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Pat Robertson Doesn’t Speak for Me

January 19, 2010

[Sigh]. Pat Robertson did it again.  As predictably as the sunrise, Pat made an erroneous, harmful, and hurtful public statement.  Pat said that the earthquake in Haiti was God’s judgment on that nation for its alleged pact with the Devil.  Even if he believes that, what kind of person says that while thousands lay buried alive in the rubble?

Last week at Sojourn, we discussed Brit Hume, Tiger Woods, and faith in the public square. Inevitably, we got into Pat Robertson’s comments about Haiti, which had just broken the day before. Robertson and Jerry Falwell had similar things to say about 9/11 and Katrina. Notable about this round of comments was that several prominent Christians quickly made it clear that they disagreed with Pat, in the strongest possible terms. I’ve found it important to state, clearly and consistently, that Pat Robertson doesn’t speak for me, nor does he represent most Christians, and I do not believe he is faithful to Scripture in his pronouncements. I’m not alone.

I gleaned these quotes from Twitter:

Al Mohler:
“Theological arrogance matched to ignorance.”

Rick Warren:
“Some prophets are nothing but windbags.The Lord hasn’t spoken through them,so let what they say happen to them”Jer.5:13

Judging other’s pain is arrogance: “It’s easy to condemn those who are suffering, when you have no troubles” Job 12:5 CEV

Labeling any natural disaster as God’s judgment is nonsense.True “judgment begins with God’s family” 1Peter4:17, not others

Donald Miller also weighed in with a humble, healthy perspective. He called for Christians to not get angry with Pat about Pat’s angry judgments. Worth a read.

My favorite tweet about Pat Robertson was something like this: “God loves Haiti, and Pat Robertson, even though both are natural disasters. Still, give money to Haiti, not the 700 Club.”  Yup.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 2:42 pm

    i reacted & got carried away w/ distancing myself from PR as soon as i heard this. then after a few hours i realized it was coming close to bashing him. i enjoy feeling superior, but it has little value. i pulled back. it seemed to border on trading one sin for another (is attacking a person any better or worse than attributing sin to geo-political events?). it was a mess, i wish he hadn’t said it, but i fear that much of the response did little to help and may have caused further pain and damage.

    • January 19, 2010 2:46 pm

      Jim–hear you on that. Hopefully you’re not detecting that in my post here. Angry, vindictive comments don’t please God anymore if they’re directed at PR than at Haitians. We can call a spade a spade, but “in your anger do not sin.”

  2. January 19, 2010 3:38 pm

    hi steve, no finger pointing intended, except at myself. honest.

  3. Jim permalink
    January 19, 2010 4:06 pm

    “Labeling any natural disaster as God’s judgment is nonsense.” i disagree with this. Everything is God’s judgment. He does all things after the counsel of his will. We are not any better than those who suffer but all are called to repentance. Luke 13:1-5. Judgment does start with God’s family but it doesn’t end there. Acts 17 states “All people everywhere” are called to repent. Natural disasters came upon Job. Read the end of that book. Do you see God distancing Himself from what happened? Read Sarah Edwards letter to her daughter after Jonathan died prematurely. She excepted it as God’s will and she quoted Job urging not to give into the temptation to lash out at God but to accept His will even thought the pain was unbearable. I see simple answers on both sides of this debate.

    • January 19, 2010 4:20 pm

      Jim–simple is a far cry from simplistic.

      It’s the particular nature of his claim where Robertson goes awry, and that Warren is responding to. Is Robertson privy to God’s hidden counsel? Does he know that God sent this particular earthquake at this particular time, to this particular nation, for the specific reason that he cites? Not only does this lack compassion and demonstrate arrogance, it’s also false prophecy.

      Should we go back and look at every hurricane, earthquake, tsunami & volcano to discern the particular reasons God sent them?

      “Everything is God’s judgment.” Read the beginning of Job. The disasters that befell Job were NOT God’s judgment, but his allowing Satan to harm Job in order to tempt him.

      Robertson’s ill-informed rantings are a far cry from the acknowledgment of God’s good and sovereign will amidst suffering that we see in Job & Sarah Edwards.

  4. January 19, 2010 4:39 pm

    Jim H–are you defending Robertson, either for what he said or how he said it?

    For another take on this, check out http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/01/14/pat-robertsons-remarks/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+between2worlds+%28Between+Two+Worlds%29

  5. Jim permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:01 pm

    No. I’m not defending what Pat said nor how he said it. I agree with some, though not all of the criticism. I’m responding to Warren’s categorical statement. The response of Job and Sarah Edwards is much more appropriate. We should weep with those who weep and we should look to ourselves and repent as Jesus states in Luke 13:1-5. I disagree though with those who with apostolic certainty claim that such events are “arbitrary” or that no judgment is involved. How do they know that?

    Perhaps we need to define “judgment.” Everything in a sense is God judging what is proper according to his purposes and will. His judgment is not always condemnation but sometimes it is and sometimes it is to bring us to repentance, even by bringing suffering. After David sinned God judged him by dividing his kingdom, the baby didn’t live and there was violence among his own children. God forgave him but He chose certain consequences. The scripture gives no indication that this suffering was arbitrary. And the scripture is full of God judging because of man’s sin–the flood, Sodom, the destruction of both temples. God can lay out to us why he does certain things to teach us. That said, we cannot say why specifically the quake came to Haiti but it should be allowed it could have been that he used it to judge sinful man. That may have been a purpose and to say there wasn’t is just as hubristic as Pat’s statements. These actions are not inconsistent with his character. 9/11 and Katrina may also be judgments that would urge us to repent. Folks are bashing Pat for claiming to know the mind of God but those who say this is just arbitrary are also asserting a claim that may not be right. God does and will judge idolatry. Voodoo certainly classifies as idolatry as does many of our American idolatries.

    The context of the famous quote from Amos 5:24 “Let Justice roll down” is judgment on Israel for idolatry. A prophecy of judgment and exile. The rolling down of the waters to the Hebrews was the imagery of the flood. We are to seek justice for the poor and oppressed but God also brings the wicked to justice. When a Hitler or a Stalin or a Mao falls is justice absent? Do we really believe in a final judgment? Have we become practical Marcionites?

  6. January 20, 2010 9:40 pm

    Jim H–I think you’re confusing judgment and providence. Everything is under God’s providence, as in when he causes the rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

    Everything is not God’s judgment, as the word is typically used, with reference to God’s giving evil and injustice its just punishment. In fact, the Bible makes plain God is patient and withholding his full judgment.

    I’m not denying that a sovereign God can and will judge humanity’s sin, when and how he wants to. But I am denying that human beings can look into the secret counsel of God and know the particular reasons for this or that natural disaster. The only way you know that is if you are a prophet of God, and last I checked “Pat” was not one of the minor prophets.

    No, these are not equally hubristic statements. Pat is claiming specific knowledge of God’s will. The most we can claim is that God is sovereign, he allows these things to happen but does not cause them, and that he uses them as he sees fit, which may include any or all of the following: judgment on believer and unbeliever alike; as a wakeup call for believer and unbeliever alike; as a sanctifying agent, working all things for the good of those who love him.

    Also, what about an earthquake simply being a result of the Fall, being the literal groans of a Creation marred by sin, longing for things to be made right?

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