“Two-House” Theology

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The “Two-House” or “Two-Stick” Movement
(British-Israelism Lightly Warmed Over)

I am interested in what you teach about the two houses of Israel. The two stick question.

Shalom,
C.M., Kansas


Dear C.M.,

I don’t personally make it a practice to teach anything about “Two-House” Theology, mainly because such discussion rarely proves profitable to anybody.

I taught about pseudo-Christian cults and world religions for over 20 years and, with rare exception, found that those who have a firm grasp of true biblical theology readily recognize cults and non-biblical religions for exactly what they are, and those who are members of cults and non-biblical religions will have endless arguments and “proof texts” to prove that they are correct and the rest of the world is in error.

The theology of the current “Two-House” Movement is based not upon scholarly interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, but rather upon the theories documented in 1902 by J. H. Allen in Judah’s Scepter and Joseph’s Birthright: An Analysis of the Prophecies of Scripture in Regard to the Royal Family of Judah and the Many Nations of Israel This book is available for purchase from Amazon.com or may be downloaded in PDF format. This theology is also known as “Anglo-Israelism” or “British Israelism“ and was extensively promoted by Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God [1], and his son Garner Ted Armstrong, as outlined in the elder Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

British Israelism“ (sometimes called “Anglo-Israelism”) is the belief that that many early Britons, Europeans and/or their royal families were direct lineal descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

“This belief has been accorded little scientific proof or significance; its significance stems largely from its cultural significance as a concept, and as an idea historically accepted and propounded. Proponents assert that national favour with God is based on a nation’s status as an Israelite nation while individual salvation remains based on a personal relationship with God.

“Due to the amorphous nature of this idea over the years, there has rarely been a central head, recognised leadership, or organisational structure to the movement. This has led to a diverse set of professions and beliefs ancillary to the genealogical claims.” [wikipedia.org]

A brief history of Anglo-Israelism can be found here, and much of the movement’s current theories can be found at www.britam.org.

“The English-Speaking Peoples Today Descend from the Tribe of Joseph; the USA is Manasseh; “Machir” first-born son of Manasseh gave his name to “America” (Ha-Macheri” in Hebrew) and this name means Capitalism; “Manasseh” means Responsible Representation; Ephraim is Britain along with the overseas “daughters” of Britain. Other Israelite Tribes gave rise to elements within Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Wales, France, Holland, and Belgium. The present-day Jews descend mainly from Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, plus representatives portions of all the other Tribes. The Tribe of Dan is to be found amongst part of the Danish, Irish, and Welsh.” (www.britam.org)

An explanation of how it was determined that most Gentile Christians are actually Israelites is as follows:

After the death of King David, his son Solomon succeeded him with harsh policies that split the already fractured monarchy into the northern House of Israel (meaning “he will rule as God“) and the southern House of Judah (meaning “to worship with outstretched hands”). These separate kingdoms co-existed for quite some time, but they were constantly in friction with one another, even to the point of war. The Bible refers to this time as the “enmity and vexation” between the tribe of the becor or “birthright” (Ephraim), and the tribe of the shevet or “scepter” (Judah). Ephraim (meaning “fruitless”) was the youngest son of Joseph (meaning “increase”), from whom the first northern kings descended. According to Genesis 48:19, Ephraim’s descendants were destined to become the melo hagoyim or “fullness of the Gentiles.” Romans 11:25-26 states that when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in … the Deliverer (Messiah) will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”

How is it that the descendants of Jacob through Ephraim were to become “the fullness of the Gentiles” and how is it that when Messiah returns “the fullness of the Gentiles” will come in? And what is it that they are to “come in” to?

Through the prophet Hosea’s marriage to Gomer and their three children, God shows us a strange thing indeed. The House of Israel (the Ephraimites) in exile was given three new names:

   • Yizre’el or Jezreel, a play on the name, “Israel,” which means “God will sow or scatter like seeds,”

   • Lo-ruhamah, “without mercy” or “without covenant,” and

   • Lo-Ammi, “not My people.”

According to Hosea’s prophecy, “God will scatter these people like seeds throughout the earth; they will no longer be called ‘My people’ and they will live without the covenant.” Scattered like seeds all over the world, the descendants of these exiles have since been totally assimilated into Gentile cultures. They have forgotten that they are children of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They no longer remember that they are Israelites. They deny their Israelite heritage and deny that they are part of God’s covenant people. True to God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3b to literally “graft” part of his seed into every family of the earth, the tribe of Ephraim in its assimilation may now very well comprise part of every race, ethnic group, and culture, or the “fullness of the Gentiles.”

The “Two House” Movement is alternately known as the “Ephraimite,” “Restoration of Israel,” “Two-Covenant Israel,” or “Two Stick” Movement. Proponents of this movement contend that most members (some proponents claim that all members) of the “born-again” segment of the Christian church (by definition that would have to mean all true Christians, not just nominal members of Christian churches) are, in fact, actual blood descendants of the ancient Israelites who were exiled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 B.C.E.

In “Your Arms to Israel: Updated Doctrinal Statement Reflecting Kingdom Restoration Views of the Ministry of Your Arms to Israel“ Moshe Koniuchowsky states, “the Jewish people have been the identifiable representatives and offspring of Judah. Non-Jewish followers of Messiah from all nations have been up to now the unidentifiable representatives and offspring of Ephraim (Zechariah 8:23).” [Originally posted at www.teshuvah.com/yati/articles/full_restoration1.htm, but no longer there.]

The same statement can be found in a slightly modified form in their current doctrinal statement

“... the Jewish people have been the identifiable representatives and offspring of Judah. Non-Jewish followers of Messiah from all nations are predominantly Ephraim and have been up to now the unidentifiable representatives and offspring of Ephraim ...” (yourarmstoisrael.org)

Koniuchowsky’s doctrinal summary includes the following two statements that should fairly well summarize his position. Here he compares the “errors” of Christianity and Messianic Judaism to the “true faith” of his organization, which he calls “Messianic Nazarene Yisrael.“ It must be remembered, however, that there are a wide variety of opinions about what the term “Messianic Judaism” actually includes.

The Church

Messianic Judaism views the church as a separate and predominantly “gentile” entity, apart from the people of Israel (i.e. the Jews). Both make up the body, yet remain distinct and separate never actually fully coming together this side of heaven. The best that can be hoped for is toleration and understanding, not full unity such as joint services.

Messianic Nazarene Yisrael does not recognize the church as a separate entity apart from the covenant people of Israel. According to Messianic Nazarene Yisrael, there is no such thing as “the church”, rather the ekklessia of New Covenant Israel consists of saved Jews, saved Israelites (remnant of the 10 tribes), along with non-Israelites, all making up Yahshua’s ekklessia. The ekklessia is one both now and forever.

Gentile Believers

Messianic Judaism views saved gentiles as non-Israelites, who have no Israelite blood whatsoever, having no legitimate claim to be physically descended from the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They believe that any born again “gentile”, who claims physical descent from the patriarchs, either has a drop of Jewish blood from an ancient grandparent, or are just Jewish wannabe’s, engaged in delusion. Views the concept that any saved non-Jewish believer, could be a lost non-Jewish Israelite, as utter nonsense.

Messianic Nazarene Yisrael believes that most of the non-Jewish followers of Yahshua are Ephraimites, those who were scattered amongst the gentile nations starting in 721 BCE. They were the Lo Ami of Hosea one, who were not a people, but have now been restored as individuals as promised by the prophets, through Israel’s Messiah. These latter day “gentiles”, are washed and then awakened to their Israelite heritage by Messiah Yahshua, in fulfillment of many promises. Their recognition of their identity as the seed of Ephraim and their union with Jewish Israel, is a necessity for all Israel to be saved and for the Kingdom to be restored to Israel. (yourarmstoisrael.org)

“Nazarene Yisrael” also teaches “[the doctrine that] something man-made called ‘The Church’ co-exists as a separate entity alongside the people of Israel ... [is an] unscriptural doctrine of Hell” and that:

“... non-Jewish followers of Messiah Yahshua are predominantly Ephraim, those who were once among the nations as ‘lo-ami,’ a non-people, but have now been restored to the Commonwealth of Israel through the Covenant of Israel’s Messiah. They are the fulfillment of the promise and prophecy made to Ephraim by Jacob, when Ephraim’s seed was promised to become the fullness of the Gentiles, ‘melo hagoyim’ (Genesis 48:19).

 “... that Ephraim’s recognition of their identity and restoration with brother Judah is the truth that will become the salvation of all Israel (Ezekial 37:16-28).

“... Using the true Names of the father YHWH and Yahshua [as defined by Your Arms to Israel] are key to Yisrael’s restoration. All those affiliated with YATI and B'nai Yahshua Synagogues must do likewise.“ [emphasis added] [yourarmstoisrael.org doctrinal statement]

Please be sure to understand what this statement actually claims:

 1. “... non-Jewish followers of Messiah Yahshua are predominantly Ephraim ...“ That is, most non-Jewish (Gentile) followers of Yeshua HaMashiach are actually the half-tribe of Ephraim, or descended from Joseph’s son; i.e., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (whom Adonai re-named Israel), Joseph, Ephraim. That means that most Gentile Christians are actually ethnic Israelites. [Numbers 26:1-28]

 2. Judah [the “Jews”] will be “saved” only when:

 a. All Gentile Christians come to recognize that they are not really Gentile Christians after all, but are actually true Israelites, the physical descendants of Joseph’s son Ephraim, and

 b. They are restored with their “brother Judah” [i.e., when Jews recognize all these Gentile “want-to-be” Israelites are “true Israel”].

 3. Israel’s “restoration” to covenant relationship with Adonai requires that both Jews and Gentile/Ephraimites (who are actually “true Israel”) must use the “true Names” of YHWH and Yahshua as determined by Y.A.T.I. [i.e.; Messiah’s name must contain the shortened version of the Divine Name, Yah]. As long as either Jews or Gentile Christians refer to God by any name or title other than “Yahweh” or “Yahveh” [“Nazarene Yisrael” is actually divided as to the correct pronunciation of the Hebrew letter “vav” or “waw”, so I’m unsure as to how they would arrive at the correct pronunciation of the Divine Name YHWH or YHVH], and Messiah is referred to by any name or title other than Yahshua, Israel cannot be “restored” to covenant relationship to Him. This makes use of the “True Names” (as determined by Y.A.T.I.) a condition for salvation, which is, after all, the real condition of the covenant relationship!

“Two-House” Theology is fraught with significant errors, and it is not the function of this website to document and refute all that error. What seems to be the opinion of many of its proponents is that everyone who has ever come into a covenant relationship with the Messiah has at least a drop or two of the blood of the Patriarchs flowing in their veins. That is, nobody who is totally Gentile has ever been “saved.” Since no Gentile has ever been saved, it is extremely unlikely that any Gentile will ever be saved.

Of significant concern to the Jewish community, and what makes this teaching extremely anti-Semitic at best (and heretical at worst) is that this movement makes out all Gentile Christians to be Jews, most of whom just don’t realize that they are Jews. [2]

This is, of course, an extremely valid concern to Jews worldwide. With all Jews in general, and the Nation of Israel in particular, fighting desperately to retain their right to exist as a nation and as an identifiable ethnic community, the threat of being “overrun” by millions of Gentile “wanna-be Jews” who are claiming to be the legitimate heirs to the Covenants and to the Land (Replacement Theology) is totally unacceptable.

After all, that is precisely what Gentile Christianity has been claiming since 325 CE when Constantine declared “Christianity” to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. With a single “stroke of the pen,” hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of pagan Gentiles instantly became “Christian” [though most of them didn’t even know it], and Jewish Messianic Believers were shortly thereafter given the choice of either giving up all aspects of their “Jewishness” and becoming “Gentile Christians” or being “excommunicated” from what was what prior to that time an extensively Jewish, and originally an exclusively Jewish, branch of Judaism called “The Way.” Along with the right to follow Yeshua while remaining Jewish, the “Church” also took away not only Israel’s claim to their Holy Land, but to all of God’s other “eternal covenants” with Israel.

The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and Interntional Messianic Jewiash Aliance (IMJA) have published a position paper by Kay Slibering, Ph.D., in which they reject much of the teaching of Moshe Koniuchowsky and Batya Wootten. In “The Ephraimite Error: A Short Summary” the MJAA paper claims that “Wootten and Koniuchowsky build their theology of the church as physical Israel on typological and grammatically suspect readings of the stories of the biblical patriarchs and the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E.” and describes the “Two-House” position as “Anti-Jewish” and “White Supremacy.” (mjaa.org) The “Two-House” theory is rejected by all but the “extreme outer fringe” of Messianic Judaism. The conclusion of this Position Paper is as follows:

“The position of the I.M.J.A., then, is that the Ephraimite, or ‘Two House’ movement is in error for the following reasons:

  1. flawed, unwarranted, and dangerous interpretation of scripture

  2. inconsistent logic and contradictory positions

  3. racist and race-based theology

  4. supersessionist theology

  5. historically inaccurate depiction of Israel

  6. dangerous, false, and militant claims to the land which threaten the stability of the current State of Israel

It is not unusual for a group to construct a false genealogical myth, that is, one that is empirically unfounded, in order to create for itself a new story, a new mythic purpose in the world, a new ideology and sense of rootedness. It appears that this may be the impulse that gave birth to this teaching.” (page 38)

Their complete position paper is located at mjaa.org and here.

“The Truth About All Israel,” Koniuchowsky’s rebuttal to the MJAA position paper, is available in PDF format from his website or here. You will need to download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the document.

My ancestors are Jewish, and I believe that my genealogy shows that I am probably a Levite; but I was born and raised fully-assimilated as a Gentile. I therefore somewhat fit Koniuchowsky’s general description of an “Ephraimite” — though I am not actually descended from Ephraim — in that I was for nearly 50 years unaware of my Israelite ancestors. However, I totally reject all forms of “Anglo-Israelism“ or “replacement theology.” No matter how much they claim to the contrary, the “Two House/Two Stick” Movement, particularly as promoted by “Messianic Nazarene Yisrael” is nothing more than an extremely dangerous form of Replacement Theology.

Since Koniuchowsky claims on his website that his teachings are “true prophetic declarations“, he therefore claims by definition to be a Prophet, and that his teaching comes directly from God (which is the very definition of a “true prophetic declaration”). Since God cannot make an error, then those who claim to speak “true prophetic declarations“ must likewise be completely error-free in their declarations or teachings. In accordance with Deuteronomy 18, if anything the self-proclaimed Prophet teaches can be shown to be incorrect, then Believers are required to reject everything that person teaches. (The Hebrew phrase translated here as “you have nothing to fear from him” includes the idea of showing no respect, paying no attention, or ignoring completely.)

“But if a prophet presumptuously speaks a word in my name which I didn’t order him to say, or if he speaks in the name of other gods, then that prophet must die.” You may be wondering, “How are we to know if a word has not been spoken by ADONAI?” When a prophet speaks in the name of ADONAI, and the prediction does not come true — that is, the word is not fulfilled — then ADONAI did not speak that word. The prophet who said it spoke presumptuously; you have nothing to fear from him. (D'varim [Deuteronomy] 18:20-22, CJB Read This Chapter)

He and his teachings must also be judged according to the Scriptural requirements of Deuteronomy 13:1-5.]

If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, “Let’s follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them,” you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For ADONAI your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love ADONAI your God with all your heart and being. You are to follow ADONAI your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot [commandments], listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dreamer is to be put to death; because he urged rebellion against ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from a life of slavery; in order to seduce you away from the path ADONAI your God ordered you to follow. This is how you are to rid your community of this wickedness. (D'varim [Deuteronomy] 13:1-5, CJB Read This Chapter

Since Koniuchowsky claims to be a Prophet, and portions of his teachings can be shown to be false, then the Sacred Scriptures define him as a False Prophet and Believers are required by Scripture to ignore everything that he teaches. [I will leave it up to the reader to determine whether or not he is deserving of the death penalty.]

But read what ADONAI says about those who call themselves of the House of Israel and who are not:

“I know … the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:9 NAS)

“Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie — I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9 NAS)

_______________

  1. It needs to be emphasized that the Worldwide Church of God has since repudiated Anglo-Israelism and has now embraced evangelical church doctrine:

For over 50 years, the Worldwide Church of God taught that Great Britain and the United States of America descended from two of the lost ten tribes of Israel. However, while the church has held certain beliefs concerning the identity of the lost ten tribes, it has never embraced all the tenets of what is commonly called “British-Israelism.”

Today, after having carefully researched the tenets and history of its belief that the United States and Britain are the descendants of the ancient Israelite tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the Worldwide Church of God no longer teaches this doctrine. While it may be an interesting theory, there is simply a lack of credible evidence, either in the biblical account or the historical record, to support a conclusion regarding the modern identity of the lost ten tribes of Israel. We recognize that there were hermeneutical and historical inaccuracies in the church’s past understanding of this issue.

Therefore, in accordance with the church’s historical position of a willingness to change when convicted that its teachings are biblically inaccurate, the church no longer attempts to identify the modern-day descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. [gci.org] [RETURN]

2. Critics will claim that since I refer to all Israelites as “Jews,” I do not understand the difference between the terms “Israelite” and “Jew.” I do know that the term “Israelite” technically refers to all descendants of Ya`akov (also known as Jacob or Israel) through all of his twelve sons, and the term “Jew” technically refers only to the descendants of Ya`akov’s son Yehuda [Judah]. Since virtually all “Jews” use the term “Jew” to refer to any and all descendants of Ya`akov, I have absolutely no compunction against using the same terminology. There are also a number of very fine Bible and history scholars who hold that at least some members of virtually all of the so-called “Ten Lost Tribes” have in fact been re-absorbed back into the ethnic group which refers to itself as “Jewish.”) [RETURN]

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