Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Power of the Prophetic Blessing: An Astonishing Revelation For a New Generation by John Hagee

I received a free review copy of The Power of the Prophetic Blessing by John Hagee. I had heard of this author and watched him briefly on television but never read anything by him. The book is based on the idea that if you are a spiritual authority of some kind you can pronounce blessings upon people and God will make those blessings come to pass as long as you follow all the proper protocol.

Hagee goes down a number of rabbit trails throughout the book. In one case he talks about how blessing was done by the laying on of hands and uses this as springboard to talk about how important it is to hug people. He seems to have trouble staying focused or creating an intelligible argument for what he's trying to prove. It's not until chapter 10 that he really lays out six steps that are required to unleash the prophetic blessing. It would have made more sense to turn each of these six steps into a chapter and eliminate the rest of the book.

The book makes a number of rather silly errors. There are some formatting problems and on page 9 Hagee confuses the Mount of Transfiguration with the Mount of Ascension. There is a formatting error on pages 226-227. The text should be offset in some way to show that Hagee is telling someone else's story and not talking his husband. On page 248, Hagee makes it sound as if the Greek New Testament is a translation from the King James Version of the Bible and then confuses Thayer's lexicon with the KJV.

Throughout the book Hagee takes passages that are addressing particular individuals in Scripture and then speaks as if they apply to everyone. On page 37 Hagee takes something that God said specifically to Jeremiah and tries to apply to everyone.

On pages 52-53 Hagee speaks of the promise God gave to Abraham and tries to prove that this blessing is tied to Abraham's obedience and so if you obey God He will bless you too. But the text doesn't say anything like that. Abraham was basically a pagan and God told him that He would bless him before he did anything. God then tells him to go but the text doesn't say that God blessed Abraham because he went. Throughout the book, Hagee tries to argue that God's blessings are always dependent upon our obedience. As I was reading I started to wonder what Hagee would do with the passage in Genesis 12 where Abraham told his wife to lie and yet was still delivered. I (and I think most commentators) would understand this to be example of God's faithfulness despite our unfaithfulness. I expected Hagee to simply ignore this passage since it doesn't seem to fit his formula. But instead Hagee brings the passage up (p. 56) as an example of Abraham trusting in God. But if Abraham trusted God, wouldn't he tell his wife to tell the full truth?

Hagee spends a large portion of the book talking about how we must support the nation of Israel to receive God's blessing. He completely misses the point that the New Testament portrays Jesus as the New Israel and that through union with Christ we become heirs of the promises given to Abraham. Israel plays a much bigger role in this book than Jesus does. You even get the sense that Hagee believes that Jews are saved apart from Christ. Hagee takes Romans 15:27 (p. 83) and tries to use it as proof text for supporting the Jewish people. But Paul was not taking a collection for the Jewish people in general but for Jews who had become Christians and were living in Jerusalem. Paul is not taking a collection for Jews who deny Christ. Hagee spends a large portion of the book trying to prove that any nation that does not support Israel will be cursed and any nation that does will be blessed. He very selectively quotes from various news sources. Hagee claims (pp. 86-88) Hugo Chavez got cancer because he made a speech in which he claimed that Israel had killed a group of humanitarians that were bringing aid to the Palestinians. In many cases Hagee's book is self-refuting if you're paying attention. He claims that those who support national Israel will receive material blessings and make lots of friends and then (pp. 93-95) Hagee talks about people who were killed for protecting the Jews. When Hagee speaks of the crucifixion of Jesus (p. 158) he makes it sound like it was just the Roman government that put Jesus to death.

The book is not based upon any real command in the Scriptures but rather upon narrative examples. This guy made "prophetic blessings" and therefore you should too. Hagee uses Habakkuk 2:2-3 (pp. 216-217) where God tells Habakkuk to write down the vision God gives him to try to teach that we should write down all the things we would like to accomplish. But Habakkuk wasn't writing a wish list of things he would like to accomplish, he wrote what God very clearly instructed him to write. It wasn't just some feeling that Habakkuk had. Ezekiel ate dung, does that mean that we should eat dung? There's also a number of "prophetic blessings" in Scripture that are very negative and in some cases more of a curse than a blessing. I thought that Hagee might just ignore these. He does mention them. In some cases he tries to make them sound positive and in others he just states the negative results. But if we are to bless our children in this very same way are we also supposed to curse them? Hagee never addresses the issue.

Hagee's depiction of God is very weak and limited. On page 214 he says:

God can only get involved in your life and in your dreams for the future when you call out to Him in prayer. The initiative rests with you.

Basically, God is weak and can't do anything according to Hagee unless we initiate it. If Hagee were right then we would be the real gods and God would just be some sort of power source that we tap into. On page 259, Hagee says that because God calls the things that are not as though they were we should too. Hagee says that according to Romans 4 Abraham became the father of Isaac because he believed God's promise. But that's not what the text says at all. It says Abraham was declared righteous by God because He trusted God's promise and the promise was not ultimately just to give him a son or piece of land but to give him Jesus.

Starting on page 266, Hagee begins to lay out the Scriptural requirements for releasing the prophetic blessing. Earlier in the book he does say that you have to believe that Jesus died for you but this doesn't make it on the list. Jesus seems like little more than a tool to use to unleash your power in the book. Earlier in the book he also says you have to do nice things for national Israel but that isn't mentioned in the list either. The first requirement is that the person who gives the blessing must have spiritual authority. They should be a parent or pastor according to Hagee. However, elsewhere in the book, Hagee says that if you don't have a pastor or parent who is willing to do this for you, you can pray a rather strange prayer over yourself.

The second requirement is that you stand while giving the blessing. Strangely, none of the Scriptural passages that Hagee gives involve people standing to give a blessing. 2 Chronicles 6:3 says that the people were standing but doesn't say that the person giving the blessing was standing. He quotes some of the strangest passages to try to prove his point. He even quotes Acts 7:33 where God tells Moses to take off his sandals because he is standing on holy ground. Not only is there a lack of any command in the Scriptures he provides but there is also just a lack of any example of what he's talking about. Maybe since the bush was on fire we should light ourselves on fire when we bless someone.

The third requirement is that the person blessing should do so with uplifted hands. Hagee does provide some examples but the Scriptures also speak of people blessing by placing their hand on someone. Especially when blessing individuals the practice seems to be to place the hand upon the person and strangely enough elsewhere in the book Hagee does talk about people blessing by placing the hand on the head.

The fourth requirement is that it be done in the name of the Lord. For some reason Hagee decides to apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to America in this section. You would think that if he were going to insist on reading the Jews into all kinds of strange places in the New Testament he wouldn't be trying to read America in the Old Testament. Then he makes a claim that aerial photographs have captured the name of God chiseled on the mountains of Jerusalem. I don't know what this has to do with this requirement and I haven't been able to substantiate this claim. I would expect a footnote pointing to some evidence but there is none.

The fifth requirement is that the blessing be bestowed face to face. Once again, the Scriptural passage he cites don't say anything about blessing someone face to face. One speaks of the LORD speaking to Moses face to face and another speaks of Jacob seeing God face to face.

The sixth requirement is that the prophetic blessing be given with a voice of authority that all can here. I'm not sure who the "all" are. The passage he references is Deuteronomy 27:14 where God says that the Levites are to speak with a loud voice to all the men of Israel. So I guess all the men in Israel must be able to hear you when you bless someone.

The Bible is not a book about how to release prophetic blessings. According to Jesus, the Bible is all about Jesus. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to testify of Jesus. Paul said that he preached nothing but Christ-crucified.

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