Archive for the ‘Theology’ category

What About Pat?

January 14, 2010

If you have been on-line anytime during the last 24 hours, you are aware of the terrible devastation that took place in Haiti, the result of a massive earthquake. The number of dead and injured is horrendous and the destruction of property is truly staggering. It is a catastrophe of epic proportion that will require much relief and recovery efforts for a very long time.

And, if you have been on-line during this same period, you are likely aware that Pat Robertson of “The 700 Club” blamed the Haitians for the disaster. In his words, the Haitians were “cursed” because they made “a pact with the devil” to gain freedom from French oppression. In his own words, this supposedly happened “a long time ago.” Actually, almost 200 years ago to be precise.

Needless to say the backlash against Robertson’s comments have been swift and intense. I added my own comments of displeasure on Twitter. People from all over the ideological and religious spectrum have condemned his remarks.

I am not writing this to pile-on. To be honest, much of the reaction has been way over the line – some hoping he would die and “burn in hell” for what he said. Such remarks are, in their own way, far worse than what Rev. Robertson said. Thankfully, many of the comments from the Christian community have been more tempered – pointing out the serious theological flaws in Robertson’s statement and the lack of grace and mercy in his content.

I have to wonder, though, what could possibly inspire someone like Pat Robertson to make such sweeping statements? It’s not the first time – I recall similar pronouncements following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Judgement is a risky business. Jesus admonished His followers to “remove the beam” from their own eyes before pointing out the speck in the eye of another. He also warned that we will be judged by the same measure we use to judge another.

That is not to say we are not to be discerning. God’s people have a duty to point out sin, but always to do so redemptively. And we do so with great care, remembering that we are all sinners saved by grace. “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

I do not believe that God sent the earthquake to punish the people of Haiti. I do believe we live in a fallen world, where evil abounds and bad things happen. As the Bible says, “it rains on the just and the unjust.”

This morning, I read a verse that summed it up for me:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to help the victims of the earthquake. Thankfully, that is exactly what will happen. People of all creeds and ideologies will pour into that devastated land to bring food, water, medical supplies and comfort to the stricken. Many who cannot go will help by sending money to fund the relief efforts. We will pray, give and go to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

And what about Pat? I do not believe he is an evil man. He has done much good in the past, especially in the area of relief during disasters. But I believe what he said was wrong, based on flawed theology. In short, it was a stupid thing to say.

I will not condemn a man for saying something stupid, for I may do likewise before the day is over. Pat Robertson will have to live with his ungracious words. Followers of Christ have an obligation to forgive and love the man, though we may loathe what he did.

But we do not have to listen to Pat Robertson. I recommend that you don’t.