Friday, November 11, 2005

Pat Robertson Is No Prophet

The good news is that Pat Robertson's 700 Club television show is viewed by only about one-million Americans each day. By the reckoning of my admittedly faulty math skills, that's less than .4% of the country.

The bad news is that not only is he viewed by one-million Americans and by more people in other countries into whose languages his blather is translated, he also seems to be among the mainstream media's favorite "Christian" spokespeople. Along with Jerry Fallwell and James Dobson, he's a straw man that skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and genuine inquirers into Christian faith can read about in their local paper, easily knock down or dismiss, and decide that Christians are every bit as legalistic, clueless, and venomous as your average Islamofascist.

Robertson likes to play the prophet. I won't bother reciting his past attempts to play this role. I will say that at least Robertson seems to understand what a prophet is from a Biblical point of view. In the Bible, a prophet is not someone who necessarily predicts the long-term future, although some of the Old Testament prophets did that. Prophets rather:
  • saw themselves as messengers who
  • addressed current situtations and
  • pressed people to deal with those situations in order to avoid future difficulties or even punishment
But, there is another characteristic generally displayed by the prophets: reluctance to fulfill their missions. Jonah didn't want to travel to Nineveh for fear that the people of that city would hear his message, repent, and thereby be reconciled to God. Other prophets were hesitant about sharing God's message, believing that their hearers would kill them.

Robertson shows no hesitation about being "prophetic." He opened mouth and inserted foot again this week, telling the people of a Pennsylvania town not to expect God to be there for them because they voted in a slate of school board candidates who said that, while notions of Intelligent Design could be taught in Humanities classes, they didn't want it taught as an alternative to Darwinian evolutionary theory in Science classes.

Now, we may argue about Intelligent Design. As I understand it, there are non-theistic scientists who believe in Intelligent Design, a version without a designer. Be that as it may, to me it defies common sense to observe the intricacies of the universe and conclude it all is the result of happenstance. And frankly, I take a more reverential, even literalistic view of the Scriptures, than others. I believe that there was an Adam and an Eve, for example.

But, Robertson has no Biblical warrant for telling the voters of Dover, Pennsylvania that they have voted God out of their town. "Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord of the Lord shall be saved," is a promise that God hasn't revoked, no matter what Pat Robertson says.

As I interpret that promise from a Christian perspective, it means that all who earnestly seek the God we know through Jesus Christ in their lives, has access and relationship with God.

The people of Dover may be wrong in the decision that they have made. But Robertson has no reason for telling them that they have erected a wall between themselves and God. The Bible simply doesn't support his latest foray into "prophecy."


Christian Prophet said...

Thanks for your insight. Pat Robertson clearly doesn't understand how God works. He seems to be stuck in old-fashioned ideas, like old-testament fears, instead of fully embracing the teaching of Jesus.

Deborah White said...

On intelligent design, I have two strong beliefs:

1. That there is substantial overlap between intelligent design and evolution,and that some form of evolution, in fact, could have been God's intelligent design.

To me, the point of the Dover, PA "intelligent design question" ws that it was being presented as fact in a science class, not a world history/study of religions class, when it is not science. I absolutey support it in the public school study of comparative religions.

2. That, as Jimmy Carter recently said so eloquently in an interview with Larry King, that the public debates over design/evolution, when life begins, the genetic vs. environmental basis of homosexuality, etc. are all politically unanswerable and unsolvable questions for mankind, and we should stop wasting precious political time in arguing over them. Government is not designed to solve these dilemmas. Government is designed to serve the people, not resolve biblical questions.

The people who brings these questions up over and over in the political arena don't actually want answers or even solutions to problems...they strive for political power through division.

Pat Robertson, a clever man, appears to be among that group of dividers.

Is the latter a "liberal" view? I don't know, but I share it with Jimmy Carter, an unquestionably devout Christian and follower of the Prince of Peace.

Dean said...

It grieves me that such a Jonah like figure still holds the evangelical microphone.

Moreso this last time as he instructs the sinner to never repent.

Mark Daniels said...

Interesting comments all!

Dean, I would say that the only potential hopeful thing to be drawn from Robertson's words is that even Jonah, against his will, ended up doing God's bidding. The problem with the Jonah analogy, of course, is that his message actually was from God.

A Christian Prophet, thank you for your affirmation. However, I'm not convinced that there is much different in the OT and NT views of God. An outstanding book that gets at this was written by one of my seminary professors, Ron Hals. It's called 'Grace and Faith in the Old Testament.' I would say that Robertson's views are religious or superstitious, rather than Christian or Biblical.

Deborah, I caught a bit of President Carter's appearance on 'Larry King Live,' but missed those comments. I am reading his newest book presently, however. There is much sense to it!

Blessings to all of you!


Robert said...

Pat Robertson is the best argument I can think of against Intelligent Design!

P_J said...


Good thoughts. There are biblical prophets who were given messages of woe and doom - but as you point out, they weren't independent operators.

I've written about Robertson on my new blog, Conblogeration. Statements like Robertson's do more harm than good. He is anxious to defend God's honor, but conflates God with teaching of ID and as a result, actually diminishes God in people's eyes.

Please stop by and take a look. And Mark, I'm glad to include you on my blogroll.

Dean said...

The problem with the Jonah analogy, of course, is that his message actually was from God.

Ack - you outdo me in logic! Well put!

Mark Daniels said...

I will definitely be checking out your blog and please feel free to keep me updated on what you're posting there! I agree with what you say about Robertson's conflation. Any time we try tethering Christ to philosophies, ideologies, or schools of thought, we diminish Him. Such efforts are simply manifestations of "putting God in a box."

I don't know how logical I am, but thanks.