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Pat Robertson and Faith Healing

As a teenager I watched the 700 Club (literally) religiously. It was on in our house every day and almost always included Pat Robertson closing his eyes tightly (the tighter you close them, the better the connection to God, apparently) and telling no one in particular that God was healing them of vague maladies. He was asked about this on the 700 Club recently:

I watched your son [Gordon] and a woman on TV telling people that God was healing a certain condition that people in the audience were suffering from. Then they discussed cases where viewers had written in to say that they had been healed, thus apparently proving that they have the ability to get God to heal people during the show. Is that power only available to them during the show? If not, are they spending every waking moment healing people? If not, that is just plain wrong.

And Robertson answered:

He insisted that he is not a healer: “I do not believe in a resident gift to heal” — just in “gifts of healing.”

Then, the televangelist likened the whole shtick to Santa Claus passing out gifts.

“It’s plural ‘gifts of healing.’” Robertson said. “It’s like Santa Claus. He has a pack on his back and he has gifts and he’s passing these gifts out but they come from God.”

“The word of knowledge says we are merely reciting what God himself is doing, okay?

He’s right that there is a distinction there. Robertson’s approach of just announcing that God is healing someone, somewhere, or something, is actually smart business. Unlike con men like Peter Popoff, he doesn’t have to bring a specific person with a specific problem up on stage in front of an audience and pretend to heal them. He can just throw out a whole bunch of vague things — “There’s a woman out there with back problems, God is healing it right now” — and he will inevitably be right some percentage of the time. In an audience of millions, some woman is bound to have a sore back and, absent serious injury, it’s bound to get better. When one of them sends a letter saying they had a bad back and now it’s all better, he can claim it as proof that he’s really talking to God.

But this question really does apply to those faith healers who claim to have an “anointing” from God to heal people, like Popoff or Benny Hinn. If they actually believed that and were non-charlatans, they should be going from hospital to hospital “pouring out their anointing” on the sick people. But they don’t. Then only use their “anointing” in front of audiences that pay $50 or $100 a ticket to get in, plus a love offering, plus almost daily pleas for more money in their mailbox.

Comments

  1. Rich Woods says

    Then only use their “anointing” in front of audiences that pay $50 or $100 a ticket to get in, plus a love offering, plus almost daily pleas for more money in their mailbox.

    I think the technical term for them is ‘thieving scum’.

  2. Synfandel says

    The word of knowledge says we are merely reciting what God himself is doing, okay?

    There’s that utterly meaningless religio-babble again. Why doesn’t anyone ever stop the likes of Robertson and insist that he speak in proper English?

  3. cactusren says

    The word of knowledge says we are merely reciting what God himself is doing, okay?

    If you’re just reciting what’s already happening anyway, then why do you need to say anything?

    You slipped up there, Pat–you’re not supposed to reveal how the con works.

  4. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    @4 David Hart

    Hey, at least he was honest enough to compare God to Santa Claus.

    No, David, Pat is Santa in this metaphor. He’s just the one passing out the gifts, he’s not making those gifts.

    In this perfect and reasonable analogy, God is giving Pat the gifts to hand out, so that makes Pat the Santa (cause he’s just so humble and all that jazz) and so that makes God the… um… elves…

    Wait a minute–
    /picks up phone
    Pat?!?! Pat?!?! remember to only include explanations of “Moved by the spirit, I can’t really explain it” or “It’s all a mystery that no one really understands” for any questions that include the words “Who” “What” “When” “Where” “Why” “How” and “Really?!?!” – for all other questions please continue BAU.

  5. erichoug says

    I always liked the old questions of why don’t these people ever “heal” amputees? I know the answer but I would imagine a crowd of believers would be hard pressed to come up with one.

  6. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    If you’re just reciting what’s already happening anyway, then why do you need to say anything?

    It’s like the Prayer Warrior types who say they’re praying for what God has told them to pray for. If it’s what He wants in the first place, why bother?

  7. dean says

    the tighter you close them, the better the connection to God, apparently

    No, not for the connection. When he syncs with the god and the blinding light of healing power fills him, having open eyes would allow it to blast out (think Cyclops in X-Men). Can’t have god’s blinding light incinerating the suckers now can we.

  8. says

    I always worried about people who were convinced that they were the person Uncle Pat was declaring healed and then stopped taking their meds or refused medical attention and then didn’t understand why they didn’t get better, which often led them to think that it was because they didn’t have enough faith.

  9. sezme says

    Ed: “…they should be going from hospital to hospital “pouring out their anointing” on the sick people….”

    You don’t get it, Ed. People in hospital beds can’t fall over so the healing wouldn’t work.

  10. lordshipmayhem says

    Am I the only one who hears “Benny Hinn” and has this mental image of Benny Hill instead? Complete with the song Yakety Sax?

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