A Letter To The American Church – With Eric Metaxas: Is today’s American Church similar to the German Church of the 1930s? Is silence in the face of evil a valid option for the Christ-followers? What role should the Church play in the culture of a nation? Tune in to hear Eric Metaxas discuss his new book: A Letter to the American Church!
Air Date: 09/21/2022
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live; we’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And thankful that you’re here with us to do that. Thanks for locking shields with us, whether you’re just listening today but hopefully then sharing the program with your friends and family and taking action on the things that we’re talking about.
We’re going to be talking today about the role of the church and the importance of waking up and influencing the culture, being salt and light and not ending up like 1930 Germany, not giving in to this idea that somehow Romans 13 means we just bow and we do whatever government says. Instead of doing that, we should recognize that we are the government and we have a responsibility there, and not just a right to participate in freedom, but a responsibility and a duty to do so.
My name is Rick Green. I’m an American’s Constitution coach and a former Texas legislator. And I am here with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. And Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. You can book these guys to come into your church, your community. Go to wallbuilders.com and I promise you, you will be blessed; it’ll set people on fire.
It will get them excited about the opportunity to save our country, to save freedom, to save religious liberty, to make sure that America can continue to be a blessing to people around the world, that we can continue to send missionaries around the world and fund the benevolence of a nation that has been an incredible force for good to the entire planet. And we want you to be a part of that. Go to wallbuilders.com today to learn more.
Whether you want to get some of our materials and do that study in your home with friends and family, you can become a Constitution coach. Just grab any of our videos or DVDs and bring people in and talk about those things and learn more about those things.
Or you may want to, like I said, bring one of our folks in and actually have them do a presentation at your church or host a class or something like that. But there’s so many different things you can do. And I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t sit on the sidelines. By the end of the program today, you will not want to sit on the sidelines.
Alright, David and Tim, Eric Metaxas will be with us a little later in the program, of course, new book coming out. I mean, he’s always got a good book coming out, but his latest one is A Letter to the American Church, we’ll be talking a little bit about that and just a wakeup call for the church and the responsibility of the church to influence the culture. And of course, that’s a common topic for us here on WallBuilders.
We’ve been talking about that for a few decades, and, man, I think we’re getting a better response now, certainly that I’ve seen in anything that we’ve done in the past. People are awake and they’re willing to listen. I think pastors are willing to listen. They wouldn’t listen before.
In fact, I was just in Washington State, and a pastor actually told me, he said, man, I was asleep at the wheel for 30 years, and COVID woke me up and now I’m willing to preach and talk about these things. That’s why he had the event that he had. And he actually had Metaxas a couple of months ago too. So, anyway, it’s a good thing to see some of the church waking up. But I think it’ll be interesting to talk to Eric today about where he sees this wakeup call going.
Yeah. It’s something that we certainly have talked about amongst ourselves. Even some of the radio program is that one of the great things about COVID was it kind of pushed people where you have to be on one side or the other. And even almost a dividing of like the wheat and the tares.
So, the wheat and the chaff, where we mentioned in the middle of COVID. For pastors who thought their church was important enough, the idea from Hebrews that we don’t forsake the assembly together of the brethren, if you thought your church was essential, you were correct.
Pastors Must Engage
And for pastors that thought no, we’re not really, this shouldn’t be considered essential services, people stay home. If you didn’t think your church was essential, you were also correct. Wherever you landed on that line, you were in fact correct. And we are definitely seeing people that have woken up.
Dad, you’ve mentioned before some of the research that Barna has done where approximately 28% of pastors hold to biblical teaching. But not all 28% of those pastors are willing to teach it from the pulpit. But since COVID, many of those pastors who have not been willing to engage, we are seeing now engaging at a greater level. And this is certainly one of the challenges from Eric’s new book, which I’m excited to be able to get into and read and really excited to hear where all he’s going to go in this conversation and echoing what you said.
And Eric, what you said, Rick, I’m seeing churches and people doing things I’ve never seen them do before in a very good sense of engagement. I think in the last 9 days, we’ve been in 8 states and 14 cities, and there were pastors meetings in all those cities. And we’re seeing pastors engaged that have never been engaged before, saying, hey, this is not acceptable; I’m getting engaged.
And they’re getting in school boards, they’re getting in city councils, they’re getting in county affairs. And COVID was a wakeup call for them. And then seeing what’s been taught under their very noses in schools, and they were just shocked to see community teachers teaching that, we’re seeing something happening going on that’s very, very, very healthy at the local level. And I think it’s going to trickle up. And of course, Eric would be a good one to look at that because he has studied the history of the church.
Now, particularly he’s known for his Bonhoeffer book, but in that book he goes through what the Church did and did not do in Germany. And really, it was the Church’s lack of engagement in Germany that let Hitler rise where he did that let so many of the trials occur was the Church refused to get engaged. So, it’ll be interesting. We’re just talking about what we’re seeing out there.
And I don’t know if Eric is going to go there or not. But just knowing that he is such an expert on that period of history when a church really kind of sat down and failed and what the result was, going to be interesting to see what Eric has to say about things going on in the culture now.
Eric Metaxas is our special guest. Stay with us, folks, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders called The American Story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today.
And we would say very providentially in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil, and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things, like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not out the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on, and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America.
Well, is America worth defending? What is the true story of America? We actually have written and told that story starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln, we tell the story of America not as the story of a perfect nation of a perfect people. But the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out, wallbuilders.com, The American Story.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Great to have Eric Metaxas back with us. Eric, thanks for some time today, man.
I love talking to you guys. I love what you do.
Well, we’re excited about what you do and the new book coming out. I don’t know, you turn these things out so fast. I don’t know. You do all your shows. You’re writing books all the time. I don’t know when you sleep. But “Letter to the American Church”, you’re saying, this may be the most important book you’ve written yet and it’s out this week. So tell us about the new one.
Lessons from Germany
Well, you know what, that sounds like authors hyperbole, trying to sell books. I’m going to tell you straight up, I speak before God when I say this. This is the most important book I’ve ever written. It is the shortest book I’ve ever written. It’s called Letter to the American Church. And, Rick, you hear people talk about God put this on my heart. There’s no doubt in my mind. I read a lot of books, and I believe God leads me to write every single one. But this was burning in me.
I said something is wrong. The church is being silent at a time of evil. Anybody with eyes to see looks around and sees tremendous evil in our nation. Everywhere you look, it’s kind of unbelievable. And many in the church are silent.
Many church leaders are silent. I could name pastor after pastor that doesn’t go near any of these hot button issues. And I said, this is exactly what happened in Germany in the early 30s with the rise of the Nazis. It’s very easy for us today to say, oh, my goodness. It would have been obvious to me at the time. Guess what, folks? It was not obvious.
So the German Christians at the time, they were silent in the face of evil. And what happened is one of the most horrible nightmares in history because of the silence of the church. And I am saying in this book, and I say it bluntly and clearly, it is the silence of the American church right now that is going to lead us to a judgment no different than what happened in Germany, may be worse, if we do not open our mouths and speak, if we do not avoid the mistake that the Germans made.
So far, tons in the American church are being silent. They’re saying, we don’t want to be political. If we remain silent as we’ve been silent and again, it’s certainly not folks like David Barton, it’s certainly not folks like Glenn Beck. It’s certainly not folks like you can name people who are not being silent, but many in the church are being silent, and it is a nightmare. I said, I have to write this book to reason with those who don’t understand this, because there are many good people that have been deceived into silence.
A Confused Church
My introduction to you, Eric, was your book on Bonhoeffer, it was almost like coming full circle. I think I had to do that to prepare you for this, because you wouldn’t see what’s happening right now if you hadn’t done that research on that book. I’m just putting words in your mouth here. But it seems like that.
No. There’s no doubt what you just said is true, because I had no clue when I was writing the Bonhoeffer book that God is using this prophetically to speak to the church, to say, do you see what happened. When the church was silent in the 30s, said this voice, Bonhoeffer, this prophetic voice trying to wake them up, to warn them and warn them and warned them, and they, like the people of God in the past, they ignored the voice of the prophet and the doom that fell on Germany. It is so grievous, but that’s exactly what’s happening today.
And I said, the voice of Bonhoeffer speaks now to the American church. And what I wrote in the book on Bonhoeffer, I condensed it in this new book, “Letter to the American Church”, because I said, “Letter to the American Church” is trying to distill what it is about. Why was the church silent in Germany? What were the reasons they gave?
They had all kinds of reasons. They said things like, well, it’s all about faith. We don’t need to do anything. They said things that were confused, like, oh, Romans 13, that means we shouldn’t be involved in politics. Complete misunderstanding of Romans 13.
Exactly the same thing is happening in the American church while you and I are talking on the phone. And I said before God, I have to make this clear, I have to write it in a way not meant to be incendiary, meant to just reach those who might be reached. There are good pastors out there, good folks are just afraid or confused. They’re being silent. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. We cannot allow this to continue.
But it is happening now. While you and I are talking right now, there are tons of pulpits that are silent on these issues right now. And we know what the issues are. There’s a raft of issues that your average American is wondering what in the world is going on in America? We have Cultural Marxism infiltrating churches, critical race theory. We have transgender insanity.
We have cultural Marxism with regards to vaccine passports. And we suddenly feel like we’re in a different country. What is happening? Who’s in control? Why is the news media and why is big tech complicit in silencing voices of truth? If we, the church, do not speak up, we are judged this nation. God looks to his church more than to anyone.
He’s deputized as to be His voice. And most of the church has been silent. And I wrote this book to reach those who need convincing, who need bucking up.
Well, don’t you think the congregation is hungry for this? I mean, they’re watching this insanity and they’re seeing their communities and our culture crumbling, and they’re saying, pastor, I need to know what God’s word says about these things. I need some direction here, some spiritual guidance. There’s no time for us to be biblically silent on these major issues of the day. Isn’t it the pastor’s job and the church’s job to give you that application to make disciples?
Well, see, that’s exactly the point, what you just said is exactly true, first of all. You’ve got tons of people in the pews saying we want to know…
Silence in the Face of Evil
They’re thinking, am I supposed to just accept this transgenderism because is that love? You know what I mean?
That’s right. No, that’s what I’m saying. But it’s down the line. It’s when people are losing jobs because of being forced to take vaccines and stuff, and they’re looking to their pastors, they’re saying, do you see what we’re going through? Will you help us? Will you stand with us? Will you fight with us?
And many pastors, they took the safe path. And the safe path is the religious path. It’s the path that Jesus speaks boldly against over and over and over. We are supposed to live out our faith boldly, the safe, the religious path, the path of appeasement. That’s the devil’s path.
And sometimes we kind of think like, well, I’m just playing it safe, I’m just going to keep my nose clean. God forbid that you think you can do that and live out your Christian faith, especially these leaders, these pastors, because they’re people, you just said it, are so hungry for truth. They see madness being unleashed in America, and they’re kind of getting this message like, well, maybe we’re just going to keep our noses clean, we’re not going to bring that up.
We’re just going to talk about positive things. We’re just going to talk about the gospel. And you think, well, what gospel is there to talk about when Christian voices are being silenced, when Christian values are being pushed out of the mainstream in a very, very rough, vulgar way?
There’s a time to fight. There’s a time to speak against evil. And I think you’re right, frankly, I think a lot of people are leaving churches because of those kinds of pastors. In other words, here you have pastors thinking, well, I want to keep people in my church by being silent on these issues.
A Time to Stand
I don’t want to be divisive. But by trying to keep people in your church, you’re losing people. So those kinds of safe voices are losing people. And the pastors that I’ve seen, the church that I’ve seen where they’re being bold about this, their numbers are exploding because people are hungry for truth and leadership.
Well, when you bring it up what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”, I think it’s becoming a stench in the nostrils of the people in the church. They’re sick of it. They’re looking for somebody to be bold and stand up. And you see it in the numbers exactly like you’re saying. It’s almost been like a winnowing over the last couple of years. So the pastors that stood up, they grew and separated the wheat from the shaft. I mean, it’s been pretty obvious.
Well, what you just said, I mean, I make the parallels in the book again, this is the new book, “Letter to the American Church”, about cheap grace and about all the stuff that Bonhoeffer went through. He faced the church that basically said, you know what, we don’t want to get in trouble. We’re going to be quiet. And he said, you are not living out your faith boldly. You’re taking grace for granted.
Grace, the death of Jesus on the cross, what God sent his son to do that is costly grace. And you need to live heroically. By the way, if you really believe that, you say, I believe it, if you believe it, you will live fearlessly. You will not fear death. You’ll not fear losing your job. You’ll not fear be losing your congregation.
You will do what you believe God calls you to do trusting God with the results. That’s real faith. But we have a lot of people who have it’s kind of like cheap faith, like the cheap grace that Bonhoeffer writes about.
A Letter to the American Church
And in the book, “Letter to the American Church”, I kind of go into these theological errors. How has the American Church being lulled into silence? Because a lot of people have these theological answers; they say, well, we’re not supposed to get political, Romans 13, we’re not supposed… They’re mistaken on every count. But I want people to understand how people could get this stuff wrong so that they can see the error and repent and get it right as soon as possible.
And then what do you ask of churches in the book? Like what does it look like to not be silent?
Well, again, we’re not just talking about people being hotheads, but if you are not addressing these things, if you’re afraid of losing people in the congregation or you’re being political, folks, when you speak any truth, somebody’s going to say, oh, you’re being political. When you say the unborn are made in God’s image, tons of people are going to say, oh, that’s political. We don’t like what you’re saying. Shut up. Just stick to the gospel. How is it not the gospel to speak about the unborn?
If I speak about slavery, okay, when Wilbur Force was speaking against the slave trade, they told him, you’re being political: keep your faith private, don’t mix the two. This idea that we shouldn’t be talking about a regime, okay, the Biden regime is pushing cultural Marxism. It is fundamentally atheistic.
You’re telling me I can’t talk about that from the pulpit? You’re telling me I can’t talk about the fact that this administration is pushing transgender ideology, is pushing every kind of wicked thing? We must talk about it from the pulpit. If you do not talk about it from the pulpit, God will hold you accountable. So however you talk about it, you know that silence is worse than speaking. Folks, we got to speak about this.
A Vital Understanding
The hunger in Americans, by the way, if you care about evangelism, do you know how many people out there who are not born again believers? They are hungry for this kind of truth. And if you’re preaching that kind of truth in your church, you’re going to see them showing up in your church because they’re looking for people who have courage, they’re looking for people who see what they see and are willing, daring to talk about it.
It’s exactly where we are. And I pray by God’s grace that enough people read the book, that enough pastors get this and understand, okay, I was wrong, I’ve got to start speaking out, I’ve got to ask God to lead me because the time is short. We’re going swiftly to judgment if we do not speak.
“Letter to the American Church” by Eric Metaxas, endorsed by tons of our friends, folks like Wayne Groom and Michael Yusuf and Erwin Lutzer. Anne Graham Lots says even though Dietrich Bonhoeffer is dead, like Abel, he still speaks. In “Letter to the American Church”, Eric Metaxas has given him a megaphone. We would do well to heed this five bell alarm. It’s available starting the day in bookstores everywhere.
Eric, before I let you go and you may hate this comparison, I know you didn’t have to write it on toilet paper and in the corners of magazines. But MLK’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail was also a clarion call to pastors to get engaged, to not sit silent as evil was happening. This feels like that to me. It’s basically saying to the church, this is your role and this is the talent of freedom that God’s given you to use that bullhorn; and if you don’t, you’re the wicked and slothful servant. Is that fair?
Well, the truth is the truth. And I know I’m wise enough to know that I’m a nobody and that if the Lord calls me to do something, I better do it and the results are in His hands. And I knew I had to write this. I knew that there are enough in the American church who will hear this message. And we have got to take this with deadly seriousness.
If you can imagine that the German Christians, if they knew in 1933, 34, 35, if they knew what lay ahead, they never would have shrunk back. But they did, and the nightmare unfolded. We are there in the American church today, and there are people looking to us, people across the world looking to this nation, looking to the American church to be the voice.
So I am hopeful, but you can hear the urgency in my voice. This is not a time to say, yeah, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. We are way behind. And I just beg people to hear what I think God is trying to say to the church today.
I couldn’t agree more. Ericmetexas.com is the website. You can learn more. All of Eric’s books out there, the links to his radio shows, learn more about Socrates in the city, all the other things that he’s doing. Eric, God bless you, man. Keep it up. You’re on the front lines, brother, and we’re with you all the way.
Thank you for the time.
Alright, that was Eric Metaxas. Special thanks to him for coming on the program today. Back with David and Tim. David, you are right. I mean, it is an unfortunate comparison to Germany and the church making the same mistakes that they did. And fortunately, we have an opportunity to learn from that and hopefully wake up the church in time not to go down that path.
I wrote down several things he said I thought were really key for the American church. He said, what’s happening now is what was happening in Germany during the rise of the Nazis. The church was silent in the face of evil. Then he said, the judgment on the American church will be the same as it was on the German church if we remain silent. And then he said, if the German church knew what lay ahead, they never would have remained silent.
Speaking Against Evil
And so all three things they talked about, it was about the church being silent in the face of evil. And I was reminded of Ezekiel 3 and Ezekiel 33, where God says, look, if you see someone being led to the slaughter and if you remain silent, I’m going to require their blood in your hands. Well, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything. Yes, exactly. If you remain silent, you’re going to get the penalty for what happens to them. And I thought that’s a really profound thing.
And that reminded me also of just versus about boldness. Acts 4:13, it says, when they saw the courage of Peter and John, they took note that these men had been with Jesus. So a characteristic of having been with Jesus was they had boldness and they stood up to the civil authorities in that day with boldness.
Proverbs 28:1 says, the wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. And we’ve just kind of been pushed around and pushed back and been quiet. Tim, you and I have talked in previous programs about the epiphany we’ve had in Revelation 21:8, when it talks about those that go to hell, the first on the list were the cowardly and the fearful.
Then Acts 4:29, the scripture says, Lord, look upon their threats and grant your servants boldness to speak your word. And so that’s a characteristic we see over and over in the scriptures of boldness. And hopefully, as Christians, we’re going to get some boldness and step up and not do the German church kind of thing, because there’s certainly a lot of wickedness running now and we just need to be louder and confronted.
Well, I think it’s such a good point too, where he mentioned that often pastors are afraid of being political. And he said, look, any truth is going to be viewed as political now, literally any biblical truth. And so if we’re going to be people who teach the truth of the Bible, if we believe in the truth of the word of God, those truths will be viewed as political by somebody: the truth that God made them in his image, male and female, he created them.
Speaking Truth Boldly
Well, that is pretty clear on gender and human sexuality. It’s pretty clear that God formed us and did us together in our mother’s womb, that’s what the Bible says in Psalm 139 or Jeremiah 1:5, that even before we were formed, He knew us, kind of foreknowledge, we weren’t an accident. We were made on purpose for a reason.
Every truth of scripture will be offensive and political to somebody, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak the truth because we’re afraid of being labeled political or we’re afraid of maybe offending somebody. The very nature of Jesus, he was offensive to so many people. And we have this idea, even in Christianity that we should speak the truth and love. Well, Jesus certainly spoke the truth and love. But he also at times spoke the truth in a very aggressive manner.
And sometimes we can look and think maybe what he did wasn’t always the most loving because Jesus actually made a whip and went and drove people out of the temple. He was overturning tables. That doesn’t seem really loving, except we also know the Bible tells us that the father disciplines the son he loves. Sometimes we need to redefine the way that we understand love based on what the Bible actually teaches and then understand what truth is and having the courage to stand up and speak truth.
And Rick, something you said in the interview I thought was really good, you talked about how the congregation is hungry for this. We’re now seeing that in polling. We did some polling with George Barna where we actually contacted the people that go to churches and said, what do you want to hear your pastor talk about? What do you feel like you need to be equipped on?
What do you need to help prepare you to be salt and light? And man, they went through 14 topics where that at least 70% of the congregation said, here’s what we feel like we need to be equipped on, and it’s not what the church is talking about right now. It’s a poll you can get at wallbuilders.com. It’s called “God’s people want to know”.
A Letter To The American Church – With Eric Metaxas
But you’re right, Rick. The congregation is hungry for this. They want leadership that speaks up and that addresses and confronts these truths, and they want to know how to do it as well. And that’s something that we can do in the church, is help train individual Christians to be able to be bold and to confront these things and have the right information.
And it’s time for the church to step up. We do not need to be like the German church and have the same kind of things befall us that befall them because they remain silent and quiet. We’ve got to be bold and outspoken.
Well, thanks for being with us today, folks. We really appreciate Eric Metaxas joining us. Appreciate you listening today. And so thankful for David and Tim Barton, the whole Barton family, the whole WallBuilders team, and the ability to influence and be salt and light and all the people across the country.
The WallBuilders has been equipping and educating and inspiring to make a difference. We get to see the fruit out there right now. It’s really cool to hear all the testimonials and talk to people where they’re making a difference in their community, they’re taking over school boards and city councils and county commissions and just really having a great impact.
And, of course, for such a time as this, we know there’s a lot of bad going on out there. There’s a lot of bad and ugly, but there’s also a lot of good. And it’s because of people living out their faith, actually taking the Bible and applying it to life. How about that? What a novel concept. And we’re always going to be talking about how to do that here at WallBuilders Live.
Thanks so much for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.