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A Conversation with Eric Metaxas & Greg Laurie: Biblical Perspective on Slavery and Racism

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2020 3:00 am

A Conversation with Eric Metaxas & Greg Laurie: Biblical Perspective on Slavery and Racism

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 15, 2020 3:00 am

History records many dark times of human suffering and tragedy. But God’s people have always brought light into the darkness. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie is with radio and TV host, Eric Metaxas as they discuss just what part the Church has played in combating racism, bigotry, and slavery. And we’ll discover that the spiritual moorings of America can be traced back to a certain preacher who planted the seeds of the gospel that allowed our republic to be born.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If you would like to know how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org.

That's harvest.org. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie speaks with author Eric Metaxas about a biblical perspective on slavery and racism. 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. And they said, we're going to live out our faith and we're going to be activists in this way. But they were activists in God's way.

Absolutely. History records many dark times of human suffering and tragedy, but God's people have always brought light into the darkness. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie is with radio and TV host Eric Metaxas as they discuss just one part the church has played in combating racism, bigotry, and slavery. And we'll discover that the spiritual moorings of America can be traced back to a certain preacher who planted the seeds of the gospel that allowed our republic to be born.

This is the day, the day when life begins. Oh my goodness. Okay, well if you don't know Eric, obviously he's a New York Times bestselling author. You've probably heard of his books or read his books on Bonhoeffer, 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 Metaxas who was not raised really believing in 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 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 don't know 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 in the midst of that hell, long story short, I met a man who started sharing his faith with me and I was very resistant. In fact I 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, ericmataxas.com. The Lord completely and utterly blew my mind by speaking to me in a way, in a dream that I knew, if you listen 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'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.

They specifically chose him because he was known not just to be a great ball player, 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 think a lot of times there are many Christians who think, 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 curse at him and whatever, 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 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 it 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, 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 serious morality. So when they picked her, they knew she would be a symbol.

And people would look to her 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, so 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 going to be activists in this way. But they were activists in God's way, whether it 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 Jr. 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 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, this is confusing.

I don't know what to believe. 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 look at how they're handling this persecution. That's the power of love. That is the power of nonviolence, which is expressed 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.

Unfortunately, right now, some people have really confused things so dramatically that I think it's setting things back in the country. We have to do these things Jesus' way. He's the only hope to forgive those that have harmed us and persecuted us, whoever we are.

And if we deviate from that, we not only don't get anywhere, we move backwards. Pastor Greg Laurie will have more of his discussion with Eric Metaxas in just a moment. We hear from so many people who find Christ through these studies in God's Word. Dear Pastor Greg, I wake up to your voice on the radio each day. I've been a Christian since September 12, 1978, after hearing you speak in Riverside, California. While living in Temecula, my employers told me they were praying for me.

For many years, I did not believe. But after hearing your life story and all about Jesus, I began to believe and made a decision to follow Jesus. Thank you, Pastor Greg, for all that you've done and continue to do for all of us who need to hear the Word daily. We hope Pastor Greg's words from Scripture continue to touch lives. And if you have a comment or story to share, send it to Pastor Greg. His email address is gregatharvest.org.

That's gregatharvest.org. Now Pastor Greg continues his discussion with bestselling author Eric Metaxas. 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 million people away from idolatry because when he left the scene and left Aaron in charge, who was the worst babysitter of all time, all hell broke loose. 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 two names come to mind, significant people, one very well known, maybe the other not as well known, but the same name, George. 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. Right now and again, you say even if it's a group of people, there was a leader who 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 him the father of the country, he really was. He almost in his person because of his above board 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 inspires us to think that that's what greatness is. And he does it twice. But George Whitefield, it's a similar thing. He was a pure evangelist and he preached the gospel up and down the 13 colonies.

I joke around only half joking as usual. 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 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 relationship with 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 Whitefield, 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 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 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 Whitefield because he was seen to represent America. 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 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. No, that's all he ever did is preach the gospel of Jesus. And obviously I make that connection in my book, If You Can Keep It, that without him, you don't have 1776.

It does not happen. Amazing. And now they're taking a statue of Billy Graham.

I know. I heard about that. I mean, to me, that is the most appropriate, right thing that could be done because Billy played not just a significant role as a great evangelist to America and the world, but really just for years, for decades. I mean, there's been no minister who has ever had a relationship with so many presidents, starting with President Truman and going all the way to President Obama, and arguably with President Trump, because I was at Billy's 95th birthday party, and then businessman Donald Trump was there. It says before he announces candidacy, the run for the presidency, but he had a relationship with Billy. So really, from Truman to Trump, Billy played a significant role, both Republicans and Democrats. And some of the Democrats he had a greater influence on than even some of the Republicans.

Very close with LBJ. He had a relationship with Kennedy. One story that Billy told me I found amazing. I said, Billy, do you have any regrets in life? And he said, yes, I regret the fact that I did not go with the president on one occasion. He was speaking at the prayer brick of Washington, D.C. Well, you've spoken.

You've spoken at that when President Obama was in office. So Kennedy was the president. So after Billy spoke, President Kennedy said to him, Billy, would you drive with me back to the White House?

There's something I want to talk to you about. Billy was very sick. He had the flu. And he said, Mr. President, I'm afraid I would get you sick.

If I were to do this, maybe I could do this in the future, in the near future. And JFK said, okay, that's fine. And shortly after that, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. And, of course, Billy says, I regret that I didn't have that conversation because I wondered what he wanted to talk to me about. But, you know, tell us what your thoughts are on Billy now having this statue dedicated to you. Well, first of all, I can't neglect to push one more time my book, Seven More Men, because the seventh man in that book is Billy Graham. I didn't put him in Seven More Men because he was still living. And I said, I'll only put people who are not living in these books. That's the only reason you're not in the book.

I just want you to know that. But in all seriousness, Billy Graham, he's an American institution. I could be in a new book called Seven Lame Men.

Seven – look, I hope to write many more in the seven series. But I'm serious that when he passed away, I thought, I'm going to write another book. And he has to be in the book and putting him in Statuary Hall in the Capitol.

He's replacing some Confederate figure who was there. It really is appropriate because we have to remember that Billy Graham, because of his faith in Jesus Christ, integrated his crusades before you really had to do anything like that. It was a brave Christian witness against segregation, against Jim Crow. And that's the power of the Gospel.

The Gospel touches everything. It touches race relations. It touches how we do government, as I said. We wouldn't have the freedoms we have in this country if not for a virtuous and religious people.

And all these things are connected. So any time anyone talks to me about religion, it's almost like the first thing I want to say is our faith should not be private and in some little religious corner. Even our Constitution says that we have religious liberty to exercise our faith everywhere, not just in some little building.

And then when you come out, you bow to the secular authority of the state. No, your faith is supposed to be part of everything. It's supposed to be reflected in everything you say and do in your life. Otherwise, you don't really have faith. And that's something I think some people struggle with. And it's part of why I do a lot of what I do is because I just want to show our faith needn't always be a religious thing, so to speak. It can just infuse every conversation, everything that we do. Very important that people of faith get that.

Absolutely. A fascinating conversation between Pastor Greg Laurie and author Eric Metaxas today, here on A New Beginning. Good insight on the men God used to shape this country.

Hopefully, you caught all of this discussion. But if you missed any part, you can catch up by listening again online at harvest.org. We're simply titling this program A Conversation with Eric Metaxas and Greg Laurie.

Or you can get a permanent copy on CD by calling 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. You know, Pastor Greg, we announced a few months ago that more than 100,000 people had registered decisions for Christ just this year through Harvest Ministries.

And it's actually more than that now. Now that's in spite of the church being shut down and the harvest crusade this year being canceled. It's sort of as if God said, canceled? Shut down?

Watch this. I mean, he really showed up in a big way, and it actually surpassed our goals exponentially. We've seen more people touched with the gospel this year than any year in our history. That's really true, Dave. You know, the Bible says, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Actually, the Bible doesn't say that.

But the Bible does give us a much better statement in Romans 8.28, for we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And so what we did, as our listeners know, is we pivoted. When we found out we could not have our live event in the stadium as we always do, and we've done for the last 30 years, we created what we called a cinematic crusade. One person described it as the greatest evangelistic film they'd ever seen before. It was our goal to do something that was beautiful and artistic, but yet had a gospel one-two punch in it. And the result of that was our movie that we put out called A Rush of Hope. It was seen by thousands and thousands of people around the world.

Thousands came to Christ as a result of it. And our hope is next year to do another movie. It's not titled yet, but I'm already talking with the Irwin brothers about our next cinematic crusade that we're going to do. But here's the cool thing. Now you can own your own copy of what we call A Rush of Hope, this beautiful film that had vignettes from other kingdom films in it, like I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, and Woodlawn, along with special sections that we recorded, live concert with For King and Country and Jeremy Camp, and a message that I did against one of the most beautiful backdrops of nature I've ever seen in my entire life. And we've seen that this really moves people deeply. This is a tool you're going to be able to use again and again and again. You can invite someone over and say, watch this movie with me.

It's not longer than an hour. And then you can talk to them about how they can come into a relationship with God. What a great tool to have in the holiday season, especially as we're having our first Christmas in the middle of a pandemic. So not only will we send you this DVD copy of A Rush of Hope, we'll also send a special information piece that shows you how to host a watch party. That simply means that it tells you how to put an event on at your house using this film, inviting people over from your neighborhood or from your family or your workplace or wherever you want to do it.

Wherever you can show a DVD, you can do this. And also we have a downloadable version as well that you can show on a tablet device or a computer or even a phone. We also, in this special offer that we have right now, have a little evangelistic booklet called A Rush of Hope Find Answers to Life's Most Important Questions.

And so all of this is in this special resource that we want to send you for your gift of any size. And this is so we can finish 2020 strong. It's been a crazy year. It's been a surprising year, but it's also been a very spiritually fruitful year. And we're praying that 2021 will even be more effective in reaching people with the gospel.

Listen, here at Harvest Ministries, you know we're all about teaching the Word of God, but we're also about proclaiming the gospel and calling people to Christ. Because of your prayer and support, we've been able to reach more people in this last year than we've reached in all of our years in doing this, and we're praying we'll reach even more next year. So as this year comes to a close, would you appropriately consider giving to us right now financially? And I would ask you to give generously because when you do that, we can reach even more people.

And guess what? It'll be spiritual fruit to your account. And I would like to send you, as my way of saying thanks, this brand new DVD copy of our cinematic crusade film, A Rush of Hope. Yeah, that's right. And if you haven't seen it, don't miss out.

If you have seen it, of course you know what a special movie this is. So thank you for your generous year-end donation right now, and we'll thank you tangibly with A Rush of Hope on DVD. You can write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings us another message based on the life of Moses, where we see the power of one, how one person can make a world of difference when heaven is guiding and empowering. Tune in next time for A New Beginning. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-14 21:18:11 / 2024-01-14 21:29:10 / 11

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