A while back I wrote an article titled, “Dave Ramsey and the Dissolution of Church Stewardship.” The point of the article was not that Dave Ramsey was destroying stewardship. The church has lost the true meaning of stewardship, and Dave Ramsey is merely a symptom. Now, he has certainly taken advantage of the church’s situation to make a fortune for himself, but he did not originate the problem.
I intend to make a similar case for Christian evangelism. However, in this case, one of the symptoms that reveals there is a problem within the church is Phil Robertson.
Phil Robertson made his reputation and fortune as a duck hunter. He created and sold millions of duck calls, and then turned it into a multi-faceted business. However, I hope he is a better duck hunter than he is an evangelist for the Christian faith.
Before I get started, let me confess that I am not a hunter. I have never been hunting, and I have never fired a gun. I have been fishing a few times, but the last time ended with a trip to jail, so I am certainly no expert on that either.
But, here is what I think I know about duck hunting. One approach is for a hunter to hide in the weeds, or a duck blind, and wait for the ducks to fly by so he can shoot them. In order to precipitate the matter, the hunter might utilize a duck call. The purpose of the duck call is to entice the ducks to come closer to your location by making duck sounds.
Apparently, Robertson developed a duck call that is more effective than most since he has sold millions of them. It might be safe to say, the ducks respond quite positively when the Robertson duck call is used.
Again, I am a novice at this hunting thing, but it seems to me that it would not be a good idea for a hunter to make noises that will scare the ducks away. For example, if you are in the best duck blind, positioned next to the lake with the largest population of ducks, the last thing you would want to do is blast an air horn or play loud music. It would cause you to miss the opportunity for some good hunting.
Phil Robertson is no doubt a good duck hunter, but he is an embarrassment to the Christian faith. Speaking at a city-wide prayer breakfast last week, this was a part of his message.
“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong now is it dude?’
“Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
“If it happened to them they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.’”
In case you think I might be making this up, here is a link where you can hear him yourself. You might want to listen when there are no children nearby; it really is inappropriate.
Here is a man who has developed a reputation as a serious Christian. He has been given a visible public platform to share his faith. Instead, he spouts hateful stories that will do little more than drive away anyone who might have an interest in Christ. It is kind of like firing a canon from your duck blind.
Not only is his speech hateful, it is also ignorant. For some reason, he confuses atheism with being totally without morals. I have known a number of atheists in my lifetime, and I don’t think any of them have been amoral. It is not necessary to be a Phil Robertson type Christian in order to have morals. A simple college course in Ethics would help him understand that morality is a universal experience, not just for evangelical Christians.
What he describes as an atheist appears to be more like a psychopath. The person he describes in his little “parable” is suffering a psychological disorder, not a spiritual condition. There were probably very few of those types of people present at the Prayer Breakfast where Robertson spoke since they tend to be serial killers and other law breakers. I’m not sure exactly what point he was trying to convey.
But the real reason behind my writing is that when I listened to Robertson’s speech I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that Christians have gotten so far off track that we can cheer this type of hateful speech.
I was also angry because this man has taken a marvelous opportunity to talk about the wonders of Christ and the blessings of forgiveness and salvation, and turned it into a hateful rant that serves no useful purpose. Christians have no one else to blame for the way people feel about us when those we hold up as models of the faith are praised for their vulgar speech. I call it vulgar because it is coarse and rude, lacking in good taste. What else can you say about a story that describes rape, beheading, and castration?
It would better serve the cause of Christ if Robertson would take the skills he used to develop a duck call that attracted ducks and create a way to draw people to Christ.
Or, I might be totally wrong. Perhaps Robertson believes that sharing the faith is like duck hunting—you draw them out in the open and then blast away.
Phil Robertson has a real opportunity to make an impact for Jesus. His television show presents a rare, positive image of faith. He is frequently sought out as a spokesman on issues of faith, and invited to speak at major events. It will be a shame if he continues to use this platform to demean others and make unchristian proclamations.
But again, let me say, Phil Robertson is not the sickness; he is simply a symptom of the sickness within the church. He is out there doing what many within the church want him to do. When I wrote about stewardship, I pointed out that the church has replaced stewardship with consumerism. Now I am saying that the church has replaced evangelism with cultural warfare.
- We used to focus on sharing our faith; now the emphasis is on defending the faith
- We used to pray for our government leaders to be successful; now we pray that they will fail.
- We used to have leaders who were evangelists like Billy Graham; now we have leaders who are cultural warriors like Franklin Graham.
This is quite significant. Our focus is no longer on introducing people to Jesus and inviting them into a relationship with Him. Instead, our primary concern is to make sure sinners know that they are sinners. Phil Robertson is invited to a large prayer breakfast, and does such a good job blasting sinners that his calendar is probably as full as it can possibly be. Let’s put him on the frontlines. With his down home charm, and country innocence wrapped in Christian morality, he can probably slay as many sinners as he can ducks.
Even if we should win the culture war, what have accomplished? All we are doing is condemning people to hell instead of introducing them to Jesus. It is impossible for me to comprehend how any person could listen to Robertson’s rant and conclude, “You know, I think I’m going to try that Jesus’ stuff. I want to be full of that same kind of anger and hate.”
We need spokespersons who will do better! The world needs us to do better.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)