Hagee & McCain

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on May 25, 2008

The big news last week on the GOP side was the discovery of a years old video of San Antonio megachurch Pastor John Hagee attempting to explain the Holocaust. Hagee said:

“ 'And they the hunters should hunt them,' that will be the Jews. 'From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.' If that doesn't describe what Hitler did in the Holocaust, you can't see that.”

"Theodore Hertzel is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew who at the turn of the 19th century said, this land is our land, God wants us to live there. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said 'I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel.' So few went that Hertzel went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the Holocaust.”

"Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."

The video prompted Sen. John McCain to reject Hagee's prior endorsement. Hagee followed suit by unendorsing McCain.

If anyone should be angry about Hagee's words, it should be God. After all, he's the one Hagee's alleging was responsible for Hitler's rise to power and the subsequent Holocaust.

It should come as no surpise that an overwhelmingly, militantly secular media would get this wrong. Just about every thoughtful theist of any stripe -- and especially Christians -- along with serious atheists, have thought about the question that Hagee was addressing here: Where is God when great evil occurs? Atheists come to the conclusion that any God would not allow this to happen, so there is no God. Christians believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and he allows bad things to happen for reasons we cannot fathom (See Howard Dean's favorite New Testament Book, "Job"). Therefore, they must come up with an explanation or justification for God allowing the Holocaust to happen. Hagee's explanation is that God allowed the holocaust to happen in order to lay the groundwork for the creation of the state of Israel.

Hagee may be wrong. He may be right. God only knows.

I'm sure millions of Christians have struggled in the past couple of weeks to answer the question of where God was when the cyclone hit Myanmar and the earthquake struck China? Tens of thousands of people are dead because of these "acts of God." Why?

The short answer is: Nobody knows. If you want to go out on a limb, you can guess. The sheer scale of the Chinese earthquake and its destruction has forced the Chinese government to be more open than it ever has before. Relief workers -- many of them Christians -- are pouring into that country to help. In the long run, will these two facts come to outweigh the terrible tragedy in that country? I don't know. Do either of those two facts even figure into God's thinking? I don't know.

(For a more complete explanation, check out these 5 Questions for David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel. Also check out this article for a bit of Hagee in his own defense.)

There's a lesson in this whole fiasco for pastors everywhere: Don't get involved in endorsing politicians. Vote for whomever you want. Preach Biblical principles from the pulpit, but leave the application of those principles in the political realm to your parishoners and their consciences. Getting the church involved with politics doesn't lift politics out of the muck, it pulls the church into it.

0 comments on “Hagee & McCain”

  1. I think major problem is that the press, in this country, believes it understands Christianity. If a leader of any other faith had made these comments, the press would have gone out of their way to try learn context and try to explain away any misunderstanding, and would always "fail safe" i.e. place the comments in the best possible light. If a muslim cleric states "Death to Israel" the press will explain that he not really wanting to kill all the Jews, he just hates Zionism. But is a member of a Christian faith tries to explain why evil exist, the press seems to take it as an endorsement of the evil, no context, to rebuttal, no experts. Maybe familarity does breed contempt.

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