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Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, From My Gentile Family to Yours!

I've always loved Thanksgiving. The emphasis on gratitude, the blessings of great food and the family togetherness. What a God-focused time! And in a post-1995 Church of God family, it's one of the few occasions when everyone is guaranteed to be gathered.

But there's always that point in the meal where the conversation inevitably devolves into politics. You know, the issues where the COGs are emotionally invested, yet believe abstaining from punching a ballot-card keeps them righteous and pure. Anyway, I know you've all been there. The discussion turns to how the United States is going to hell in a hand basket. Abortion. Socialized medicine. Gay marriage. One of these three laments is sure to follow:
a. Well, Americans are just like their forefathers, the Israelites, stubborn and refusing to follow God. What do you expect?
b. See, it's all happening, just like Mr. Armstrong said it would!
or, the ever popular
c. If only the people of the United States knew who they really were!
These conversations are only a microcosm of nearly every COG item ever published about Thanksgiving. I have yet to see a Thanksgiving article that doesn't include British Israelism - the theory that the majority of the United States is physically descended from the ancient Israelite tribe of Manasseh (and also that Britain is descended from Ephraim, and that many Western European nations are descended from the other "lost" tribes). What would a good discussion on Herbert W Armstrong's fruit and teachings be without a post on how British Israelism has been completely dis-proven?

Armstrong alleged that Israel and Judah are not two names for the same nation - they were two separate nations, and always will be, until Christ's return:
"The House of Judah always means Jew... the term applies only to those of the House of Judah. There are no exceptions in the Bible."
-Herbert Armstrong, Where are the Lost 10 Tribes, p. 8
Perhaps he never read Luke 2:36-38, which says that Anna the Prophetess was from the tribe of Asher, yet called her a Jewess of Jerusalem. And if the tribes left Palestine well before Christ's birth, and were already settling in Europe, how did Jesus send the twelve disciples to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" in Matthew 10:6? Sounds like He knew where they were - within reasonable walking distance! Jesus repeats this phrase in Matthew 15:24, where He says He "was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Note that Jesus never left Palestine. And then there's Peter, who ended his Acts 2 Pentecost address by proclaiming his message to "all the house of Israel" (verse 36). This language is inclusive - Peter didn't follow up that he was speaking to the Jews as well.

Those who have gone before me at As Bereans Did have done some amazing work untangling the Biblical case against British-Israelism. Rather than rehash this ground, I will direct you to their articles and focus here on how modern genetic research has completely overturned Herbert W Armstrong's apple cart. We'll also take a look at the "inspiration" behind HWA's theories.

For past ABD posts about British Israelism, please visit the following:

The US & Britain; In Prophecy? Pt.1 of 2
The US & Britain; InProphecy? Pt. 2 of 2
True History of the True Church??
Flurry's Follies
More COG Theological Ancestry
The Genesis Prophecies
Pack's Proofs on Peter's Pontificate

And now, without further adieu...

DNA research has proven Jews do not share a common ancestor with Americans and Brits

Do not disregard this finding just because it came from the same guys who brought you evolution. This is not scientists looking for the missing link. This is very specific research, done on a specific portion of human DNA, from actual people with proven ethnic and national origins who are walking the earth today. Or at least they were walking the earth during the Human Genome Project. It also included DNA gleaned from tribal artifacts and intact bodily remains. This scientific evidence is solid enough that it would be considered "proof in a modern court of law." For more information about the Human Genome Project, please click here.

In the portion of the project I'm discussing here, scientists examined the Y chromosome to determine a person's haplogroup - those with whom they share a common ancestor. (If you want to get more technical, which I don't, scientists test Single Nucleotide Polymorphism mutations on the Y chromosome to determine haplogroups). The Y chromosome has been demonstrated to be stable over thousands of years.

Palestinian Jews belong to the J haplogroup, as do the the Arabs. This makes sense, since scripture specifically states that Jews and Arabs both descended from Abraham. So research is able to trace a common father between Jews and Arabs even several generations before Jacob, the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel.

In contrast, Brits and Americans primarily belong to the haplogroup R1b1a2-M269. The haplogroup R1b is the most common one in Western Europe. More than 100 million Western European men belong to this haplogroup.

An Oxford University study further broke down the genetic mapping in the British Isles. The Romano-Britons (the region's original Celtic inhabitants who lived when the Roman Empire fell in Britain, in the 4th century AD) were found to be closely related to the modern inhabitants of France and Ireland. In contrast, the invading Anglo and Saxon tribes were Germanic. They are believed to have come to Britain at the request of the Celtic warlord Vortigern, who wanted help in defeating rival Celtic tribes like the Picts. They came, invaded and eventually took over the country.


BRITONS

A contender for first place in HWA's awkward linguistic arguments was the claim that the name "British" came from the Hebrew word for "covenant man." The Hebrew word for "covenant" is beriyth or berith, and the word for "man" was iysh or ish.
"In the original Hebrew language vowels were never given in the spelling. So, omitting the vowel "e" from beriyth but retaining the 'I' in its anglicized form to preserve the 'y' sound, we have an anglicized Hebrew for covenant, brit. The Hebrews, however, never pronounced their 'h's'... so the Hebrew word for 'covenant' would be pronounced it its anglicized form as brit. And the word for 'covenant man' or 'covenant people,' would therefore be simply 'Brit-Ish.' And so, is it mere coincidence that the true covenant people are called the 'British'? And they reside in the 'British Isles."
-Herbert W Armstrong, United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy, p. 95-96.
Simply? Huh? There is nothing simple about that twisted mess of a theory.

Understand that all Israelites were "covenant people". Why is it, then, that none of them, not a single one, call themselves "Berith Ish"? Dan doesn't call themselves Berith Ish. Judah doesn't call themselves Berith Ish. Manasseh doesn't call themselves Berith Ish. The Saxons don't call themselves Berith Ish. Not in the least.

The whole British name came from the Britons - the Celtic tribes whom the German Anglo-Saxons pushed out. In case you missed it, I shall reiterate. The Brits are Celts and the Anglo-Saxons are Germans. They are two completely different people groups. Their DNA was tested and neither are Hebrew, let alone one single Hebrew tribe of Ephraim. The word British comes from the Celtic tribe of Britons and the English suffix "-ish", which means "belonging to." It doesn't mean "covenant man." It means "belonging to the tribe of Britons".

So according to British Israelism, who would be the real "covenant people"? The Celtic tribes who gave the British Isles their name, or the Anglo-Saxons who pushed them out? It can't be both. It's likely actually neither, but it definitely can't be both.
And what about the other non-Briton Celts in the Isles? For instance, the Welsh, Irish, Scots, Picts, and others. Are they Ephraim, too? You should be aware that all of these Celtic groups, including the Britons, were already on the Isles while the northern ten tribes were still in Palestine. Before Tigleth-Pileser III subjugated Israel, the Celts were already established on the Isles. And this is well before the prophet Jeremiah. It is simply impossible that these groups populated the Isles centuries before the exile into Assyria - and - that they migrated there centuries later because of the exile. It can't be both.

SAXONS

HWA would have us believe the Saxons are genetically descended from Ephraim and Manasseh on rock solid proof like this:
"They were descended from Isaac, and therefore are Isaac's sons. Drop the 'I' from "Isaac" (vowels are not used in Hebrew spelling), and we have the modern name "Saac's Sons," or as we spell it in shorter manner, "Saxons"!
-Herbert W Armstrong, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, p. 95-96
Vowels weren't written, but they were pronounced. We aren't talking here about how Isaac was spelled, where the "I" was already dropped, but how it was pronounced, where vowels are never dropped. Dropping the I makes no sense. Think about it. If vowels are dropped when spoken, then why was the "A" pronounced? The "A" was not written any more than the I was. If dropping vowels from spelling means dropping vowels from pronunciation, why are there any vowels pronounced? Why isn't Isaac pronounced "Sc"? Claiming that the "I" was simply dropped inadvertently would have been one thing. But you see, claiming the "I" was dropped because it wasn't written makes the opposite of sense.

What happens when you drop a vowel from pronunciation? It's gone forever. The truth is, one does not drop vowels in spoken Hebrew.

Herbert Armstrong also tried to skirt the issue of the Saxons being a Germanic tribe in his 1980 version of the USBC booklet, where he claimed the Anglo-Saxons are an entirely different people from the "Old Saxons," who still live in Germany.

Um. Ok.

So where did the migrating Saxons come from? The Anglo-Saxons are a combination of two of the tribes, the Angles and the Saxons, that took over the Britons' land after the fall of Rome, after Vortigern's fateful invitation. The Anglo-Saxon designation is actually more of a politico-religious label than an ethnic designation. They were all Germanic "barbarians". That's where the Saxons of the Anglo-Saxons came from. From the "Old Saxons," who were just plain old Saxons until the ones who migrated to the Isles and joined the Angles needed to be differentiated from the ones who stayed in Germany. They aren't Hebrew, they are Germanic - also known as Teutonic - the very people that HWA said were Assyrian. There is no Hebrew "Saxon" and Germanic "Old Saxon", there is only Teutonic "Saxon". They are all the same tribe of people. And this doesn't even address the Angles.

The Angles were just another closely-related Germanic barbarian tribe along with the Saxons. The name England comes from the Angles, as do several place-names in England (eg. East Anglia). They migrated to central and northeastern England from the Jutland peninsula in the northernmost area of Germany and the southernmost area of Denmark. Denmark? You would expect them to be from the tribe of Dan, then, not Ephraim. But they are neither Dan nor Ephraim. They are Germanic.


SCYTHIANS

But wait! Maybe the "Saxons" of the Anglo-Saxons descend from the Scythians, whom the United Church of God and other COGs assert suddenly appeared on the world scene just after Israel's lost 10 tribes disappeared?

Well, the nomadic Scythian tribe does appear to have colonized in Eurasia north of the Black Sea, around parts of Russia and the Ukraine. So at least that much is true. But are they the displaced 10 tribes? Most everyone else believes they descended from Sarmatian tribes like the Alans. Don't worry, I've never heard of them, either. But the Sarmatians were Persian - like the Iranians, who are fiercely proud of their non-Arab heritage. If they aren't genetically related to the Arabs, then they aren't genetically related to the Jews, either.

"But," you may interject, "we don't have Scythians today to test. So isn't UCG's theory just as good anyone else's?" Not really. Because we do have Scythian DNA, thanks to the discovery of tombs containing Scythian warrior bodies in the Monglian-Alatai mountains.
From 2005 to 2007, researchers from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona worked together with French and Mongolian researchers to excavate more than twenty tombs. Many of the tombs contained frozen and mummified human remains of soldiers buried with their horses, artifacts and possessions, which identified them as Scythians.


GENTILES!

So am I telling you these Saxons, whom Herbert W Armstrong claimed were Israelites, are actually from the nation he labeled as Assyria, the Israelites' mortal enemy? IF the Germans are Assyrians, then yes. Yes I am. However, even if they are not Assyria (and DNA seems to support the idea that they are not) then they are still Gentiles through and through. Assyria or no, either way they are Gentiles.

Even the COGs themselves seem to support this thinking - in December and April, when they gleefully bash the Christmas and Easter traditions we got from our Germanic European ancestors. How is it that the rest of the year we are descended from Israel?

The Angles and the Saxons are German and therefore Gentiles. The Britons and Scots and Irish are Celts and therefore Gentiles. The Roman conquerors were primarily Gentiles. The Gauls were Celts and Gentiles. The Franks are Germanic and Gentiles. The Goths were primarily Germanic and Gentiles. The Vikings, among whom are the Norsemen and Swedes, are Gentiles. The Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia are Gentiles. The seemingly unstoppable Huns who ravaged Europe are Gentiles. The Moors, who for centuries controlled the Iberian Peninsula where Spain and Portugal are today, are Gentiles. And you most likely are, too, if your descendants came from Europe and up into the British Isles.


ORIGINS

How can this be? Didn't God specifically reveal these things to Herbert Armstrong, His end-time prophet? Funny you should mention that. The theory that the British people descended from Israel has been around since at least 1649, when John Sadler (who had nothing to do with any proposed COG ancestry) published his pamphlet "The Rights of the Kingdom."

The teaching gained more traction as put forth by Richard Brothers, an 18th Century lieutenant in the British Royal Navy who claimed to have his first call from God in 1790 (he also had nothing to do with any proposed COG ancestry). On May 12, 1792, he wrote to the king and other heads of state, warning them he would declare the imminent fulfillment of Daniel 7 on May 17. He later proclaimed the king would die and the crown would be given to him; he then was committed to Newgate Prison in London.

Brothers was eventually released and went on to pen 15 books, most arguing for an Israelite ancestry for the English people. Two of the titles included "A Correct Account of the Invasion" and "Conquest of This Island by the Saxons." Brothers attracted numerous followers thanks to his mixed record of political predictions. He talked some into selling their property so they could come with him when he built his New Jerusalem, on both sides of the Jordan River, 1795. The government later committed him to the Bethlehem Royal Hospital, England's first asylum for the mentally ill. He was once again released in 1806 and died twenty years later, his New Jerusalem unbuilt.

Undeterred by the failures of the past, historian John Wilson built on Brothers' theoretical foundation, publishing a book version of his "Lectures on Our Israeltish Origin" in 1840. Then the theory crossed the pond when preacher William Miller, from whom the COGs descended, encouraged his followers to read books by Wilson and others. By 1876, five editions of Wilson's book had been published.

Just before Wilson's fifth edition was printed, Edward Hind issued his "Identity of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel with the Anglo-Celto-Saxons," which explained the basics of British-Israelism. Hine, also the editor of a magazine called The Banner of Israel, sold more than 250,000 copies of his book.
Remember how we dealt earlier with the Germanic Angles and Saxons, and the Celts. They are not the same peoples, yet Gentiles all.

You can read more about Brothers, Wilson and Hind here.

As I discussed in a previous post, John Harden Allen published his book, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, in 1902. There is compelling evidence to believe Herbert Armstrong plagiarized large portions of this book in his United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy, which was published in 1954. (See our article, "This Has All Happened Before" for more details. And you can compare excerpts from both books here).

G. G. Rupert, an Adventist pastor who greatly influenced Herbert Armstrong, also espoused British Israelism. Many in the COG community accept this fact, including "cogwriter" Bob Thiel, who admits that Rupert and others who crossed paths with HWA espoused forms of British Israelism. Herbert Armstrong fell into the same error by extracting the man yet perpetuating his failed teachings. (As an aside, Rupert was also was a major force in popularizing the idea of the Yellow Peril - the idea that the "yellow" "oriental" races would invade the United States. Some may look at the current economic conditions in the world and say that Rupert was right, the "yellow races" have invaded the United States! But, no. No they haven't. Rupert stated exactly what he meant, and none of it has come to pass as he said. He was not right).


CLOSING

Simply put and in summary, the teaching that Americans, Brits and Western Europeans are descended from the "lost 10 tribes" of Israel is wrong. Disproven. Unbiblical. Unhistorical. Created by false prophets and perpetuated by false prophets. God did not divinely reveal it to Herbert Armstrong. HWA was hundreds of years late in even making the claim.

Armstrong taught over and over and over again that this blatantly false set of claims is the key to understanding Biblical prophecy. He said no one can understand prophecy without this "vital key". Without the vital key of British-Israelism no one could understand where Israel is today, and thus no one could know how prophecy was going to play out. But British-Israelism is false and all predictions made using it have come to nothing.

With a starting point like that, is there any wonder that his predictions of the future failed, and more importantly, the very foundation of his understanding of Biblical prophecy altogether have failed? And continue to fail to this day? The COGs still attempt to build on this same foundation to this very day. No wonder at all that relying on Armstrong's inaccurate foundation has led the COGs to think the Apostles and even Jesus were confused about prophecy. Is it good, oh sought after by God, to claim that the Bible is wrong in order to defend your prophetic missteps, as the UCG has done? Wouldn't it be better to just let those assumptions go?

I certainly don't blame anyone for being drawn in by Herbert Armstrong's teachings about British Israelism back in the days of the Radio Church of God or Worldwide Church of God. Especially in the hopes that doing so would help you escape the Great Tribulation. We didn't have the benefit of things like the Human Genome Project, Google, or hindsight about HWA's 200+ failed prophecies. But now you have a choice. You can either check out the links and consider the evidence, or you can stick your fingers in your ears and ignore what I've said.

I'm sorry if you're disappointed that you're probably a Gentile. But guess what? I have good news!

In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male, nor female. Jesus loved you enough to suffer and die on the cross for you, whether you are Jewish, Kenyan, Greek, Irish, Japanese or American. He is the means through which God promised Abraham that the whole earth will be blessed. He is the descendant of David who sits on the throne forever. Don't worry about who is descended from whom, or which ethnic group has inherited whose blessings when. His grace was sufficient for Paul, and it's more than enough for you, too. Avoid those genealogies; they are useless (TIT. 3: 9). So when you sit down this Thanksgiving and give thanks, be sure to thank God for the greatest blessing of all - salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus. That's better than any special "gnosis" about prophecy, even better than the undeniable blessing of being born of an American. His grace was sufficient for Paul, and can be for you, too.

God bless you all, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!



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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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