Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Cult of Anglo-Israelism: Are White English-Speakers the Heirs of the Promises to Israel?

Many Christians have never even heard of the heresy of British-Israelism (or Anglo-Israelism). It is the belief that the Anglo-Saxons were the descendants, usually said to be via the Scythians, of the ten lost tribes of Israel, that portion of the biblical people that was deported after the conquest by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Thus, according to this doctrine, the peoples of the British Isles, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (some followers say all of the descendants of the northern Europeans) are the heirs to the Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel. The Christian Identity movement is derived from British-Israelism, but is distinct from it. While most of its followers would not be anti-Semitic, it should be easy to discern how the Christian Identity doctrine could be drawn from it.

The Seventh-Day Adventists and Mormons hold to a form of British-Israelism, but its modern promotion is primarily associated with those sects which have derived from the teaching of the late
Herbert W. Armstrong.

There are two verses of the Old Testament that I want to bring to the attention of the followers of this doctrine. The first is Isaiah 7:8: "Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people." Or, as the NASB phrases it, "Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people." The other is Hosea 9:16: "Ephraim is stricken; their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. Even though they give birth, I will put their beloved children to death."
These verses, as was common in the Old Testament prophets, use "Ephraim" to refer to the entire people of the northern kingdom, because they were the largest tribe. In the same way, the people of the southern kingdom were called "Judah," though they also included Benjamin. 

The significance of these verses is they tell us, not what the British-Israsel cult would have to believe, i. e., that the ten tribes migrated to northern Europe, but rather that they ceased to be a people. The Anglo-Saxons cannot be the new Israel, because the distinguishable people of Israel (speaking of the northern kingdom) are extinct. Whatever pride the Armstrongists find in his doctinre is built on a myth, not upon biblical teaching.

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