Friday, August 17, 2012

Pat Robertson vs. The Gospel

I wanted to title this article, “Remind Me Again Why People Still Listen to Pat Robertson”.  But as I thought about it I realized that this fits in rather nicely with the theology of a good number of American Christians. 

Yes, you heard him correctly.  Be careful when adopting children because they might have brain damage and “grow up weird”.  Guys ditching this lady aren’t dogs they are just smart men that don’t want to parent the United Nations.  You never know what has happened to the child.  You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems.  We help orphans but we aren’t going to have them into our homes. 

In the next few days you will see Robertson issue some sort of apology and say that he misspoke.  What he was really trying to say is that you do not have to accept responsibility that God has not given to you.  You aren’t a dog if you realize that you cannot handle the suffering of someone else.  You’re just human.  It’s great and wonderful for people that feel called by God to take in these orphans but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you aren’t comfortable or called to do it yourself.  I apologize for the way my words sounded but all I was really trying to say is be cautious when considering adoption. 

And all of Pat’s happy followers will wipe the sweat off their brow and say, “whew that was a close one, we were afraid for a moment there that Pat was a little off his rocker". 

Still a problem, though.

Problem is, even if (when) he offers some sort of similar clarification it will still expose his underlying…dare I say it…heresy.  Robertson only gets a hearing in a world/church that has bought into some form of the prosperity gospel.  Foundational to such teaching as Robertson’s is that suffering cannot fit in with the good purpose of God.  It’s just “weird”.  Suffering is my failure to utilize the divinely designed means of blessing. 

In a 700 Club world you don’t take up a cross and devote your life to caring for children with Down Syndrome without seeing any visible reward in this life.  You might see a story about a lady that cared for children with Down’s and somehow God healed the child, or somehow God blessed them financially, or emotionally, or spiritually.  (And all of those may be well and true).  But what you won’t see featured is raw in your face suffering that will only find redemption on the other side of glory.  As I’ve noted before, there’s no room for that in 700 Club theology.

Robertson’s advice is fundamentally “you’re not a monster if you choose not to suffer”.  Okay, I’ll give you that.  You aren’t a monster.  But you aren’t a disciple following the footsteps of a suffering Jesus either.  I can’t say it any better than Russell Moore:

I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds.

And find a Sunday School class filled with children with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Find a place where no one considers them “weird” or “defective,” but where they joyfully sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”

That might not have the polish of television talk-show theme music, but that’s the sound of bloody cross gospel.

So even though this guy makes our ears tickle can we please stop listening to him and instead follow the Man that didn’t have a place to lay his head some nights. 

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