Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Aside from a few odd words in Hebrew, I took it completely for granted that God had never spoken anything but the most dignified English.
— Clarence Day, Life with Father
The comparison is superficial. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was expressing a wish. Pat Robertson was offering a rational explanation of the event. Those two things are quite different.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the president of Iran whose greatest, if not only, skill seems to be inflammatory utterances designed to inspire anger and hatred. In December he said, as he had earlier, that the holocaust never happened and if it did, it happened in Europe and therefore all Jews in Israel should return to Europe where they lived before coming to Israel. Upon learning of Ariel Sharon’s stroke he said: “Hopefully the news that the criminal of Sabra and Shatila has joined his ancestors is final.”
Like Mr. Ahmadinejad, Pat Robertson was not at a loss for words. His comments, too, were condemned by the world community but condemnation of Mr. Robertson seems unfair. He did not hope for Mr. Sharon’s death. He simply offered a non-medical explanation of why Mr. Sharon was smitten.
One of the things the Lord has given Mr. Robertson is the ability to understand why world events take place and thanks to his radio program called the “700 Club” Mr. Robertson can share the Lord’s musings with the rest of us. Because of Mr. Robertson’s unique position vis a vis the Lord, he is in a position to let us know what the Lord is thinking in addition to invoking his assistance from time to time.
His most public supplication this year was his request of the Lord, following Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation, that there be another United States Supreme Court vacancy. Mr. Robertson asked his followers to pray: “Take control, Lord. We ask for additional vacancies on the Court.” Sure enough, the Lord granted his request and within a few weeks Chief Justice Rehnquist was dead and the prayed-for vacancy existed. Mr. Robertson’s success in that arena has now emboldened him to act as God’s spokesman in explaining all manner of current events. It is important to note, however, that he is simply explaining, not supplicating. His most recent explanation pertained to the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon.
According to Mr. Robertson, the stroke is not related to Mr. Sharon’s age or health. It is a politically inspired illness inflicted on Mr. Sharon by the Lord because of things Mr. Sharon has done. Mr. Robertson, in this matter, is the Lord’s spokesman. In explaining the Lord’s infliction on Mr. Sharon he said he prayed with Mr. Sharon just about a year ago and said Mr. Sharon is “a very tenderhearted man and a good friend.” Nonetheless, having been told why Mr. Sharon is ill, he felt it incumbent upon himself to share his knowledge with the world.
Mr. Sharon, he said, was stricken because of actions taken by Mr. Sharon as prime minister of Israel and is now the recipient of what Mr. Robertson calls “divine punishment”. It all has to do with the Gaza Strip.
When Mr. Sharon issued the order that Jewish settlements and troops be removed from Gaza that was, said Mr. Robertson speaking for God, a division of the Lord’s land of which the Lord disapproved. As Mr. Robertson explains: “You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land’, and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine’”. That is a perfectly logical explanation of what happened and we are all indebted to Mr. Robertson for explaining that what might have seemed a medical crisis is in fact a manifestation of the Lord’s displeasure.
The White House, failing to understand that Mr. Robertson was merely reporting what the Lord had told him, said his remarks were “wholly inappropriate and offensive.” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics and religious liberty commission said he was “stunned and appalled that Pat Robertson would claim to know the mind of God concerning whether particular tragic events. . . were the judgments of God.”
Readers will surely join me in condemning the comments of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On the other hand they will also join me in expressing dismay at those critical of Mr. Robertson for sharing with us the thinking of the Lord. One who by his own admission stands in such proximity to the Lord has an obligation to let the world know what the Lord is thinking. By learning what the Lord is thinking we may be able to comport ourselves in such a manner as to please Him, thus assuring us of long life.