A Primer on Anglo-Israelism
Ah, yes, good old British-Israelism. How well I remember it. How fervently I wish I could forget. Updated Mar. 7
As I noted here, Weinland preaches belief in “US&BC” otherwise known as Anglo-Israelism or, as it was known back in Worldwide days, “British-Israelism”. From his sermon, “45 Days to the Seventh Seal“, 8:20-8:37:
“I think about the first time I heard about as well, the US and BC in prophecy. And, to know who we are as a nation here, as far as the blessing God gave to Canada, and the nation here of the United States, and Australia, New Zealand and Europe, Western Europe. It’s incredible, just to know it’s true.”
Wikipedia article on Anglo-Israelism. This is a good starting point, but does not indicate just how deeply-rooted in this belief system members of the Worldwide Church of God actually were.
This is the cover of one of the Youth Bible Lessons, published by the Youth Educational Services arm of Ambassador College from the 1980s to the early 1990s. These lessons covered kindergarten age to junior high (grade seven). After that, Youth Opportunities United members (teenagers) were expected to continue their own bible studies, with church-approved literature.
Such literature included The United States And British Commonwealth in Prophecy and Mystery of the Ages, long-standing Armstrong tracts which are now being reprinted (I do not know what revisions have been made) by Gerald Flurry’s Philadelphia Church of God.
It was not just in church literature and from the pulpit that WCG members were indoctrinated with British-Israelism. Consider only one of the several hymns we sang each week, “O Thou The Shepherd of Israel Art“.
The basic premise of British-Israelism is that the US (including Canada) and the British Commonwealth (including, at that time, western Europe), were said to be the “lost” tribes of “Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin”, of the house of Israel. This was what led church members to be “called to the truth” of “the one true church”, and what would allow us, after the first resurrection, to be rulers in the “Kingdom of God”, which was to return after the events pictured in the book of Revelation.
The Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God preaches British-Israelism openly. The new evangelist for Australia and New Zealand, Wayne Matthews, helped make arrangements for a speaking tour by Rick Sherrod, an Anglo-Israelism proponent, as recently as 1998, indicated here.
British-Israelism or Anglo-Israelism is a racist doctrine. There have been no substantiated links between the CoG-PKG and Christian Identity groups as of yet. However, the CoG-PKG publicly preaches a doctrine that is historically fabricated at best, and has been used as racist-fuelling hate speech, at worst.
As for the current status of BI, or Anglo-Israelism, in the splinteers of the WCG in the present-day, it is impossible to gauge, from the outside looking in, exactly what stand each splinter takes on the “doctrine”. By far the most publicly Anglo-Israeli of the splinters is the “liberal” United Church of God, which tries to play BI both ways.
On their television vehicle, Beyond Today they address the issue of “Hate Speech”. However, the first link you encountered on the website, should you have chanced to visit after viewing that program, was United’s version of Armstrong’s tract, US&BC in Prophecy. Interesting to note that this tract has apparently subsequently been removed from the United Church of God’s website. Revisionist history, it appears, is alive and well in the UCG.
For a historical footnote on the racism that occurred in the original Worldwide Church of God this series of letters is a good example of what the theory of Anglo-Israelism did in practice, for those who were not of the tribes of Ephraim or Mannaseh.