The apology was warranted.
The follow-up is essential.
A week ago, the world was given another look at raw, white Christian nationalism. It was on full display at a Cornerstone Church, the San Antonio, Texas megachurch operated by televangelist John Hagee, and his son, Matt Hagee.
The Hagees made the grave error in spiritual judgment to allow a political event titled, “ReAwaken America” to be held within their [alleged] house of worship. This was not an event that promoted charity, brotherly love, or any of the finer points of grace and holiness. It was a rambling, worldly, political rally, meant to further incite the conspiracy-driven fervor of the Trump cult, still bitter and unaccepting of their political loss in 2020.
The event was organized by podcaster Clay Clark, and featured speakers such as Michael Flynn, the pardoned former National Security Adviser to President Trump, MyPillow CEO and all-around, unhinged lunatic, Mike Lindell, and longtime Trump pal/adviser/hedonist, Roger Stone.
Neither of these men, in their current mental/spiritual decline should be given time in a pulpit to spew whatever manic and worldly machinations that cross their minds, but there they were, before a sold out crowd of over 3,000.
Some of the highlights of that event that swept social media included Flynn twisting a bit of Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew to call for a one-government sanctioned religion – Christianity.
I’ll take this time here to point out that white Christian Nationalism, theocracy, and the rhetoric Flynn promoted, while agreeable on the surface to Christians, is not the design or purpose of the very God he pretends to champion.
Yes, Father God wants none to perish, and all to come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). No, He does not want the people compelled to follow Him, through any worldly government mandate. He wants a relationship that is eternal. Government compulsion is not true repentance or relationship with a heavenly Father God.
What Flynn said from the Cornerstone pulpit to a spiritually tone deaf crowd of conspiracy nuts flew in the face of true Christianity. The Hagees should know better.
As it was, the heat across social media, in regards to Flynn’s comments was only the tip of the iceberg. The news cycle had barely grabbed hold of that controversy, before multiple video captures from both the crowd and from the stage revealed just how far away from pious reflection or any faithful interpretation of the message of Jesus Christ these people have strayed.
In video captured and posted online, the attendees, coached and encouraged from the stage, loudly chanted, “Let’s go, Brandon!”
The Q-Anon crowd is at televangelist John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.
They are chanting, “Let’s Go Brandon” from the church pews. pic.twitter.com/pGqUmUXezn
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is a coded term that actually means, “*Expletive* Joe Biden.”
It’s the “F” word, if you need further help with that.
Just a question to ponder: Did these men on the stage, and those in attendance, or any Christian, anywhere that is using that phrase feel clever? Is this a way of outfoxing the Author of all life? The omniscient God of the universe, He who knows our beginnings from our ends, and knit together the innermost parts of our being, reading our hearts, and before whom we will all stand one day – does He not now know what is meant by those chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon”?
I get that a lot of Christians feel that rejection of Democrats must mean allegiance with Republicans. Republicans have been real good about giving lip service to the “God, country, and family” thing, while Democrats have become even better at actively pushing a worldview that is anathema to those values. They claim it to be for the seemingly noble purpose of “inclusion,” and “tolerance,” but seem to be much less tolerant of Christians.
That being said, Christians are called to be wiser, while occupying this world. We’re also told that not all will be saved. We save as many as we can, but not through the compulsory nature of winning political battles. We save souls and make our point by reflecting the values we profess to a watching world.
We win our battles in the home, by adhering to the Word of God, instilling those values in our children, carrying them into the workplace and marketplace. The battle starts with us, and how we represent our faith is a test of how effective we will be on the battlefield.
Getting back to the event at Cornerstone Church, Pastor Matt Hagee, who authorized the event, has responded to the media backlash, and has issued an apology.
“Last week I allowed an event to be held at Cornerstone Church by an outside organization. Regrettably, the organization was not properly vetted,” Hagee said in a Thursday statement. “The Church is not associated with this organization and does not endorse their views.”
I have to imagine he saw the list of speakers. As I’ve heard his father, John Hagee, use the pulpit to champion Donald Trump, it seems unlikely that he just didn’t know what this event would entail.
The pastor added that he “was invited to welcome the crowd where I thanked veterans for their service and thanked the crowd for their commitment to their faith.”
“I deeply regret, and ask forgiveness, for what took place in the Cornerstone sanctuary as a result of my oversight,” he said. “In the future, Cornerstone Church will ensure that organizations using our facility are an appropriate reflection of our mission and vision.”
Thank you, Pastor Hagee, for the apology. I pray it is sincere, and not just something to cover your tracks, due to the white-hot spotlight this has brought down on your church.
My one question: If you were there, as you indicated you were, at least for a time, didn’t the direction of the conversations from the stage give a hint as to where this was going, or that it was decidedly not a faith-based event?
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, Pastor, and to God what is God’s. On that day, you allowed Caesar to touch what should only belong to, and be about the promotion of that which is godly.
The people can forgive you. God will forgive a sincere heart, but will He continue to entrust you with what He has given you? You have opened the doors of your church to the world, granted them access, and in doing so, given the enemy the weaponry to accuse and attack the church body.
It’s not even about the calls to end tax exempt status for religious organizations. That would surely damage the effectiveness of the church on the ground, as far as outreach to the communities around them.
The world doesn’t care about clothing, feeding, or counseling those who are in need. More government regulation is the problem, not the solution. From early on, the local church has filled the gaps in their communities to provide for and sustain the needy on the ground level. That is the origin of their tax exempt status.
More and more, the lines between politics and religion in the nation have overlapped. Politicians use religion to score votes with that base, while religious leaders seek audience with worldly power brokers.
What it boils down to is the damage being done to the ability of the church to win souls for the kingdom of God. Events like this do not elevate or draw anyone to Christ.
The church in America must remove themselves from the political arena, reclaiming the desperate longing for those things that are righteous and holy.
The time is short, and if we truly want victory, we must learn to love as God loves us – even Brandon.