Thursday, January 03, 2008

Public Repentance and Public Figures

The following is from Kairos Journal. In a world increasingly inundated with information about this or that public figure going into "rehab," or "confessing" their guilt about some infraction of law, it is helpful to be reminded what real repentance is (and isn't).
Repentance versus Self-Defense

—Richard Owen Roberts (1931- )

Richard Owen Roberts is a former pastor, who has authored, edited, and published numerous volumes relating to revival and revivalism. He has worked with the Billy Graham Association and Wheaton College in the formation of the

Billy Graham Center Library.

The age of instant media has brought the sins of public figures into the living room. Increasingly, ministers are called to pronounce those who are caught in sin forgiven regardless of their attitude toward biblical repentance. In the tradition of Nathan the prophet, who confronted David on adultery,1 Roberts reminds his readers that the biblical standard is quite different.

When leaders of nations are aided and abetted in their sins by their spiritual counselors, the entire nation suffers. Had God sent Saul a prophet as unwise and non-discerning as most contemporary religious leaders, the unrepentant king would have been pronounced repentant and forgiven, and every boy and girl in the kingdom would have been encouraged in a life of iniquity. By removing Saul from office, God gave notice to all of Israel that His law still stood and that not even kings could escape the just penalty of a broken law.

When a public figure like a president or a king genuinely repents, the whole nation is affected for good. Indeed every person who truly repents has an impact upon his world. If you think you have repented and yet those who know you best are unaware of it, you may still be clinging to one of these highly dangerous myths. Mark it down as a fact: repentance and self-defense can never coexist.2


See Kairos Journal article, "You. Yes, You."


Richard Owen Roberts, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2002), 98.

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