What is 119 Ministries?Question: "What is 119 Ministries?"
Answer: Please note: the information below is based on our general assessment of 119 Ministries. As with any active organization, current events may drastically change both perceptions and interpretations. The information below is fair and accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of the time this article was written.
119 Ministries is a Hebrew Roots organization primarily operating through their website. The group’s name is a reference to Psalm 119, which speaks in depth about following God’s Law. 119 Ministries is extremely active on social media and the internet, with smartphone apps and an extensive library of online teachings. DVDs, books, and videos are available as tools to promote their theology.
119 Ministries is associated with the Hebrew Roots movement, which claims Jesus did not do away with many of the Old Testament restrictions on diet, ceremonial purity, and so forth. This is a view long rejected by the majority of Christian theologians. Most Hebrew Roots teachers accept generally correct views of salvation, sin, Christ, and the Bible. However, they often reject the Trinity, and the strained approach they’re forced to use on the New Testament presents some additional problems. The general, clear sense of Scripture is that Christ’s “fulfillment” of the Law meant the end of those minute legalisms.
119 Ministries would claim that supposedly clear statements in books such as Galatians have been misinterpreted. And yet, that conclusion only results from assuming what one is trying to prove. The catch phrase for 119 Ministries seems to be “test everything,” which underscores the group’s apologetics-flavored approach to promoting their beliefs. Yet, unless a person is pre-determined toward their conclusions, the Hebrew Roots-related information they provide doesn’t withstand scrutiny.
Another problem with 119 Ministries, as with many Hebrew Roots organizations, is the tendency to focus outrageous levels of time and attention on minutiae. For example, the exact day or lunar cycle of a particular festival. Or speculations about blood moons or whether a calendar day should start at sunrise or sunset. Legalistic gnat-straining like this (Titus 3:9) is exactly the kind of bureaucracy we were meant to be freed from. At the same time, that style of convenient legalism is comforting, since it makes our spirituality seem like a matter of obeying a list, rather than having a moment-to-moment, perpetual sense of obeying God’s will in our lives.
Ironically, despite the claim to uphold the entire Old Testament Law as binding on believers today, most Hebrew Roots interpretations allow for behaviors that Old Testament Jews would have considered blatantly in error, such as having a clean-shaven face or wearing clothes of mixed cloth. 119 Ministries is no different, as in one teaching they dismiss explicit Torah commands not to cut one’s hair (Leviticus 19:27) as merely references to pagan practices. At the same time, they insist that foods like pork and shellfish are still “unclean,” despite overt statements such as Mark 7:19.
There are many things to test, question, and doubt within the teachings of 119 Ministries. Those involved in the Hebrew Roots movement are generally well-meaning, and their primary message regarding salvation is essentially true. However, their approach to Scripture is extremely prejudiced and can’t really be sustained, except in the minds of those who prefer to believe it to begin with.
Recommended Resources: Faith of Israel, 2d ed.: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament by William Dumbrell
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What is 119 Ministries?