Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson: Haiti Earthquake A "Blessing In Disguise"

Pat Robertson has gotten himself - along with Christians in general, thanks to his mainstream notoriety - into hot water again. The title linked article is one of many out there revealing his comments, as well as detailing the fact that many Christians don't agree with his sentiments. Here's part of the article:

Evangelist and television commentator Pat Robertson issued several remarks some considered to be off-color in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti. "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson's commentary began during a broadcast of The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "They (Haitians) were under the heel of the French...and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you'...and so, the devil said 'Okay, it's a deal' and kicked the French out," Robertson said. During an earlier report with a reporter for Robertson's CBN News, the televangelist questioned whether the earthquake in Haiti was a "blessing in disguise." "They need to have...a great turning to God," Roberston concluded, adding that the earthquake may have been a direct consequence of their Satanic "pact" years earlier. News of Robertson's commentary spread through social networking websites Twitter and, where outraged citizens of the Internet expressed disgust by the statement.
Let's first note that though the media often casts Robertson as a typical Christian, most Christians would call him atypical. He is definitely more outspoken and comes across with less compassion than most Christians would want. Nevertheless, despite his harsh words at the wrong times, I have no doubt that he is a true believer. Specifically regarding his comments about God's involvement in the Haiti disaster, Robertson does want mercy for them; he wants people, presumably including himself, to show compassion for the Haitians through prayer and financial contributions - and perhaps more.

The media hubbub on this this is over the "blessing in disguise" question. You'll see some reports claim that he made the assertion that the Haiti disaster is a blessing from God in disguise. And maybe he implies that with his remarks about their pact with the devil made years ago. Some deny that there ever was such a pact; others dismiss the claim as mere speculation. But let's give Robertson the benefit of the doubt and allow it to be a possibility. He still made the "blessing in disguise" comment in the form of question, wondering himself if perhaps God is working in this disaster not to destroy Haiti for the sake of its destruction but for the sake of its repentance and rebuilding.

Robertson knows that God is sovereign. Robertson knows that God raises up nations and brings them down. Robertson knows that God does this even to His own people (Israel) for their good and for His glory. Robertson knows that it's not always a pretty spectacle from man's perspective. And I think, deep down, Christians know all of these things as well. Robertson is unafraid to grasp those truths boldly, even if speaking in lieu of them with apparent lack of compassion. Sadly, many Christians lose sight of Ephesians 1:11 in the wake of human catastrophe. The verse says, "[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." Do Christians think God has no purpose for "allowing" this earthquake? How sad if that's the case! Robertson certainly realizes that God does have a purpose, and he is rightly wondering what that purpose may be.

I wonder what God's purposes are for many things, events in my life, personality traits that I have, or more often lack, etc. And it's okay to wonder. In fact, the Bible tells us to stand in awe at the works of God and to wonder at His ways. Do you stop to wonder at the killing of the firstborn as the tenth plague on Egypt? Today, we read that story and say, "Hurray! God is powerful, and He saves His people!" But stand in the shoes of the Egyptians for a moment. They have two possible reactions: hatred of God and His people for what happened to them or repentance and genuine sorrow of their sinful condition.

When Christians criticize Robertson, one of their own, for speaking too harshly, and the media attributes his words to Christianity in general, as if he was speaking on our behalf, which he is not, a body blow is dealt to the Body of Christ; let's simply move away from this reckless banter and do three things: show compassion toward the people of Haiti (which both Robertson and those Christians who think him foolish want to do), obey God (which both Robertson and those Christians who think him foolish want to do), and proclaim / worship Him for His sovereign majesty and glorious ways of creating calamity and turning it into peace (which maybe, in regards to this topic, only Robertson wants to do, for it does appear that Christians who are criticizing him over the "blessing in disguise" question aren't willing to praise Him for "working out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will").

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