The Scripture tells us: "Not many of you, Achim b'Moshiach, should be Morim for Moshiach, als (since), as far as concerns Mishpat Hashem, you have da'as that we Messianic morim will have the chomer haDin (rigor of the Law) fall on us more severely." (James 3:1). This is a stern warning that all of us should take to heart. The apostle Ya'akov (aka Jacob or James) was citing Devarim 13,17 and 18 in his warning.
Many of us, when we are young in our walk are very zealous individuals, we feel that when we receive a nugget of knowledge that is either contrary to what we have learned before, or because it is "new" knowledge to us we feel the need to share it and teach it and scream it from the rooftops. Many do this without being grounded and getting any sort of formal education. It is also important that when one receives a moreh license or a rabbinic license that they do their due diligence and use proper citation. In a scholarly realm primary and secondary sources are king, tertiary sources will cause much error in what one teaches. 119 Ministries is a ministry many young in their walk gravitate towards and then soon afterwards start to see the red flags. Maybe you know of someone who sees 119 Ministries as a trusted scholarly source and you yourself are seeing the major issues with 119 Ministries and want to articulate why it is not a scholarly institution, this article is for you. Let's get started.
Many can cite the split of Jon and Steve back in 2015, the founders of 119 Ministries parted ways. I myself have been affiliated with ministries in the past and have peacefully parted ways, and 100% of the time, the real underlining reason this has happened is because of deep theological issues or things going on behind the scenes that are contrary to the values taught by the ministry. There has been talk of some things going on behind the scenes at 119 Ministries though none of it can be verified, the split was rather quick and abrupt. To me that seems rather suspicious.
But what about the theological issues?
One of the indications a person is extremely young in their walk, is they focus all their attention onto the supposed sins of their former religious institution. They use every opportunity to "expose" their former religious institution and their focus is on that as opposed to growing in their own faith. This is something that tends to be a part of the growing pains of one a year or less in their walk. 119 Ministries has been in existence for 7 years and they are still creating memes and videos at such a rapid rate with the focus of bashing their former religious institution as opposed to helping their listeners and viewers mature as believers.
This issue also is representative of how they make their arguments in their videos and teachings. Let me ask you, if there is evidence to suggest that ice cream tastes bad does that automatically mean because ice cream tastes bad that livermush tastes good? Does one equate to the other? That would be a ridiculous claim to make and an incredibly flawed way to form a conclusion. But theologically this is how 119 Ministries operates. They believe that if their former religious institution is wrong about something, that automatically means that because they have a different conclusion that automatically means they are right. This is not how scholarship operates. Scholarship operates with focusing on your position and proving it through scholarly sources, verified sources, primary and secondary.
In the series "Sunburned" by 119 Ministries, they sourced, to make their points, Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop as a primary source and the base for their argument. Two Babylons is a joke in the scholarly realm with it's numerous issues with zero citation for points propagated in the book. The book itself tries to present itself as a primary source. And this is the text used as the base text for the theological issues within the Sunburned series. Because some guy cites his view, not backed up by primary sources during the times he is saying certain things happened, and when he is removed from those times in 17-19 centuries that is going to cause serious theological issues and it does. And yet Sunburned is praised by many newbies in the faith and it is probably their most popular series at 119 Ministries.
There is also the "Copper Scroll Project" during the time of this announcement, it was revealed that none of the staff of 119 Ministries knew even basic Hebrew, and they had to bring aboard Jim Barfield, and partner with him on this Copper Scroll Project. The claim is that the Copper Scroll came from the time of Isaiah. This is being propagated by 119 Ministries and Jim Barfield, and people have gotten all excited about it. This is going to become a huge issue for them as well, because the photos of the Copper Scroll released online, show that it does not bear the Hebrew script of the time of Isaiah, instead it is written in Mishnaic Hebrew, and Mishnaic Hebrew didn't come around until the 2nd century and wasn't widely used until the 6th century. Not even close to the time of Isaiah. Even worse, any person who knows remedial Hebrew knows this and would know they would be laughed out of the room if they claimed mishnaic script was around during the time of Isaiah.
Secondly, with this Copper Scroll, trusted Biblical scholars have rejected the Copper scroll for a variety of reasons, not only the cited time of it's creation, but also because of the way it was written. Anyone who has ever learned of the scribal tradition sees that this scroll was NOT written by a scribe, instead it appears to be written by a child. Words a jumbled together, the mess of the scroll itself is obvious this was written by a child to keep him or her busy. Much like a parent would hand their child a piece of paper and some crayons to keep them busy, the Copper Scroll is exactly this. In the picture below you are able to see how the spacing is off from the words, how the letters are all different sizes the slants in it's writing, it looks like someone who was learning to write Hebrew and they were practicing and not worrying about being precise in any way whatsoever. It is a complete mess.
These issues with the Copper Scroll are obvious to even a one month old Hebrew student, and yet 119 Ministries has been in ministry for 7 years? Someone needs to ask, who are their teachers? And which of their spiritual authorities think there is any validity to the claims about the Copper Scroll?
In 2010, when 119 Ministries was being formed and I was roughly 3 years into my walk, I got a call from Jon from 119 Ministries who had seen a video I did on the calendar with 2 other friends, both of my friends were maybe only 2-3 years in their walk, and we were citing what we felt was needed correction to the Jewish calendar. Our major source was Strong's coincidence and not the actual hebrew text, and knowing what we know now, Strong's is not a dictionary or lexicon and is not a very accurate concordance either.
Jon called to ask if he could use the information in our video for his upcoming video called The Creator's Calendar. We said sure and from that teaching the Creator's Calendar teaching from 119 Ministries was born. Soon after the release of that video I started to learn Hebrew and quickly saw the issues with the teaching me and my friends did, and how we had no business teaching on that subject. I called back Jon and told him of the issues and how we were wrong, his response was that the video the Creator's Calendar had garnered 500 views, which was 2x more than any of their previous videos. He didn't want to discuss the theological issues and concerns and how I had been wrong in my teaching and how those same issues were emphasized in his variation of my teaching. This is when I started to realize something.
During the formation of 119 Ministries and during it's rise, and eventual fall, the Messianic Jewish faith had changed a lot because of their influence, and the influence of the internet. When you go to the scholarship within the faith before 2010, before the times of Youtube, the thing we see is the scholarship was prevalent within the Messianic Jewish faith and could be trusted for the most part. Since the formation of 119 Ministries and YouTube theology that they had birthed, we see that YouTube videos are now cited as a primary, and trusted source for scholarship, from 119 Ministries came the errors of Jim Staley, Zach Bauer and many like them. Because the teachings from YouTube are then borrowed and tweaked a certain way to make it seem as a person's own and then the sam errors are then being distributed by more and more with influence because it is easier to do as such instead of doing the hard work and looking for primary and secondary sources. 119 Ministries has brought many issues to the Messianic Jewish faith and has caused it to become a laughing stock to many.
And it doesn't help that they have also recently jumped into the realm of conspiracy theory as of recently in their attacks on the Jews for the kippa and several other things. Their citation on their conspiracy theories against the Jews they do not cite because they are getting a citation from unsourced citation. 119 Ministries gets their citation from other YouTube videos and teachings, and they don't ask where they got their information from. For instance, many of their attacks on the jewish culture in their videos come from things that were written in a book that was a Russian forgery in the 19th Century that was later used as a propaganda book by the Nazis in the 1930s. It is a book called The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. This book has been known, even at that time to be a fraud and propaganda book. But the citations from it, which are unsourced or sourced incorrectly for reasons of an agenda against the jewish people you hear the echoes of from prominent conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and the various youtube theologians who feel they have destroyed the Christians and now they need to move onto the jews. Such individuals do not check nor cite sources. If you tell these people there are lizard people living under the curst of the earth, not only will they believe it, they do believe it. And these sources are the citation for 119 Ministries. Scholarly integrity is not as important as hype and the throwing of the fist in the air to the leadership and viewers of 119 Ministries materials. And it is sad.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism