John Hagee, for those who have been vacationing, is a Texas mega-church pastor, founder of Christians United for Israel, and a man whose endorsement John McCain sought and won. A short interview with him appeared in The New York Times last weekend. The strict Q&A format did not allow the interviewer to point out where Hagee was, shall we say, disagreeing completely with Hagee, or at least with what Hagee tells his fundamentalist followers. A key section of the interview:
…some are concerned that the Zionism of American evangelicals stems from self-interest. Isn’t your involvement in Israel based on a desire to speed the second coming of Jesus? Our support of Israel has nothing to do with any kind of “end times” Bible scenario.
You’re not just sitting around waiting for the Rapture? No. My support of Israel is based on a recognition of the enormous debt we gentiles owe to the Jews…
Interesting. In Hagee’s 1996 book Beginning of the End: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming Antichrist, he describes listening to the radio with his father on May 15, 1948. His father was “a student of prophecy” – meaning that he looked in headlines and biblical prophecy for clues of the end of history. When his father heard a newscaster announce the establishment of Israel, he told young John, “We have just heard the most important prophetic message that will ever be delivered until Jesus Christ returns to earth.” Hagee then gives a rather standard fundamentalist exposition of some New Testament verses and concludes, “The generation which sees the rebirth of Israel is the terminal generation.” Meaning the generation of the Second Coming.
Earlier in the book, Hagee explains that the Jews have “returned to their land three times” – in the time of Moses, in the time of Nehemia after the exile in Babylon, and in 1948. “Now, after this third visitation, they will recognize their Brother when He reveals Himself,” Hagee writes, meaning that one of the great things about the End is that the Jews will finally accept Christianity. These aren’t isolated quotes. The entire book is about this: Israel is great because it means the End is nigh, complete with Rapture for the believers, technocolor disasters for the rest of us, and the conversion of the Jews.
Maybe there’s no need for McCain to reject Hagee’s views. Sounds like Hagee has just rejected Hagee. Either that or he’s just lying to the New York Times about what he really thinks. Take your pick.