Monday, September 04, 2006

Dr. John Hagee and Islamofascism

This past Sunday evening I took a group from the church I serve to Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA to hear Dr. John Hagee. His speech (notice I did not use the words "sermon" or "message") was on the evils of Islamofascism. Islamofascism is a word that has come into usage just in the past few months. It is a word first used by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and was recently used by President Bush in a recent press conference (11 August 2006). Dr. Hagee has adopted the word and is using it for his own soap box rants.

I believe the term probaly needs a bit of clarification, so let's unpack it. Islam is the monostheistic world religion that claims Allah as its god and Muhammed as its prophet. It has billions of adherents all over the world and is a zealous missionary religion; purely antithetical to Christianity. Fascism is a tyrannically ruled style of government, characterized by stringent socioeconomic controls, oppressive censorship, terror as normative, belligerent nationalism, and race-supremacy. Put the two together and it is indeed a gargantuan two-headed monster.

Against these Islamofascists Dr. Hagee railed. "The real enemy is not terror, it is the Islamofascists!" He thundered from the Thomas Road pulpit, lingering for repeated applause, an occasional standing ovation, and frequent "amens," every preacher's coveted cheer. However, I in no way cheer for this man's communication. There were several failures in Dr. Hagee's diatribe and I feel I must share these.

The people whom Dr. Hagee castigated were not precious souls for whom Christ died, but rather the enemy to be hunted and destroyed. Not once did Dr. Hagee say that the grace, hope, and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was for the Muslim. Not once did he say that God loves the Muslim people, that their eyes are darkened by sin, that they need to know the love of the Savior. Not once did he encourage the congregation to reach out to Muslim adherents with the love of Christ. Rather it was the frequent refrain, "We must win this war at all costs!"

I am not arguing against the United States defending herself; she can and she must. I support and I pray for all our troops serving here and abroad, fighting to secure the very freedom I enjoy. However, the Gospel is not to be marginalized even at the expense of generating patriotism. The blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse Muslims too, even the most radical.

Dr. Hagee engendered fear in the hearts of the people. Christ's return is closer than we think. I have heard that numerous times, yet this is exactly the doctrine of the imminency of Christ; that He might return at any moment. Without it, the church, not that she isn't complacent enough already, would lose all of her evangelistic and missionary zeal. Every generation has believed that Christ will return during their generation. The harbingers of Christ's return are the same in every generation and I believe God has done this on purpose, so that the church would not lose her evangelistic fervor. The signs of the times are characteristic of all times.

But to say that the advent of Islamofascism is one of the clearest indicators of Christ's return? Even Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons" (Acts 1:7). Whether Islamofascists are indeed a reality and that they are sleeping on my doorstep is yet to be determined, but at supper after the service, one elderly church member asked if all those things Dr. Hagee said were true. Are the Islamofascists already here? According to Dr. Hagee, they are living in our neighborhoods, attending our schools, building their mosques right alongside our churches. Moreover, they are just waiting on a phone call so they can don their military regalia, take up their accoutrements, and join their Islamofascist brothers in their war against America.

Dr. Hagee claims World War III has already begun. If America does not take the first step to eradicate these radical Islamofascists, war will take place on our soil. The staggering irony is that the same tool terrorists are known for, with that same tool Dr. Hagee held his audience spellbound; fear.

Dr. Hagee stimulated hatred for the supposed enemy. What better way to cause one to hate another than to spend a lengthy amount of time teaching how much that people hates you? In no uncertain terms, the Islamofascist, when given the opportunity, he will kill you--why? It is because he hates you. Their children are trained from their mothers' breasts to hate Americans. Boys are taught to use guns by the time they learn to walk. Vast amounts of time are spent in school disparaging America and the freedom she enjoys.

Twice the (fictional?) story was told of an Islamofascist mother who made a liquid bomb out of her baby's bottle and then proceeded to blow herself, her child, and the plane out of the sky. "This is what these people are capable of!" Dr. Hagee painted faces on these people who are out to destroy America; mean, ugly, grim faces, faces that by their sheer ugliness we ought to recognize them. He brought every dark-skinned, dark-haired man, woman, and child in America under suspicion. Hate is yet another tool of the enemy, yet a tool Dr. Hagee seemed to wield with some expertise.

Finally, Dr. Hagee promotes a political activism that I am not sure Christians should prescribe to. Dr. Richard Land has written a new book, Imagine! A God-Blessed America, and it is advertised in the July-August 2006 issue of Faith and Family Values. It runs with this tagline: "Imagine an America where more Christians are radical change agents."

Is it the purpose of a Christian to be a change agent, the type Dr. Hagee and Dr. Land propose? I understand and agree that we should vote and exercise our political liberties. However, there is no precedent in the Bible, either testament, where social or political activism ever changed anything. If a community was changed, it was by the propagation of the Gospel. In Acts 17, a radical group of Jews dragged Jason out in the street, proclaiming him guilty of turning the world upside down. Why was he persecuted? Jason was there when Paul was preaching the Gospel in the synagogues saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." Some of the Jews were persuaded and a great multitude of Greeks believed the Gospel and repented of their sins. The Gospel turned that world upside down; not the invasion of an army, the eloquence of diplomacy, nor stalwart political activism.

If change is to come about, the church must realize its responsibility not only to its own community, but to the whole world. I appreciate the ministries of men like Dr. Hagee, because in every generation there must be men who will stand head and shoulders above the rest and proclaim things that must be said in the public forum. Attention must be drawn to these issues. However, Osama bin Laden does not really run a government. The terrorists in Iraq do not really constitute a government or a nation. And the hijackers of 9/11 were not fascists. Is my neighbor an Islamofascist? Honestly, I don't know; but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It is my contention that Dr. Hagee was doing a bit of saber rattling, doom saying, and sounding the tribulational alarm just for the sake of selling a few books and padding his pockets.

Sincerely,
Tony

14 comments:

Les Puryear said...

Tony,

I agree with you about Hagee. He is much loved in Texas (I used to live there), but his theology is faulty. He preaches a dual track for salvation: Jesus for Gentiles, and Jews because they are Jews. His modus operandi is sensationalism and the masses eat it up. Hagee cannot be said to be an orthodox Christian. I don't know what he was doing at Falwell's church other than the sensationalism part. Hagee is a false prophet.

Regards,

Les

Tony said...

Les,

Thanks for your view. His preaching was like a vicious undertow. You don't realize that you're getting sucked in until you're under gasping for air. Who wants to oppose patriotism? Who wants to oppose nationalism? Who wants to oppose a victorious America? I think he plays those cards and it sweeps the masses up behind him and you look foolish to disagree with him.

TRBC is celebrating their 50th anniversary, so I believe that is why Dr. Hagee was there. Dr. Falwell is having special services every Sunday night for a year with prominent prechers/speakers. Incidentally, Falwell is preaching at Cornerstone (Dr. Hagee's church) this Sunday night ;-)

Thanks again for stopping by. Bring a friend!

Tony

Darrell said...

Tony,
As I read your article, I was thinking it... then you said it in the last paragraph; It's all about selling books. I'm sure by now you have noticed that I am a Pentecostal minister, and as such, I am sure that there are some things that you and I may not agree on, but I choose not to major on the minors. You are my Brother in Christ, and that's enough said. I mention this because I wanted to say that IMHO, guys like Hagee give us Pentecostals a bad name. (As do so many other TV preachers) I don't watch Hagee very often at all, because as you and Les both have said, he is prone to sensationalism, and as I have observed, most of his books are either fear driven, or very divisive. He seems so critical of everyone else all the time.
Sitting here thinking, I honestly don't believe that I have heard an entire message of his in at least 5 or 6 years. I just can't take it.

I will be the first to say that there is "some" truth to what Hagee is saying, but his goal is not to see them saved, but to beat the war drum and sell his books. I just don't have much time or use for folks like that.

Tony said...

Darrell,

I do respect Dr. Hagee, simply because he has a huge following. Dr. Falwell announced before he preached that 300 people had been saved that Sunday morning at Cornerstone. I don't care to question the integrity of that statement; indeed it sounded a bit outlandish, though not impossible. It bothers me though that there was not a clear Gospel presentation in his message and he was quite clear that the Gospel was not for the Islamofascist. Just a bit inconsistent.

And you know as well as I do, there are plenty of big-name Baptists out there that give our denomination a bad name...Falwell, for starters.

I hope my article did not sound like I was stereotyping Pentecostals...that was not my intention. It was my gut reaction to the service Sunday evening. And I hope you continue to stop by; I think I could learn a lot from you.

Thanks Darrell. God bless.

Brothers,
Tony

Darrell said...

Tony,
No, I didn't think your article sterotyped Pentecostals at all, and there was nothing offensive about it at all. I only mentioned it because so many people do throw us all in one basket.
I have to say that personally, I do not respect a man because can draw a crowd. That's just me personally, and is no way a reflection on you. Hitler was a dynamic speaker and wowed the people. Many a person has been a great orator and able to captivate crowds, but led people astray.

Streak said...

Interesting. I have watched Hagee for years on TBN (I confess, it was less than a respectful viewing--I found watching the man akin to watching a freak show) and am kind of amazed to see him enjoy the audience he does. I have heard him say pretty hateful things, so Tony's description of a hate-filled speech sounds about right. I heard him do that and more--including an odd charge that wives had to submit sexually to their husbands whether they felt like it or not--kind of a rent to stay in the house. I felt a bit of a wretch coming on then.

But query: why does it surprise you that Hagee would be speaking with Falwell? Didn't Falwell famously blame 9-11 on liberals and feminists? Isn't his game essentially the same as the large man from San Antonio?

Tony said...

Streak,

You are probably right; I shouldn't really be surprised he was at TRBC. Falwell is celebrating his 50th anniversary at the church, so he is having big name preachers there for a full year on Sunday evenings.

I confess, I allowed myself a chuckle when I found out Jerry Vines was there the Sunday before Hagee. You probably recall Vines' foible at the SBC Pastors' Conf a couple years ago when he said that Muhammed was a demon-posesessed pedophile. How's that for alienating every Muslim from your Christian witness? Even a kid from the church I serve had to provide an answer to a Muslim at his school for that one. What can you say? "Well, I don't think his remarks represent the whole of conservative Christianity." Gee whiz.

I get really aggravated with garbage like that.

Thanks for commenting and engaging in dialogue.

Tony

A Patriot said...

"I do respect Dr. Hagee, simply because he has a huge following."
-Tony

Well Satan has a huge following as well.

As for your article I agree with you 100%.

In my opinion John Hagee represents a huge problem in the Church today. John Hagee teaches the Gospel of Neo Conservatism instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He needs to go back and take a course on "You Shall Not Kill" and listen to reason.

The thing to do is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Muslims around the World. That is the Christian thing to do. A constant War in the Middle East will only make the Muslim really hate us.

Tony said...

Patriot,

Thanks for stopping by. After I published that statement, "I do respect Dr. Hagee, simply because he has a huge following," I realized how asinine it was that I would say that. Darell called me on it, too. It must have been neurological flatulence. I think I was grasping at straws, trying to say something nice about him.

You are right about Dr. Hagee. Men like him really do not know the detriment they do to the spread of the Gospel to other religious groups, be they Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or whatever. May God have mercy on his soul.

Blessings,
Tony

Anonymous said...

Hagee clearly said in a recent sermond that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and only a small, but powerful, adhere to radical extremeism.

The term "orthodox Christian" is one used regularly by Harold Camping of Family Radio. This "pastor" has predicted the end of the wolrld in the past and now has set a time for it's demise again. Camping has also warned millions of his followers that the Church age is over and to leave the churches. This, I believe, is a false interpret of scripture.

The bible does give a warning as to the signs of the end times. If you can produce one accurate statement that Hagee predicted a specific time for Christ's return, I would be satisfied.

Personally, I find this blog an anti-Hagee one, and not objective at all.

Would you please state your religious affiliations so I could possibly be directed to what you consider a denomination with a strong biblical foundation?

After going over your list, I believe most preachers of various denominations appear on your list.

Remove the plank in your own eye before you point out the speck in another (paraphrased by me).

Tony said...

Anonymous,

I feel it necessary to remind you that this is my blog and I am perfectly within my right to express my opinion on any given matter.

That being said, you have misrepresented my statements. I did not say in the post that Dr. Hagee predicted a time Christ would return. I said he claimed Islamofascism was one of the clearest indicators of Christ's return; a confusing statement at best, slipshod hermeneutics at worst. And if he has retracted any of the horrid statements he made at Thomas Road Baptist Church I am unaware. If he has said what you contend he has, that in a recent sermond that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and only a small, but powerful, adhere to radical extremeism, he certainly did not communicate that more objective understanding of most Muslims the night I and a portion of the congregation I serve heard him speak.

Moreover, you are right; this post was an anti-Hagee post. I found his speech without taste, laden with censure, and unfaithful to God's Word, taking too many liberties and making too many assumptions.

I am unfamiliar with Harold Camping, having never heard of him or his show. Perhaps it is not aired in my part of the country. So, I cannot make an accurate judgment regarding him nor his theology. I would like to say, issues in eschatology are not issues that should divide Christians, so please refrain from casting any stones.

Also, to answer your question about my "religious affiliations," I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, first and foremost. I pastor and worship at a Southern Baptist Church.

May God bless you.
Sincerely,
Tony

Anonymous said...

tony

i just watched hagee's rant on tv. nothing about god's love, nothing about the grace of god available to all. hate, and exclusion. us and them. totally words of division and hostility. an embarrassment to christians and to baptists. thanks for raising the issue.
A

Tony said...

Anonymous,

You seem to have picked up on the same faults as I did in his "message." To be fair, Hagee is not Baptist; he pastors an interdenominational church and is probably best classified as Pentecostal or charismatic.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Anonymous said...

IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE BELIEVE IN EVERYTHING OTHERWISE BELIEVE IN NOTHING. Hagee was right on the money. Whether you agree with it or not, we shall find out on the day of judgement.

FOLKS , READ YOUR BIBLES WITH AN OPEN HEART, READ EVERYTHING!! THAT INCLUDES REVELATION!!!