Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Franklin Christian Ministerium's warning against the Torah Clubs and the First Fruits of Zion

To the Christian community in Venango County,                                                                                February 2023

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, as men and women called by God and entrusted with the responsibility to shepherd the sheep and protect the flock, it is our responsibility to shout out a warning when dangerous individuals, groups, or ideas affect our communities and churches.

This is sadly the case with regards to the spread here locally of Torah Clubs sponsored by the First Fruits of Zion.

While we enthusiastically support deep study of the Bible, including its Jewish cultural and linguistic roots, all such study should occur within the framework of a Church history-based orthodoxy, and an apostolic understanding of the Gospel.

Why do groups associated with the Hebrew Roots Movement, in general, like the First Fruits of Zion, in particular, fail this test?  Our accompanying documentation will demonstrate from primary sources, in their own words, that the First Fruits of Zion organization, and the Torah Clubs materials they publish, are replete with the following theological errors and/or heresies:

1.       A non-Trinitarian view of God in the forms of two ancient heresies rejected by the Early Church: Modalism and Subordinationism.

2.       A substandard hermeneutic {including the use of paraphrases and word substitutions resulting in more palatable texts} for interpreting scripture that contends that all relevant passages have been wrongly understood throughout Church History, and in fact mean nearly the opposite of what the Church has always taught.

3.       A hostility toward the Church which is seen as the ‘mission field’ in need of correction to bring it back to its supposed roots as a Torah observant movement within Judaism.

4.       That the books of Moses, the Torah, are more fully the words of God than other portions of holy scripture, making them the lens through which all scripture must be interpreted.  Even Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, has no authority to establish anything beyond the Mosaic Law.

5.       That Jesus did not fulfill the Mosaic Law, rather it is still operative and normative for all of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles alike.

6.       That there is no covenant with the Gentiles, thus all followers of Jesus Christ accepting the Gospel must be grafted into Israel by ‘becoming a Jew’ in spirit, and in Torah observance.

7.       That on this basis true Christian discipleship requires the keeping of the Mosaic Law, including the dietary (kosher), Sabbath, and festival provisions, which is how Christians demonstrate their love of God.


If the tree is diseased, so will its fruit be.  We would warn against the use of bible study materials produced by the Watchtower Tract Society (JW) or LDS (Mormon) organizations, even if locally 100% of the parent organization’s theology was not being adopted.  The risk that heretical teachings would gain a foothold is simply too great.  If the desire is to learn from Judaism or Messianic Judaism, a host of materials from an orthodox point-of-view are available for Christians to use in our churches, to use that which comes from the FFOZ is an unnecessary risk, plus a union with an organization whose stated goals would harm the Church and warp the Gospel.

In the end, while protesting that they do not offer a works-based salvation, and claiming that faith in Jesus is sufficient, this movement is built upon and structured around the claim that all faithful Christians will begin observing the Law of Moses once they become followers of Jesus, that faithful Christians will, in essence, live like Jews.  They may not outright claim the Law of Moses as the gatekeeper to salvation and Christian discipleship, but when you make it the gauge of genuine faithfulness you are adding it to the Gospel message, casting dispersion upon the faith of 99% of the world’s Christians, both past and present, and spreading doubt and division within the Church.  This movement is no benign appreciation of the scriptures, but rather an aggressively proselytizing misappropriation of them contrary to the established teachings of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Churches alike.

Given this, our duty requires that we warn our congregations against participation in these groups, and call upon those who do so now, and especially those who are promoting them, to repent and return to the faith our ancestors rejoiced in as, “you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12)

By unanimous affirmation of the Franklin Christian Ministerium,

Rev. Shawn Clerkin, Vicar/Pastor, St. John’s Episcopal Church/Grace Lutheran Church, Franklin

Deacon David Betz, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Franklin

Rev. Dr. Darrell L. Greenawalt, Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin

Rev. Larry A. Myers, Polk Presbyterian Church

Rev. Eric Phillips, Redeemer Anglican Church, Franklin

Pastor Randy Powell, First Baptist Church of Franklin

Pastor Chad Troup, Fox Street Church of God

An Examination of the unorthodox beliefs of the First Fruits of Zion, their Torah Clubs, and the Hebrew Roots Movement in general - by the Franklin Christian Ministerium - our 10,000+ word primary source documentation of what the Torah Clubs and FFOZ believe and teach.


  1. I have found many of your statements to be false. Ffoz encourages members to remain in their individual churches. The do not say you must follow the 613 laws. There are many other misstatements. Please go back and check out your post carefully

    1. Having spent hundreds of hours reading a vast amount of things published by FFOZ, I stand by our assertions. Each statement is fully back-up by our detailed primary source document, and spelled-out in my six hour seminar.

  2. These criticisms of FFoZ/Torah Club are not only a little goofy but outright false too. And it's rich having both an Episcopal and United Methodist reverend sign off of your inaccurate, minimally-researched-if-at-all blog post when their "orthodoxy" now affirms/supports sexual immorality.

    Maybe you should examine the wolves you're joining hands with before criticizing and condemning a group you didn't even bother to dialogue with before casting them out.

    No wonder the western church is so sick. The Lord rebuke you.

    1. Wow, there's a lot of anger in that post. I fully intend to stand before God and answer for how I fulfilled my ordination vows, protecting the Gospel as it was handed down to us is a part of that promise...Each of our contentions about FFOZ is back-up by extensive primary source quotations published by FFOZ themselves. Including videos in the seminar where its leaders gleefully mock the Church, disdain the traditional Gospel, and embrace that they've rejected orthodoxy...In the end, I'll stick with those who affirm the Trinity and the sufficiency of the work of Jesus upon the Cross, something that FFOZ's teaching cannot do...If you had read further, you would have learned that we attempted to dialogue with local Torah Club leaders, but were rebuffed, they had no interest in what any pastor in the area had to say except for the 1% who were willing to join them in abandoning orthodoxy.

  3. Randy, Please look at what most all churches preach. First they tell us the law has been “done away with” and then talk about sins! According to 1 John 3:4 “Sin is the transgression of the law” According to Romans 5:13 “Sin is not imputed when there is no law”! Also 4:15!

    1. That's a misunderstanding of what the orthodox (i.e historic and biblical) doctrine is with respect to the Law of Moses. That Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and established the New Covenant is a bedrock belief of the Gospel. However, this in no way refutes the moral principles of the Law as given by God both before and after Sinai. If you read the post about the Reformation Era credal statements you will see that our ancestors in the faith understood this quite well. The aspects of the Law given to Israel to set them apart from their neighbors are no longer necessary when God is sending the Gospel to call a new people by faith, this new gathering of God's people is to be known by the Fruit of the Spirit, not ceremonial laws.

  4. Fulfill means to perfevtly interpret/teach Torah (God’s instructions to Jews/humanity). It DOES NOT mean do away with/abolish. Consider seeking education under a messianic rabbi and move away from making bible fit incorrect orthodox “doctrine.” Christ and the apostles never taught doctrine…

    1. Yeshua taught/lived the Torah PERFECTLY - He fulfilled Torah :-)

    2. That Jesus fulfilled the Law means what the Word of God says Jesus did with respect to the Law of Moses. This is a topic that concerned Paul (Galatians primarily, but elsewhere too) and the writer of Hebrews, both of whom go into much detail as to how Jesus was the perfect and last sacrifice needed under the Mosaic Law...Absolutely Jesus perfectly fulfilled Torah (God's Law), it was the only way that he could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The central question with which orthodox Christianity disagrees profoundly with FFOZ (and the Judaizers the Early Church faced) is how that Mosaic Law is related to the New Covenant that Jesus established in his blood. They claim that the Law given at Sinai to Israel is for all time and all peoples, the Church has never believed this...I'm totally baffled by the claim that Jesus and his disciples didn't teach doctrine. Jesus taught a massive amount of theological truth to his followers, and they in turn taught those truths to others.

  5. You do know martin luther was a loyal anti-semite - goal to remove scripture from original Hebraic/Jewish origin…

    1. Antisemitism was the great failing of Martin Luther's life, the sin that he failed utilize God's grace to conquer. That's a well established historical truth, but at the same time it does not invalidate the Protestant Reformation (if that is your purpose in attacking Luther) anymore than David's adultery invalidates the power of the Psalms he wrote.