John Hagee is an Evangelical pastor at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and the author of several books. His latest book claims that four blood moons will appear over America as a sign from God that a world-shaking event will soon take place. These blood moons are part of a set of consecutive lunar eclipses beginning on April 15 (tomorrow!) and continuing in six month intervals until October 2015.

This phenomenon is also known as a tetrad, when the moon is covered by the earth’s shadow for four eclipses in a row. They are called “blood moons” because the moon appears red in the sky from refracted light.

What is the significance of these blood moons?

Hagee appeals to Acts 2:20 which says, “the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

According to him, past blood moons have occurred near pivotal events in Jewish history: In 1493 while the Jews were being expelled from Spain, 1949 after the state of Israel was founded, and 1967 during the Six-Day War. Therefore, in his opinion, this new round of blood moons is a sign from God that some major event in the history of the Jewish people is about to take place.

It’s probably worth pointing out that not a single one of these blood moons occurred before the event Hagee claims they are associated with. If these specific phenomena were meant as a sign of things to come, they were late in appearing.

Anti-Catholics Die Hard

You may remember the controversy in 2008 when Hagee endorsed presidential candidate John McCain. After Bill Donahue of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights called him out, Hagee responded with a videotaped statement and press release denying he was anti-Catholic.

If he’s not anti-Catholic, then you wouldn’t know it from the tone of this book.

For example, Hagee says “Historic Christianity has left a legacy of evil,” claiming the Crusaders were “rapists and thieves forgiven in advance by the reigning pope for any sins they might commit while on their holy campaign to liberate Jerusalem from the ‘infidels’” (pg 10).

In addition to this claim being a distortion of historical fact, it also displays a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching. The Catholic Answers tract on indulgences explains:

The Church has always taught that indulgences do not apply to sins not yet committed. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “[An indulgence] is not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power.”

In chapter 13 of the book, Hagee launches into a critique of the Spanish Inquisition using long-debunked estimates of casualties.

Another Harold Camping?

Christian radio broadcaster and author Harold Camping famously predicted the end of the world would come on May 21, 2011. He was famously wrong. When his readjusted prophecy for October 11 that same year had come and gone, Camping finally conceded that it is not possible for anyone to know the exact date of the end of the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 explains that the end will come “like a thief in the night.” Pastor Hagee apparently agrees with this passage of Scripture. Rather than an apocalyptic end-times prediction, Four Blood Moons only predicts that something “big” is going to happen in connection with Israel.

Given the tension in the Middle East in recent decades, it seems to me that one need not rely on celestial signs to predict more shake-ups in the region. In the meantime, I will pray for peace.

If you are interested in a more balanced view of the end-times, I recommend What Jesus Really Said About the End of the World by author David B. Currie.