• Book Review: Eric Metaxas, Letter To The American Church

    June 24, 2024

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    Doral, Florida - Eric Metaxas has written some mighty good works. He might be called a Christian apologist, except that Christians have nothing to apologize for. His works include biographies of William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther. He also leads the “Socrates in the City” discussions in midtown Manhattan.

    He has recently written a Letter to the American Church (2022), warning of the need to stand up against the pagan Marxist revolution that threatens America today. Of course, some Christians think that we should not take a stand against this threat, and instead we should yield in imitation of Stephen. He did not resist when he was stoned to death by the religious authorities for giving his testimony on behalf of the gospel. Acts 6-7. This approach reflects an almost Quaker-like pacifism.

    On the other hand, however, some Christians follow Paul’s admonition to Timothy that: “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7. There is also the example of David confronting Goliath and other enemies of Israel. Paul also added: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

    Metaxas draws a parallel between the American church today and the German church during the 1930’s. Germany faced a national socialist revolution inspired by pagan Germanic racism. Today America faces a socialist revolution inspired by pagan Marxist ideology. This ideology includes Critical Race Theory, radical trans-sexual creeds, and abortion extremism. They are at war not only with marriage and the family, but also with property rights and free markets.

    He points out that in response, some contemporary Christian leaders duck the pagan challenge and insist on staying “apolitical.” The people of God have withdrawn more and more from public life. They have retreated to what they consider a proper “religious” sphere. The church no longer bears witness in the public square. It has succumbed to fear, cowardice, complacency and apathy.

    The United States Government

    As Metaxas observes, the United States Supreme Court contributed to this retreat by the church when it banned prayer from public schools during the 1960’s. However, when we ban the God of the Bible from a space, then we create room for other gods, all false gods. The courts have interpreted this ruling to mean that the public square should be stripped of Christian faith entirely. To secularize the public square is actually to impose on it a secular religion of pagan Marxism.

    The head of the Chicago Public Schools once claimed that his schools were free from religion, but that was not true. They had expelled Judeo-Christian religion, but had instead embraced the religion of the state, especially the welfare state, climate change, and abortion and infanticide. As Bob Dylan sings, we all gotta serve somebody.

    Metaxas also observes that another part of the onslaught against the church by the federal government occurred in 1954 when Senator Lyndon Johnson introduced an amendment to the United States tax code prohibiting churches, and other not-for-profit organizations, from taking a public stand on political candidates and parties.

    This amendment violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. American pastors in the XVIIIth century spoke out boldly against the tyranny of the British Empire. They also spoke out in the XIXth century against the evils of slavery. On the Sunday before the election of November 1864, almost every pastor in the Union preached for the re-election of President Lincoln. Then during the Civil Rights movement during the XXth century, they spoke out against segregation laws.

    Metaxas argues that today’s church has meekly allowed itself to be censored. It adheres to a pietistic impulse to keep its hands clean, stay above the fray, and keep a distance from social and political issues. Instead, God calls us to join the fray, as he did by sending Jesus into the world. As Max Weber, a founder of the sociology of religion, observed: Western religion confronts the world, South Asian religion withdraws from the world, and East Asian religion seeks harmony with the world.

    During the shutdowns starting in 2020 in response to the Wuhan flu virus, churches were deemed unessential. Many pastors went along with shutting down their churches without challenging this decree from Caesar. Not only did they fail to oppose this pagan onslaught, but also many share its objectives. They joined in supporting movements like Black Lives Matter, flying the rainbow flag, and now pro-Islamic jihad demonstrations. BLM expressly stated its opposition to the Christian family.

    Many of these pastors do not feel the urgency to stand up for the church, and also often lack the courage to do so. As Thomas Jefferson observed, the institutions of church and state must be kept separate, for the protection of the church.

    The Jewish Question in Germany and America

    Now the American church is being tested in a way similar to the German church on the “Jewish Question.” Adolph Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany during the middle of the week in late January 1933. The following Sunday evening, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was delivering a talk over national radio on the topic of the Fuhrer (Leader, Guide) principle in German life. Bonhoeffer expressed the view that the German people (Der Deutschen Volk) already had a Fuhrer: He is Jesus of Nazareth, the Galilean carpenter, who came back to life after suffering a Roman crucifixion. In the middle of his presentation, the radio transmission was cut off, just like the cancel culture that we face today in America.

    Within a few weeks after Hitler’s installation as chancellor, the German parliament building (Reichstag) burned down. The governing National Socialists (Nazis) blamed the fire on their Communist opponents, and obtained emergency powers to govern through executive orders, without parliamentary review. The situation was similar to the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, when the administrative state staged a riot to cover up a stolen election.

    These events were followed by the enactment of German race laws to prohibit anyone with Jewish blood from holding government positions. Bonhoeffer responded within a couple of months with an essay proclaiming that the church is the conscience of the state, and is obligated to help victims of the state. Christians have an obligation to God to take action and become active politically, if necessary.

    Most German pastors, however, thought that Bonhoeffer’s essay was premature and radical. They feared becoming political enemies of the state. The German church split into the majority “Reich Church” supporting the regime, and the minority “Confessing Church” opposing it. The majority of pastors were over-scrupulous and cowardly. They elected to remain neutral in the face of state power. Bonhoeffer has been associated with the view that: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. God will not hold us blameless.”

    In America today, the church faces growing anti-semitism, which has come out of the closet after the Hamas jihad massacre on October 7, 2023. Christians must stand against it.

    Comrade Wenski

    Last month the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski, spoke at a lunch meeting of community newspapers. He spoke eloquently for over 30 minutes about immigration, and about how South Florida is good at absorbing immigrants, but he did not once mention the word “lawful,” as in lawful immigrants. Your columnist engaged in some investigative journalism and went up to him after his speech to note this omission. He acknowledged his omission and offered no defense. So, he is promoting lawlessness.

    Before being appointed Archbishop, he spent 18 years as a cleric to the Haitian immigrant community in South Florida. In the course of this ministry, he must have concluded that he would like America to become more like Haiti: a lawless republic.

    Odd, because he started his speech with a joke about King Henry VIII, who ordered the execution of Saint Thomas More, a martyr of the church. More served as Lord Chancellor of England, the highest legal position in the kingdom, and was a staunch defender of the importance of the rule of law.

    The movie about More’s life, A Man For All Seasons (1966), portrayed a discussion between him and his son-in-law about the importance of maintaining the rule of law, regardless of what other worthwhile policy objective we might seek. His son-in-law claimed that he was such a devout Christian, eager to do good works, that he would cut down all the laws of England in order to get at the Devil. More replied that when the Devil turned on his son-in-law and counter-attacked, then he would be defenseless without the protection of the law. More’s point is that we should give the Devil the benefit of the law for our own safety’s sake.

    If we let America become as lawless as Haiti, then where will the refugees from America go for a safe place to start over? Saint Thomas More does not approve!

    Metaxas identifies four outlooks that have led the American church to its present predicament:

    1. As Martin Luther emphasized, we are justified before God by faith alone, but our faith must be completed by corresponding works. “Faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:26. The medieval monks proclaimed: Ora et Labora - - Pray and Work. Our actions illustrate what we actually believe. There must be a connection between what we say we believe and how we live and act. Christians must act out our convictions. It is not enough to believe in God (even the demons do that); we must also serve him and do his will. The Christian life is not always consistent with bourgeois respectability.
    2. In their pursuit of evangelism and bringing sinners to Jesus, many Christians refuse to judge them and instead embrace non-judgmentalism. Their main goal becomes to avoid being cancelled by the secular culture. Christians, however, must speak the truth freely, fearlessly and lovingly, and not allow ourselves to be muzzled. If we do not mix our faith with politics, then what do we do with it? Keep it in a safe deposit box?
    3. Some say that Christians ought not to be political, but God’s will sometimes requires us to enter the world of politics. Many Christians have allowed themselves to be silenced and neutralized. Instead, we must speak out against immoral and unnatural laws, like racial segregation, abortion on demand, and same-sex marriage. There is no room in the Christian life for pious inaction. Bonhoeffer became political to the point of joining the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. When this plot failed, he was arrested and eventually executed in April 1945, at the very end of the war on Hitler’s direct order.
    4. In the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus condemned the servant who played it safe by burying the talents that were entrusted to him, instead of putting them to work in order to earn an income. God frees us to take risks in order to do his will. With Jesus, there is no safe middle ground, and we must put our freedom to work in order to serve God’s purposes. We must not only avoid sin, in order to preserve our virtue and salvation, but also we must engage sin in battle, to advance our Creator’s kingdom. If the state’s actions are evil, then we must oppose the state.

    Tear Down This Wall!

    President Ronald Reagan did not play it safe. His conventionally-minded advisors opposed his approach, but he had the courage to confront the Soviet Communists. Reagan’s view of the Cold War was: We win, they lose. He had no use for rapprochement or détente. First in 1983 he called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” This proclamation irritated his advisors, but it renewed the courage of gulag prisoners like Nathan Sharansky and other refuseniks.

    Then in 1987 during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate next to the Berlin Wall, he called them out by proclaiming: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan understood that because the Soviet Union, like other totalitarian communist regimes, was built on lies, it was unsustainable and could be brought down by proclaiming the truth. Yet some today draw a moral equivalence between the Berlin Wall, built to keep in the subjects of the communist tyranny, and the wall that the United States is building along our southwest border to keep out illegal aliens.

    Like Wilberforce denouncing slavery and Bonhoeffer opposing National Socialism, Reagan was willing to come across as wild and unpredictable in his leadership. What he did was to proclaim liberty to the captives.

    Metaxas observes that: “God is good, but his goodness is not safe or tame. God is not the religious God of the Pharisees. He does not call us to be tame, safe or religious.” We cannot simply bury the talents and keep our heads down.

    The Pope’s Divisions

    At the start of the Cold War right after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet military was briefing Stalin on the deployment of forces in the European front. The Soviets had an overwhelming superiority over the Allies, and but for the American atom bomb, Stalin probably would have ordered Soviet tanks to advance all the way to the English Channel.

    Toward the end of this briefing by military intelligence officers, the officers of the KGB (Committee for the Security of the State) asked to speak. They pointed out that in addition to military forces, the Soviets were also confronted by spiritual forces in Eastern Europe. These forces were strongest in Poland, with its deep Catholic tradition, but were also strong in the rest of the region.

    Stalin is reported to have scoffed at the KGB’s warning, and responded with the question: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, a large part of the credit belonged to the leadership of Pope John Paul II, previously Bishop of Krakov.

    Religionless Christianity

    The word religion comes from the same Latin root that also gives us ligaments and league, which means something that ties together. Religion can certainly tie together a community, but that is not the sole or even the principal objective of Christianity.

    The principal objective of Christianity is to provide a relationship between us and our Creator, so that we can serve him by doing his will, and thereby reach our full potential. As Metaxas reminds us, if this requires us to stand up in politics, then so be it. We must live out our faith fearlessly. We must not allow our faith to be walled off from any part of our lives, whether culture, politics or anything else. This is the time for which we were born.

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    Eduardo Vidal

    Eduardo Vidal is a lawyer and political activist. His family brought him when he was nine years old from Cuba to the USA, but now the rule of law has been eroded in the USA as well, and we are turning into Cuba and the rest of Latin America.

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    Darci Braz
    Darci Braz
    20 days ago

    Hubs and I bought 50 books and handed them out to many Church attendees, elders, pastors and others that had an interest. Our Church leaders absolutely need to get on board and lead. So many just want to go the easy way, tell stories, be liked and of course, get $$.

    20 days ago

    Terrific review and article. I have not been able to find a church that openly refutes the demonic nature of the deep state and current regime. Mr. Vidal brings up many of the excuses churches and church leaders make in defending their refusal to confront the government in its Marxist march into the gutter.

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