The Black Hebrew Israelites are an unorthodox religious group who target disenfranchised minorities in the inner-city. Yet there are very few resources on this group. I am working on creating a guide for Christian leaders and church members so they can better:
- Understand the appeal and claims of the Black Hebrew Israelites.
- Know how to answer the challenges to Christian faith Black Hebrew Israelites raise.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
- The Black Hebrew Israelites are a religious group which is growing in visibility, activity and influence in many urban areas, including metropolitan Phoenix, AZ.
- There are no in-depth apologetic resources for Christian leaders or church members to adequately understand or answer the claims of the Black Hebrew Israelites.
- My goal is to generate and distribute such a resource, foremost of which is a physical and digital guide or manual.
- I also plan on generating and distributing online resources (blog posts, memes) and multimedia resources (audio, video). A few of the resources will be directed towards the Black Hebrew Israelites themselves, such as customized evangelistic tracts.
To reiterate, the problem is there are no apologetic books published on the subject of Black Hebrew Israelites and Christian doctrine. There are only a few scattered online articles. There is a void and I want to help fill it by explaining BHI doctrine to others, as well as refuting their teachings. I want to help vulnerable Christians be protected and prepared. I want to give practical answers to BHI questions and use these in real life evangelistic encounters with BHI members.
WHY DO PEOPLE JOIN THIS GROUP?
Many people become members because they are disillusioned with their church experience. Almost all I have met have been poorly churched. They have been at churches where it’s entertainment-driven, where money is the main focus, or where the leadership is the focal point. Those who embrace BHI doctrine often place a high value on Scripture and crave deeper teaching. These churches did not provide serious exposition and it left the (now) BHI members wanting. They also place a value on the law, and many went to churches where holiness was not valued. Church discipline was non-existent and the moral standards were not enforced in any meaningful way. Another problem has been the mainstream evangelical church: they have often ignored or minimized the concerns of the minorities in large American cities. This applies to both historical and current events and attitudes.
Over the past decade, there has been a noticeable increase in activity, visibility and energy from BHI groups. The main venues they utilize are city blocks, the corners where they set up and yell. There are more groups doing this more frequently. I have witnessed an increase in the amount of YouTube videos uploaded by these groups. Online videos are a key way they spread their message. The videos have greatly increased in production quality recently.
I have also seen an increase in the output of BHI media: especially in the area of book publishing but also music and graphics. Lastly, I have uncovered more of these groups being able to afford physical spaces, renting store fronts and the like. Historically, these groups have mainly been nomadic, meeting in coffee shops and the like. Now more are able to rent low budget buildings where they give regular teachings.
The rise in these groups affects the global church of Christ. The doctrines preached by the BHI affect Christians specifically in large cities of both the United States and the U.K. There are some ramifications for the church in Israel and on the continent of Africa (especially Liberia, Ethiopia, South Africa and counties in West Africa). BHI members have been led astray in a hateful and heretical group and are now leading others astray.
For example, I was on a BHI message board and saw a post from a BHI man asking if he had to divorce his wife. There was no other reason given other than she was white – an “Edomite”, to use their vernacular. Their unanimous answer from the community was yes, he needed to divorce her.
- What are the key beliefs and practices of the Black Hebrew Israelites?
- What are some notable variations and divergences in doctrine and practice between distinct Black Hebrew Israelite groups?
- What has contributed to the recent rise of the Black Hebrew Israelites?
- What are common profiles of the average Black Hebrew Israelite?
- What is the appeal of the Black Hebrew Israelites; why do people join?
- What can city-dwelling Christians and urban churches do to counteract BHI?
Studying this movement equips Christians to better understand their theology. Writing a Black Hebrew Israelite guide fills a gap in apologetics resources. Access to a BHI guide assists Christians in urban ministry (evangelism, discipleship). After I create the BHI guide, I will distribute it to urban Christians (especially church and ministry leaders) and create mechanisms by which I can receive feedback.
Host, Urban Theologian Radio
Staff, Roosevelt Community Church
Student, Talbot School of Theology