Why I Wrote This Book

Written by Neil Silverberg

December 8, 2021

As I write, we are less than two weeks away from my book, Shadows and Substance, going live on Amazon. You can pre-order now, but orders ship beginning on December 17th, when the book is released.

It is the fulfillment of a vision which began fifteen years ago. A Pastor called me to help a church ravaged by unbiblical Jewish roots teaching. That’s when the idea first came to me to write a book to provide biblical and theological answers to many of the arguments Jewish Roots teachers make, as well as equip leaders with a working knowledge of the subtlety by which Jewish Roots teachers attempt to make inroads into local churches.

A few years later, I returned to the same church to participate in a two-day open debate with Jewish Roots teachers (Gentiles who teach other Gentiles that Judaism is the root from which the Church springs). These self-appointed teachers wore the traditional tallit (prayer shawl) and head coverings that every Jew wear when worshipping in the synagogue. Those days, I sought to defend the Gospel of the grace of God. The end result is that, while on my previous visit the idea of this book first came into my mind, I now felt God calling me to write it. Sadly, it would be a number of years before actually beginning to work on it.

It is, by far, the most difficult book I have written to date in that it required a massive amount of research (although I knew many of the arguments going in). But as I began the process of researching what the HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement) teaches, I was more convinced than ever that this was a labor that would pay huge dividends.

I try to be fair to the HRM in the book by pointing out that not all of that it teaches is wrong. The roots of our faith do go deep into the soil of Judaism as I point out in chapter 2. But as I state clearly in the book, those roots are in biblical Hebraism rather than rabbinic tradition. Some HRM teachers, failing to distinguish between them, are teaching that Gentiles are to keep rabbinic tradition rather than biblical truth. So, while the purpose of this book is to bring to light the many errors found in much HRM teaching, I am careful to note that much HRM teaching is helpful in that it underscores that the roots of our faith go deep into the Hebrew Scriptures.

Let me say from the outset that this book, while focusing largely on the legalism associated with the HRM, the book provides great help for anyone struggling with any form of legalism. Legalism is the belief that one must add to the work of Christ by personal performance. As I state in the final chapter, the best defense against legalism is to properly preach and teach the gospel. In the same way that Secret Service agents are trained to recognize counterfeit currency by first becoming thoroughly acquainted with the authentic, so also, the best defense against biblical error is to become thoroughly acquainted with the biblical gospel.

My intention with the book is to accomplish three goals. First, it acquaints believers with the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) from which the Jewish apostles preached and taught the New Covenant. Many in the Church today give only lip service to our need to know and teach the Old Testament. We know some of its stories such as Noah and the Flood, David and Goliath, and the Exodus, but we have not developed a biblical theology based upon a working knowledge of the Scriptures.

The second objective I seek to accomplish in this book is to take on the main theological arguments of much of the HRM. Like many forms of error, Scripture is often distorted in this movement by pulling texts out of context. Therefore, texts such as Matthew 5:17 which are key to much of what the movement teaches are carefully examined. One whole chapter is devoted to the book of Hebrews since it was written to persuade Jewish believers to recognize that the entire Old Testament contained shadows of the substance which was to come (Hebrews 10:1).

Finally, I wrote this book to serve as a tool to assist church leaders (especially those who carry teaching responsibility) in dealing with HRM teaching. One chapter is devoted exclusively to recognizing the stealth with which they attempt to worm their way into local churches. The last chapter deals with preaching the gospel properly as the only means to safeguard the church from unbiblical HRM teaching.

To learn more about Shadows and Substance, click the link “Learn more about Neil’s book Shadows and Substance” on this website’s home page.  You can check out the promo video and click the link to Amazon to pre-order the book now.

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