Friday, August 29, 2008

Messianic Errors of John Hagee

John Hagee is the charismatic preacher, and Christian Zionist, who wrote, In Defense Of Israel (Publisher:Front Line, 2007). Hagee is a Premillenial Dispensationalist, which is the theological underpinning for the modern prophecy movement. However, Hagee goes far beyond what most PDs believe concerning Israel and the Messiah.

In his book, like most DPs,he attempts to build a case for why Christians need to support Israel. Also, like most DPs he claims that God blesses those who bless the Jewish people. However, he goes much further and tries to convince us that the Jewish people cannot be blamed for the death of Jesus, because they never rejected him as The Messiah. IOW, Jesus never came to be the Messiah.

In Chapter 10 of In Defense of Israel, "Answering Christian Critics", he states:"Most evangelicals believe that the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah and therefore qualify for God's eternal judgment. Replacement theologians have said that "the covenant with Israel was broken because she would not accept Jesus Christ whom God sent.""
Hagee then goes on to ask several questions to refute this statement about the Jewish rejection of Jesus. The main one I want to pick up on is on page 132 of the same chapter: "Did the words of Jesus or his actions convey the message that he wanted to be Messiah?"
After stating that God had a sovereign will for the life of Jesus which included being a "light to the Gentiles", Luke 2:27-32, and dying for sinners, he writes that the Jewish leaders plotted his death, and Jesus refused to be the Messiah, and be Israel's political Saviour. On page 135, he states five major points that he claims need to be understood to see that the Jews did not reject Jesus as Messiah:

1. Jesus had to live to be the Messiah
2. If it was God's will for Jesus to die from the beginning...
3If it was Jesus (sic) intention to be obedient unto death...
4. If there is not one verse of Scripture in the New Testament that says Jesus came to be the Messiah...
5. And if Jesus refused by his words or actions to claim to be the Messiah to the Jews, then how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered?
Amazingly, before stating that "there is not one verse of Scripture in the New Testament that says Jesus came to be the Messiah", and " ...Jesus refused by his words or actions to claim to be the Messiah to the Jews", he quotes from the Gospel of Luke, Luke 24:45-46 "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them,"Thus it is written, THAT THE CHRIST SHOULD SUFFER AND ON THE THIRD DAY RISE FROM THE DEAD....".
This verse, quoted in his own book, on page 135, utterly refutes his claims about the Messianic claims of Jesus. Jesus did not have to only live to BE the Messiah. Jesus himself states that the CHRIST, the Greek rendering of the Hebrew term, had to DIE to fulfil the Scriptures.

When Andrew, one of John the Baptist's disciples who had heard John call Jesus "The Lamb of God" a sacrificial title, and one which even Hagee admits "Every Jewish person who heard John's words knew there was only one thing you could do with a young male lamb:kill it!" p. 134., he recognized Jesus as "The Messiah(which is translated, the Christ). John 1:41.
Is it true that only the Jewish leaders determined to kill Jesus? They did plot and conspire to put him to death. However, the unbelief of the Jewish nation was part of the sovereign plan of God in accomplishing the Crucifixion. John 12:37-40 explains the mass rejection of Christ by the unbelieving Jewish people. This was prophesied centuries before, especially in Isaiah. In John 6:66 we see that the people could not accept the hard truths of Christ. They sought a King who would cause an insurrection against the Roman occupation. Jesus did not commit himself to the people, NOT because he did not intend to be their Messiah, but because AS MESSIAH he demanded a commitment to Himself, by faith.

Hagee's claims are simply biblically false. In so many words, John Hagee is actually denying Jesus as the Christ, or Messiah to Israel. If Jesus did not come to Israel as their Messiah, then the Messiah did not die for anyone. He may not believe that, but that is the logical implication of his bad theology.


John Hagee, In Defense of Israel: The Bible's Mandate For Supporting the Jewish State (Front Line, 2007)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Did God Work Around Paul's "Free-Will"?

It occurred to me,as I have been reading the Letter of Paul to the Galatians, that God would indeed be doing some interesting things if He had to juggle his sovereign plans with the sovereign will of the Apostle Paul.

Galatians 1:11-17 11For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

So God set apart, or consecrated Paul even before he was born. Paul had a divine mission to preach the Gospel even before his DNA existed! His life had already been mapped out. Look at the personal history of the apostle: he had a glowing career in Judaism, as a Pharisee's Pharisee. Yet even while he was studying Rabbinic theology, God planned to make him a gospel witness.

So, did Paul have a choice here? Is that really fair of God anyway? Can God just take people and predetermine their lives like that? What if Paul had tried to excercise his "free-will" in this matter?

Either God waited to see what Paul would do, then determine to make him an apostle.The problem is, the text says that it was IN ORDER that Paul might preach the Gospel to the Gentiles that God set him apart from before his birth. It doesn't suggest that God had this plan before he was born,and hoped that Paul might respond and be what God wanted him to be.

Paul was already appointed to the task. God revealed Christ to him. It was a supernatural revelation. Apart from that intervention on the Damascus Road in Acts 9, he would have continued to persecute the Church. Of course, Saul's conversion is anything but an invitation by decision evangelistic effort! Christ appeared in blazing, holy light and blinded Saul, and immediately Saul called him LORD. From there on we read that the Lord gave him instructions to do what was already planned.

Nothing in all this about a God who "looks down the corridor of time" to see what men might respond. The response is willed in God's will. Paul's life was as intricately designed as the DNA that God gave him. God purposefully created both.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ecumenical Catholicism & Protestantism or “Let’s Change Theology & History”

An article on the Catholic blog, Pontifications, caught my attention. It’s a few years back, but it’s ideas demand a few comments even today. The article by Fr. Kimel is about the ecumenical Joint Declaration On the Doctrine of Justification, signed by Catholic and Lutheran theologians and wants to believe that all those old spats in centuries past are outmoded and no longer apply. I quote:
“On what grounds do Anglicans maintain separation from the Roman Communion? Are we justified in maintaining this separation? The current dissolution of the Episcopal Church, and of Reformation Christianity in general, requires orthodox Episcopalians to thoughtfully answer these two questions.
Martin Luther broke the unity of the Church because he believed that the gospel itself, expressed in the slogan “justification by faith,” was at stake. This, and this alone, justified schism.
Is it any longer reasonable to justify separation from the Catholic Church because of differences on the doctrine of justification by faith? …”

Whatever the issues that led to the “dissolution” of mainline Protestant denominations, I would say that the ecumenical coziness with Rome is a symptom of the problem. Firstly, Fr. Kimel should look to his Roman Catholic church, and ponder whether it is calling the kettle black to speak of Protestant “dissolution”. Ecumenical compromise is the result of a weary discernment; a spiritual compromise with error. Remember that little thing called “another Gospel”? It was identified by the Apostle Paul because of the grace choking error of legalists in the early church. Their error was not so much pure law (too obvious), but a co-mingling of law and Gospel, so that justification by grace through faith was obscured. I quote further:
“First, the document clearly states that “the mutual condemnations of former times do not apply to the Catholic and Lutheran doctrines of justification as they are presented in the Joint Declaration” (Annex to Common Statement). The Lutheran understanding of justification, as defined by the document, is not considered to be church-dividing by Catholicism; the Catholic understanding of justification, as defined by the document, is not considered to be church-dividing by Lutheranism. In other words, one can hold a “Lutheran” understanding of justification and be a Catholic!”

Miracle of miracles! Lutherans can be bona fide, sola gratia Protestants, and sacerdotal, indulgence and penance Roman Catholics can let bygones be bygones, ‘cause the old disputes about the Gospel in medieval Europe just no longer apply to a more contemporary and inclusive age. IF this is the way it is now, then my Protestant brothers in the Lutheran bodies that have partaken of this error have truly lost their way.

It’s not that the signatories of the Joint Declaration forget the bloody disputes and condemnations of the past. What they want to do is find a common ground on the doctrine of justification that evades the divisions of the past. How do they do this? As stated in the document of the Joint Declaration :
“By appropriating insights of recent biblical studies and drawing on modern investigations of the history of theology and dogma, the post-Vatican II ecumenical dialogue has led to a notable convergence concerning justification, with the result that this Joint Declaration is able to formulate a consensus on basic truths concerning the doctrine of justification. In light of this consensus, the corresponding doctrinal condemnations of the sixteenth century do not apply to today's partner.”
So after 500 years, newer insight has now rendered once damnable heresies null and void. Anybody heard of the Council of Trent???

To be sure, this is not the first document to speak of ecumenical agreement between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. This has been ongoing for decades. But, call me an old fashioned Bible Christian type...WHY would I even want to find agreement with Rome when I know the truth?
I’ll have more to say on this in another post...God willing.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Is God Unfair? Continued...

Previously,I described how modern evangelicalism has an almost allergic reaction to the doctrine of divine unconditional election(UE). People impose an inconsistent "manish" view of God upon the doctrine, and misunderstand God's sense of fairness and justice.

Again we need to take the surgical steel of God's incisive WORD and cut into the heart of this bad theology.

To ask the Pauline question: "IS there unrighteousness with God?". Straight answer-GOD FORBID. Absolutely not! Why, some things just need to be stated. Paul derives his conclusion from Scripture. He quotes a part of Exodus that deals with, interestingly, the Glory of God and His choosing of Israel as a separated people from all other nations.( Exodus 33:13-16) Moses wanted to see YHWH's Glory, and for God to go with Israel to demonstrate his Presence to the world.

God condescends to Moses' request by saying " I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight..." Exodus 33:17. Notice that Moses found grace. God did not owe Moses anything. God determined by his grace to reveal Himself to Moses. He says to Moses further, " I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion".

Paul applies this text to his treatise on God's election of grace in the New Covenant. Romans 9:16 "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." Mercy is a divine attribute. God does not owe it to any sinner. Man's will cannot move God to give it. It is NOT OF HIM WHO WILLS. The will is hostile to God, and so we DESERVE the wrath of God. It is not our will, in bondage to the lusts of the carnal nature, but GOD'S WILL that is the basis of mercy.

Paul then takes up the example of Pharoah from Exodus. God's will was to show his power and Name through Pharoah, not to save Pharoah from his sins.

I can still hear the objection that it seems unfair, and unjust of God to harden a sinner's heart, or not to show them mercy. But, if such a person can prove that God owes grace to anyone who has violated His Law, them maybe they have a case. Ultimately, Paul leaves his readers with an illustration. It would be more familiar to his day, than ours, but still we can relate well. He tells us that God is the Potter who has the right to make his vessels for various purposes. Some vessels are for common use. They may be used to hold dirty water and be discarded. Other vessels may be for noble purposes. They may hold precious ointments. The vessels have no say in the Potter's work. He is the Maker and the one who shapes the vessels with his own hands.
Is God unfair? No. We are sinners, and it is fair of God to judge sinners. It is just of God to condemn the wicked. It is loving of God to love unconditionally some out of all who do not deserve, or are owed any electing love. So, like Paul said...who are you to talk back to God?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is God Unfair?

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not. For He says to Moses "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion".

Ever heard the common objection to that dreaded word "ELECTION"? It's not a term you hear in many modern churches. That's because John 3:16 is an overplayed and misunderstood proof text for the common evangelical church today. The common notion is that people have a free will that can make a "decision for Jesus", and that God chose to save everybody, but those who are lost decided to reject God.

What is the concern for such people? They are really concerned for the "fairness" or "equity" of God, and that man's human dignity is preserved. If God did elect sinners to be saved, then others were not chosen, so they missed their "chance" to get the opportunity to be saved. God then seems unjust, and unloving.

Of course, the problem is that such people are misunderstanding the categories of love & justice. The remedy for this is to think about election, love, justice, and human nature from a God centered theology, rather than a human minded philosophy. The fact is that it is God who defines "fairness", justice, equity, freedom, and basically...everything!

I believe that to think clearly on this matter it is important to start with God Himself. Since God is eternal, without beginning, uncaused, and without end, and he is infinite in his being, that all his attributes are limitless. So, for God to be powerful is for God to be ALL-powerful. All power is His by nature. He can do whatever He wants to do. And everything He wants to do is GOOD and JUST and WISE. Therefore, He is the only Sovereign Creator and Lord.
If we follow this consistently, we can deduce that no finite, created thing is independent of God. Our very lifebreath is from God and we are bodies of dust. Our freedom is even circumscribed within the divine will of the Creator. We even derive our essence from the God who is Spirit, and Whose image we bear. God determines our coming and going, whether our plans fail or succeed, if we live or die today, and even if, when and how, and for how long we violate His Law, and transgress Him.
Given that we have no independence from the absolutely almighty and sovereign Lord, how can we think that our choices are independent of Him?
Yes, we are free beings. People have much freedom to sin as they please. Reprobate people do as they please all the time. All of us are sinners by nature, who live by our desire to please SELF. So there is no neutrality here. Even if God granted us the opportunity to make a free choice, we would reject Him since we are "slaves of sin", and since " the carnal mind is enmity against God" Romans 8:8.
God willing,(there I go), I will continue to develop this post as time permits.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Huss, the Proto-Protestant Man of God

I am fascinated by the faith story of John Huss, martyred for his reforming efforts, in particular his repudiation of the Pope and the sale of indulgences. This was a full century or so before Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses made history.

Like the first martyr of the Faith, Stephen, he remained faithful unto death, and even asked God to have mercy on his persecutors. Huss, denied himself, took up his own cross, and followed the Lord Jesus all the way to death by fire. John Huss, it is reported, sang the Psalms at his death. He, no doubt, knew the "joy set before him" as he was enduring so horrible an end of his life.

Though Huss died, the Gospel of Christ, which he preached lived on. The pre-reformation reformer planted the seeds of change that would sweep the western world in the next 100 years from the time he lived. Martin Luther was inspired by his life, the way Huss himself, likewise, had been encouraged by the trials of John Wycliffe before him.

We don't glorify men. Rather, these men understood, that it is the glory of GOD that is worth giving everything for. They paid a price to defend the true Gospel, and to proclaim the life -giving truth of Christ. Yes, grace is free, but we who would live by it, would give everything for it. May we be so blessed as to so live for Christ as to die to the world, and to ourselves, and to be faithful to the Master. AMEN.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Ancient Pantheon (Πάνθειον)

I was privileged to visit Italy this summer to attend a wedding. And while there, I made it to Rome. I got to walk into the ancient Pantheon (Πάνθειον), the pagan temple built by Marcus Agrippa during his 3rd proconsulship in about 27 B.C. I was here, standing where idolotrous Romans practiced their syncretistic religion. The current building seen here dates to a reconstruction dating to Emperor Hadrian's reign c. 125 A.D. Eventually it was used as a Roman Catholic place of worship. Eventually it was used as a Roman Catholic place of worship.
I was impressed by the sight of this standing structure of ancient history as I walked around. I remember touching the large stone pillars feeling like I was touching the past. Nevertheless, I am a Christian in this now-Catholicised Roman temple of "all the gods". And as a Christian I know only one, true God. And in the spirit of the 115th Psalm I can only draw a final thought, "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver & gold, the works of men's hands.They have mouths, but they do not speak;they have ears ,but do not hear...Those who make them are like them, so is everyone who trusts in them." (Psalm 115:3-8)