Of Ducks And Doctrine

I told myself I wasn't going to write about this.

Well, what do you know? I lied to myself! I'm a liar!

All more proof of why I'm a sinner in need of a Savior.

As much as I hate to do this to you, I must say something and weigh in on this matter. I figure it's ok since I'm not a called and ordained Pastor, and since this isn't a sermon. 

First, we need to set the stage properly. Here's what I once wrote about the Tim Tebow phenomenon when it was all the rage a couple of years ago around this time of year (please keep in mind that it was written when I was still an Evangelical and before I became a Confessional Lutheran so you may find traces of my former life in some of the statements)...



ON THE SUPPORTERS:

Those who love him generally cite that it's because of the fact that he's a self-professing Christian who wears his beliefs on his sleeve unashamedly. If I may, however, I think that far too many of those same people are kidding themselves. What do I mean? Well, I think they just like the fact that they have found someone who's "cool" by the world's standards (by virtue of the simple fact that he's a celebrity who plays a key position in one of the world's most popular sports), and they desperately want to prove to the lost, non-believing world that Christians can be "cool" too.

Why do we do that? Be honest. Who among us (myself included) hasn't at one time or another made it a point to let lost family members and friends know that "So-And-So Is A Christian!!!" as if that somehow validates our cherished faith more than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ does let's say? It's ridiculous, isn't it? You bet it is. Yet, this is what a majority of Christians in America do because a majority of Christians in America today are "Christians-In-Name-Only" I'm afraid, and theirs is a shallow faith, or a faith that knows how to act, look, and sound "Christian" without having to really get your hands dirty with the day-to-day, moment-by-moment expectations of a genuine Christian life.

Look, we should be examining ourselves on a daily basis already, but even if we are doing what we're supposed to, even if we're already doing that, can we honestly say that our support for Tim Tebow is solely because he's a fellow brother in Christ who's being persecuted for his faith?


ON THE HATERS:

Then there are those who hate him, and they generally cite that it's because of the fact that he's not even close to being an "average" NFL Quarterback based on his mechanics, his skills set, and his statistics. If I may, however, I think that far too many of those same people are kidding themselves also. What do I mean? Well, I think that's just a cover for the fact that they hate that he's too public in proclaiming to the world that he's a Christian. In other words, they dislike the fact that he wears his beliefs on his sleeve unashamedly.


ON BOTH GROUPS OF PEOPLE:

I personally believe that God is using Tim Tebow to expose us. In this late and urgent hour of humanity, we find ourselves in the last days, and so it's important for us to be mindful of our spiritual condition. I believe things like this Tim Tebow business only help to force us to think about the things (or the Lord) that we have been ignoring for so long. I mean, my gosh, have you ever seen so many people get so upset over a professional athlete's celebration? I think there might be another angle to look at here too. Seeing a sports players kneel down to pray, or point to the heavens, or perform the sign of the cross after a big play is nothing new. We even hear them thank God publicly on Live National TV in some cases. So what gives then? Why does there appear to be more vitriol in response to Tim Tebow doing those types of things that players from previous generations have always done? Again, I think it goes back to the fact that God is using Tim Tebow to expose us. I think we'd all agree that there should be a marked difference between Christians and non-Christians, right? For the Biblical support of such a concept please read Matthew 7:16, Matthew 7:20 , James 2:17-18, James 2:20 , and James 2:23 to name a few.

With that in mind, I think the response to Tebow is di fferent because we can sense when a person is a genuine Christian, or a Christian-In-Name-Only, or a hypocrite. It's the genuine ones who are a threat to everyone else, right? Satan doesn't have to work hard to get the Christians-In-Name-Only to wave his banner in the world (John 8:44). No, he wants to destroy the ones who aren't already his. That's why I think this case is di fferent from all the rest. Tim Tebow is the real deal and God is using him as His instrument to expose us for who we really are and or who we think we are.


Naturally, I thought about all of that in light of the current buzz surrounding the "controversial" comments regarding homosexuality made by one of the stars of A&E's hit TV show Duck Dynasty.

It's certainly not surprising that the lost hate to hear and see a celebrity who's also an unashamed Christian let alone one who is successful at anything (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Matthew 5:10-12; John 13:16; John 15:20; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:12; James 4:4). I would be concerned if sinners didn't have a problem with what Phil Robertson said.

But this brief commentary isn't directed at the non-believers. No, this is for my dear brothers and sisters in Christ instead. I do hope that you all receive it with the same humble spirit with which it was written and that you prayerfully consider what I'm about to write.

A thought just occurred to me in this post-Tim Tebow era of the "Celebrity Pastor"/"Celebrity Christian" at a time of year when the "Culture Wars" always seem to flare up.





Are Christians who are hysterically upset over the Duck Dynasty controversy upset because it's their cherished faith in God's Word and His Son, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that is being marginalized further OR are they merely upset that a favorite "Celebrity Christian" of theirs is being attacked and maligned? Is this more about defending ducks or about defending doctrine?


It's a legitimate question, IMHO.

Then again, it's entirely possible that I'm wrong in my analysis here too.

Even so, there's just a part of me that can't help thinking that, for most people who have a dog in this fight (or is "a duck in this fight" more appropriate?), for them it sort of goes hand-in-hand with this picture that Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith shared today.

It's a great observation. I mean, in all the responses that I've heard and read from other Christians regarding this topic, they are always quick to defend the person of Phil Robertson rather than the person of Jesus Christ, or "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14).

Why is that? Why is that, especially when the Bible makes it crystal clear that believers who confess their faith in Christ will be mocked and persecuted for it?

In addition, I've even heard some Christians say things like, "Robertson can believe what he wants be he needs to take it down a notch and realize that not everyone is a Christian..." What!?! Umm, no, I don't think Jesus Christ would ever tell anyone to "take it down a notch" when it comes to confessing His Gospel. Joel Osteen, maybe, but not the King of kings Himself who wants all to come to repentance and faith (2 peter 3:9; Acts 17:30).

Friends, we are actually instructed over and over again throughout the New Testament to "be ready" (2 Timothy 4:2) to give an account "for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15-16) by speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) while learning how to contend for and defend the faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Galatians 2:5; Jude 1:3).

That's why I do admire the Robertsons for their unashamed public proclamation of Christ and Christ crucified to a world that desperately needs to hear it.

They appear to be the "real deal" and that's precisely what I think bothers so many Christians and non-believers alike who respond snidely whenever they or the show comes up in casual conversation.

Why? How many Christians in this country regularly share their faith in any kind of way (if at all)? They're doing what other Christians know they should be doing from time-to-time, but never do.

So, unless I'm completely misunderstand the "Doctrine of Vocation" that I've recently learned about since becoming a Confessional Lutheran (and how it differs from the American Evangelical perspective of missions/witnessing), at the very least, I admire that they're fulfilling their God-given vocation as "TV Stars" in that sense.

However, at the same time, I must take issue with the fact that theirs is a "Decisional Theology" of the Baptist kind that they preach to millions each week.

As a Confessional Lutheran, as much as it brings me joy to know that there are TV stars with their brand of celebrity status in the public arena who are constantly proclaiming the Gospel on national television, it pains me to know that it's a Law-Gospel-Law type of proclamation that tends to ignore Ephesians 2:8-9 by reiterating that it's all about "Asking-Jesus-Into-Your-Heart" and "Having-A-Personal-Relationship-With-Jesus" that counts more than anything.

That's why I'm left wondering one important question I think we all should be asking ourselves right now: Is the presentation of a false gospel really better than presenting no Gospel at all?

I'll leave you with these words to prayerfully consider...


A Lutheran Response To The Duck Dynasty Uproar

As a Lutheran Christian I am sympathetic when anyone speaks the truth of God’s Word and is attacked for it. As one who believes that homosexuality is sin I rejoice when anyone makes the good confession in that regard. As one who has had more than a little experience dealing with folks in the pro-gay world, I must offer a few words of caution. It is not enough for the evolving pro-gay movement to simply tolerate or accept their agenda; you must celebrate it. If you cannot or will not celebrate their agenda, you are the enemy and you must be destroyed. Christians must have their eyes wide open to this current state of events. Also, one of the pro gay movements’ major weapons is to turn the discussion to one of civil rights. If this is a civil rights issue, then any criticism of homosexuality is equated to supporting slavery and Jim Crow. Sadly, Phil Robertson allowed the interview to go in that direction, and his remarks about how happy his black co-workers were in the pre-civil rights area make him look like a fool at best and a racist at worst. There is a lesson to be learned here for all who seek to make the good confession.

My prediction is that when the dust clears, Duck Dynasty will be bigger and more popular than ever. The show may end up on a different cable channel, but recent history has taught me that redneck Bible thumping works, at least for television ratings. Whatever happens to the show, the fight for the truth of God’s Word will continue. Be cautious and be very careful who you support. Not everyone who quotes a Bible verse is on the side of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. I would recommend you read the GQ interview for yourself before you make up your mind on this one.


I couldn't agree more.

Truth is, if God's been using Phil Robertson like He used Tim Tebow, then guess what? We've been exposed. In just a couple of weeks since this saga fi rst began, the Lord allowed the Phil Robertson story to remain front-and-center in the news headlines whether the "controversy" was contrived by the media for the sake of this year's "War On Christmas"/"Culture Wars" or not.

Think about it. Personally, during this entire time, I've seen other believers become much more vocal about their faith, and I've seen other non-believers become much more vocal about their unbelief.



2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.


Repentance leading to faith and salvation is the issue for the Lord, not times or timing. He is patient, wanting all to come to salvation. Repentance consists of contrition (godly sorrow over one's sins) and faith (trusting in the divine promise of forgiveness through faith in Christ).


"God, who has called us, is faithful. So when He has begun the good work in us, He will also preserve it to the end and perfect it, if we ourselves do not turn from Him, but firmly hold on to the work begun to the end. He has promised His grace for this very purpose."

[Formula of Concord Solid Declaration XI 32]


Forget about Duck Calls!

We need to confess that the Lord has already called out to the world through His Son, through His Word, and through His Sacraments (and that He continues to do so).

We need to confess that we celebrate this time of year because it emphasizes and underscores this proclamation of both the Law and the Gospel, and that's why we rejoice over the remembrance that Jesus Christ came into this world to save us all from our sins (Isaiah 9:6; John 3:16; John 14:6; Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10).


John 6:44 (ESV) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.


When Duck Dynasty comes up at the dinner table this Christmas, be sure to seize the opportunity God has given you, and be ready to confess Christ crucified, but do so by confessing the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) accurately and faithfully through a proper distinction of Law and Gospel.

That single verse would be my response to Phil Roberston and the Duck Dynasty crowd of Christians who believe that God is sitting on His throne up in Heaven with his fingers crossed just hoping that each lost sinner will choose Him over Satan, as if the Creator of the Universe were impotent in regards to one's salvation or something.

God alone has the power to make the spiritually dead alive (John 5:25-26). Eternal life begins when a person comes to saving faith in Christ. Hearing with faith brings spiritual life (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5). No one has the willpower to choose to believe in Jesus or come to God (John 6:37). Faith comes to the believer as a gift from God, just as physical life comes as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).

That's what we believe as Lutherans, because that's what the Bible says.


"To 'have' God, you can easily see, is not to take hold of Him with our hands or to put Him in a bag (like money) or to lock Him in a chest (like silver vessels). Instead, to 'have' Him means that the heart takes hold of Him and clings to Him. To cling to Him with the heart is nothing else than to trust in Him entirely. For this reason God wishes to turn us away from everything else that exists outside of Him and to draw us to Himself."

[Large Catechism I 13-15]


This isn't about Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, or A&E though.

It's about God. It's about the one, true God. It's about His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross in your place for the punishment you deserved for your sins.

It's about prayerfully considering what He's done FOR YOU by coming into this world to save you from your sins. It's about prayerfully considering what He continues to do FOR YOU through His means of grace.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, it's about doctrine -- not ducks.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!