Hagee & Ahmadinejad - the Oddest Couple

From its Web site: “The purpose of Christians United For Israel (C.U.F.I.) is to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, Para-church organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues” – location: San Antonio, Texas. From another Web site: “C.U.F.I. is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the Jews right to the land of Israel” – location: Springfield, MO.

According to Julia Duin of the Washington Times, the former is a “five-month-old Texas-based nonprofit mixing evangelical fervor with biblical literalism … his [Evangelist/Pastor John Hagee’s] organizational vehicle. Its political structure spreads across 50 states -- broken down by region, state and then city -- to recruit activists and lobby elected officials on Israel's behalf.” According to its Web site, the latter is part of David Allen Lewis Ministries and was formed in 1975. Both Hagee, the pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio, and Lewis, a lecturer/teacher have Assembly of God or Pentecostal backgrounds. The men have written 10 and 41 books, respectively, and their interest is in prophecy and spiritual/actual warfare, with particular reference to eschatology. Central to their theme is the second coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, some time after the bloody “Battle of Armageddon,” claimed to be fought in what is now Israel.

As noted by BBC News of July 19, “More than 3,400 evangelical Christians have arrived in Washington to lobby lawmakers as part of the first annual summit of Christians United for Israel.” Hagee was the main organizer of this event, which was highlighted by a banquet on July 18 attended by prominent Israeli figures, some members of Congress, and leading evangelicals. The next day was spent by CUFI workers in lobbying members of Congress in behalf of supporting Israel.

As noted last December by Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended a speech at the UN last September with these words, “O mighty Lord [Allah], I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace.” He, too, was invoking his god’s promise with reference to the Islamic Messiah, known as the “Mahdi” or “Guided One” in Islamic Eschatology. According to the British Telegraph, “The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return. One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about £10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.”

Thus, the stage is set for a most remarkable juxtaposition of positions. Hagee is obsessed with the fact that Christian believers must act in order to bring about God’s will with respect to the end-times; Ahmadinejad is obsessed with the necessity that Muslims must prepare the world for the end-times with respect to the will of Allah. Those of Hagee’s persuasion saw the beginning of the end with the establishment of Israel in 1948 as a nation to which those of the Diaspora can return, a biblical requirement for the fulfillment of prophecy regarding Armageddon and largely premised on writings in the Old Testament.

The irony of Hagee’s position lies in the fact that fundamentalists believe that God foreknew or foreordained or predestined everything and every person that/who would happen/exist on earth before the Creation, thus, it would seem, making it unnecessary for believers to do anything but just live their lives. Even prayer would seem unnecessary since it could hardly change what has already been set in concrete by God. The irony of Ahmadinejad’s position lies in the fact that he has already proclaimed his intention to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, thus fulfilling that part of his UN prayer dealing with filling this world with justice and peace. Both men see the utter annihilation of the other’s world as the fulfillment of their respective approaches to prophecy, with regard to the immutable will of God and Allah.

In Israel, there’s no concern with a scriptural approach to what’s happening. Jews are still looking for the first appearance of their Messiah, do not accept Jesus as Savior, and place no credence in the Resurrection. They’re concerned with simply surviving. In Iran, the actual power lies with the religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who shares Ahmadinejad’s aim of completely obliterating Israel. Iranians, by and large, will believe and do anything they are told, not least because the alternative of disobedience leads to horrendous penalties.

The reality is that religion has apparently played no part in the current and past conflicts between the Israelis and their antagonists throughout the Middle East, at least since the time of Christ, though believers justifiably insist that God can enter the Creation at any time (as remarked in the Old Testament) for whatever purpose, even war; however, the notion that God planned before the Creation for all that has happened and that’s happening now, not to mention even worse things such as World War II and Hitler’s genocide of 6 million Jews and 5 million other Europeans (mostly Catholics), is to assign to him an incomprehensible sadism. There’s no argument with the Apostle John’s Book of Revelation or its inspiration by God (no matter how surreal and gory with respect to this subject), but the exact meaning – or even an approximate meaning – has no consensus among scholars or lay persons. Perhaps this will change some day.

So…whether claimed as inevitable by Hagee on the basis of biblical references that are subject to all sorts of interpretations or by Khamenei on the basis of the writings of Mohammed in the 6th century, the current conflict is between people for the purely secular reasons of either survival (the Israelis, on the basis of history since 1948) or aggression (the Muslims, on the basis of the same history), the fighting is only a manmade thing, pure and simple. The supreme irony: Hagee and Ahmadinejad are attempting to hasten the end, or at least help God do that…as if they could.