbat, Polygamy/Polygyny, etc.
- Those who focus more on Jewish tradition, custom, halacha, Rabbinic literature such as the Talmud or Mystic Literature such as the Kabbalah and Zohar, over and above the Torah itself.
- Those who focus on race, ethnicity, genealogy and/or tribal affiliation within Israel. This COULD manifest itself in the guise of racism against Gentiles through Black Hebrewism, British Israelitism, Two House Movement, etc.
- Those who discourage and/or deny one's' relationships with family or friends not affiliated with them or the Messianic faith/Hebrew Roots.
- Those who use guilt and other forms of manipulation, to obtain money from followers.
- Those who engage in tearing down more than edifying.
- Those who pressure followers to wear certain clothes that falls outside the realm of Torah, like a certain robe, coat or hat.
- Those who encourage followers to forfeit worldly goods and personal property.
- Those who insist on communal compound living designed to cut or deny communication to the outside world.
- Those who focus mainly on Eschatology (End of Days), and conspiracy theories more than YHWH/Torah/Y'shua.
- Those who promote disorderly worship that bears the marks of sensuality or animalistic shamanism of ancient and/or pagan cults.
- Those who refuse to answer questions on doctrine and Scripture.
- Those who insist on acceptance and adherence of their interpretation of Scripture without question.
- Those who clearly live a "do as I say, not as I do" lifestyle - i.e., the Rabbi knows his wife is committing adultery, but doesn't have the guts to put a stop to it. Or, they preach Torah yet break the Sabbath by causing others to work on Shabbat (i.e., going to restaurants or movie theaters, etc.).
This by no means is an exhaustive or complete list; it nonetheless touches on the main issues plaguing the Messianic/Hebrew Roots faith today. Ultimately the litmus test lies in the Written and Living Torah. If the behavior in your congregation or Facebook group, etc. does not line up perfectly with Torah, then it could be a cultic setting. RUN from it!