Note: This is a re-write of a previous article, which was loaded with typographical errors. The errors were removed (I hope), and I couldn’t help but throw in some new thoughts.
The one-time presidential candidate and host of the 700 Club has glimpsed the light that Martin Luther King and Billy Graham once saw: Endorsing political candidates inflates a Church leader’s ego but diminishes his or her influence. We rob ourselves of objectivity. We fall prey to manipulation. We no longer play a prophetic role and we treat the symptom instead of the disease. He told the Associated Press: “I’ve personally backed off from direct political involvement. I’ve been there, done that. The truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It’s really not going to make that much of a difference.”
We can quibble, of course. The likes of Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Churchill reveal the value of politics and prods us toward a thoughtful public theology. But don’t miss Robertson’s salience: Spiritual ills spur our political fevers. Changing the fever does not halt the disease. Robertson has seen that — a bit late, but better late than never. Candidates need not apply for his anointing in 2012 because he’s anointing no one.
Thank you, Mr. Robertson. Really. No kidding.
Some writers have given us litanies of Robertson’s past controversial statements and wonder if he’ll add more in the future. That is not necessary here. I’m just thankful that he’s demonstrating a capacity to learn. And I wonder: Will liberals actually be “liberal” (the term is synonymous with “generous”)? Will they show magnanimity for an 81-year-old man who can turn a page? Or will they keep growling their vicious growls in Huffington Post comments? Will they assail his motives? Will they, for the umpteenth time, display their uniquely illiberal liberalism and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?
Time will tell.
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