Christian leader, media personality and former candidate for President Pat Robertson passed away at the age of 93, leaving behind a 60-year legacy of moral courage. Much to the chagrin of those outside Christianity — as well as many within — God has infused Christians with the vision to see (and speak) the harsh reality of a fallen world through the lens of the hope of Christ.
No matter what you think of Robertson, it cannot be denied that his voice spoke to the conscience of America through politics and media. He helped the nation contextualize, even scrutinize, the decisions she was making and the course she charted. In this way, Robertson stood with the likes of recently deceased prophetic American figures Rev. Billy Graham, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Charles Stanley and Rev. Lou Sheldon. These Christian men touched the very heart and soul of the nation, often calling her back to God in Christ. Every time one of these men passes from this life, we must ask ourselves, “Who is filling their shoes?”
Over 30 years ago, Robertson covered my story when I was denied First Amendment religious liberty when my high school in Florida refused to let the school’s Christian club and I distribute Christian literature about the Gospel of Jesus Christ between classes.
I filed a lawsuit against the Pinellas County School Board and won at the Florida Supreme Court. This became a precedent-setting case protecting the religious liberty of students in public schools nationwide. Robertson’s "The 700 Club" television program helped the nation understand exactly what was at stake for America in the story of an unknown high school boy in small-town Florida. It was not the mission of Robertson or Graham or Stanley to build empires but to bring America into a right relationship with God, helping us understand what it means to be human to the benefit of both the individual and nation.
Today, America has lost her soul. She no longer shares a common purpose or identity. We need look no further than the violent identity crisis mutilating itself through the transgender movement. America has lost her way, exacerbated by the loss of the moral compass provided by men like Robertson. The heart monitor of society sounding the alarm of cardiac arrest is silenced with the death of men like Robertson.
As we honor his legacy, we must ask not who will take their job at the organizations they built and leave behind, but rather who can take up their mantle. Is God going to raise up a prophetic voice to fill the moral silence, pointing the nation back into the light or will He leave us to the destructive consequences of the vain pursuit of our own appetites? Who is willing to pay the cost of saying the emperor has no clothes, especially when the empire is ostensibly ruled by the people and for the people? Who is willing to suffer ridicule and rejection, for the prize of a repentant nation or a deeper fellowship with his suffering Savior? Where is America’s Jeremiah or Apostle Paul?
Whomever this person is, three key attributes will be needed in order to become the culture-shaping voice required for America to keep her freedom:
First, the ability to articulate the truth that every person is made in the image of God, and equally valuable. Without a firm grip on this foundational truth, conviction crumbles into opinion and the powerful begin deciding which class of people qualify for equal protection under the law and which ones do not. President Joe Biden knows this truth to be key to swaying the conscience of the nation, which is why he recently attempted to co-opt this truth, twisting it as other pro-abortion politicians do to exclude preborn babies from equal protection under the law.
Second, the courage to reject the cowardly temptation to sacrifice what is morally correct for what is politically expedient. This temptation can only be overcome by people of deep faith in God, believing that God, not government is our protector and provider. All the moral issues of our day are merely symptoms of the fact that we have forgotten what it means to be human under God, insisting that we can create ourselves and control the terms of our own universe. In the resulting void of human value, the social foundation erodes manifesting itself in the mutilation of children in the name of “freedom,” the destruction of the family in the name of “marriage equality,” and the targeting of pro-life Christians in the name of “reproductive rights.” Standing against the emerging Orwellian ministry of truth and the maelstrom that awaits, is a life-long endeavor.
Third, the resolve to maintain a reputation of excellent moral character. Moral character is the cornerstone to carry the content required for social change. Therefore, character assassination is the primary weapon used by tyrants to silence the voice of truth. The fiery darts of character assassination can be extinguished in only one way: a life lived unto God rather than to man. To be morally upright means we take seriously what it means to be made in God’s image and endeavor to reflect God’s good character back to Him and to each other, all the time.
Rev. James Harden, M.Div, is CEO of firebombed pro-life medical network, CompassCare. He has one wife and ten children. He is raising the alarm regarding corruption in federal law enforcement and public policy in a post-Roe America.He writes extensively on medical ethics, executive leadership, and pro-life strategy, predicting Dobbs in 2018 and the death of the “Red Wave” in 2022.