This is my first blog post in ages and the first of the new year, and I was wondering how best to kick off my new year's resolution to blog more frequently.
Thanks then to the lovely @WaltonAndy for suggesting that my first blog post of the year be concerning Pat Robertson's appalling comments about the tradgedy that struck Haiti on Tuesday.
Christian Today reports that during a broadcast of 'The 700 Club' on the Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday Robertson said that the enormous earthquake was the consequence of a curse on Haiti after its founding fathers made a 'pact to the Devil' in exchange for the country's independence from France.
I wish I were surprised. I wish we lived in a world where Christians didn't say this kind of thing after epic natural disasters. Obviously, the vast majority of Christians do not agree with Robertson and find his views not only offensive but entirely misrepresentative of the God of love and compassion.
But, loathsome as his views are, Pat Robertson is not the real problem here. I am certain that, had Robertson not come forward with this predictable rubbish, some other crazy Christian would have.
And in order to challenge views like those of Robertson, it takes more than an appeal to common sense. To simply dismiss Robertson's views is the easy way out, and in a way it treats them with the contempt they deserve. But I think there's a deeper issue that needs attention here. We cannot appeal to the standards of society to challenge those of Robertson's ilk, as these are not the terms on which they operate. Instead we must turn to serious theological engagement.
If, as Christians, we want to take the Bible seriously (and even a liberal like me hopes that we do) we have to deal with the less palatable images of God we find there. This particularly means that we need to engage with Old Testament texts like the Book of Judges in an open-minded way. If we fail to do so, we will never be able to challenge super-literalistic views of Robertson et al in a constructive way.
So, how do we marry the apparently vengeful, jealous God of the Old Testament with the loving Christ? And how do people of faith whose interpretations of the Bible are so far apart ever find a way to learn and grow together?