Thanks to Dr. John Fea, chair of the Department of History at Messiah College, for pointing out something that was pretty much inevitable. Ever since the earthquake hit this past week, I was sure that some loud-mouthed, self-appointed Christian “leader” would surely blame the earthquake on the wrath of God about something or someone. Leave it to Pat Robertson to take the bait. Over at his blog, Fea provides some historical perspective on this sort of thing (called a Jeremiad after the prophet Jeremiah’s famous connection of disasters to the sins of God’s people). The Washington Post offers its take on Robertson’s silliness here. Here’s a short snippet of Robertson’s comments:
It seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation. We look at the symbol and we say ‘this is one nation under God.’ Now there’s a crack in it… Is that sign from the Lord? … You judge. It seems to me symbolic.
You can see the whole broadcast here, if you want the full context. Of course, claiming that the return of Christ is getting closer is trivial. Of course it is. Whether it is tomorrow or one thousand years from now, today is one day closer. I never get too worked up by silly statements like this. I also admit that it is possible that God could use disasters like this to send His messages; I just don’t think He usually (ever?) works that way today, and am sure that Pat Robertson would not be the best one to guess when He does. Looking at the earthquake figures, including their strength, over a period of years seems not to point toward a massive increase as the culture gets further from Robertson’s idea of where America should be as a country.
I’ll readily admit that I’m personally no fan of Robertson, and haven’t been. I think people like him do more harm to the faith than the do good. The only people who seem to like him are Christians who already think like him, and I fear that he has turned more people off to faith than he has turned to it. I hope I’m wrong, but either way, he doesn’t look, to me, like the Christ I read about in the Scripture. That looks a lot more like many of the good people of faith I’ve actually had the privilege of dealing with in my life than the few who seem to idolize people like Robertson. Christ was God, but was still showed humility I wish I saw more of in the visible Christian leaders. I much prefer men like Billy Graham and John Stott who simply lived humble lives, despite their very public role at times. At times like this I pray that the Spirit would bring men and women like Robertson who like to speak out on God’s behalf to Scriptures that remind them that God can defend Himself, and that we are supposed to let men see our good works and thereby glorify our Father in heaven.
Here’s to hoping Pat thinks better of going on his program Monday and commenting about some divine motivation for Hurricane Irene. I’m not holding my breath.
Oy, vey… Pat Robertson is just one of them. In this case, it’s just silly.
In the case of 9/11… well… I can’t necessarily say that the USA was totally guiltless… some of our foreign policies have created extreme pockets of resent in the world… Does this mean, though, that every time there is a disaster we need to stand up and denounce it as a sign of God’s wrath on us?
Nope… not at all… there’s a time for a prophetic word… but if you do it too often, then you start losing the effectiveness…
Even with 9/11, was that a sign of God’s judgement? I would agree that it was a natural consequence of some of our foreign policy decisions and our own arrogance about our “exalted” place in the world. It sort of seems that this interpretation of 9/11 and every natural disaster here (and abroad, in the case of the Haitian earthquake) stems from a Health-and-wealth gospel mentality that every calamity is somehow a sign of lack of faith or unconfessed sin in our life. If godliness is the cause of every blessing, then what must disaster mean?
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