This is Part 3 of a three part review of Hagee’s widely-read, but wholly erroneous study of Israel. John Hagee, In Defense of Israel: The Bible’s Mandate for Supporting the Jewish State (Lake Mary, Flo.: FrontLine, 2007). This is a continuation of my last article highlighting Hagee’s theological errors.
4. The Jews are not responsible for Jesus’ death
Hagee vigorously argues that “one of those deadly New Testament myths is that the Jews killed Jesus, yet no justification can be found in the New Testament to support this lie” (p. 125). He defines Anti-Semitism as “a poisonous stream of venom” wherein “Christian leaders [labeled] the Jews as ‘Christ killers” (p. 20). He announces that “the Jews are not Christ killers” (p. 122).
This is not only a mistaken belief on his part, but effectively calls the Apostles and writers of the New Testament liars filled with poisonous venom. Though it is true the Romans physically accomplished the crucifixion of Christ, the Gospel record clearly and repeatedly emphasizes that it was because of the Jews. Pilate even washed his hands of the death of the innocent Christ forced on him by the Jews (Matt 27:24; cp. John 18:28-31; 19:12, 15).
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Jesus prophesied that the Jews would kill him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death” (Matt 20:18; cp. Matt. 27:11-25; Mark 15:1). The Emmaus Road disciples even recognized this fact when they described “how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him up to the sentence of death, and crucified Him” (Luke 24:20).
While recognizing the obvious physical role of the Romans in Christ’s death, Peter, Stephen, and Paul repeatedly blame the Jews for his death. Speaking to a general religious gathering of Jews (Acts 2:5-11), Peter states: “Men of Israel, listen to these words: … this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:22-23). Stephen denounces the Jewish crowd gathered at his trial, declaring that they were the “betrayers and murderers” of “the Righteous One” (Acts 7:52). Paul charges that “the Jews … both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets” (1 Thess 2:15). See also: Acts 2:36; 3:13-15a; 4:10; 5:28, 30; 10:39; 13:27-29; 26:10.
5. Anti-Semitism had its origins in Christianity
Hagee believes that “anti-Semitism has its origin and its complete root structure in Christianity” (p. 17). He even favorably cites James Parkes: “In our day … more than six million deliberate murders are the consequences of the teaching about Jews for which the Christian Church is ultimately responsible … which has its ultimate resting place in the teaching of the New Testament itself” (p. 125).
We must confess that Christianity often engaged in deplorable Anti-Semitism. But such was based on an abuse of the biblical record, not the fact of that record. The New Testament is no more Anti-Semitic in this than are the prophets who vigorously charged Israel with sin. Isaiah calls Israel’s rulers “rulers of Sodom” and the people “people of Gomorrah” (Isa 1:10) — while rejecting the legitimacy of their worship (1:11-15). He even says of rebellious Israel that her worship is equivalent to offering “swine’s blood” and burning incense to “an idol” (66:3).
Jeremiah declares the land “completely polluted” (Jer 3:1) and the people “a harlot” to be divorced by God (3:1-10). Ezekiel calls upon executioners to come and destroy Jerusalem (Eze 9:1ff), warns that God’s glory has left the temple (10:1ff), and compares Israel to a harlot (Eze 16). Is this not inflammatory, denunciatory language? Why are they not deemed “Anti-Semitic”? Could not their words be abusively taken to justify persecution of the Jews?
Furthermore, in Hagee’s adulation of Judaism and denunciation of Christianity, he totally overlooks the widespread persecution of Christianity by the Jews: “on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). This appears repeatedly in the Apostolic record (Matt 10:17; 23:37ff.; Acts 4:1-3, 15-18; 5:17-18, 27-33, 40; 6:12-15; 7:54-60; 8:1; 9:1-4, 13, 21, 23, 29; 12:1-3; 13:45-50; 14:2-5, 19; 17:5-8, 13; 18:6, 12, 17; 20:3, 19; 21:11, 27-32; 22:3-5, 22-23; 23:12, 20-21; 24:5-9, 27; 25:2-15; 25:24; 26:21; 28:17-29; Rom 15:31; 2 Cor 11:24; Gal 6:12; Heb 10:33-34).
Nor does Hagee mention the famous role of Jews bringing firewood to burn Polycarp at the stake. Nor the birkath ha-minim, the benediction against the heretics (Jewish Christians), which was cited daily in the synagogues beginning in the late first century: “For the renegades let there be no hope, and may the arrogant kingdom soon be rooted out in our days, and the Nazarenes and the minim perish as in a moment and be blotted out from the book of life and with the righteous may they not be inscribed” (b. Berkhoth 28b). In the Jewish Tosefta (AD 300) we read of the Jewish treatment of Minim (Jewish Christians): “One does not sell to them or receive from them or take from them or give to them. One does not teach their sons a trade’” (t. Hullin 2:20); and “The Minim and the apostates and the betrayers are cast in [a pit] and not helped out” (t. B. Mezia 2:33).
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6. Christianity and Judaism are spiritual brothers
Hagee demands that “evangelicals” must recognize of the Jews that “we are spiritual brothers” (p. 173) and that he is seeking “reconciliation with my Jewish brothers” (p. 35).
Can we call someone a “brother” who rejects Christ (1 John 4:2-3; 5:1)? Is not Christianity superior to Judaism? And are not Christ’s words against the Jews who reject him quite strong? “And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:11-12). How can we deem our Jewish friends to be our “spiritual brothers,” if we hold to the New Testament?
In conclusion, this book should have a label on it warning the readers: “Contains doctrine that is hazardous to your spiritual health.” He at least could have titled it “Leave Behind,” as a suggestion as to what we should do with it.
Tagged: Anti-Semitism, John Hagee, Judaism, Zionism
There’s are tens of millions of so-called “Christian Zionists” in the USA who would agree with Hagee. As Jesus himself said, broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that go in there at. Narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.
I agree with you that the Jews where responsible for the death of Christ, but I don’t believe that Israel was divorced from God and the Church took it’s place . Scripture speaks of a temporary blindness and also of gentiles being the wild olive branch grafted in to the true olive tree which is Israel. I cant explain the nature of Jews in relation to Christ and salvation
but I ‘m not ready to right them off totally.God made a covenant with Abraham concerning his descendants. Was he lying to Abraham? Or was it some kind of trick language where Christians become his seed and the true seed is forgotten?In regards to Jews killing Christians, I would think that Christians are ahead on that score that is if the Catholic church
is to be considered as a true Christian church. Some would say that they are a cult. After all
they follow one man, their teachings are the product more of tradition than scripture and they are responsible for killing millions of people.Kind of makes the Jehovahs Witnesses seem mild.
Israel is not written off totally. They have been divorced as the special geo-political people of God. But ethnic Jews will be grafted back into God’s people before Christ returns. They (like all sinners) will have to repent and believe in Christ on the same terms as everyone else.
James Whitefield — “Was He lying to Abraham?” Covenant is always meant for two parties — God, who always keeps His promise, and His people who keep their promises either imperfectly, or not at all. The Deuteronomy 28 promises are no less valid because God promises consequences for those who break them. The idea that Genetic Jews enjoy an unconditional promise of God’s blessings, regardless of their faithfulness, would be just as suspect as the notion that modern children of believing parents enjoy salvation because of their parents’ faith. The covenant has always been with God’s people, Abraham’s sons then– by faith then, and by faith now. God can raise up children from stone.
I agree that they have to come through Christ just like anyone else but it seems like you imply that Abrahams seed which would be Israel are no longer the recipients of the promises made to Abraham and his descendants. That would make the restoration of the nation of Israel just a coincidence and not Gods doing.
Actually Rom 11:25 specifically shows that ethnic Israel will be saved. See: PMT 2014-036. But they are no longer the single, special people of God. Rather when they are saved they become a component of the larger people of God.
I think the Bible is pretty clear how the promises to Abraham have been fulfilled. And it’s not in the the way Hagee and dispensationalists think.
7 Know then that it is *those of faith who are the sons of Abraham*. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall *all the nations* be blessed.”
9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed *along* with Abraham, the man of faith.
14 so that *in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles*, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.
16 *Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.*
17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the *promise * void.
18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by *promise*; but God gave it to Abraham by a *promise*.
29 *And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise*.
28 Now *you*, brothers [*speaking to gentile Galatians !!!*], like Isaac, *are children of promise*.
I wonder if Hagee is being paid off by the Israelie government? He can’t possibly be this biblically illiterate can he? Has he ever actually read the bible he purports to interpret? Anyway, he is either a heretic or a dishonest heretic.
I think one thing you’re not focusing on enough is the fact that what makes one a true descendant of Abraham is NOT their ethnicity, but their FAITH. Noemi Kalath cited several verses above, not the least important of which is Gal. 3:29, to demonstrate this:
~ Gal. 3:29 – And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
So many other NT passages could be cited to this effect, as well (Rom. 2:28,29; Phil. 3:3; Gal. 6:15,16; 1 Pet. 2:4-10. etc.)
Even in the OT, true Jews are those that trusted in God’s promises, not their ethnicity. These people were commonly referred to in such ways as “the remnant” or “those that did not bow the knee to Baal”, etc.
In John 8:37-47 Jesus begins by recognizing the Jewish leaders as ethnically descended from Abraham, yet calls them sons of Satan because they rejected him. Jesus words to them would be contradictory if ethnic Jews are the true seed of Abraham regardless of what they do.
One area that should give you cause for reflection can be found in the genealogy in Matthew’s gospel. In Matt. 1:1-17, Matthew records for us the royal line from Abraham all the way to Jesus. What’s astonishing, though, especially coming from a Jewish writer, is the fact that Matthew mentions 5 women, (including Mary), in the royal line. Not only that, but 4 of the women were GENTILES (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba)!! This would seem entirely out of character if the focus of Abraham’s descendancy were ethnic, rather than spiritual (faith).
I very much believe that true Israel is traced through faith. Hagee needs to recognize that.
Interestingly, this very Sunday (Dec 7, 2014) I will begin preaching a three-part series on Christ’s genealogy. In it I will focus on the Abraham covenant’s inclusion of Gentiles, and on the inclusion of Gentile women (who all are associated with sexual sin), thereby showing God will save the Gentiles and that the gospel if for sinners.