Okay, okay, I do have to pause over that last one. You could see the headline everywhere: Robertson Apologizes. I don't normally link to CNN, but on their page you can view his various statements for yourself. [Now a dead link; try this instead.] You will see his original remarks, very clearly calling for Chavez' assassination, in context. You can see his giddy, almost giggling attempt to say that he was misinterpreted. This is the same giddy, giggly demeanor he uses to discuss healings, financial boons, and death, ruin and disaster. (Does it sound as if that has long bothered me? It has. Romans 12:15 does not say to giggle with those who weep.)
And so here he is again. Pat Robertson has just caused inestimable headaches to the Bush administration with his latest loose-lip attack. Worse, he's given Christophobe editorialists and cartoonists days and days worth of fodder by which to make themselves feel better about not believing Christ. After all, Pat Robertson has never been roundly disowned as one of the most visible public faces of (here's the word again) "evangelical" Christianity. Now, yet again, he has given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (cf. 2 Samuel 12:14).
What will be the consequences to him? James 3:1ff. certainly warns us that teachers will rightly incur more severe judgment, because an uncontrolled tongue can case a world of hurt. What will Robertson suffer for this latest gaffe?
Nothing. Heck, the Evangelical Theological Society, a group of supposedly "evangelical" theologians, can't even expel members who deny God's omniscience, opting for the touchy-feely over the Bibley-truthy. So what can be done with a person in Robertson's position, sitting atop the very visible empire he created, with the support of Christians across America? What will be done?
Having said all this, I have to be honest. My reaction to this all is to shrug.
Why? Well, what does this prove? That Robertson is a poor spokesman for Christianity? Sorry, but "Duh!" A healthy church would have figured that out decades ago, and he'd be scratching to put together a crowd of 30 obvious-fringers.
But no, thanks to Charismaticism -- and I say this as a former Charismatic -- our standards are very different.
Now here is a man who hears God talk, all the time. The Lord tells Pat things you don't have in your Bible, and I don't have in my Bible. They're just for Pat. God tells him, so he can tell us. If Pat didn't tell us, we wouldn't know. Every New Year, the Lord is in the habit of getting together with Pat and telling him what the next year holds, so Pat can tell us. "The Lord" says earth-shaking things like, "There will be tremendous changes this year." Whoa, veil-rending prophetic revelation -- just like 1 Kings 13:2 and Isaiah 7:14!
Well... except not.
But we don't care anymore. If the man wants to open the Canon back up, and append some froth, drivel, and distraction, that's fine with us. No big, right? Been happening since 1906. It's so much easier to watch a guy like Pat do his thing than actually find, attend, and learn in a Bible-teaching church -- let alone study it for ourselves. That's hard. It takes work. It doesn't always tingle us!
And so, with no Biblical precedent, Robertson and co-host regularly go into trances, and announce that the Lord is touching a tumor here, a backache there, a marriage in the other place. Wow, with an audience of tens of thousands, what are the odds that one of them will have a tumor? "That's me!" Just like reading a horoscope!
There is, as I say, no Biblical precedent. But that's okay with us today. We're not picky. So what if it's more like Miss Sally on Romper Room, looking through her magic looking-glass, and saying that Bobby has a present behind the sofa? It's all good.
Now, in a healthier church, Robertson would have been finished for good when he wrote The Plan, in 1989. It has some good stuff, I guess; it has some silly stuff. But it also has this:
Probably 95 per cent of all the guidance we need as Christians is found in the clearly understood principles of the Holy Bible.We aren't told his formulae. We don't know how Pat arrived at this figure. And Robertson isn't sure, apparently; he says "Probably 95 per cent." "Probably," but maybe not. Maybe it's 93%, could be 97%. Or 99%!
But it isn't 100% (pace 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
So where does that other 5% come from? A Romanist might agree heartily with this generous statement, and say the other 5% comes from tradition, from the magisterium. But Robertson isn't a Romanist; he's a Charismatic.
But it's really the same thing, isn't it? We can't get everything we need to know, all the guidance we need as Christians, from the Bible. We get a lot, but not all. We have to get the rest somewhere else.
For the Romanist, it's from Rome. For Robertson, it's from peeps and mutterings, from movings and stirrings, and murmered whispers from Heaven.
So there's Pat Robertson, in front of God and everyone, telling the Christian public exactly what Rome and the Mormons have been saying for years: that the Bible is insufficient.
But nothing was done at the time, and his book sold and sold. And nothing has been done since.
And nothing will be done now, because the professing Church is too weak, sickly, and clueless to cast off the mildest infection.
And so Pat Robertson still parades around, doing his thing. This is the latest. There will be more.
Another unpaid bill of the professing church.
(And don't even get me started on Benny Hinn!)