Gordon Robertson’s Quasi Insensitive or Lacking Advice to Cancer Patient
Gordon Robertson is Pat Robertson’s son. He sometimes hosts “The 700 Club” program, or its partner program, “700 Club Interactive.”
I usually find Gordon to be more sensitive than his father when answering viewer questions, but I was sort of rubbed the wrong way today by some advice he gave to a cancer patient.
A cancer patient wrote to “The 700 Club Interactive” show to say he has bone cancer.
He says in spite of the fact he has prayed numerous times for a healing and has confessed every known sin of his to God, his doctor has told him there is no change with his medical condition. This guy wanted to know what he was doing wrong, how could he get God to heal him.
Gordon told the guy he was looking at it the wrong way.
Gordon told him he needed to stop thinking in terms of unconfessed sin, because under Christ, all his sins, even future ones not yet committed, are already forgiven.
Not that I am totally put off by that answer, and I can see how to a point it might be true, but yet – the Bible still has verses (in the New Testament) that say things like you have to confess your sins to others, if you are holding grudges or unforgiveness against others, God will not answer your prayers.
There is some kind of tension going on in the New Testament (and maybe the rest of the Bible) on several topics, this being one of them.
On the one hand, the Bible does say, yes, you are forgiven of all your sins when you come to Christ, yet, there are still verses that say you won’t get your petitions to God answered in your favor if you don’t do X, Y, or Z.
So I’m not sure if the Bible teaches wholly one way or another in this matter.
But what sort of bugged me is that Gordon was not acknowledging or getting to the heart of the problem.
First of all, Gordon was somewhat victim-blaming. He was putting the onus on the guy by telling the guy to put the onus on God.
He was telling the guy, essentially, that he has stinking thinking and needs to change how he views this whole topic of prayer and unconfessed sin.
Secondly, Gordon’s response did not wrestle with the “No” of God.
This is a subject I have discussed on my blog only two or three times before. It’s not one I write about a lot, but it does bother me.
The plain matter of fact is that God sometimes says “No” to people’s requests, even if those people are devout Christians who have lots of faith that God will answer their request.
You can pray your little heart out for whatever you want or need, and you can pray daily for decades and be quite sincere, confess every sin you know, hold no grudges against anyone, and be living an exemplary Christian life, and God will still turn a deaf ear to your request – God’s answer is still “no.”
I rarely hear Christians, especially ones on TV shows, admit that God’s answer to a prayer is sometimes, “No, I will not do what you ask.”
All we ever get, the vast majority of the time, on Christian programs such as The 700 Club, TBN’s “Praise the Lord” and other shows, are positive testimonies that have happy endings.
And in most of these stories, the people get their positive answer from God within seconds, days, or a couple of weeks.
I’ve seldom seen testimonies where someone started praying for help with “X” in 1974, and they just NOW got an answer in their favor in 2015, or have yet to get an answer.
I have watched truck loads of Christian network TBN since around 2005, and I used to watch Christian network Day Star several years ago, before I moved.
(I don’t think I get Day Star here where I live now, but my cable changed a couple months ago, maybe I do get it now, I haven’t checked.)
I’m not sure why I watch so much Christian television.
In a way, I find Christian TV to be a train wreck and have a hard time looking away. I sure as heck don’t agree with the idiotic “Word of Faith” trash spouted by most TV preachers on TBN.
Maybe I’m still hoping to find answers from the less greedy, less weird personalities on the shows? I don’t know.
But I have watched hours and hours of religious programs on TBN and other religious networks in my area, and in the last ten years of watching, I’ve seriously only seen maybe a total of like two or three testimonies (out of HUNDREDS, I am not exaggerating here) where those interviewed said they did not get an answer to their prayer.
I know if you have bone cancer, or some other kind of problem, it can be very depressing to hear that God may not heal your problem, whether it’s a medical problem, or what have you.
Everyone wants to be reassured that God will answer their prayer, and in a way they like and approve.
But in some ways, personally, anyway, I think it’s freeing to hear Christians ADMIT THE TRUTH:
God may not heal you. God may not save your marriage. God may not save your business. God might allow your business to tank. God may allow your home to go into foreclosure.
There can be a certain relief to hearing Christians admit that truth, or to say, “I don’t know why God has not helped you. I am sorry he has not.”
To hear “I don’t know” can be more comforting on some level than the arrogant blowhard TV preachers, or the arrogant snot preachers who have blogs and Twitter accounts, who attempt to explain why you are suffering.
Look at John Piper (famous preacher) and guys like that. If your house gets hit and demolished by a tornado, Piper will take to Twitter to say it’s because America legalized homosexual marriage, or, another preacher might say to you that you must have not been tithing enough, so you were being punished for your sin, or for someone else’s.
Most people don’t tend to find those victim-blaming responses helpful, but rather, very painful or infuriating.
To hear “I don’t know” can be more comforting on some level than the Pollyanna preachers who tell you “Everyone gets a healing, Jesus promised everyone gets a healing!” -when clearly that isn’t true.
We’ve all known or seen genuine, nice, godly, sweet Christian people who, despite tons of faith and years of prayer for help from God, still died of some disease, or they still lost their business or their home, or whatever they were praying about did not come to pass.
I wish Christians would confront that and discuss it. But they hardly ever do.
The TV Christians are among the worst. They will tell you God wants to heal you – the implication being that because God WANTS to, that he WILL. I am sorry, but that is just not true.
Some Christians never get their prayers answered in the affirmative.
And then, when these Christians watch TV and see all the Christians who sit there and say stuff like,
- “Praise Jesus, when I prayed for my big toe to be healed, and I immediately felt a tingling in the toe, and now my toe is great! Jesus really heals!,”
you can’t help but sit there and wonder,
- “Wait a second. I’m just as nice and devout as the Big Toe Christian. I’ve prayed just as hard. Why is God answering her prayers favorably and instantly, but I’ve been praying for “X” for five / ten / twenty years, and I still do not have what I’ve prayed for?”
Seeing others get instant “yes” answers on Christian TV shows constantly can erode a person’s faith, not sustain it.
I really do think the Gordon Robertson’s of the Christian TV world should be more forthright and tell people, “Look, not everyone who prays for financial help or physical healing or whatever is going to get a “Yes” and I don’t understand it.”
I would personally find that approach more comforting or easier to swallow than the false hope and false promises Christians hold out.
(Link): Blaming the Christian for His or Her Own Problem or Unanswered Prayer / Christian Codependency
(Link): Unanswered Prayer and Diversity of Doctrine and Interpretation (podcasts)
(Link): On Prayer and Christ’s Comment to Grant You Anything You Ask in His Name
(Link): Gary Habermas joins Janet to discuss dealing with doubt in the Christian life (Re: Unanswered Prayer)
(Link): True Love Waits . . . and Waits . . . and Waits – editorial about delayed marriage and related issues – and a rebuttal to John Morgan’s comment on the page
(Link): Depressing Testimony: “I Was A Stripper but Jesus Sent Me A Great Christian Husband”
(Link): Quitting Church – why single Christians aren’t going to church – church has failed Christian singles
(Link): Christians Who Can’t Agree on Who The Old Testament Is For and When or If It Applies