Saturday, June 23, 2018

British Israelism: A Royal Mess


Apparently, I was a traitor to my country and my gender when I slept in a few Saturdays ago instead of getting up to watch the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Yankee Meghan Markle. I later saw that I had missed hours of chatter between my girlfriends - the dress, the flowers, the royal lip bite... I guess I shouldn't be surprised. No matter how old we girls get, deep down, we still want to be a princess...

What did surprise me, however, was the number of Church of God members who got up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning to watch the event.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it.

DOZENS OF FAITHFUL SABBATH KEEPERS SET THEIR ALARMS TO GET UP EARLY TO WATCH THE ROYAL WEDDING ON TELEVISION ON THE SABBATH.

Given that, growing up, I was expected to turn off my favorite TV show mid-skit at sunset Friday, I was more than a little shocked to see people openly broadcasting their decision to watch.

So how was it that these proud, faithful Sabbatarians were not seeking their own pleasure on the Sabbath? Because, of course, it was an important event in the timeline of The Church!

Wait, what?

According to Herbert W Armstrong, the founder of the organization that has splintered into today's Churches of God, the British people are descended from the "lost" Hebrew tribe of Ephriam. This theory, known as British-Israelism, also claims that Americans are descended from Manasseh and many European nations descended from the other "lost" tribes. Most of the COG splinters still believe and promote British Israelism today.

Coronation chair with the Stone of Destiny.
Further, Armstrong taught that the British throne is the fulfillment of God's promise that David would never fail to have a descendant on the throne of Israel. As COG legend had it, David's "true" throne departed Israel when the prophet Jeremiah and his daughter, Tea-Tephi, took Jacob's pillar stone to Ireland and buried it in Hill Tara. The stone later traveled to Scotland,
and then down to England, where it is known as the Stone of Scone/Stone of Destiny, and the royals still use it as part of their coronations. So, as heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William must be descendants of David. And if his father and brother are, well, Henry must be, too.

(Wait a minute. Descendants of David would be from the tribe of Judah, not the tribe of Ephriam. So is the British royal family descended from Judah or Ephriam? I'm so confused!) 

Don't overthink this, Martha! The British monarchs are descended from Hebrew tribes and sit on the throne of David. Who could be more Jewish, er, Ephriam-ish (?) than the British royals? And we, as Americans, are their brothers, also descended from the Hebrew tribes. It's our DUTY to watch this wedding! It would be like missing a major moment in family history, or a family wedding. We CAN'T have that! (Warning: Don't EVEN get me started on the way Sabbath weddings have played out in my family).

No. I maintain that we NEED to overthink this. If neither one jot nor tittle claims what the COGs claim it means, then it's our DUTY to analyze this point. So, is there any way to find out whether princes William and Henry, AKA Harry, are really descended from any of the tribes of Israel? It's an important question, since we're flirting with Sabbath-breaking at the very least. Is there any way to test Armstrong's theory?

Well, there is, thanks - unfortunately - to the turbulent relationship and well-publicized extramarital exploits of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. The royals, tabloids and British DNA testing companies have been rehashing that topic for more than a decade. After all, if William and Harry were not sired by Charles, Prince of Wales, then they are not heirs to the throne. And if they were, then they share his royal blood and his DNA. And, if they and Charles are descended from the tribe of Ephraim, they should share genetic markers with those who have Jewish DNA.

After all, didn't God Himself tell David that his descendants would never lack a man " to sit on the throne of Israel? (1 Kings 2:4 and 9:5). Those who believe in British Israelism say that the throne of David still exists in the form of the British monarchy, so if anyone should have DNA evidence that they're related to other Hebrews, it's the royal family, right?

Let's not get the cart before the horse, though.

(Again, please don't discount DNA evidence because it is a product of science and scientists, who are frequently atheists. DNA evidence is not speculation about what happened millions of years ago. It's largely performed using tissue like hair, cheek swabs and blood samples from living humans (or tissue left on confirmed, authentic artifacts, mummies, and in some cases frozen human remains) and is considered reliable enough that it's admissible in court.

Princess Diana and Hewitt in 1989
First of all, though he's far from the heir apparent, Prince Harry IS Prince Charles' son, as is his brother William. It was rumored for years that Harry might have been fathered by army officer Major James Hewitt, with whom Diana admitted she had an affair. But that affair started when Harry was three years old - Harry was born in September 1984 and Diana
didn't meet Hewitt until 1986. Charles himself confirmed he was Harry's father before the young prince went away to school at Eton in 1995.

Still, when it comes to the throne, one can't be too careful. Apparently, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband insisted upon a DNA test, according to the  Agence France-Presse, which proved Harry was Charles' son. As if that wasn't enough, the former News of the World tabloid was reported to have obtained and tested a lock of hair from Harry and determined he was not Hewitt's son.

Prince Harry/James Hewitt
Now, the royals have not released DNA test results - presumably, it would be beneath them. But you'd better believe if something were found to be amiss, we would know about it, and the royal succession would have been changed. This is the kind of stuff over which the War of the Roses and the Hundred Years War were fought. Tabloids and DNA companies have run their own tests, reportedly on samples from the princes, and demonstrably on their cousins, and their findings have never been challenged. While parents, children and siblings do not have identical DNA, they are usually close, so we'll take a look at the results for Prince William, since he the one most discussed as the presumed heir to the throne.

Historical quirks like Hundred Years War and King Henry VIII mean that royal lineage has been documented very well. The late William Addams Reitwiesner, a well-known historian, has calculated Williams' ancestry as about 57 percent British and Irish, 39 percent French and German, 3 percent Eastern European, 1 percent Scandinavian, less than 1 percent South Asian (During the British colonization of India, Diana's great-great-great-great grandfather had a child with an Indian woman), and less than 1 percent... Middle Eastern! But before you get all excited, that Middle Eastern DNA is Armenian and comes from the maternal side, not the paternal side, which, in this case, are the genes that would correspond with the "throne of David" claim.

Now let's get a little more specific. While William's DNA test has never been released to the public, that of his father's patrilineal cousin has. While that may not sound like a big deal, among royals, it is. Here's why: some geneticists actually consider "royal" to be a specific ethnic subset in Europe because of the shared languages, culture and genetics. Until very recently, the only acceptable marriage partner for a royal was another royal. Because of all the intermarrying between cousins to maintain thrones across Europe, the genetics of the "royal" class are both painstakingly documented and relatively stable since the time of Charlemagne. In this case, the cousin who was tested was Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia.  His body was tested after being found in the mass grave his family was thrown into after the Russian Revolution. The genetic results matched those from his blood-stained shirt kept in a museum in Osaka, Japan following an assassination attempt in the same city.

Basically, when tracing patrilineal ancestry, scientists study the Y-chromosome to determine a person's haplogroup - those with whom they share a common ancestor. This is pretty solid science - Y-chromosomes have been demonstrated to stay relatively stable over thousands of years. And in this case, we not only have DNA samples from the family but also a list of pretty much everyone (of genetic significance) in the family for more than a thousand years.

Nicholas II
Nicholas II's Y-chromosome haplogroup was found to be R1b, which is not a surprise, because it's a pretty common DNA haplogroup in Europe. In case you care, the common patrilineal ancestor between Nicholas II and Prince Charles was Frederik I, King of Norway and Denmark from 1524-1533. Whose line is known from the time of Elimar I, the first count of Oldenberg, a Saxon who ruled in what's now northern Germany from 1101 to 1108 A.D. Anyway, short story long, no one has released William's DNA results, but thanks to the multiple tragedies that befell poor Nicholas, we know that there's roughly a 97.2 percent chance that William's haplogroup is also R1b.


But we know this for sure: even if, somehow, William's DNA falls in that 2.8 percent margin of error, it's still in R haplogroup family. We have the man's genealogy traced practically back to the 700's A.D., and it's pretty much a mix of British, Germanic, French, Scottish, Armenian, Scandanavian and one lady from India.

So why do we care? Because, honestly, apart from what I'm about to say here, I don't. It is difficult to overstate how little I care about the lineage of the British royals. Except for this one point:

Brits and Americans primarily belong to the R1b haplogroup - which, as I already stated, is the most common one in western Europe. You see many variations on that theme - an R1a, an R1b1a2-M (M indicates Eurasian lineage). But you know what you don't see, at least among those who claim to be British, Irish, French and Danish? You don't see a J, at least in most individuals who don't claim Jewish ancestry.

Both Palestinian Jews and Arabs belong to the J haplogroup. This makes sense, since scripture specifically states that Jews and Arabs both descended from Abraham. Genetic research is able to trace a common father between Jews and Arabs even several generations before Jacob, the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

So if Brits descended from related Hebrew tribes, you would expect to see genetic markers for the J haplogroup on their Y chromosomes. You would especially expect to see these genetic markers in the royal gene pool; in those whose lineage is relatively documented,; whose genetics haven't changed all that much over the centuries; in those who are allegedly descendants of David and sit on the throne of David.

But you don't. DNA evidence shows that R and J are two entirely different ethnic groups; groups who do not share a common ancestor. At least not, in all likelihood, until about the time of the Ark, which was at least 750 years before the birth of Abraham.

So why don't you see those genetic markers? Maybe it's because British Israelism was not a divine revelation, but a lie peddled by a false prophet. Or even worse, a lie peddled by a false prophet who plagiarized the theory.

Armstrong taught over and over and over again that the claims made by British-Israelism were divinely revealed to him, and were the key to understanding Bible prophecy. Without this "vital key", he taught, no one could understand where Israel is today, and thus no one could understand how prophecy was going to play out. But British Israelism been debunked, over and over again. Is it any wonder that his prophecies failed, and that those who continue building on this foundation are crumbling?

Simon Abney-Hastings outside his home in Australia.
So, should we be getting out our DNA kits and start looking for the true heir to David's throne? Perhaps it's Simon Abney-Hastings, an Australian textile worker who's the direct descendant of the royal Plantagenet line that lost power during the War of the Roses.

No. We know which ancestor of David's currently reigns, and it's the best one possible. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, sits on His throne today. Though different translations muddy the meaning, many believe that God told David he would always have descendants to sit on the throne - in distinction to Saul, whose line had been cut off and later died out due to his disobedience. Jesus was physically David's descendant, and we know He ascended to heaven and took His throne. As usual, Armstrong's doctrines distract and detract from Jesus Christ - the Way, the Truth and the Life. The author and finisher of our faith. The only means through which we can approach the Father. Our only hope.  The Bible makes it clear that salvation only comes by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus, but Armstrong wove a tangled web of religious practices he claimed we must follow to remain in God's grace. Many in the splinters of the Worldwide Church of God are still caught in that web today.

As for me, I care about as much about royal lineage as I did before I started this post. After all, Titus 3:9 tells us:

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.  

Armstrong and those who keep his teachings alive must have missed that one. Makes you wonder what else they might have missed.











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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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