LCG Article

Does the Living Church of God Teach “British Israelism”?

While the peoples of the British Isles are of Israelitish origin, “British Israelism” is an incorrect theory and racism is sin.

Dexter B. Wakefield

An important and popular booklet that the Living Church of God offers is The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy. In it, the late Mr. John H. Ogwyn shows that the history of the United States and Great Britain was written in advance in the prophecies of the Bible. God warned, “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today... then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 8:11, 17–18).

The above passage emphatically explains that the United States and the other British-descended nations have their blessings not due to their own superiority or virtue, but due to an ancient promise God made to Abraham. No other nations have received the blessings related to these specific promises. The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy also shows that God has prophesied the removal of these blessings due to America’s and Britain’s continuing rejection of the very God who gave them. Those who understand this have an obligation to warn these nations (Ezekiel 33). This being so, the Living Church of God teaches both individual and national repentance.

The Peoples of the British Isles Are of Israelitish Origin

In biblical history, ancient Israel and Judah separated from each other during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Jeroboam became the king of Israel and led it into idolatry, while Rehoboam remained the king of Judah. These two nations fought numerous wars against each other (cf. 1 Kings 12:19–21; 15:32). Israel and Judah existed as separate nations throughout biblical history from then on. Prophetically, they are to be reunited only upon the Messiah’s return, and are separate until that time (Ezekiel 37:15–20).

Because of its sins, the northern kingdom of Israel, which consisted of ten Israelite tribes, went into Assyrian captivity and, for the most part, was lost to history, becoming known as “The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” For centuries, historians have speculated about the history and location of these tribes.

Subsequently, in biblical history, the Kingdom of Judah—consisting of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and most of the tribe of Levi—sinned greatly in idolatry and went into captivity in Babylon. They later returned to Judea and were there during the time of Christ. All of this is well-established history, rooted in God’s word.

The kingdom of Judah—found in the modern-day Jewish people—kept the sign of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13, 17) and, as a result, have an extensive, well-documented history leading through the diaspora and all the way up to the founding of the modern state of Israel. The kingdom of Israel, which abandoned the Sabbath, is tracked through time mostly by biblical prophecy, which the Bible treats as future history. The northern ten tribes of Israel have comparatively fewer historical and archaeological reference points.

At least a quarter of the Bible is made up of prophecy, and much of that prophecy is devoted to the future of the northern ten tribes of Israel in “the last days” (Genesis 49:1), which are the times just prior to the return of Jesus the Messiah. The Living Church of God teaches that knowing which nations represent these ten tribes today—particularly the birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh—is the “master key” to understanding the prophecies concerning them and the events occurring at the end of the present age.

The Living Church of God’s primary mission is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world and to feed the flock that God calls in these times. Our broadcasts and literature focus on that Work. But the Tomorrow’s World magazine and television program also put current events into the context of the biblical narrative of history, often using this “key to unlocking many Bible prophecies” (The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, p. 1).

This provides a unique illumination of world events.

Knowledge that the peoples of the British Isles are of Israelitish origin has been extant for many centuries. For example, in the Declaration of Arbroath written in 1320, the Scottish barons sending that document to the pope in Rome seem to cite Israelitish origin as part of their justification for independence from the English king. Additionally, ancient Irish histories record an Israelite presence in Ireland—and there are many other examples, as well. Historians and biblical scholars have shown much interest in this subject for the last three centuries.

“British Israelism” Is an Incorrect Theory

However, this truth is sometimes confused by individuals with a different hypothesis, generally called “British Israelism”—a theory that the people of the British Isles are the descendants of all ten “lost tribes.” British Israelism is controversial and has been for centuries. The Living Church of God regards it as an incorrect theory for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that while some from the ten tribes settled in the British Isles, most settled elsewhere. Also, British Israelism’s proponents and opponents often view the subject primarily as a matter of secular history, which misses the all-important prophetic, revelatory context of the Bible. While portions of the research done by British Israelism enthusiasts might occasionally be accurate, much is tainted and distorted by their lack of biblical understanding, leading to significant errors.

Because of its long history, British Israelism—also called “Anglo-Israelism”—has split into many different factions, and various groups and false teachers have corrupted it for political or other purposes with which the Living Church of God strongly disagrees. For instance, modern so-called “Christian identity,” “white nationalist,” and “white supremacist” groups have corrupted aspects of British Israelism to suit their racist and anti-Semitic politics. Sadly, out of either ignorance or bigotry, some mischaracterize the Living Church of God’s explanation of prophecy as British Israelism or Anglo-Israelism and try to denigrate our faith by falsely claiming it is associated with racist ideas.

Racism Is Sin

The Living Church of God refuses to become involved in this world’s politics and rejects racism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of hatred against human beings. Racism is sin. And although our Church is very much aware of the role of the United States and Great Britain in prophecy, we do not accept the terms British Israelism or Anglo-Israelism as descriptive of our belief.

To say that we teach British Israelism or Anglo-Israelism as religious doctrine is inaccurate and very misleading. Such terms are not found in our Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs or in our booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy—nor are they found in The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, originally published in 1967. In fact, these terms are not found in any of the literature of the Worldwide Church of God up to the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death. Within Global Church of God literature, “Anglo-Israelism” is mentioned in the booklet America and Britain in Prophecy—but in the context of refuting some of its errors (Raymond McNair, p. 53, 1996).

The Church of God Is Open to All Races and Ethnicities

Here is an excerpt from the Living Church of God’s Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, under the “Overcoming Racial Prejudice” heading: “God’s Word commands all mankind to love their neighbors as themselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Acts 17:24–29). God reveals that salvation is now freely offered to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:34–35; Romans 10:12–13; cf. Joel 2:32). We believe love and deep respect should be shown to people of all ethnicities (Romans 13:10).”

As Mr. Herbert Armstrong noted long ago, God made both physical and spiritual promises to Abraham and his descendants. Many of the physical promises that were unconditional have been fulfilled already, and the rest will be fulfilled in the future. God also promised Abraham that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). Paul makes plain in Galatians 3:7–9 that in that statement God had in mind the spiritual family He was going to build through Jesus Christ, the King of kings, which would incorporate individuals from all over the world. And that blessing obviously includes the Kingdom of God, which is open to all peoples.

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Gentiles in Galatia, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26–29).

Therefore, the Church of God, which is “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), is open to all races and ethnicities—all the families of the earth.

Because it is God who does the calling into His Church, it is not surprising that the Living Church of God has a multiethnic and multinational membership and ministry. And we will continue “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). That is because there is “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (vv. 4–6). We continue to hold to that faith today, and we always will.

For more on this increasingly vital subject, please read “Racism in America: A Thing of the Past?” at