And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Go ye therefore, and teach(make disciples of) all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
I start this with two of the most important passages of the New Testament because it is very relevant to two pastors of two distinctly different churches within American Christendom.
These two pastors strongly support two presidential candidates, one Democrat and one Republican. One has served as a spiritual guide for 20 years to one candidate. The other just recently endorsed the other and not much is known about their relationship beyond that.
Of course I am speaking of the "Rev." Jeremiah Wright, former head pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ http://tucc.org and the other Pastor John Hagee, head pastor of Cornerstone Church http://sacornerstone.com.
The "Rev." Wright is, still as far as is known, to be the spiritual guide to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill). Pastor Hagee at the time of the Texas primary became a supporter of Sen. John "F--- You" McCain (R-Ariz).
Both of the above passages fit these two pastors, yet while it appears that these two are so diametrically different in just about every way, they are alike in controversy.
The "Rev." Wright clearly has made a hybrid of Christianity mixed in with black liberation theology. He has spoken with great hostility toward many, and in no particular order, Italians, Jews, the American founding fathers and white America. The "Rev." Wright seems to have forgotten that the primary reason that he became a pastor was to spread the message of Jesus Christ and that message is open to all people. No matter what. And, clearly he has shown a lack of love for he clearly really does not love his neighbor as himself. It would appear that maybe the "Rev." Wright may not really love himself. What I fear that the "Rev." Wright has done is perverted the very meaning of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus went with those that were not like the perceived authorities of the age. He did that to show the authorities of his time how wrong that they were and that the love of God is for all people, not just a select few with the "proper" knowledge. If the "Rev." Wright does love his neighbor, why all the hostility? Why has he found a way to pervert the Holy Bible in such a way that one forgets what the ministry of Jesus Christ was and is? I can not answer those questions. That is up to the "Rev." Wright and it appears that he shows no interest in answering some basic questions.
Which leads to Pastor Hagee.
Now, what is wrong with Pastor Hagee? Well, in theological terms, probably not a lot. Except that he has spoken out against the Roman Catholic church, referring to it, not the people who are members, as the Great Whore of Babylon. And, he is a strong supporter of the State of Israel. And, he is of the Fundamentalist branch of the evangelical Christian movement.
But, the DDBMSM seems to have been fixated on his "anti-Catholic" statements.
Now, as one who does call himself a Protestant Christian, by that nature I am anti-Catholic-anti-Roman Catholic. That does not mean that I think that the Roman church is the Great Whore of Babylon. But, it is very clear in Fundamentalist Christian lore that the Roman church is bad and not to be trusted. If one reads The Articles Of Religion in the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer, there are without a doubt several very strong statements that are, anti-Roman Catholic. Because the DDBMSM knows very little about Christianity and even less about evangelical Christians, they just hear that Pastor Hagee made some "anti-Catholic" statements, not realizing that it is theological terms, not a call to arms against the Pope or the church.
But, by not making clear that he is not against the people and many of the church teachings, which both Pastor Hagee and Roman Catholic hierarchy would be in agreement, he has shown lack of love of neighbor. Pastor Hagee often comes off as overly judgemental, but that is part of Fundamentalism. It is all about the judgement of God. And, I believe that is important. But if one chooses the judgement over love, not one in the same, then he or she has already missed the point of the passage.
Now, I think both men fall short, as we all do, to the glory of God. That is in the person of Jesus Christ.
We try so hard to make our understanding of the Christian faith absolute and right. And, it is. But it often gets lost in the translation.
And, that is where the "Rev." Wright and Pastor Hagee fall drastically short. And they are missing the big picture of baptizing and teaching and loving as Jesus Christ commanded himself in the Gospel.
This is not meant to make any equalization between the two men. I believe that they are doing the work of the Lord as they have come to understand it. And, maybe their understanding is what needs to change. And to read those two passages a lot more often and praying and talking about that may be a start.