Pat Robertson has said some completely bizarre and outright awful things in recent years.
Those comments using get their brief moment in the sun before quickly withering on the vine as Robertson’s influence, fortunately, seems to have seriously waned.
So, what bothers me about his most recent ridiculous comments is not that I fear he will change hearts and mind, but that his words are echoing what many evangelical Christians already believe even if they never pay any attention to Pat Robertson.
Blessed are the peacemakers?
More like cursed.
Like so many other American evangelicals, Robertson has bought hook, line, and sinker into the 19th century nonsense that is end times prophecy. I say 19th century nonsense, because it was this particular period of time that gave rise to ideas like the rapture, Revelation as a road map to the apocalypse, and everything else that goes along with that sort of stuff.
With this misguided apocalyptic mindset having cemented its place as pseudo-orthdoxy by the 20th century, the establishment of the modern state of Israel caused this end times fervor to explode like never before as countless evangelicals hailed it as the fulfillment of prophecy. Subsequently, with their powerful influence in American politics, evangelicals have essentially shaped the United States’ policy towards Israel and the Middle East ever since.
While supporting a fledgling country isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the evangelical obsession with end times prophecy created a myopic and delusional perspective towards the Middle East that viewed Israel as capable of doing no wrong, while simultaneously offering unquestioned support to any and all Israeli policies, not out of compassion or concern for the Israeli people, but because nearly everything Israel did and is doing was and is considered to be some sort of fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
As a result, everything else about the Christian life has become secondary to doing everything possible to cross everything off an apocalyptic check list that once completed will, we believe, force Jesus to return.
In this idolatrous pursuit to manipulate God’s actions for our own ends, evangelicals have become more than just overzealous misguided fanatics.
We’ve become the the very anti-Christs we claim to be warning the world about.
Christ came to give life, liberate the oppressed, set the captive free, and bring peace to a war torn world.
In our apocalyptic idolatry, we eagerly set aside our calling to go and do likewise, and instead try to convince ourselves that the life Jesus lived and called us to emulate, a life where peacemakers and the poor are blessed, where the oppressed are defended, and where our enemies are loved, that sort of life is somehow secondary to fulfilling prophecies that only really exist in the imagination of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
Yes the book of Revelation is true.
Yes Jesus is coming back one day.
Yes we should prepare for his return.
But we do that by loving our neighbors, praying for our enemies, caring for the sick, and being the sort of people whose lives actually look like the life of the one whose name we claim as our own – Christ.
Jesus did these sorts of things and called us to do likewise, not because they were simply nice things to do or to just keep us occupied until the real show started. Jesus’ sacrificial life – his loving of enemies, defense of the persecuted, healing of the sick, and embrace of the outcast – was the breaking in of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
It was a prophetic life that professed the truth of the coming kingdom of God by enacting that kingdom life in the here and now even as we wait for it to fully dawn.
Our being Christ-ians is found in living this same sort of prophetic life. A life that’s not consumed with deciphering cryptic prophecies that don’t exist, but one which lives out the kingdom reality Jesus embodied.
Which means as long as we call for war instead of peace and turn a blind eye to oppression, poverty, and injustice we don’t need to read the prophetic tea leaves in the morning news to find the anti-Christ.
We just need to look in the mirror.
Grace and peace,