Four Blood Moons: Revisiting John Hagee’s Embarrassing Failure (2 of 2)

Four Blood Moons: Revisiting John Hagee’s Embarrassing Failure (2 of 2) November 23, 2019

In part 1, I summarized John Hagee’s “Four Blood Moons” hysteria, which culminated with its final lunar eclipse four years ago.

So what was supposed to happen?

We need to learn from Reverend Hagee precisely what was supposed to happen and when. Hagee told us, “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.”

Okay, but that’s rather vague. Hagee said (in a video that is, embarrassingly, still in the Hagee Ministries channel), “God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’”

Surely the creator of the universe can do better? “Something is about to change,” according to the book’s subtitle.

Okay, forget it. Hagee won’t be specific because he can’t. Perhaps the purpose of the book wasn’t to enlighten the flock but (dare I say it?) to make money. It turns out that Pastor Hagee wasn’t the first to think up the four blood moons idea, though you wouldn’t know it from his movie, where he claims to have come up with this connection. Hagee loves money like sharks love chum.

Others piled on and predicted financial disaster after the end of the Shemitah year (didn’t happen—the Dow was up on the next trading day). Unsurprisingly, those financial prophets didn’t conclude that their game is groundless. One pundit concluded that God simply didn’t want to make himself predictable. It’s clear that no lesson has been learned, and the next breathless, invented crisis among gullible Christians is in our near future.

One element of this hysteria is a “the sky is falling” attitude. Prophecy-hungry Christian charlatans point to the worrisome news of the moment—Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ISIS, problems in Israel, Ebola, police shootings, droughts and forest fires, same-sex marriage, and more—and imagine that these are the signs of the End.

No, that’s not bad. You want bad? How about the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) that killed between three and eleven million people in Europe? That was bad. Or how about 1942–43 when it looked like the Axis powers might succeed and carve up the world? Or the 1918 flu pandemic that killed up to 100 million people? Or the Black Death in Europe (1346–53), which killed 20% of the world’s population?

Remember when you were a kid in history class, and you asked why you had to learn all that stuff? This is why. It’s so you can immunize yourself from people like Hagee who hope you are ignorant of events like those—events so world-shakingly calamitous that they plausibly could have signaled an end of the world.

Sorry, Christian apocalypticists, same-sex marriage doesn’t compare.

Consequences

I believe a quote from the Good Book is relevant here.

The prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20).

Wow—that’s tough love. I wonder if pastor David Berzins, who was eager to stone gays to death, might have been happy to carry out that punishment since Hagee obviously wasn’t speaking for God since his prophecy didn’t come true.

Hagee had to walk a fine line. He had to be specific enough to mesmerize his flock into buying his books and mailing in checks but not so specific that he could be easily called on a prophecy when it didn’t come to pass. That was the error that Harold Camping made. He spent $100 million to advertise a very specific date for the Rapture, May 21, 2011. Things became uncomfortable when May 21 came and went just like any other day.

After several years of planning, you could imagine a crescendo at Hagee’s web site on the eve of the fourth “blood moon.” Nope—out of a bunch of ads, a single one read, “The final blood moon is coming . . . are you ready?”

Ready for what? Hagee pretty much ignored the blood moons non-event and moved on to the next apocalyptic message so we can get good and scared all over again. John Hagee has become Pastor Freddie Krueger of the (Nightmare on) Elm Street Church. And like the groundless claims in John Oliver’s much-missed megachurch, Hagee’s far-reaching but empty claims are, incredibly, all legal.

If there were justice where you could pull a stunt like this once but then you’d lose all credibility after a failure, I wouldn’t mind. The problem is, there are no consequences. When Hagee and others tap dance away from their false claims, no one will stone them. Their flock will continue to do what they’re told. Like a stage magician, Hagee will focus his flock’s attention on some new book or outreach. While I wonder how Hagee can live with himself, the whole thing looks like a smart financial move in hindsight.

What’s it like on the inside?

Patheos atheist blogger Captain Cassidy wrote about what it was like growing up as a Pentecostal teenager during the “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” scare. On why this kind of thing is effective, she said that being on the inside flatters one’s ego. You know that you’ve got it figured out and the naysayers will get theirs soon enough, and then who’ll be laughing? Chillingly, she observed, “Fear lies at the heart of Christianity, not love.”

To remind us of how common end-of-the-world prophecies have been in history, I’ll wrap up with this much-mended “The End is nigh!” sign envisioned by Kyle Hepworth. The End has been predicted more often than you may know.

Christians who know that there’ve been
other Rapture scares in the past

look at new Rapture scares
like other folks look at lottery tickets:

sure, they’ve always failed to win in the past,
but this time might be the big payoff.
The problem is that their payoff
happens for the worst reasons

and at the expense of those who disagree with them.
Captain Cassidy

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/26/15.)

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  • Jim Jones

    Forget the 10 commandments. How about a nice stone with a list of failed predictions?

    BTW: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_wars_and_battles

  • Michael Neville

    But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matt 24:35 NIV

    • Michael Murray

      Doesn’t rule out someone knowing which fortnight though. Or maybe a 48 hour period. Wasn’t that argument actually used by one of these charlatans ? I forgotten who.

      • The Jack of Sandwich

        Nah, if you cannot know the day, then you cannot know the fortnight either.

        Otherwise, if it hadn’t happened by day 14 of the fortnight, then you would know it had to happen on that last day.

        • Greg G.

          So then on the 13th day, you would know it would happen that day so it cannot be the 13th day of the fortnight either. And so on down to it not happening on the first day either.

          But we can know the hour because the day is referred to in the singular. That means it will be between 11pm and midnight in the time zone east of the International Date Line, otherwise it would happen on two different days.

        • Otto

          You and your relative time zones

        • Michael Murray

          Yeh verily thou stands high in the wisdom of the Lord Brother Jack and thy bread covered snacks have His blessing.

  • The one that I remember better was the one of September 22, 2017. It was an epic failure and not just because of mixing things that had a pagan origin (the constellation of Virgo)

    • Otto

      I remember there was a guy that showed up on Patheos (I believe on Bob’s blog) and was soooo certain that the rapture of 2017 was going to happen and was super duper concerned for all of us. After a couple of back and forth comments I asked if he was going to be willing to come back and discuss the situation if the rapture did not happen. He assured me he absolutely would, but said he wanted to give it a couple weeks for the possibility of error as to the specific day. Once we got into November and nothing had happened I posted to him to see what he had to say…but not surprisingly he did not respond. Every once in awhile wonder what happened to him and his certainty…what did he do with the dissonance? Hmmm…maybe he was raptured.

      • Greg G.

        I remember that interaction. If he got raptured, I can understand why he doesn’t feel like responding.

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, if he got raptured you would think he wanted to respond even more to gloat!

        • Michael Neville

          Maybe Heaven’s wifi is not as up to date as it might be.

        • Greg G.

          I saw a cartoon recently, perhaps on FB, where a man was getting out of his coffin with a thought bubble that read, “Dang! I forgot my phone.”

        • That would be ironic–you get to heaven, and all they have is T1. Or maybe dialup.

        • Greg G.

          Of course it will be filtered through NetNanny on a 386 server.

    • Lord Backwater

      History of the Millerites

      Devoted Sect Believed The World Would End on October 22, 1844

      The Millerites actually dissolved after a few years when Miller (gasp) admitted he was wrong. But both the Jehovah’s Witlesses and Seventh Day Adventists can trace their roots to the remnants of the Millerite sect.

      This public service announcment was brought to you by the Burned-over District.

      • The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (i.e. Jehovah Witnesses head office) is quite infamous for their many failed predictions. Of these, there is the now sidelined 1975 End of All group of predictions. The following webpage details how the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society “handles” such embarrassments through their policy of selectively modifying the sect’s recorded history:

        Watchtower whitewashes failed 1975 prophecy in 2017 convention video
        https://jwsurvey.org/conventions/watchtower-whitewashes-failed-1975-prophecy-2017-convention-video

  • Greg G.

    Patheos atheist blogger Captain Cassidy wrote about what it was like growing up as a Pentecostal teenager during the “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” scare.

    A testament to the hard-headedness of Rapturists is the sequel to 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, also by Edgar C. Whisenant, called The final shout: Rapture report 1989.

  • Brian Curtis

    This was a fun pop-history survey of doomsday predictions: The Real History of the End Times by Sharan Newman

  • NSAlito

    “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.”
    OK, but that’s rather vague.

    Hello? Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015.

  • RichardSRussell

    Periodically I wonder why anybody is still paying attention to this guy, and then I remember that Jim Bakker is still going strong and and continuing to rake in millions from his devotees. I think Barnum understated matters.

    • Lord Backwater

      Peter Popoff.
      QED.

  • Brian Curtis

    What’s needed is a way for prophets to put their money where their mouths are: some sort of charity trust fund they can set up, tied to the date of their doomsday prediction. When the deadline hits, it automatically transfers all the predictor’s funds (or at least some large, stated amount) into that fund because they obviously won’t need it. And until the institution verifies that the prophet has set up such a transaction, there’s no reason to take his prediction seriously.
    .
    Plus, the institute itself can be paid out of those same funds, giving it some nice tax breaks as a non-prophet organization.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      ISWYDT…

      😉

    • Genius! In fact, all those Christian organizations eager to have science applied to Bible prophecy are working to make this happen right now.

      Unfortunately, the number of such organizations is zero.

  • Lord Backwater

    Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

    A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.

    • Greg G.

      I’m glad my ancestors who had not yet reproduced another ancestor survived.

      • Lord Backwater

        What a coincidence! My ancestral line also managed to get through that time.

    • Michael Neville

      …a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed ash across the Northern Hemisphere early in 536. Two other massive eruptions followed, in 540 and 547.

      This was just three large volcanic eruptions. Imagine what’ll happen when a supervolcano like the one at Yellowstone goes off. There are many supervolcanoes around the world other than Yellowstone, including California’s Long Valley, Japan’s Aira Caldera, Indonesia’s Toba, and New Zealand’s Taupo. This latter supervolcano is the last to have released a super-eruption some 26,500 years ago.

  • Steven Watson

    On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Leftie Loons all around the globe began pronouncing The End of the World. Ask yourselves how many of you claim to have left Xtianity are still recycling Xtian themes? How many of you still think you are the Chosen, the Elect, the Saved and the Righteous? I see a lot in our neck of the woods that looks like Xtianity without the good bits.

    • Thanks4AllTheFish

      Leftie Loons? Chosen, Elect, Saved, Righteous? Any chance you might be able to make a cogent point without all the snarky clichés?

      This post is about false prophets and their failed prophecies. It’s also about the motivations likely behind those who make such pronouncements and excuse said failures.

      I trust that you construct your straw man conclusions about who you think we are for your own satisfaction?

      • Steven Watson

        Try not to prove my point would you?

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          You have a point?

    • The Jack of Sandwich

      the “End of the World” is not a “Christian Theme” it’s an idea common to many religions. And the idea that Trump is dangerous to the World is not rooted in religion at all.

      So what Christian themes are we recycling?

      And no, I’m not Elect. I actually think I’m a moral person, and Christianity is a rejection of morality.

      • Steven Watson

        I actually think I’m a moral person, and Christianity is a rejection of morality.

        Some Christians will assert the same of atheists or people of other religions. I will try to make judgements on an individual’s behaviour. The argument that “Wonkythink is not specific to any one group; therefore what you are saying doesn’t apply to me” is silly. You were born into Christendom; you probably chose atheism in adulthood. You were socialised in a Christian derived culture.

        I see The Sky is Falling silliness from both sides of the aisle. It is one example of reflexive desire to think the worstm and the worst of people. They disagree with you thinking Bourbon is whiskey therefore they are a Nazi/a Commie. They think if it is on Breitbart or Buzzfeed it is automaticaly true and rather than check their sources and acknowledge all people have biases, they double down on silly. The people arguing drive themselves into extreme positions that are silly, illogical, and unreasoned. People should stop that. It is compounding rather than addressing the problem(s).

        If anyone wants to be silly, they can have at it. The majority of reasonable folk won’t be taking them or their “concerns” seriously. Then when wolves turn up we will ignore them as German Shepherd dogs and die when they actually do leap at our throats. A pox on that kind of “thinking”.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          A lot of words to to answer a question.

          Bye

  • Richard B

    Well, OK, now we know that. Moving right along folks ….

  • Syzygy

    Religion = Superstition + $$$$$
    All we need to know about that.

  • Bob Pattinson

    Hagee is a professional parasite who obviously dines out well (and often) thanks to the fools who love his lies.