In the case of John Hagee very few people within the larger culture are paying attention to his prophecies. Last week I scanned a copy of John Hagee’s book, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation (Howard Books, 2010), in a Half-Price Bookstore near home. The copy I looked at was called an “Updated Edition.” (I love how these books have to be updated. I wonder why? This is humor dear reader!) The subtitle on this newer edition reads: “Startling Revelations and Promises of Hope.” The cover speaks of “special updates” on: the death of the dollar, a nuclear Iran, the reaction of Israel, and hope for a troubled nation. Hagee writes of the following:
- The impending nuclear war in the Middle East
- The coming death of the U. S. dollar
- The consequences of rejecting Israel
- The absolute accuracy of biblical prophecy
- The coming Fourth Reich
The dust jacket of this same book says, “As a candid conservative Christian leader . . . this bestselling author courageously sounds an alarm to awaken the American nation from the slumber of political correctness. Using carefully documented facts and powerful biblical teachings, Pastor Hagee illustrates the relationship between current newspaper headlines and biblical prophecy.”
Now, why does all this matter?
For starters, I was challenged that I was quoting a link to a very biased source. I was also challenged that I should not even write about John Hagee because I was in violation of Matthew 18:15-20. And some just seem to think that my emphasis on unity precludes any comment on any issue or person who is saying anything to the church or to modern society. (Simply put, I should leave them all alone and never comment.) I profoundly disagree with all of these points.
- Whether the link I posted was written by a person who is fair and unbiased, or plainly has an ax to grind, is irrelevant. The report that this writer gave was true. Any simple perusal of John Hagee’s website, books and hundreds of sermons will show this is the case.
- Matthew 18 has nothing to do with posting a comment like mine on Facebook. The context of the aforementioned text is one involving an offense between persons in need of being reconciled. I have no personal offense with John Hagee. I do not need to be reconciled to him as a person. He is a minister who has a public audience via television, sells millions of books and influences more than a few who read him. What surprises me is how frequently this Matthew 18 passage is used to say that we should never comment on living ministers who write and teach. While I do think some “gatekeepers” believe it is there special calling to single out every preacher they disagree with this is clearly not the path that I follow. And regular reading of my blogs and Facebook posts will reveal this quite clearly to a fair-minded reader.
- As for my emphasis on Christian unity I see this appeal as the best of the three made on my Facebook wall. Having said this, and there are times when I do withdraw something because of this very point, unity is not uniformity. Unity does not mean we never discuss our differences. What I hope I show is that we can pursue unity and discuss (yes even debate) our differences. I recently engaged with the Indiana controversy over discrimination against same-sex couples. I was not dividing people. We are already divided. I was giving as clear a statement of my own understanding as I could and I was appealing for dialogue and love. This same-sex issue, to cite a very important modern one, will not go away. Unless, and until, we can dialogue in love about this issue we cannot pursue robust and meaningful unity. There will always be divisive issues. The question is this: “How do we engage with them constructively?”