Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hagee: God is an unreliable vending machine

After a substantial hiatus, I recently tuned in to TBN, and was richly rewarded with the spectacle of John Hagee laying out crazy TBN vending-machine theology in clear and unequivocal terms. This is stuff which one of our pastors called "pagan idolatry"—no offense meant to pagans, but it's considered poor form for Christians. (And, beyond that, this isn't just bad theology. It is socially-destructive, exploit-the-poor, rich-televangelists-get-richer theology.)

Principle the first: God will give you anything you ask for.

You might have thought that God has a will and judgment of his own. You might even have thought that God's judgment is a bit beyond ours. But a vending machine has no will of its own, can exercise no judgment of its own. And so it is with God.

If you want a promotion, or a good spouse, or money to pay your bills (for example), then just ask God. Stick your prayer in the prayer slot, and God will dispense whatever it is you want.

To prove this principle, Hagee used scripture such as:
Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Similarly Luke 11:9-10)
Curiously enough, he left out the punchline:
Matthew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"
Which, in Luke's gospel, gets even more specific:
Luke 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
Principle the second (I think this is verbatim): "As powerful as God is, He cannot act until you ask."

You might have thought that God, having a will of his own, can do whatever he bloody well feels like whenever he bloody well feels like doing it. So, for example, he might go and get incarnated and born to some insignificant Jewish couple, and then maybe let himself die some ignoble death in some Roman backwater, never mind that no one had ever imagined that the king of kings should do any such thing.

But, well, I don't know about you, but I have never encountered a vending machine that would give me a tasty soft drink until I put in my money and hit one of its big friendly buttons. So it is also with God.

To prove this principle, Hagee referred to James 4:2, "You do not have because you do not ask."

He oddly left out the previous bits of the verse, which tell us that this admonishment comes in response to bad desires: wanting other people's possessions and not being able to get them; lusting and, you know, "not having". He also left out the next verse: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures."

Principle the third: God can be slow on the uptake

Vending machines are prone to malfunction. Sometimes things get jammed. Sometimes the button is sticky, and you have to punch it a few times before it catches on. Or, sometimes your bag of chips gets lodged on the end of that screw doohickey, and you have to knock the vending machine around a bit before it'll drop what it owes you. God works in similar fashion.

In order to clarify this point, Hagee discussed (I shit you not) the case of telephone sales, and how it takes something like three or four calls before the average sale is made. This is what Hagee considers a good analogy for prayer.

To prove this principle, he... well, I don't recall how he went about it. To tell the truth, I think maybe he was making all this shit up.


Pasqualli Couperelli said...

On October 26 we begin a series called "vending machine: how do I interact with God?"

I thought to go out and have a look to see what people have to say about this and low and behold i found you.

Dude, nicely put... I just don't know what to do with tele-evangelists. I can't imagine what they get away with each and every week.

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