Jews Fare Poorly in John Hagee's Grim Eschatology
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 02:59:09 PM EST
Questioned on CNN March 1st, about whether he had been aware of John Hagee's writings prior to accepting Hagee's political endorsement, John McCain refused to answer but for not denying it McCain's response seemed closer to a confirmation that, yes, he had been aware of the political extremity of John Hagee's writing. In pastor Hagee's book 2006 "Jerusalem Countdown", Hagee claimed the Roman Catholic Church conspired with Hitler to kill Jews in the Holocaust but also, in the same book, blamed the Holocaust on Jews themselves (for worshiping idols) and wrote that Hitler and the Nazis were actually working for God, divine agents sent to chase Jews, through the rather inefficient and brutal mechanism of killing them in massive numbers, towards Palestine, "the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have."

One can read a grotesque collective theological justification for genocidal campaigns against Jews as being inherent to John Hagee's view which decries anti-Semitism but also depicts Jewish residence anywhere else but in Israel as an affront to God. The implication is that Jews living anywhere but in Israel should expect violent persecution until they relent and make Aliyah. But Israel, in Hagee's and the Christian Zionist vision, resembles not so much a refuge as, for the implied element of violent coercion, an ethnic bantustan that will, in the end-time, function as an enormous death camp for all the Jews chased there by Hagee's 'divine anti-Semitism'.

In his 2003 book "The Battle For Jerusalem", John Hagee sought to answer many of the critiques, of Christian Zionism, laid down by Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg in The End Of Days: Fundamentalism and The Struggle For The Temple Mount and, on page 217 of his book, Hagee wrote,

"As we talk about Israel and end times, one painful conundrum arises: how can Christians rejoice to think of the Lord's coming, knowing that it will bring not only joy, but also a time of great tribulation to Israel ?"

Sometimes, as in a September 2006 "Fresh Air" interview with WHYY's Terry Gross, this "painful conundrum" recedes into the background as when, during the show, Hagee rhapsodized about how "thrilling" the Rapture will be. Hagee expects it will snatch him and other "true" (fundamentalist) Christians bodily up to Heaven before the anticipated wholesale killing gets underway. Down on Earth the expected situation might less than "thrilling" for those "left behind" who, as described at the close of Tim LaHaye's and Jerry Jenkins' blockbuster "Left Behind" book series (John Hagee's Cornerstone Church has sold "Left Behind" merchandise), get to experience the thrill of divine vengeance, for not subscribing to fundamentalist Christianity, through being shredded to  bloody bits, their eyes seared out of their heads and their guts yanked out first, though, by God.

Perhaps it is not easy for Christian Zionists such as John Hagee to square the "rivers of blood"-- that apocalyptic dispensationalism predicts will flow at the battle of Armageddon, or the wholesale carnage he and his fellow apocalyptically inclined Christians think will soon be visited upon Israel  (damage and human casualties surrounding Arab and Muslim lands don't typically get mentioned in such envisioning of the "final conflict) --with Christian Zionism's noisy professions of love for Jews and Israel. Hagee continues, on the same page as above,

"In his book The End Of Days: Fundamentalism and The Struggle For The Temple Mount Gershom Gorenberg often visits the painful problem. He quotes Chuck Missler, a Christian prophecy teacher, who told an evangelical crowd in Jerusalem that the coming Antichrist would betray Israel during the tribulation:

'He'll issue in a time of trouble the likes of which have never occurred at that time, nor would ever occur again. And those words echo in our ears as we think of Auschwitz, Dachau, the horrors of Europe in the thirties and forties, and realize that what Jesus is saying is that it's going to be worse the next time around . . . So if we watch the Temple being positioned, on the one hand we're excited because God's plans are unfolding as he said they would. On the other hand, if you have friends, if you have a heart for Israel, you can't help but feel pain for them because they have no idea what's coming.'

*

In theological terms John Hagee is a bit of a mongrel but he is, as much as anything, a Christian Zionist. Christian Zionists see Jews as sharing a collective, inescapable doom, and the outlook is racist in a deep way :

Typically racism is thought of as having to do with skin color, facial structure, physical build. But the assumption John Hagee and Christian Zionists make is that Jews are not different for physiological, genetic reasons or, if they are, that such difference manifests itself in Jewish souls that are fundamentally different such that they drag along a thousands-of-years old divine curse, a brutal geographical imperative from God to live in Israel and nowhere else and, once there, the need to convert to Christianity or else be killed in an apocalyptic end-time conflict. Jewish souls, it would seem according to John Hagee and Christian Zionism, come with that awful baggage in tow.

As author Suzanna Heschel, author of The Aryan Jesus, explains in the new Steve D. Martin documentary The Stormtroopers Of Christ: Baptism and The Jews During The Third Reich:

"Racism in itself is a kind of theological or spiritual argument, and I'll give you an example of what I mean. A racist will say "The Jewish nose, look how horrible it is", and they have pictures of it and so forth, a big Jewish nose. Well, what is it about a nose ? A nose in itself isn't a dangerous thing. If someone has a big nose, a little nose, what difference does it make ? It doesn't harm me. Do you even notice, when you talk to somebody, the size and shape of the nose ? Of course not. Is this going to jump out, the nose, and shoot me ? Of course not.

So what is it about a nose ? Maybe the way racism works is this : the body is a manifestation of something deeper, of a spirit. What was of concern to  racists was not the nose itself but the nose as bearing within it a degenerate moral spirit, a degenerate spirit that was dangerous for society, and it was a moral degeneracy that wasn't visible. You can't see it and touch it. But it was there nonetheless. And, you have to be careful because that's what can destroy you, moral degeneracy. And Germany, racists claimed, was being undermined by Jewish immorality, by Jewish degeneracy, exploitativeness and so forth.

And so, in that sense, my understanding of racial theory is that it's a kind of incarnational theology. It says that the moral degeneracy is incarnate in the body, in the nose or the lips or the hair, and what a racist tells you is ; you have to know how to read the body and interpret it properly so that you know the moral degeneracy that adheres in that body, that's incarnate in that body." - Susannah Heschel, author of the upcoming book The Aryan Jesus: Christianity, Nazis and the Bible

Classic apocalyptic premillennial dispensationalism, the theological tendency in which Christian Zionism tends to be located, holds that there will be a great slaughter of unbelievers (non-fundamentalist Christians that is) in the end-time but the belief system assigns a specific expected death toll to only one specific ethnic group: Jews. The collective Jewish end-time death quota is typically set at 2/3 and another figure, "the 144,000", establishes an upper boundary on the extent the slaughter that Christian Zionists, including leaders of Pastor John Hagee's Christians United For Israel, expect lies in store for Jews in the end-time.

Some on the Christian right, Christian Reconstructionists for example, scorn Christian Zionism as a "judaized" form of Christianity and, it is true, Jews loom large in the Christian Zionist imagination. There, Jews are magical and almost mythical creatures, like unicorns or elves, but imbued with superhuman powers for both good and evil. Plus, they are tricky and even dangerous and, sadly, mostly doomed.

The Christian Zionist vision for Jews is not a fairy tale, not of the Disney sort anyway. Rather, it resembles the old, pre-sanitized Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Jews are the stray children caught by the sinister old woman and baked into a pie, or they are little Red Riding Hood devoured by a trickster wolf dressed as grandma, with no handy axe-wielding woodsman around to redeem her fate. Or, if there is, the woodsman accidentally beheads riding hood, tucked in the wolf's belly, with an unfortunately placed axe-stroke.

Christian Zionists such as the members of John Hagee's Cornerstone church would certainly say they love Jews but there's a fetishistic quality to this - an affectation of all manner of Judaica- shofars, prayer shawls, "Jewish" ethnic dress -and before Hagee passed much of the work on to his son, Hagee's church congregation would sit before the portly preacher, wearing a Tallit and perched on a blue and white throne (for the colors of the Israeli flag). Hagee's Cornerstone Church congregation is organized into twelve church groups each named for one of the Tribes Of Israel - as if Hagee himself were Moses. But for all that, Christian Zionism expects for Jews a rather horrendous end.

Pastor John Hagee wrote in his 2006 book "Jerusalem Countdown" that Jews carry anti-Semitism as a collective curse, from God, that Jews incurred thousands of years ago when, as mentioned in Biblical scripture, the Tribes of Israel took to worshiping idols. In other words, John Hagee has blamed the killing of millions of European Jews on those victims themselves, for an alleged theological transgression supposedly committed by their remote ancestors thousands of years ago. But Hagee also implicitly attributes blame, for their own deaths, to victims of the Holocaust for another reasons ; they had the temerity to live outside of Israel :

In Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee wrote that Hitler and the Nazis were sent by God to drive Jews towards Palestine; "God sent the hunters... the force and fear of Hitler's Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God had ever intended for the Jews to have--Israel... I am stricken with awe and wonder at His boundless love for Israel and the Jewish people." (Jerusalem Countdown, P133. note: pagination varies in different editions)

Several leaders of John Hagee's CUFI have discussed the coming "Holocaust" they expect for Jews, and former CUFI executive board member Jerry Falwell once told a congregation that "millions of Jews" would be slaughtered.




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