Christian Renewal Ministries International (CRMI) focus appears to be "Studying the Hebrew Roots of Christianity". This article will quote from statements available at CRMI's website (in 2001) which suggest its differences from WCG in 1986.
CRMI Teaches that Jesus was Born on the First Day of the Feast
"Every year CRMI sponsors an observance of the biblical festival of Sukkot (also known as the Feast of Tabernacles) at Ocean Shores, Washington. Jesus was actually born on the first day of this festival in 4BCE."
CRMI Used to Strongly Encourage Learning Hebrew
"One reason for the diverse and often divergent Bible translations and paraphrases is that Hebrew is such a deep and graphic language and with a worldview unlike our own in the West that we cannot contain a full translation and interpretation in just one English translation. The alternative is either an armful of versions and commentaries or to learn to read it in its original language. Just imagine being able to read the Biblical text as Moses received it, as Josiah and Ezra recovered it, and as Jesus read it."
"If you purchased UNIT 1 before September 1997 then you will have an earlier version. The September/October 1997 version of UNIT 1 contains 10 more pages and 14 pages of additional exercises. Updates are sent out automatically when you proceed onto UNIT 2 (now available and larger than UNIT 1!) If you require the additional pages before moving onto UNIT 2 or are not registered as a TUTORED student then either register for TUTORING at the current rates or send £2.50 (UK) to cover copying and p&p."
CRMI has links for many books for sale at its website. Note that the above was apparently written by Jonathan Went, and although it was posted at CRMI's website, he has informed me that he never has had affiliation with CRMI.
Has Apparently a non-COG view of Church History
Although its website (on 9/13/03) has the statement, "CRMI does not necessarily endorse the views on these links, we do, however, hope you find them interesting", it seems odd that the links on its 'Church History' page do not seem to ever refer to the Church of God. 4-5 are Catholic, 1 is Jewish, others appear to be Protestant or secular (or have almost no history).
In its booklets on-line section, most of the booklets on-line are from Jewish or Hebrew roots groups, while another is from an SDA member. There is a 198 page booklet in that section that was written by CRMI, but the last two times I tried to open it, I got an error message (once I can open it, I plan to read it as it should have information on at least some of CRMI's other beliefs).
CRMI Advocates Wearing Tassels
"Maybe Im a bit dense, but it took me three years of reading the weekly Torah portion to realize that I needed to wear the tzit-tzit on an outer garment. The first year, I read the mitzvah to make tassels on the corners of your garment and wondered what it meant. The second year, I read the mitzvah and purchased an undergarment with the tzit-tzitot on the corners. The third year, I realized that the scripture said that I should wear it on the outside."
CRMI Celebrates Hanukkah (which it usually spells Chanukah)
"Miracles have long been associated with the feast of Chanukah...Chanukah is the only feast, which runs for over a week, and It is also the only feast to span two different months...What tie-in does Chanukah have with the Feast of Tabernacles ? And why didnt God work it out so the temple would always be dedicated or rededicated on the Feast of Tabernacles ? Because it seems that the 25th of Kislev (Chanukah) ... was from the beginning ... destined to be an important date...Kislev 25 also has future significance...Chanukah is far from an irrelevant Jewish holiday ... And the miracle of Chanukah has far more significance than a menorah staying lit for eight days. It is a day for the whole World to celebrate ... the day that God our father put within a bodily temple His own spirit, giving His own blood, for the redemption of all mankind."
Update from CRMI:
On May 13, 2003, I received the following email from Rick Richardson of CRMI:
"CRMI was formed in the mid-90's Officers include: Rick Richardson (myself) President Susan Richardson (my wife) Vice President Gregory Richardson (my not-always-so-tactful brother) Secretary Crystal Stivers (friend) Treasurer One of the first projects of CRMI was to provide a feast site at Ocean Shores, Washington in 1996 as a place that anyone from any of the Churches of God could attend. As you know after the break-up of the World Wide Church of God, families no longer came together for the feast, if they attended different spin-offs. In my family there were people in 5 different groups. Since the mid-60's we had always looked forward to the Feast of Tabernacles as a time for the family gathering together. I had contacted leaders in all the major groups at the time; World-Wide, Global, United and International, with the concept of a "representative" site. A place where each of the churches would have a representative, and families from all of the Churches of God could get together and focus on what they all had in common. None of the groups were interested. So, Ocean Shores developed as an independent, non-denominational site with many speakers outside of the Church of God tradition. We also attracted many people who went to "Sunday" churches and had never attended a feast before. We mixed many Church of God people with Messianics and main stream Christians. Our speakers have included: Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Dr. Brad Young, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Randy Felton, Dr. John Garr, Eddie Chumney, Rabbi Chaim Levi, Dr. Danny Ben-Gigi, and many others. Attendance was about 250 people. In the year 2001 we discontinued the site in Ocean Shores, Washington, and began our feast site in Jerusalem, Israel. We are heading into our third year. Our first (pioneer) year had about 20 people in attendance, last year we had around 100, and this year we are expecting more. Our focus of inclusion has also changed. As I said the first attempt was to bring various Churches of God members together, we then focused on bringing all Christians together. We now focus on building bridges between Christians and Jews. Although most everyone in attendance is Christian (from all denominations) all of our speakers are Jewish, they have included: Rabbi Chaim Richman, Reuven Prager, Yair Davidi, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Moshe Kempinsky, Rabbi Yaakov Fogelman, Rabbi Avraham Feld, Dr. Talia Einhorn, Dr. Dov Noy, and many others. for more information see: http://www.originsofourfaith.com/ft.html"
The Journal Has Some Additional Information
"The 48- year-old founder of a Hebrew- roots ministry within the Churches of God says former members of the Worldwide Church of God are having a profound effect on the fastest-growing movement in mainstream Christianity. Rick Richardson, founder of Christian Renewal Ministries International (CRMI) of Auburn, Wash., said that Sabbath- and feast-keeping former WCG members, after the breakup of the WCG beginning in the 1990s, have had a pronounced effect on the Messianic Christian movement. Messianics are peoplesome former Jews, mostly former evangelical Christianswho attend synagogue each week who have retained or have adopted many trappings of Jewishness, including Torah scrolls, apparel and vocabulary. When the Messianic movement began, said Mr. Richardson, who was visiting East Texas as a presenter during the Association for Christian Developments One God Seminars in July, it was more of a Sunday- keeping, nonholy-day-keeping movement. But, in the years after the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God and the influence its members have had upon the Messianic movement, it is now rare to find a Messianic congregation that isnt Sabbath-keeping and isnt holyday- keeping. Ex-WCG members, Mr. Richardson said, have greatly impacted that particular part of modern-day Christianity....There may be a Pentecostal church where somebody is beginning to blow a shofar or wear a tallith, yet the Sabbath and holy days arent any part of that, he said. There may be a congregation thats interested in Hebraic dance or in other parts of Jewish culture. In other words, its not all happening doctrinally....Mr. Richardson advises Church of God members, even those who embrace various COG-based Hebrew-roots approaches, not to try to propel other people into specific practices and doctrines. If we try to push everybody into our particular mold of what we think God is doing, he said, I think were going to make a mistake. So what does Mr. Richardson think God is up to? God, said Mr. Richardson, is in the process of reuniting Judah and Israel, the northern and southern kingdoms. Go to any of the prophets and read what is one of the most important events in the end time. It really all hinges on the return of Israel, the northern kingdom, which was lost, to come back and join with Judah, the southern kingdom. That reuniting is the event that signals the arrival of Messiah, especially from a Jewish perspective....Mr. Richardson, a native of Washington, attended college as a communication- arts major. He fellowshipped with the WCG until 1993, then the Church of God International and then an independent congregation...His current projects include a program called Torah Tradition With Rabbi Daniel Lapin on KTTH in Seattle, a politically conservative talk station. He is also audio engineer for The Dick Staub Show on KGNW, Seattle, a religious station. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson team up to produce a public-affairs program, The Pulse of Puget Sound, for another Seattle station, KVI...He is also congregational leader of Fellowship of Messiah of Federal Way, Wash. (Cartwright D. Ex-WCG members affect the Messianic movement. The Journal. August 31, 2003, pp.1,23).Concluding Comments
As far as I can determine, CRMI seems to emphasize Hebrew roots of Christianity. Its articles on the Holy Days, other than Hanukkah, are similar to what WCG used to teach. As CRMI admits, this whole 'Hebrew Roots' movement is NOT together doctrinally, and in my opinion they do not hold fast to many of the teachings and practices of the WCG under HWA. CRMI itself tends not to take doctrinally strong stands as it seems to feel that is the wrong approach.
Although it has been reported that "The doctrinal differences among the Churches of God are miniscule. You can't get a knifes edge between us on doctrines" (Dart, Ron. CEM Founder Talks About Bickering, Bridges, the Future. The Journal. July 31, 1999. p.6), this author does not believe that one can examine the teachings of groups, such as CRMI, and come to that conclusion (nor apparently would Herbert Armstrong, for proof please check out some quotes from HWA on holding fast to doctrine).
Laodicean Warning for God's People If you have read this far you are probably a current or former member of one of the Churches of God and may be interested in reading this warning article which was published in The Journal.
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B. Thiel. Teachings of Christian Renewal Ministries International. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2001/2003/2006/2007.