By now, you've probably heard of televangelist Pat Robertson's prediction of a "horrific" terrorist attack on U.S. soil during 2007. According to Pat, this information came directly from God, and was revealed to him during his year-end prayer retreat. Robertson says the Lord told him that major cities and possibly millions of people would be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.
As a Christian, I certainly believe God speaks to us, although Pat's personal track record suggests he (a) is confusing the Lord's voice for his own, or (b) he isn't paying close attention when the Almighty is actually speaking to him. Last May, you may recall, Dr. Robertson predicted that major storms and possibly a tsunami would crash into the U.S. east coast during 2006. Of course, the tsunami never materialized, but Robertson said that heavy spring rains and flooding in New England "partially fulfilled" his prophecy.
"I have a relatively good record," he said. "Sometimes I miss."
As we've noted before, Reverend Robertson is certainly free to exercise his First Amendment rights, and having your own TV network makes that easier. And, we've got to admit that Robertson has done his part to advance evangelical Christianity, even if we don't always agree with his methods.
But leadership also brings responsibility, and that's where Pat Robertson sometimes falls short (as we all do). Despite his deep faith and global ministry, Dr. Robertson still has a tendency to run off at the mouth, saying things that hinder the cause, rather than advance it. Consider his observation in early 2006 that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke because God was "punishing" him for being too conciliatory toward the Palestinians. Or his claim that he can leg press 2,000 pounds--at the age of 75!
Robertson has committed other gaffes in the past, and apologized for his comments on several occasions. If his prophesized terrorist attack fails to materialize--and we certainly hope that's the case--it will beg another question: namely, will Dr. Robertson apologize for frightening Americans unnecessarily, or humbly remind viewers that he, once again, "got it wrong?" Looking at his predictions from year's past, there is nothing to suggest that the Reverend Robertson is a latter-day Daniel or Isiah, prophets who clearly heard--and recorded--the word of God.
Watching Pat on The 700 Club, it's evident that he knows the Bible well, but given his penchant for running off half-cocked, he might consider a closer read of Proverbs 12:23 before imparting future visions:
"A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,
but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
Or, this passage, from Proverbs 10:14:
"Wise men store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin."
In other words, shut up Pat.
Addendum: In fairness, Robertson's prediction may be accurate--just off by two or three years. In his recent "State of the Jihad" assessment, Bill Roggio notes that Al Qaida and its Taliban allies are flourishing in the Waziristan region of northern Pakistan, thanks to the recent accord signed between tribal elders and the Islamabad government. There are at least 22 terrorist training camps in the region right now, and those facilities could produce scores of additional fighters for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, or even the United States.
Ten years ago, the move of Al Qaida's leaders and support structure from Sudan to Afghanistan helped lay the foundation for the subsequent surge in terrorist activity that culminated on 9-11. If the new training camps in Waziristan are allowed to flourish, we could see another rise in terrorist attacks in the coming years, as more fighters are trained and sent to their assignments. The only silver lining in this cloud is that Al Qaida's senior ranks remain decimated, and it would be more difficult to plan and execute a large-scale strike (particularly the WMD-style attack that Robertson is predicting), given Al Qaida's present circumstances.