Part 3 :Theological Stances on Zionism: Perspectives from Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Churches

Part 1: Can Muslims Impact US Elections?

Part 2: How Evangelical Christians Shape U.S. Support for Israel?

Neither Eastern Orthodox Christians nor traditional Catholic Christians consider Zionism in any political form:

'The Eastern Orthodox Church upheld a historical lack of emphasis on pilgrimage, insisting that the land of promise was not Palestine but the Kingdom of God. Thus, Patriarch Ignatius IV, head of the Church in the Middle East, reiterated that the people were his concern in Jerusalem, not the stones.'

Catholic Church

Theodor Herzl had an audience with Pope Pius X in 1904. The Pope explained that the Catholic Church could not theologically endorse Zionism and control of Holy Places in Jerusalem. The Catholic Church—the largest branch of Christians in the world—does not endorse the theological premises underlying millennialist Protestant Restorationism.

It has generally protested against the prospect of Jewish governance over Holy Places in Palestine, which it deems of importance to Christianity. Theodor Herzl, the secular Jewish founder of modern political Zionism, had an audience in the Vatican with Pope Pius X in 1904, arranged by the Austrian Count Berthold Dominik Lippay, seeking out the position of the Catholic Church on Herzl's prospective project for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Pope Pius X stated, 'We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church, I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord. Therefore, we cannot recognize the Jewish people.'

After Herzl explained that his reasoning behind the project for the creation of a Jewish state was not a religious statement but an interest in secular land for national independence, Pope Pius X replied, 'Does it have to be Gerusalemme?'


Most biblical scholars believe that the Old Testament contains no description of Israel's restoration to its ancient homeland, which can apply to the Jewish people of the present age. ( The Christian Century: 144–145. December 1929)

Political Zionism and Christian Zionism are biblically anathema to the Christian faith. [...] [T]rue Israel today is neither Jews nor Israelis, but believers in the Messiah, even if they are Gentiles. (John Stott)

In the United States, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches in November 2007 approved a resolution for further study which stated that the theological stance of Christian Zionism adversely affects:

  • Justice and peace in the Middle East, delaying the day when Israelis and Palestinians can live within secure borders
  • Relationships with Middle Eastern Christians (see the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism)
  • Relationships with Jews since Jews are seen as mere pawns in an eschatological scheme
  • Relationships with Muslims since it treats the rights of Muslims as subordinate to the rights of Jews
  • Interfaith dialogue, since it views the world in starkly dichotomous terms

The Reformed Church in America at its 2004 General Synod found 'the ideology of Christian Zionism and the extreme form of dispensationalism that undergirds it to be a distortion of the biblical message, noting the impediment it represents to achieving a just peace in Israel/Palestine.'

The Mennonite Central Committee devoted an issue of its newsletter to Christian Zionism, describing the ongoing seizure of additional Palestinian lands by Israeli militants as illegal, noting that in some churches under the influence of Christian Zionism, the 'congregations 'adopt' illegal Israeli settlements, sending funds to bolster the defense of these armed colonies.'

The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ are among the US churches that have criticized Christian Zionism.

The film With God On Our Side, by Porter Speakman Jr. and Kevin Miller (the latter of whom also co-created the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed), criticizes the underlying theology behind Christian Zionism and its negative influence on the Church.

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