TV Evangelist John Hagee Wants War With Iran, and He Wants It Now!
TV Evangelist John Hagee Wants War With Iran, and He Wants It Now!
by Bill Barnwell
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If anyone still thinks that the radical end-times "prophecy" movement is not a threat to peace and stability, think again. At the popular level, in terms of the TV preachers and the hot-selling prophecy books, the dispensational pre-trib stuff still reigns supreme. Most conservative-leaning Evangelical churches in America today are heavily influenced by popular dispensational theology to some degree. Even churches and pastors that donít teach pretribulationalism still are influenced by dispensationalism to varying degrees.
The most dangerous element of this prophetic paradigm, however, is its doom-and-gloom view of the world. And in most cases, those who have a fascination with the end of the world have a particular fascination with war and militarism as well. More problematic, it assumes that their wars of choice are not just their own foreign policy preferences or personal opinions. Rather they are ordained by God. In 2003, more than a few pastors and influential Christian figures basically said that opposing the Iraq war was opposing Godís end-time plan. According to Evangelical end-times enthusiasts, if you opposed the Iraq war, you didnít just hate your country and the troops, now you were opposing God and the Bible as well.
An even bigger obsession for dispensationalists has always been Israel. For the average dispensationalist, modern-day secular Israel is going to be the focal point in the end-times. Therefore, if the Bible really does teach in Daniel 9:27 that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is going to be torn down for a rebuilt Jewish Temple, why should any of us seek to prevent it? Sure, it very well might ignite a regional war and even ignite tensions around the world, but its all part of Godís prophetic plan. Not to worry though, things might not get really ugly until after the "rapture," so the Christians today who are cheering for events that would bring about World War III wonít have to worry about it anyway. Unless of course, they are wrong about the whole thing.
Enter the Rev. John Hagee. Hagee is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Texas, where he has 18,000 followers right in his own congregation. He also has a global television ministry and has sold scores of prophecy books over the years. John Hagee is perhaps the most powerful and influential Christian Zionist figure in America. Hagee has a long history making strange predictions about world events that are almost always wrong. His books in the late 90ís trumped up Y2K hysteria to ridiculous levels. He inaccurately predicted that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was the "Beginning of the End" in the book of the same name. In every book he writes, he is constantly warning of catastrophe in various forms right around the corner. According to one of his fans, he supposedly just preached a sermon predicting that 2007 would be a "significant" year in Bible prophecy and that his prophecy claims can be "mathematically" backed up by the Biblical text.
Given Hageeís prior success rate in making predictions, donít be shocked if 2007 doesnít shape up to be all that "significant" after all. As with all popular prophecy teachers, they are immune from making inaccurate predictions and false prophecies. Their followers simply forget or forgive them. Maybe theyíll even claim that God changed His mind. Most donít even pay attention though and donít even realize their superstars are constantly revising their predictions and end-times charts.
However, Hagee is not just another goofy eccentric on TBN. He has political clout and regularly meets with influential national politicians. If youíve ever watched him on TV, he clearly basks in this fact and drops little hints about his discussions with people in governmental authority and other positions of power. For years Hagee has hosted "A Night to Honor" Israel and is founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel. Their goals span beyond supporting Israel, but also implementing a one-sided and radical approach to the Arab-Israeli problems in the Middle East. There is no nuance to their policy prescriptions and ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) the agenda of Hagee and his group would actually make matters much worse in the Middle East.
And he has more than a few fans out there. He has not been afraid to remind his church and television audience, repeatedly over the years, that there are "millions in America and around the world watching this program right now." Whatever the number really is, what is clear is that Hagee is reaching many people and has a networking system that spans into the rich and powerful, some of whom are making national foreign policy decisions.
If left up to Hagee, there would be a military strike against Iran today. Since last summer, Hagee has been practically foaming at the mouth for a new war with Iran. Why? Because he thinks it is the rest of the worldís job to fight Israelís wars and because he thinks such a showdown is a piece of the puzzle in regards to Bible prophecy. To Hagee, there is no middle ground on this issue. God told Abraham he would "bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you" (Gen. 12:3). That means if YOU arenít on board with wars that might be in Israelís interest, but not in the United Statesí, then YOU will be cursed by God. At least according to Hagee.
To see just how bellicose, belligerent, and militaristic Hagee has come, just watch his speech at the AIPAC Washington conference. Behind his thundering prose and love for the Jewish people is a militaristic and even fanatical mindset that is hoping and praying for the world to fall apart. After all, Jesus canít come back unless it does, but all is well since Christians before the "rapture" will escape the worst of it.
Unfortunately for the Jewish people, they still await another massive holocaust, according to many dispensationalists. Anyone interested in this subject should read our own Gary Northís column, The Unannounced Reason Behind American Fundamentalism's Support for the State of Israel. An excerpt:
Nothing can or will be done by Christians to save Israelís Jews from this disaster, for all of the Christians will have been removed from this world three and a half years prior to the beginning of this 42-month period of tribulation. (The total period of seven years is interpreted as the fulfillment of the seventieth week of Daniel [Dan. 9:27].)
In order for most of todayís Christians to escape physical death, two-thirds of the Jews in Israel must perish, soon. This is the grim prophetic trade-off that fundamentalists rarely discuss publicly, but which is the central motivation in the movementís support for Israel. It should be clear why they believe that Israel must be defended at all costs by the West. If Israel were militarily removed from history prior to the Rapture, then the strongest case for Christiansí imminent escape from death would have to be abandoned. This would mean the indefinite delay of the Rapture. The fundamentalist movement thrives on the doctrine of the imminent Rapture, not the indefinitely postponed Rapture.
Every time you hear the phrase, "Jesus is coming back soon," you should mentally add, "and two-thirds of the Jews of Israel will be dead in Ďsoon plus 84 months.í" Fundamentalists really do believe that they probably will not die physically, but to secure this faith prophetically, they must defend the doctrine of an inevitable holocaust.
This specific motivation for the support of Israel is never preached from any fundamentalist pulpit. The faithful hear sermons Ė many, many sermons Ė on the pretribulation Rapture. On other occasions, they hear sermons on the Great Tribulation. But they do not hear the two themes put together: "We can avoid death, but only because two-thirds of the Jews of Israel will inevitably die in a future holocaust. America must therefore support the nation of Israel in order to keep the Israelis alive until after the Rapture." Fundamentalist ministers expect their congregations to put two and two together on their own. It would be politically incorrect to add up these figures in public.
Again, however, one canít make too big a fuss about this, since "Bible prophecy" demands this carnage. Itís "Godís will" for the world to fall apart, for tensions to further inflame between Jews and Arabs, for the United States to lead the charge in a pre-emptive strike on Iran, to rebuild a third Jewish Temple after tearing down the Islamic mosque, etc. All you have to do to prove this is cut passages like Genesis 12, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, Ezekiel 36 and 37, and Daniel 9:24Ė27 out of context (along with the entire book of Revelation), make up some handy-dandy prophecy charts, and confidently present it to Biblically illiterate Christians who donít know any better.
While there are many doctrinal disputes amongst Christians, there are none that have as much practical significance as this one. I strongly disagree with those who deny the Trinity, but those who deny the deity of Christ are not clamoring war, bombs, and destruction. Likewise, Christians disagree vehemently over issues like eternal security or the proper mode of baptism, but thankfully weíve grown up and stopped killing each other over those issues in the last couple hundred years.
When it comes to questionable or inaccurate beliefs about the end-times, however, they are shaping many peopleís foreign policy and worldviews for the worse. It is causing many to hold troubling escapist views towards the world. I know this because I am constantly told by other Christians that "we are not in the business of fixing up the world, we are just in the business of saving souls until the rapture!" It is in part because of faulty eschatology that Evangelical Christians, more than any other demographic group in America, supported the ill-advised invasion of Iraq in 2003. And it is faulty eschatology that is causing this same group of people to believe the militaristic agenda behind Rev. Hageeís bombastic oratory. After all, itís all been ordained, so how can we oppose it?
But maybe, just maybe, their preciously held beliefs about future prophecy are way off. Maybe they are dead wrong in their views and maybe all the wars, destruction and carnage they think are inevitable arenít necessarily mandated by God. Maybe the Bible is teaching exactly the opposite regarding these matters than what they teach.
Alas, no matter how many false predictions these guys make, or how many damaging theological and political beliefs they espouse, people continue to follow their dangerous teachings. Itís time for both Christian and non-Christian alike to call this crowd out on their bad theology, false prophecies, and deadly worldview.
Hopefully Hagee is right that 2007 is going to be a significant year in Bible prophecy. It would be significant indeed if Biblical scholars, pastors and laymen finally and at long last rescued the doctrine of eschatology from the doom and destruction crowd of militaristic pretribulationists. Hereís hoping that with each passing year the theology of Hagee and his ilk is exposed for how Biblically inaccurate and destructive it really is.
I hate it when they say, "He gave his life for his country." Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them."-- Admiral Gene LaRocque