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).
Overview of Prophetic Issues (6 CDs)
by Ken Gentry
These messages were given at a Bible conference in upstate New York.
They cover foundational issues for students of prophecy to consider.
They will serve as helpful guides to both preterism and postmillennialism.
For more study materials: www.KennethGentry.com
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).
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.