I READ MICHAEL Smith's article ("Whose Kingdom?") in the November-December 1995 Sojourners with interest, but found it to be flavored with considerable unchristian rancor. Smith's derisive tone belays a juvenile distrust, if not masked hatred, of anyone with authority and/or power. While I sympathize with those who have been put off by the apparent lack of human concern in the "Christian Right," I must also share what may be a balancing perspective.
Smith paints Robertson as a power-hungry manipulator who "in light of the New Testament teachings on the poor," might be living a life displeasing to Christ. In Robertson's defense, I would like to ask some questions: Why did you not mention the thousands (or is it hundreds of thousands or millions by now?) of dollars of aid that have been channeled to the poor and homeless via Robertson's "Operation Blessing"? Why did you not mention the millions who have come to faith in Jesus via his evangelistic crusades in Central America and other poor areas of the world?
In defense of Robertson's wealth, was it a sin for many of the patriarchs, like Abraham, to have riches? Smith's overabundant references to large amounts of money controlled by Robertson and his ilk are a childish scare tactic, "emotional reasoning" that smacks of a theology that incriminates any with power or money.
Michael Smith's article focuses on how Robertson may be exploiting the tax-exempt status of his ministries for personal financial gain and to increase his political power. The key question in this case is not how much wealth or power one has, but how it is obtained and how it is then used.