Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Interpret the Bible with Pat Robertson

Matthew 7:21-23 is a passage in the bible that I think condemns many fundamentalist Christians, such as Pat Robertson, who practice faith healing, and miracles in the name of Jesus.

'Not everyone who says to Me, lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name? and then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.' Matt. 7:21-23
However, Pat and other Christian Fundamentalists do not read the passage as a condemnation of their practices. The interpretation they take is that no matter what good works you do on Earth, it means nothing unless you are "saved" or "Born again" in their church.



In order to understand the Fundamentalist interpretation, you start with the assumption that performing miracles, casting out demons, and making prophesies, all in Jesus name, are all good things.

According to Fundamentalist Christian interpretation, Jesus saying: "Even if you do wonderful things in your life, you still may be turned back from heaven if you are not a Fundamentalist Christian."

However, I would have a different interpretation. "You who practice miracles in my name, cast out demons in my name, do many wonders in my name, practice lawlessness."

I do not believe Jesus picked those three examples to be the best things people could do. All three have in common magic, or miracles, or displays of supernatural power, and all three are done in the name of Jesus. The emphasis is in doing magic, not in doing good things. And not only doing magic, but doing it in the name of Jesus (repeated all three times).

And at the very end, Jesus says specifically about these people that they "practice lawlessness".

Would Jesus have ever said it this way?

"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not loved our neighbours and our enemies, have we not helped the poor and needy and spread the words of love and peace? and then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

No, I don't think so. In my opinion, Jesus is condemning specifically the practices where people, using His name, perform magic tricks to impress people and make themselves famous or wealthy.

However, in the same passage Jesus mentions that people who do the will of God are OK. So, if the will of God is not to perform magic tricks in Jesus name, what is it? I'm guessing "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", or "love those that hate you", or "judge not lest ye be judged".

Picture: Pat Robertson, wealthy TV Evangelist and Fundamentalist Christian, making prophecies in Jesus' name. You can also purchase miracle water on his TV program that will help you grow rich. All while listening to him call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Way to go, Pat.

1 comment:

  1. The concept of 'salvation through faith alone' (i.e. as opposed to 'through good works') is at the heart of most denominations of the Protestant faith. This doctrine of sola fide (by faith alone) was one of the tenets of Luther's reformation.

    Most Christian 'fundamentalists' are, of course, 'Protestant.' In their belief, one must accept Jesus as their saviour; it is salvation through the grace of God which is the price of admission to heaven.

    However, the days when I was willing to debate scripture are long past. These days I rather agree with Max von Sydow's character in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters who observed, 'If Jesus could come back and see what is being done in his name he would never stop throwing up.'