Sunday, February 05, 2012
Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast, 2012
I just listened to Eric Metaxas's speach at the Washington Prayer Breakfast. Metataxas is the author of a best-selling biography of Bonhoeffer. I am thankful for the truth that he presented, particularly his testimony, his comments about Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer (although he gets Bonhoeffer's theology wrong in his big book on Bonhoeffer), and his pro-life comments. However, rhetorically and logically, the talk was weak.
First, there was far too much humor at the beginning, which made it difficult to make a transition to the more serious material. Some of the jokes worked; some did not. No matter, there were too many of them.
Second, in his "testimony," Metaxas never explained the gospel of Christ's atoning work for us. He emphasized his subjective experience of the living God, but not what God had in fact done for us in and through Jesus Christ. That is no small omission.
Third, Metaxas used the cliche distinction between religion and knowing the living God. Christianity is a religion: the one true religion, which is both a world-view and a life-transforming reality. A few times, Metaxas spoke of "dead religion," which is fine and biblical. At other times he contrasted "religion" with what he experienced and what Jesus taught. That is not correct.
Fourth, Metaxas said that is take a special revelation from God to see that the unborn are persons worthy of respect. He was a bit vague on this, but he seemed to make this something one could not reason about with a non-Christian. This is false. There are perfectly good philosophical arguments against abortion that rely on no uniquely Christian premises. I have used them myself in many settings, and often to good effect. However, God is the giver of every good gift, so we can say that all moral knowledge (justified, true belief) is a gift of God. I'm not quite sure what Metaxas meant.
I salute Mr. Metaxas for speaking in the public square. However, we need to do far better rhetorically and logically.