Christians United for Israel
In March, 2006, John Hagee formed Christians United for Israel (CUFI). It is “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.”
“Think of CUFI as a Christian version of AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee],” Hagee told The Jerusalem Post. “We need to be able to respond instantly to Washington with our concerns about Israel. We must join forces to speak as one group and move as one body to [respond to] the crisis Israel will be facing in the near future.”
Hagee declined to specify which crisis, noting that Israel faces one “every day the sun comes up.” But at the top of the CUFI agenda is what the pastor calls “the Bible issue,” namely what he considers to be the mistaken policy of trading parts of the biblical Land of Israel for peace, an agenda that AIPAC, for example, neglects.
Accordingly, Hagee says, CUFI intends to “interact with the government in Washington” and persuade it “to stop pressuring Israel to give up land for peace. Besides the fact that this does not work, Israel has a Bible mandate for the land. Now that Gaza has been given to Hamas, it has a military foothold a thousand yards from Jerusalem.”
– Source: Evangelicals to launch ‘Christian AIPAC’, The Jerusalem Post, Israel, Feb. 2, 2006
“Dual Covenant” Theology?
Shortly after the launch of CUFI, the Jerusalem Post reported:
Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee’s innovative belief in what Christians refer to as “dual covenant” theology.
This creed, which runs counter to mainstream evangelism, maintains that the Jewish people has a special relationship to God through the revelation at Sinai and therefore does not need “to go through Christ or the Cross” to get to heaven.
Scheinberg said this has been Hagee’s position for the 25 years the two have worked together on behalf of Israel and that Falwell had also come to accept it. Falwell sent a representative to the San Antonio launch of Christians United for Israel in early February, as did popular televangelist Pat Robertson.
Scheinberg said he had worked with Hagee since 1981, when the pastor first broached the idea of organizing a night to honor Israel, which has become an annual event.
“He came to the Jewish community and of course they were skeptical, they were a bit suspicious, anxious about whatever agenda he might have,” the rabbi recalled. “He took public positions against proselytizing the Jews, which some of his own colleagues at that time criticized him roundly for; for example, Falwell was at that time very critical of his nonconversionary statements regarding the Jews. But that’s not the case now though. Falwell has changed his position,” he said.
Hagee has been consistent in this theological position, Scheinberg said, and this was reflected in both the declared policy of CUFI and at the public launch of the organization last month.
“It seemed there was a great deal of unity – not unanimity – on nonconversion, a nonproselytizing agenda, that the Jews have a special covenant, and this was stated over and over,” the rabbi said.
“It was stated in Hagee’s opening speech, in his opening statement, and then repeated again. And when there was a question period later, no one asked about this. It seemed to be understood that any hidden agenda, any attempt at conversion, would undermine all their efforts, would be counterproductive, and that’s not what they are about.
“There was always concern on the part of the Jewish community that there’s a hidden agenda now, to convert now, to proselytize now. And regarding that, Hagee was very strong in saying no, we are not proselytizing,” Scheinberg said.
– Source: Falwell: Jews can get to heaven, Jerusalem Post, Israel, Feb. 28, 2006
Dual Covenant Denied
Pastors John Hagee and Jerry Falwell have both denied a report in The Jerusalem Post earlier this week that they embrace the “dual covenant” theology, which holds that Jews are saved through a special relationship with God and so need not become Christians to get to heaven.
In a statement to the Post, the Texas-based televangelist Hagee said that neither he nor Southern Baptist pastor Falwell “believe or teach Dual Covenant.”
Hagee added that he had “made it a practice for 25 years not to target Jews for conversion” at any “Night to Honor Israel” events. If Jews “inquire about our faith at a later time, we give them a full scriptural presentation of redemption.”
He stressed that “regardless of the response from the Jewish person, we remain friends in support of the State of Israel as required by scripture.”
Falwell, meanwhile, posted a statement on his website to the effect that he believes “all people – Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc.” must accept Jesus in order to enter heaven.
– Source: Hagee, Falwell deny endorsing ‘dual covenant’, Jerusalem Post, Israel, Mar. 2, 2006
Denying a Jerusalem Post story that said he had embraced a “dual covenant” theology, Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell said March 1 that he believes all people, including Jews, “must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven.”
“I do not follow this teaching of ‘dual covenant’ theology and I believe it runs counter to the Gospel,” Falwell said in a statement posted on www.falwell.com. “I have been on record all 54 years of my ministry as being opposed to ‘dual covenant’ theology.”
Rejected by orthodox theologians, dual covenant theology holds that Jews are saved through a special, unique relationship with God and need not trust in Christ for salvation.
“Dr. Hagee called me today and said he never made these statements to the Jerusalem Post or to anyone else. He assured me that he would immediately contact the Jerusalem Post and request a correction. Before today, I had never heard of Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg or had any communications with him. I therefore am at a total loss as to why he would make such statements about me to the Post, if in fact he did.
“In this age of political correctness and diversity, the traditional evangelical belief that salvation is available only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is often portrayed as closed-minded and bigoted. But if one is to believe in Jesus Christ, he must believe in His words: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me’ (John 14:6). I simply cannot alter my belief that Jesus is The Way to heaven, as He taught.
“Again, I do not follow this teaching of ‘dual covenant’ theology and I believe it runs counter to the Gospel.
“I have been on record all 54 years of my ministry as being opposed to ‘dual covenant’ theology. In fact, Dr. John Hagee has indicated to me, as recently as today, that he likewise does not accept ‘dual covenant’ theology.
– Source: Jerry Falwell denies Jerusalem Post story, says everyone, including Jews, needs Christ, Baptist Press, Mar. 1, 2006
No Strings Attached
It thus appears that John Hagee supports Israel and the Jewish people with no strings attached. That is, he supports Israel and the Jewish people based on what he considers to be the Bible’s mandate to do so – and this support does not depend on whether or not the people thus helped accept Jesus Christ.
Indeed, Hagee told the Jerusalem Post that the vast majority of Evangelicals Christians teach “the Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people without a hidden agenda”:
Interviewed by the [Jerusalem] Post at the recent AIPAC national convention in Washington, DC, where he was warmly received by many delegates, Hagee also carefully explained his thinking on the incendiary issue of evangelical attitudes to Jews and Judaism.
In precise and deliberate language, flavored with a rich, deep Texas drawl, he asserted that a growing majority of evangelical leaders do not preach “replacement theology, which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel” and the Jews “have no future in the plan of God.” The vast majority of evangelicals, rather, teach that “the Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people without a hidden agenda.”
True to that interpretation, Hagee said, “I do not target Jews for conversion.”
Nonetheless, he stressed, “If you come into my church [of your own volition], you are asking to hear my witness of Jesus Christ and you’re going to get it, wide open.”
Hagee’s “Night to Honor Israel” is a non-conversionary event. We do not target Jewish people for conversion. If a Jewish person comes to me and asks me about my faith, I am under a Bible mandate to tell him about my faith. If he accepts or rejects my faith, it does not enhance nor depreciate that person in my view. From that point we agree to go forward in mutual esteem working on behalf of Israel. All Christians are under a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and to be supportive of the Jewish people.
If somebody outside the “Night to Honor Israel” framework comes to you [to inquire about Christianity], what do you do?
We give them our entire testimony and biblical explanation of our faith.
Again outside the “Night to Honor Israel” framework, do you target Jews for conversion?
When I open the doors of Cornerstone Church, 5,000 people fill the auditorium. As I present the gospel message, I don’t know if you’re Muslim, Hindu, Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic or Jewish. If you come into Cornerstone Church, you are asking to hear my witness of Jesus Christ and the Cross as the way to redemption, and you’re going to get that message, wide open.
In the ultimate vision to which you subscribe, there is a second coming, and what happens to Israel and the Jews then?
This is the biblical teaching of St. Paul. St. Paul in Romans 9, 10 and 11 presents what I call in my latest book, Jerusalem Countdown, “God’s position-paper on the Jewish people.”
In Romans 9, Paul states that this three-chapter section is exclusively about the Jewish people. He continues that theme in the 10th chapter, and in Chapter 11 writes in the first verse that “God has not cast away Israel.” This statement by St. Paul is the absolute death knell of “replacement theology.”
Something that is cast away disappears forever. Israel is alive. Israel is thriving. Israel is growing. Israel and the Jewish people have not been cast away by God! Paul makes the statement that “God has not cast away Israel” twice. Romans is a post-Calvary document in which St. Paul states, in 11:5, “even so at this present time there is a remnant [a surviving group of Jewish people] according to the election of grace.” That means very simply that there are Jewish people right now who have favor with God by the election of grace.
What is going to happen when Jesus comes back? Every Christian believes that Jesus Christ is the messiah. The Jewish people do not believe that. In that regard we have to agree to disagree. I say to my rabbi friends: “You don’t believe it; I do believe it. When we’re standing in Jerusalem, and the messiah is coming down the street, one of us is going to have a very major theological adjustment to make. But until that time, let’s walk together in support of Israel and in defense of the Jewish people, because Israel needs our help.”
Replacement theology teaches that the Church has replaced Israel. In replacement theology, you [the Jews] have no future in the economy of God. Replacement theology falsely teaches that the Church has taken the place of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are no longer in the economy of God, according to this teaching, which places the Church as God’s centerpiece.
There are fewer and fewer [evangelical leaders who subscribe to replacement theology] as time goes along. They are seeing, finally, the error of replacement theology. The vast majority of evangelicals do not believe in replacement theology. Evangelicals believe that Israel has a Bible mandate to the land, a divine covenant for the land of Israel, forever. That the Jewish people are chosen of God and are the apple of God’s eye. That Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, to demonstrate to the Jewish people what they have not experienced from Christianity for 2,000 years… the love of God.
– Source: Evangelicals seeing the error of replacement theology, The Jerusalem Post, Israel, Mar. 20, 2006