What is Pat Robertson talking about?

When I first read news yesterday of Pat Robertson’s remarks about Haiti, I couldn’t believe that he had done it again (e.g., here, here, and here). The news report that I read said that he attributed the earthquake to a divine “curse.” Reading further, I found that his “curse” remark actually had more context–a context which only seemed to amplify the offense not lessen it. Read his remarks for yourself below, or watch the video above.

“And you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘O.K., it’s a deal.’ “

CBN later released a statement clarifying that Robertson didn’t mean to imply that it was a divine curse but a satanic one. His statement reads, “Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.”

I don’t know about you, but I was initially pretty perplexed by this narrative that Robertson invoked. The Haitians made a pact with the devil? Really? Where does he come up with this stuff?

I did some digging around and found that he is picking up on a Haitian legend about the founding of their nation. David Geggus wrote about the 18th century Haitian revolution in his book Haitian Revolutionary Studies (Indiana University Press, 2002). He writes about an event that allegedly took place on August 14, 1791 that has become known as “The Bois Caïman Ceremony” in which a group of Haitian revolutionaries participated in some sort of a Voodoo ceremony which ultimately led to a victorious revolution over imperial powers. Here is one account of what happened from Geggus’ book:

“During the night of 14 August 1791 in the midst of a forest called Bois Caïman [Alligator Wood], on the Morne Rouge in the northern plain, the slaves held a large meeting to draw up a final plan for a general revolt. They consisted of about two hundred slave drivers, sent from various plantations in the region. Presiding over the assembly was a black man named Boukman, whose fiery words exalted the conspirators. Before they separated, they held amidst a violent rainstorm an impressive ceremony, so as to solemnize the undertakings they made. While the storm raged and lightning shot across the sky, a tall black woman appeared suddenly in the center of the gathering. Armed with a long, pointed knife that she waved above her head, she performed a sinister dance singing an African song, which the others, face down against the ground, repeated as a chorus. A black pig was then dragged in front of her and she split it open with her knife. The animal’s blood was collected in a wooden bowl and served still foaming to each delegate. At a signal from the priestess, they all threw themselves on their knees and swore blindly to obey the orders of Boukman, who had been proclaimed the supreme chief of the rebellion.”

Historians dispute whether or not this event really took place. Nevertheless, Geggus says that “The event’s symbolic importance in the creation of Haitian identity has always been controversial but difficult to avoid even by those who vehemently reject any association between Haitian nationality and vodou” (Geggus, p. 81). In other words, the story is sort of like the legend of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. It may be a national myth, but it nevertheless forms a part of how Americans think about themselves and their history.

Back to Pat Robertson. If this story is in fact a part of Haitian national identity, then why was it a mistake for Robertson to attribute this disaster to this legendary event? For me the answer is very simple. Not only are the remarks insensitive, but they are profoundly misguided from a Christian point of view. There is no excuse for a Christian to draw upon folklore as the basis for interpreting acts of Providence. God is His own interpreter, not Haitian myths. Robertson should know this by now.

Jesus himself warned against interpreting calamities in such a facile way. Jesus cited two events that would have been first century equivalents of 9-11 and hurricane Katrina, and in both cases he warned against the presumption that the victims were somehow worse sinners than others. Instead, he explains that all of us are sinners and in need of repentance (Luke 13:1-5). The appropriate response, therefore, to such tragedies is compassion for fellow travelers who share our fallen human condition.

There are things that Christians need to say about how God relates to evil and suffering in the world (think for example of Job or Romans 8), and we all need to prepare ourselves to have those kinds of conversations with friends and neighbors. It’s just a part of bearing witness to Christ’s sufficiency in times of tragedy. But I don’t think that’s the example that Robertson is setting here.

Looking forward, let’s pray for the people of Haiti—not only for God to show them mercy in immediate relief from the devastation, but also that God would call forth more worshippers of Him from among the people there. May all of us have words and deeds that serve that end.

73 Responses to What is Pat Robertson talking about?

  1. josh r January 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    I am not a fan of Robertson, but I am astounded at how fast and how thoughtlessly the evangelicals have demonized him over this.

    Robertson’s point, the way I heard it, and I believe the way he intended it was to say that the Hatian people have been an indisputably long suffering people, and they are desperately in need of redemption and love.

    I don’t think Robertson was saying “They had it coming” – Not at all.. But that is what everybody assumes.. Robertson’s reference to the “Pact” was just background and history.

    Anyway, kudos for taking a deeper look at it.

  2. Paul Crews January 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Regardless of whether Robertson believes what he said or not, it was not necessary or wise to make those remarks publicly. It was also horrible timing on his part. His comments show neither compassion or sensitivity.

  3. Darius T January 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Yeah, when I first heard it I thought there had to be some context which made it better than it sounded. It seemed pretty despicable, even for Robertson (who hasn’t been a representative of Christianity for quite some time now). But nope, the context didn’t help.

  4. Michael Templin January 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    I remember John Piper’s remarks when the bridge collapsed in Minnesota… I think Greg Boyd critiqued it best, that is was evil and Satan, not God!

  5. T.J. January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Well said Denny, and I also have disdain for Patterson because his so called prophetic gifts have been proved wrong in the past. . . something that is never to happen to a true prophet. Here is one concern I do have. How would evangelicals attribute a natural disaster to God’s wrath?

    New Orleans was devastated by hurricane and her sin is well known to the world, yet no respectable evangelical/SBC leader dared suggest God was angry. Now a nation with voodoo in its past and present is shattered by an earthquake. Patterson alone makes a fool out of himself by suggesting there is spiritual meaning behind the quake.

    My point is the Bible is very clear that the Almighty is God of the storm (Ez. 13:13, Luke 8:25, Matthew 27:54). If the sexual immorality of Mardi Gras and voodoo fail to invoke the wrath of God, I don’t know what does.

    Southern Baptists have now placed themselves in a position where no matter how wicked a city is, a natural disaster visited upon that place is never called God’s wrath. This is true at Southern Seminary, the capital of the predestination/God is sovereign over every detail of life theology.

    So is this earthquake the wrath of God? I don’t know. I’m a preacher not a prophet. Yet as a preacher I know this. God judges the nations in justice and punishes sin (Amos 1 & 2). Since the heavenly Father is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, seeing God behind a storm/earthquake is a real possibility. So what should our public response be? I recall Dr. Mohler’s sermon text after 9-11:

    Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

    The perils of this life is nothing compared to the Hell God has prepared for the unrepentant in eternity. Sermons like this fell out of favor with Southern Baptists long ago. All the more reason why repentance and prayer for our convention January 31 is so desperately needed. Instead of mocking Patterson for saying this quake is the wrath of God, I would rather Southern Baptist leaders discredit Patterson by revealing past false prophecies he has uttered. Then I would like us to stand up and say: We love the people of Haiti and want to help them the best we can, but we also must warm people to pay attention to the fact that God can punish sinful people in such a manner. This, in my mind, is a balanced position. To come out against Patterson without making this important distinction is to comfort the world who believes God never punishes any nation for anything.

  6. Michael Templin January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    We must have compassion on Haiti and meet them with physical needs and the Gospel.

  7. Darius T January 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    What Piper said and what Robertson said are two completely different things. Boyd was off the deep end in his unbiblical analysis.

  8. Darius T January 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Michael, I would recommend the book of Job, or the story of Noah, for more on how everything that happens (including natural calamities) are from God. Now, that doesn’t mean they are all for the same purpose or necessarily all serve as judgment. But they do all come from God, that we know for sure.

  9. Tim Bitz January 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Two big questions come to mind…

    One: When is Robertson going to fly is plane over Haiti to survey the damage? Just like he did with Katrina…

    Two: How, in grace, are you going to respond to a tragedy like this?

  10. David Vinzant January 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    If God is sovereign, then Pat is at least right that God intentionally caused or allowed this earthquake. The reason is ultimately irrelevant as it reveals a god of unspeakable cruelty. Nothing justifies this type of immoral, heinous behavior, neither a supposed “pact with the devil” or a supposed sin committed by Eve in the garden of Eden.

    Denny writes, “Looking forward, let’s pray for the people of Haiti—not only for God to show them mercy in immediate relief from the devastation.” Why would this be of any conceivable use? Why not pray for there to be no more earthquakes or tsunamis or floods or droughts or tornadoes or blizzards? If God had any mercy, he/she wouldn’t need us to tell him/her to use it. Seriously, how many people does it take to convince God to do the right thing? Wake up, people!

  11. josh r January 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    David, I think you have it backwards.

    Life is a gift from God – We have done nothing to earn life or our next breath – Everything we have is a sign of His goodness. It is a gift, not an entitlement.

    The fact that His gift only lasts so long does not diminish the fact that it is still a gift, and the gift is still good. So it is not evil that we die, In fact it is Just. If we where immortal with the selfish hearts that we have we could do perpetual evil.

    So it is not evil that we die, It is grace that we live.

  12. ryan January 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    The actual truth is, accidents happen, the are just accidents, flukes. The poor people of Haiti felt this in a particularly acute way because they are impoverished and do not have the same level of building codes and infrastructure a more developed country would have under the same circumstances. This is not god, vengeance, or anything, its just a terrible tragedy and we need to step up and help them. God, in fact, is imaginary. False hope to many for certain, but false none the less. Stuff happens. Pat Robertson is just added proof that there actually is no god, and he is behaving as a delusional person would be expected to behave, and the evangelical christian community is quietly in agreement with him because they share his delusion.

    Feel free to continue lying etc, but this is the actual truth and I felt it deserved mentioning.

  13. Michael Templin January 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Darius do you honestly think I’ve never read Job or Genesis? The problem is that creation has once again rebelled against its natural order. What I mean by that, is that it is flawed by sin which causes death and destruction, God is not the author of death or destruction. If God was behind this why would he kill 1000’s of Christians along with the unjust…that would make God unjust. No, sin is the cause of this. When Adam subjected himself to creation, natural order was corrupted, there was the Curse. Jesus has come to redeem all from the curse of the fall, and He does not wish this upon anyone…this is Satan’s doing. There will be a day when earth is restored, we are resurrected, and sin has no more power. I pray for Eden’s return.

  14. Michael Templin January 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    By the way Darius, I do not mean this was outside of God’s realm of sovereignty. Then again neither is murder, abortion, slavery, etc. We are awaiting (people, earth, heaven, and cosmos)final restoration in the Eschaton, until then evil happens.

  15. Darius T January 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    “If God was behind this why would he kill 1000’s of Christians along with the unjust…that would make God unjust.”

    You drastically misunderstand death then. As Piper says in his God is the Gospel book, death is ours and it is a gift to Christians. Did not Paul say that to die is gain? It is glorious to die for Christians, cause then we are with our Lord. You wrongly view this physical life as a thing to be held onto, whereas the Bible tells us that eternal life is that which we should strive for and care about. Don’t care so much about this life… it passes away.

  16. Bob January 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    How would Pat know what the devil said unless he is listening to him? I gave up on Pat a long time ago when he prophesied the return of Christ in the 1980s. He is a false prophet and his words mean nothing. Billy Graham had it right a long time ago when he said in a Larry King interview that Christians should ignore any televangelist who asks for money on his show. Pat Robertson is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  17. Mark January 15, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    Modern-day Haitians are heavily into voodoo and other witchcraft. That, however, does not mean they made a pact with the head demon many years ago. The question we should not be pondering is whether God allowed the evil one to do this but how we can help the Haitians with our prayers during this extreme time of need.

  18. Michael Templin January 15, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    No Darius death is a horrible reality kingdom of Satan and the fallen world. That is why Christ was sent to inaugurate God’s Kingdom: A kingdom of life, one that proclaimed good news to the poor, set prisoners free, gave sight to the blind, released the oppressed, proclaimed the year of the Lord. Yes we die, and it is glorious to be with God (as paul would agree) spiritually, but does creation not groan for redemption, do the martyrs not cry out for their vindication, and do not the sons of God long for their resurrection (recreation physically) in the likeness of Jesus, the son of God who was put to DEATH, yet given life by the spirit of holiness! Darius I think you are the one with the wrong view on death, because my God and Lord hate death and oppression and have already started putting death to death by Christ’s death and victorious resurrection of the powers of evil.

  19. Ndundu January 15, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    In South Africa, the story of Gam was interpreted such as that black Africans are poor and ‘backwards’ because Gam was cursed by Noah. But how true is this?

    As a believer in Africa, I can say that the pronouncements and prominence of TV evangelists are sometimes burdensome. If you say such far-reaching things, you better say it clearly. As one reader above defended Robertson: “the way I heard it…”

    Robertson, if you knew about this pact and curse, why did you not take to the streets of Haiti like a modern day Jonah long ago, put your life at stake and died to your self, to warn them, lest they repent and God has mercy on them?

    Now is not the time. You are not a poor man, now is the time to give and show the utmost compassion in Christ.

  20. Darius T January 15, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    MT, back that up with Scripture then. I will… Corinthians 3:21-23… “For all things are yours, whether Paul… or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Paul also says death is gain and that we are more than conquerors in death. Death is our servant, something not to fear but to relish. Yes, death is terrible, but that’s why Christ came, to get victory over it. We laugh in the face of death, because it holds no sting for us.

    So you’re saying that while God may be the God who purposes every roll of the dice (as we’re told in Proverbs 16), and He numbers the hairs on our head… but He doesn’t cause huge earthquakes? The entire Bible stands against that attack on His sovereignty.

  21. Derek Taylor January 15, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    I’m not defending Pat Robertson’s approach – and especially not his timing – but it is true that God does judge individuals, families, nations, cities, etc.

    God judged the nation of Israel, Esau and Phaoroh in very specific ways, with particular judgments, if we really want to introduce some of the traditionally Calvinist passages into this discussion.

    From the book of Job and Luke 13, we clearly see that all disasters are not a clear cut case of judgment, so we need to be humble enough to say “I don’t know” on specific situations (which is why Pat Robertson should have kept quiet). But many Scriptures in both the NT and OT demonstrate that God judges sin on an individual and corporate level. On this point, we ought to be mindful that the worst type of judgment is the one described in Romans 1 and 9, where our spiritual eyes become darkened and we are unable to see Truth. That is an even worse judgment than a natural disaster.

    Voodoo practices are very much a part of life in Haiti. I don’t think it makes sense – especially not from a theological standpoint – to ignore the implications of these practices or to suggest that a deal with the devil is null or child’s play or that God would not take such a pact seriously. I am quite certain He takes it more seriously than we do. All that being said, this is an opportunity to demonstrate mercy and God’s love, not a finger of judgment.

  22. Glenn January 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    It’s clear that many of you either did not listen at all to what Robertson said or did not listen carefully. First of all, I don’t believe Robertson is a prophet; I gave up on him a long time ago. He is not speaking as a prophet, but as an historian.

    If you know anything at all about the religious present and history of Haiti, you can well understand the demonic oppression under which these people live/have lived. God clearly revealed to the prophet Daniel (10:12-21) that a demonic prince–read chief demon, or devil–can overshadow and reign over a country.

    If you don’t believe in demons you have already stopped reading this, but if you do, you will hear Robertson saying that we need to pray for these people, that there would be a turning to God, and that out of this tragedy a great good would come. Do you really want to argue with this?

  23. Matt Svoboda January 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    And Darius knocks out Michael!!! Ding, Ding, Ding… lol

    Commentator: “Scripture wins again, Bob. Darius sure was fortunate to have Scripture on his side. In fact, Scripture is undefeated… Well, until next time folks, make sure Scripture is on your side before you get into the ring.”

    (Yes, this was a joke… It was not intended to attack or offend anyone. In fact, I am offended that I have to write this disclaimer cuz people at Dennys blog can be quite sensitive.)

  24. Darius T January 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    lol. To be fair to Michael, he is half right. Death isn’t a good or “natural” thing normally, and God does hate death. But that’s what is so great about Christ’s sacrifice… it made death look foolish. “Uh oh, you killed me… oh wait!” In fact, a Christian has to “die” to be raised with Christ, both spiritually and physically. True life only comes after death for a Christian, both here and for eternity.

  25. Michael Templin January 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    My friends perhaps I am wrong, but I will stand by my original arguments until scripture within the grand-narrative proves my position to be in error.

    1 Cor 15.54-56 Christ has power over Death in the resurrection…so who is the enemy here? Death

    John 10:10 The Thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy (that is his character/mission). But I (Jesus) have come to give you life.

    John 11:25 Jesus claims that he is the resurrection from the dead, and wins over Satan’s reign in Death that had taken Lazarus to the grave.

    Romans 5/ Genesis 3 Death has entered in through sin and even has reigned until Jesus (now there is escape through Christ)

    I could go on for a while but I think you miss my point. I agree with all of the talk of Gods sovereignty, but death is from sin and sin is not from God. My point is that the resurrection and life giving is of God and death and sin are from Satan and corrupted man.

    I agree with Paul on Death it is better to be with the Lord, but I know that St Paul did NOT plan on staying dead brother, hence wherever Paul is now (with the Lord) is not better that what the Lord has in plan for the future: Salvation which includes the physical resurrection, a new physical Earth and the reign of Christ (Rev 20-22).

    Many brother died in Haiti, but they are not home. They wait with Paul and the rest of the saints for the completion of what Christ started on the cross.

    PS Derek and Matt everything I said was from scripture in post 18 brothers. Read Luke 4, John 10, Romans 8.22, Genesis 3, Romans 5, John 3.16, 2 Peter 3.9, Revelation 20-22, Revelation 6, I assumed you knew the passages so I didn’t proof text, but here they are.

  26. Michael Templin January 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    PS Ben Witherington has a nice article, which you all might like on the subject. I think he is in error calling the U.S. out (Bush admin.), but that just his liberalism bleeding through…he should stick to theology.

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/bibleandculture/2010/01/haiti—a-case-study-for-theodicy.html

  27. P.R.7 January 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    On another note… at what point do Pat Robertson’s kids step in and either tell their dad to quit making such comments… OR put him in a room of the house with a TV remote and no access to the outside world??

  28. Derek Taylor January 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Michael, my comments weren’t directed towards you.

    I almost always agree with Denny, but on this particular occasion, by reducing Haiti’s long standing and widely practice of voodoo, I think he does more harm than good with his commentary by minimizing the seriousness of occult practices, and by scoffing at the notion that these things don’t invite God’s judgment.

  29. Michael Templin January 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Sorry Derek I meant Darius, not you.

  30. Ryan K. January 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Can we all just agree to quarantine Robertson next time there is a natural disaster?

    Yet culturally it is quite telling that Danny Glover subscribing this to his deity of of choice in Mother Earth is palatable to the PC police.

  31. Derek Taylor January 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    A couple of typos in my comments (#28) – I meant to say:

    I almost always agree with Denny, but on this particular occasion I think he ignores Haiti’s long standing practice of voodoo. There is a whole lot more than “folklore” going on here.

    I think he does more harm than good with his commentary by minimizing the seriousness of occult practices, and by scoffing at the notion that these things might invite God’s judgment. Scripture couldn’t be more clear that occult practices are taken very seriously by God. It is wrong to assume or suggest that this earthquake is a direct result of God’s judgment, but it is also wrong to assume that it is not.

  32. Darius T January 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Derek, you’ll probably agree with David Brooks’ column in the NYT where he blames voodoo as well (only in a difference sense than Robertson and with much more tact). http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15brooks.html

    And amen, Ryan K, about Glover. Tomato, tomahto, but only Robertson gets grief.

  33. Darius T January 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    difference should be different

  34. Martin Massinger January 15, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m not sure why all the focus is on Hatian sin. Voodoo is certainly an affront too God’s holiness, but you only have to read 1 Cor. 6:9-10 to realize that no human society is righteous before God, certainly not our western culture.

  35. Derek Taylor January 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Darius, you’re right- Brooks has some very good thoughts and commentary here, especially about the need to cultivate and enforce a sense of accountability and responsibility. When those ingredients are missing, poverty and corruption are bound to thrive.

    I am deeply saddened for the people of Haiti. I hope and pray that they will turn to God and not to fruitless quick fixes or wicked practices or to gods that are not God. And may this apply to us in America as well.

  36. Derek Taylor January 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Martin,
    No one here is arguing against what I Cor 6:9-10. But Scripture commands us in very explicit terms to steer clear of occult practices. Read the passages about the occult and you will agree that the warnings are very serious and stark.

    As wrong as it is to say that this earthquake is a direct judgment – and it is wrong to presume so – it is equally wrong to minimize the seriousness of Haiti’s long observed practice of voodoo. The same as it was wrong for ELCA leaders to deny that they were not inviting God’s judgment by celebrating and condoning same sex unions for pastors.

    This cannot be reduced to folklore – that is where I think Denny’s terminology is unhelpful and inaccurate.

  37. Martin Massinger January 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    My point was not to minimize the detestable nature of the occult. Rather I was suggesting that many of the hedonistic practices of western culture (abortion, sexual perversion, etc.) can easily be linked to descriptions in Scripture of pagan/occult worship. For just one example, see 2 Kings 21:1-9.

    I realize that the majority of Europeans and Americans do not consciously link their actions to the occult, but their practices are virtually the same in many cases and serve the god of this world. We can’t with integrity judge Hatian society without taking a long look at our own.

  38. andrew January 16, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    a lot of us had heard and believed the “pact” story. its only now we are hearing another side about haiti’s history.

  39. Derek Taylor January 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I feel it necessary to repeat this on every post, but let me preface what I’m posting with a disclaimer: I’m not defending Robertson; I want to provide context from reputable source material; and I am refuting the notion that witchcraft is practiced at the margins or can be dismissed as folklore in Haiti.

    So here is a link some may find informative, from National Geographic:

    One woman falls to the ground, convulsing for a moment before she is helped back to her feet. She resumes the dance, moving differently now, and continues dancing for hours. It is perhaps no longer she who is dancing: She is in a trance, apparently possessed by Erzuli, the great mother spirit.

    It is an honor to be entered and “ridden” by a Loa, or spirit. In Haiti these rituals are commonplace: Voodoo is the dominant religion.

    “One common saying is that Haitians are 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant, and 100 percent voodoo,” said Lynne Warberg, a photographer who has documented Haitian voodoo for over a decade.

    In April 2003 an executive decree by then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide sanctioned voodoo as an officially recognized religion. Continue

  40. Larry S January 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    If Haiti’s earthquake was God’s judgement due to its voodo religion. Everyone in North America should prepare for God’s judement for our greedy materializm and mindless nationalism.

    Get ready to shake.

  41. Darius T January 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Larry, materialism isn’t an American issue, that’s a human problem. As for mindless nationalism, you need to get some historical perspective…

  42. Mrs. Webfoot January 17, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Denny Burk:
    Not only are the remarks insensitive, but they are profoundly misguided from a Christian point of view.>>>>

    Yes. This statement is a good summary of where Robertson erred in his remarks. They are misguided since they have more in common with a kind of karmic worldview than Christian. They were terribly insensitive, too, since as he said those words, people were dying.

    I am not a huge fan of Robertson, but remember also, no matter what motives some may wish to attribute to him, he is also sending in significant amounts of aid to Haiti. That is a decidedly compassionate and Christian thing to do.

    Does it make up for his statements? No, of course not. Does it show that he is not all bad? I think that it probably does.

    Death is always a tragedy. When many thousands die in a few days because of a natural disaster, then the anguish is multiplied and felt all around the world. It is appropriate that we all do what we can in helping those who are suffering. It is a terrible loss.

  43. Scott January 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    Larry,

    You should know that some people on this blog get a bit crazy when it comes to American pride and nationalism. Of course, their normally more incensed at anything that appears anti-republican.

    It’s no coincidence that this post contains nary a word about Rush Limbaugh’s absolutely idiotic and ignorant comments about the crisis.

  44. Larry S January 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Thanks for your post Scott 🙂

    Brother Darius – I have a biblical perspective as well as historical.

    🙂

  45. Brian Krieger January 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Thabiti Anyabwile had a great post on death.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2010/01/16/if-god-is-a-god-of-love/

  46. Darius T January 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Scott, what did Rush say? I’ve never listened to the guy, but from what I gather, he made some political point about how Obama would use this tragedy to help his standing in the black community. Is that about right?

    If so, that’s significantly different than what Robertson and Glover said, and not nearly as bad. A guy as immersed in the political rhetoric as Limbaugh is bound to have moments where he becomes merely a blowhard. “When words are many, sin is not absent,” after all.

    Glover is the one who should be facing as much blowback as Robertson, yet I haven’t heard much about his idiotic words.

  47. Scott January 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Darius,

    Totally agree about Glover! I think his comments have lost currency even among the political left these days. If memory serves me correctly, he made some extreme statements a while back that effectively discredited him on all sides.

    You’re right about Rush. He made noise at the same time as Robertson and they shared some headlines – that’s why I lumped them together.

  48. Darius T January 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    My pushback to Larry S was against the idea that materialism is somehow just an American vice, or that “mindless nationalism” (whatever he means by that) is also something unique to the United States. All of humanity tends to fall into the traps of both sins. Of course, with materialism, it shows itself more obviously in wealthy America than, say, in destitute Liberia.

  49. Larry S January 18, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    thanks for explaining more fully brother Darius.

    I was trying to say that both points (materialism/mindless nationalism) were aimed at saying IF the criteria for Hatain judgement is its practise of voodo that North America (the continent – since I’m canadian) is due judgement. Other countries may well be due judgement also.

    and mindless nationalism is what i see when Christians seem to fall in line with the direction their particular country without reflecting on the international global character of the Kingdom of God and their higher allegiance. For some reason I see that quite alot 🙂 – but thats another subject and is off topic. But in my view deserving of God’s displeasure.

  50. Thomas Dozier January 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I cannot say that God did it, for I am not God, but there is one thing that perplexes me concerning the position of the Church. Is our position today a God centered position? It is God’s desire that all men come to repentance, but does the Church advocate that or have we taken on a world view of love that looks for acceptance from society. The Church is attempting to place God in its own new paradigm of what love is and how God responds to wickedness. Haiti is a nation ravished by poverty and distress, and Haiti is a nation that is strongly tied to voodoo. It’s leaders (Boukman past, some in between, and Aristide modern day) have subjected them to much. Do we as believers in Christ think that God winks at idolatry and divination. There are God fearing believers in Haiti and I know some of them. Talk with the real believers in Haiti. You’ll find that they strongly desire to see their nation delivered from this stronghold. Pastors are reportedly murdered by some voodoo practicing people in Haiti. Israel nor Judah escaped the judgment of God, and neither will the nations of today: not even the United States of America which I dearly love. So do we preach repentance, forgiveness, and restoration (the gospel), or do we like the Northern Kingdom (Israel)and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) attack the prophets of God because of a word from God that sounds too cruel to be from God? Pa t Robertson may not be a Prophet by John the Revelator apparently was. Appears that he’s given us some hard words for the last days. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us consider the days at hand prayerfully, and remain attentive to the word of God.

  51. Darius T January 19, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Thanks for the clarification, Larry. While we may disagree on what “mindless nationalism” looks like, I will affirm that there are plenty that suffer from it.

  52. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Thomas, good comments. The haste with which Al Mohler, Denny and others seek to dismiss the notion or possibility of judgment is troubling to me as well. Why would we be quick to say that a deal with the devil, if it really did occur, would be ignored or treated the same way as other sin? Isn’t a covenant made with any being, much less the devil, about as sobering as it gets? We can dismiss a pact of this type as folklore, but I tend to think that a covenant of some type really did take place – and from what I hear from Christians in Haiti, voodoo is practiced widely by the population AND by many individuals who call themselves Christians.

    True compassion is expressed this way – we pray and give generously to ministries and churches who are addressing this disaster. We should go there to help if we can be helpful. But we also call all people – those who call themselves Christians as well as those who don’t – to repent and to seek safety in Christ, as our day of accountability is every bit as sure as what we see on our TV screens this week.

  53. Scott January 19, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    There are folk legends of pacts with the devil all over the world, many set within the States. It’s incredibly irresponsible to attribute a specific catastrophe to a particular event, especially one of mythic character.

  54. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Scott – you’re doing the same thing Denny and Dr. Mohler are doing. You’re minimizing and trivializing the realities that missionaries and people like Thomas have witnessed first hand. To dismiss the pervasiveness of witchcraft in Haiti is ignorant. In 2003, Voodoo was formally recognized as an official religion. This may not be the same as a pact, but it is pretty close and it happened just 7 years ago. As wrong as it is to definitely state that this is a judgment of God, it is wrong for you and others to chalk this up to folklore or ignore the seriousness of witchcraft, particularly when it is practiced widely and openly in a culture.

  55. Scott January 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    So tell me about the thousands of innocents who perished in the tragedy? So tell me when we can expect similar judgment on the pervasive witchcraft in Ohio, on the sin in Vegas, on the crass materialism of Southern California?

    I’m not ignorant of the voodoo in Haiti. Neither am I ignorant of the idolatry practiced in this very nation – in far greater volume, if not density, than that in Haiti. The reality is that sin affects us all, the wicked and the just. Our job is to confront sin in its entirety, that in our own hearts & that in dark places such as Haiti. Our job is not to privilege judgment against nations/peoples after calamity strikes. We simply can’t claim a cause and effect relationship here, anymore than we can after 911.

  56. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Scott, again, you’re mischaracterizing what Thomas and I are getting at. I’ve said all along that this serves as a warning to everyone and that we presume nothing about any specific instance.

    What I profoundly disagree with is the way that you and others frame this – it leaves an impression that all of this talk about pacts and voodoo can be chalked up to folklore and is nothing more than silly talk. Let’s be honest here- as quick as many in the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are to chalk something up to the devil, Southern Baptists are apt to trivialize these things. In this, they both miss the balance we need. As C.S. Lewis writes:

    “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthly interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.”

  57. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    There is only one reason that an earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12. To quote wikipedia:

    “The quake occurred in the vicinity of the northern boundary where the Caribbean tectonic plate shifts eastwards by about 20 mm per year relative to the North American plate. The strike-slip fault system in the region has two branches in Haiti, the Septentrional fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden fault in the south; both its location and focal mechanism suggest that the January 2010 quake was caused by rupture of the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden fault, which had been locked solid for 250 years, gathering stress. The stress would ultimately have been relieved either by a large earthquake or a series of smaller ones.”

    It had nothing to do with voodoo, a pact with the devil, Catholicism, Pentecostalism, Southern Baptists, demons, gods, tree spirits, or any other sort of silly superstition.

  58. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    David,
    It is your right to mock. One day you will stand before the living Christ. Between that day and now, I hope you will see that Christ wants to be your advocate and not your judge.

  59. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Derek,
    I hope you will wake up to reality.

  60. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Fair enough, David. You follow Christopher Hitchens and I will follow Jesus Christ.

  61. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    I don’t follow Christopher Hitchens.

  62. Darius T January 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    David, on the last day, even your knee will bow before Christ, though it will be too late to turn to Him and repent. Please consider what He did for you on the cross…

  63. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Sorry, Darius, but such threats and emotional ploys stopped working on me a long time ago. I ask you to consider using your mind before you waste a good part of your life.

  64. Darius T January 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    It would be a waste to use it otherwise. Christianity is the only thing that makes sense.

  65. Scott January 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    What kind of life is worth living apart from one rooted in the Christian expectation of eternal life?

    Seriously. You can accuse Darius of wasting his mind, but how do you get by day to day believing there is nothing more after this life? What hope do you have? Is anything of value? Live, drink, and be merry?

  66. Derek Taylor January 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    I quote from 1 Cor 1:18 because I can’t say it better than Paul did, 2,000 years ago:

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

    Where is the wise man?
    Where is the scholar?
    Where is the philosopher of this age?

    Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews (i.e. religious people) demand miraculous signs and Greeks (i.e. materialist) look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

  67. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Yes, Scott, there can be meaning in life apart from Christianity or any other religion. It’s a huge and important question, but a bit off subject for this thread. As a start, you might want to read books on having a meaningful life by such heretics as Paul Kurtz, Michael Shermer, Bertrand Russell, Lance Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Christopher Reeve, Julia Sweeney, Michael J. Fox, Stephen Hawking, Mark Twain, the Dalai Lama, or Randy Pausch (“The Last Lecture”). If you’d rather, you can watch the Last Lecture here:
    http://www.cmu.edu/uls/journeys/randy-pausch/index.html

  68. David Vinzant January 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    An addendum. I am convinced that my life is much more meaningful and happier as a nonbeliever than the 35 years as a true believer. It is like living in color as opposed to black and white (lost and saved). But even if life were somehow happier for believers, George Bernard Shaw’s quote would apply: “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” I would far rather know an uncomfortable truth than believe a comfortable lie.

  69. Scott January 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    David,

    Yes, it is off topic. But you took it in that direction by insinuating that Christianity is a silly superstition.

    If your life is as comfortable as you claim, then why spend it debating Christians on a Christian blog?

    For the record, I’m a religious studies student who has studied Christian, Jewish, and Greco-Roman literature under both atheist and agnostic professors. I’m quite sure that my Christian faith is better measured against their argumentation than by the autobiographical meanderings of the folks you just mentioned. Sweeney? Fox? Armstrong? Buffet?

  70. Scott January 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    And no, happiness is not an indicator of the “factuality” of faith. Neither is joy or, to a certain degree, hope. I simply said that I can’t imagine life without my faith. Obviously you can, and I respect your choice. Though, obviously, I disagree 🙂

  71. David Vinzant January 20, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    Scott,

    I wasn’t suggesting that the list contained those with the best argumentation against which your Christian faith could be measured.

    I was instead providing a list of well-known nonbelievers who put lie to the notion that one must have Christianity to live a fulfilled and joyful life. Some of the intellectual “lightweights” are individuals who have demonstrated that one can have a meaningful life apart from religion even in very difficult circumstances (Fox, Sweeney, Reeves, Pausch, Armstrong).

    You ask: “If your life is as comfortable as you claim, then why spend it debating Christians on a Christian blog?”

    First, I didn’t say my life is comfortable – I said it is happier and more meaningful now than it was as a believer. Many Christians spend time debating atheists; is that proof their lives are meaningless? Of course not. I suspect they do it for the same I’m here. One, I enjoy debating people. I imagine you do too. Second, I believe that I can help others escape religion and start making the world a better place. That makes me happy.

  72. Derek Taylor January 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    An interesting follow up report from Haiti, plus comments from Pat Robertson via CBN:

    http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2010/January/Turmoil-in-Haiti-Turns-Woman-from-Voodoo/

    Also, a pastor calls his church to repent; voodoo is condemned:
    http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2010/01/17/lawrence.church.destroyed.cnn

    We don’t know if this was judgment. Pat Robertson doesn’t know it either, though many Haitians believe it was. My point is that if this event indeed reminds us that God will judge sin, these videos serve as a powerful testimony that God is glorified and that sometimes we all need a wake-up call.

    Now it shouldn’t surprise us that the world would be outraged and infuriated at the idea that God could be glorified in judgment or in natural disasters. But we of all people – those who believe 2 Tim. 3:16 – should be able to grasp and embrace the concept of God’s “severe mercy”.

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