The most incompetent god in the world
Pat Robertson has some new predictions about the Endtimes that reveal a lot about him and his god that he really shouldn't want others to know
Pat Robertson has come out of retirement to issue a statement about the invasion of Ukraine. Mostly, he wants us all to know that his god has literally compelled Vladimir Putin to invade so the Endtimes can finally start.
He couldn’t hide his sheer glee as he spoke. His eyes danced with delight. He smiled broadly. Not once, not ever did he express any sorrow for the deaths and suffering of the people caught in this war. No. Rather, he’s super-psyched and excited because maybe this time the world will actually end. He just wants the party to start before he dies.
This is what Endtimes belief ultimately becomes: an utter inability to feel compassion for those who suffer. It tells us more than he should want us to know about him and his flavor of Christianity.
The Pat Robertson video and transcript
A couple of days ago, Right Wing Watch tweeted a video of Pat Robertson:
In it, Pat wears a tasteful lavender cable-knit sweater (hopefully not infested with demons) and delivers a special message about Ukraine. JoeMyGod offers us a transcript of it. (Also, here’s an extended video from Jerusalem Post.)
In essence, Pat Robertson thinks that his god totally forced Putin to invade Ukraine. And he thinks Putin’s end goal isn’t re-unifying the old USSR, but rather invading Israel. As Robertson puts it:
He went into Ukraine, but that wasn’t his goal. His goal was to move against Israel ultimately.Pat Robertson, from transcript at JoeMyGod
Talk about minimizing! But really, all of this suffering is happening because his god really super-wants the Endtimes to start already:
And you read it in the 38th passage of Ezekiel, one through six, it’s all there. And God is getting ready to do something amazing and that will be fulfilled. Read your Bible because it’s coming to pass.Pat Robertson
If someone had told me that anybody could possibly describe the unthinkable suffering going on in Ukraine with an expression of utter childlike delight, I’m not sure I’d have believed them. But here we are. Pat Robertson’s delighted little smile never fades as he discusses the end of the world. Dude’s stoked for it.
Pat Robertson: a false prophecy roundup
Of course, this ain’t Pat Robertson’s first rodeo when it comes to predicting the end of the world. He famously predicted in 1976 that the world would end in 1982. When that failed to happen, he offered another prediction in 1990: April 29, 2007. [NARRATOR: Neither came to pass.]
He’s also offered a number of other divine predictions. Wikipedia even has a special section devoted to his greatest hits:
- 2004: Said Dubya would win in a landslide. Dubya did win, but it was a close shave.
- 2006: Claimed that his god had told him during prayer that storms and maybe a tsunami would wipe out the Pacific Northwest. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
- 2007: Predicted a major terrorist attack on the United States. In January 2008, when that had completely failed to happen, he decided that Christians must have prayed hard enough to change Yahweh’s mind.
- 2008: Issued a press release claiming that the Mideast would get into a major nuclear war that year–and said it’d bleed into the US at least on the coasts. Nope.
- 2020: Fast forwarding now. Robertson predicted Trump would win the 2020 elections (he didn’t), that there’d be assassination attempts against Trump (there weren’t), and that a meteor would destroy the planet (haha no).
Considering his track record and what the Bible says about false prophets, it’s amazing to me that Christians ever listen to anything he says.
This prediction, though, really sits on another level to me.
A god who needs to force action
Early in the video, Pat Robertson says this:
But is Putin insane? Well, yes and no.
“Because he is being driven to move against Israel because God says ‘I’m going to put hooks in your jaws and I’m going to bring you down on them.’Pat Robertson
The hooks thing probably refers to Ezekiel 38, which Robertson references elsewhere in his video. Endtimes fantasists love this chapter of the Old Testament. It describes a vast war between “Gog and Magog,” and it is just chock-full of strange, surreal, apocalyptic language. So as you can guess, it’s catnip for conspiracy-minded evangelicals. They think the predictions in that chapter are coming true Any Day Now™, and they have thought this for about 40 years at least.
Of course, actual Jews have a far more nuanced take on the chapter. Many of them think the war between Gog and Magog will herald the messianic age. My Jewish Learning notes that in the 19th century, Hasidic leaders thought this chapter foretold the Napoleonic wars. When that turned out not to be the case, Jews generally stopped trying to shoehorn Ezekiel 38 into real-world events. Another page there calls Gog “the mythic enemy of Israel,” with the whole chapter being metaphorical.
But where’s the fun in that, I guess..?
All that said, there is something just comically bizarre about an all-powerful god that simply has to force humans to wage war to get his big plans finished. Just as Captain Kirk once asked what a god needs with a starship, we could well ask what a god needs with a war. Whatever a real god needs a war to accomplish, he could easily just make happen through magic.
More than that, though, one must ask why a loving, all-powerful god concerned with justice would cause potentially millions of innocent people to die in such horrible ways.
Old culture wars never die; they just wrap back around
For years now, I’ve talked about evangelicals’ obsession with Israel. It’s not because they particularly like Jews, of course. No, it’s because they think Israel has a key role to play in their Endtimes fantasies. Israel absolutely has to be a sovereign nation for everything in their diagrams to work correctly.
In recent years, in fact, evangelical leaders have been very upset about younger evangelicals’ unwillingness to carry the Israel torch. With every new generation, it seems like evangelicals are less and less fanatically supportive of Israel.
But Pat Robertson is an old-school Endtimes fantasist. These older white evangelical leaders are all about Israel. As a result, Robertson definitely wants to bring the focus back to this obsession. This is how he’s doing it: by claiming that Putin will ultimately want to tackle Israel.
From what I’m seeing–though I’m far from a geopolitical expert–Putin probably doesn’t care about heading down into the Middle East. If he cares about Israel at all, he’s probably just angry at them because their government finally came down officially on the side of Ukraine, not Russia.
So it seems highly unlikely that Putin will “link up with Turkey [. . .] and then come together” as a massed army against Israel.
Another major point of contention, this one raised by a Christian, David Parsons, at Jerusalem Post:
[. . .] the Book of Ezekiel [ch 38] also talks about Israel dwelling in unwalled villages and being totally at peace with its neighbors when all of a sudden, the country suffers from a surprise attack.
“That does not really describe the situation today,” Parsons said.Jerusalem Post
Oopsiedoodleboodle! Gosh, maybe Robertson’s wrong–yet again!
What Endtimes beliefs do to Christians’ hearts
That said, Robertson’s video really grabbed me hard because of his total lack of concern for human suffering amid this world war he wants so much. I reckon that’s not surprising, considering he’s vastly overinflated what he did while serving in the military (and that his powerful father kept his boy out of danger). The only people who actually want war that badly are people who’ve never brushed up against it and certainly won’t face front-line action.
We could say similar things about the Christians who gloat about Hell.
A long time ago, I wrote about a TV show I’d seen about a huge car accident. Many people had died in it, most by burning to death in their cars. The show did interviews with the rescuers and first responders. And y’all, these folks were gutted. Of course they were. They’d seen people die in just about the worst way imaginable. Those deaths had left marks on their memories that may never fade.
In that post, I compared their reactions to those of Hell-believing Christians gloating about their enemies suffering in similar ways. All I could figure is that they’d either never seen or closely contemplated such suffering, or else they had but were totally okay with it happening to their enemies.
In short, Hell-belief really seems to blunt a Christian’s compassion and empathy.
And now, I find that I’ve come face to face with exactly what Endtimes beliefs do to Christians’ hearts.
Sidebar: Everything we ever needed to know, we learned from Good Omens
As soon as I saw this video, an iconic scene from the novel Good Omens came into my mind. (This scene is not in the excellent miniseries, alas. The miniseries is still great, just it had to trim some stuff out.)
In this scene, the angel Aziraphale has become disembodied. He’s been racing back to England by hopping through human beings one after the next. And now, he’s finally zapped into the body of Marvin O. Bagman, an evangelical televangelist who loves fire-and-brimstone Endtimes preaching. In fact, Marvin’s smack in the middle of one of those sermons, which is about how he thinks the Endtimes will go.
Here is our angel’s reaction:
“Well, nice try,” [Marvin] said, in a completely different voice, “only it won’t be like that at all. Not really.
“I mean, you’re right about the fire and war, all that. But that Rapture stuff–well, if you could see them all in Heaven–serried ranks of them as far as the mind can follow and beyond, league after league of us, flaming swords, all that, well, what I’m trying to say is who has time to go round picking people out and popping them up in the air to sneer at the people dying of radiation sickness on the parched and burning earth below them? If that’s your idea of a morally acceptable time, I might add.
“And as for that stuff about Heaven inevitably winning… Well, to be honest, if it were that cut and dried, there wouldn’t be a Celestial War in the first place, would there? It’s propaganda. Pure and simple. [. . .] When the fire falls and the seas of blood rise you lot are all going to be civilian casualties either way.”Good Omens
And with those few paragraphs, authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have officially put more thought into the moral ramifications of Endtimes predictions than any false prophets ever have.
Somebody DIED, Pat Robertson
But the Endtimes really does have a serious effect on Christians’ compassion. Way back when, this meme made the rounds in the skept-o-sphere:
All too often, Christians focus so hard on religious blahblah that they forget about the human suffering that happens alongside their so-called miracles.
They focus on their own escape from harm but forget that many others died in the same event. They celebrate one person magically healed of something minor and don’t care about all the others who died for lack of magic help.
Or they get so caught up in their pet conspiracy theory that they forget that for it to happen, a completely unimaginable amount of human suffering must also take place. (Or worse, they’re aware of it and completely fine with it.)
I mean, just look at the guy. He’s just so, so happy as he describes a massive war to end all wars, one that would undoubtedly cost millions of lives and spark countless atrocities against innocent people:
Oooh, he’s just so giddy as he talks about Putin invading a sovereign nation, killing thousands of civilians, and bombing their homes and cultural landmarks! Remember, Robertson thinks his god–the Prince of Peace and Lord of Love–has literally “compelled” Putin to do all of this, all so he can finally kick-start the Endtimes.
This god never bothered to compel Christian leaders to stop sexually abusing children. He has also refused to compel various corrupt and genocidal world leaders to be moral human beings. Nor does he care to compel evangelicals today to treat other people kindly and lovingly. But with the most misguided priorities ever, this totally real-and-not-imaginary god is totally compelling Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. Moreover, Yahweh totally intends to force Putin to team up with Turkey (?!?) go after Israel next (?!?!?!?).
Ultimately, Pat Robertson’s likely just hoping it all starts before dies. Meanwhile, for me it’s just one more indication that he left his compassion and empathy at the door a long time ago. He doesn’t care about all the suffering that would happen if his whackadoodle conspiracy theory actually came true.
All he cares about is getting to see the Endtimes at last.