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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).

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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.

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

 

 

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THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE vs. HISTORICAL REVISIONISM

29 Oct

HISTORY OF SCIENCE ROCKIN’ ON YOUR RADIOOO!

The pop culture consensus is generally unaware of the history of modern science and its Christian origins. To make matters worse, many internet atheists engage in historical revisionism when engaging this issue. For example, see the hard secular polemics of Richard Carrier, who is following in the footsteps of his outdated, outmoded and outlandish forebears, John William Draper and Andrew Dickson.

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati (Creation Ministries International) was on Backpack Radio (link) to discuss the Christian roots related to the rise of modern science. I was on an episode of Apologia Radio to discuss the same thing and respond to some criticism of the claim. Apologia’s website says the show, “will hopefully cause praise to flow from your lips to God Who is the very foundation of any pursuit of scientific discovery.” My sentiments exactly. On this post, I share some thoughts on the history and development of modern science.

ONWARD TOWARDS RECOGNIZING A CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Many pioneers of modern science were Christians. In fact, many were specifically informed by their Christian worldview as they pursued science. This is important. Why? When someone observing history notes that modern science arose from a decidedly Christian view of God, creation and humanity, a doubter arises and claims the observer is committing the fallacy of correlation (eg, History of Modern Science and Two Fallacies).

This is a common mistake people make once they learn the concept of logical fallacies: they falsely call non-fallacies, fallacies. It’s not a display of critical thinking, it’s a rhetorical shortcut disguised as a counter-argument. When someone says something is wrong – when it is not – it is falsely calling a fallacy. In this case, the fallacy of correlation.

There are a ways we can show there is a causal relationship between the Christian world of ideas and the rise of science.

-One way to determine causality is by investigating intention, purpose and motivation. If an acting agent expressly declares why they are doing what they are doing, we have a statement of intention. In the case of many of the pioneers of modern science, we have this – read their writings! It’s easy, they tell us. Listen to them:

Johannes ‪‎Kepler‬ (1571–1630): “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational‬ order and harmony which has been imposed on it by ‪‎God‬ and which He revealed to us in the language of ‪‎mathematics‬.” [1]

Kepler also wrote that “God, who founded everything in the world according to the norm of quantity, also has endowed man with a mind which can comprehend those norms.”

Nicholas Copernicus: “The universe has been wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.”

French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) spoke of “certain laws which God has so established in nature and of certain notions which He has impressed in our souls.”

On a slightly different note, but still too fun to leave out, the preface of Isaac ’s Principia states this “will be the safest protection against the attacks of , and nowhere more surely than from this quiver can one draw forth missiles against the band of godless men.” [2]

The list goes on. It is long, not short. These kind of comments in trail blazing scientific writings are purposeful, frequent and in-depth, not accidental, occasional and off-hand.

-Another way to determine causality is via deductive reasoning; we can link certain premises of scientific pioneers with certain conclusions. This means we can see where their line of reasoning will lead – or not. We can trace out where Christian monotheism vs. animism or pantheism leads; we can walk out a biblical doctrine of creation vs. an ancient pagan one. Try it. Here is an example relating God’s sovereignty over sinners and his sovereignty over matter:

“The view of sinners as passive inspired a parallel view of matter as passive. Matter was driven not by internal rational Forms but by the sovereign commands of God. The freedom of God in bestowing salvation inspired a parallel view of His freedom in creation and providence. God was not restricted by any inherent necessity; He freely bestowed order according to His own will and design.” [3]

-Another way to determine causality is historical investigation. Especially one in which we take ideas, events and even people as data and then compare and contrast them. For example, comparing one civilization with another and asking: what are the similarities and differences? Then we can further investigate and ask: what factors did the differences play in the different outcomes? Historians of science do this all the time and most non-positivist historians come to relatively similar conclusions: Christian thought was instrumental in the invention of science as an institution.

Other doubters will charge that the Christian conflates necessary and sufficient conditions. Here is the question: what do people need to believe about the world first in order for science to get off the ground? Unless the revisionist can sketch a bullet list of the necessary conditions for people to believe in and then engage in scientific discovery, then it seems the charge is not an argument at all … but more of a baseless accusation. Christianity does supply both the necessary and sufficient conditions needed to under gird the scientific enterprise.

9 Ideas The Christian Worldview Provides for Science:[4]

1. Creation is Real:
Finite objects are not mere appearances of the Infinite or any other similar concept; they are not illusory but real.

2. Creation is Good:
Genesis, Psalms, etc. portray a high view of creation. God made the material world good. Therefore, work is valuable, a way to serve God.
3. Creation is Not God:
Creation is not to be an object of worship but rather an object of study. It is valuable but not divine or ultimate.
4. Creation is Orderly:
Events occur in reliable, predictable fashion. NOTE: this presupposition rests not merely on the existence of a god but specifically on the trustworthy and dependable character of this God.
5. Humans Can Discover The Order:
God created humans with the powers of observation and reasoning necessary to gain reliable knowledge of natural world. Knowledge is possible because of a corresponding capacity created in us by God (cf, Herman Dooyeweerd)
6. Creation Obeys Laws:
All natural occurrences are lawful, intelligible. A rational God means the world must be lawfully ordered; the world reflects God’s rationality.
7. Creation’s Laws Can Be Stated:
This can be done using precise mathematical formulas. Belief in God is a guarantee of consistency; it guarantees the logical validity of mathematical concepts. Mathematics are a God-given means for perceiving reality; analogous to sight, sense, touch, hearing and smell. No one “invents” geometry; and that’s part of the point. This idea ties mathematics to real world.
8. Creation is Intelligible:
Creatio ex nihilo means there is no pre-existing substance with its own independent properties to limit what God can do. God created the world exactly as He willed. (cf, R. G. Collingwood). Structure, existence of universe contingent upon free, transcendent will of God. So, we must experiment and observe to discover what’s there.
9. Goal of science:
Glory of God and benefit of mankind. Humans are free to manipulate creation, theoretically in mathematical formulas, practically by experiment. Christianity provided the intellectual framework and motive for technology (Gen. 1-2).

*Note this list is not identical to the Aristotelian worldview.

ATHEIST LISTS, ATHEIST AXIOMS
Any list an atheist gives of the basic philosophical assumptions needed for science will mismatch with their worldview. That is to say, it will not match up with their actual axioms somewhere. It may sound like common sense because in the West, we generally take our starting place for granted. But look deeper and you will discern it is ad hoc at key junctions because the evidence from metaphysics is against their metaphysics. 

For example, they want order in their worldview but all they have is chaos, randomness and chance. But wait – the actual universe displays order! Of course the atheist realizes this and understand how important order is for science (for example, in repeating experiments, making predictions). What do they do? They acknowledge this reality and try to artificially attach order to their worldview somewhere (“order is merely a construct of the human mind”, etc.) or just shrug their philosophical shoulders and say, “I don’t know, but it works … besides, your answer is no better!” There is a disconnect between what they have – and what they need.

No atheistic worldview can supply the atheist with the preconditions needed for science. This news ain’t new – except to the 21st century atheist. David Hume will tell you this. Hume held that any case of A causing B is a mere verbal convention borne from mental habit. Most scientists can’t tell you this; as a general rule, they haven’t give it a second thought.

“YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE”! (OR, “MAYBE YOU CAN, YOU JUST DIDN’T HAPPEN TO…”)
Does anyone truly think that any ol’ worldview contains the needed axioms for scientific thought? I have actually heard from a number of atheists there is nothing unique about one worldview over another; specifically, that there is nothing distinct about Christianity that led to scientific exploration. Really? Please don’t be needlessly stubborn and act as if you could get identical axiomatic principles out of Hinduism, Buddhism, animism or polytheism.

Who can say with a straight face that Christianity just “happened” to be the dominate religion when science took off?  It’s unfathomable how folks can glibly make such statements – but they do. The evidence of history (and yes, metaphysics) is against these naive revisionist claims.

This particular disagreement often looks like mere head-shaking on the part of many atheists; it appears they simply say ‘no’ over and over again for the sake of obstinacy (either that or repeating, “luuucky”). A great example is Richard Carrier’s appearance on Unbelievers Radio – it amounted to haughty (but unfounded) scoffing and naked contrarianism – and a rather shallow contrarianism at that.

Philosophy of science is a legitimate second-order academic discipline.* Pay attention to it. The history of science is ever before us. The keen observer takes note that the history of science is not merely a happenstance invention here and a fortunate discovery there; no, the history of science is the history of ideas – how they are played out in real time.

NOTES
[1] Cited in Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture, Oxford, 1953, p 96
[2] Written by Roger Cotes, in the Preface to 2nd edition
[3] from The Soul of Science, referencing/describing Gary Deason’s chapter “Reformation Theology and the Mechanistic Conception of Nature”, in God and Nature, ed. David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (Univ. of Calif. Press, 1986), pp. 167- 191).
[4] Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton pointed out ideas which are needed for people to believe in science; some of these points are a reader’s digest/summarized version of some of their points in The Soul of Science.
* For a great intro to this, Science & Grace is an underrated, controversial and paradigm-shaking book towards a philosophy/theology of science.

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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vocab Malone 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 a D. Min 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. Follow him on Twitter @VocabMalone
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