Pat Robertson & Apocalyptic Idolatry

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,

Zack Hunt

 

  • D Lowrey

    Coming from a Southern Baptist background and leaving that cult over 20 years ago…I am now discovering how much I had been lied to through the years…especially about this topic. For instance…it burns me up when people think saying a few magic words will ensure your one way ticket on the rapture express without the work needed to pay for that ticket. Even worse…a friend of mine here spends a ton of money on groceries for “christians” during the tribulation to be able to feed themselves. Half of their house is stocked with food and other items for this lie they believe. Anymore…I don’t even attempt to tell them how I feel and the fake bill of goods they have believed in.

    • ZackHunt

      “it burns me up when people think saying a few magic words will ensure your one way ticket on the rapture express without the work needed to pay for that ticket.”

      Amen.

      “Even worse…a friend of mine here spends a ton of money on groceries for “christians” during the tribulation to be able to feed themselves.”

      That kinda breaks my heart.

  • Dumbsheep

    Be careful that in our criticism of southern baptist or other apocalyptic obsessed followers that we do not become as prideful and myopic as they seem to be. It is easy for all followers of Jesus to begin to believe that we have found some special insight or knowledge that makes us closer to the “real truth” when in fact we are just creating our own brand of the lie. Humility and love are the tools with which we are called to use with all. Anger, indignation, condescension and pride are not fruits of the Spirit the last time I checked. Blessings.

  • Jeff Rudy

    You should have heard the pin drop at a meeting last month of the Ministerial Alliance of local pastors in the area when I said I don’t believe in the rapture. It was deafening and the stares…oh the stares…

    • ZackHunt

      LOL I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting.

  • Karen

    Perhaps a lot of this could have been avoided if modern Christians knew and respected their own ancient doctrinal history. The phrase “whose Kingdom shall have no end” in the clause about God, the Son in the Nicene Creed was a direct refutation of the heresy of Chiliasm, the belief in a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ after which the devil would be loosed again (and which necessitates belief in not one, but two “second advents” of Christ, which is nowhere taught in the Gospels or epistles of the NT!). As you point out, this kind of teaching is the result of the misinterpretation of the highly symbolic “apocalyptic” language of the book of Revelation.

  • Patrick (@Craig_Nation)

    This was wonderfully harsh.

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