In response to Pat Robertson

Like most people, when I first heard Pat Robertson’s comments regarding the tragic loss of life in Haiti I was furious. It seemed so callous to me that, in the midst of tremendous human suffering, he would have the audacity to blame the people of that nation for the devastation that has taken place.

My initial reaction was to chastise Robertson for his irresponsible claims. Banging out a few hundred words of angry diatribe would certainly have been a release. But I’m not sure what that would have accomplished in the long run. Had I followed my first instinct I would have missed an opportunity to address his remarks from a more gracious perspective.

We cannot take for granted that it is universally understood that Pat Robertson does not speak for all Christians. Especially with regard to how Christianity is perceived among those outside the faith. And while it may be true that Robertson’s opinions do not reflect those of the majority of believers, the fact that his views are broadcast to millions of homes around the world often times makes his voice among the loudest.

It would be easy to disregard Robertson’s words as sheer nonsense and ignore him completely. But doing so would leave his claims unchallenged. If we do not voice our disagreement, he truly will speak for the whole of the Christian faith in the arena of public perception. And while I do feel there is a need for Christians to publicly distance themselves from Robertson’s remarks, we must be careful to demonstrate the grace and mercy of Jesus in doing so.

Pat Robertson professes a faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of mankind. For many Christians that is all the common ground that is shared with Robertson. But as such we are compelled by the Holy Spirit to embrace him as a brother and offer him the same love and compassion that Christ has afforded each one of us.

This does not mean that we can’t offer criticism of Robertson’s remarks. We are right to challenge theological credibility of his claims. We are right to be critical of the timing of his remarks and of his apparent lack of compassion for those who are suffering. Robertson’s comments were ignorant and heavy-handed. They brought condemnation and scorn at a time that called for healing and compassion. And for that he is wrong.

Let’s be careful not to be equally heavy-handed and spiteful in our treatment of Robertson in the wake of his comments. Often times it is easier for us to join in the mob mentality that is fueled by hatred and anger than it is to offer a gentle rebuke and demonstrate the grace of Jesus. If Pat Robertson’s actions have taught us nothing else it’s that in a time of great suffering our words and our actions must be guided by grace.


8 thoughts on “In response to Pat Robertson

    1. “Pat Robertson professes a faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of mankind. For many Christians that is all the common ground that is shared with Robertson. But as such we are compelled by the Holy Spirit to embrace him as a brother and offer him the same love and compassion that Christ has afforded each one of us.”

      I can see what you are saying here. The problem with the Robertson (and others like him) is that his comments, behaviors, ways-of-thinking etc are so far out that I feel like he is of some other religion that uses a few of the words I do. “Jesus” and “Salvation” are such malleable terms after all.

      Honestly, if it is true that Robertson has made major OT-style prophecies that failed to come true, then that is enough reason to anathematize him. I don’t say those kinds of things lightly. Is it possible that a century or so from now Christian will look at folks like Robertson the same way we look at the the early JWs?

  1. this is a good example of the massive difference between myself and God. the idea of extending grace to this guy who has done so much damage to the name of christ and those of us who follow him, who supported liberian dictator charles taylor and used his “operation blessing” planes to smuggle diamond mining equipment into liberia, who has gold mines in africa, calling for the military overthrow of hugo chavez, blaming homosexuality and abortion for 9/11 and katrina, and has given us such soundbites as the following…

    “The feminist agenda encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

    “Many people involed with Adolf Hitler er Satanists, many of them were homosexuals — the two things seem to go together.”

    “Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to evangelical Christians.”

    “Presbyterians are the spirit of the Antichrist.”

    “There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the left.” (For those of you actually stupid enough to believe that separation was not intended, please read the treaty of tripoli.)

    “I think ‘one man, one vote,’ wound not be wise [in South Africa]. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent.”

    …is just beyond my limited flesh. this is a guy who openly wants a handmaid’s tale to be a reality in our country. a hatemonger, plain & simple. idk. i should be more willing to extend grace & humility, realizing my many faults…but the damage he & his ilk have done to us as christians, to us having to constantly defend ourselves against what fundamentalists make everyone think we are like – honestly, is he that different from fred phelps? – it’s tough. and that’s the one thing i wonder about God, the one thing i really don’t understand – why does he allow people like that to tear down the faith? to do so much damage to it? to make so many think it’s so bad? i don’t understand. and as i sit next to my co-worker from port-au-prince who is literally crying at her computer waiting to contact family, i want to tear his throat out.

  2. Let me say that at first I was really pissed about his comments. But then I watched the whole clip which, as far as I could tell, was part of a larger broadcast seeking funds to actually help Haiti.
    I would certainly say that he has grace and tact equivalent to the bull in the china shop.
    But if you watch the whole clip he never outright blames them for the earthquake. It’s more like he was saying that they’re under a curse (true) and that they need help, both spiritually and physically (true and true). Now, as to the self-induced deal with the devil curse I can’t say.
    All this rambling is me saying that 1) He’s not too bright when it comes to speaking graciously about those in need and 2) The quote is certainly being blown wayyyyyy out of proportion in light of what I believe was a bigger point he was trying to make.

    Bottom line: Christians need to step up and get involved by praying, giving, and going to Haiti.

  3. What is sad is that many Christians follow the false teachings of Pat Robertson and that for many outside the faith someone of his outspokenness appears to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ, even though those of us who actually know that gospel know how far Robertson is from Christian orthodoxy.

    It troubles me that every time a major crisis occurs in our world that these “prominent Christians” spew their hate and bile and false teachings, doing more damage to the witness of the rest of us than any of us could possibly accomplish on our own (through our own mistakes and failures).

    I have no problem giving a rebuke where it is necessary. The Scriptures make it clear that the Church has the responsibility to confront and rebuke those people who teach a false gospel and who lead souls astray. And for the past 25 years, one of those false teachers has been Pat Robertson. He should be confronted, in the love of Christ. And if he fails to repent, he should be shown the door. Period. End of story.

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