I have just completed a five-part series on Israel. A false view of Israel is a major stumbling block keeping evangelicals from considering the postmillennial hope. Consequently, I will continue on the theme of Israel, but from a different perspective.
I would now like to engage one of the best-selling proponents of the misunderstanding of Israel, John Hagee. Hagee is back in the news with his recent, mistaken prophetic expectations regarding the Blood Moon.
Hagee is an example of what is wrong with Christianity in America today: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). To demonstrate the tragedy of this man’s influence, I will post a three-part review of one of his more influential books: John Hagee, In Defense of Israel: The Bible’s Mandate for Supporting the Jewish State (Lake Mary, Flo.: FrontLine, 2007). So many Christians are caught up reading Hagee’s materials that they have no time to consider the postmillennial hope.
Hagee is a New York Times best-selling author, and pastor of a 19,000 member megachurch in San Antonio. His book argues that the Christian Church is biblically obligated to support the political state of Israel on the basis of its fulfillment of biblical prophecy (pp. 84-85) and for the well-being of America (p. 84) It is virtually a hagiography for the Jews which borders on Judeolatry. Hagee almost implies that the Jews and Israel can do no wrong, for he does (as we shall see) call upon Christians to support them as we do God himself: unconditionally.
Hagee presents his argument so vigorously that he effectively demands that we as Christians and America as a nation are obligated by Scripture itself to support the modern political state of Israel in anything it does. For instance, on the back cover he boasts of his “twenty-six years of unconditional support of Israel and the Jewish people.” He demands that “every Christian in America has a biblical mandate to stand in absolute solidarity with Israel” (p. 84, emph. mine) because “we are commanded to love [the Jews] unconditionally” (p. 92). . These levels of obligation should be reserved only for obedience to God himself. As Hagee admits regarding his first trip to Israel: “We went as tourists and came home as Zionists” (p. 12).
In extolling Israel Hagee virtually proclaims the superiority of the Jewish race over all other races: “The entire world and especially the United States, owes a debt to the Jewish people. The contributions of the Jewish people are staggering” (p. 99). And he does this while repeatedly rebuking Christianity for creating anti-Semitism: “anti-Semitism has its origin and its complete root structure in Christianity, dating from the early days of the Christian church” (p. 17; cp. pp. 74, 121, 125, 145). He laments: “It is not Jews and Judaism who have lost credibility; it is a loveless Christianity that has lost credibility” (p. 149). He never rebukes Israel for anything, even deflecting its role in Christ’s crucifixion by blaming it on just a few corrupt leaders.
He rebukes Christianity while extolling the religion of Judaism — even worshiping with Jews (p. 144), receiving their religious benediction (p. 45), declaring Jerusalem “my spiritual home” (p. 12), speaking of them as his “spiritual brothers” (pp. 36, 173), and stating that they are “quite literally God’s children” (p. 51, emph. his — what in the world does this mean?) and the “family of our Lord” (p. 92).
Hagee even implies that the Jews do not need to convert to Christ, because “the message of the gospel was from Israel, not to Israel” (p. 134). Though not expressly stated by Hagee, this seems to be implied in his book, for he never calls upon the Jews to accept Christ, and sympathetically explains that we should not expect them to do so because of our treatment of them through the ages: “But the idea that the Jews of the world are going to convert and storm the doors of Christian churches is a myth…. After two thousand years of anti-Semitic replacement theology that says ‘the church is the real Israel,’ thus denying the Jews their rightful place in the economy of God, they are not about to convert” (148). He also sponsors joint, public meetings with them that have “as an unbendable ground rule” that the meetings would be “nonconversionary” (p. 46).
In this work Hagee beautifully weaves strands of incompetence with cords of error to create a tapestry of Judeolatry. This book contains almost as many errors as it does pages. Due to space limitations I will only briefly list some of them. It is necessary, however, to survey evidence of his biblical and historical incompetence to demonstrate how his theological error is simply the conclusion of that incompetence. This will show how dangerous he is as an influence in the Church.