- British-Israelism1 has until
recently lost much of its zest. The year 1939 was held by followers of its teaching to be
of great significance when the Prince of Wales (called Prince David) became monarch. It
was said at the time that he would live a long prosperous life which would result in the
advent of the Messiah. The Prince of Wales, however, married the twice-divorced Mrs.
Simpson and his abdication dealt a temporary blow to British Israelite doctrine.
- Now that Britain is ridden with agnosticism and loss of influence in the international
world one would have thought that British-Israelism would have little to offer. But
recently through the mass media of radio on a world-wide basis, Herbert W. Armstrong's
"World Tomorrow" broadcasts have given new life to British-Israel teaching. A
number of Bible passages are cited in support of its doctrine and special publications on
the subject have circulated since 1954.
- In brief, British-Israelism (with some variation) is the belief that modern Britain and
the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Canada, the U.S.A., Denmark, Sweden, Holland, France, Germany
and Northwestern European nations comprise the "lost" ten tribes of Israel. The
following are key "kernel" beliefs of British-Israelism:
- That the term "Jew" as used in Scripture applies only to the two tribes (Judah
and Benjamin) and not to the "House of Israel" - the ten tribes. The terms
"Israelite" and "Jew" are not synonymous for British-Israelites.
- That the return of Jews under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah to Palestine from their
captivity was limited to the two tribes.
- That David's throne is presently the throne on which Queen Elizabeth sits in London,
- That the "stone of Israel" of Gen. 49:24 was the pillow used by Jacob and
carried by him into Palestine. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land of Israel in 606 B.C.,
the daughter of Zedekiah, King of Judah, fled to Egypt with Jeremiah the prophet, taking
the stone with her. From Egypt it was shipped by Jews to Ireland, then Scotland and
finally found its place in the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey.
A noteworthy blow to British Israelism occurred in
the 1990's when Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God renounced British
Israelism. In 1995 the following announcement was made by
Statement About the Identity of the Tribes of Israel
- The following statement has been prepared to
answer media inquiries about the Worldwide Church of God's doctrine
regarding the modern identities of the lost ten tribes of Israel:
- The church teaches that national identity and
ethnic origin have absolutely nothing to do with the believer's
standing before God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor
free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
(Galatians 3:28). The knowledge of any proposed biblical identity of
modern nations does not forgive sin, assure salvation or improve human
- For over 50 years, the Worldwide Church of God
taught that Great Britain and the United States of America descended
from two of the lost ten tribes of Israel. However, while the church
has held certain beliefs concerning the identity of the lost ten
tribes, it has never embraced all the tenets of what is commonly
- Today, after having carefully researched the
tenets and history of its belief that the United States and Britain
are the descendants of the ancient Israelite tribes of Manasseh and
Ephraim, the Worldwide Church of God no longer teaches this doctrine.
While it may be an interesting theory, there is simply a lack of
credible evidence, either in the biblical account or the historical
record, to support a conclusion regarding the modern identity of the
lost ten tribes of Israel. We recognize that there were hermeneutical
and historical inaccuracies in the church's past understanding of this
- Therefore, in accordance with the church's
historical position of a willingness to change when convicted that its
teachings are biblically inaccurate, the church no longer attempts to
identify the modern-day descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
- The term "British-Israelism" is used instead of "Anglo-Israelism"
since Herbert Armstrong's doctrine is popularly known by the former term. Return
- Some astounding conclusions have been drawn from British-Israelite doctrine. Edward
Hine, one of the greatest promoters of its teaching said: "It is an utter
impossibility for England ever to be defeated. And this is another result arising entirely
form the fact of our being Israel." Edward Hine, "The British Nation identified
with Lost Israel", p. 73. Robert Roberts, former editor of the Christadelphian
Magazine, engaged Hine in a three-nights' debate in Exeter Hall, London, England, 1879.
The debate was subsequently published. See, "Are Englishmen Israelites?",
(Birmingham: C. C. Walker, 1919). Return