A Response to Anti-Semitism
tendency when faced with crackpot ideas is to ignore them. Since they are so ludicrous to those who
know better, it seems unnecessary to refute them. For instance, there is a Flat Earth Society headquartered in
Lancaster, California. It is unlikely
that one will find detailed refutations of their point of view, not because
their point of view cannot be refuted, but just because it seems not worth the
arguments raised by those who hate the Jewish people generally strike most the
same way. Anti-Semitism is so obviously
wrong that spending the time to refute the arguments would seem to make as much
sense as bothering with the Flat Earth Society. Like the Flat Earth Society, the anti-Semitic arguments are long,
complex, and filled with so many details that it would take some time to tackle
them all point by point. However, the anti-Semites of the world,
unlike those who believe in a flat earth, have historically been dangerous, and
are responsible for killing millions of people. They continue, year after year, to use the same tired arguments
that they have been using for years to justify their hatred and desire to
persecute the Jewish people. A search
on the Internet of certain key terms in the anti-Semitic lexicon brings up the
same articles, virtually word for word, on any number of hate sites. Therefore, since the arguments are
unchanging, once an answer has been given, it won’t be necessary to do it
again. And because of the harm that
anti-Semitism has caused, an answer must
One of the most common arguments of
the anti-Semites is the charge that the Jewish people aren’t really Jews at
all, but some sort of imposters pretending to be Jewish. Why would the anti-Semites make such a
claim? Since the Bible condemns those
who hate the people of Israel, the Jew haters who wish to call themselves
Christians are forced to try to prove that the Jewish people aren’t really from
Israel, and that the “true Jews” are instead, they themselves. Thus, they imagine that their anti-Semitism
is only proper, because they are simply trying to protect the true Jews
(themselves) from the hateful anti-Jews (the people who call themselves Jews)
who would seek to destroy them. They turn
the focus of the patriarchal covenant of Genesis 12:1-3 on its head.
anti-Semitic argument that tries to turn the Jews into imposters may be broken
down into three points: first, a linguistic and biblical argument, which
attempts to prove that Jews are not part of Israel; second, a historical
argument, which attempts to identify the people who are claiming to be Jews as
actually being Khazars rather than descendents of Israel; and third, the
attempt to identify the Anglo-Saxon people as the true Israelites.
We will look at each point in
turn. The fundamental problem with the
anti-Semitic argument is that not only is it false historically, biblically and
linguistically, but more significantly, it stands in violation of the central
theme of the Bible, which is to love God and to love people.
Linguistic and Biblical Arguments
The Jews Aren’t Really Jewish
Some anti-Semites argue that the word Jew can be
applied to people who are not actually, in any way, descended from the ancient
people of Israel. Furthermore, they
will try to argue that the Israeli government itself admits this shocking fact,
that today’s Jews aren’t really Israelites at all. Additionally, attempts will be made to convince readers that
Paul, and other biblical characters in the New Testament, are not actually
Jewish, either. Consider the following
quotations from some anti-Semitic literature:
An important question answered from reason and
historic Biblical fact is that the word Jew comes from a Greek word meaning
descendent of the tribe of Judah, or someone living in the land of Judea.
Today's Jews call themselves Jews to falsely imply that they are somehow
descendent and have blood links to the Biblical tribe of Judah.
Most churches today make no distinction between
these terms – a fatal mistake! One of their arguments is that the Apostle Paul
said in Romans 11:1 that he was an "Israelite," and then in Phil. 3:5
he called himself "a Hebrew of the Hebrews." Therefore, they say, the
terms are identical, and by implication they include the word "Jew"
as well. However, Paul was also a Benjamite (Rom. 11:1), but the fact that he
descended from Benjamin, Israel, and Heber did not mean that all of these men
were the same person.
in summary, we can clearly see that:
Israelites are Hebrews and Semites.
a few of the Israelites were called Jews (or, Judahites, or Judeans).
non-Israelites were called Jews (Judahites, Judeans) simply because they lived
in Judah or claimed to follow the religion of the Judeans., the self-styled or
so-called "Jews" of Judaism are not, nor ever have been Israelites,
Hebrews or Semites but rather Khazars (Turkish Mongol Huns). A well-kept secret
to substantiate and further the Jews claims to the nation of Palestine and is
the principal reason for the never-ending David and Goliath-like struggle
between Jewish tanks and helicopter gun-ships and stone throwing Palestinian
youths displaying their rage in the only way they can.
The Jews of today are not the Israelites of the Old
Testament, but instead are Khazars, Edomites, Babylonians and Canaanites and
most definitely not the descendants
The Jews primary focus and general code of conduct
is the Babylonian Talmud and not the Christian Old Testament canonised books of
the Bible, simply because they are diametrically opposed. They clearly follow
the "traditions of the elders of Zion" (Pharisaic Talmudism) which
our Lord Jesus Christ so openly despised!
When asked the
question, "Who is Israel? - Who is a Jew?" the Israeli Government's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) answered thus:
Israelite is purely Biblical. An Israeli is a citizen of Israel, regardless of
religion. A Jew is a person anywhere in
the world born to a Jewish mother, or converted to Judaism, who is thus
identified as a member of the Jewish people and religion.."
Notice here that
the Jews themselves clearly imply that the term "Israelite" and
"Jew" are separate and distinct and where Jews have no relation
whatsoever with the Biblical Noahatic bloodline. In fact, under the heading
"A Brief History of the Terms for Jew," in the 1980 Jewish Almanac,
is the following incredible admission:
speaking it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a "Jew" or to
call a contemporary Jew an Israelite or a Hebrew".
Did you fully
comprehend what you just read?….if not, read it again!
A JEW IS NOT
TO BE CONSIDERED AN ISRAELITE!
How is one
to respond to the anti-Semitic presentation?
Easy enough, since the argument is without substance, as can easily be
shown by simply looking at a few passages in the Bible. Following the Babylonian captivity, all
descendents of Abraham are referred to as Jews. The origin of the term “Jew” is certainly as a reference to the
largest tribe of the nation of Israel, Judah; but by the post-exilic period, it
came to be used as a general term for all Israelites, regardless of tribe. Consider the following points:
is called a Jew in Acts 21:39
is called a Jew in John 4:9.
is called a Jew in Acts 10:28
was called a Jew in Esther 2:5
It is clear that both Paul and
Mordecai, for instance, are not from the tribe of Judah, but of Benjamin. It is certainly not the case that the Greek
word translated Jew merely means Judean and that a person living in Judea would
be considered a Judean regardless of his ethnicity. As a simple example of this, consider Acts 18:2:
There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who
had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had
ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,
Aquila is a native of Pontus. Where’s that? It is a province in what is today northern Turkey, which is not
anywhere near Judea. In Acts 18:24 we
learn of a Jew named Apollos, who is a native of Alexandria. That’s in Egypt,
One finds the term Jew being used
frequently in the New Testament as a contrast to Gentile: for instance in Acts
10:28, Romans 1:16, or Romans 2:9, just
In Romans 11:1 Paul makes the point that he is an
Israelite, descended from Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin, and yet, as
we’ve already seen, both he and others were quite insistent that he was a Jew.
The quotations from the Israeli
Ministry of Foreign affairs are being given a very odd twist by the
anti-Semites; it seems obvious that the Israelis are in no way trying to imply
that Jewish people and the ancient Israelites are different people, except in
terms of where they live from a chronological
standpoint. They are simply explaining
that the modern usage of the term Israeli is ordinarily applied to citizens of
Israel, regardless of ethnicity, while Israelite is used for Jewish people in
the Bible, and Jew is a general term that can be used for Jewish people living
anywhere, including in Israel today.
They are not trying to argue
that Jews are not descended from the Israelites of the Bible. They are simply discussing where and when
Jewish people are living and what terms might be applied. Only an idiot would think they are arguing
that they are not descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, especially if one
bothers to pay a little more attention to what they say, rather than to create
specious arguments based on semantic games, dependent upon pulling a few quotes
out of their broader context. After
all, consider this section taken from the Declaration of Israel’s Independence,
announced by David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948:
The land of Israel was the
birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national
identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of
national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the
Exiled from Palestine, the
Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion,
never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their
Impelled by this historic
association, Jews strove throughout the centuries to go back to the land of
their fathers and regain their statehood….
people do not argue that they are not descendents of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. They do not argue that they are
not descended from the ancient Israelites.
Quite the opposite; they are consistent in identifying themselves as the
descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the people of ancient Israel, the
Didn’t Actually Come to the Jewish People
Additionally, the anti-Semite wishes to convince us
of the following, that Jesus did not come to the Jews at all, and especially
not to the Pharisees:
In no place does
Jesus indicate that He came as a Messiah for the Jewish people. He told His
disciples: "I am not sent, but to the LOST
SHEEP of the HOUSE OF ISRAEL."
(Emphasis added.) According to Strong's Concordance, #575, the word
"lost" as used here comes from the Greek word "appolumi".
This is made up of two root words "apo", meaning: "separation or
departure," and "ollumi", meaning: "as punishment."
Put these two together and we get the meaning that Jesus came, not to the
"unsaved" members of the House of Israel (remember these are not
Jews), but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel who had been
"scattered and put away as punishment for their disobedience." This
can be seen in the Epistle of James which is addressed to the "twelve
tribes which are scattered abroad," (James 1:1).
JESUS DID NOT COME TO THE TALMUDIC
PHARISEES OF HIS DAY. IN FACT HE CALLED THEM "children of your father
the devil." (John 8:44). HE DID NOT
COME TO THE "synagogue of Satan," MENTIONED IN REV. 2:9, "They which say they are Jews, or
Judeans, and are not." He came to his own sheep, those who would hear his
voice and follow him. In John 10:2, he said to them: "He that entereth in
by the door is the shepherd of the sheep . . . and the sheep hear His voice,
and He called His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out . . . and a stranger
will they not follow, but will flee from him . . ." Then in vs. 26,
speaking directly to the Pharisees, (leaders of the Jews) He said very plainly:
"Ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT
OF MY SHEEP . . . How much plainer can HIS words be?
If Jesus did not come to the
Pharisees of his day, or the Jewish people of his day, then how do we explain
the fact that he kept eating at their houses, going to their parties, and
spending time with them? How do we
explain the fact that both Jesus and all his disciples were Jewish? And how do we explain then Nicodemus, who
was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (see John 3:1, 7:50, and 19:39),
yet became a follower of Jesus? And
what are we going to do with Acts 15:5 which indicates that there were many
Pharisees who became Christians?
The anti-Semites also wish us to
believe that Jesus did not claim to be the Jewish Messiah. How odd then, when we consider the story of
Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.
Notice that he identifies himself as a Jew, tells her that salvation is
of the Jews, and then tells her that he is the Messiah:
"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that
you are a prophet. Our fathers
worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must
worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is
coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in
Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what
you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the
Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now
come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for
they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his
worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
The woman said, "I know that Messiah"
(called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to
Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am
he." (John 4:19-26)
Jesus didn’t come to the Jewish
people? Really? Then how are we to explain the comment made
by the Magi when they came to Herod:
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in
the east and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:2)
And why did Jesus respond this way to Pilate:
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the
governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
And many Jews accepted Jesus and
hailed him as King of Israel:
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus
was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he
had raised from the dead. So the chief
priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the
Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. The next day the
great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to
Jerusalem. They took palm branches and
went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who
comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"
And of course, on the day of
Pentecost we have Peter speaking to people who had gathered in Jerusalem for a
Jewish holiday. In Acts 2:5 we are
informed that Jews from every nation had gathered in Jerusalem for
Pentecost. In Acts 2:14 he addresses
this crowd as “fellow Jews” identifying both his audience and himself as
Jewish. In Acts 2:22 he calls them “men
of Israel” and in Acts 2:36 he calls Jesus the Messiah (using the Greek
equivalent) and identifies the crowd as “Israel”. In Acts 2:41-42, we learn that over three thousand of them
repented and became Christians. In Acts
6:1-2, we are told of a dispute among the Christians, who are identified as
The fundamental problem with the
whole argument here against the Jews is that it is at odds with what Paul
himself said in Romans 11:1-29, which tells us that the Jewish people have not
been cut off, that they are loved by God, and that his call and gift to them is
irrevocable. And since we know that
Paul was called a Jew and identified himself as a Jew, it is specious to try to
argue that Israel doesn’t mean the Jewish people. It is very clear that in the New Testament, and in fact, in any
part of the Bible post-Babylonian captivity, that to be Jewish is synonymous
with being an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, or however else you might
want to express it. In fact, Jews have
always been part of Israel and Israelites, even before the captivity. After all, Judah is one of the twelve tribes.
A. The Khazars
anti-Semites are desperate to prove that Jews really are not Jews at all, that
they are in fact some other group of people who are, in essence, only
pretending to be Jews; they want to prove that most, if not all the Jews on the
planet are actually Khazars. Here is a
quote describing the anti-Semitic point of view:
The Jews of today are not the Israelites of the Old
Testament, but instead are Khazars, Edomites, Babylonians and Canaanites and
most definitely not the descendants
A close study of
the Scriptures will show that in no way can the Jews, or anyone else for that
matter, prove themselves to be pure-blooded relatives of Abraham. The majority
of people we know as Jews today do not possess a single drop of Abrahamic blood
in their veins and are not even remotely Semitic. From mostly Jewish sources,
we have seen where the majority of Jews today come from Eastern Europe, where
they descended from a Turco Mongolian people from Russia, known as Khazars, who
were converted to Judaism in the 8th Century AD.
An underlying presupposition of the
anti-Semitic argument for trying to identify the Jewish people as Khazars grows
out of the odd thought that people who convert to Judaism are somehow not
“real” Jews. That is akin to saying
that my children, whom I have adopted, are not “my” children; that somehow they
are not “real.” Yet Ezra 8:17 tells us
that converts to Judaism are Jews:
In every province and in every city, wherever the edict
of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and
celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of
the Jews had seized them.
people not Jewish then, because they are converts? Then I must not be a Christian, since I am a convert; in fact,
there must not be any Christians at all, since every Christian is a
convert. This is a silly argument from
the very outset.
It is certainly the case that the Khazars converted to
Judaism. It should be pointed out,
however, that their conversion was the consequence of their exposure to Jewish
people who lived with them. They did
not become Jewish just by waking up one morning and deciding that circumcision
was the thing to do today.
From a very early
time the Khazars were a diverse and generally tolerant people. An order listing
people being called up for military duty from the early days of the Khazar
kingdom indicates that there were people with all sorts of hairstyles, living
quarters, and lifestyles in the country. But it would be a mistake to interpret
the Islamic sources by arguing that the Khazars were not Jews. Rather, the
inhabitants of Khazaria were of diverse origins - Iranians, Turks, Slavs,
Greeks, Goths, and others - and we cannot expect them to have always followed
the faith of the ruling Khazar tribe, because the Khazar king never forced the
religion of Judaism upon them.
It seems that
after the fall of their kingdom, the Khazars adopted the Cyrillic script in
place of Hebrew and began to speak East Slavic (sometimes called
"Canaanic" because Benjamin of Tudela called Kievan Rus the
"Land of Canaan"). These Slavic-speaking Jews are documented to have
lived in Kievan Rus during the 11th-13th centuries. However, Yiddish-speaking
Jewish immigrants from the west (especially Germany, Bohemia, and other areas
of Central Europe) soon began to flood into Eastern Europe, and it is believed
that these newer immigrants eventually outnumbered the Khazars. Thus, Eastern
European Jews predominantly have ancestors who came from Central Europe rather
than from the Khazar kingdom. The two groups (eastern and western Jews)
intermarried over the centuries. This idea is not new. In a footnote in Chapter
2 of History of the Jews in Russia and
Poland Volume 1 (English translation, 1916), the Ashkenazic historian Simon
Dubnow writes: "It is quite possible that there was an admixture of
settlers from the Khazar kingdom, from the Crimea, and from the Orient in general,
who were afterwards merged with the western element." (page 39).
The Ashkenazi Jews
are also the direct descendants of the Israelites. Genetic tests seem to
indicate some ancestry from the regions known today as Turkey, Armenia,
Georgia, and Iraq. Mediterranean Fever, for example, is found among some
Ashkenazi Jews as well as Armenians and Anatolian Turks. It is now asserted
that many Ashkenazi men who belong to the priestly caste (Kohenim) possess a
"Kohen" marker on the Y-chromosome.
A genetics study
released in May 2000, led by Michael Hammer, contends that the results show
that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to Yemenite Jews, Iraqi Jews,
Sephardic Jews, Kurdish Jews, and Arabs than they are to European Christian
populations, and that hardly any intermarriage or conversion has occurred to
affect the Jewish groups over the centuries.
comprehensive genetic testing may help us to understand the extent of any
Khazar contribution to the Ashkenazi gene pool. For now, it is clear that the
Israelite traces among the East European Jews came from three sources: first,
Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal and resettling in Lithuania and
Poland; second, Roman Jews, and third, Khazarian Jews who merged with
Israelites, just as the Schechter Letter
states "they became one people". The Khazars and the Israelites mixed
with each other.
Are all Jews
around the world descended from the Khazars? Certainly not. But, it is rational to conclude that some of
them are, just as there are African and European elements in the Jewish
Jewish people have been scattered all over the
world; wherever they were forced to wander, they made converts, they
intermarried, they lived their lives; but they maintained themselves as
Jewish. Converts to Judaism are not
less Jewish for the fact that they converted.
David’s great grandmother was Ruth; she was from Moab. Did that make David not Jewish?
Another favorite of the
anti-Semites is to bring in negative comments on the Kabala, and mix in some
conspiracy theories. So as an example,
consider the following:
Cabbala, Kaballah, Quabalah,
and Qabal are all reference of what is commonly referred to as "Jewish
(Gnostic) Mysticism." Jews believe that the Hebrew Moseretic Version of
the Torah was written by God [Tetragrammaton] himself, prior to the creation.
They believe that when Moses went to the top of Mt. Sinai, God gave Him the
written Torah as well as oral instructions for Cabbalism. The primary written
document concerning Cabbalism is the Zohar, which is contained in the Jewish
Talmud. Kaballah texts are only written in their original Hebrew, so non-Jews
hopefully cannot read them.
And how about these as examples of the evidences of
conspiracy that the anti-Semites love to disseminate:
"The Jewish people as a whole will become its own Messiah. It will
attain world dominion by the dissolution of other races, by the abolition of
frontiers, the annihilation of monarchy and by the establishment of a world
republic in which the Jews will everywhere exercise the privilege of
citizenship. In this New World Order the children of Israel will furnish all
the leaders without encountering opposition. The Governments of the different
peoples forming the world republic will fall without difficulty into the hands
of the Jews. It will then be possible for the Jewish rulers to abolish private
property and everywhere to make use of the resources of the state. Thus will
the promise of the Talmud be fulfilled, in which is said that when the
Messianic time is come, the Jews will have all the property of the whole world
in their hands." -Baruch Levy, Letter to Karl Marx, 'La Revue de Paris',
p.574, June 1, 1928
"The great ideal of Judaism is that the whole world shall be imbued
with Jewish teachings, and that in a Universal Brotherhood of nations — a
greater Judaism in fact — all the Separate races and religions shall
disappear." - The Jewish World, Feb 9, 1883
I suppose there
might be some Jewish people who believe that the Masoretic text was written by
God himself prior to the creation, but that is hardly the norm. After all, most scholars know that the
Masoretes were Jewish scholars who lived in Babylonia and Palestine, who strove
to reproduce, as far as possible, the original text of the Hebrew Old
Testament. Their intention was not to
interpret the meaning of the Scriptures but merely to transmit to future
generations the authentic word of God.
To that end, they gathered whatever manuscripts and oral traditions they
could find. Between the sixth and tenth
centuries AD, these scholars living in Tiberius, on the coast of the Sea of
Galilee also invented the current vowel points that have been added to the
Hebrew text; prior to this time, all copies of the Bible were written only with
consonants. To insure that non-native speakers of the language would be able to
get the pronunciation right, the Masoretes developed a remarkable system of
dots and dashes that represent the vowel sounds. These are placed above and below the letters of the consonantal
text. They used dots and dashes, rather than creating new letters of the
alphabet, because they viewed the consonantal text as sacred and did not feel
comfortable changing it in any way.
interesting about the comments on the Kabala, or for that matter the quotes
used to substantiate the idea that some huge Jewish conspiracy has designs on
ruling the world, is the implication that all Jews think the same way and
believe the same things. Nothing could
be further from the truth. It doesn’t
even begin to make sense. It would be
like imagining that all Christians think the same way on all issues. There is an old saying about Baptists that
where you have two Baptists, you have three opinions. The same thing can be applied to Jewish people, or for that
matter, any group of human beings. We
could pull up quotes from white, Anglo-Saxon Americans who say the exact same
things that the anti-Semites imagine is true of all Jews. We can find any number of people from any
particular group you’d care to pick, who could be found saying things that
other Americans or other people would find reprehensible. I’m sure we could take some statements by
Christians in the context of the value and need for evangelizing, and convince
others that Christians are part of a worldwide conspiracy seeking a political
take over of the world. No group of
people is homogenous.
III. Anti-Semites and
romance of the ten northern tribes of Israel, apparently lost from the pages of
history, has caught the fancy of numerous speculators. The same school of
thought which imagined that the wandering Israelites turned into the Afgans,
the Nestorians, the Japanese or the Indians of North America has given rise to
the British-Israelite theory. Anti-Semites propose that the Anglo-Saxons are
the physical descendants of the Israelites and that Great Britain with her
daughter America has inherited all the covenant blessings given to
A great conglomeration
of Biblical passages, ancient texts, linguistic arguments and legends are
offered as proof. However, British Israelism is like a mirage: from a distance
it appears solid, but when it is approached and examined it disappears like a
What is offered in
support of British Israelism? On the basis of 2 Kings 17:18, its proponents
insist that when the Northern Kingdom was destroyed in 721 B.C. ALL the people
of the ten tribes were taken to Assyria. Only Judah, that is the Jews, were
left in Palestine. Later Judah was exiled too. When, after seventy years, she
returned to rebuild the temple, ONLY the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi
came back. Additional proof for the disappearance of the Northern tribes is
supposedly found in 2 Esdras 13 and in Josephus' Antiquities.
What became of Israel?
According to a British Israel writer named Worth Smith, the ten tribes remained
captive in Assyria less than one hundred years. Becoming too numerous for their
captors to control, they moved out of bondage about 661 B.C. and headed north
toward southeastern Europe. Originally calling themselves "the Sons of
Isaac," they ultimately became known as the Saxons and later invaded
One of the major
proponents of British Israelism in recent years was Herbert W. Armstrong, the
leader of the then cultic Worldwide Church of God. He claimed that there are many verses in the Bible which support
Worth Smith's contention that Israel would move north to occupy a new promised
land. According to him, Amos 9:8, 9 indicates Israel will be sifted among the
nations; Hosea 3:4 predicts that Israel will abide many days without a king;
and 2 Samuel 7:10 and 1 Chronicles 17:9 foretell that Israel will dwell in a
permanent place of her own.
Taking off from these
four passages Armstrong argues, "Notice carefully how all these prophecies
fit together! After being removed from the Holy Land, after being sifted among
all nations, abiding many days without a king, losing their identity, they are
to be 'planted' in a far-away, strange land now to become their own. And . . .
they are to move no more!" Using an amalgamation of verses, Armstrong then
tries to prove that the "faraway strange land" is England, and that
"our white, English-speaking peoples today — Britain and America — are
actually and truly the Birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh of the 'lost'
House of Israel. . . ."
Proof is supposedly
offered by Genesis 17:4 which indicates Abraham was to be the father of many
nations (obviously Britain and America) and by Genesis 28:14 which records his
seed was to spread in all directions. British Israelites go on to declare that
the promises to Abraham were twofold:
• First, there were
the kingly and spiritual promises, consisting of the promised royal line and
the promised Messiah. These are called the "scepter" promises; they
went to Judah (Genesis 49:10). These promises which culminated in Christ are
acquired by grace.
• Second, there were
the material and national promises consisting of wealth, prosperity and power
which are called the "birthright" promises. Birthright "has to
do with RACE, not grace," according to Armstrong; it is acquired simply by
being born. The right of the firstborn was never given to Judah (the Jews) — it
was given to Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:2) —therefore, according to the British-Israelite
position, Judah was to receive none of the material promises. Joseph — who
became Britain and America — received them all.
Other Biblical promises and blessings:
Verses are presented which are intended to show the "obvious"
parallels between Israel's promises and the blessings now upon the Anglo-Saxon
peoples. Based on Genesis 22:17, British Israelites see that the descendants of
Abraham clearly must possess the gate of their enemies. What is a gate?
Armstrong explains that it is "a narrow passage of entrance or exit. When
speaking nationally, a 'gate' would be such a pass as the Panama Canal, the
Suez Canal, or the Strait of Gibraltar."
To British Israelites,
Genesis 28:13,14 indicates Israel will spread worldwide; Genesis 26:1-5 promises
Israel "all these countries"; Micah 4:7 predicts Israel will become a
powerful nation; Isaiah 24:15 foretells Israel will be an island or coast
people; and Hosea 2:6 states that Israel will be blind to their origins.
Therefore, to what could all these Scriptures refer but Britain and
Extra-Biblical materials are used by
British Israelites to help shore up the contention that Britain is Israel.
• Linguistic "evidence" is offered: according to
British-Israel adherents, the word British is derived from the Hebrew words Brit, covenant, and ish, man. Thus the word British means covenant man. In a similar
way, the word Saxon is shown to have a hidden significance. Armstrong writes,
"The name 'Isaac' is the English form of the Hebrew word more exactly
transliterated Yishaq. How . . .
[easy] for the . . . unstable, semi-vowel 'y' to drop, leaving Shaq or Saac.
... Is it only coincidence that 'Saxon' sounds the same as 'Saac's sons' — sons
• Tea Tephi: Another interesting "substantiation" of
British Israelism is the legendary Tea-Tephi of Ireland, who is supposed to be
the daughter of the last king of Judah. Jeremiah was responsible for getting
her to Ireland, where she ultimately became the ancestor of the British Royal
• The coronation stone of England, the legendary Stone of Scone, is
purported to be the stone Jacob used as his pillow. It was supposedly brought
to Ireland by Jeremiah and is equated with the Lia Faif of Irish myth. Edward
Hine explains that, "Tephi, herself, who became the Queen . . . was
crowned upon it; so were all the monarchs to Fergus the First of Scotland, who
had the stone taken there, and so were all the monarchs from Fergus to James
the First, and from James the First to Victoria. ..."
Appeal is made to tradition.
That the ten tribes were distinct and maintained their identity after the
Assyrian captivity is an old idea. It goes back to at least the second century
B.C., the date of composition given to an apocryphal book called Tobit. The
story in this book centers around Tobit, a member of the tribe of Naphtali,
"who in the days of Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians, was taken into
captivity from Thisbe. ..." The action of the drama takes place primarily
In the pseudepigraphal
2 Baruch, a composite work produced in the latter half of the first century
A.D., the author claims to be Baruch, the secretary of Jeremiah (cf. Jer.
36:4). In 2 Baruch 78:1 the author begins a letter "to the nine and a half
tribes, which were across the river Euphrates. ..."
In the apocryphal work
2 Esdras, composed toward the end of the first century A.D., there is mention
of the ten tribes in 13:39-45: "These are the ten tribes which were led
away from their own land into captivity in the days of King Hoshea, whom
Shalmaneser the king of the Assyrians led captive; he took them across the
river, and they were taken into another land. But they formed this plan . . .
that they would ... go to a more distant region, where mankind had never lived . . .
According to A. Cohen,
it was generally believed by the rabbis of the Talmud that the ten tribes would
come back and be united with the rest of Israel, usually through the work of
the Messiah. There were a few rabbis, though —for example Tosifta (in Sanhedrin
XIII. 12)—who stated that "The ten tribes will have no share in the World
to Come." According to Jacob Meyers, writing in the Anchor Bible, 2 Esdras
13:45 evidenced the attitude of the Jewish people at the time of its composition,
that the ten tribes were in a remote place, since for many years there had been
no contact with them. The Mishna, in Sanhedrin 10:3, also expressed this
Rabbi Louis Isaac
Rabinowitz mentions the interesting old legend (also in the Talmud and in
Ginzberg's series, the Legends of the
Jews, Vol. 4) of why the ten tribes were unable to rejoin their fellow
Israelites: they were exiled beyond the river Sambatyon. During the six days of
the week the water was rough and impassable. On the Sabbath, the water was
quiet, but the laws of the Sabbath
made it impossible for Israel to cross then.
century A.D.) also mentions the ten tribes in his Antiquities: "Wherefore
there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates
till now, and are an immense
multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (XI, V, 2), Jerome, writing
in the fifth century A.D., believed the ten tribes were still in the land of
Why England? It is clear,
therefore, that the belief in ten lost tribes has a long tradition behind it.
Since the Middle Ages many works have been written "locating" the
lost tribes among various peoples. But where exactly did the theory that the
lost tribes are in England originate?
Anton Damns writes that British Israelism can be traced back to a
Protestant apologist, Dr. Abadie of Amsterdam who, in 1723, is quoted as
stating: "Unless the ten tribes have flown into the air or have been
plunged into the center of the earth, they must be sought for in the north and
west, and in the British Isles."
Founders of the movement: Generally
though, the British-Israel theory itself is traced back to Richard Brothers,
born in 1757. Brothers was a lieutenant in the British navy for awhile, but
quit the service in 1789. Because he refused to accept his half-pay on account
of religious scruples, he found he was forever short of money; ultimately he
was forced to labor in a workhouse.
In 1790 Brothers says
he received his first call from God. On May 12, 1792, he sent letters to the
King of England, the ministers of state, and the Speaker of the House of
Commons. In these letters he warned them that on May 17 he would declare the
imminent fulfillment of Daniel 7. Sometime later Brothers proclaimed that the
king would die and that the crown would be given to him, "the nephew of
the Almighty, and prince of the Hebrews, appointed to lead them to the land of
Soon after predicting
the king's death he was committed to Newgate, where he claimed to have received
poor treatment. He did not remain there long, and the experience did not seem
to hurt his career. He wrote fifteen books, most arguing for an Israelite
ancestry for the English, including A Correct Account of the Invasion and
Conquest of This Island by the Saxons. Because he made a series of
political predictions, some of which came true, he was able to attract numerous
followers. These he talked into selling their property so they could accompany
him to his New Jerusalem, which he planned to build on both sides of the Jordan
River beginning in 1795. Though his followers included mainly the poor and
ignorant, he did attract a few educated and respectable people, such as
Nathanial Brassey Halhed, the orientalist; a
member of Parliament from Lymington; and Sharp, an engraver.
Things did not
continue to go well for Brothers, for by order of the government he was finally
committed to Bedlam as a dangerous lunatic. Released in 1806, he lived for nearly
two more decades, but when he died in 1824 his New Jerusalem was still
In 1840, following the
path blazed by Brothers, John Wilson of England published Lectures on Our
Israehtish Origin. Apparently fairly popular, the book went through several
editions, the fifth being issued in 1876.
Five years before
Wilson's fifth edition appeared, Edward Hine published his Identity of the
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel With the Anglo-Celto-Saxons, in which he
expounded the basic tenets of British Israelism. Hine's book was very
successful, selling more than 250,000 copies.
Like Brothers, he occasionally got carried away with his own importance.
While he was editor of a magazine called The Banner of Israel, a peculiar
statement appeared on its pages: the reference in Isaiah 60 which indicates a
deliverer would come out of Zion to bring the glory of the Lord to Israel was
applied to Hine himself—a rather strange exegesis of the Scripture, to say the
Its modern proponents: Today there
are many groups and individuals who have promoted British Israelism. British
Israelism is not a sect nor is it a cult in the normal sense of the term. The
movement is interdenominational and normally does not try to persuade its
members to abandon other beliefs. The movement is loosely organized, being
divided into widely scattered groups, therefore there is generally little
control over the members.
According to John
Wilson, British Israelism is "an appendage to orthodoxy, existing on the
periphery of what is normally
believed. , .
." Not too surprisingly,
therefore, British Israelites will often remain members of orthodox
Yet, one of its most
persistent dangers is the ease with which British Israelism justifies and
fosters racial pride, prejudice, and hate.
• One of the
best-known proponents of British Israelism was Herbert W. Armstrong and his
Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong's presentation was different from that of
most teachers of the doctrine, as he was the head of a cult, and British
Israelism was simply one part of his mixed-up theology. Therefore, some other
peculiar doctrines were added to the standard British-Israel message. Armstrong's teachings were propagated
through the Plain Truth magazine and
on The World Tomorrow broadcast. His
book, The United States and British
Commonwealth in Prophecy contained the major elements of British Israelism
as preached by Armstrong. Since the mid-1990s, the World Wide Church of God has
repudiated British Israel teaching.
• Bertrand Comparet, a
British Israelite who lives in San Diego, has a radio program and has written
some literature on the subject of British Israelism.
• Destiny Publishers
is a firm that specializes in printing literature dealing with British
Israelism. The head of the firm, Howard Rand, has written some literature on
• Anti-Semites in
general, have adopted this concept and propagate it on the Internet and other
make a number of claims and offer a substantial amount of "proof" for
them. The foundation of their belief is found in their insistence that Israel
was removed from the land in 721 B.C.; that only the tribe of Judah—the
Jews—was left. However, we find that the Biblical record precludes any
possibility of the other tribes being lost. Thus a close examination will
reveal their beliefs to be without basis.
A Scripture often used
by British Israelites to support their claim that all Israel was taken captive
is 2 Kings 17:18: "Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and
removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah
only." At first glance, this plain statement of Scripture might indeed
seem to indicate that no one was left except the tribe of Judah. However, it
must be remembered that Levi and Benjamin were also left behind, as clearly
indicated by such passages as 2 Chronicles 34:30,32. Even some British
Israelites admit to this fact. Therefore, 2 Kings 17:18 must be interpreted as
referring to Judah as a kingdom and to the end of the Northern Kingdom as a
separate entity. Remember, that under
Solomon’s son, Reheboam, the nation of Israel split into two political units,
divided north and south, with the Southern Kingdom continuing to be ruled by
descendants of David, while the Northern Kingdom was ruled by several unrelated
dynasties. The Southern Kingdom came to
be called Judah, because that was the largest tribe in the south, while the
Northern Kingdom retained the name Israel.
This split only lasted about two hundred years, until the destruction of
the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians.
Scripture refutations: The end of the
Northern Kingdom did not mean an end to the ten tribes, as a brief review of
Israel's history will show. In the ninth year of Hoshea's reign the people of
Israel were exiled to Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). This corresponds to the sixth
year of the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (18:9-11). Hezekiah was then
followed by Manasseh (20:21-21:18), Amon (21:19-23) and Josiah (21:24).
Beginning in the twelfth
year of Josiah's reign, the Bible records the following: "And he [Josiah]
burned the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and
Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon,
even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks [in their ruins] round about. . . . Now
in the eighteenth year of his reign ... he sent Shaphan . . . Maaseiah . . .
and Joah. . . . They delivered the money that was brought into the house of
God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh
and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin;
and they returned to Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 34:5-9). It is very clear
from this passage that Judah was not alone. Here, more than ninety years after
the fall of the Northern Kingdom, the Levites were able to collect money from
Manasseh, Ephraim and the remnant of Israel.
King Josiah was
determined to keep the Passover as it should be kept. In 35:18 we are told that
"Neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept,
and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present,
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem." Obviously, then, Judah was not alone in
keeping the Passover either. People from the Northern Kingdom kept it as
well. Historical records from the time
also indicate a large number of the ten tribes remained in the land.
In Ancient Near-Eastern texts
Sargon's record of the conquest of Samaria makes it clear that most of the
Israelite people were not taken to Assyria: "I besieged and conquered
Samaria [Sa-me-ri-na], led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. I formed
from among them a contingent of fifty chariots and made remaining [inhabitants]
assume their [social] positions."
Archaeological evidence indicates that
the "remnant" mentioned in 2 Chronicles 34:9 was not a small group.
According to recent archaeological findings, as the Northern Kingdom fell,
thousands of refugees fled south to Judah in order to escape the Assyrians.
From the death of Solomon until the end of the eighth century B.C. the city of
Jerusalem grew very little. But suddenly, around the end of the eighth century,
the population exploded, expanding three or four times its original size,
growing from 7,500 to about 24,000.
The evidence for an
influx of refugees is not confined to Jerusalem. Numerous settlements in the
Judean hills around Jerusalem, in the Negev, in the Judean desert and along the
Dead Sea were heavily settled for the first time in the eighth century B.C.
Therefore the lost tribes are found where the Assyrians left them: in the land
But what about 2 Esdras 13 and Josephus' Antiquities which are both cited by
British Israelites as proof of their theory? So far as 2 Esdras is concerned, its
reliability is open to considerable doubt. A composite work in three parts
composed at different times from the 1st century to mid-2nd century A.D., the
book is known only from translations. Both the Semitic original and almost all
the Greek texts are lost.
There are also
historical inaccuracies in the text. For example, 3:1 records that "In the
thirtieth year after the destruction of our city, I Salathiel, who am called
Ezra, was in Babylon. ..." The problem with this verse is that thirty
years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 585 B.C., Ezra had not yet been
born and would not appear on the scene for another hundred years when he led a
group back in 458 B.C. So the historical accuracy of anything in the book is
open to serious question.
Even if the statement
in 2 Esdras 13, so often quoted by British Israelites, that "the ten
tribes...formed this plan...that they would leave the multitude of nations; and
go to a more distant region" is accepted, it offers little if any real
support. After the movements of the ten tribes to a distant land are described,
we read in 13:46: "Then they dwelt there until the last times; and now,
when they are about to come again, the Most High will stop the channels of the
river again, so that they may be able to pass over." This verse seems to
indicate that the tribes were about to come back, supposedly in the time of
Ezra; this conflicts with British Israelism, which sees the ten tribes as remaining
in a distant land.
Josephus also proves to be of little help
to their cause for the ten tribes mentioned in his Antiquities are certainly not lost, as a reading of the entire
passage and especially the following lines makes clear: "So when Esdras
had delivered these things to the priests, he gave to God, as the appointed
sacrifices of the whole burnt offerings, twelve bulls on account of the common
preservation of the people." Josephus speaks of the "common
preservation of the people” and twelve bulls, one for each of the twelve
tribes, is sacrificed. Again, there is
no indication that the ten tribes were lost.
Thus British Israelism
is seen to lack a foundation. What,
then, will happen to the edifice built upon this non-existent foundation when
we examine it closely?
Abraham, father of many nations:
According to British-Israel teaching, Israel moved north after her exile in
Assyria. The verses used as proof, upon examination, are seen to be wrenched
from their context and it is a wonder that those of the British-Israel
persuasion can find any support in them.
Abraham, according to
Genesis 17:4, was to be the father of many nations. British Israelites think
they see Britain and America here, forgetting that Abraham had several sons. Not only was there Isaac, but there
was also Ishmael, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. And these many sons, with their sons, were
to become the progenitors of many nations. However, those "many
nations" do not include Britain or the United States.
Biblical "proofs" examined:
Many Scripture verses are given by British Israelites to support their
contention that Great Britain is Israel. Basing the argument on passages which
promise certain blessings to Israel, they claim Britain has been blessed in the
same way so Britain must be Israel!
However, the verses upon examination are found to be Millennial promises
— to be fulfilled when Messiah reigns, not in this Christian dispensation.
divides "scepter" promises from "birthright" promises, with
the scepter promises of the Throne of David and Messiah reserved to Judah,
while the birthright promises of material blessings are reserved to Joseph.
However, a quick look at Deuteronomy 27-30 is enough to dispel this myth.
Not only is all of
Israel promised material blessings (28:1-14), but all twelve tribes are also
promised cursings (28:15-68) — not just Judah, as some in British Israelism try
to claim. Furthermore, there will be no restoration of blessings until Israel
returns to the promised land, which is the land of Palestine alone (30:1-5; cf.
Genesis 15:18-21; 17:7,8: Ezekiel 37). Even if the people of Britain and
America were the Israelites they could not have the blessing of God until they
were back in the land of Canaan.
Unsupported studies of
word origins: British Israelites look for some extra-Biblical proofs of their
beliefs, attempting to make use of philology—the study of languages.
"Saxon" is said to mean Saq's sons—Isaac's sons. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary,
"Saxon" is from the old English Saexan,
the old High German Sahsun and the
Greek Saxones; the name may be derived
from Saho, the name of the weapon
used by the Saxons. One thing is certain: "Saxon" is not related to
the Hebrew Yits-haq, which sounds
nothing like Sax. In Hebrew the word for son is ben, as in Benjamin. The form "sons of Isaac" would be
expressed in Hebrew as ben-ei Yits-haq
(cf. "sons of Jacob" ben-ei
Ya-acov, Genesis 34:27) —certainly not "Saq's sons."
"British," according to the Oxford
English Dictionary, is nothing at all like the "covenant man"
British Israelism tries to make of it. The word British is divided into two
parts: 1) Brit comes from the Old English Bret-a
Briton which is derived from the old Celtic and Latin Britto: 2) the ending ish
is a suffix formed from the Gothic isles and from the old High German, old
Saxon, Icelandic and Dutch isch, a
cognate of the Greek isk-os. British,
therefore is not from Hebrew. If it were, to form the phrase covenant man in
Hebrew the word order would have to be changed and the definite article added,
forming Ish-Habrit, which is not
anything like British.
The history of
England, like the history of Israel, lends no support to the view that the
descendants of Abraham invaded the island. Arthur Cross tells us that the
Celts, one of the earliest groups that invaded Britain, first arrived 1,000
years before Christ was born and more than 200 years before the Northern
Kingdom fell. Not only that, but from the history of the English language
itself it is clear that there is no relation between it and Hebrew, or the
English people and the Israelites. Roland G. Kent writes, "The English
language, despite its present simplicity and grammatical structure, is of an
almost unbelievable complexity in its origins, in fact of a complexity quite unrivaled
by any of the better known languages of any period."
In the fourth century,
A.D., the Angles and Saxons began raids on Britain, bothering the Romans who
were already there. When the Romans finally abandoned Britain the Angles,
Saxons and Jutes moved in. They soon became the masters of the island, driving
out or enslaving the Celts who were already there. They remained the masters until 1066 when the Normans arrived
and subjugated the Angles and Saxons.
It is clear, therefore, that the people of Great Britain are not from
any one stock of ancestors but are as much a mixture as their language.
So far as the legends
associated with Tea-Tephi and the Stone of Scone are concerned, there is no
historical basis for any of the claims British Israelism attributes to them. Tea-Tephi is a composite of the names
of a mythical queen of Ireland and a mythical queen of England. Despite the claims of British Israelism that
the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny was Jacob's pillar, the stone did not
originate in Palestine at all, nor is the Stone of Scone the Lia-Fail of
Ireland. It is just a piece of sandstone from Scotland.
The supposed supremacy
of the Anglo-Saxon race is used as further proof that they are the lost ten
tribes — a chosen people. A rather horrible example of this racism is found in
W.A. Redding's book, The Millennial
shall therefore take a shorter route through the subject by calling your
attention to some facts, as they exist, which will convince you, without history,
that the Anglo-Saxons are the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
over the earth and collect together all the Anglo-Saxon people and put them in
a bunch to themselves; then collect together all the other races of people,
such as the Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Hindoos, Malays, Negroes, Indians,
Arabians and many other kinds of human beings, and put them all together in a
bunch to themselves. Then compare the one congregation with the other. In the
Anglo-Saxon bunch you will see high foreheads, long, slim, intellectual noses,
brilliant eyes, fine texture of the skin, well-proportioned physical frames and
fine, smooth hair. Turn to the other group of races. There you will see the
low, flat foreheads, heavy, short, thick noses, vicious eyes, coarse hair, and
A false view of
salvation is another danger that often arises from British Israelism. Walter
Martin notes that British Israelism sometimes leads its proponents to teach, at
least by implication, salvation by race as well as by grace.
The tribes of the
Northern Kingdom of Israel were never lost to begin with, so the whole
foundation of British Israelism is removed. But then, when examination is made
of the system constructed upon this nonexistent base—whether history, linguistics,
the Bible or science is researched — nothing is found to support British
Israelism and everything is found to be against it.
Besides being bereft of linguistic,
biblical or historical justification, anti-Semitism has an even more
fundamental problem: hatred of others is simply not justifiable for Christians.
There are those who argue that God
hates sinners. They have a collection
of verses that they like to use, most notably: Psalm 5:5-6, 11:5; Leviticus 20:23,
20:13, 26:30; Deuteronomy 32:19; Malachi 1:3 and Romans 9:13. The fundamental problem with the use being
made of these verses is that every last one of them is being taken out of
context, both their specific context in place, as well as the broader context
of the biblical revelation.
In physics, scientists struggle to
find what they describe as a theory of everything, or the grand unified theory
that will explain all the physical laws.
When it comes to the Bible, we already have such a thing: love God and
Matthew 22:34-40 reads:
that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested
him with this question:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment
in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it:
'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All
the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (see the
parallel account in Mark 12:28-34)
writes in Romans 13:8-10:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the
continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has
fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery,"
"Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet,"
and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of
The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
finally James 2:8:
If you really keep the royal law found in
Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
Any interpretation of the Bible
which results in a conclusion contrary to this basic tenant of love is
necessarily wrong. No ifs, no ands, no
buts. Thus, to suggest that God hates,
rather than loves sinners or Jews or any other group, creates an absurdity: a
contradiction with the very theme of the Bible, as well as some very explicit
verses, the most basic being Romans 5:5-8:
hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right
time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely
will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might
possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While
we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
One should also consider 1 John 4:19-21:
love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet
hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom
he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this
command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
interpretation that God hates sinners or Jews or some other group, or that he
desires to see bad things happen to them, simply is an untenable interpretation
of the verses used by the hate groups.
Some will try to tell me, I
suppose, that we are only supposed to love our brother, and who is, our
brother, anyhow, but only those who believe like us, or look like us.
I would suggest that those who
would react like that are exactly like the expert who, in response to Jesus'
suggestion that he should love his neighbor asked "who is my
Let's look at the story in Luke
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to
test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit
"What is written in the Law?" he
replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all
your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus
replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked
Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down
from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They
stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A
priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he
passed by on the other side. So too, a
Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But
a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he
took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and
wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care
of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the
innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you
for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a
neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who
had mercy on him."
told him, "Go and do likewise."
for us moderns is that Jesus' story of the good Samaritan doesn't really
resonate with us. What is a Samaritan,
anyhow? To put it simply, Samaritans
were apostates from Judaism. They were
the result of mixed marriages between Jews and pagan idolaters who had moved
into Palestine during the period of the Babylonian captivity. Thus, they were worshiping falsely and were
considered significant sinners by definition according to the religious
establishment in Jerusalem. Thus, they
were one of the most despised groups around, according to the religious
So let's update
things. If Jesus were asked the same
question today, his response would be to tell the story of how a Baptist
preacher and a famous televangelist ignored the rape victim in the gutter, in
contrast to the Jewish transvestite from San Francisco who helped her.
Maybe I just don't get it. Jesus died for all sinners of all races and
all colors. All of us are sinners, and
that simple fact doesn’t change, regardless of our ethnicity. Sinners is what we'll all be — every last
one of us — till the day we die. Are
certain sinners or certain races irredeemable?
Whosoever will may come, unless you're gay or a Jew? Since when has the church become an
exclusive club? Are we supposed to have
bouncers at the door making sure everyone has a tie and that they're "the
right sort of people" before we let them in?
just don't understand the gospel and the mission of the church. But I don't think so. I think it's the haters that just don't get
The Gospel Message
So, what is the minimum requirement
to become a Christian? That is, what is
the lowest common denominator? The
Bible is quite clear that salvation is by faith, through grace, alone (cf. Eph.
2:8-10). But what does that mean?
that there are no pre- or post-requisites to salvation. Acts 2:21 should be our guide (it is a
quotation of Joel 2:32):
everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
is not the consequence of right doctrine, right knowledge, right behavior,
right attendance, or any of the thousand and other lists and regulations and
expectations set up by human beings to determine the validity of a
salvation. Salvation is something God does, and he does it with the least
bit of provocation.
that right behavior or right doctrine is necessary or a part of salvation
creates contradictions, scripturally.
As an example, consider one of the individuals listed in Hebrews 11 as a
great man of faith: Jephtha. His behavior
and understanding of theology was low, even given the level of special revelation
available in his time period. Jephtha
acknowledged the existence of gods other than Yahweh (cf. Judges 11:23-24) and
wound up sacrificing his daughter as a burnt offering (Judges 11:30-31; 35-39). Certainly it would have been to both his
advantage and the advantage of his daughter had his theology been straight and
his ethics a little more enlightened, but neither of those things have anything
to do with his relationship with God or his salvation.
Lot, nephew of Abraham, is described by the author of 2 Peter as a
"righteous man" (cf. 2 Peter 2:7-8); yet, when we examine the
narrative about him in the Old Testament (Genesis 19), we find Lot reluctant to
leave Sodom, we see that he suggests that a mob have a chance to rape his
daughters, and we discover that he has little positive influence over either
his family or his society: no one will listen to him or take him
seriously. Then, sometime later, we
find his own daughters getting him drunk so that they can have sex with him,
thereby making them pregnant (to say nothing of the questions raised about his
parenting that they would have thought of doing such a thing with him). By even his own standards, he was morally
bankrupt, let alone by modern standards.
Yet, since salvation is by grace through faith, and since our
righteousness is "in Christ" (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Philippians
3:8-9; Galatians 2:20-21), we are forcibly reminded again that though it may be
beneficial to be "good" (both for the sake of those around us, as
well as for our own happiness), our behavior isn't what makes us righteous and
it's not what's going to get us (or anyone else) into heaven.
God is not
trying to keep people from getting into heaven. Rather, he wants as many as possible to get there, and he has done
everything in his power to make it easy.
He is not standing there, tapping his foot, waiting to see what someone
will do, frowning and clucking and looking through the application, nitpicking
to find something that will keep the applicant out.
not an exclusive club trying to keep "those kind" out, with St. Peter
as a three hundred pound bouncer. God
did and does everything he can to get people into heaven (he's dying to let
people into heaven, after all).
The anti-Semites of the world are
badly mistaken. If they still want to
hate Jewish people, they need to know that they are doing so because they are
irrational, bitter, hate-filled people who are in desperate need of the love of
God. It is not a point of view that is
consistent with the Bible. In fact,
hate at all, for anyone, puts you
outside of Christianity. The term
heretic gets used too often for slight disagreements on disputable
matters. It should be reserved for
clear violations of orthodox norms. I
believe that those who are anti-Semitic, those who hate other people, are at best heretics. John seemed to be a bit more harsh:
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his
brother is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and
there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is
in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is
going, because the darkness has blinded him. (1 John 2:9-11)
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you
know that no murderer has eternal life in him. (1 John 3:15)
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him and he in God. And so
we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and
God in him. In this way, love is made
complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment,
because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect
love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears
is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says,
"I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who
does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not
seen. And he has given us this command:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:15-21)