Erica Ramirez, a sociologist at Auburn Seminary, is touring mega-churches and taking notes. Her most recent stop was at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.
Hagee is 83 years old and he’s been the senior pastor at Cornerstone since he founded it in 1987. This would be an admirable achievement — 46 years of ministry in a thriving, growing church! — but it’s rendered awkward and embarrassing due to the fact that John Hagee has, for all of those 46 years, been an End Times preacher. He has spent those 46 years perpetually predicting and promising that the Rapture of all true believers and the subsequent end of life, the universe, and everything, is imminent and surely not more than a year, or a decade at most, away.
In other words, the fact that John Hagee is still here — and that Cornerstone Church is still here, and that San Antonio and Texas are still here — proves that the central message of Hagee’s ministry in 1987 was wrong. And that his preaching was simply wrong in 1997, and in 2007, and in 2017. His predictions, prophecies, and promises have been worthless. He is not to be trusted because he has, repeatedly, proven himself to be untrustworthy.
The last time Hagee made a big splash in national news was back in 2014, when he was going on about his “Blood Moon” prophecies. A series of lunar eclipses were set for 2014 and 2015, and Hagee was sure this was a portent — a sign of the End Times specifically prophesied in the Bible. Those eclipses came and went without any trumpet blasts from on high or Raptures or One World Governments or any of the things Hagee portentiously portended would come about. The calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, and then to 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 … And we were all shown, again, quite conclusively, that John Hagee’s “Bible prophecy” is and always has been hogwash.
Anyway, in her tour of Texas mega-churchianity, Ramirez is most focused on the question of “Christian nationalism,” and Hagee’s church complicates what that can look like by putting more emphasis on Israel than on God’s Other Chosen Nation of America. Ramirez’s observations and reflections on that are quite interesting.
But here’s the part of her post that stood out for me due to how it is simultaneously tediously mundane and jaw-droppingly weird once you stop to think about it:
The service begins with a dense set of announcements that includes an advertisement for Cornerstone Christian School, a private k-12 venture begun in 1993. The purpose of Cornerstone Christian Schools is “to develop and train the whole person spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially with unprecedented excellence in a Christ-centered culture to take all the Gospel to all the world and to every generation.” Pastor John Hagee bought the school’s campus from Ursuline nuns. It has just received a $100 million renovation to expand its capacities to serve new “Warrior families.” Tuition costs $23,000, but the church contributes $13005, bringing the real cost to $9995– as the website states, this is an “investment” that must be planned.
This paragraph is filled with the kind of forward-looking, future-planning talk of “investment” in “every generation” that seems appropriate for discussion of a school that educates young people from kindergarten right through 12th grade. It’s also a howling contradiction for anyone who truly believed anything John Hagee was preaching about the End Times.
The fact of this school, it’s very existence, seems to show Hagee and his Cornerstone congregation hedging their bets. The Rapture is imminent. We are in the Last Days and the End Times. Bible prophecy is crystal clear on that point.
Or maybe not. Just in case, let’s spend $100 million fixing up the campus for our K-12 school, enroll all of our children there, and ship them off to college so that they can get good jobs and donate back to CCS as wealthy alumni who, we hope, will one day enroll their own children there as well. And their children’s children too.
This is absolutely, certainly the Last Generation, John Hagee teaches and “prophesies.” Anyone who suggests otherwise, he says, is a faithless, immoral liberal who doesn’t believe the inerrant, infallible Bible because that, he says, is what the Bihle clearly, certainly teaches. And also here is John Hagee’s plan to reach and
indoctrinate train up “every generation” long into the future so that our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will also learn and teach the One True Gospel that insists ours is the Last Generation.
The incoherence of that is amusing.
Or it would be. It stops being amusing once you start to understand how horrible this is for all of those kids enrolled from kindergarten through senior year at Cornerstone Christian School.
Welcome to kindergarten: The world is ending and you have no future.
There is no future.
Everyone and everything and every place you know will soon be destroyed.
This might happen tomorrow or maybe not until you’re in middle school. But you must understand, above all else, that you will never live to be as old as Pastor Hagee or even as old as his son Pastor Matt.
You probably will never see your 20s and certainly not your 30s.
There is no future for you. No career, no vocation, no marriage, no children or grandchildren.
Everything is ending. Soon.
And we expect you to be happy about this.
Set aside all of the contradictions and cognitive dissonance. Forget all the failed prophecies and “Blood Moon” nonsense. Just think about how deeply, deeply fucked up it is to teach such a thing to children.
Think about it some more. Keep thinking about it. Because those kids will. They have to.
And it will mess them up for a very, very long time.