By John Hagee
I am writing to share with you some important news pertaining to my latest book In Defense of Israel. It has come to my attention that my choice of language and some of the interpretation being given that language in Chapter Ten has caused some confusion and actually led some readers to question whether I believe that Jesus is the Messiah. If people are reaching such a conclusion, then I have clearly failed to communicate my views as well as I should have.
I have decided to release a new edition of In Defense of Israel with an expanded Chapter Ten. The new version will make the same point as the prior one, but using language which cannot mislead anyone about my bedrock belief that Jesus was and is Lord, Savior and Messiah.
I was surprised to learn that some people were interpreting my words as a rejection of this most fundamental Christian belief that Jesus came to earth as the Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures. I have been preaching the gospel for half a century. Almost every Sunday for the past 50 years, I have stood in front of Christian audiences to clearly proclaim the glory of our Lord, Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. For the past 30 years, these weekly sermons have been beamed to millions around the world on Christian television.
Given my long years of preaching the gospel to so many, it simply never occurred to me that anyone would question my belief in the fundamentals of the faith. I chose to use challenging language that I hoped would confront the body of Christ to consider events from the Jewish and historical perspective and therefore develop greater empathy for our Jewish friends.
Over the centuries, Christians have been quick to condemn the Jews for failing to recognize Jesus as Messiah. This approach led to replacement theology and the viewpoint of some that God has rejected and broken covenant with the Jewish people. These ideas, in turn, opened the door to a vicious Christian anti-Semitism that led to the Crusades, the Inquisition and countless pogroms.
I tried to challenge this view by highlighting a distinction that has been long recognized in Christian theology between the role Jesus played in His first coming, and the role He will play in his second coming. Jesus came the first time as the suffering Messiah, as exemplified by His persecution, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus will come back as the reigning Messiah, who will rule the world from His throne in Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We Christians believe that the suffering Messiah was clearly foreshadowed in the writings of the Hebrew prophets. However, most Jews have never read the prophets in this way. The Jews were expecting the reigning Messiah. I know this, you know this, and our omniscient and omnipotent Savior knows this.
God could have sent His Son to earth as the reigning Messiah the Jews were expecting. Instead He chose to send Him as the suffering Messiah, who submitted to the Cross, and I thank Him every day that He did. But I also regret daily that this divine move has led so many of the fallen humans it saved to denigrate and persecute the Jewish people from whom our Lord sprang.
In the expanded Chapter Ten, I will make the same point with language that does not hide my own perspective on the matter. The primary change will involve how I use the word “Messiah.” In the expanded version, I will clarify the clear distinction between the “Suffering Messiah,” the Lamb of God and the “Reigning Messiah,” the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!
I am deeply grieved for any confusion my writing may have caused the body of Christ. It was never intended. I trust this letter and the expanded edition of In Defense of Israel will clarify what I believe. I also hope that we can return our focus to what I had anticipated to highlight all along, the fact that we Christians must shift from condemning the Jews for what they missed to thanking them for what they gave.
Blessings to you and those you love,
Pastor John Hagee
Mar 4, 2008
By John Hagee