Duck Dynasty Rebrief: Phil Robertson Is Not My Spokesman

Below is a brief response to Trevin Wax’s article at the Gospel Coalition site titled Duck Dynasty Debrief. I am in basic agreement with most of Trevin’s piece. However, I am going to respond to a few items under the subtitle “Phil Robertson Is Not Our Spokesman.”

If you have not heard of Duck Dynasty you probably have not been to Kroger, Walmart, social media, or almost anywhere on the internet in the last month or so. The Duck Dynasty brand is showing up on various products including candy, motor oil, bedding, jewelry, t-shirts, etc. Seeing the brand everywhere is kind of funny and ridiculous at the same time.

But the big media coverage came recently when Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch, called homosexuality a sin in a GQ interview. Some of the coverage on the interview motivated me to write on the issue – one, two, threefour times.

I defended Phil Robertson’s remarks on homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean he is my spokesman.

Under the subtitle “Phil Robertson Is Not Our Spokesman” Trevin makes three points. Two of Trevin’s points I basically agree with, but think he overstates his case on the theme warning “evangelicals against making Phil Robertson our spokesman.”

First, I agree that Roberton’s remarks about homosexual attraction were “unnecessarily crude.” I believe the Robertson family response, in which they stood with their patriarch, even admitted his comments were “coarse“.

Second, and this is were I think Trevin misreads Robertson, I disagree that the “pervasiveness of sin” was minimized.  In the GQ interview, Robertson says, “adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.” While he does not name every sin imaginable, he does state more than just homosexuality is sin even using his own past as an example.

Trevin asks is every sin is irrational after implying that Robertson only said sexual sin was irrational. Yet, right after his crude remarks, Robertson spoke to sin in general stating, “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Third, Trevin points out that Robertson “belongs to a church that believes baptism is essential for salvation.” Funny, he should mention baptism. I may have been one of the first people to investigate the Robertsons’ beliefs on baptism – a few times even. I wrote on the baptism issue while other sections of the Gospel Coalition were promoting the Robertsons. Even when some in our (mine and Trevin’s) own Southern Baptist Convention were pushing Duck Dynasty, I wrote on their baptismal beliefs.

So, I am thankful Trevin pointed out the Robertsons’ position on baptism. And I am with him when he encourages Evangelicals to, “Look to Phil for “family values” if you like, but look elsewhere for theology that is biblical and grace-filled.”

Finally, I do not think the issue for those defending Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality was ever about making him the spokesman for Evangelicals. The issue was defending the right for Christians to freely express their biblical views in the marketplace of ideas. Robertson spoke up by paraphrasing the Bible and got slammed for it. Some folks wanted him shutdown for good, but the punishment was quickly rescinded.

In other words, it is mainly the principle of Robertson being able to speak biblical beliefs publicly without punitive actions that Christians defended.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 rhology January 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I don’t see what was crude about his comments, for my part.

2 davidrhoades January 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I agree with you. Both Trevin Wax and Jonathan Merritt have been hypercritical of some off the cuff remarks. Merritt took Robertson to task for not giving an extended discourse on the Jim Crow South. Regarding his comments on race, Robertson’s point was that godliness is lacking in our day, and godliness leads to joy, regardless of your circumstances. Regardless of the hand-wringing, Robertson is essentially correct.

3 Mark Lamprecht January 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm

davidrhoades I can understand that someone may want further clarification on some of Robertson’s comments. Since the interview in GQ is pieced together throughout the article we really don’t get the full context of how the answers were arrived at. A black SBC pastor at SBC Voices wrote in support of Robertson explaining that what he said was not offensive. I don’t know why some are hypercritical, but we don’t have to be fully comfortable with how he said certain things to take him in the most gracious light and agree with the big picture of his positions.

4 Jerry Smith January 8, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I agree his comments were crude to many yet I do not hold that against him, for Phil was just being himself. As for me I like people who are just their self, not trying to be someone else & not trying to please everyone, which is impossible. Phil seems much like my Great Aunt Clara,  you always knew where she stood, yet if she loved you, she loved you & you knew it, yet if she thought something was wrong she would speak up about it. It does amazes me at our many Baptist brothers & sister who promote Phi & the ducks. They completely lay down being saved by grace though faith, not of your self, not of works which is the only way any person can be saved in order to promote the duck people. Of course those very same ones, pastors included, probably do the same thing in their day to day life wishing all of those who teach works based salvation God speed never trying to correct them. That is not standing for the truth. There’s many menpleasers in our ranks.


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