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Special Guest Eric Metaxas

The Steve Noble Show / Steve Noble
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February 10, 2023 9:13 pm

Special Guest Eric Metaxas

The Steve Noble Show / Steve Noble

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February 10, 2023 9:13 pm

Special Guest Eric Metaxas

Steve interviews Eric Metaxas about his book “Letter to the American Church.” He also talks a little about culture changing.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I like Rush, but I like Eric Metaxas more, so let's get rid of that and dive into our conversation with New York Times bestselling author, Eric Metaxas. Eric, sorry about that, my brother. You know what live radio is like, so that didn't go our way, but thanks for being here today. I'm fine. I'm happy to be here. Thank you so much. You're welcome.

Thanks for being here. And was there something, Eric, when you stepped up to the plate on this one for Letter to the American Church, was it something in particular that got you to the point where you were like, okay, I got to kind of pick up Bonhoeffer's mantle here and speak out to the American Church. Was there something in particular, was it a season or what kind of puts you over the edge on that one?

Well, I certainly wouldn't dare to think about picking up the mantle of Bonhoeffer. That didn't cross my mind. I'll tell you what happened. Something that happened that had never happened to me before. I felt there were some thoughts in my mind that I thought, I have to communicate this to Christian leaders.

That's all I was thinking, was that I was having some thoughts about where the Church has gone wrong, and these ideas were burning in my heart. And I actually thought, I have got to say these things, and I'm going to publish it myself. I'm not going to find a publisher. I'm going to write it. It'll be the shortest thing I ever wrote, and I will just send it to select pastors and whatever. And I went to the NRB, and my publisher, Salem Publishers, said, well, we've got some ideas for some books for you.

And I listened politely, because I didn't really have anything in mind that I wanted to write. And they described this book exactly. And I said, well, I haven't told anybody, but God has put it on my heart that I must write that book. So yes, maybe I will publish it with you, because this seems like a divine confirmation. The bottom line is, I've never had God put a book on my heart in that way before. I know that the Lord called me to write every single one of the books that I wrote, and that's even clearer to me now, that he called me to write Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce and Luther in preparation for this book, and for this season in America and in the world. But I never felt a burning desire to write, to say something in this way.

And it was a strange experience, and I said, okay, Lord, this is a little much. I don't want to screw this up. I don't want to say something that's my opinion, so you have to've got to help me, Lord. I'm just going to do my best, but I'm dead without you.

There's nothing I can, you know... And I just did my best. And I have to say that the response to the book has been astonishing. I promise you, Steve, I did not expect this book to sell well. I just thought, I just got to get it out there. It's going to reach a few people for God.

This is not a career move. This is just something I have to do. But the Lord has really used it, and I've never had a response to a book like this ever. The shortest book I ever wrote, and it's without any question the most urgent thing I've ever written, and I wish it were hyperbolic. I wish it was emotional and exaggerating, and it's not. I think it's exactly what the Lord wants us to hear, so that's why I wrote it. Yeah, well, in 139 pages, Eric, you basically encapsulated all the things I struggled with going back to 2002 through 2004 when God transformed my rather inward-looking life, and I really didn't care about anybody or anything.

If your last name wasn't Noble, you weren't on my radar screen. And so as I read through it, I'm like, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. And so one of the things I wanted to ask you about, there's several things in here in terms of kind of our issues at the church in America. I think one of the things is we have, I think we have an identity crisis. The whole world seems to have an identity crisis right now, even down to gender, but an identity crisis, this, you know, the chapter about the idolatry of evangelism and even understanding what's the call in the church. I really do think we have an identity crisis.

We don't know what our place is. Well, you're right. You're absolutely right. Actually, I should say that, I mean, the book is titled Letters to the American Church, but I was going to title it, Faith Without Works is Dead.

That was what really gripped my heart. I thought, we've got all these Christians running their little Bible studies and talking about reading the Bible, and I'm in this Bible study, and I thought, you know what? God does not care if you read your Bible and go to Bible studies and don't live what it says.

It's better if you do not read it than that you would read it and go to Bible studies and don't do what it asks of you. And I thought, that's what we've become. And of course, it's easy for us to point pictures of the Pharisees, point fingers at the Pharisees. They knew the Bible inside and out, and when Jesus walked into the room, they didn't understand, this is the Messiah, this is the living God of which the Bible speaks.

And why would we think they could be guilty of that, and we could not? And I really believe that is what is happening to the American Church, is that we have drifted into this, you know, it's heresy is really what it's called, right? We've drifted into this position that we think, I don't need to live out my faith heroically, I just need to believe it in my head intellectually, because it's faith alone, I believe, I'm done, I'm good. And you think, no, that's not what the Scripture says. The Scripture says faith without works is dead. So, you know, you can throw your fake faith in the garbage, because God does not acknowledge it as faith if there's no fruit, if you're not living it out.

And I thought there's so many people that would very quickly say, oh, you're talking about work. No, no, no, the Bible does not preach work. The Bible preaches a faith that is lived out in your life, and what you say and don't say, and how you live, and we have in the American Church been so comfortable that we've been able to drift into thinking this is real, this is doctrine, this is okay, and it's not. And it's because of that that we find ourselves where we are, in a place of absolute madness taking over the culture, and taking over much of the Church, even. And then, where it hasn't taken over the Church, many churches are simply silent, which is equally guilty. And the main point of the book was to say that this is exactly what happened in the German Church in the early 30s. I mean, no exaggeration, this is precisely what they did, and why they were silent, they thought they had good theological reasons, and we know now they were dead wrong, Bonhoeffer was trying with everything he had to wake them up, they refused to hear it.

By the time some of them heard it, it was too late. Yeah, that's exactly right. And you mentioned a word a minute ago, Eric, we're talking to Eric Metaxas, you mentioned a word a minute ago, heroic. And certainly, Bonhoeffer is heroic. I think the question for all of us is, are we doing anything heroic for the faith in any context whatsoever?

Maybe it's in your house, maybe it's in your Sunday school group, maybe it's at work, or you have a big platform, I have a medium-sized platform. The question for all of us is, is there any heroism going on at all, or are we just stuck in boot camp training ourselves, but we never enter a battle? You know what, you just said it. I don't normally say that, but that's exactly what it is. We keep acting like, oh, I want to go to more Bible studies, I want to go to more Bible studies.

For what? Like, are you ever going to put it into action? Are you ever going to live it out, or is this just, you're just kind of preparing for something that you hope never happens? It is happening now, it is always happening, but it's happening now for anybody who has eyes to see, and you just keep kind of pretending, like, well, we're not in the battle yet. That's really, again, in Letter to the American Church, I show the comparison of the German church, because that's exactly where they were. They were like, not yet, not yet, not yet.

And you think, well, if not now, when? You not see what is happening. And the fact is, they didn't see what was happening.

They had every kind of excuse. Yeah, we're going to unpack that when we come back. Eric, I'd like to jump from the 1930s in Germany. Actually, back to Germany in 1987. I want you to help us understand about the example of Ronald Reagan.

And then let's try to put that into the context of your average person listening to us today. We're on with New York Times bestselling author, Eric Mataxas. We'll be right back. Welcome back.

It's Steve Noble, The Steve Noble Show. Great to be with you today. Our special guest, New York Times bestselling author, Eric Mataxas, Amazing Grace, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and now Letter to the American Church, by the way, also has authored 30 children's books.

That's probably low at this point, but just an amazing one. And we just appreciate Eric's time today, despite our rough start. And again, Eric, thanks for being with us. My privilege. Thank you.

You're welcome. So let's go from the Nazi Germany in the 1930s and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Let's take a trip around, end up back in Germany, 1987, this time with Ronald Reagan, and help us understand from what Reagan did, how we can translate that into our own lives. I was saying on the break for Facebook Live and Rumble, Eric, that, hey, you know, being called to be salt and light, to love your neighbor as yourself, to engage the world around you doesn't mean you've got to figure out a way to be Eric Mataxas or Steve Noble. You have to be a good steward of where God has placed you.

So what can we learn from what Ronald Reagan did there in Berlin? Well, I mean, it's funny because I've written about all these heroes, and I always get that question like, well, you know, how can I be like Bonhoeffer? How can I be like Wilberforce?

You're not supposed to be Bonhoeffer or Wilberforce or anybody but yourself. The Lord has called each of us to do the right thing in our own sphere, to be a hero in our own world for His purposes. He's called each of us to an adventure, He's no respecter of persons, and we're responsible for that and that alone. And the reason I made the last chapter of the book we're talking about, Letter to the American Church, about Reagan is because this is an example of the kind of faith I talk about in the book, in action, almost in a secular way. It's to say that there are always going to be people telling you, do the safe thing, do the careful thing, don't be crazy, don't be wild. And you realize, no, Jesus is not a tame lion, right?

When you look at the Narnia Chronicles, Aslan is not a tame lion. The goodness of God is wild, it's dangerous, and it's good. It's a different idea than being nice and playing it safe and being religious and worrying about, am I sinning or not? You're supposed to be worrying about, am I serving God passionately?

If you're worried about that, you will not be sinning very much. But if you're focused on this moral God and you say, I don't want to do this, and I better do this, and I better do this, you have this kind of negative view. Reagan saw that he had an opportunity in 1987, if people don't know the history, that really the Soviet Union had been a monolith. There had been, you know, you just thought, I mean, for our lifetimes, you just thought, this is never going away, it's the USSR, it will never be dismantled, it's this evil empire, it is communist, it is atheist. Reagan said, you know what, we're called to slay dragons, and this evil empire is harming human beings, there's no freedom in the Soviet Union, people are suffering, and if I have any ability to do something about it as President of the United States, I'm going to fight.

Even if I don't win, I'm going to do what I can. I'm not going to play the game that the rhinos of his day were advocating. We have detente, let's just, you know, everybody agree to disagree.

Well, no. So Reagan goes to Germany, and he stands where the Berlin Wall was, and he gives a speech. And in that speech, he had put in a line, Mr. Gorbachev, who was the head of the Soviet Union at the time, Mr. Gorbachev, if you care about these things, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, tear down this wall.

It was a bold, prophetic, heroic statement. And all the people in the State Department, all his advisors, Colin Powell, Howard Baker, they all said, oh, no, no, you can't say that, you can't say that. They absolutely insisted he take it out of the speech.

And Reagan refused to take it out. He kept it in, and he said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. And I say that when he said that, you know that the demons shuddered, because it was a prophetic statement. The demons shuddered the people in the Politburo, all of the people who were, they were invested in the lie that this Soviet Union, this place of enforced atheism, and no freedom, that this was too big to mess with, nobody can mess with us. Reagan went right against it, and he said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. And as a result of what he said, it was just enough of a push to get some things moving.

And we know that only two years later, Germany is reunited in 91, the Soviet Union crumbles apart, things that nobody would dream about. And so if you want to play it safe, if you're the kind of Christian, I want to play it safe, I don't want to cause any trouble, ladies and gentlemen, that's not biblical, that's not the God of the Bible. And you're following a false god, that's a safe religious idol. The God of the Bible is utterly different than that. And I just want to say that that's why we are where we are now, because a lot of people are going to church, they're just playing it safe, they don't want to get in trouble, they don't want to say the wrong thing. You're not following the God of the Bible, you're supposed to follow the God of the Bible fearlessly and joyfully. And I put the chapter in with Reagan just kind of as an illustration in the real world of what that can look like. Yeah, and I think one of the challenges for a lot of people today, Eric, we're talking to Eric Metaxas, author of Letter to the American Church, I put those links up on Facebook, and it'll be on Rumble as well, is that a lot of people, I mean, one of my problems back in 2000, 2001 is I had subscribed to what I now call abandonment theology. That's the old, hey, I read the end of the book, and at the end of the book, we win. So in the meantime, I'm just gonna dig my moat and pull in my gate and build my castle and watch it all swirl down the toilet. But in terms of engaging, why should we care? I mean, the nations, obviously it's...
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-10 22:47:31 / 2023-02-10 22:54:21 / 7

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