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August 22, 2020 3:00 am
They discuss the role of virtue in the public square and how figures such as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, George Whitefield, and George Washington were motivated by a devout Christian faith. Eric reminds us that there is power in being “activists in God’s way.”
Eric Metaxas is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of Martin Luther, If You Can Keep It, Bonhoeffer, Miracles, Seven Women, Seven Men, and Amazing Grace. He is the host of the Eric Metaxas Radio Show, a nationally syndicated radio program heard in more than 120 cities around the U.S.
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Hey, everybody. Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie podcast, and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and faith, culture and current events from a biblical perspective.
To find out more about our ministry. Just go to our Web site, Harvest Dawg. So thanks for joining me for this podcast.
So Kedwell, if you don't know Eric, obviously he's a New York Times best selling author. You've probably heard of his books or read his books on Bon Hoffer Luther. And, of course, his book on William Wilberforce called Amazing Grace. Another book called If You Can Keep It. You've written all these amazing books. You attended Yale University, and somehow Eric like taxes, who was not raised, really believing that Jesus Christ had a moment where he committed his life to the Lord. How did your conversion come about?
Well, I was lost, which is kind of the point of going to a place like Yale University. They want to they want to teach you that life has no meaning, but it's too painful to think about. So we will just distract you and teach you to avoid the subject of the meaning of life or the meaninglessness of life. So get a really good job and you'll be distracted by working hard. And on the weekends, there's like sports and alcohol. And in a few decades it'll all be over. And I was an English major. I did not get a good job. And so I floundered, tried to be a writer, and in the midst of my floundering, eventually got to a place where I was miserable, genuinely lost, but not seeking God. I was just sort of looking for the meaning of life. I didn't what I was looking for. Sometimes I think people say so-and-so is a seeker. And the point is that you're just drifting. You're a floater, you're drifting, you don't know what you're doing. You don't know if there is a meaning of life to discover and the midst of that hell. Long story short, I met a man who starts sharing his faith with me, and I was very resistant. In fact, they killed him. Just kidding. I was very resistant. But after a number of months, I began slightly to listen. And then one night, the Lord spoke to me in a dream. People can find it at my website. Eric Metaxas, dot com. The Lord. Completely and utterly blew my mind by speaking to me in a way in a dream that I knew. If you listened to the dream, I knew that it was miraculous that it wasn't just a dream. And I woke up and it was game over. I know Jesus is Lord. The Bible is true. And now my life has purpose.
And I love the way that you're taking your platform. You're on radio, you're on television. Obviously, you're a prolific author and you use your platform actually to talk about culture, to talk about politics, to talk about Christ, which permeates everything that you do. And you've written quite extensively about different significant people that made a difference in their time. One name that comes to mind is Rosa Parks. Tell us a little bit about why you chose her and what difference her life made.
Well, it's interesting. In my book, Seven Men, I wrote about the story of Jackie Robinson and why he was chosen by Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Dodgers, to be the first black American to play in the major leagues. No, they specifically chose him because he was known not just to be a great ballplayer. He was phenomenal, but he was known to be a man of deep Christian faith. And Branch Rickey said, if we really want to accomplish this great thing, we have to be strategic. The scripture says be wise as serpents. I'm sure a lot of times there are many Christians who think like I'm being I'm being wise as a dove. That's close enough. No wise as serpents. So Branch Rickey says, I'm going to choose him because I know that I can bank on him getting the idea that he has to turn the other cheek when people cursed him whenever he is obliged for the sake of the sport, for the sake of his race. He's obliged to. Not do the thing he feels like doing. But to say I'm going to I'm going to love my enemy so that we can accomplish a greater thing. So he pushes away his own will for the greater good. It's heroic. When I wrote Seven Women, Rosa Parks popped into my head because I thought it was a very similar case. She was chosen in the I guess was 1954 Montgomery bus boycott. They kind of wanted to pick someone who they knew would serve as a symbol. And a couple of years earlier, something similar had happened where a young African-American woman had been kicked off a bus, but she'd been known to have loose morals. She kind of cursed at the cops or the bus driver or whatever they said. When we do this, we need to pick someone who is above reproach, beyond reproach. And Rosa Parks was known to be serious about her Christian faith, a woman of great dignity of of, you know, serious morality. So when they picked her, they knew she would be a symbol and people would look there and and they would think, oh, we want to persecute this dignified woman who's well-dressed and who's, you know. And she was willing to go through that hell for her people and not just for her people, let's face it, for justice, for what is right. But it came out of her Christian faith, the idea that she wanted to do this. But it was her behavior as a Christian that allowed the powers that be to say we want her to be the face of this movement. And I just think that we forget sometimes that the civil rights movement in America and the abolitionist movement against slavery was principally motivated by people of devout Christian faith. We need to know that the way we have made progress against the abomination of slavery and against the horrors of the Jim Crow laws was with people of Christian faith living out the substance of their faith by saying, according to the scripture, this is wrong. And by the way, for somebody who doesn't believe in the Bible, I want to ask them, why do you say racism is wrong? Just because you say it's wrong? It is wrong according to what God says about his love. That's equal for every human being. And so these people knew they were right and they said, we're going to live out our faith and we're gonna be activist in this way. But they were activist in God's way, whether was Jackie Robinson or Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. It was about a Christian witness. It was not about raging against the oppressor. It was not about, you know, killing the slave owners in the case of abolition. I wrote about Wilberforce. It's a classic case of how he handled that and the case of civil rights here in America. It was principally devout Christians behaving like Christians as they fought Martin Luther King Junior said, you know, when you're on this bus and if you're not ready to turn the other cheek, get off the bus. If you're a troublemaker, get off the bus. We can't use you. You will. You will send us backward. And that's the difference between those movements and some of what we're seeing today. There is some rage and some violence and things that is setting the cause backward and is confusing people. In other words, there are people who are just looking at it and thinking that this is confusing. I don't know. I don't know what to believe. Yeah. Martin Luther King in particular was very careful about managing the appearance of the movement so that people on the fence would look and say, listen, those are good people. There is no question that they're on the right side of this. Just just look at how they're handling this persecution. That's the power of love. That is the power of nonviolence, which is which is expressed as as love for one's enemies. If you really want to accomplish something, Jesus shows us the way to do it. And when we have done it that way, we have accomplished something. And unfortunately, right now, some people have really confused things so dramatically that I think it's it's setting things back in the country. We have to we have to we have to do these things Jesus's way. He's the only hope to forgive those that have harmed us and persecuted us. Well, whoever we are and if we deviate from that, we just we'd not only don't get anywhere, we move backwards.
I'm going to be talking about Moses and how one man, effectively because of his godliness and personal integrity, kept two and a half billion people away from idolatry because when he left. The scene and left Eren in charge was the worst babysitter of all time. All hell broke loose. Kim Moses comes down from Mount Sinai holding the Ten Commandments, and they're dancing naked before a golden calf. I mean, how bad can it get? But to two names come to mind, significant people, one very well known, maybe the other not as well known, but the same named George. Yeah.
George Washington and George Whitfield, George Washington and George Whitfield Washington. We know Whitfield was an evangelist, but I argue in some of my books, in my Seven Men book, my Seven More Men book, and in my book, If You Can Keep It About America, that George Whitfield was used by God as dramatically as George Washington to create what we call the United States of America, that without George Whitfield and without George Washington, who, in case you're wondering, was not perfect, but God used both of these men. So dramatically. You know, sometimes you look at history and you say, oh, it's a group of people, but every now and again you say even if it's a group of people, there was a leader that behaved in such a way that if he had not or if she had not behaved in that way, there is no way this would have succeeded. I mean, 1776 and the revolution should never have succeeded. I mean, the facts are that the odds were stacked against them in such a way that unless God's hand was involved, it ought not to have succeeded. But Washington, when I did my chapter on Washington in my first book, Seven Men, I was embarrassed because like so many things, you know, people think because I went to Yale like I know everything, I am secure enough to tell you I am stupid and ignorant on an infinite number of things. And when I discover something late in life like who George Washington really was, I am ashamed that for all these decades I did not know who he was in terms of the true greatness. When you call on the father, the country. He really was he he almost in his person because of his aboveboard character, enabled us to succeed. And I talk about two examples in the chapter where he pushes down his own ambition. For the sake of the greater good. And it is so dramatic a sacrifice that you just think, would I have been able to do that? So it it inspires us to think that that's what greatness is. And he does it twice. But George Whitfield. It's a similar thing. He he was a pure evangelist and he preach the gospel. Up and down the 13 colonies. I joke around only half joking as usual. He he was such an evangelist. He preached so much to so many thousands of people, so often for so many years that he makes Paul the apostle. And Billy Graham look like lazy agnostics. That's that's my joke. And pause for laughter. But in all seriousness, he was so. How do I put it, energized and anointed as an evangelist? And he preached the simplest message, just like Billy Graham, the simplest message about the new birth, we must be born again. We must look to God, not to man. We have to have a personal nature. But Jesus. But by doing that in the decades preceding the revolution. Revival broke out. Up and down the 13 colonies. And people like Benjamin Franklin looked at this and said, you know what? When people look to a higher authority, which is God, when they have that personal relationship, you don't need many cops to keep them from stealing. They don't steal because they think it's a sin. They don't steal because they answer to a higher authority. We don't need big government. The people can govern themselves if they have virtue and if they have strong faith as they get these revivals, virtue follows. Crime goes down, alcoholism goes down. So it led to the possibility of people being able to govern themselves because virtue is at the heart of self-government, which is something I also didn't know growing up, and I certainly didn't learn it in college. And when I put all this together, there is no question. Zero question that without the preaching over the decades of this great, great evangelist, George Whitfield, there is no way the United States would have come into being because. Preaching the gospel is an egalitarian force. Right, it says we're all equal in God's eyes. So you don't look and you look at the king or the magistrate or the governor differently. You hold them to account because you say God holds them to account just as he holds me to account. We're all equal in God's sight. It changes things. And just to show you how much of an icon this evangelist was for the American cause when Benja sorry, when Benedict Arnold, before he was a traitor, when he was still on our side, still a good guy, he led his troops to make a pilgrimage to the grave of George Whitfield because he was seen to represent America. He was seen in fact, they took some of his clothing off as kind of a gruesome thing. They opened the crypt and they took off some of his clothing, which was still there because they wanted it almost as an icon, as as a relic, because he represented the freedom of the gospel and the freedom that they were trying to live out politically. And this was an evangelist. It wasn't like, yes, he preached. Now, that's all he ever did, is preach the gospel of Jesus and obviously make that connection in my my book, if he can keep it that without him you don't have 1776. It does not happiness everybody.
Greg Laurie here, thanks for listening to our podcast. And to learn more about Harvest Ministries, please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to harvest dot org. And by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God, go to no God dot org.
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