What Israelis need to know about the ‘Disciples of Christ’ denomination

The Disciples of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination, that has consistently passed anti-Israel Resolutions at their General Assemblies and embraces BDS. 

My journey began in 2015 attending a small Protestant Christian congregation in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the western United States where the people are warm and friendly. I was unaware the denomination, Disciples of Christ , of this small country church was antisemitic. I found this out when I attended a local Disciples of Christ (hereafter Disciples) conference in 2016.

When Israel was mentioned I felt a negative shift in mood, the atmosphere turned dark and heavy. When the conference was over, I visited the Disciples web site and my suspicions were confirmed; what I discovered… wasn’t pretty!

First some background. The Disciples is a mainline Protestant denomination, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA with approximately 500,000 parishioners, who have an active global outreach. Compared to other Protestant denominations, in terms of numbers, they aren’t the tallest hog at the trough. The Disciples have been hemorrhaging numbers for the past several years, winnowing out the chaff and leaving an anti-Israel core.  If you attend a church affiliated with the Disciples and lack awareness of your denomination’s positions…keep reading!

Every two years the Disciples gather at their General Assemblies and pass Resolutions dear to their cause. In 2015 Resolution 1540 was adopted. “(emergency), Support for Agreement with Iran.” Israeli leaders condemn Iran deal, “one of the darkest days in world history.”

The Disciples have a pattern of anti-Israel bias, as far back as 2005 their General Assembly adopted Resolution 0522. “Demands Israel stop construction and tear down completed portions of the wall.” The resolution fails to mention the purpose of the wall…to thwart Palestinian terrorist. In 2016 the Disciples embraced the Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel (BDS) movement.

More on BDS.

The BDS movement is designed to delegitimize and weaken Israel through economic, academic and cultural isolation. BDS leaders are explicit about wanting to eliminate the Jewish state. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti declares that “accepting Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ on our land is impossible” and that the only solution is “euthanasia” for Israel. Ahmed Moor, Co-editor of After Zionism, states “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” If the Disciples did not share the goals of the BDS movement then why were they signatories?

That same year, 2016, I presented this information to the local congregation and recommended we sever all ties with the Disciples. Since the Disciple’s leadership have been adopting antisemitic resolutions for years it’s hard to imagine the congregates were not aware; therefore, they can’t say….” look, we did not know this.” They voted to continue their affiliation with the Disciples. I could no longer remain a member and voluntarily left; however, I continue to monitor the Disciple’s activities. “In the warmest of hearts there is a cold spot for the Jews.” Proverbs 24:10 comes to mind. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength being small; if you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter; if you say, ‘look, we did not know this’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?” What’s past is prologue.

In 2017 Resolution 1719 was adopted.  “A call for the Disciples of Christ to advocate for the rights of children living under Israeli Military Occupation.” Palestinians are given full rights as citizens in Israel which is one of the few places where Arab women are allowed to vote.

In July 2019 the Disciples General Assembly adopted Resolution 1925. “Addressing the State of Global Forced Migration. Generations of Palestinians refugees displaced and dispossessed of their homes following the wars of 1948 and 1967, in the Middle East and beyond.” They fail to mention the nearly one million Jewish refugees expelled from Arab and Muslim countries.

The Disciples have formed liaisons with like-minded groups, e.g. the BDS movement. Social and political issues have become the Disciples de facto creed. Collectively they exert considerable economic and political influence. It’s no secret the political landscape in America is now fraught with antisemitism.

Genesis predicts there will be enmity toward the woman (biblical symbol for Israel). Why do the Disciples have such enmity toward Israel? This is a baffling position for a church with biblical traditions. God’s covenants with the Jews are unconditional, everlasting, made with the Covenanted people and are Israel’s possession…and no one else. The Christian New Testament makes this abundantly clear when the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 9:4, “…to them (Jews) belong the covenants and the promises.” He continues in Romans 11:1, “I ask, has God rejected his people? By no means!” The Scriptures clearly identify the Jewish people as the Chosen people, and as such, are a “Light onto the Nations” and through them “All families of the World will be blessed.” It also says, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” Genesis 12:3.

The prophets foretold the diaspora and Aliyah. The Disciples minimize the nexus between biblical text that is Judeo-centric and the modern State of Israel. To conflate the two is an admission of God’s sovereignty and Jewish bachar. This belief makes it easier to dismiss the modern State of Israel as a fluke of history instead of Divine action.

The Disciples are politically active and obsessed with the Jewish state. The good news, God will never forsake Israel!

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar…If these ordinances were ever to cease from my presence, says the Lord, then also the offspring of Israel would cease to be a nation before me forever.” Jeremiah 31:35-36.

About the Author
David Arthun is a Christian Zionist. He received his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University and completed postdoctoral research in neurotoxicology at the University of Louisiana. He is an Army Veteran, retired from U.S. federal civil service and resides in his home state of Montana, USA.