Pat Robertson, a Man in the Arena
Last week, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson was called home by his Lord. Reading some of his obituaries, you might think he was a madman or a danger to the republic. Correction is in order.
Pat Robertson was the founder of Regent University, the institution where I teach. Regent has an increasingly prestigious academic reputation and is sustaining its rock-solid commitment to orthodox Christian faith. The university’s undergraduate and post-graduate programs, its Divinity School and School of Law have produced tens of thousands of men and women who have entered all spheres of life with a strong biblical worldview integrated into a rigorous education.
He was the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, through which thousands of men and women have come to faith in Jesus Christ. From the professionalism of its news staff to the children’s “Super Book” project that brings the gospel to boys and girls, CBN “is one of the world’s largest evangelistic ministries, proclaiming the Good News in over 100 countries and dozens of languages, including Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French, and Chinese.”
CBN is also home to Orphan’s Promise, which operates more than 300 projects in 65 countries in seven geographical regions. OP helps scores of thousands of orphans and other vulnerable children find healing and new hope. Focused on six major areas — education, nutrition, Christian discipleship, anti-trafficking initiatives, strong families, and community transformation, OP is “dedicated to demonstrating God’s love by alleviating human need and suffering.”
Robertson founded Operation Blessing, which “provides strategic relief in dozens of countries around the world. Through core programs of disaster relief, medical care, hunger relief and clean water, OB is dedicated to demonstrating God’s love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world.” OB has reached 90 countries and territories with food, disaster relief, medical care, and clean water resources and is now one of the largest international aid ministries in the world.
In 1990, he launched the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a public interest law firm that focuses on defending constitutional and human rights in countries around the world. Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ prioritizes religious liberty, the lives of the unborn, and the persecuted church. The ACLJ has won numerous cases, including several before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Robertson was a staunch friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Upon Robertson’s passing, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren noted that Robertson gave “support for Israel during some of our hardest times. Support for Israel’s right to defend itself, of our right to defend ourselves as a Jewish state.”
Oren noted specifically the early 2000s, when Israel was under near-continuous attack. “I remember during the dark days of the Second Intifada — 2000, 2004, 2005 — when there were no tourists in Israel, the hotels were empty, the flights were empty. It was Pat Robertson and the evangelical communities that revered him that kept support for Israel and our economy during those very dark days,” Oren said. “We owe him a historic debt. I owe him a personal debt and for that reason, I will say most emphatically, may his memory be blessed forever.”
Finally, Robertson deeply loved his family. He was married for 68 years to the love of his life, Adelia “Dede” Robertson, who passed away last year. They met while she was in graduate school at the Yale School of Nursing and he at Yale Law. An accomplished person in her own right, she traveled to Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, bringing humanitarian and medical aid to those in need. As explained in a news release announcing her passing, “In 1982, she was appointed as the principal U.S. delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women, where she represented the United States from 1982 to 1990. In that capacity she played a key role in elevating the status of the women who lived in Latin America.” The Robertsons leave behind four children, 14 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.
There was only one perfect man. All of us are flawed, saying and doing things we later regret. But as Theodore Roosevelt reminded us, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”
Pat Robertson was a man in the arena. His legacy is remarkable. May the Lord strengthen and comfort his wonderful family during this time of mourning.
Rob Schwarzwalder, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.