The informed Bible instructor finds it necessary to know what other denominations and religious movements actually believe. It will save her many embarrassing situations to be well informed regarding similarities and dissimilarities as compared with our own belief. We should at least be well acquainted with those denominations and sects that operate in our immediate evangelistic territory. Only in this way may we be able to take advantage of new opportunities to bring the beliefs and work of our own denomination into prominence.
We would not advocate that we should seek such information at the cost of a thorough acquaintance with our own denomination first of all, of course. There are, nevertheless, some features we may study without giving too much attention in our busy program to intricate research.
Public libraries today furnish excellent census information to make our research reliable. The progressive Bible teacher will keep her eyes open for additional up-to-date information, which should be carefully filed. She will also scan church notices in the daily newspapers, keeping in touch with the programs of the churches attended by people with whom she is studying our message. By doing this she will then be able to comment favorably on worth-while plans and activities, and confidence will be established when errors of belief or un-Christian practices must be dealt with in the call to come out of Babylon. The reader will then be assured that the Bible teacher actually knows her business, and will have more confidence in her appeal to take a firm stand for newly revealed truth.
We herewith begin a series of outline articles on some of the religions investigated by our Bible instructors while attending the Theological Seminary. These will suggest a practical plan for personal study.
What to know about another denomination
1. How church was founded. When? By whom? Where?
2. How name of denomination was determined.
3. What doctrinal or ethical teachings led to its organization?
4. Progress made by church during its early period.
5. Influence on Christianity at large. (Some of its special contributions.)
6. Present standing in Christendom. (Influence among other churches.)
7. How large is present membership of denomination? Location of headquarters. Its strongest churches and institutions.
8. Are present doctrines identical with earlier beliefs ?
9. Its ritual, polity.
10. Attitude on church federation.
11. Is education for youth stressed? Foreign missions? Noncombatancyr Reforms of dress and temperance?
12. Attitude toward advent hope, conditional
13. Immortality, Sabbath.
L. C. K.
The Anglo-Israelite Movement
By Edna Ackerman, Bible Instructor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Name.—The movement called Anglo-Israelism or British-Israelism derived its name from the theory that the Anglo-Saxon race is descended from the ten tribes of Israel.
How Founded.—Richard Brothers (1757-1824) is generally considered to be the founder of the modern movement. He was an eccentric who spent a period of eleven years in insane asylums. He called himself "the nephew of the Almighty," and traced his descent from David. He claimed to be a prophet, and foretold the imminent establishment of Israel in Palestine with himself as king and ruler of the world. The nonfulfillment of his prophecies is said to have sorely tried the faith of the believers. In 1822 he published A Correct Account of the Invasion and Conquest of This Island by the Sax-ons, Showing the English Nations to Be the Descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes, which may be regarded as the foundation of the movement. In all he is reported to have written fifteen volumes, chiefly in support of the theory of the Israelitish descent of most of the inhabitants of England.
Early Progress.—The movement spread rapidly. By the middle of the nineteenth century it had a firm hold. In 1845 John Wilson's Our Israelitish Origin was published, possibly the first clear exposition of the theory. C. Piazzi Smyth, astronomer royal for Scotland, adopted the theory and attempted to give it impetus by showing the identity of British weights and measures with those of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews in connection with the Great Pyramid. A work by Edward Hine, Identification of the British Nation With Lost Israel (1871) , became very popular, and a quarter of a million copies were sold. Since then there has been a constant stream of literature on the subject, and it has had a phenomenal growth during the short time of its existence.
Organization.—The movement is interdenominational. Those who accept Anglo-Israelism are encouraged to remain as members of the various Christian churches.
EArly Teachings.—The entire theory is based on the belief that the Anglo-Saxons are lineal descendants of the ten tribes of Israel who were taken captive to Assyria about the years 740-72I B.C. As the continuation of the nation Israel, they claim to be the inheritors of her charters, the possessors of her guarantees and immunities from destruction, and executors of her commissions. This is based on an extremely literal view of the Old Testament prophecies applying to Israel. They say that if Britain is not Israel, then the prophecies are yet unfulfilled. They make a distinction between Judah (or the two tribes) and Israel (or the ten tribes), and assign the curses to Judah and the blessings to Israel. They claim a legal right to the throne of David through an Israelitish princess of Judah who, they say, wandered to Ireland with a branch of the tribe of Dan, led by the scribe Baruch, and married a local chieftain and became the ancestor of the present royal family. These wanderers, they say, brought with them the Bethel Stone or the stone which Jacob used as a pillow. It had been rescued from the temple at the time of its destruction, and now rests in Westminster Abbey in London, forming part of the Coronation Chair on which all the English monarchs are crowned. This theory of the stone is without proof and is not generally accepted by scholars.
Present Beliefs.—Because of their interdenominational organization, Anglo-Israelites do not claim to have a set of doctrines, but in order to sustain their theories, they maintain certain beliefs to be scriptural. They still hold to their early fundamental principles and teachings concerning Britain, and, furthermore, claim that the United States has descended from the tribe of Manasseh, while Britain is Ephraim, and that these two nations are yet to be united. The following are fundamental beliefs mutually accepted by them:
1. The conversion and return of the Jews to Palestine and their union with "Ephraim Israel."
2. The reign of Christ on earth during a temporal millennium.
3. They believe that as Israel, they are required to observe the Ten Commandment law. (They deplore the fact that the Sabbath is not kept nationally, but believe the nation will possibly come to the keeping of the Sabbath before the war is overt and that it will be kept in the new kingdom. Some British-Israelites have accepted Davidson's theory in which he professes to prove from the Great Pyramid prophecy and symbolism that Sunday is the seventh day because at Joshua's request the sun stood still for twenty-three hours and twenty minutes, and again the shadow went backward on the sundial ten degrees as a sign to King Hezekiah that the Lord would heal him and destroy the Assyrians, thus completing a total period of a day.)
4. They believe that the Hebrew civil laws should be restored, in which they include the law of tithing, the health laws, and the land laws.
5. They claim to stand for civil and religious liberty.
6. They believe that others outside of the Anglo-Saxon race may partake of the covenant by being "grafted in." Most of the Northern European nations, Scandinavians, etc., they declare, are "Israelitish nations."
7. They believe in the near advent of Christ to set up an earthly kingdom.
The views of British-Israelites are generally considered to have no sound historical basis. The Enclycopaedia Britannica states that their contentions are "historically and etymologically unsound." The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia calls it a "fantastic theory," and observes, "It is useless to try to submit such farfetched hypotheses to critical investigation, because instead of the theory having been deduced from the evidence, the evidence has been painfully collected and distorted to support the theory."
Headquarters.—The movement is said to number over two million adherents. The chief organization is the British-Israel World Federation of London. The Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, with headquarters at Detroit, propagates somewhat similar ideas, but some observe a tendency to anti-Semitism, and its views and ideas are distinctly different from those of the genuine proponents of the doctrines of Anglo-Israelism.
Darms, Anton, The Delusion of British-Israelism, Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot : New York, p. 223.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th ed.), art., "Anglo-Israelite Theory," Vol. I, p. 944.
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (edited by James Hastings). Scribners : New York, 19.28. Art., "AngloIsraelism," by Albert M. Hyamson, Vol. I, pp. 482, 483.
Harrison, L. Sale, The Anglo-Saxon Nation, or Is Great Britain Israel? loth ed., Loizeaux Brothers : New York.
Kellogg, Howard W., British-Israel Identity, American Prophetic League, Los Angeles.
Marter, Ernest W., "A Study of the Principles of Biblical Interpretation as Applied by Anglo-Israelite Authors." Unpublished Master's thesis, S. D. A. Theological Seminary, 1938.
The Morning Cometh, British-Israel World Federation (Canada), Prince David Branch, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Presbyterian Church
By Mrs. Obed Klein, Minister's Wife, Ionia, Michigan
Name.—The word "Presbyterian" comes from the word "presbyter," meaning elder. The denomination gets its name from the fact that the government is managed not by bishops but by elders.
How Founded.—John Calvin, 1509-64, the Geneva Reformer, was the founder of the Presbyterian system. He was a Frenchman who fled from France and became the head of the Protestant community at Geneva. His teachings form the basis of the doctrinal standards of nearly all the Presbyterian bodies. He never founded the denomination but expounded and put into practice principles which developed into the Presbyterian denomination. The Presbyterian Reformed churches in existence today throughout the world perpetuate those features, doctrinal and governmental, of the Protestant Reformation of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries which were emphasized by John Calvin and his associates particularly in Switzerland, France, Holland, the Palatinate, England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Doctrines.—The doctrines that led to organization as opposed to the papal domination of that time are the absolute sovereignty of God, explicit faith in the Word of God, God only to be worshiped, worship offered through Jesus Christ, God alone forgives sin, etc. Presbyterianism holds an intermediary position between episcopacy and congregationalism. The standards of doctrine of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America are the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Presbyterianism as a doctrinal system has as its fundamental principles the undivided sovereignty of Christ in salvation, the sovereignty of the Scriptures in faith and conduct, and the sovereignty of the individual conscience in the interpretation of the Word of God. Other doctrines that might be mentioned are belief in
1. The physical second coming of Christ—although it is put far in the future.
2. The preservation of the saints. (Cannot fall from state of grace.)
3. The moral law of God as binding.
4. The difference between the moral law and the ceremonial law.
5. The Sabbath as instituted in the beginning for all men of all ages.
"It is admitted that we have no express precept for the alteration of the day, but we have convincing evidence that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week at the resurrection of Christ."—Westminster Confession of Faith.
6. That dipping of the person in water is not necessary for baptism, but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person,
7. Persons dying in infancy are saved.
8. That civil government is the ordinance of God. That war may be lawfully waged upon just and necessary occasion.
Organization.—The Presbyterian churches throughout the world "number more than 125 distinct denominations with a total constituency of at least 6o,000,000, and represent the largest Protestant church group under the same form of government." In America we have the following distinct branches, each of which has some variations from the other :
I. The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
This is the largest Presbyterian body in the world, and has fully organized congregations in every one of the forty-eight States in the Union. It is also one of the leading denominations in foreign mission work. The headquarters of the church are in the Office of the General Assembly, Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia. Great emphasis is placed on Christian education. This Presbyterian branch alone has fifty-three colleges and universities and thirteen theological seminaries, controlled by the church.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has been identified with every movement for interdenominational fellowship and church union. The boards of the church are four in number : The Board of National Missions, the Board of Foreign Missions, the Board of Christian Education, and the Board of Pensions.
1. The Presbyterian Church in the United States.
2. United Presbyterian Church of North America.
3. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church.,
4. Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
5. Reformed Presbyterian Synod.
6. Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod.
7. Associate Presbyterian Church.
[Summaries of other churches will appear in the next issue of The Ministry.—Editor.]