Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain repudiates Hagee - when will Jewish leaders follow?

An article in the Huffington Post - McCain Backer Hagee Said Hitler Was Fulfilling God's Will - seems to have made enough waves about pastor John Hagee to persuade John McCain it was time to reject Hagee's endorsement of him. Sam Stein, the Huffington Post writer, learned of an offensive sermon by Hagee from Bruce Wilson's website, Talk 2 Action.

A couple of days before this I was cruising the Talk 2 Action site and came across the audio clip from one of Hagee's sermons in the 1990s, in which he referred to Hitler as a "hunter" who was sent to harry the Jews into Palestine. Wilson introduced the clip by referring to Hagee's book Jerusalem Countdown: "In his 2006 book 'Jerusalem Countdown', Hagee proposed that anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves - the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive."

I just took a look at Jerusalem Countdown (the revised 2007 edition, available on Amazon) and discovered that Hagee put almost the same words as he uttered in his sermon into the book (pp. 132-33).

The Bible is a book of parables and word pictures describing principles of truth from God to man. The prophet Jeremiah puts his pen to parchment and paints a vivid picture of the human agents God intended to use to bring the Jewish people back to Israel.

“But now I will send for many fisherman” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.”
Jeremiah 16:16 (NIV)

I believe this verse indicates that the positive comes before the negative. Grace and mercy come before judgment. The fishermen come before the hunters. First, God sent the fishermen to Israel. These were the Zionists, men like Theodor Herzl who called for the Jews of Europe and the world to come to Palestine to establish the Jewish state. The Jews were encouraged to escape while there was still time. The situation for the Jews in Europe would only get worse, not better.

A fisherman is one who draws his target toward him with bait. Herzl and his fellow Zionists were God’s fishermen, calling the sons and daughters of Abraham home. Herzl was deeply disappointed that the Jews of the world did not respond in greater numbers.

God then sent the hunters. The hunter is one who pursues his target with force and fear. No one could see the horror of the Holocaust coming, but the force and fear of Hitler’s Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have – Israel. I stand amazed at the accuracy of God’s Word and its relevance for our time. I am stricken with awe and wonder at His boundless love for Israel and the Jewish people and His divine determination that the promise He gave Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become reality.

This passage is part of a longer discussion about how the return of Jews to Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel fulfill God’s plan to restore Israel, as outlined in Ezekiel 37. He maintains that even though the state has physically been established, it is still waiting for spiritual life (p. 131).

At the conclusion of Ezekiel 37, the nation of Israel had been physically reborn. Today they have a flag; they have a constitution; they have a prime minister and a Knesset. They have a police force, a powerful military might, and the world’s best intelligence agencies. They have Jerusalem, the City of God. They have a nation. They have everything but spiritual life.

Like the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, Israel waits the spiritual awakening of the breath of God and the coming of Messiah.

Even without discovering the sermon, anyone who read Hagee's book could have found out that he considered Hitler to be the "hunter" who providentially made sure that the Jews (minus the six million who died at the hands of the Nazis!) returned to the land of Israel. For Hagee, Hitler did God's will. I guess those who died in the Holocaust were just the collateral divine damage to enable the state to be established, in Hagee's opinion. For Hagee, this is a sign of God's "boundless love" for the Jewish people. Mass death=love?!

I don't understand how anyone could believe in a God who would do that. As Yehuda Bauer (well-known Israeli historian of the Holocaust) wrote in 2000:

For me, the existence of God after the Holocaust is impossible from a moral point of view. It makes belief in God a vast problem, quantitatively and qualitatively. One and a half million children - of the Chosen People - under the age of thirteen were murdered! This is not a question of free choice because the children didn't have any free choice. It is the Nazis who had the free choice, not the children. So if there is a God that in one way or another controls the destiny of the world - even if that God retires and does not wish to do it, he can and he knows; otherwise he's not a God. He's responsible for the murder - no way out. No answer, human or divine, is satisfactory for the murder of one and a half million children - and if there is an answer from high above, then it is the answer of Satan, and rather than believe in Satan, I will not believe.

I don't come to the same conclusion that Bauer does - that it is impossible to believe in God after the Holocaust - but I agree with him that if one believes that God permitted the Holocaust to occur, that one believes in a Satanic God.

What's more, Hagee is saying that the only place Jews should be living is in Israel - so those of us who live in the United States and other countries are defying God's will, and presumably should suffer the divine consequences.

Tell me again why this man is considered to be "pro-Israel" or "pro-Jewish"? Tell me again why "Jewish leaders" like Joe Lieberman are willing to cosy up to Hagee because of his supposed "support" for Israel?

For my previous posts on Hagee - click here.


  1. I think the main problem is that Jews have never boldly said to Christians the one right thing to say: You have absolutely no business interpreting the Hebrew scriptures. Except, and I would add this one exception, any people can take something from another culture and say this inspires us to see something for ourselves. But you cannot claim to own that other culture and say that you have a better or truer understanding of the texts or customs than the original people do themselves.

    Christians can say the Hebrew Bible inspires them to their own ideas about themselves. But they cannot say anything about the original meaning of these writings or what they mean to Jews. Christians cannot say anything about the relationship between God and Jews. Their opinions on this are worthless. Until Christians get that, relations will never really fundamentally improve. But Jews in general will not say this to them because they are afraid that Christian antisemitism will only get worse if Jews sre too bold about this. We pay a price for being timid. The price is that a serious disease keeps carrying over to each future generation.

    Leon Zitzer

  2. I really don't see anything unusually disturbing in anything Hagee has written. Sure, he has some curious ideas about God's intentions. But as you point out so well, anyone who believes in a well-meaning God has to engage in some mental acrobatics when confronted with "the problem of evil." On the particular point of "Hitler was fulfilling God's will," if you believe that everything that occurs is "God's will," then Hitler's actions are obviously included.

    Seriously, if you want to argue that Hagee is an unsavory character because of his statements, you have to argue more or less the same thing for a lot of other religious figures.

  3. I don't come to the same conclusion that Bauer does - that it is impossible to believe in God after the Holocaust - but I agree with him that if one believes that God permitted the Holocaust to occur, that one believes in a Satanic God.

    If God exists then clearly he permitted the Holocaust. Could you expand upon what you mean by "a Satanic God"?

  4. re "For Hagee, Hitler did God's will."

    Not the will of my 'god'.

    Hi Mystical Polly - I came here from NormBlog and your Profile there.

    Good Luck with all this.