Slam a Pastor Month…..

I am not a big John Hagee fan (and contrary to what some may think do have issues with some of Jeremiah Wright’s theology), but still stand on what I have said in terms of the Wright debacle. Jerry-picking contextless comments from a pastor’s sermon is a bad precedent. The Hagee situation might be what Wright would call a chickens and coop situation. Fundalmentalists and Evangelicals across the country have been attacking Wright on the basis of a few choice quips (taken out of context and misunderstood). Now Hagee, a Pentecostal Conservative, has come under fire for some comments he made about Hitler and the Holocaust. Hagee was quoted by CNN’s Brian Todd as saying:

“God says in Jeremiah 16: ‘Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. … Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.’ That would be the Jews. … Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter,” Hagee said, according to a transcript of his sermon.”

McCain has called the pronouncement “indefensible” and “offensive.” Hagee has countered that he is being misrepresented by the media. For once Hagee is right. He is being misrepresented and contrary to Monsieur Straight Talk the statements are actually quite defensible, and not nearly as offensive as might be assumed.

Whether He is always the primary cause, or if He is at times sovereign in terms of an active or passive will has been debated; yet, none of the great monotheistic faiths has ever preached anything short of God’s sovereign nature. Yet scripture is clear on this.Traditionally both Christianity and Judaism (as well as Islam) have preached that God is sovereign and in control of all that happens. The shared book of Job l(a book of the Christian Old Testament_ and eaves no answer other than the teaching of this high view of God’s providence. In this book Job sees his family slain and his wealth evaporated, when he meets God he asks the why question and is told frankly he is not God, and should not question his wisdom. That means that God (whether actively or passively) was involved, aware, or active in every event of the past century, and yes that means the Holocaust, too.

Scripture is also clear that even when there are issues which come under God’s permissive will, in even these God’s will is ultimately accomplished. Joseph speaking to his brothers who had sold him into slavery stated, “what you meant to hurt me, God has used to bless me.” The ultimate type of this blessing was of course the crucifixion. Satan meant to kill Christ; yet God used that murder to provide atonement for humanity’s sin.It is this type of “hidden” blessing that Hagee was discussing. Satan working through the Nazi meant to harm the Jewish people; yet God in his infinite wisdom and power used that attempt at harm to further bless His chosen people with a reclaimed homeland (For excellent takes on these events I would recommend Jesus and the Holocaust: Reflections on Suffering and Hope by Joel Marcus).

This ability of our God to turn evil to good is FAR FROM AN OFFENSE; in fact, it stands as the ultimate hope of the Christian. If we cannot preach the glory of God turning our suffering into glory; then we might as well pack up our bags, cower in our buildings, and curl up in fetal positions.

Yet this is where we find ourselves. We have attempted to bring ourselves into the forefront and latched our wagons to these politicians. We have faced a lot of grief and anguish when doing so. The Evangelical in American has been demonized because of the presidency of Bush, and yet when the attack from those we have no understanding our faith (and no care to understand) attack us These great men throw their hands up and disown us. Let me say this for all concerned Evangelicals, “thanks a lot guys. very manly. you are truly great men of valor. now take your tail from between your legs, and show some of the guts that enabled you to get this far and tell the idiots to bugger off.”

There has been a lot of talk about the problems of America these days. The problems revealed in this election show that we have a lot of work. First we must relearn how to really listen to one another (I mean really listen- none of this pretend stuff). Second we must to seek to understand what we are hearing. This means that liberals need to learn to understand their Evangelical counterparts, really understand, not pseudolisten then attack. The same goes for Evangelicals. Last we need to stop with the demonizations. Liberals are not the antichrist (or antichrists). Conservatives are not cosmic killjoys out to ruin the world. Obama is not a Muslim sleeper agent set to round up all white evangelicals for the slaughter. McCain is not some hellbent on destruction. In the same way in which I would emphatically argue that Wright is not a rascist, or that Michelle Obama is antiAmerican, I would argue that Hagee is not antisemitic.

Perhaps all this is the nefarious influence of the blog and youtube culture. Perhaps not. We as Americans are awash in information. We have more information than ever, but we have no ability to discern what it all means. We may need to listen better. We may need to be more careful of our speech. We may need to take time to think first and speak later. Yet, the one thing we cannot do is cringe away from speaking our case even if there is that possibility that something we say might end up in the youtube hall of shame.This is our challenge and our call to action. May God have mercy on us all.


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