“Letter to the American Church” by Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas has a radio program and also a podcast-style show on the Salem News Channel. He has been popular with evangelicals over the years because he embraces an orthodox approach to cultural and social issues.

He wrote a book last year called, Letter to the American Church that received a hearty endorsement from Erwin Lutzer. While I do not represent that Metaxas is perfect, I think he makes a compelling argument in this well-written book.

The topic? The silence and political inaction of the church in the face of a governing culture that is rapidly deteriorating.

He compared the American church to the church in Germany during the rise of Hitler. He argues that the inaction of the German church was the key factor that allowed Hitler to do all that he did.

It was fascinating to see him recount the story of the Reichstag Fire that occurred only four weeks after Hitler took power. A Dutch “madman” set the German Parliament building on fire. That led Hitler to issue a series of emergency decrees that allowed him to take action unilaterally, with “blitzkrieg swiftness”. Fear and hysteria were stoked to enable this consolidation of power; to demonize opponents who were “rounded up and imprisoned”; and to stifle dissent.

Does this sound familiar?

He said the reticence of the German church was based in part on cowardice; and in part on the tendency among many Christian leaders to avoid political speech and involvement based on a misunderstanding of biblical teaching. He tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to illustrate that, in some cases, there is a need to repent for having taken this position.

Metaxas also asserts that an overemphasis on evangelism within American churches is inappropriate when it crowds out loving our neighbors by speaking God’s truth and advocating for the manner in which God would want us to order our society. He illustrates that this results in people getting killed– as in Hitler’s case; in more abortion and transgenderism and gay marriages, as in our current circumstance; in losing religious liberty; in “making ourselves slaves”; and in greater poverty since this is precisely what Marxism produces. Metaxas argues taking action and speaking truth is a matter of trusting and honoring God and what He would want.

He draws heavily from the book of James (“faith without works is dead”) to suggest that some Christians’ overemphasis on faith alone is a grave error; and that it is tantamount to “cheap grace”. He also discusses Christ’s parable of the talents to support his position.

Interestingly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and was sent to prison where he engaged with other prisoners. He took enormous risks to do what was right. Metaxas argues we must take risks and even do things that might seem outside of the realm of what is considered “acceptable”.

“Letter to the American Church” is a great book because it calls out pastors and churches that are not meeting their responsibilities to speak God’s truth, engage in the fight and inspire action.


3 thoughts on ““Letter to the American Church” by Eric Metaxas

  1. TC: yes it does sound eerily familiar.

    Here is the blurb from Amazon on his most recent book:

    “Metaxas warns of the haunting similarities between today’s American church and the German church of the 1930s. Echoing Bonhoeffer’s prophetic call, Eric Metaxas exhorts his fellow Christians to repent of their silence in the face of evil before it is too late.

    “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 guiltless.”

    Can it really be God’s will that His children be silent at a time like this? Decrying the cowardice that masquerades as godly meekness, Eric Metaxas summons the Church to battle.

    The author of a bestselling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Metaxas reveals the haunting similarities between today’s American Church and the German Church of the 1930s. Echoing the German martyr’s prophetic call, he exhorts his fellow Christians to repent of their silence in the face of evil.

    An attenuated and unbiblical “faith” has sapped the spiritual vitality of millions of Americans. Paying lip service to an insipid “evangelism,” they shrink from combating the evils of our time. Metaxas refutes the pernicious lie that fighting evil politicizes Christianity. As Bonhoeffer and other heroes of the faith insisted, the Church has an irreplaceable role in the culture of a nation. It is our duty to fight the powers of darkness, especially on behalf of the weak and vulnerable.

    Silence is not an option. God calls us to defend the unborn, to confront the lies of cultural Marxism, and to battle the globalist tyranny that crushes human freedom. Confident that this is His fight, the Church must overcome fear and enter the fray, armed with the spiritual weapons of prayer, self-sacrifice, and love.”

    1. Fred, that blurb summarizes the book better than I did. Metaxas makes interesting biblical arguments for his position. But there are some Christians and pastors who in a self-righteous fashion take the position that politics ought not be discussed in church; and I think they are terribly wrong. The silent (or acquiescent) church is a big part of the reason we have our current situation. That was part of the Marxist left’s design…

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