- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The Rev. Jerry Falwell's "Old Fashioned Fourth of July" celebration slated for today at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., should draw at least 31,000 people and one unusual guest.
That guest is the evening keynote speaker, the Rev. John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Seven years ago, Mr. Falwell called Mr. Hagee a heretic and suggested Mr. Hagee was responsible for a 1975 divorce from his first wife.
In an article titled "John Hagee: Heretic?" published in the May 6, 1994, issue of "Liberty Flame," a now defunct newsletter on religious liberties, Mr. Falwell criticized the San Antonio preacher for his "two covenant" belief that Jews do not need to be converted to Christianity in order to go to heaven, and that they have their own covenant with God.
He drew heavily from an April 1988 Houston Chronicle interview that taped Mr. Hagee as saying the law of Moses is "sufficient" to bring a person into a knowledge of God "until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not."
Mr. Falwell wrote: "Most Bible-believing evangelical scholars take sharp disagreement with Hagee's 'two covenant' belief and the fact that some people can be saved and inherit Heaven without believing in the Lord Jesus Christ."
He then included critical comments about Mr. Hagee from the Revs. Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson, both well-known pastors who have been presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mr. Falwell did not immediately return a call yesterday asking for an explanation. But an assistant to Mr. Hagee said the 1994 broadside was "water under the bridge" for both men.
"Pastor [Hagee] and Dr. Falwell have known each other for many years," said Joanne Coffey. "The beauty of being a Christian is you learn how to forgive and forget and carry forward." In April, she added, Mr. Falwell asked Mr. Hagee to speak at a meeting of the Horizon Foundation, a Cape Girardeau, Mo., nonprofit organization.
Mr. Hagee's Lynchburg speech on "God's Blessing on America" will be part of the program today along with carnival rides, fireworks, a Civil War re-enactment, a flyover by four F-16s and a concert.
He started out as a Pentecostal pastor at Trinity Assembly of God in San Antonio, which he resigned during a split from his wife, Martha. He then founded a congregation, which went through two name changes to become known as Cornerstone Church. He also married Diana Castro from the Trinity church. They have five children.
Cornerstone says it has 17,000 members. Mr. Hagee, 62, has since become nationally known as president and CEO of Global Evangelism Television, which broadcasts his TV program on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Pax Network and other outlets nationwide. He also has written 10 books on apocalyptic themes concerning Israel. His John Hagee Ministries says it has given $1.8 million to help Soviet Jews immigrate to Israel.
His www.jhm.org Web site lists two awards given to him by Jewish groups. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has twice spoken at Cornerstone's annual "Night to Honor Israel" program, and Mr. Hagee says he has met with every prime minister of Israel since the late Menachem Begin.

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