Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rev. Hagee’s Comments

There has been another uproar concerning a pastor as a part of this presidential campaign. Having such controversies regarding pastors in presidential campaigns is unprecedented as far as I know. Below are some points with respect to Rev. Hagee:

(1) He made a statement that has been interpreted to say that it was God’s will that the Holocaust took place so that the Jews could return to their ancestral homeland, Israel. If we believe God is sovereign, then it could be said that anything that happens in the world is within God’s will. Good things would be in God’s directive will, and bad things would be in God’s permissive will (meaning God is not happy with it but allows it anyway).

Under this belief, God may permit bad things to happen, but does not cause them. God can and does make good to come out of tragedy. For example, the sovereign God permitted – but did not cause – the horrors of the Holocaust to take place, but then used this tragedy for good. The good was that after a period of over 2,000 years the nation of Israel was re-established as a sovereign country to which the Jewish people could return.

This whole area of theodicy is a difficult one, because some believe that if God is good, then how could he permit such terrible things as the Shoah (Holocaust) to happen, even if some good does eventually come out of it. However, we have to realize that God is not accountable to us, and God’s ways are not our ways.

(2) Hagee has been accused of anti-Catholic statements. I believe it is wrong for one Christian Church or denomination to say bad things about another. First of all, it certainly isn’t a good witness to the unchurched. Second, we are supposed to be one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church. Such disunity is inappropriate and, I believe, grieves Jesus, the true head of the Church (which we often forget). Different churches/denominations can respectfully agree to disagree on certain matters of faith, morals, and practice without being nasty.

Having said that, the Roman Catholic (RC) Church has continued since the Council of Trent in the 1500s to show an arrogance that diminishes the rest of Christianity. The RC Church claims to be the one true Church, with the Eastern Orthodox close (but no cigar) and the Protestants as pretenders. The current Pope, who graciously met with non-RC church leaders during his recent visit to the U.S., nevertheless affirmed the Council of Trent’s position last year. Was it really necessary to do that? So he is reaching out to non-Catholic branches of Christianity on one hand, while putting them down on the other.

(3) Prominent pastors should not be publicly endorsing candidates. It is certainly within their rights as U.S. citizens, but doing so violates, I believe, the spirit of the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. Pastors have the responsibility and the duty to talk about issues, but not not candidates. Obama’s pastor problem is different since no endorsement was involved, but McCain’s pastor problems resulted from endorsements (which McCain actively sought).

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