Phil Robertson: Uncanceled
You know him best from Duck Dynasty, and also his prior books and podcasts, because there is no one quite like Phil Robertson. In his new book Uncanceled: Finding Meaning and Peace in a Culture of Accusations, Shame, and Condemnation, he delivers a blueprint for standing up for the truth of Jesus Christ in a culture that has forgotten how to have respectful conversation and often suppresses conservative opinions and biblical values. We talk with Robertson about the love issue in America, trust, seeking wisdom and returning to the Scriptures.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Let’s start of and talk about Cancel Culture and how yourself, along with others have been targets of tactics to silence, get fired, and/or names be shamed in public. Share how you view this and what you experienced.
Phil Robertson: Well, the reason I wrote this book, on the cover it says “Finding Meaning and Peace in a Culture of Accusations, Shame, and Condemnation.” So, they never laid a glove on me, because my faith is in Jesus and what He’s done for me. When people come to Jesus by faith, He cancels the written code, the law. He cancels that. And so everybody on planet Earth at one time has been canceled, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and therefore we’re condemned by God. We did it to ourselves, every human being.
Jesus comes down in flesh 2022 years ago, and we are counting time by it. He dies on a cross, is buried and raised from the dead, removes the sins of the world and guarantees them they can live forever. And while he was at it, check this out, when you were dead in your sins – and everybody’s in that predicament at one point in their life, the ones who have reached the majority of years, not the children – when you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us our sins, having canceled the written code.
You say, “Oh my goodness, what a wonderful thing he’s done for believers.” With its regulations, all these laws, just look at the top 10, that they were against us and they stood opposed to us. Because the unfortunate thing, is we never kept it 100% perfect. He shows up, keeps it, never violates one little statute, then dies. “God made him,” the verse says, “who had no sin, to be sin for us so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.”
So the law, He took it away, nailing it to the cross, and having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. That’s Colossians chapter two, about 13, and following. So, for people who were Christians and they put their faith in Jesus, they’re not under a system of law or works, we’re under a system of grace; it’s mercy, it’s forgiveness. Jesus did that for us. And I am one who is so thankful for that, because He’s the only one who kept the law perfectly… probably because he wrote it.
So when you look at it that way, here’s what the apostle Paul had to say about what these people do. Check this out. And this is scary. “You therefore have no excuse.” This is the reason I wrote the book. “You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else. For at whatever points you judge the other,” these people are going back 200 years ago, find out that a guy sinned, and still they want to hold it against him. And if did some great deeds and actually if someone put a statue of him somewhere, they tear it down and they hold that against him, I guess forever.
So when you look at it, you say, “Man.” Because you who pass judgment do the same things. We know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. “When you, a mere man, pass judgment on others and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience?”
So when you look at that, you say, “Boy, the last thing you want do is be judgmental and hold people accountable for past sins.” I don’t even own a cell phone and I wouldn’t even know how to click onto the Internet. I’ve never bothered with it. But when you just look at it, you say, “Boy, they will go to great depth and great heights to try to find out what someone did wrong when they were 18 years old or whatever.” And they’ll chastise them, try to get their job. And they are proving that they’re all sinners, and they’re blaming other sinners. So God’s going to hold them accountable for that.
That’s the purpose of the book. The way out of this whole thing is when the apostle Paul was talking to the church at Corinth, he said one of the great things about love was that love keeps no record of wrongs. So we are to all hear that and put that into practice. All we have to do to fix all this stuff, this counterculture and cancellation crowd, all we have to do is learn to love God and to love our neighbor, and that cancel culture would just pass away. Isn’t that amazing?
RM: You’ve identified these key issues and talked to us about how we can change that course. Sure we can blame social media or quarantine, but are those just amplifiers, what is at the root of this public pandemic, if you’ll allow me to use that word in a very different sense then we’ve been used to hearing it. Why do you think it’s spun so out of control?
PR: I’m going to quote a Bible verse for you, about four or five verses. “Because they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” Now listen to how this sounds. “They’ve become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil.” Which if you just step back and look, this was written 2000 years ago, to the Roman Empire. And you say, “Whatever happened to the Roman Empire?” It’s gone. It’s gone. And Zeus is lying on the ground out there, all these false gods. “They disobey their parents, they’re senseless.” Here was the definition that the apostle Paul gave these people.
This is the counterculture crowd, and the ones of the cancellation crowd. Here’s what they are. “They are senseless, faithless.” No Jesus, none. “They’re heartless and ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them.” So it’s just a movement, and it’s not based on anything Biblical at all. I’m just giving America, with this book, a dose of what the spiritual implication should be.
“Love God and love your neighbor.” In that 1st Corinthians the apostle Paul is giving what love is. “Love is patient, love is kind.” And one of the things he says, and check this out, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
Me and Ms. Kay, what are we going to do, get up every morning and drag up stuff in the past? I used to be a heathen, a sinful heathen. Look, I’ve got children showing up that I didn’t even know existed back there 45, 50 years ago. So you say, “Well, what did you do?” You welcome them home. And then my long lost daughter that showed up over 45 years ago, she’s my next door neighbor now, she lives next door to me. I didn’t know I had a daughter running around out there. That’s how sinful I was.
But when you look at all these things, if we held it against each other, well, there’d be an impasse. How would you ever get past it if you didn’t love God and love each other? So that’s what I’m trying to get America to do, love God and love each other. And I just, for the life of me, I don’t see the downside, do you?
RM: I’d love to get your take on how alarming it is that so many topics have become polarizing, whether it’s vaccines, masks, schools, mandates, just everything… and it’s not only between people that believe in Jesus and have faith and people that don’t. So much of it is happening within people that share the same value systems, yet for some reason have staked a pole in the ground on a certain side, and they either become extremely angry and vocal, or quiet and isolate. But we’re talking within the same families, within the same church communities. How do you feel is the best way to approach these conversations so that they can be as your book says, constructive and respectful?
PR: Here’s what they would have to do, and do it with a concerted effort. Here’s 2nd Timothy chapter two. I’ll start in about verse 22. Listen on this. “Flee the evil desires of youth.” I told you some of mine. “And pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments.” This is 2nd Timothy chapter 2:24. He said, “Don’t have anything to do with stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels.” I’m like, yeah. So, watch, “And the Lord’s servant,” that’s us, “must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone,” or see, “able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose them, he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and they’ll come to their senses,” now check this out, “and escape from the trap of the devil, who’s taken them captive to do his will.”
It’s spiritual warfare, and I’ve been right in the middle of it ever since I started hollering about Jesus. And I was converted at 28. I’m now 75. He’s already said in this book in an earlier spot that everyone who lives, they got a life in Christ Jesus, not maybe, they will be persecuted. So we know it’s coming if you take a stand for Jesus. But the problem we have in America, we have a gigantic love problem, love for God and love for each other. I’ve never seen people running in every direction over the last couple years since that pandemic.
RM: One thing I know that can sometimes be a challenge for people, when it comes to seeking God’s wisdom, how do we allow for our own personal slant not to influence what we hear from the Lord? What’s the best way to make sure that we’re clearing out our own personal motives and really truly hearing what God wants to tell us?
PR: Well, the text I would show people is, “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training for the man of righteousness.” So I just remember that these words, they’re living, they’re active, and God gave it to us so we could have a compass, if you will. I just stick with the scriptures. I’m not a, what would I say there, if you saw me walking down the road you wouldn’t think I was a guy who writes books and builds duck calls and is a millionaire. You’d just say, “There goes some homeless guy.” So I just take it all in stride.
And when we meet on Sunday morning, if you could see it, we make sure there’s a big meal cooked, for the people, like homeless people and all that. Look, we marry people in the yard. When we meet on Sunday morning, we’ve got grub hot right off the stove so everybody can, whoever they are, we don’t care who they are, have a good meal. We go down here and baptize them on the river. So, what can I say, we’re old school.
PR: It’s not rocket science. Think about it. It is intentionally probing when you read the scriptures, but it’s the greatest story ever told, that’s for sure, in my humble opinion. And to tell you the truth, I don’t see any other route that’s going to get us out of here, except Jesus. Him crucified and raised from the dead. Constant mediating work. And He loved us enough to get us out from under the law and put us under grace, where we can breathe. And He’s taken all our sins away, does not count any future sins against us. All we have to do is love Him and love our neighbor. I don’t think he’s asking too much of us, really, do you?
RM: I feel like you’ve done such a fantastic job of laying out like what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, what we can do for change, and the importance of loving one another and applying scriptures. And it doesn’t seem like fear enters your life very often, and rightly so. You’re equipped with a scripture for everything and Jesus in your heart. But for others that might not be so great at combating it, or have anxious feelings, or feel despair or defeat, what can do you leave with them to help them manage?
PR: Well, probably where I would start with people, because I think they would be able to appreciate this if they looked at it carefully: “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. Love is not proud. Love is not rude. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Just think about love keeping no record of wrongs, and the current status of what America looks like and all this blame shifting and finding out where people sin, and chastising them and trying to fire them and get their job, their livelihood taken away. “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts.” It took me a long time to get that one, always trust.
I noticed something. When Ms. Kay would ask me, “Why don’t you trust me?” I would say, “Well, I can’t even trust me as far as I can see me.” So when I began to walk into faith, I noticed something. I began to change. I said, “You know what, this is doable. He’s not made it difficult for us.” The scripture says, “Love always hopes, love always perseveres. Love never fails.” And if you look at that, my message to people would be: that’s what we need to put into our psyche, and think about spiritual matters. It’s not a government fix. We know that. It’s a spiritual fix. And only through Jesus and Him crucified and His resurrection – He told us how we should behave, how we should live. So my recommendation is, just read the scriptures and put them into practice, and then you’re on your way.