Pat Robertson and the Gift of Prophecy

Pastor John Piper tells the story of a woman who “prophesied” over him after a church service one day:

“Once a woman prophesied over me that my pregnant wife would give me a daughter not a fourth son, and that my wife would die in childbirth. That was not a helpful prophecy. It was pointless. And, as you know, it proved false. Love did not govern the use of that gift. That is not the way saving faith uses gifts” (source).

Piper’s point is that the scripture teaches us that Spiritual gifts (like prophecy) are given to the church for edification and are to be exercised in love. The prediction of the death of a child is neither loving nor edifying and therefore contradicts the purpose of Spiritual gifts (Romans 12:3, 6; 1 Corinthians 14:3).

On Tuesday, Pat Robertson prophesied that late in 2007 there would be a terrorist attack on the U. S. that would result in a “mass killing” that could affect millions of Americans (article, video). I don’t think that you have to believe in the continuation of the gift of prophecy in order to see that Robertson’s prophecy falls short of the biblical ideal of edifying the body of Christ in love. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure it was aimed at the body of Christ.

Pat Robertson and I have different views concerning the Bible’s teaching about the nature of New Testament prophecy and its continuing role in the life of the modern day church. But even if I held his view, I could not support his “prophesying” in a way that contradicts the biblical norm. Moreover, Robertson does not have a good track record with predictions, as we saw with his prediction in May of last year that a Tsunami was likely to hit the U. S. in 2006 (source).

I’m afraid that Pat Robertson’s frequent gaffes are not helping the evangelical cause. But I will be praying nevertheless that clarity in Christian witness will prevail in the larger culture, in spite of distracting statements such as these.

(Click here to see previous posts on Pat Robertson.)

(The San Francisco Chronicle online noted this blog on January 8, 2007: “Monday Reading: Big Al and Other Things.”)

8 Responses to Pat Robertson and the Gift of Prophecy

  1. Nicholas Cardot January 3, 2007 at 8:05 pm #

    I think that Pat Roberson is full of bologna. However, I must politely disagree with your point that prophecy of something bad means that it is not done in love. Many prophets approached people throughout the Bible and prophesied of coming deaths of kings and other people. John prophesied (well after the Romans and Corinthians was written) about the period of time we call the tribulation. What worse prophecy could there be than the tribulation? Was he therefore not obeying the commands given by Paul years before or did those rules simply not govern Him?

  2. Jim Vellenga January 3, 2007 at 9:44 pm #

    Pat Robertson claimed God said certain things would happen. They didn’t. That by definition makes him a false prophet. He is being presumptuous (Deut. 18:22) at the very least. He should publicly repent for at this point he is bringing shame upon the name of Christ.

  3. Alex Chediak January 3, 2007 at 10:08 pm #

    A great post. I was also concerned about the embarrassment factor. Much of the media loves to portray evangelicals as unsophisticated if not downright silly. May God nevertheless be vindicated and a true Christian witness go forth.

  4. Donna Diorio January 4, 2007 at 11:33 am #

    It is really sad but it made me think about news reports I’ve seen of elderly people who just wouldn’t give up driving when they were clearly past reasonable ability to drive well who ended up plowing into a group of pedestrians and killing someone. Right now, Pat is ‘killing’ those of us who know that hearing from God is true thing. We are being mocked high and low.

    I don’t believe it is wisdom to make an off-the-cuff prediction about a terrorist attack the magnitude of the one Robertson predicted. Although I do believe it is highly probable that the U.S. will experience more terrorist attacks, I think it is irresponsible of any of the prophetic people to issue predictions as Robertson did without submitting the word first to a diversity of peer prophetic ministries (not just their usual ‘yes’ men). If Robertson was accountable in this way, he might avoid continually making us an utter laughingstock.

    Also, the thing that really grieved me even more than Robertson’s terror attack pronouncement was his assertion that the U.S. was just “feigning” friendship with Israel. Robertson is so completely wrong about that and most Israelis will tell you the same thing. On a day where the Jerusalem Post was running an article by former NY city mayor, Ed Koch–a Jew–titled “George Bush is my hero,” Pat is telling Christians that the U.S. really doesn’t back Israel. He is completely and utterly wrong in his assessment.

    Robertson’s predictions are not pure and it is very saddening that he seems intent on continuing to ‘drive’ until he actually ‘kills’ someone.

  5. Kris Weinschenker January 4, 2007 at 1:20 pm #

    While I take Robertson’s ‘prophecies’ with a grain of salt, he may well be right.

  6. nick k January 5, 2007 at 12:58 am #

    Many will come in my name, but do not be decieved

  7. Jim Vellenga January 5, 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    FYI Frank Turk has started a petition calling for Pat Robertson to apologize for his presumption. It can be found here

  8. Tunnza January 11, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    I’m not sure a 6-foot tsunami would redeem Mr. Robertson, but one did hit the U.S. in 2006. See
    http://tinyurl.com/yb9b2z
    for a CNN account, where a “6-foot wave struck Crescent City Harbor in Crescent City, California, and caused ‘extensive damage'” last November.
    Still, it seems to me Mr. Robertson is more likely playing the odds than getting direct communication from The Almighty.

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