Is There a Sect/Cult Out There That Teaches That

of the 613 mitzvoth, the temple laws were fulfilled in Christ but the dietary laws are still in force for Christians? I’ve never been very good at arguing with cultists and I had a long conversation the other day with a neo-Judaizer who argued for justification by grace and works, who was vehemently opposed to Christmas trees as idolatry, who made a passing comment about the Nicene Creed “wrecking” the NT. The views this person was advocating seemed to me to be exactly the reason for Colossians, Galatians, Hebrews, Mark 7:19 and Acts 10 and 11!

Some of the things this person said suggested she might be a Jehovah’s Witness (e.g., the legalism and the comment about the Nicene Creed) but do the JW’s teach the perpetual validity of the dietary laws? I know they appeal to them in defense of their rejection of transfusions. When I asked where she attended church she was evasive. This didn’t seem like the typical JW modus operandi. Is there some other sect or cult out there promulgating this sort of thing? I thought of the Boston/International Church of Christ but I’m uncertain whether this sort of legalism is their sort of legalism. She isn’t an Adventist is she? I know they still follow the dietary laws but do they reject the Nicene Creed?

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  1. Scott,
    obviously the evasiveness of this person to whom you were speaking only lends itself to educated guesswork, but it’s worth noting that certain more-extreme factions in the messianic Judaism movement embrace very similar positions, i.e. maintaining adherence to kashrut laws and being opposed to such things as Christmas trees, etc. These folks acknowledge Jews and Gentiles comprising the body of Christ but maintain a sharp distinction as they understand the dual-track outworking of redemptive history for each group (essentially your classic dispensational view). Here, Gentiles are not required to follow kashrut, but it’s usually considered a godly demonstration of self-sacrificing devoutness if they do so. If you get the chance another time, see if she lights up about messianic Judaism.

  2. Unreconstructed Armstrongism? It partly depends on what basis she was rejecting the Nicene Creed.

    I had a run-in with someone we assume was an ICoC member a little under a year ago. A group of them visited York, targetting the university. One came to church, even to our student lunch, and started on his routine. It was one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had.

  3. Some teach that the dietary laws are good advice (afterall we tend to follow them today now don’t we? For the most part we do anyway), but don’t make them laws that must be followed.

    The non-denominational Shepherd’s Chapel would be in this category.

  4. The Seventh-Day Adventists that I have known would affirm all that this lady has affirmed. I would say that she is a SDA.

  5. There’s a lot of weird stuff out there, and often they’re not upfront about their beliefs. They look like low church protestant “Bible Church”es until you look into their obsessions.

    My guess would be Seventh Day Adventist spinoff or Armstrongism spinoff.

  6. Hi All,

    This is helpful. I hadn’t thought of the WWCofG/Armstrong. That connection makes sense. To add a wrinkle, this person is deeply influenced by a grad from a prominent mainstream evangelical seminary where, I’m pretty confident, such things aren’t taught.

  7. I am pretty sure they would not deny this in a formal, ecclesiastical manner (but I can’t be sure on that, either).

    The sentiment among the laity of the SDA church that I knew on the Oregon coast, and earlier on during my studies at Western Seminary, was the typical, biblicistic “any theology after the apostolic era has been a tool of the devil in ruining the church”, whether that be the ecumenical creeds, or later theological formulations. Of course, I heard that from the mouths of several Calvary Chapel and house church types during my stay on the coast as well, so it is possible that there has been some anti-theological seepage that has taken place with her from other groups outside of what her church would formally confess.

  8. Greetings:
    Years ago I was involved with a group that followed the teachings of Joseph Good (dba Hatikva Ministries) out of Texas. The main emphasis was to approach the New Testament and Christianity from a Jewish perspective, understanding the Jewish roots of our faith. But it went further. Eventually this group was advocating celebrating the Jewish feasts, keeping the dietary laws, studying the Talmud, etc. and then they began studying with a local Hasidic Rabbi. I left the group after we read and discussed a paper written by a Dr. James Tabor (I think, don’t quite remember) that explained that modern Christianity and Judaism are aberrations of what was described as “the Abramic Faith” and this is what Jesus and the disciples followed. This paper also denied the Deity of Christ and that was enough for me. I was already on my way out because, among other things, this group was very argumentative and almost hostile when one contradicted their “understanding.” Was this helpful, or did I just muddy the water?


  9. Hi Chris,

    This is very helpful. This sounds like the sort of thing this person was advocating. She seemed to have some knowledge of Hebrew and spoke of the Hebrew background to the narratives in Mark 7 and Acts 10 but denied that those passages teach the abrogation of the dietary laws. She didn’t seem to understand that Mark and Acts were written in Greek not Hebrew. It sounds like a renewal of the Ebionite heresy. It’s certainly Judaizing. These are good leads to follow up.

  10. Dr. Clark:
    It seems that my memory serves me better than expected. Wikipedia has some interesting biographical information on Dr. James Tabor and I am sure that the paper I read years ago was written by him (Ph.D. at the University of Chicago 1981). Not that I advocate Wikipedia as a good informational source, but… Dr. Tabor was promoted by Joseph Good et al and there is a minor connection between Tabor and H.W. Armstrong. These sorts of groups (is “cult” too strong?) often use David H. Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’Rit Hadashah (New Testament) which gives them a superficial knowledge of Hebrew terms and their cultural applications. If this person has studied with Good or a Rabbi that would explain the use of Hebrew nomenclature too.

    One good thing that came out of all this, for me anyway, is that the issues raised brought me to the Scriptures for verification. They used to teach us to read the Bible on our knees and I poured over the Old Testament looking for answers. I found God’s grace that was (as any uninformed dispensationalist will tell you) not supposed to be there. God preserved me through a period when others around me were led astray. All glory, laud and honor to Thee Redeemer King! This was also the way I came to embrace the Reformed faith as the most consistent biblical model. I am grieved that people are still being diverted from the true faith once delivered to the saints. I have great compassion for these lost souls as well as the Jews who have the scriptures and miss the Messiah. This is an area of prayer that I have neglected of late. Thank you for the reminder.

    Thanks also for a fantastic blog! I could go on and on about what a blessing it has been to me personally, but I have rambled enough.

    Grace and Peace in Christ our Saviour and Lord,

    Chris Boulay (Ploughman)

  11. Hi Chris and David,

    What you say corroborates and correlates with what I am finding. Here’s material from a post I sent about this:

    It’s pronounced “Ha-teek-vah” – Ha = the definite article and Tiqwah (pron. teek-qwah) from the root QWH (pron. qua) “to hope.” It’s the Hebrew noun for “Hope” (Ps 9:18 in the English Bible and 9:19 in Hebrew)

    It’s the name of a sect/cult group in Texas. The English name for the group is “The Gates.” I don’t know why they seem to mistranslate the noun.

    Hatikvah is the name of the Israeli national anthem and the name of a small, secular right-wing political party in Israel.

    They deny the deity of Jesus. They teach that Jesus is only an attribute of the Father. They are Judaizing. They bamboozle people with faux Hebrew backgrounds to the NT.

    Here’s a bit from an sympathetic account of a meeting in TX:

    “Good’s teaching emphasis is on the “Hebrewness” of the scriptures. He stresses that the Bible was written in a Hebrew culture and language of centuries past that was commonly understood by the Hebrew people of that time. He also teaches that much of the Bible is misunderstood by people of the modern, 20th Century western culture. Good also has a working knowledge of the Hebrew language, so during his classes, he uses key Hebrew words to help learners understand the cultural context in which the scriptures were written.” (

    This might not be a bad thing, after all, the Hebrew scriptures make up 60% of the Bible and OT backgrounds are very important to much of the NT. The problem is that they make up things. E.g., the “rooster” who crowed three times before Peter denied Jesus wasn’t really a “rooster” at all but the temple watchman. This puts Good in the position of being the only true judge of what Scripture says. They use their secret knowledge of Hebrew to reinterpret the NT radically. It sounds a lot like what she was saying.

    I found a site linked to Joseph Good that repeats the things she was saying about Christmas (

    There’s not a lot of info out there about this group. It’s a new cult (about 20 years old).

    This is the cult site: They don’t reveal much there about what they believe.

    There is also a “Messianic” Jewish congregation in Palestine (!) TX that calls itself “Hatikvah” (Why don’t they spell it Ha Tiqvah? It would be a lot easier to figure out the transliteration to Hebrew).

    The peddling of “hidden” or “secret” knowledge known only by certain enlightened leaders is a mark of a cult. It’s the first trick of the cult. This is a key to Mormon success. The ancient gnostics still use it and salesmen use it all the time. “Attend my seminar and I’ll tell you the secret to instant wealth.” Turns out the secret is to get schmucks to pay $29 to attend seminars on basis of false promises!

    Dogmatism about things heretofore secret is also a mark of a cult.

    The leader of this sect, Joseph Good says: (quoting from a transcript of an appearance on a religious TV network):

    “Yeshua was an attribute of the Father that was made flesh,” Good said. “But in being made flesh, he was a man. Totally a man… Yeshua we do not see as being God when he walked here on earth. We see him as a man. A man anointed by God, sent by God to perform a function. Now in his resurrection, we do not see him as God. We see him as a man anointed by God and that has been restored back to what man was intended to be” [before the fall of Adam]. (

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