Book: America & Britain

British Israelism (sometimes called Anglo-Israelism) is a movement centering on the belief that the varied peoples of northwestern Europe, the British Isles, North America, and Australasia are the descendants of the so-called “lost” tribes of Israel. The concept includes the belief that the British royal family is directly descended from the line of King David. As this book has shown, these claims are correct. Indeed, the Anglo-American nations can be traced to the ancient House of Israel and are apparently the “birthright” peoples of the Abrahamic promises; moreover, the present British monarchy did apparently originate with the ancient royal line of David. However, there are troubling aspects of British Israelism that obscure these issues and bring disparagement to this profound truth. This appendix will primarily examine one of the key teachings of British Israelism—the greatly flawed idea that the British are the “manifestation” of the Kingdom of God on earth.

First, a little historical background is in order. Scholars generally trace the origins of British Israelism to the 1870s, when British Israelite organizations began proliferating throughout parts of the British Empire and America. There were, however, much earlier proponents of the teaching prior to it becoming established as a movement. In fact, versions of the idea can be found in various works dating from the 1500s.

The most influential early writers of the British Israelite movement were arguably Richard Brothers and John Wilson. Writing and preaching under the late 18th-century influence of millenarianism—the religious belief in an imminent thousand-year age of peace ushered in by the second coming of Christ—Brothers articulated the first distinct British Israelite ideology. Decades later, Wilson adopted and promoted his teachings—focusing on the Anglo-Saxon-Scythian connection to ancient Israel. Wilson published Our Israelitish Origins in 1840. In 1884, Edward Hine departed England for the United States—where he promoted the idea that America was modern-day Manasseh and the British were modern-day Ephraim. Key organizations included the British- Israel Association and the Anglo-Israel Association, both formed in 1875. The UK-based British-Israel-World Federation was formed in 1922 and continues to promote the movement through Covenant Publishing, its Web site, and Covenant Nations magazine.

For the most part, teachings among associations have been uniform, with few major differences. But in the late 1800s, a protracted dispute arose over the interpretation of Genesis 48:19—where Jacob says Ephraim would become a “multitude of nations” and Manasseh would become a single “great nation.” Traditionally, the earliest British Israelite proponents—John Wilson, Edward Hine, J. H. Allen, etc.—identified Ephraim with the British Empire and Manasseh with America. (For example, an 1886 publication on this topic was Ephraim England by Robert Douglas.) However, a number of British Israelites from the early 20th century began to identify Ephraim with America and Britain with Manasseh. The resultant rift eventually subsided, and most British Israelites today continue to traditionally identify Ephraim with Britain and America with Manasseh. The alternate view remains a minority position (see Appendix 10).1

It should be noted that, today, no British institution—including the monarchy, Parliament, or the Church of England—officially recognizes the teachings of British Israelism. Thus, it remains a relatively obscure idea espoused by a handful of unorthodox groups scattered throughout several of the English-speaking nations.

The Political Use of British Israelism

British Israelism was never intended to be a political movement. But during certain periods in British history, its adherents clearly influenced the politics of the day. At the heart of such influence was the teaching that “the British Empire and the Church of England are the modern-day manifestation of the true Kingdom of God” and that “the British people are chosen by God to rule the earth.”2

Following what they call the “two house theory,” British Israelites are well aware that the Bible speaks of an eventual reunion of the House of Israel with the House of Judah. They frequently appeal to Ezekiel’s vision of the “valley of dry bones”—along with the symbolism of two sticks joined as one—to demonstrate that the Jews must eventually fully join with Britain. Unfortunately, they typically do not see this “two house” reunification as belonging to the messianic age; rather, they see it as presently ongoing (Ezekiel 37 is discussed in Chapter 16).

This point is central to British Israelism—and, in fact, was once used to political advantage. In the mid-1600s, proponents of British Israelism utilized their “two house” argument to persuade Oliver Cromwell—“lord protector of the Commonwealth” after the English Civil War—to allow Jews to return to England. Jews had been banned from England as a result of the 1290 Edict of Expulsion under Edward I. Appealing to his pride and sense of nationalism, British Israelites convinced Cromwell that the British, via the Anglo-Saxons, were the modern descendants of the northern “lost” tribes of Israel and that the Jews represented the southern tribe of Judah. These two houses of Israel, they argued, must be reunited as part of the British Empire in order for the Empire to fulfill her God-ordained role of ruling the world. Cromwell, a Puritan credited with positive reforms in the Church of England, agreed and Jews were readmitted to England starting in 1655. At first glance Cromwell’s actions might appear noble, as if he had in mind to advance the cause of the British Israelites. But, as reality would have it, he had a political motive: allowing Jews to return to England would bring a badly needed infusion of money into the economy—and British Israelism gave him just the rationale he needed.3

Is the United Kingdom the Kingdom of God?

The teaching that the British Empire was the “manifestation” of the Kingdom of God on earth has been paramount in British Israelism. Today, in spite of the Empire’s demise, the movement continues to cling to this flawed concept. Presently, the United Kingdom—in conjunction with the Church of England—is regarded in a similar light. Thus, according to the magazine Covenant Nations, the stated purpose of the British-Israel-World Federation is to “proclaim the identity of the Kingdom of God in the modern era; that it is to be found only in the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic peoples of the world, its primary base being our British Isles.”4 The magazine links the Church of England to the “kingdom identity,” stating that “the Kingdom of God upon Earth is a continuing literal Realm with a great and enduring constitutional Protestant throne.”5

The 1707 Act of Union merged the parliaments of Scotland and England—formally creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Both kingdoms had already come under the same monarch through the “Union of the Crowns” in 1603. In typical British Israelite fashion, Michael A. Clark, one of the principals of the Federation, links this fateful union to the Kingdom of God: “The Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI of Scotland [was crowned as] James I of England, marked a watershed towards the development of the Kingdom of God upon earth that has perhaps never been fully understood, even by students of the Kingdom Identity.” Clark references the prophecies of Ezekiel 37; but rather than seeing a literal future resurrection and unification of all Israel, he gives the text a figurative present-day application: “This is a progressive coming together of the bones and body—a resurrection not in a sudden instant, but over a long period of time…. [It] is the coming together of two peoples [Judah and Israel] gathered from being dispersed among the other peoples of the then-known world into a land of their own.” To Clark, this “land of their own” is the British Isles and the dispersed are still being gathered in.6 The 1707 Act of Union was considered a milestone in this “progression,” wherein “the breath of life truly came back into the body of the whole House of Israel.” The event was the “fulfillment of a prophetic resurrection for the Israel of God.”

Other Federation writers view Ezekiel 37 as primarily spiritual, in which Judah and Israel (Britain) are reunited through “faith in Christ.” Thus, many British Israelites are keenly focused on bringing Jews to Christ.8

While it is true that God will use a restored and reunited Israel as the foundation for His worldwide kingdom in the messianic age, this attempt to equate the British Empire (or the UK) with the Kingdom of God is plainly contrary to numerous biblical passages. For starters, Jesus plainly said that His kingdom was not of this cosmos—this present society (John 18:36). Rather, the Kingdom of God is to be established at Jesus’ return, as a climax to the final global conflict of this evil age (Dan. 2:44; 7:14; Rev. 11:15; 19:15). Jesus illustrates in Matthew 13:31-33 that His kingdom will, in time, fill the earth—not fall into dismal decline as has the British Empire. Jesus will sit on David’s throne ruling over a kingdom that will know no end (Luke 1:32-33)—it will increase, never decrease (Isa. 9:7). Moreover, in God’s kingdom, His law will be taught around the world from Zion (Isa. 2:3)—in stark contrast to the liberal secular ideology that now grips the UK.

Defying logic and the facts, many British Israelites continue to anticipate some kind of “restoration” for the British Empire—so that, in Clark’s own words, it can ultimately “expand to the four corners of the world.”9 But only the true Kingdom of God will one day expand to the four corners of the world. For now, isn’t it enough to acknowledge and appreciate the truth about “British Israel”—that God uniquely chose the Isles not only to preserve the Davidic throne, but to share in the astounding “birthright” blessings of Joseph?

Has Britain Proclaimed the True Gospel?

If the handful of nations that comprise the United Kingdom are the current “manifestation” of the Kingdom of God on earth, one would expect the Church of England to be at the forefront of preaching the Gospel to the world. Indeed, according to proponents of British Israelism, God raised up Britain for that very purpose. On its “mission statement” page, Covenant Nations magazine proclaims that “the spread of the Christian message is the divinely appointed task of the Britannic peoples throughout the world.”10 As a Methodist minister and supporter of British Israelism, the renowned Dr. Dinsdale Young once said, “Why has God set the British people aside? Why has He put such a crown of glory upon their heads?... They are called to spread the Gospel…. I believe that a very strong argument for the British- Israel position might be based on this fact.”11

The problem with this assertion is that the Church of England has never proclaimed the true Gospel. As the official state church of first the British Empire and then the United Kingdom, the Church of England has over time become mired in tradition, ritual, and politics. At best, it has only taught a pseudo-gospel focusing exclusively on the atoning work of Christ. Certainly, this is a vital component of the Gospel. But Jesus Himself, as did the apostles, preached the advance “good news” of the reality and certainty of the messianic Kingdom of God—a literal world-ruling kingdom (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 24:14; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:43; Acts 1:3; etc.).

Like their tepid Protestant counterparts in America, it seems that the Church of England has been ignorant of the true Gospel message that Jesus and the apostles proclaimed. Why has this essential message been absent from the very church that is considered to be central to the British Israelism movement?


1. Historical information taken from

2. Gregory S. Neal, “Imperial British Israelism: Justification for an Empire,”

3. “Answering Critics of the British-Israel (or Anglo-Israel) Belief,” Canadian British-Israel Association,

4. “Still Under Guarantee,” Covenant Nations, vol. 2, no. 8, p. 8

5. “Are You a Kingdom Protestant?” Covenant Nations, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 16

6. Concerning “a land of their own,” Clark draws from a biblical passage that is widely misapplied by those teaching on the subject of the Israelite origins of the Anglo-American nations. In II Samuel 7:10, we read: “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime” (KJV). This rendering has led many to assume that God was speaking of a yet future place other than the Promised Land—i.e., the British Isles and America. When studied in a more modern translation, however, the context (particularly verses 8-9) clearly shows that God was simply reiterating through the prophet Nathan what He had already done for David and Israel. The verbs used in verse 10 are in the perfect tense, meaning they should be translated as having already occurred or as presently occurring (see Clarke’s Commentary, etc., on this verse). Following the rendering of the perfect tense verbs of verses 8-9—“I took you from the sheepcote”; God had been with David wherever he went; I “have made” you a great name—verse 10 should likewise read: “I have appointed a place for my people Israel, and have planted them so that they might dwell in a place of their own and no longer be distressed [as in Egypt]. Moreover, neither do the children of wickedness afflict them as before [as during the time of the Judges (verse 11)].” Completing the contextual thought, verse 11 correctly uses the past tense: “I have caused you to [enjoy] rest from all of your enemies.” Young’s Literal Translation renders this verse similarly. A careful comparison to II Kings 21:8 will show that the place God had planted Israel was linked forever to Jerusalem and was the very land He had promised to the patriarchs—and that Israel’s permanence in the land was based on the condition of obedience. In the age to come—as a restored Israel expands around the globe— America and Britain will be restored as the birthright nations of Joseph. However, they will never surpass the original land of promise in preeminence and glory.

7. Michael A. Clark, “The Union of Two Kingdoms” British-Israel-World Federation

8. Jory S. Brooks, “The Gathering of the Godless

9. Clark,

10. Covenant Nations, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 4

11. “Dinsdale Young and the British-Israel Movement,” Covenant Nations, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 21