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Building Your Hebrew Israelite Library

19 May

A BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITE LITERATURE REVIEW
Over the past few years, I have gathered a large amount of resources related to the Black Hebrew Israelites and their theology: websites, video/audio resources, journal articles, dissertations and books. There are no publications dedicated to the modern incarnation of Hebrew Israelitism with its uber-aggressive street “preaching” tactics. No books deal with the recent upsurge in self-publishing, whether it is through books or online materials. No books hash out all the distinctions among the different modern sects. No books give a theological analysis or gospel-based solutions. There are no books which wholly support a biblical approach. However, there are books which support pegs in an overall argument, below are some examples.

BOOKS BY CHRISTIANS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND CULTURE/COLOR
From Every People and Nation by J. Daniel Hays, One New Man: Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology by Jarvis Williams, Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian by John Piper are all excellent books for getting a biblical perspective on people groups, culture, and ethnicity. These books lay out a biblical anthropology and then apply that to the issues of ethnic divisions in our world. They are helpful in understanding how the Bible (and therefore the Creator) views people and what that means for the church. This is important because Hebrew Israelites tend to have an unbiblical view of nations and it shows up in their extremely bigoted view of others.

One Human Family: The Bible, Science, Race and Culture by Carl Wieland and One Race One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism by Ken Ham and A. Charles Ware cover some of the same territory but also add an additional help: science. Both books are written by authors with a background in creation science and they apply both Scripture and some basic scientific facts (such as genetics) to issues of people and ethnic groups. These are a unique resource and relate to the implied Hebrew Israelite claims about genetics (I have noticed that BHI’s rely on genetics only when it supports them).

wheelwright flaggenome p


BOOKS BY AUTHORS WHO HAVE STUDIED GENETICS RELATED TO JEWS

The next three books touch on the same territory (genetics) but in a much more in-depth way and from a non-Christian but still very helpful perspective. Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People by Harry Ostrer, Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People by Jon Entine and Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History by David B. Goldstein are secular academic and stellar works which give the actual science and genetic studies which – if properly synthesized and applied – will refute many of the Hebrew Israelite claims about who and who isn’t an actual child of Abraham.

BOOKS BY ACADEMIC HISTORIANS AND SOCIOLOGISTS
Two standard (or they should be!) works in this field are Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions by Jacob S. Dorman and Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem by John L. Jackson, Jr. are published by Oxford and Harvard, respectively, and are excellent at giving the historical rise of these groups. The latter work even has four pages on “camps”; the names given to different sects of Hebrew Israelites with their separate local chapters.

Surprisingly, there is a considerable amount on this subject by non-Christian authors, often by secular black or Jewish scholars. Some are helpful, but none go deep into exegesis. None offer spiritual answers. Hardly any deal with the current adherents who have gained strength the past few decades; the more militant who use street-style tactics and “do-it-yourself” methods more than their forebears. Here are some of this class of book: The Church of God and Saints of Christ: The Rise of Black Jews by Elly M. Wynia; Brother Love: Murder, Money and a Messiah by Sydney P. Freedberg; Black Jews in Africa and the Americas by Tudor Parfitt; The New Ship of Zion: Dynamic Diaspora Dimensions of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem by Martina Koenighofer; The Black Jews of Africa: History, Religion, Identity by Edith Bruder.

BOOKS BY BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITE AUTHORS
Most books written from the Hebrew Israelite perspective are not professional but they represent their beliefs on key matters. Many are self-published; some are only e-books. Other books are not Hebrew Israelite authors proper but are either friendly towards their positions or have been co-opted. A great example is Satan’s Angels Exposed by Arabic Christian Salem Kirban. The book was even distributed by Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerrullo. Yet, it is in the online resource library of a Hebrew Israelite group known as The Gathering of Christ’s Church (see video below for some BHI insider recommends).

 A few books by Hebrew Israelites of the more explicit variety include The Power to Define: God, The Black Man and Truth by Ben Ammi and especially Hebrew Israelites for Dummies: The Family of Messiah by “The Judahite”. The latter is poorly type-set and difficult to read due to its extremely “helter skelter” layout but is by far the closest I have seen to a Black Hebrew Israelite “systematic theology”. Even though it is not very systematic, it does cover the big issues most important to the modern Black Hebrew Israelite and has a liberal dose of graphics, picture and even Internet memes – it is a very visual book and that makes it helpful.

books

Notable publications by “allied” authors are: From Babylon to Timbuktu: A History of Ancient Black Races by Rudolph R. Windsor; Lost Tribes and Promised Lands: The Origins of American Racism by Ronald Sanders and We The Black Jews: Witness to the “White Jewish Race” Myth by Yosef ben-Jochannan. These books are the most frequently recommended books on Black Hebrew Israelite affiliated websites – they are close to standard works and many BHI members have read at least one. They give the BHI groups a basic vision of world history. However, they are older and do not represent some of the contemporary nuances in the BHI movement the past decade.

BOOKS BY EX-BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES
A small but important class of book – the three all-too-brief ones by ex-members: A Burden Has Been Lifted by Frede’ Rica; Israel’s Secret Cult: The Incredible Story of a Former Member of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem by Mahaleyah Goodman; Why I Abandoned the Hebrew Israelite Religion by Hannah Spivey.

BOOKS BY CHRISTIANS WHICH TOUCH ON THE SIGNIFICANT ISSUES
There are Christian books which touch on relevant subjects to countering many Black Hebrew Israelite claims regarding the Sabbath Day ; The Law; The African Church; the black church in the US; bigotry, diversity, and ethnicity. Some books which are helpful in this regard are The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity by Keith Augustus Burton; Africa and the Bible by Edwin M. Yamauchi; Beyond Roots: In Search of Blacks in the Bible and Beyond Roots II: If Anybody Ask You Who I Am: A Deeper Look at Blacks in the Bible, both by William Dwight McKissic, Sr.; A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present by Elizabeth Isichei; How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity by Thomas C. Oden.  There are a few online resources as well.

As you can tell, there are no Christian books strictly on the Hebrew Israelites. However, there are a few apologetic books which mention them and two which even discuss them for a few pages: Black Man’s Religion Black Man’s Religion: Can Christianity Be Afrocentric? by Glenn Usry and Craig S. Keener and Urban Apologetics Urban Apologetics: Why the Gospel is Good News for the City by Christopher W. Brooks. There is a demand for this material but very little supply. By God’s grace, I hope to see a new generation of urban apologists who help rectify this situation – and soon!

Book Reviews: Every time I finish a book related to the subject, I go on Amazon and leave a mini-review; I have completed nine (as 5/18/16). This as a public service of sorts: people looking into this will know what is good and what is bad, or at least they will have a warning or endorsement.  People can also comment on Amazon reviews, so it is a way for adherents to engage me and defend or critique the book. simply look for book reviews by VOCAB MALONE.

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195
Vocab
Malone
Host, Urban Theologian Radio
Staff, Roosevelt Community Church
Student, Talbot School of Theology
Phoenix,
Arizona

 

 

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A PROPOSAL TO COUNTER BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES

1 May

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?10451119_1182188515140685_6518594777697587983_n
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.

THE SETTING
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.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • 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.

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195
Vocab
Malone
Host, Urban Theologian Radio
Staff, Roosevelt Community Church
Student, Talbot School of Theology
Phoenix,
Arizona

All My Black Hebrew Israelite Related Links

29 Apr
Hey, Internet. Maybe you’ve heard: I’m studying the Black Hebrew Israelites. Here is a list of everything I’ve done so far. More links to come:

BHI-Israelites-Black-Hebrew

Interviews/Debates/Discussions (audio/video)

Slim Jim of The Veritas Domain’s excellent notes on my BHI street convo

What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

12 Oct

The key feature of presuppositional apologetics: The Christian apologist must hold the supernatural revelation contained in the Bible as the preeminent standard of thought.

Important Point #1: Apart from this presupposition, one could not make sense of any human experience because there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian.

The idea: there is only one true God, the Triune God of Scripture, who does and must exist; because of the impossibility to the contrary. Without him, there is nothing: no logic, no discussion, no right or wrong. The Christian must recognize there is no neutrality and we should not act as if there is when engaging in apologetics. Proverbs 26:4–5, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” The first line can be applied to say don’t surrender to the unbeliever’s presuppositions and the second can be applied to say, make sure you ran in internal critique. An internal critique is like a systems check for consistency – and inconsistency.

Important Point #2: A Christian cannot consistently declare his belief in the necessary existence of the God of the Bible and simultaneously argue on the basis of a different set of assumptions in which God may or may not exist, and Biblical revelation may or may not be true.*

Point #2 is in part derived from 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

Note the command: in your heart, honor Christ the Lord as holy. The Christian (this includes Christian apologists) can never give up the Lordship of Christ. Peter also tells Christians to always be prepared to give a reason for their hope. It is fair to say that this means that reasons and evidence should be used but within the proper framework. Step by step, it goes:
1. Honor Christ as Lord
2. Always be prepared
3. Give reasons for your hope to those who ask
4. Do so with gentleness and respect to those who ask

The Christian must do this to the best of their ability, all the while recognizing that for genuine conversion to occur, people must be regenerated by the Sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Matt Slick of Carm.org: “A Christian presuppositionalist presupposes God’s existence and argues from that perspective to show the validity of Christian theism. This position also presupposes the truth of the Christian Scriptures and relies on the validity and power of the gospel to change lives (1 Corinthians. 2:14)”

Some notable advocates of this apologetic methodology include: James White, Greg Bahnsen, K. Scott Oliphint, and Cornelius Van Til (here is an interview where I do my best to explain the theological foundation and current state of presuppositionalism).

PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS and TOTAL DEPRAVITY

Presuppositional Apologetics is distinct in its emphasis on the total depravity of man – especially the noetic effects of sin.

Total depravity refers to a depravity that is thorough – this means man’s cognitive abilities are marred by sin. They are still made in the image of God, of course, but sin has ruined everything. This is why there is no such thing as a neutral observer who has no ‘leanings’ either way. Men are sinners and by way of Adam are a race of rebels against the King.

One place I would refer to is 2 Corinthians 4:4 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” God, if he sees fit, does remove the veil! And he does use means – such as the preached gospel.

Presuppositionalists are NOT anti-evidence, we just insist it must be used in the right way in the right context. D.A. Carson preached a sermon at Mars Hill during something they did called ‘A Day with Dr. Don.’ It is called ‘Why Doubt the Resurrection’. I really enjoyed it and found it very helpful in regards to the proper use of evidences.

We see from Acts 17, that yes, Paul argued for the resurrection but he also attacked the whole pagan foundation of his audience. This means they didn’t need some new facts, they needed a whole new paradigm – one only wrought by the Spirit of God!

And as far as common ground, here is my understanding: there is common ground in a certain kind of sense because the unbeliever must ‘lease’ the Christian worldview without ‘buying’ it. So the common ground is not based upon our worldviews but based upon them stealing ours. This is why we run an internal critique of their system, to show where they should be, not where they necessarily are. We also attack their presuppositions, demonstrating they cannot think in line with what they say they believe with total consistency.

We must never give in to their view of things and feign as if it is possible God does not exist. We proclaim ‘Jesus as Lord over all’ to them – this is line with the apostolic preaching of the Book of Acts! Never will you find a probabilistic argument for God in the kerygma.

WHY THE SPECIFIC CHRISTIAN GOD OF THE BIBLE?

One thing which is essential is this: ONLY the Triune God, based upon who he is purported to be in the Bible, fulfills the conditions necessary for intelligibility. For uniformity. For the possibility of knowledge.

The basis of knowledge is mind. But how can the basis of knowledge be mind, when the atheist is saying that, ontologically, reality is non-mind? Atheism presupposes that mind is a phantom by-product of matter, and not a real thing in and of itself. I just want the atheist to use their own metaphysical presuppositions; not mine. The Christian can affirmed the basis of knowledge as mind. This is called  Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence.

To get at this, consider how the atheist would consistently answer these questions:
“What is the epistemic necessity for your view of reality?  Not just your own personal epistemic necessity but what is THE epistemic necessity , since knowledge was possible prior to you. Surely you have something, since you agree we can know things. If it’s along the lines of the “I think, therefore I am” school of thought, then what was the thing in play necessary for epistemology before you were on the scene, since you postulate your own inner thought life as the source now? I also wonder how you, as an evolutionist believes, in self-consciousness in any meaningful fashion?”

on_mind

They say things like “I am not omniscient”, yet one would first have to know an omniscient being to compare themselves against to even make such a claim. Their response? “No I wouldn’t, because I don’t believe in God, and I just did it anyways.” Then they jump to the conclusion that their mind, as a subject, correlates to the object of “reality” without defining what they mean by “reality” (metaphysics) or providing a transcendental basis through which to observe or somehow predicate that the human mind correlates to reality (epistemology). The atheist simply wills their epistemology into existence.  [This paragraph was contributed from Colin Samul. I edited and adapted it.]

One reason why the answer must be the God of the Bible is because only the ontological Trinity can account for the relational aspects of a God who also has aseity (aseity means He needs none, is self-existent and is complete unto Himself). Yahweh’s Triune nature is what enables Him to have relationship without relying on anything outside of Himself. This also accounts for how God has knowledge without having to observe anything outside of Himself (as in, He is not taking in new information but rather knows all items at the same time and with equal clarity).

The Trinity is the “gas in the tank”, as it were (thanks to Doug Powell for pointing this out to me). None other qualify. Most don’t even claim to. The story atheism tells of the universe makes it a non-contender. These are variations on a theme: Christianity is true due to the impossibility to the contrary and only the Triune God of Scripture satisfies the needed conditions necessary to make sense of reality.

The atheist will often answer back with some form of, “I am not satisfied with that … because I am not satisfied with that”. OK. Still, the Christian can have cognitive rest at this juncture. The atheist will not – for now. But still. As I try to lay out my reasons for belief in a stripped down manner, it goes something like this:

-Jesus (and only Jesus) saved me.
-Critical investigation demonstrates that all other systems fail, as they must.
-God has spoken. He says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10)
“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 )
“Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” (Colossians 2:3-4)

Here is a small, more devotional-leaning, article on ‘Christ, our Wisdom’, which I found value in (it is not meant to be polemic but more contemplative). These verses all have to do with the “TAG” Argument. I have greatly benefited from learning about the Transcendental Argument for God’s existence.  Here are some good resources for you to begin to get a hold on TAG:

The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence by Michael R. Butler
A Concise Outline for the Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence by Jamin Hubner
Transcendental Arguments by John M. Frame
Choosing Hats – a website utilizing the TAG argument in its apologetic methodology

SOME MORE RESOURCES

I once had many incorrect assumptions about what presuppositionalism entailed. This link may be helpful for those who still do – especially the part about the unbeliever’s need and the use of evidences (the brief example he uses is the resurrection). Here are some more resources:

Two Backpack Radio episodes on Presuppositionalism.
An article by outspoken advocate John Frame.
This link is a nice supplement.
A list of books one can purchase on the topic:
Hear an audio from a debate on this topic

FINAL NOTE

Ironically, I was once “anti-Presuppositional”. I still have some reservations about the actual practice of that school of thought from some of its actual practicioners. There are some extreme presuppers (note I said the most extreme, not the run-of-the-mill) who (in essence) say, “Oh, you don’t believe in God? Then there is nothing for us to even talk about until you do”. Sometimes it seems as if they more enjoy debating Evidentialists more than they do evangelizing and more enjoy converting Classicalists than non-Christians!

This should not be.

UPDATED: 12/03/2014

*the wording of point #2 was adapted from WikiPedia

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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vocab Malone (John-Mark Rieser) is a semi-retired hip hop artist and slam poet. He is Pastor of Teaching  and Evangelism at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Vocab holds a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary and is  pursuing further education at Talbot. He is married to Nicole and together, they have adopted three boys. Vocab and his wife enjoy going to Comicon in full cosplay. He can be heard every Sunday night on Urban Theologian Radio on 1360 KPXQ.

5 Things I Was Wrong About

10 Oct
first things first: I was wrong about this hair!
oops!

oops!

1. ESCHATOLOGY

THE RAPTURE? YES. I even hosted a defense of it once (still online as of this writing). I posted twice on it: explicitly and briefly.

THE RAPTURE? NO. I did a show with Jeff Durbin explaining my views and another on BPR called Losing Faith in the Rapture.

2. APOLOGETIC METHODOLOGY

On October 7th, 2008, I posted a blog titled Why I Am Not A Presupper. I removed it because since then I’ve changed my mind as I learned more. Here are some examples of my thinking on this now from Backpack Radio and from my old blog.

3. DEBATE BEHAVIOR

I apologized to the ApostAZ podcast hosts after my first recorded debate with atheists: Apology: Part 1 and Part 2

4. IMPRECISE CITATION

Patrick Callahan showed me I gave a secondary (and not a primary) citation during a debate on morality. I noted this in my blog’s combox. 

5. YOUNG EARTH EVIDENCES

After writing a post, I asked for feedback. Jim Lippard helped me out and I removed some items from a list of YE evidences I had compiled.

Screenshots below …

Earth1

earth21-e1381363560157

 


ADDENDUM:
To understand the background story to this post, here is a partial transcript from a recent Backpack Radio show called First Friday Debate Review:

William Costigan: “Are you open to being wrong… about any of those three topics…?”

Vocab Malone: “I guess maybe it depends on what you mean by being wrong because there’s a lot of things that I already have been wrong about in regards to those questions throughout my life and including some of them recently. And there are things that I will continue to need to modify.”

My friend Wade Austin Padgett asked if I could name a few of those things. Therefore, this post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       UPDATED: 10/10/2013

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195

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vocab Malone (John-Mark Rieser) is a semi-retired hip hop artist and slam poet. He is Pastor of Teaching  and Evangelism at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Vocab holds a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary and is  pursuing further education at Talbot. He has been married for 10 years and has adopted three boys. Vocab and his wife enjoy going to Comicon in full cosplay. He can be heard every Sunday night on Backpack Radio on 1360 KPXQ.
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