So-called ministers like this give actual Christianity a bad name. Have you ever noticed that when someone like him, specifically like him…people who minister for a living…trots out the inconsistent Paul, whose inconsistency makes for heresy, while ignoring what should be considered the Greatest Commission, Matthew 25:34-46, they miss the more important contextual note? Note that in Thessalonians 1:1, the epistle from which Hagee quotes is directed to the church of the Thessalonians by Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus. Hagee stops short with part of verse 3:10, but leaves out verses 11-12 entirely, along with its ramifications.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
“…which walk among you…” Again, who was the letter addressed to? The church of the Thessalonians. There were evidently those in the church with active tongues and idle hands. Perhaps Hagee might wish to reconsider his invective in this light.
Wait, what? Back up a moment. Did I just refer to Paul as a heretic. Yes, I did. I’ll have more to say on this as time goes by, but for now, let’s just turn again to II Thessalonians 3, the source of that quote Hagee and other false teachers love so much when it comes time to despise the poor whom Christ loved so well. That quote, incidentally, is from verse 10:
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. (NASB)
Out of context, it seems like it makes plain sense, but context matters. Let’s now look at part of that context to see how and why I might consider Pauline doctrine heretical:
II Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which [i]you received from us. (NASB)
What part of Jesus’ teachings is that? In no way does it pass the Gospel litmus test. None. What does Jesus have to say about shunning?
Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (NASB)
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? See the above link for an insightful commentary as to whether he meant to shun them. Quick version: no. After all, how did Jesus deal with sinners and tax collectors?
Matthew 9:10-13 10Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13“But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NASB)
Paul didn’t make it into the canon because Jesus selected him. Man, faulty as he is, did that. Whenever something in a verse or passage doesn’t square with what is to be found in the red letters, my advice is simple. Use the reason you were born with and, if prayer is your inclination, pray for guidance. “Jesus says one thing. Paul says another. Who should I follow?” Should Paul be inspired in verse 10, Hagee should take greater care with context. Should Paul be in error, as he is in 3:6, Hagee should take even greater care to square everything he reads and teaches in the light of Christ, not the lesser light of Paul. I may be guilty of much, myself, but not of making idols of human authors and anthologists.
Not every word of Paul’s is false. This does not mean that every word is true. Some of his words may have been inspired. That does not necessarily mean that every word was inspired. Some consider that those who fixed the canon were inspired. History may be a better guide to that than faith, but the evidence is as close as John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (NASB)
I leave you with these words by Pope Leo III:
Let them loyally hold that God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures – and that therefore nothing can be proved either by physical science or archaeology which can really contradict the Scriptures. If, then, apparent contradiction be met with, every effort should be made to remove it. Judicious theologians and commentators should be consulted as to what is the true or most probable meaning of the passage in discussion, and the hostile arguments should be carefully weighed. Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth [emphasis added], and we may be sure that some mistake has been made either in the interpretation of the sacred words, or in the polemical discussion itself; and if no such mistake can be detected, we must then suspend judgment for the time being.
I am, after all, nothing if not syncretistic.