Questionable Motives

January 17, 2010

What is a REAL Christian?

Many christian commentators have distanced their religious belief from that of Pat Robertson with a very strange assertion: Pat Robertson, although definitely a christian, isn’t quite a real christian. His malicious and vindictive comments about the poor people of Haiti deserving their latest calamity don’t sit well with many of his believing brethren.  And they shouldn’t. There is something rotten at the core of a religious belief system that allows for a Pat Robertson to be one of its more popular spokespersons. But rather than treat his vile commentary as a clarion call to re-examine the disturbing belief set that champions such a despicable viewpoint as an equally legitimate interpretation of scripture as their own, many of the faithful wave a hand and too easily and without cause dismiss Robertson’s views only as his own.

This is dishonest.

Most christians assume that Robertson’s views are not god’s, that they don’t reflect real christian values. But on what basis? How are we to know the difference between this assumed real christianity that so many commentators assure us is the prevalent one, and the self-serving belief set like Robertson’s that promotes intolerance and takes such uncritical delight in the god-sanctioned suffering of others?

From where I sit, Robertson IS a real christian. It seems to me that this evangelical mouthpiece of the christian god speaks knowledgeably about scripture and his views successfully combine the vicious Old Testament god with the New Testament teachings of Jesus. His theocracy is as consistent as I think anyone can make of the incoherence we find in the complete bible and his interpretations as valid as anyone’s.

And that’s a problem christians everywhere need to address: what justifies the argument that one theological interpretation is not as valid as another, that a Robertson interpretation is any more or less valid than a Pope Benedict XVI or a Rowan Williams or a public commentator anywhere?

The unfortunate answer is: we can’t. Christian theology based on scripture alone allows us no means to differentiate.

And here we get into a christian burr patch: if morality is what we use to judge the validity of the interpretation, and we accept that it is from scripture where we get our morality, then we have closed the circle of our thinking and have to accept Robertson’s callous interpretation as moral and valid based solely on scripture. If we are repelled by that conclusion (as we should be), then it becomes evident and obvious that some other source of morality must be at play here, a morality that is not derived from scripture but applied to it.

We know the meaning of Robertson’s words to be spiteful and mean and morally wrong. But he is also a real christian, let us not forget,  and uses scripture like a sword to defend and promote his faith of a petty and jealous god while claiming to do so with god’s moral sanction based on his understanding of the bible. It is duplicitous and dishonest for other christians, therefore, to categorize Robertson’s cynical pronouncements as nonrepresentational of real christians while allowing the claim that we get our morality from scripture to stand unchallenged.

Christian believers cannot have it both ways: either Robertson is a real christian who quite properly derives his morality from the bible or he is a man who holds vile and vindictive viewpoints and uses christianity to promote them, meaning that our interpretations of biblical scripture is not the source but the expression of our morality.


  1. This is ridiculous! We are all human and we all make mistakes – none claim to be God so get over yourself. They distance themselves from his belief of evil in Haiti, the did not say he was not a real Christian.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 18, 2010 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

    • The point I am making is that Robertson is as real a christian as let’s say the pope. Why is his interpretation any different in quality from let’s say yours? And I ask that not for an answer in detail but to point out that there is no way to determine any meaningful difference even though his is immoral while yours may be very moral. How we tell the moral difference between competing interpretations is not to be found in scripture itself (and that’s why we have competing interpretations) but must come from an external source, a morality that is outside of scripture, one that can be applied to the various interpretations. God as some kind of meaningful arbitrator between competing scriptural interpretations cannot have anything to do with it because there is no other separate scriptural source, other than other books claimed to be divinely inspired but just as much interpreted differently.

      Comment by tildeb — January 18, 2010 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

      • He was not interpreting the bible when he made that comment. He suggested because of voodoo, etc…they are damned. This is not the Christian teaching. God is LOVE. Christian denoms agree on the main points which are the most important. However, there are literalists (fundamentalists) and then others. The pope is not infallible – only in his teaching – so if he comes to a conclusion on what something means in the bible, then he is infallible – otherwise he is human and makes mistakes like the rest of us. For me personally, I look to the Catholic church for interpretation because they are the one’s that put the bible together and did all of the teaching for the first 1500 years. The last 500 people have broken off and broken off, etc…Now there thousands of different churches. It is against the Christian teaching to judge – that’s basically it.

        Comment by 4amzgkids — January 18, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

      • But voodooism is a direct descendant of RC’s belief in demons and African animal deism! And there’s a lot of scripture – both OT and NT – to back up that demons are considered real in ALL christianity that uses the bible as its source and specifically believes that Jesus was god incarnate. Belief in demons is very much part and parcel of christianity because Jesus exorcised them; voodooism merely alters the African animals deities into Roman Catholic demons. So, indeed, Robertson was interpreting the bible when he made that comment, alluding to the fact that from his evangelical perspective, those who make deals with demons are making a deal with the devil and suffering the just consequences (the sudden movement of tectonic plates approved by an all powerful god) for their (ancestor’s) evil actions.

        Comment by tildeb — January 18, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

  2. Yes, demons are real, Jesus did exercise them but this is what I read “Vodouisants believe in both a supreme God called Bondye , and many lesser spirits, known as the loa. This had been a belief held in several west African religions such as that of the Yoruba, Odinani, and Vodun, and when it came in contact with Roman Catholicism, the greater deity was associated with the Judeo-Christian God, and the loa with the saints.” Wikipedia

    I am reading that the issue is that it was not demons but a different supreme God.However that did change some after they learned of Christ. You are right in your comments….however, people were disappointed that he would say such a thing – like they deserved it because of this. Just not the right thing to say. We are to forgive always and the Haitians already have so much to deal with. They don’t need someone going around stating these things – they need our help! “Let the one without sin, cast the first stone” Jesus…..We all sin.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 19, 2010 @ 1:00 am | Reply

    • Well, hopefully Jesus didn’t exercise them like one would a dog, but exorcised them, as in cast them out!

      And we are in full agreement that Robertson’s words were his alone and not representative of some enlightened morality derived from some divine source. Clearly, his meaning was despicable, as they were after Katrina and after the Dover case.

      Comment by tildeb — January 19, 2010 @ 1:53 am | Reply

    • Do you honestly think demons are actual malicious entities?

      Comment by tildeb — January 19, 2010 @ 2:31 am | Reply

      • “Do you honestly think demons are actual malicious entities?”

        Of course – who else put all the fossils in the ground 😀 – Satan did it. I saw him my garden digging the ground up one day, the fairies were helping him. So I jumped on my Unicorn, a rode to my local Church, luckily god, had made sure the vicar was in!

        So after having some tea, I explained to the vicar, that I had seen the devil planting fossils in the ground, and the vicar, said “never mind, god has a plan!” and prayed for a while. Then there was a flash of light and god spoke to us both in a big loud voice:

        “I will make the crucifix on the church of the alter glow with my power – take it to Satan, and cast him out of your garden”.

        So me and the vicar, we rode back to my garden (obviously not on the Unicorn, we had to call Santa Clause for a lift – stupid! ).

        And then we cast out the devil with the crucifix (the fairies were toasted too), after that we had more tea, and praised the lord for his eternal power.

        Ask Santa if you don’t believe me, he is my witness!

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 19, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  3. Excellent post! Spot-on and very well said.

    Comment by Miranda Celeste Hale — January 19, 2010 @ 8:11 am | Reply

  4. MUR – obviously nothing intelligent to say

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 31, 2010 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

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