Southern Religion

Pat Robertson’s budding secular humanism

Watching serious theologians’ tangle with televangelical self-promotionist Pat Robertson’s assertion of a Haitian pact with the devil was a humorless exercise until we stumbled across Martin E. Marty’s Jan. 18 Sightings.

Marty, a University of Chicago professor emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity, was the first we’ve come across who explained that Robert’s “pact with the devil” is rooted in secular humanist literature and nowhere in the Bible.

Marty wrote:

You won’t find “pact with the devil” in your biblical concordance, as the phrase did not enter our culture from the Bible.

Mention a “pact with the devil” and you will immediately be dredging up the explicit language of the Faust legend, whether from Marlowe or Goethe or Thomas Mann, who told classic versions of Dr. Faust’s famed contract.

Search the literature and you will find secular humanists touting the greatest, Goethe’s Faust, as a “secular humanist manifesto.”

Something good to say about Robertson, then? Yes: We like to document popular evangelicalism’s enlarging scope; here is an instance. Could Robertson have been courting secular humanists with this turn to non-Biblical sources?

Really: Pat Robertson, fumbling toward late-life intellectual growth? Almost gives renewed meaning to “all things in good time.”


January 20, 2010 - Posted by | Politics | , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. I had not thought of it from this angle. I think Dr. Marty has “nailed it on the head.” Thanks for the post.

    Comment by Milton Kliesch | January 20, 2010

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