Israel United in Christ offers a different perspective - Part II
Natanyel Ben Israel was born in the United States in the 1960s. He studied art in Europe and worked in the field of law enforcement. Over the years he attended the Baptist and Seventh-Day Adventist churches, and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. He eventually turned his back on Christianity.
"I was disheartened," he said. After being challenged by a friend to see whether he, as a black man, was represented in the Bible, he found out he was.
"I was destroyed mentally," he shared.
Christianity, perhaps was not telling him the 'truth'. He then joined the Israelites School of Practical Knowledge and adopted the surname Israel, based on what he said Isaiah 44:5 says.
After his elders at the school died, Israel said he noticed that none of the breakaway Israelite camps were teaching and preaching God's commandments; (were) sowing the seeds of hatred towards one another, and were sexually promiscuous. "So I saw that there was a need for some true teaching to come about," Israel said.
So, in 2003, he founded the Israel United In Christ (IUIC) camp because he wanted "to resurrect the Twelve Tribes of Israel".
"And in so doing, we must keep the Commandments, and by us keeping the Commandments under the King, Jesus the Christ, our deliverance will come," Israel told Family & Religion recently, after a seminar at the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) in Papine in St Andrew.
It is to be noted that though the IUIC uses the Bible as its authority and believes in the Commandments of Jesus Christ, IUIC soldiers do not call themselves Christians. And in the seminar at UTech, Israel gave a Powerpoint presentation in which Jesus Christ was depicted as a black man. This is one of the major controversial elements of IUIC, and Israel welcomes the debate.
In its literature as well, the IUIC has given biblical and historical references to a black Christ. It argues that the Apostle John and the Prophet Daniel described Jesus Christ as a black man with woolly hair. Revelation 1:14 and Daniel 10:6 are the bases of their conclusion. Thus, the Eurocentric image of Jesus Christ, it is claiming, was created during the Renaissance, around 1453. The image is that of Pope Alexander VI's son, Cesare Borgia, painted by Leonardo da Vinci.
But it is not only Jesus Christ who has a black face. Many paintings in the UTech presentation were of noted historical and biblical personalities who were said to be black. The allegation that artists were hired during the Renaissance to "whitewash" black faces in paintings and other media was also made. This was one of the purposes of Israel's visit to the island, to present "archaeological and historical proof" of the IUIC's teachings, as well as to find "lost sheep".
One of the issues that Family & Religion discussed with Israel was the other major controversial one, that Negroes, Hispanics, Indians, etc, were enslaved by the white man because they had broken all of God's Commandments. The IUIC has cited 1 Kings 8:46 and Deuteronomy 28:25 to support its claim, which some people have rejected as a major misinterpretation of the Scripture.
So, is the IUIC deliberately courting controversy?
"Isaiah 34:8 says, 'This is the time for controversy,'" Israel retorted strongly, and went straight into pulling another example from the Bible when asked why a kind and merciful God would punish people by way of slavery. God, he said, killed everyone, except Noah and his family in the Flood, to start all over again, and we still have not learnt our lesson.
Israel is well aware of the incendiary nature of some of the IUIC's teachings, so when they are challenged, he said they allow people to read the text for themselves, and that is also why their female members are not allowed at the forefront of the 'war'.
"The reason is, sometimes people get violent when they hear the truth. It's like medicine. Medicine that is good for you always taste nasty. We give people the truth, they get angry, sometimes they get violent, so we make sure the women are not there to go through that," Israel explained.