If you judged a book by its cover, you might expect Phil Robertson has bad news to share. The Robertson family patriarch, former "Duck Dynasty" star, and BlazeTV host's latest book, "The Theft of America's Soul: Blowing the Lid Off the Lies That Are Destroying Our Country," has a title that doesn't exactly convey hope for our country. How can you have hope for a country that has lost its soul? But friend, as Robertson writes, "Once you appreciate the bad news, you'll appreciate the good news — and it's really good."
The bad news is that America is in cultural crisis. The country is divided along lines of class, race, age, identity, political party affiliation — there is some tribe for everyone to cling to and some excuse to hate everyone in another tribe. Robertson writes about how suicide rates are up. Stories of violent and senseless crime shock and horrify. We are drug-addicted, severely in debt, and murdering our children before they are born. Government leaders sow division and bicker along partisan lines rather than seek what is best for the country. How did we end up here?
Robertson begins his book by recalling a 1966 Time magazine article that asked the question, "Is God Dead?" Secularists, leaders in the culture, those running Hollywood, big business executives, university professors, politicians, and even some theologians of the time said "yes." And for Robertson, it is this belief in the lie of God's death, the rejection of His moral laws, the relativity of truth, and the promise of freedom without fear of divine judgement that are the cause of America's cultural decay. He knows this because he used to believe that lie.
The first chapter of Robertson's book is a gut-wrenching account of how he tried to live a life believing God was dead. He made himself the master of his own fate. He got high when he wanted to, drank as much as he liked, often too much. A husband and a father, he had sex with whomever he pleased and fought with whomever he pleased.
"For the first time, I was tasting what I thought was freedom — the drugs, the drinking, the sleeping around," Robertson writes. And that freedom ruined his life. He lost his job, he nearly lost his marriage, and no matter how he tried, he could not escape the guilt and shame of his sins. "Freedom" was misery.
And then came the good news. At the lowest point of Robertson's debauched life, a preacher shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. For the first time in his life, he was told there is a God who is surely alive, who created the universe. This God created man for his fellowship, but sin had separated man from God. But loving man, God sent His son, Jesus, his very Word made flesh, into that creation for the redemption of mankind. Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, provided for the poor. And he was hated, feared, and executed on a cross. But Jesus took with him the sins of all the world on that cross. His death paid the penalty for that sin in place of man, fulfilling God's justice and atoning for the sins of those who believe and repent. What's more, three days after Jesus had been placed in a tomb, he rose from the dead. He had conquered death, forgiven our sins, given mankind a way to reunite with God, and promised to return and to give eternal life.
"The Bible showed how God was very much alive, and how he made a way for forgiveness of my sin," Robertson writes. "He could free me of all my guilt and could solve my ultimate problem — death. The notion of freedom from guilt and death filled me with great peace, a peace of mind I'd never experienced."
The rest of the book shows how from that point on, Phil Robertson was a changed man. He stopped getting high and drunk. He reunited his family and became faithful to his wife. He became productive, and with God's blessing, started a successful business that has made him wealthy and turned him into a celebrity. He began to live a better way, became a good husband, father, and neighbor. And his message for America is that there is hope, there is good news, and you too can have your sins forgiven and live a better way.
Each chapter confronts a different lie that Americans believe: There is no devil; truth is relative; sex is for self-gratification; virtue is outdated; unity is not possible. Each chapter uses the truth of God's word to expose these lies and call on all of us to reject them. There is not one page in this book that does not share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of salvation for lost souls, and the hope of an eternal life filled with love, joy, and peace.
The message is simple:
The Almighty loves you, me, and the rest of America. He loves us so much, he sent Jesus to earth to teach us that perfect truth, to live a sinless life, and to conquer sin and death. What’s more, he clearly communicated the story of Jesus through the Scriptures. From Genesis to Malachi, the Almighty told us to pay attention because Jesus—the Savior of the world—was coming. From Matthew to John, the writers told us to pay attention because Christ had come. In Acts through Revelation, the writers reminded us that Christ was coming again, and when he comes, he’ll honor those who’d honored him, and punish those who fell for the evil one’s lies.
To the extent that Americans reject God's truth, believe Satan's lies, and seek the freedom to live our lives according to the wicked desires of all of our hearts, things are going to get worse. A republic of liars, thieves, murderers, and adulterers is no republic at all. You can't have community when people treat each other badly. It's God who commands us to love our neighbors. When a country rejects God, when it won't follow his commands, the people won't live together well.
Some will hate this message, as indeed Jesus himself was hated. Robertson is already being mocked for saying nothing more than God is offering "eternal heal care," a salvation from death that no government program can provide. Robertson is aware of his critics.
I suppose some who are under the delusions of the evil one will read this book, challenge my love for them, and maybe even accuse me of hate speech for calling out their sin. I suspect they’ll call me a crazy old graybeard for preaching the truth in these pages the only way I know how. They can say whatever they like, because the truth is, I’ve given my life to this message and I only know one way to preach it—with great zeal.
Well, are the mockers and the scoffers any better off than he is?
Phil Robertson is not judging America. As he testifies in this book, he is every bit a sinner as the rest of us. But he found freedom from that sin, and he's telling America we can have that freedom too, if we want it. And if the country hears this good news, if we embrace God's truth, America might regain her soul. And we might all live well together.