Dr. Richard Land, president of The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded to comments made by Pat Robertson on “The 700 Club” Jan. 5 that suggested the recent stroke of Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon was punishment from God.
“I am both stunned and appalled that Pat Robertson would claim to know the mind of God concerning whether particular tragic events, such as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke, were the judgments of God. Pat Robertson should know better.
“A far greater expert on God’s will than Pat Robertson will ever be, the Apostle Paul, declared, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?’ (Romans 11:33-34 KJV)
“The Bible clearly reveals God to be a God of justice and righteousness as well as a God of forgiveness and mercy. Does God judge? Yes. However, whether or not a particular event is God’s judgment is something that the Apostle Paul has told us is ‘past finding out.’ No one ‘hath known the mind of the Lord.’
“Even if one agreed with Pat Robertson’s position that the Israelis do not have the right to grant part of the Holy Land to the Palestinians, it would be well beyond Rev. Robertson’s competence to discern that these tragic events were in any way, shape or form the result of God’s judgment on any individuals. I am almost as shocked by Pat Robertson’s arrogance as I am by his insensitivity.
“Seizing the opportunity provided me in teaching a J-term class this week at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., I took my own unscientific poll of forty or more students and faculty I encountered on campus. I did not find one person who agreed with Pat Robertson and who was not both embarrassed and incensed by his comments.”
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in over 43,500 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC's ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.