Every year at the end of the year, Pat Robertson, television evangelist and founder of “The 700 Club,” holds a prayer retreat. During these annual prayer meetings, Robertson meets with God and God tells Pat what is going to happen in the coming year. Of course, someone does not have a very good batting average on these predictions.
For instance, in 2007 Pat told us that God told him that terrorists would launch a nuclear attack against the United States. Since that clearly did not happen, either Pat misheard God, God was wrong or the terrorists did not get the message. For Pat’s part, he said the only thing he could figure was that people prayed “and God in his mercy spared us.”
This year there is more gloom and doom on the horizon. According to Pat, God is not happy with America. Because we have a propensity to allow abortions, gay marriage and secularism, Pat says there’s “a cloud of God’s wrath over America.”
Whatever’s really going on with Pat’s audiences with the divine, if we want to take the idea of God’s wrath and the Bible seriously, there are plenty of transgressions other than abortions, gay marriage and secularism for Americans to be concerned about.
For instance, let’s think about God’s concern for the weak and the powerless in our world. This is the theological heart of conservative opposition to abortion. But why does their concern always stop with the unborn. How about the already born?
Where is the passionate concern for children who live in poverty and die of starvation in huge numbers every day? And how about the innocent children of Iraq and Afghanistan killed and maimed by weapons of war? If God’s wrath hangs like a cloud over those who inflict pain or allow suffering of the weak and powerless, then there is much for us as a nation to be concerned about.
And why do conservatives twist themselves into knots over gay marriage when traditional marriage is in serious decline. Many heterosexual couples are bypassing marriage altogether. And don’t blame this on gay people; many of them want to get married! Why aren’t conservative Christians trying to find out why young people have turned their backs on marriage?
And don’t get me started on secularism. When you can’t tell the difference between a rock concert and a worship service, the secular has won – and on sacred turf. Designing worship space that is void of sacred art, music, liturgy or even meaningful biblical content, all for the sake of marketing, is an out-and-out surrender to the forces of secularism.
But back to Pat Robertson. Most likely Pat is not listening to GOD but rather listening to the GOP. He has made himself a mouthpiece for a partisan political group in this country whose only real interest is winning elections. As such he is willing to distort biblical truth so that it supports his political ideology.
And don’t you know God is irked when the profound truths of faith are distorted and diminished for something as paltry as political gain. Talk about provoking the wrath of God.
Jesus knew something about this. He knew about people who wrapped themselves in the mantle of piety but with a far more pedestrian agenda. He knew about those who used the authentic faith of others for personal or political gain.
Wolves, Jesus called them, dressed like sheep.
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.
James L. Evans is a retired Baptist preacher living in Alabama. Over 35 years, he served churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. In support of his pastoral work, Evans published 5 books including “First and Second Corinthians: Immersion Bible Studies” (Abingdon Press (2011).