Looking Back on Pat Robertson
As he has passed earlier today, I’ll once again revert to my custom of featuring posts I wrote while he was living.
Let’s start with Pat Robertson vs. the “Shepherding Movement”, where he took down this movement. Unfortunately, thanks to people such as Bill Gothard, the Shepherding Movement rolled on in other forms, as is evident from the problems the Duggars have experienced.
There was clear cut authority in the New Testament, yet it was never really used. In today’s church what is the authority? The Pope? The World Council? The National Council? The Assemblies of God? The Church of God? The Methodist or Episcopal Council of Bishops? The Archbishop of Canterbury? The Full Gospel Business Men’s Board of Directors? Oral Roberts? Billy Graham? CBN? Rex Humbard? Five teachers in Fort Lauderdale? Juan Ortiz? The Southern Baptists? Ten pastors in Louisville, Kentucky.
None of these? Every pastor? The Holy Spirit dealing with a priesthood of believers?
If the Jerusalem Council which included eleven men who lived personally with Jesus, was very cautious and reserved in dealing with their fellowmen, how can any little group of charismatics in our confused state be so terribly dogmatic in trying to dominate others?
Now we should turn to Pat Robertson States the Obvious on Marijuana Penalties:
Television evangelist Pat Robertson has made inflammatory remarks in recent years that offend gays, Muslims and others, but a recent comment he made on his Christian Broadcasting Network was more notable for whom it pleased: people who want to see marijuana legalized.
“We’re locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana, and the next thing you know they’ve got 10 years,” the controversial pastor said on “The 700 Club” on Dec. 16, in a clip unearthed by bloggers this week. “I’m not exactly for the use of drugs – don’t get me wrong – but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, I mean, it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people.”
And then from No Stems, No Seeds That You Don’t Need: Pat Robertson and Marijuana:
The liberals are picking themselves off of the floor at the realisation that Pat Robertson has come out in favour of the legalisation of marijuana. (He’s been working up to this for some time.) NORML, at this writing, hasn’t even gotten around to admitting it. Many others are in shock also.
Turning to another topic, Pat Robertson not a Creationist? That Depends Upon How You Define the Word:
Televangelist Pat Robertson challenged the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old this week, saying the man who many credit with conceiving the idea, former Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.”
The statement was in response to a question Robertson fielded Tuesday from a viewer on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.” In a submitted question, the viewer wrote that one of her biggest fears was that her children and husband would not go to heaven “because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”
He was one of the few prominent old earthers left; it bothers me that my contemporaries have abandoned ship on this topic.
In one of his last Q&A sessions on The 700 Club, Pat stated that he had no problem with abortion in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. That is heresy (doctrinal and political) to many these days.
Harvey Cox, in Fire from Heaven, characterised Pat as a moderate compared to many of his colleagues in Christian leadership. For all of the angst that the left has exuded over him, they’re not going to like most of those who come after him any better.
Neither, for that matter, are the rest of us.
May His Soul Be Bound Up…Northern Plains Anglican
This tragedy–a serviceman being killed right at the end of World War II trying to come home–is on par with my uncle, who was killed while training to go overseas in the Army Air Force.
Tim Keller Goes to Meet God
Timothy J. Keller, who was the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, co-founder of Redeemer City to City, and the author of several books, died at the age of 72 on May 19, trusting in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his three sons and their wives, a sister, and seven grandchildren. A livestream worship service will be held in the coming weeks. More details will be provided here as they become available.
In a similar way as I did with people who were very much different from Keller–Rachel Held Evans and Jack Spong–I will make comment with what I wrote while he was still living, namely from my post The Real Problem with @timkellernyc:
It’s fair to say that Keller, being the Reformed type that he is, had a “higher” demographic (at least in terms of AGI) than the Churches of God were reaching. The problem with this, however, is exactly the same as the Anglicans are struggling with: the higher you go in this society, the more your parishioners are expected to conform–and will if their careers depend upon it–to what the world’s idea happens to be. If you’re trying to be “winsome,” you will adapt, but sooner or later you’ll either realise that you’re in a no-win game or you’ll cross the line.
It’s a similar (but not identical problem) I discussed in my piece Squaring the Circle of Anglican/Episcopal Ministry. Ministering to an elevated demographic, Anglican/Episcopal churches have not, IMHO, figured out how to break the cycle of elevation/liberalisation/apostasy, and something tells me that Keller hasn’t either. The obvious solution is for us to focus our efforts on the “poor in spirit,” to use Our Lord’s expressive phrase, but a great deal of Evanglicalism isn’t prepared to do that. (One group that has done so successfully is the Assemblies of God, but the way they vote doesn’t appeal to our elite wannabees.)
It’s a hard pill to swallow, Tim (and James for that matter,) but the sooner we take the medicine, the better we will feel in the long run.
I grew up in a world where “meaningful and respectable Christianity” didn’t quite go together for many of the important people in my life. That has driven many of the choices I have made, including swimming the Tiber while at an Episcopal school. But those choices made me an unsuitable audience for people like Tim Keller. Let us therefore without rancor celebrate the ministry he was called to while recognising that there were others for whom God has a different plan.
American Christianity’s Faustian Bargain Comes Back to Bite
A new survey reveals the stunning impact COVID-19 had on Americans’ religious perspectives.
The percentage of adults with a biblical worldview has plummeted to just 4%. Dr. George Barna, director of the Cultural Research Center, finds the results of the American Worldview Inventory report alarming.
“It’s … much more extensive than we actually expected. Typically, you don’t find that religious beliefs change very much,” Barna told CBN News. “They’re probably the most stable of the factors in a person’s life because they relate to worldview that’s formed when you’re young, and it doesn’t change much as you age.”
The piece went on to detail solutions. But I think the reason for this crash is one that you’ll never get the establishment (such as it is) in American Christianity to admit: the hog-tying of material prosperity with Christian faith. It’s one I’ve discussed more than once, but especially in my piece My Thoughts on “Christianity’s Decline in the Northeast”. Making upward mobility a piece with getting saved was a short-term fix but problems were inevitable, and now they’ve come back to bite us.
When things are going well and everyone is moving up (or thinks they are) this works. But when disaster strikes as it did with COVID and the backwash, people trained in this will come to the conclusion that either God doesn’t exist, he doesn’t care or is incapable of bailing them out of their situation. This is especially true in this country, where the “perfect life” obsession is the product of extended prosperity and institutional continuity.
But this isn’t a decent Christian rationale. Some of us saw Christianity as a counterweight to the basic injustices and setbacks of this life. Some of us knew that there would be sacrifice and renunciation for the prize. Some of us…but not enough, not in this country at least.
Late Roman Empire Christianity was based on something that could survive the collapse of the “Eternal City” and its Empire, that transcended the disaster unfolding around them. And it did in a way that endured for centuries, in some ways up to the present. But I doubt American Christianity will replicate this. American Christianity and its progeny outside the country, like the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, will come to the situation where the patient lives but the doctor dies.
We Are Already Defeated — Stand Firm
No more is it about your personal conscience. Are you not bound in obedience to your bishop? And if you are, how is he ok with you saying any of these things? 28 more wordsWe Are Already Defeated — Stand Firm
It’s worth recalling that much of the rot in the Episcopal Church that finally exploded in the 1960’s started in its seminaries. Now we’re seeing that same thing all over again as TEC and ACNA “share” seminaries and, ultimately, seminarians.
Anglicanism has been focused (I’ll avoid using the term obsessed) on a well educated clergy since its start. In those days the main threat was William Tyndale’s ploughboy, and as it happened many of the clergy in England were ignorant of such basic things as the Lord’s Prayer and the Decalogue (which is why both have pride of place in traditional BCP’s.) Moving on to North America, the Episcopal Church catered to a wealthier (and better educated) clientele, and a well-educated clergy was necessary to keep up with those in the pews.
But educated in what? It’s not a good idea to inculcate your core people–in this case your clergy–in ideas that negate the raison d’être of your institution. The left understands this completely, which is why they’re not so hot on academic freedom these days.
A system of ministerial formation where the practitioners hand down more of the faith than the simply that which comes from the pure academics would go a long way to rectifying this problem. Another thing that would help would be for an “educated clergy” to be defined by their general educational level and not just that coming out of seminary. After all, we’re supposed to be living the faith that was handed down from the Apostles. So why do we keep outsourcing the job?
Anglicans Shouldn’t Be Building New Colleges — The North American Anglican
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was…Anglicans Shouldn’t Be Building New Colleges — The North American Anglican
Traffic Report — Northern Plains Anglican
It is a procession that’s been on the road ever since Jesus’ resurrection.Traffic Report
Tim Fountain is an old friend going back to the original Stand Firm in Faith days. He has a special needs child, which quite a few of my present church people deal with. We both come from places where things made a little too much “progress” (he in Southern California, I from South Florida.) Who knows, had I had a rector such as him, I might have hung around the Episcopal Church a little longer…