- Rev. John Hagee stood nervously before the 19,000 members
of his Texas mega-church. He adjusted the lapel of his expensive suit and
took a deep breath.
- "Brothers and sisters, I have been
wrong," Hagee said. Not even a cough was heard from the audience.
"I have been wrong about Israel. The state I have spent so much of
my life defending is actually indefensible. It persecutes Christians. It
violates God's covenant demands for obedience. It was created in sinful
brutality. I led you astray into supporting an evil system that continues
to crucify Christ in this world. I repent."
- Yes, this is an imagined day. It's a
confession of which we can only dream. San Antonio pastor and televangelist
John Hagee speaks worldwide into 99 million homes. He forged an unprecedented
alliance between Israel-loving Christians and Zionist Jews. His organization,
Christians United for Israel, lobbies for the Jewish state and opposes
any land concessions for peace. Hagee <http://www.washingtonspectator.com/articles/20080401ministerofwar.cfm>earns
$1.25 million per year from speaking non-Biblical platitudes, urging aggressive
foreign policy, and mis-teaching history.
- He is an evangelical with clout. He
was on Bush's "values team" during the presidential race in 2000.
In 2002, one of his "Night to Honor Israel" events featured Republican
majority leader Tom DeLay. In 2006, Hagee met with Elliot Abrams, America's
hotly Zionist deputy national security adviser-a neocon who helped push
us to war. Hagee <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5193092.stm>has
boasted that his powerful organization has more influence than the famous
Jewish lobbying group AIPAC.
- "When a congressman sees someone
from Aipac coming through the door, he knows he represents six million
people. We represent 40 million people," the televangelist said. Christian
groups like CUFI were defined by Walt and Mearsheimer as part of the "Israel
lobby" in their infamous book. Without evangelical support (and money),
the state of Israel would not exist in its present form.
- Because of the power and effects of
Christian Zionism, Hagee's teachings matter to us all. But they especially
matter to Christians. As the race to the White House picks up, the pastors
of the candidates have come under scrutiny. Obama has faced questions about
his America-critical pastor. Some wonder if McCain should distance himself
from his "spiritual guides," Hagee and Rod Parsley. All have
made their share of inflammatory statements.
- A bigger question brews here. Should
average Christians disavow Hagee or Parsley? Should these men rake in millions
as purveyors of our faith?
- Hagee Gags the Gospel
- John Hagee's 2007 book, In Defense of
Israel, is an easy-to-read and passionate guide to his convictions about
the Jewish state. Hagee shares heartwarming moments as a child identifying
with the birth of Israel. He recounts facing down opposition from both
Jews and evangelicals to found Christians United for Israel and their "Night
to Honor Israel."
- From the beginning, Hagee said, "I
set forth an unbendable ground rule: members had to agree to set aside
both theological and political agendas and focus on a single issue-support
for Israel. We agreed that all Night to Honor Israel events would be nonconversionary."
(p46) (emphasis mine)
- Soset aside all political agendas except
undiluted support for a foreign nation. Set aside all theological agendas
except one mandating Christians to silence the possible voice of the Holy
Spirit or conscience (which might prompt them to share the gospel of hope).
Bible-believing Christians should already be concerned. Silencing the gospel
is the act of persecutors, not Christians.
- The Book of Acts describes many times
Jewish leaders commanded early Christians not to preach. Once Peter and
John were ordered by powerful Jews to stop speaking about Jesus. They replied,
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you
rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and
heard." (Acts 4:19, 20) Early believers chose imprisonment and even
death over silence.
- John Hagee has forsaken a prime duty
of Christians-to speak truth at God's leading-and shelved the gospel in
pursuit of political and social goals. He believes supporting the Zionist
nation of Israel is more important than seeking to save Jews' eternal souls.
- There's a theological reason for this.
Hagee isn't deeply concerned about Jewish repentance or obedience. He holds
a strongly Calvinist theology 1 that teaches humanity's inescapable sinfulness
and God's unconditional mercy. He writes of the Hebrew covenant with God-"These
covenants are not based on man's faithfulness to God; they are based on
God's faithfulness to man." (p54)
- How does he back up this statement?
With a relatively personal rationale: "If God broke covenant with
the Jewish people, what scriptural justification do Christians have that
he will not break covenant with us?" (p54)
- He inadvertently makes a good point.
There isn't any scriptural justification for believing God won't break
covenant with us if we rebel! Many Israel-first evangelicals are passionate
about God's "faithfulness" to unrepentant Israel because it supports
their belief that He will be "faithful" to them whether or not
they sin. This is blasphemy. The Scripture is interwoven and held together
by God's insistence on human cooperation with His grace. Our Holy God honors
His covenant when He withholds blessing from those who willfully and persistently
- Did John Hagee miss Deuteronomy -- which
threatens Israel that God will perpetually curse them in all aspects of
their lives if they disobey Him? In my Bible, that's a pretty big section.
- But Hagee has every material incentive
not to convert Jews. (I'm guessing the threat of eternal hell doesn't loom
very big in his mind.) His fat paycheck and cushy ministry would be cut
off quickly if he criticized or sought to convert the "chosen people."
- The New York Times recently ran a full-page
ad from the Worldwide Evangelical Alliance, signed by 44 Christian leaders.
The ad defends evangelism of Jews and the ministries of Jews for Jesus
and other messianic organizations seeking to "introduce individuals
to the Messiah."
- The ad was promptly denounced and vilified
by the powerful Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. Its head, Abe Foxman,
didn't use merely political language to attack the ad. He used Christian
Zionist arguments, <http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ChJew_31/5263_31.htm>claiming
the ad is "offensive and insulting to the Jewish people and brazenly
dismisses Jewish self-definition." Why? Because it doesn't validate
"God's irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people, and ongoing Jewish
covenantal life, themes also found in their Scripture" This language
comes straight from John Hagee and his ilk. His ideas are being used by
Jewish antagonists to silence Christian evangelists. John Hagee will have
a lot for which to answer, that's sure.
- Stoning Stephen: Adding to Jewish Anti-Christianity
- Hagee has made himself popular with
some Jews by blaming Christians. This <http://www.jewsonfirst.org/08a/hagee_wise.html>interview
from the evangelical-leery website Jews on First is mostly hostile to Hagee-but
appreciates that he at least accepts blame for anti-Semitism. Jews on First
writer Robin Podolsky also appreciates Hagee's definition of Jesus as a
"Reform rabbi." This is a frequent refrain. In his <http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0803/S00365.htm>Easter
sermon, while wearing a blue and white prayer shawl, Hagee boomed about
Jesus, "You saw him leave personally as a Jewish rabbi. He's coming
back as a Jewish rabbi."
- Hagee says Christianity could not exist
without Judaism, yet Jews have had to suffer the intolerance of Christians
for millennia. Flatly, he states, "anti-Semitism has its origin and
its complete root structure in Christianity, dating from the early days
of the Christian church. Until we come to terms with the true origins of
anti-Semitism, we will not be able to correctly address this most egregious
of sins." (17) (emphasis added) Here, Hagee goes even farther than
many Jews, who similarly deny any fault in Jewish actions but usually at
least blame Gentiles in general for their irrational hatred. Not Hagee.
He blames Christianity for creating anti-Semitism in the beginning.
- He also blames the church for Nazism.
He attributes Hitler's ideas to Catholicism, writing that "Hitler,
the most notable example of anti-Semitism in the twentieth century, simply
enforced policies that had been approved by the church over the course
of history and that remained the official policy of the church when the
Nazi party came to power." (25)
- Hagee's beliefs about earlier history
are similarly unsympathetic to the faith he claims to hold. He says the
physical separation of Jews and Christians-when Christian Gentiles fled
from Rome-formed the basis of antipathy. "The physical separation
of the two groups would prove to be permanent and would form the basis
of the strained relationship between them." (19) He says the Gentiles
fled because Jesus had warned them to flee to the mountains when they heard
"wars and rumors of wars," and the Jews felt betrayed. That created
animosity. But hang on, Hagee attributes all the millennia of animosity
to Christians and as coming from the Christians' side. It's hard to see
how Jews' hurt feelings could have created a strain, since Jews share no
blame for the "strained relationship."
- Modern anti-Semitism is, of course,
a huge concern for the Texas pastor. He has publicly called for war with
Iran and also raises Cain about "Christian anti-Semites"-meaning,
believers who take seriously Christ's warnings to beware of the "synagogue
- Speaking of "replacement theologians"
(with whom I also largely disagree), Hagee says, "Some pastors teach
that Romans 9-11 refers to the church," Hagee writes, "that the
church has become a "spiritual Israel" and has replaced the Jewish
people. This is an anti-Semitic theology that refuses to believe God still
has a place in his heart for Israel and the Jewish people." (52)
- "No Such Thing as a Palestinian"
- If that's anti-Semitic, what do you
call Hagee's theology-which writes off a whole race of Semitic people?
Of the Promised Land's indigenous people, Hagee writes: "The land
of Israel never belonged to the Palestiniansthere has never been a land
called Palestine. There is no Palestinian language. Before 1948, the people
now called Palestinians lived in Egypt. They lived in Syria. They lived
in Iraq. They moved into the land of Israel when they were displaced by
the war of 1948, which the Arab nations started, but Israel is not occupying
territory these people now call home." (58) What planet has Hagee
been living on? The existence of at least 900,000 Palestinian Arabs in
Palestine during the last century is an unquestioned fact of Mid-East history.
So is the fact that Israel's terror began with the Jewish massacre of
250 Arab men, women, and children at Deir Yassin in 1948 and drove more
than 800,000 Palestinians out of Israel. This is what we call falsehood.
Israel's "new historians"-themselves mostly Jewish!---exploded
the Zionist/Hagee lie that there were no Palestinians before 1948.
- Just this week the <http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/opinions2/?content_id=4644>Jewish
Advocate online published a column by Jewish writer Hannah Mermelstein
calling for recognition of the catastrophe committed against the Palestinians.
She writes that "more than 6 million Palestinian people remain refugees
to this day all forbidden from returning to their homeland for one reason:
they are not JewishIn my name, and in the name of Jewish people throughout
the world, an indigenous population was almost completely expelled. Village
names have been removed from the map, houses blown up"
- This is the truth. But-and as a Christian
I find this hard to write-there seem to be more honest Jews than honest
- 1. 2 Kings 18:4 Calvinism's false assurance was described
by Jeremiah, when he spoke with God, "Look, the prophets are telling
them, 'You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I will
give you lasting peace in this place.' Then the Lord said to me, 'The prophets
are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded
them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision."
Jeremiah 14:13-14 The prophets of whom Jeremiah spoke were promising the
Israelites peace in Canaan, even though they were in disobedience. Likewise,
modern evangelists promise salvation, even without continuous trust and
obedience to God. Such assurances are groundless and grievously destructive.
- "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who
are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak
a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord. They
keep saying to those who despise Me, 'The Lord has said, 'You will have
peace.' And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
they say, 'Calamity will not come upon you.'" Jeremiah 23:16-17 These
words were spoken by the Lord to his prophet, Jeremiah, thousands of years
ago. Yet they apply with deadly accuracy to modern evangelists who promise
eternal security to all who once believed on Christ, including those now
- 2. Far from an example of God's unconditional love, God's
relationship with Israel actually proves His insistence on obedience. The
Old Testament is riddled with demands for Hebrew obedience. Without obedience,
the Jews can't receive God's material or spiritual blessing. Please see
Ex. 15:26, 19:5, Lev. 26, Numb. 32:15, Deut. 4:29, 6:24-25, 7:9-15, 11:13-15,
11:26-28, 13:17-18, 15:4-5, 19:8-9, 28:1-68, 30:9-20, 31:16-17, Josh. 24:19-20,
1 Sam. 2:30, 7:3, 12:14-15, 12:20-25, 1 Kings 3:14, 6:12-13, 8:46-52, 9:4-9,
11:38, 2 Kings 18:11-12, 21:8, 1 Chron. 28:9, 2 Chron. 7:17-22, 15:2, 30:9,
Ezra 8:22, Neh. 1:8-9, Is. 1:19-20, 1:28, 7:9, 58:9-14, 65:11-12, Jer.
4:1-4, 7:5-7, 12:16-17, 13:22, 15:19, 17:24-25, 18:7-10, 22:4-5, 26:3-6,
38:17-18, 42:10-16, Ezek. 18, 33:12-19, Hos. 5:4-5, 5:14, 7:13, 9:15-17,
10:13-15, 13:2-8, Amos 4:1-2, 5:6, 9:10, Obad. 1:10, Micah 2:2-4, 3:4,
6:9-16, Nahum 1:2-8, Zech. 3:7, 7:11-14 (This list is not exhaustive.)