Introduction

 

Praxis Circle’s mission is to renew a free and good society by building worldviews. Like our unique personalities, we all have different worldviews to a greater or lesser extent, even if we share a big category worldview, like secular humanism or Islam. In fact, studies show many operate from two or three worldviews without realizing it. While we at Praxis Circle operate from a predominately Christian worldview, we believe there is a neutral space between worldviews where human beings can meet to discuss differences.

Why? Because all human beings (given our worldview) share one universal trait: each has a mind, body, and soul. All of us are capable of using our hearts and minds via reason to purse truth. Most will agree people do this everywhere via human language, and, while there are countless human languages, homo sapiens have demonstrated an ability to understand each other across languages. For example, Pope John Paul II was fluent in eight.

Our final, introductory observation here is that truth explored via reason preexists all worldviews. While not all “worldviewers” would agree to that, we believe the real conflict or rub is not in whether humans have worldviews, but rather in how we obtain human consciousness in the first place, and then how and why reason creates agreement and conflict.

In any case, we also believe that, while the three great Christianities, being Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, are distinctively different, they do share great commonality in key ways. These fundamentals form an “orthodoxy” of worldview or religious thought. Indeed, such commonalities in belief warrant the word “Christian” in the first place.

While it’s tragic Christians together too often emphasize their differences, rather than essentials defining the goodness and beauty of their faith, in this post we describe two authors who have produced “letters” sharing a common Christian message, purpose, and worldview. And here in the beginning, I should clarify that, from a technical point of view, neither is actually a “letter.”

Eric Metaxas’s “Letter to the American Church” (2022) and “Religionless Christianity” (2024)

Eric Metaxas‘s letter is the 139 page book published in 2022, Letter to the American Church, describing alarming problems the West faces. It calls for immediate responses from American Churches. Last month (during the week we interviewed Metaxas for over two hours in New York City), he published a companion book, Religionless Christianity (151 pages). It offer solutions to readers, Christians, and churches to the problems outlined in his blue book.

In sum, the religionless Christianity he describes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christianity, which Metaxas refers to in our interview as “actual Christianity.” In this version, Christ asks for 100% of our lifetime commitment, emphasizing courage to take the faith from our churches out into the public square. It’s a Christianity of action as much or more than words. In Metaxas’s view, Christians worship most through their deeds outside the church that attempt to bring the faith to all and create a better world.

Now it’s possible to connect Mr. Metaxas’s first letter with Mr. Butker’s second letter.

Just over a week ago on May 11, NFL placekicker for the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, Harrison Butker (see the link at left for a person overview and the link here for a professional one), gave the commencement address to the graduates of Benedictine College. The heart of his message was clear: It’s time for Catholics to start acting like Catholics. We believe that Butker’s “letter” or speech is a perfect example of what Metaxas is talking about in his blue and yellow books. Metaxas calls himself a “mere Christian,” having strong Orthodox and Protestant influences, and, obviously, Butler is Catholic. Yet they see the same issues and suggest the same solutions, most importantly, modeling the recommended behavior themselves.

As a Catholic speaking at a Catholic university, Butker’s speech should have hardly been surprising nor offensive. While Butker did mention the poor leadership demonstrated by our “Catholic” president, his primary focus was on the responsibility of the Church to step up and its members to live a bold faith and raise faithful families. This call—to live out the faith and fulfill God’s cultural mandate in Genesis—is basic Christian orthopraxy.

However, in today’s world, to truly live and think like a Christian apparently makes one the enemy. It’s dangerous to be a Christian today, as it was for the Apostles. But our duties remain the same.

In response to Butker saying that modern women have been lied to by our culture that says work outside the home is always more fulfilling than that of a mother’s work, Butker is being labelled sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, or simply out of touch with reality—to name a few indictments. I’ve even seen videos of his speech being compared to The Handmaid’s Tale and with “hate speech” warnings beforehand.

While I think many of us have become desensitized to these kinds of responses and have even come to expect them—especially when they are directed towards individuals speaking controversial yet fundamental truths—let’s take a moment to reflect on the true absurdity of this: How did we, as a free country, get to the point where a Christian man sharing key tenets of his faith (the role of work, faith, and family) has done something morally reprehensible?

 

Eric Metaxas’s Letter to the American Church

 

Here we should return to Eric Metaxas’s Letter to the American Church.

We wrote a review on this book and have recently had the pleasure of watching the 1-hour film adaptation highlighting the key themes. (There is a paywall, but it’s worth every penny.) The trailer to this film is featured at the top of the post.

In Letter to the American Church, a harrowing comparison is made between the Nazi and Maoist tactics towards totalitarianism and the cultural chaos America is witnessing today. Metaxas and others in the film adaptation come together to explain how cultural Marxism—a revolutionary leftist idea that traditional culture is the source of oppression in the modern world—is the tactic being used to bring totalitarianism to the West today. While in a softer, more easily digestible form, the goal remains the same: crush dissent by instilling fear in anyone who wishes to object.

Metaxas highlights in both the address and film that in the 1930s, the German Church had a choice: speak up against Hitler, join Hitler, or remain silent. Out of almost 18,000 pastors in Germany at the time, two-thirds chose the middle ground and allowed the Nazi regime to take control. What might the outcome have been if more pastors and believers were not afraid to speak up?

According to Metaxas, the American Church is now in a similar position. While many might think this comparison dramatic, Metaxas shows that the parallels are undeniable: If anyone disagrees with the political agenda of the left or the “Rainbow Reich,” the threat of cancellation (loss of reputation, societal status, and even imprisonment) is close at hand. This alone is enough to keep many Americans silent, but even stronger consequences are not out of the realm of possibility in the near future. The descent into totalitarian control often feels like a gradual one, then accelerates with immense speed once all are captured.

 

Harrison Butker’s Commencement Address (to the American Church)

 

So how did we get here? In short, Butker is an unapologetic and courageous dissenter who stands for all that organized Marxists want to abolish: traditional culture that values family, religion, and by extent, private property. Even if the general population is not consciously thinking this, cultural Marxism has marched through our culture-producing institutions and permeated every aspect of our society in such a way that makes the support of these institutions out-of-date at best and evil at worst.

And this is not only limited to the secular world—today, only 37% of pastors have an orthodox Christian worldview, with many mixing elements of Marxism and faith to create a hybrid worldview. (If most pastors are struggling to hold a faithful worldview, how much more are their members and congregants?) If one still questions whether Marxist ideology is alive and active in America today, then the backlash to Butker’s speech should be convincing.

Butker might not be familiar with Metaxas’s work, but, again, they both seem to agree on the path forward: It’s going to take the Church boldly speaking up on these topics to change America’s current, steady, and profoundly dangerous trajectory. From our standpoint at Praxis Circle, the two are stepping up themselves and knocking the ball over the goal post at a critical moment in American history.

I want to close by sharing a few excerpts from Butker’s speech that serve as his letter to the American Church. We are thankful for the Bonhoeffers and Butkers of the world that see the issues at hand and call Christians to abide by the faith and do the right thing. If more Christians follow suit, we are hopeful that the outcome will be very different from that of our German brothers and sisters 90 years ago.

“These are the sorts of things we are told in polite society to not bring up. You know, the difficult and unpleasant things. But if we are going to be men and women for this time in history, we need to stop pretending that the ‘Church of Nice’ is a winning proposition. We must always speak and act in charity, but never mistake charity for cowardice.

 

As members of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, it is our duty and ultimately privilege to be authentically and unapologetically Catholic. Don’t be mistaken, even within the Church, people in polite Catholic circles will try to persuade you to remain silent. There even was an award-winning film called Silence, made by a fellow Catholic, wherein one of the main characters, a Jesuit priest, abandoned the Church, and as an apostate when he died is seen grasping a crucifix, quiet and unknown to anyone but God. As a friend of Benedictine College, His Excellency Bishop Robert Barron, said in his review of the film, it was exactly what the cultural elite want to see in Christianity—private, hidden away, and harmless.

 

Our Catholic faith has always been countercultural. Our Lord, along with countless followers, were all put to death for their adherence to her teachings. The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority. Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.

 

No. Today, our shepherds are far more concerned with keeping the doors open to the chancery than they are with saying the difficult stuff out loud. It seems that the only time you hear from your bishops is when it’s time for the annual appeal, whereas we need our bishops to be vocal about the teachings of the Church, setting aside their own personal comfort and embracing their cross. Our bishops are not politicians but shepherds, so instead of fitting in the world by going along to get along, they too need to stay in their lane and lead.

 

Make no mistake: You are entering into mission territory in a post-God world, but you were made for this. And with God by your side and a constant striving for virtue within your vocation, you too can be a saint.”