Five days after praying with Israel’s prime minister for Hezbollah’s defeat, American religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Monday declared that a U.N.-brokered cease fire rendered the bloody month-long conflict worthless.
Back from a solidarity visit to Israel, Robertson lamented on Monday’s “700 Club” television program that “nothing came out of” warfare that killed an estimated 861 Lebanese and 83 Israeli civilians in 31 days of fighting. Some 700,000 Lebanese were displaced from their homes.
“I have today something from the ancient prophet Isaiah that speaks so clearly to what happened here, this tremendous effort,” Robertson said. “And now that it’s over, it’s a peace treaty brokered by the United Nations under Article 6 as opposed to Article 7, which means that the peacekeeping forces cannot really fire on insurgents such as Hezbollah. They’re there essentially as peacekeepers, not as a military force, and that is extremely significant.”
Robertson quoted from Isaiah 26:16-18. It is a section that scholars frequently refer to as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse,” because the chapters are unrelated to their historical context and use eschatological themes common in later apocalyptic books like Daniel and Revelation, such as divine judgment, the cosmic struggle between good and evil and salvation for the righteous.
“Isaiah said in the 26th chapter: ‘We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth,'” Robertson said.
“We gave birth to wind,” he commented. “In other words nothing came out of this at all. We writhed in pain, but there was nothing born from it.”
“Israel went in, but what have they done?” Robertson asked. “Is the word of Isaiah true? We writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind. I’m afraid so.”
Robert Parham of the BaptistCenter for Ethics said the time has come for conservative evangelicals to “disown Robertson for his theo-politico wackiness and false teachings from the Bible” and for the CBN board to “act responsibly and remove him from office.”
He said Robertson “distorts the biblical witness and puts at risk the global Christian community.”
Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that the 76-year-old televangelist, on his 17th visit to Israel, joined hands and prayed with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for victory in Lebanon during a 15-minute meeting on Wednesday.
“I am here to say I love Israel and that Christian evangelicals in America stand with Israel in its struggle for freedom against Islamo-fascism, which is directed against Israel and all civilized nations of the world” Robertson said at a Jerusalem press conference.
He called Israel’s battle with Hezbollah “the front line” for freedom-loving people around the world. “For all of our sake, Israel cannot lose,” he said.
Parham said Robertson “confuses the biblical Israel with the political state of Israel, an all-too-common mistake within fundamentalist Christianity and a popular trick among TV preachers who lure literalists for loot.”
By praying with Olmert for Israel’s victory, Parham said Robertson “places Christians in Muslim countries in harm’s way.”
“Regrettably, non-Christians wrongly think that America is a Christian country at war against non-Christian countries and that Robertson is a representative Christian,” Parham said. “Neither is America a Christian nation, nor is Robertson a good representative of Christianity.”
Back in the U.S. on Monday’s program, Robertson followed discussion of the truce between Israel and Lebanon with a report about a foiled terrorist plot to blow up airplanes between Great Britain and the United States.
“If there was ever a time to pray this is it,” Robertson said. “I think the greatest protection we have against these untoward instances is the power of God. As a nation, we need to invoke divine protection, because we are a target. The target is not Israel. It is the United States of America. They are the Little Satan. They call us the Big Satan.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Full text of statement by Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics:
“Robertson distorts the biblical witness and puts at risk the global Christian community. As for the former, he confuses the biblical Israel with the political state of Israel, an all too common mistake within fundamentalist Christianity and a popular trick among TV preachers who lure literalists for loot. As for the latter, when he prays with Israel’s prime minister for Israel’s victory, he places Christians in Muslim countries in harm’s way. Regrettably, non-Christians wrongly think that America is a Christian country at war against non-Christian countries and that Robertson is a representative Christian. Neither is America a Christian nation, nor is Robertson a good representative of Christianity.
“When will conservative evangelicals disown Robertson for his theo-politico wackiness and false teachings from the Bible? When will his own board act responsibility and remove him from office?”