Mega-church pastor John Hagee (who is also a millionaire) has come to be one of those figures that typifies why so many are frustrated with American Evangelicalism today.
Which makes one particular tweet from him a pretty strange case study in Biblical interpretation.
If you are not an eyewitness, you are a false witness (Exodus 20:16). If you didn’t see it, you shouldn’t be gossipping about it. – @PastorJohnHagee
— Pastor John Hagee (@PastorJohnHagee) January 12, 2020
It’s not clear why he chose to make this statement (possibly commenting on the Trump impeachment trial?), but whatever the reason, there’s a lot to unpack. Few would argue that gossip is a good thing, but what about the rest of the tweet?
— Emmanuel Fonte 🎼🎶 🎹 (@EmmanuelFonte) August 22, 2019
First of all, that’s not what the verse says. The passage Hagee cites here is part of the Ten Commandments, and it reads:
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
– Exodus 20:16, New International Version
You can check other translations if you want. None of them say anything about being an eyewitness. Just that you shouldn’t bear false testimony. In other words, don’t lie about stuff.
John Hagee says if you didn’t see it yourself, anything you say about it is a lie. Which of course isn’t how anything works, but is especially problematic for his line of work.
So screw John 20:29 then, right? Jesus must not have known what he was talking about.
— Andrew Meissner (@AndrewMeissner) January 18, 2020
As lots of people were quick to point out, this sentiment basically contradicts the entirety of Christianity.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
– John 20:29, NIV
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
– Hebrews 11:1, NIV
Gospel writers: pic.twitter.com/4I8aUYL8ct
— Mr. Rip 23 (@MrRip231) January 12, 2020
And of course, even Biblical authors themselves were not eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about.
The gospels were written decades after the fact. Decades!
— Moby (@elusivemoby) January 18, 2020
Most Biblical scholars – believers and non-believers alike – agree that the four Gospels (the section of the Bible that covers the life of Jesus) were written between 66 and 110 years after the fact. We don’t even know who wrote them, but whoever they were, they certainly didn’t experience any of it in person.
You might want to rephrase that before you completely undermine your entire evangelistic outreach efforts.
— Stacey Shiflett 🇺🇸 (@staceyshiflett) August 21, 2019
Honestly, screwing up on this many levels in one tweet is almost impressive.
I think this is the first time I’ve seen someone miss their own point
— Mr.Torgue but upside down (@_HiImShoe) January 14, 2020
What do you think of all this?
Let us know in the comments. But behave yourselves in there.