Pastor John Hagee
Brad Bynum and Kat Kerlin talked me into reviewing a TV church a few weeks ago, the idea being that it’s near impossible for a church to get any more local and available for mass consumption than in a person’s own living room. I wasn’t particularly argumentative—years ago, I used to watch that wild pastor with the beard who was on local cable access on the graveyard shift. But, my tastes have grown more sophisticated. In fact, I feel I’ve become kind of a church connoisseur—like a wine connoisseur who tastes the wine but spits it out and yet knows it more intimately than the drunkard. My friend Joy Souza would say the first sips are enough to cauterize the taste buds, and once burned, it’s difficult to nuance.
I decided to catch the John Hagee Show Monday at 6 a.m. (on Dish Network Channel 259, the Inspiration channel), primarily because I got too hammered on Friday and Saturday nights to bother with getting up and going to church on Sunday. I’ve always felt that going to a church hungover was disrespectful to the congregation, especially as a sip and spitter. Does that make me lukewarm?
At any rate, “Pastor John Hagee is the founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a nondenominational, evangelical church with more than 19,000 active members,” according to his website www.jhm.org. Some people may remember the controversy regarding him and John McCain in the recent election, in which Hagee made anti-Catholic comments, for which he later apologized, and the Catholic Church formally accepted the apologies. He’s also the guy who has really spearheaded the nationwide efforts of Christians to support Jews in Israel, founding the group Christians United for Israel, which held the recent “A Night to Honor Israel” at the Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa.
I’ve got to admit, I’m somewhat conflicted. First, I can absolutely see how an aged or infirm person could find a little soul asylum in television evangelists. Gosh, Pastor Hagee is a very polished speaker, although that Southern accent could fool you if he was just selling used cars. But he and his writers know their scripture, and the stuff rolls off his tongue like water off a duck’s back. I don’t think even a connoisseur of televangelism would be able to resist the urge to swallow. He’s talking about the places wisdom and riches collide these days, somewhat in support of his book Financial Armageddon. I won’t go too deeply or specifically into his sermon because it’s all available on his website.
He’s a big proponent of us living in the End Times. He says three signs were foretold in the Bible by which we would know the end times are coming. First, Israel would exist again as a nation (as happened after World War II); second, Jews would have control of Jerusalem (as happened during the Six-Day War), and third, when nuclear weapons became available as described in Zecharia 14:12.
That’s one of the scary things you hear about when you stand outside the church, and other people tell you what’s going on inside. Because in the churches I visit, I think pastors are more likely to say, as I heard last week at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Matthew 25:1-13, “But I can easily see how the spiritually exhausted would find comfort in the idea that everything’s coming to an end. But I wonder if those people who go to church for the community—the fellowship of hugging and caring and dancing and worshipping—would get as great a comfort from the idea that the whole shebang will end. Because I don’t really think I felt any fellowship as I sat in front of the television at 6 a.m. on Monday.