Texas Pastor Announces “Hiram Code”, Links Native Americans to Hebrews

An advert from Ron Phillips Ministries, of Hixson, TX:

Could the Phoenicians have been the ones who really discovered America? How is it possible that Native Americans share DNA markers with the Hebrew people? Could the gold of Ophir that was in Solomon’s temple have come from America?

…In the nearly hour long teaching on “The Hiram Code and Anointing,” Pastor Ron Phillips lays out biblical and historical evidence that the Phoenicians and Jews could have sailed to America to trade and bring back gold.  He also shows you the key of the Hiram Code and how it releases prosperity and blessing.

As we discover in this message, the Gentile Hiram was blessed by blessing Israel. You can bless Israel, too, when you purchase a tallit, made in the Holy Land. Your purchase of this prayer shawl not only brings business to the people of Israel, but it helps Pastor Ron to continue broadcasting on TV and the internet.

This may seem to be somewhat idiosyncratic and marginal, but I found the advert via a link from Charisma News, a popular news-site for conservative American Christians, particularly neo-Pentecostals. Charisma News is owned by Stephen Strang, who was described by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America”, and Strang’s Charisma House publishing outfit has published titles by Phillips that include An Essential Guide to Speaking in Tongues and Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare.

Unusually, Phillips is Charismatic Southern Baptist, despite the denomination’s wariness of Pentecostalism; he served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1991, but he is also part of a wider neo-Pentecostal “scene”, and appears on TBN. Phillips’ advert is of wider interest as it encapsulates a number of trends within neo-Pentecostalism.

First, there’s the very idea of a “Hiram Code”: the title is obviously meant to tap into the same rich seam of public curiosity about ancient mysteries that has made Dan Brown a household name, but Phillips is also positioning himself as a pastor with special insight into supposedly hidden Bible teachings with practical application. In this, he is very much like Jonathan Cahn, who has over the past year or so (thanks to puffs from Strang and Joseph Farah) achieved phenomenal success with his claim that a Biblical template can be applied to the events of 9/11, and that the Bible shows that America must repent to avoid further disaster. Before he achieved fame, Cahn’s religious teachings emphasised his special understanding of “Hebrew mysteries”, such as the “the long-hidden, never before revealed, Mystery of the Temple Doors”.

Cahn’s doom-mongering is the flipside of Phillips’ “releasing prosperity” – God’s blessings and curses are mechanistic, and can be unleashed or held back by careful attention to aspects of Israelite history as recorded in the Bible, including details that appear to be obscure.

Second, we have the appropriation of Jewish religious culture in the idea that Christians ought to purchase a prayer shawl. This goes beyond acknowledging the Jewish context of Jesus and the New Testament,  and I noted and discussed the trend here and here; differences between Christianity and Judaism are elided (sometimes with eccentric results), and there is also a vicarious identification with modern Israel.

Most striking, however, are Phillips’ pseudo-historical and pseudo-scientific questions, which  appear to be derived from Mormon claims about ancient links between America and Israel. Of course, it’s possible to appropriate fringe historical theories without endorsing the theology that inspired them, but it’s unexpected for a Christian pastor to put such unusual ideas at the centre of his religious teaching. However, the Mormon narrative, which links Israelite history and Jesus to America, is doubtless attractive for some Americans who want a form of religious belief that also expresses their sense of nationalism, and it complements the interest in Jewish religious culture.

One wonders how far this might go: most Christians have historically regarded Mormon theology as being incompatible with Christian belief, but the barriers appear to be breaking down, perhaps in part due to Glen Beck and Mitt Romney. Christian Right figures David Barton and Jim Garlow have affirmed that Beck is “saved”, and John Hagee has led pastors in endorsing Beck as a religious revivalist; Romney’s presidential candidacy prompted neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner, who is very close to Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, to opine that the “White Horse Prophecy” was “maybe… one of those true prophecies”, and even the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association toned down its views on Mormonism as being a “cult”.

Judaism is now more or less accepted as valid by conservative Christians in the USA; this is not usually spelled out with theological coherence –  there is still the occasional announcement that Jews need to be evangelised, and qualms about a formal “Dual Covenant” theology – but the place of Jews and the modern State of Israel within a wider religious story has proven just too compelling not to incorporate positively into an evangelical interpretation of the world. It’s unlikely that Mormonism will come to be perceived in the same way – but individual Mormons and some Mormon ideas may be accepted, for similar narrative reasons.

3 Responses

  1. Even if Phoenicians discovered North America, why would they bring along Jews?

    And even if they did, would there really be enough of them to affect in anyway (genetic, religious cultural) the natives?

    Why am I analyzing this?

  2. […] See, Texas Pastor Announces “Hiram Code”, Links Native Americans to Hebrews […]

  3. What does it matter? Does it affect our discipleship or the gospel? And true to form, it fits in nicely with a money raising scheme.

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