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ERIC METAXAS: American Bonhoeffer

NOTE: Eric Metaxas will be speaking this Friday in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.  Click Here for More Info.  Tickets are going fast.

Eric Metaxas is not only a fine orator but his pen has chronicled the faith of two of Christianity’s favorite sons: Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.   His biographies of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce may be his calling card, but before he tackled the weighty lives of modern day saints he made tomatoes talk and potatoes waltz for Veggie Tales.  A reminder that humble beginnings, like David tending his father’s sheep, are often God’s preparatory school.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”  It is testimony to just how far Metaxas has come that a quote of his own from his biography of Bonhoeffer is commonly mistaken as Bonhoeffer’s quote.

Eric Metaxas is the American Bonhoeffer.  With the passing of Chuck Colson there simply isn’t another voice in America with both the wisdom and gravitas to speak in a heard voice for the Christian world and to sound the alarm in the secular.

Today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is as popular in Christian circles as Che Guevara is on the college campus, and much of this is due to Eric Metaxas and his book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.  While the book has been well received by the general public, the main reason for the resurrection of the German pastor hanged by Adolf Hitler, is that “the children of Issachar” see parallels between Bonhoeffer’s Germany and Metaxas’ America.  The test tube hasn’t boiled over yet, but the formula is eerily similar.

“A state which includes within itself a terrorized Church has lost its most faithful servant,” writes Metaxas.  In America, those who are serious about their faith find themselves in the cross-hairs of once favorable, now hostile institutions.

Catholics whose charities once worked hand in hand with state agencies to foster the needy and place orphans for adoption are now forced into the closet because they refuse to compromise their faith on sexual purity.  Lutherans had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to plead against the tyranny of an administration that would dictate whom they could hire and fire.  People of faith are told that they must subsidize birth control, abortifacients, and even aberrant lifestyles or be subject to litigious water-boarding.

Meanwhile the administration and its DOD are instructing Navy Chaplains not to pray “in Jesus’ name” or mention Jesus at military funerals, telling the Air Force to remove Bibles and even verses from cadet white boards, and warning soldiers not to share their testimony or they risk court martial; while at the same time they are making buildings available for Muslim prayer and the worship of Wiccans.

At a time when America’s most popular pastors are selling diet books and blowing sunshine in the itching ears of pabulum-pursuing consumers, Metaxas, a comedian at heart, is the serious voice crying in the wilderness.  “Faith is either something that informs one at all times or it isn’t anything at all, really,” says Metaxas.  “When the Chinese government tells its citizens that they can worship in a certain building on a certain day, but once they leave that building they must bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state, you have a cynical lie at work.  They’ve substituted a toothless ‘freedom of worship’ for ‘freedom of religion’.”

A modern day prophet with an Ivy League education, a razor-sharp wit, and an eye for the palpitations of history, Metaxas can charm, disarm, and even eviscerate the most hostile cynic without breaking a sweat or compromising his testimony.   There simply is no one currently on the American landscape with a greater scope, Metaxas has a range that reaches beyond the pew and into the board-room and even the state house.

Mark Joseph for National Review Online writes:

“If the organizers of the national prayer breakfast ever want a sitting president to attend their event again, they need to expect that any leader in his right mind is going to ask — no, demand — that he be allowed to see a copy of the keynote address that is traditionally given immediately before the president’s. That’s how devastating was the speech given by a little known historical biographer named Eric Metaxas, whose clever wit and punchy humor barely disguised a series of heat-seeking missiles that were sent, intentionally or not, in the commander-in-chief’s direction. . . By the time he wrapped up his speech with a rendition of Amazing Grace, one got the feeling that this was a modern-day, and perhaps more humorous version, of what Old Testament prophets regularly did to Kings of Israel: deliver brutally honest messages from Yahweh with little regard for their personal safety. Only this time, there were no beheadings, only the difficult-to-watch spectacle of seeing a president forced to uncomfortably read a speech which had just been shredded to pieces by a man who couldn’t possibly have known what was coming. And as he did so, the audience in that room likely left with Metaxas’s four-word condemnation, intentional or not, of the 44th president of the United States ringing in their ears:  ‘God is not fooled.’”

I often hear the regret of those who had a chance to hear the greats of their day in the most crucial of times yet passed on the occasion for the most inane of reasons.  Imagine the chance to have heard Solzhenitsyn at Harvard, Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, or Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate.   Imagine passing on the chance to have heard Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Churchill, Thatcher, MacArthur or Martin Luther King, Jr.  To have heard, “Tear down this wall,” “We will fight on the beaches,” “I have a dream,” or “Duty, Honor, Country.”

The world often perceives that the dangerous man is the one who orders death and destruction but the truly dangerous men in the world are the ones who can turn the grim reality upside down.  Men like the Apostle Paul and the disciples of the early church, men like our founders.  Men and women that are faithful in the face of terror, come what may.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a dangerous man who would challenge the status quo and incite the brotherhood to daring acts of love and courage.  The American Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas is too, – his enemies know it, and I pray that the rest of us have an ear to hear as well.

*You can catch Eric Metaxas this Friday in suburban Chicago.  Click here for more details.

Get Doug Giles’ new book, Rise, Kill and Eat: A Theology of Hunting from Genesis to Revelation today!



John Kirkwood

John Kirkwood is a son of Issachar. He is a Zionist, gun-toting, cigar-smoking, incandescent light bulb-using, 3.2 gallon flushing, fur-wearing, Chinese (MSG) eating, bow-hunting, SUV driving, unhyphenated American man who loves his wife, isn't ashamed of his country and does not apologize for his Christianity. He Pastors Grace Gospel Fellowship Bensenville, where "we the people" seek to honor "In God we Trust." He hosts the Christian wake up call IN THE ARENA every Sunday at noon on AM 1160 and he co-hosts UnCommon Sense, the Christian Worldview with a double shot of espresso on He is the proud homeschooling dad of Konnor, Karter and Payton and the "blessed from heaven above" husband of the Righteous and Rowdy Wendymae.