Eight years ago, the Rev. Jerry Falwell had some harsh things to say about fellow television preacher John Hagee.
Hagee, according to Falwell, was a heretic who promoted a false view of salvation that maintained that Jews can go to Heaven without accepting Christ. An unsigned article in a now-defunct Falwell paper, The Liberty Flame, blasted Hagee's "Two Covenant" belief, quoting Southern Baptist theologians who called Hagee's view "unfaithful to the New Testament and, therefore, heretical."
The article, titled "John Hagee: Heretic?" also attacked Hagee personally, charging that he left his wife in 1975 and took up with a younger woman in his congregation. The article charged that Hagee did not tell his wife he was leaving her for another woman until after he had resigned his pastorate before the church board. The article also pointed out that Hagee's second wife was a teenager when he first met her. In his resignation statement, Hagee reportedly admitted that "my marriage had collapsed and I became immoral in my personal conduct."
In an editorial in the paper, Falwell wrote, "Every pastor and Sunday School teacher should take this information to the podium next Sunday.... At this time, Hagee has not yet reached the national status enjoyed by Swaggart and Bakker before they fell. However, his outreach is growing rapidly."
Given these strong words and the personal nature of Falwell's attack, it came as a surprise to some when Hagee, now pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church, was invited to be the evening keynote speaker at an "Old Fashioned Fourth of July" celebration at Falwell's Liberty University.
Falwell refused to return a call from the conservative Washington Times seeking comment on the matter, but Joanne Coffey, a Hagee spokeswoman, told the newspaper that Hagee and Falwell "have known each other for many years. The beauty of being a Christian is you learn how to forgive and forget and carry forward."
Coffey noted that Falwell first approached Hagee in April and asked him to speak at a meeting of the Horizon Foundation, a Missouri-based organization founded by Jerry Lipps, a wealthy trucking magnate. Lipps, who sponsored a "Hope for America Crusade" in Cape Girdeau, Mo., in April, asked Falwell to help him line up speakers for the event and gave him a list that apparently included Hagee.
Hagee has bounced back from his messy divorce and today operates Global Evangelism Television, a $16-million-ayear TV ministry that takes a...