Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Milestone in Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue

In a stunning move, John Hagee, an influential televangelist and McCain supporter, rejected his anti-Catholic views! This, of course, is not getting the media attention it should, being that it will further McCain’s lead in the religion department – particularly when it comes to Obama’s “Wright-gate” controversy.

What makes this so stunning is the fact that anti-Catholicism is a staple of Biblical fundamentalism – particularly when it comes to eschatology, the study of the last things or end times.

Democrats have been eying the Catholic vote over the past four years. If you did’t know, George W. Bush won the Catholic vote in 2000 against Al Gore and in 2004 against John Kerry – a Catholic. A controversy like John Hagee could have daunted McCain through the summer and fall, particularly against Hilary Clinton who has dominated Democrat Catholics. However, now that it appears that Obama will win the nomination, Hagee is another sign that Catholics and Evangelicals will rally behind McCain in November.

You may be wondering what anti-Catholic teachings Hagee has held and taught for many years. Two big issues are titles for the Catholic Church: the “apostate church” and the “whore of Babylon.” In fundamentalist circles, these titles naturally are given to the Catholic Church because of rapture theology and a low-view of hierarchic ecclesiology. Jesus and the first century Christians spoke of the Church with great esteem – and since the only ancient church is the Catholic Church, which Protestants are not in union with, then the Catholic Church must be apostate. Apostate here means that the Catholic Church hijacked ancient, first century Christianity and added pagan practices to it. So, really, either the Catholic Church is the true Church or it is an apostate church and the whore of Babylon for adding pagan ideas to Christianity.

Take your pick.

Thus this is why it is so stunning for Hagee to renounce his former views. If you’re a staunch fundamentalist, you should naturally have an anti-Catholic viewpoint. Some people may claim Hagee is just being political. I don’t think so. That would be like President Bush getting on TV tomorrow and to announce he was becoming an Independent. Not gonna happen. In the words of Bill Donahue: "What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns."

What's more important, however, is not that McCain will gain some political points, but rather that Hagee's change of heart will help further the dialoge between Evangelicals and Catholics.


Andy said...

evangelicals make me physically ill.

Andrew Lynch said...

Why do evangelicals make you ill?

Andy said...

because they mix politics and religion, using their religious influence to sway political opinion. bottom line - if you don't pay taxes, don't get involved in politics.
AND their ridiculous arguments against most accepted scientific theories do nothing but make all Christians look like illiterate bumpkins in the eyes of the world community.
THAT'S why.

Andrew Lynch said...
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Andrew Lynch said...

I totally agree with you when it comes to trying to teach the Bible in the classroom in relation to evolution versus a 6-day creation. But many evangelicals are moving away from that. Huckabee, a preacher and politician, seems to promote intelligent design - which I think is great. It's not physical science, but I think it is the only rational cause for the universe and perhaps should be lesson number one in science books.

As to merging politics and religion, there is a fine line. But I think if anyone has literally crossed it, it's churches like Obama's former church where politics and religion seem to be the same thing. The religious right, however, has fought to keep God in public - not Christianity but the idea of a higher power. There really shouldn't be a problem with evangelicals working to protect objective morality. There WOULD be a problem if an evangelical politician were to say, and I've never heard one say this, that a law should be passed to ban non-Christian religions.

Andy said...

as far as moderate evangelicals go, i don't really have a problem with them (apart from some claiming that Catholics aren't "real Christians." HELLO?! We're the ONLY true Christians, if you ask me.)
I do have a slight issue with "intelligent design," in that it makes the claim that everything on earth was created as a perfect being. this is an obvious falsehood. one can see the evolutionary process by looking at the fossil record, and anyone with any health problems would argue the human body is far from a perfect creation. most scientists agree that intelligent design is really not more than a euphemism for creationism.

i hope that didn't come off too argumentative. my apologies if it did.

not that i'm trying to sway you in one way or another, but I would recommend the documentary "Jesus Camp." It shows an inside look at exactly what evangelicals are being taught as children at a Summer Camp.

Andrew Lynch said...

First off, no qualms at my end when it comes to being too argumentative. I know where you're coming from - and how hard it can be to convey what you're trying to say through writing alone and not in personal dialogue.

As to Catholics and "true Christianity" I agree with you for the most part. While the fullness of truth is found in Catholicism, anyone validly baptized is a Christian - and you could say Catholic whether they know it or not! I lived in Alabama for five years - I've heard every insult you could think of!

As to the use of intelligent design - I refer to the classical Catholic and philosophical argument for the existence of God that Thomas Aquinas used. But it's good to note that this God is not the Christian God/Trinity but simply a higher power Who could be the source of existence. That in no way contradicts evolution and that is the kind of intelligent design I would recommend. And, while teaching the fall of Adam and Eve/original sin could never be taught in a public school - anthropologists have traced human genes back to one couple, a primordial Adam and Eve so to speak. As Christians, however, are are obliged to believe that these two humans did have some sort of Edenic state and did fall into sin.. And there's good philosophical (not scientific!) grounds to believe in oringal sin. I think one Catholic called original sin the only dogma that can be believed simply by reading a news paper! Pascal is a good one when it comes to the fall/belief.

Yeah, I do have some serious theological issues with evangelicals. But I do admire them for their convictions, even though I do disagree with them often. I think different denominations focus more on one particular Person of the Trinity - Catholicism emphasizes them all but it's so much that I think it just goes over the heads of Catholics. So, when it comes to loving Jesus, I do look to evangelicals for inspiration.

What do you think when it comes to the controversial moral issues? Who has it right in this case?

Andy said...

between Catholics and "Christians"?
i tend to lean towards Catholic moral code, but then again, i'm a little biased.
other than the obvious reasons, the Evangelicals tend to come off less loving and more judgmental toward others, but then again, that's a generalization on my part.

Andrew Lynch said...

I suppose it could be a generalization - but often the view most hold regarding evangelicals. I think it's better to define "loving" and "judgmental" - because what seems judgmental to one could be loving to another. Doctors often times have to be very judgmental about cancer, even to the extent of cutting open the victim to remove it from them. But the doctor is doing the loving thing for them by saving their lives. I heard someone say that the Gospel ("Good News") is so good because the bad news is so bad... As to politics, I can't bring myself to vote for someone who supports both abortion and infanticide... and euthanasia is in there, too.. But that's just Catholic morality.

Andy said...

i guess you just have to decide who deserves to live more.
with McCain, you have a war hawk who isn't above sacrificing our brave soldiers in order to make corporate warlord CEOs rich. not to mention, the mantra of the republicans seems to be "protect them while they're in the womb. once they're born, f*ck em."