Pastors John Hagee and Glen Cole: courteous guides on the road to hell
A dear brother told me recently,
"Steve, people really don't like you very much. They think you're cold and callous; that you're an 'unloving person'; that you're harsh, acrimonious, bad tempered, and brusque."
But these kinds of charges are nothing new to me. It's true - I don't seem to engender "warm," "fuzzy" feelings, and those who would like to throw a rock at me have to take a number and get in line. The fact is, it's a very difficult thing today for people to speak honestly and frankly on a subject that others find "uncomfortable" or controversial without being labeled "pompous" and "arrogant."
This brings me to the subject at hand: It appears that many of our readers think that the tone of some of my recent articles has been too "unyielding" and "inflexible" – especially insofar as my twin brother and Richard Paradise are concerned, all of whom I have "been relentlessly ‘pounding’ for the last several months." [Please see our article, "The Great Grief Associated with Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom;" please also see "The Good News of the Coming Kingdom" and "The American New World Order System Must Give Way to the Kingdom of Heaven."]
"Pompous," "arrogant," "egotistical," "overbearing" - these are but a few of the descriptions that have been hung around my neck. It seems that being direct with people is considered to be impolite and ill-mannered. Don't back people into a corner; don't hurt their feelings; don't offend others by trying to push your convictions on them. Be "tolerant" and "civil" in the things you say and do - and, God forbid, if you do decide to make a direct statement on an "uncomfortable" or controversial subject, be sure to precede your statement with "weasel words" like, "I think," or "It's my opinion," and then - when you're finished - be sure to ask those who have been listening to you, "What's your opinion?"
That's the "likable" thing to do; after all, nobody has a corner on the truth - and if we just listen to others, and if we are willing to "communicate across our disagreements" and "find common ground" then everything will work out. Typical of this kind of FEEBLE-MINDED thinking (OOPS, there I go again) is a letter I received several years ago from one of our readers who wrote to me in reaction to another one of my more intemperate and unrestrained articles, "Capitalism and Christianity."
The article dealt with the "deceitfulness of riches" (cf., Matt. 13:22); the reader - who was evidently quite wealthy - was deeply offended by what I had said, and wrote to me in an attempt to "moderate" my views:
"While the content of the article is largely true, I found it interesting that you used, as support, references from the Bible - in particular one that is commonly read as "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." My understanding is that the original Greek read "... for a tax collector..." rather than "... for a rich man..." and that the prevalent interpretation was introduced into the King James translation because of the effects that were becoming evident on the tax revenues flowing to the crown.
Be polite and respectful!
"While I am unsure as to the original, untranslated content of your other supporting scriptures, it seems to me that perhaps in the case of this particular verse, it is not altogether solid in its support of your stance. Thoughts on your part? THEY ARE WELCOME SO LONG AS THEY ARE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL." [Please see addendum at the end of this article for the proper interpretation of this portion of Scripture.]
Wow! I must tell you, this kind of wimpy, mealy-mouthed person makes me want to vomit! Be polite? Be respectful? Of what? - of this form of absurd thinking? Is this what Jesus was doing when He said to the Pharisees and scribes (i.e., the "Religious Establishment" of His day):
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
"And say, 'If we had been [living] in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in [shedding] the blood of the prophets.'
"Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
"Fill up then the measure [of the guilt] of your fathers.
"You SERPENTS, you BROOD OF VIPERS, how shall you escape the SENTENCE OF HELL? (Matt. 23:29-33)
Where is there any respect here by Christ for the opinions of the scribes and the Pharisees? Where is there any willingness on Christ's part to "communicate across His disagreements" with them? Where is there any effort here to be polite? Surely, there is none!
Nowhere in any translation of the Bible can the STUPIDITY evinced in the letter above (and that's exactly what it is! - stupidity) be maintained - i.e., that the word for "rich man" should be translated "tax collector" in Matt. 19:24. The fact is, this kind of thinking is so far "out of line" that it can only be accounted for by some kind of pre-disposition of mind intent on emasculating the Bible's very clear injunctions against the rich. One needs only to take the time to consult Strong's Greek Lexicon (#4381) to dispel such thinking. Maybe the Bible according to the Republican Party (or the freakish Gospel according to Kenneth Hagin or Kenneth Copeland or Robert Schuller or Bennie Hinn) might offer such a translation, but nowhere else!
No! - this person is entitled to the UTTER contempt that I feel for him! - which is exactly the kind of loathing that Jesus gave to the "Religious Establishment" of His day (and, again, that's precisely what it was: loathing) when He referred to his religious opponents as "DESERVING THE SENTENCE OF HELL" and called them a den of "POISONOUS SNAKES" and a "BROOD OF VIPERS."
Prissy leaders of today's church
This is the sort of Christianity that has nothing definite to say to anyone, the kind of Christianity that is so "moderate" in its beliefs that it feels no chagrin in using such prissy phrases as "My understanding is," "The prevalent interpretation is," "While I am unsure," and that final wickedly delicious phrase, "Thoughts on your part? THEY ARE WELCOME SO LONG AS THEY ARE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL." These phrases are all typical of the kind of effeminate, sissified Christianity in vogue in America today; the kind that affluence inevitably creates; the kind that refuses to trespass on anyone's comfort zone.
When prophecy is a dream, it's fun
When prophecy is a dream - when it is nothing more than a mental image, a kind of fantasy or "furtive meditation" - it's sort of fun; it's like a secret GAME we can play on a cold night in the safety and comfort of our own living rooms with good friends, good food, a warm cup of chocolate, and a crackling fire in the fireplace - the kind of GAME that Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" series of books casually and vacuously promotes.
It lifts us out of the "ordinary" and elevates us into a whimsical world where we are no longer nameless cogs in a giant, uncaring socio-economic machine that doesn't give a whit for us, but are instead heroes and heroines ("Knight-Templars") of our Lord and Savior immersed in great feats of "daring-do." And the wonder (indeed, the pleasure) of it all is that this GAME doesn't cost us much to play. Maybe a little, but not much. No real sacrifices are demanded of us; we don't have to "pay to play;" no relationships are threatened beyond those we don't care that much about anyway; no jobs are put at risk.
But when prophecy transmutes itself into reality, when it is no longer played as a game, when actual relationships are threatened, when money is really put at risk, when jobs are actually lost, and when lives are in fact jeopardized, then prophecy becomes something else altogether, AND NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO BE A PART OF THAT" – and this is exactly where my twin brother and Richard Paradise are. They are precisely the kind of people about whom Jesus - when speaking to the leaders of the religious establishment of His day - said:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matthew 23:13)
There is only one hope for such people: SHAME them into an admission as to what they are doing – and that is EXACTLY what I am trying to do. I am faced with a situation where I see my erstwhile friends in danger of going over the falls, and they seem UTTTERLY oblivious to what is happening.
I have called out to them, but they have not heard me, so now I am throwing stones at their little rowboat, trying desperately to awake them to the danger they face, AND I AM ACCUSED OF BEING MEAN-SPIRITED IN DOING SO.
But I would rather be accused of that in my attempt to get their attention, than to say and do nothing, and watch then them plunge over the falls to their destruction.
God bless you all!
IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO GO