The most scintillating aspect of Stephen S. Wise Temple’s "Forum on Critical Values" dialogue between Rabbi David Woznica and Pastor Hagee last night was the press release.
Hagee is the founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 19,000 active members; he has traveled to Israel 23 times and has met with every Prime Minister since Menachem Begin; John Hagee Ministries has given more than $10 million to bring Soviet Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel.
At the talk, little else surfaced.
Hagee softened some of his pithier statements, such as "I believe that Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans,” with maundering rationale and suggested misunderstanding.
The packed synagogue of mostly Reform Jews loved him anyway. Especially when he said Jerusalem should belong to Jews and only Jews, undivided. But when asked, he said he wouldn’t cause a public stir if for their safety, the Jews decided to divide Jerusalem anyway.
However, I was surprised to learn that after speaking at the Knesset in September 2005, it was Benjamin Netanyahu who inspired Hagee to unify the many Christian groups loosely supporting Israel, which prompted Hagee to create "Christians United for Israel."
Here are the verbal highlights from a night that sounded more like a bible recitation than a discussion:
"I’d rather talk to G-d for 30 seconds than to George [W.] Bush all night."
"Granting forgiveness without demanding a change in conduct is to make the grace of G-d an accomplice to evil."
"Jesus, who was a reform rabbi…"
On Jews bringing the bible to the world:
"We, as Christians have a bible mandate to help you. If we have benefited from Jewish spiritual things, than we have an obligation to help Jews with material things."
On he and his rabbi friend:
"When we’re standing in the streets of Jerusalem together and the Messiah comes, one of us has a great theological adjustment to make."
On the Crusaders:
"They were thieves, liars, robbers and rapists."