God told Pat Robertson who the next President of the United States will be.
You can watch it at Slate or read about in million other places.
Here is the thing: as much as people may want to make fun of the guy for being delusional I have to think that there may be something to be said for him.
If anyone follows my blogs either here or at Homebrewed Christianity then you know that I am a big proponent updating the faith. In fact, truth be told, I have written about it more than any other subject over the last 4 years.
I am especially interested in 3 updating things:
- The way we read the Bible (hermeneutics)
- The way we conceptualize the universe (cosmology)
- The way we talk about miracles (metaphysics)
I have even gone so far lately as to publicly articulate why the miraculous is not super-natural and to research church history about eschatology (the end)… I have even shown concern about the evangelical icon Tebow [here]. All of that is to say that I am not dabbling in this or being halfhearted… nor I am doing what so many that I know are and simply walking away from a faith that is not intellectually credible, scientifically accountable, or personally tenable.
I am in this for the long haul, I give my whole life to this and I am training to someone in the future who teaches others to do the same!
All of that is to say that when Pat Robertson makes the news yet again for some outlandish thing he has said… it really gives me a moment to pause.
IF we do not update THEN every christian who has a one-dimensional ie. surface reading of the Bible* should not only believe that God could have told Robertson BUT should be able to hear from God who the next President of the United States is themselves.
Christian theology teaches that God is omniscient. God knows everything there is. It’s just that the future has not been determined yet and therefor God can not know what is not – God knows only the immense probabilities and possibilities of every related moment and entity. Does that have predictive possibilities? Yes. Does God also reveal what God intends to do? Yes. Does God know the future. No.
‘But what about the books in the Bible that talk about the future‘ you ask? It’s a tough one. It turns out that we many not have been taught to read them as the authors who wrote them intended. In short, I do not believe that the book of Revelation is about the end of the world. I see it primarily as a political commentary on the first centuries (CE) utilizing an apocalyptic genre.
That is part of why the faith needs updating. Pat Robertson is a great example of that.
* I have stopped calling it ‘literal’ since no one, no matter how much they protest, reads the Bible literally and pokes out their eyes (thank God) or many other things that that were never meant to be taken literally.
January 5, 2012 at 12:46 am
I really love your posts and would love to know more about your theology regarding the 3 things that need to be updated-hermeneutics, cosmology, and metaphysics. Can you recommend some good books that characterize your updated theology in these areas? I can’t imagine a God that doesn’t know the future but I’m intrigued by your discussions and I love the discussion. Thanks of challenging my paradigms.
January 5, 2012 at 3:52 am
Thanks for the affirmation! YEHAAA Books! Ok, since I don’t know what you normally read, I will start with a short list and you can tell me if you want me to take it up a notch (Bam!)
– Language: She Who Is by Elizabeth Johnson
– Hermeneutics: Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? by James KA Smith
– Cosmology: Process for the Perplexed by Bruce Epperly
– Metaphysics: Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism by David Ray Griffin
– Why things need to change: The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle
January 10, 2012 at 12:24 am
Thanks! I’ll get started on these. I actually just started The Great Emergence. I’ve been reading Brian Maclaren, Tony Jones, Harvey Cox, Scott McNight, etc. I’m trying to catch up, haha. Too much fun!!!
January 5, 2012 at 3:56 am
If you need something to watch while waiting for your books to arrive.. this video with Phyllis is one of my favorites http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY83MF2HZcU
January 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm
Nice. Well constructed and polite. Pat’s theology/piety can cause me to hear fingernails on the proverbial cosmic chalkboard. But you have presented a good insight that will make me pause next time he says/does something seemingly outlandish. Thanks
January 6, 2012 at 5:41 am
I would like to be the first to unlike this post.
Whether one agrees with Pat Robertson or not, if you are a follower of Christ then you will probably spend eternity with him.
I was recently excoriated, and rightly so, for using a word that is considered by some to be an offensive. ethnic slur. And yet it seems when we are talking about our own brothers and sisters in Christ we encourage one another to throw civilty and compassion to the wind.
I expect this sort of discourse from people like Bill Maher, not from people who claim to love Christ and his people.
Can we learn to disagree with brothers and sisters in Christ in a Christian manner without becoming as snarky, arrogant and critical as the world we are trying to transform? Can we put a moratorium on inflammatory catch phrases and words like “ilk” when we talking about other believers?
Paul was right, if we don’t watch our mouths we will end up devouring each other!
I include two noteworthy examples from the past, not that I believe many of you will agree with their theology, but their character in this regard was noteworthy.
A.W. Tozer said that one of the ways that we can be powerful as Christians is if we take a vow never to bad mouth another believer. I never knew him personally but I’m told that when he stood up to talk at a delegation full of arguing, disagreeing people, the room would become quiet. And if he said, “I don’t think we should be discussing this,” debate would end without further discussion. He was respected that much by all.
I share that anecdote to say that his life is an example of someone who spoke powerfully and advanced the will of God in his generation. And he himself said that one of the keys to this power is to decide to be civil in discourse about other believers.
Recently I did some reading in The Rule by Saint Benedict and when he writes concerning silence he includes this: “It is written: “In much speaking thou wilt not escape sin.” And elsewhere: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” For to speak and to teach becomes the master, to be silent and to listen beseems the disciple….But all manner of buffoonery and idle, mirth-provoking words we adjudge should be perpetually restrained in every place, and for such discourse we permit not the disciple to open his mouth.”
I too wish I had the powerful influence of Benedict and Tozer. But I think for that to be so, I must follow their example.
January 6, 2012 at 6:01 am
Well Ike, you can be the first to unlike this post – but it won’t be the first post that you have unliked 🙂
There is probably no way for me to convince you of this but “It’s OK. Really”
I haven’t said that Robertson is not going to heaven or doesn’t know God or anything like that. I have stated as nicely, as graciously and as generously as I can how we differ. I have actually given him the benefit of the doubt is one respect.
If its any consolation, I have actually taken flack on the other side of this for saying anything nice about the man’s faith at all, so…