Did John Hagee Accidentally Spill The Beans On Fundamentalism?

I came across a video in my YouTube feed entitled “Hagee: Rock Music Is ‘Satanic Cyanide’ The Should Be Taken Outside And Burned.”

With a title like that how do you not watch the video?

So I did and, yes, mega-church mega-conservative mega-fundie pastor John Hagee did go old school and denounce rock music as satanic cyanide. But that wasn’t was really caught my attention.

What I found most interesting in this admittedly brief clip is what Hagee accidentally said.

Watch it for yourself, it’s just a minute and a half long, and see if you notice it.

Did you catch that?

In the midst of his rant, Hagee got a little carried away with his diatribe, went a little off script, and declared “When you reject fear, you have already embraced f…” The word he seems to have been about to say there was “faith” as you can see when he catches himself and tries to correct his accidental inversion”

Sure, it might have just been completely unintentional slip up, but he was on a roll and it’s hard not to think his passion got the best of him, that he stopped worrying about the script and started preaching from the heart.

But even if it was just an accident and not a Freudian slip, I couldn’t help but think that whether intentionally or not John Hagee just offered one of the best summaries of fundamentalism I have ever heard.

“When you reject fear, you embrace faith.”

Keeping with the model of his diatribe, i.e. the thing being rejected is good, the thing being embraced is bad, the idea in this proverb would be that in rejecting fear, fear of God (not reverence, but literal fear), fear of the church, fear of the pastor, fear of hell, fear of whatever, a person loses the foundation of their Christianity.

In other words, without fear how can a person be expected to live the Christian life? After all, if they’re not constantly afraid of being cursed by God, persecuted by the church, or damned to hell, then where is the impetus for living a disciplined Christian life? When that fear is rejected, all that’s left is a life lived by faith, faith that doesn’t claim to hold all the answers, but which trusts in God to grant grace when it is needed and forgive when mistakes are made. According to this proverb, that sort of lawless, unstructured life is to be rejected because fear is no longer in control, it is no longer the driving force in life.

I realize that all sounds ridiculous, and it should, but in my experience it sums up fundamentalism pretty well.

Fundamentalism portrays itself as the standard bearer of the true faith, as the beacon of light in a world of darkness, and as the faithful remnant which holds fast to the core truths of Christianity.

But in truth, fundamentalism isn’t about Jesus and the good news of the gospel. It’s about fear and control. It was birthed in fear and a need to control everything even as it confessed as Lord a Jesus whose life was defined by giving up control. And it has matured by using the fear of hell to control the lives of others even though it claims to embody a Christ who came to give life back to others and who set them free from the fear of hell.

Fundamentalism is, as John Hagee accidentally points out, the opposite of the Christian faith as defined by the life of Jesus which abandons control in pursuit of servitude and which celebrates permeable boundaries while embracing the unknown.

Now, I’m not saying a person can’t be a Christian and also claim to be a fundamentalist. They can be. After all, all of us in the church are wrong about something.

But as Christians, if we are ever going to be able to embrace and then incarnate the good news of the gospel, we must first take the accidental advice of John Hagee.

We must reject fear and embrace faith.


Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt


  • Krista Dalton

    You just deconstructed John Hagee. Bravo!

    • ZackHunt

      And you just came up with a reality show that I would LOVE to watch: “Deconstructing John Hagee.” :)

      Seriously, I would never miss an episode. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking but I’ve gotta think the daily life of a man convinced everything is part of a Biblical apocalyptic conspiracy would be absolutely fascinating to watch.

      • D Lowrey

        The most scary part is “leaders” like this believe their own rhetoric and are more than wiling to lead others to their doom to prove they’re right. Wonder what this goat is going to say at the Judgement Seat in his defense of intentionally leading people away from heaven?

  • http://www.lauraljohnson.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    That sums up fundamentalism beautifully… though I would majorly hesitate to claim it was a Freudian slip.

    I wonder, if I could get inside the head of a fundie, how blatant (or not) the fear based thinking is. I’m sure it varies, but I think for many, it’s less blatant and difficult for people to see in themselves.

    • Bob MacDonald

      some of what’s in his head is the protection of his revenue stream. I would be more concerned about the congregations – why do they come when the preaching is so bad (not to mention the music)

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    It is because of the teachings of John Hagee and others like him that have convinced me that conservative theology isn’t the only correct line of theological thinking. Aside from Christian Fundamentalism, this man teaches Christian Zionism… which is really scary.

  • Pat68

    What’s so contradictory is that many in that camp will also spout off the scripture about perfect love casting out fear. So which is it, do we reject or embrace fear? (I ask, tongue-in-cheek).

  • oldenough

    “Rock music…get it out of the house, throw it out and burn it…”
    Welcome back, Adolf! ;-(

  • Justin

    It’s not just the fear, though that is really telling. It’s this false binary. It’s set up along political and I’d say racial lines. Us AGAINST them. “No one deserves your compassion or loving kindness, they’re pawns of Satan.”

  • Pingback: I should’ve had John Hagee write the forward to From Fear to Faith | Unsettled Christianity()

  • daryl carpenter

    Everyone knows that Satan has the best tunes.

    What’s most worrying (at least for me anyway) is the congregation sagely nodding at Hagee’ s “words of wisdom.” I mean, seriously? I appreciate that the footage has been purposefully edited (they’re hardly likely to include images of the audience giving WTF expressions of incredulous amazement, which I hope at least SOME were doing) but do people really give up their Sunday mornings to be regailed with such drivel? There’s thousands of them listening to the guy! Thousands!


    • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill


  • mindsnapper

    On the contrary, you reach the wrong conclusion; one must reject fear and embrace truth – only then can you be free from religion.

    ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”*. [*Excludes Gay Folks, Rock and Rollers, Harry Potters (Witch Lovers) and such – (Whores and Tax Collectors OK)” – Jesus

  • Joe Conrad

    Hey Zack

    With your permission, I’d like to be able to quote you on the 4th paragraph from the bottom. I thought it was great!

    I’m working on my own story series for Amazon e-books and I think that would be great for another chapter I’m working on. So gimmie, gimmie, I need, I need…pretty please.

  • Will Hunsucker

    Zack – spot on. Some of them are even honest about it. I’ve been ministering in and hopefully to an ardently Arminian (1-point: mess up, go-to-hell, do not collect $200) congregation for the past 5 years. Fear is the predominant motivator for faith and ‘christian living’ on any given Sunday. This church is a bit extreme, but at least they’re honest w/people… they say ‘fear God doesn’t mean an abject terror’ – but almost every Sunday remind believers, one way or another that “You Too Can End Up In HELL!!” =(

  • Benjamin Nelson

    Good word Zack

  • Kimberly

    Before he got to the mix up of fear and faith, I thought you meant the part about “when you reject love, all that is left is hate.” That seemed like it could be a ‘log in your own eye’ kind of moment for him.