Eric Metaxas

Praxis Circle Contributor Eric Metaxas is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the award-winning biography Bonhoeffer, and is host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Radio Show. He is also the founder and host of the event series Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life. Praxis Circle interviewed Eric because of his perspective on orthodox Christianity and his perceptive ability to foresee threats to our liberties and freedoms within the United States.    

Opening Conversation About Bonhoeffer’s Commitment to God

Doug Monroe:

And I just want to say I’ve followed you very closely, like so many people, have since Socrates In The City and since Wilberforce. And I know Oz Guinness and you share the love of that man. And so, I really got up to speed on him. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you with Religionless Christianity.

Eric Metaxas:

My new book, just to be clear. Yes, it’s a Bonhoeffer phrase. I got it from Bonhoeffer. And at some point, I have to explain that. But thank you. It’s my newest book. Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Well, I had read Bonhoeffer. And I’d forgotten exactly what it means in that context. And so, I thought Religionless Christianity. Well, this will be easy. He won’t require much of me. But what you reminded me of is actually you have to be brave and you have to actually serve others. And that’s not so easy, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I mean, it all depends on how we define easy. Because God requires absolutely everything of us, everything. And yet, that’s what he designed us for. Not to give him everything is actually foolish, and in the end is harder. So, that’s the conundrum. That’s the paradox of actually having faith in the God of the Bible. So, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

If you could do that with peace, and I sense that Bonhoeffer may have had that in his last few years. Maybe resolving in New York. And I don’t know.

Eric Metaxas:

I think-

Doug Monroe:

You’re the biographer.

Eric Metaxas:

… he was, well, that’s the whole thing is that God wants us to live out our faith. But people often say, “Well, Bonhoeffer is so courageous.” Or, sometimes they will say to me, “Oh, you’re courageous.” And I think, “No. No.” What you mean I guess is maybe it looks like courage. But in the case of Bonhoeffer, he actually believed what the Bible said. If you actually believe, not hope, but if you know that the God of the Bible loves you, is with you, created you for his purposes, and that he’s with you as you speak truth, and as you live truth, of course there’s a peace because you know it’s real and true.

You don’t hope. If you hope, there’s this anxiety, “I hope.” No. Even if you kill me, I don’t die. You know Jesus actually defeated death on the cross. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not a nice idea. It’s actually, it’s true. If you know that these things are true, you’re going to live differently. And so, yes, I think Bonhoeffer went to his death with deep peace. Why? Because he knew he was not going to his death. He was stepping into real life. He knew that. That’s just not, “Oh, how nice for him.” No, no, no. That’s actually reality. And he knew that. And God wants us all to have the deep peace that comes with actually knowing that because it’s actually true.

Conversation About Proof of God and “Is Atheism Dead?”

Doug Monroe:

You get into some of that in the death of atheism about the historical accuracy of the Bible and so on.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And we won’t go down that route. But it’s actually true. If you believe that, then that means a lot, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I guess just to say a word on that, the book, Is Atheism Dead, which just came out a couple of years ago. First of all, the reason I titled it, Is Atheism Dead, is that since 1966, we’ve been living in a culture that kind of assumes the 1966 Time Magazine article, Is God Dead, kind of assume that like, “Oh, yeah. Science has kind of pushed God out, whatever.”

And I realized that as time has passed, and that’s the thesis of the book, Is Atheism Dead, exactly the opposite has happened. The evidence for God has become open and shut. I don’t mean strong. Open and shut, kind of like let’s discuss is the earth flat? No, it’s not. Well? Well, nothing. We know it’s a sphere. We know this, right? Some people say-

Doug Monroe:

Just so you’ll know. I totally agree with you. And I think if you don’t get that, you’re either unstudied or you’re a moron.

Eric Metaxas:

But that’s what’s so interesting is-

Doug Monroe:

You’re either unstudied or a moron.

Eric Metaxas:

… to me is that the evidence for God has become so strong. And as I looked at all this evidence over years, I realized most people, including Christians, don’t know this. When you know that the evidence from science, since roughly the ’60s, has become increasingly strong to the point that it’s open and shut, it changes your faith. You just realize this is just reality. It’s kind of like saying you believe one plus one equals two.

Yeah. Well, you’re sure? Yeah. The evidence for God from science, the evidence for the historicity of the Bible, from archaeology, the evidence from every quarter for God and the Bible has become astonishing. And I think it’s important for people to know that, including people of faith, because it strengthens your faith. It makes you think like, “Okay, this is not something, man, I hope it’s true.” It just is true. And we need to all know that it’s true because then you live differently.

Doug Monroe:

Well, stone-cold naturalist physicists, many, have moved into the God-believing category just because of their science.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And I think science is proving God. That’s my personal belief.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, I think it has. I mean, if dare to look at the evidence.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, it has. It has. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Most people either don’t know the evidence or don’t really want to know the evidence. Or, if they know some of it, they have to come up with some preposterous theory, like the multiverse theory, which is more insane. It’s like saying Zeus is real or Santa Claus is real.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

The evidence is open and shut. So, if anybody dares to read just what I wrote in my book, there’s much more information. But I put the basics in the book, Is Atheism Dead, just the basics. It is mind-blowing. And so, I’m very excited that we’re at a time where people’s opinions will be changing.

Eric Metaxas – Are you a Fish out of Water? 

Doug Monroe:

Fish Out Of Water. Are you the fish out of water? I think the answer is yes, kind of.

Eric Metaxas:

The answer is yes.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But in the course of the book, I eventually say that we’re all fish out of water. And the solution to our problem is Jesus, who is the ultimate fish out of water. Jesus left his environment, heaven, to come to earth. There’s no death in heaven. He came here to die. A fish that leaves water dies. I mean, there’s much more to it. But my story, I’m a fish out of water in the most basic sense that grew up in a home, my father’s Greek, my mother’s German.

Wherever I went, I didn’t fit in. Hanging out with the Germans, I was Greek. Hanging out with the Greeks, I was German. Hanging out with the Americans, I was this weird European son of immigrants. Everywhere I went, I didn’t quite fit in. And that’s part of my story. Going past my childhood, go to Yale. I’m a working class European immigrant among these cultural elites.

When I had my born-again experience around my 25th birthday, suddenly I’m a born-again, evangelical Christian, all of whose friends think, “Oh, he must have lost his mind because we’re all sophisticated agnostics.” So, that’s kind of a theme in my life. And there’s more to it. But the end of the book, Fish Out Of Water, you see that Jesus is the fish out of water. And there’s kind of a staggering culmination of this theme in a dream that I had, which I won’t tell because it’s too long.

Doug Monroe:

No, I want to hear that.

Eric Metaxas – Who shaped you growing up? The Product of Two Hard-Working Immigrants

Doug Monroe:

But so, let’s come to that. But say Evan Alexander, the guy who wrote, Proof of Heaven, that died and came back to life. And we interviewed him extensively because we want to know if the supernatural world comes to you, which it most likely did, or you go to it and come back, that’s reality. That’s truth, right? And we may not know exactly what it was. But so anyway. Let’s go to who when you were coming of age, there must have been two or three, prior to going to Yale, men or women that influenced you the most to get you where you are today?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, it was my family. It was my father, who just passed a couple of months ago at age 96.5 He’s on the cover of my book, Fish Out of Water. I love my father profoundly as I love my mother profoundly. They were humble people who came to this country from war-torn Europe who suffered a lot in their childhoods and as young adults. Really suffered, and struggled, and were blessed by God to be able to come to this country and to find each other. They met in an English class here in New York City, literally about a half a mile from where we’re sitting.

And in a class to learn the English language, met each other. This Greek immigrant, this German immigrant. My mother grew up in Nazi Germany, which became East Germany under Stalin and the Soviets. She escaped at age 17 alone. It’s amazing. And so, they met. They both knew communism was evil. They both knew freedom and American democracy were a gift. And they formed me because I knew their suffering in the war, just telling the stories of growing up. They both lost their fathers when they were 10 years old, each of them.

They suffered. And it gave their lives this dignity and this meaning so that when they said something, it comes with this authority. They’ve been hungry many, many, many times. They have suffered under evil regimes. The communists tried to take over Greece. The communists took over Germany, which had already been taken over by the Nazis. My mother lived through that. So, all of that is this background. And so, I had a different experience growing up as an American because that was part of my life is that my parents had experienced all this. So, I didn’t take America and freedom for granted. And so, that’s a big part of who I am.

Doug Monroe:

It’s obvious just hearing that. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas – The Reality of Good and Evil

Eric Metaxas:

And it’s amazing to me. Because that had nothing to do with becoming a born-again evangelical because this is before all that. And this is where I think a lot of Christians go wrong. They act like Christianity is some kind of like this really rare philosophy or something. We’re either talking about reality and truth for everybody or it’s garbage.

Doug Monroe:

Correct.

Eric Metaxas:

And so, when you’re talking about good and evil, it’s not Christian good and Christian. It’s either true or false. It’s good or evil. So, my mom and dad, they didn’t talk in terms of politics very much or theology. It was just good and evil reality. They had grown up and experienced suffering, and seen evil, and whatever. It’s really basic. I think the problem with most Americans is we’ve been so blessed, we kind of forget that there’s this thing called evil.

We kind of forget how bad things could get. But if you’ve tasted the Nazis and Hitler or Stalinist communism, you know things can get unbelievably bad. You take that seriously and you live that way. Most Americans, I think the reason we’re in the mess we’re in today is most Americans have had such liberty and such flourishing that you think, “What could happen? Oh, the market could dip. I could lose some money in my 401.” The evilness of evil has not been something we’ve had to face, until now. I think we’re getting a good taste of it.

Doug Monroe:

Right.

Eric Metaxas:

And it’s a wake-up call for many people.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, it is. In America, just real quick, we’re slow to see the badness as it develops outside of us in say Europe during the first half of the 20th century. And then once things calm down, we think the rest of the world is just like us. We project ourselves onto.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, it’s preposterous.

Doug Monroe:

And it’s just not at all like us.

Eric Metaxas:

No, no.

Doug Monroe:

Nowhere is like us.

Eric Metaxas:

But that’s why people don’t understand the satanic evil of atheistic communism in China. They would have no moral qualms about murdering millions of people any more than Hitler had moral qualms about murdering millions of people. They don’t even believe in good and evil. They believe in power. We are so naive in America. Because most people we know, even the worst of them, they kind of think the way we do. Well, there are many people who don’t.

Eric Metaxas – What are your thoughts on your alma mater, Yale? 

Doug Monroe:

I want to go to my favorite question in here of all. And it won’t be your favorite question. And that is, where I come from people do get into Harvard. They do get into Princeton. But once a decade, somebody gets in Yale. I knew a guy once who went to Yale. He actually won the Harvard-Yale football game for Yale. I got recruited to play football at Yale. That shows I wasn’t a very good football player. But what was it like going to Yale? No one gets in there. No one. You got to prove to me you went to Yale.

Eric Metaxas:

I got to tell you, today, I’m not a fan of Yale, or of any of the Ivy League. They’re effectively Marxist breeding grounds. They’ve gotten worse, and worse, and worse. They were already bad in the early ’80s when I was there. It was already a place that you come, there’s a working class European immigrant, and you’re suddenly surrounded by cultural elites who mock God, mock people who love God. Whether you’re a serious Jew or a serious Christian, that’s not going to cut it.

They have this kind of sneering, sophisticated cynicism toward people of faith, toward heartland values, toward patriotism, loving America. You pretty much pick up that that’s not the way we do things here. And I was naive enough, and young enough, and insecure enough to kind of go along with that. I think young people tend to do that. So, it’s not like I drank the Kool-Aid and became a Marxist atheist. But whatever basic faith I had in God or basic patriotism I had was washed away so that I was utterly confused and lost.

So, I didn’t become some defiant sinner. I just was absolutely confused and lost. So, I’m not a fan of the Ivy League or of most of the academy at this point because they… Let’s cut to the chase. They’re utter hypocrites. They once pretended or cared, I should say, they once cared about such things as truth, beauty, goodness. That went away. They then kind of pretended to care about it. And we’re now at a point where they have embraced evil nihilism, relativism, just to a point that, well, you can see the fruit.

There’s madness on these elite campuses. Absolute madness. And essentially, the Ivy League and all these elite institutions are dead. They have gone so far from their founding. I mean, they were already far from their founding when I was there in the ’80s. But they’ve just embraced madness.

Doug Monroe:

I’m involved with Chapel Hill. I went to Carolina for four years and then UVA law business for four years consecutively. And I’m involved with both alumni free speech organizations. And we’re working with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth. They have similar organizations that are finally, alumni saying, “We’ve had enough.”

Eric Metaxas – is there any benefit in going to an Ivy League? Intelligence vs. Wisdom

Doug Monroe:

I want to get you to catalog some of these things that are in your video with Letter to the American Church later. But let me ask you this about Yale. Certainly, as you made it through your 20s into your 30s you start hitting your flow, wouldn’t knowing that you are at the top of the world intellectually, literally, I mean, there are schools that are as good as Yale, but you at least know, “Well, is that all there is my friend? Well, I can do that,” isn’t that a benefit to you?

Eric Metaxas:

I guess if you’re insecure and you need that kind of validation. I mean, that’s nice. But here’s the issue.

Doug Monroe:

There’s no one stupid in your class period, from an intellectual standpoint.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, I’ve met many. You see, here’s the-

Doug Monroe:

Not wise.

Eric Metaxas:

Let’s make a distinction right here.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Eric Metaxas:

Right? Intelligence is irrelevant. You can be brilliant and serving the devil. You can be absolutely brilliant. Hitler was not stupid. He was brilliant. Stalin and Mao were brilliant. You have evil figures, the most evil figures in history, all of whom were brilliant. How you use your intellect, which is a gift from God, is the question. Will you be wise and humble, or will you be an arrogant fool?

Intellect, IQ, is absolutely irrelevant. You can have someone with an IQ of 100 who is a grounded, wise person. And you can have someone with an IQ of 160 who is a demonic madman. So, this lie that is promoted in the secular circles of the cultural elites in America, especially in the Ivy League, is that intelligence is somehow an unmitigated good. That’s absolute nonsense. It’s like saying, “I am seven feet tall and I am very strong.”

You can use that to harm people weaker than you or to protect people weaker than you. The strength is neutral. The intelligence is neutral. And so, if you have schools like the Ivy League filled with mostly smarter people, the question is what are they learning to do with that? And what they’ve been learning to do with that for many decades, at least since Buckley wrote, God and Man at Yale about the Yale of the ’40s, which had already been given over to communist atheistic thinking in the late ’40s, they haven’t been learning what I would say biblical values.

It’s all been subverted. It’s basically drifted in a Marxist atheistic direction, which is going to lead to something like the bloodbath of the French Revolution, not to the founding of the United States of America. Completely different paths. One is enlightenment, rationalist to the nth degree, and the other one is grounded in truth.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About When Western Secular Evil Really Started

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. And having read Whittaker Chambers book, Witness, in the last couple of years, he reminds you that it was going on in the ’20s and ’30s.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, absolutely.

Doug Monroe:

This has been going on really since the Russian Revolution certainly. And-

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s been going on since-

Doug Monroe:

… you have to go back to the 1800s.

Eric Metaxas:

It’s been going on since the Garden of Eden.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s been going on since the French Revolution. We could start there.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. No, exactly. Exactly, yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But the seeds of these things have been whatever-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, okay.

Eric Metaxas:

They’re planted in the soil of humanity since the fall.

Eric Metaxas – Has your worldview ever radically changed?

Doug Monroe:

Okay. One last kind of worldview question, and then I want to hear you tell us your first story. And that is, has your worldview ever changed? I don’t even want to say radically because that’s pretty rare. But like say St. Augustine, he went through a couple of worldviews and settled on one. Do you feel like you were actually where you went down a path and switched?

Eric Metaxas:

Around my 25th birthday, I had an utterly life-changing experience. Up until that point, I had been convinced that we couldn’t know whether there was a God. We couldn’t know whether Jesus was God, whether the Bible was true. And that sophisticated people had to deal with not knowing and living in a world where we don’t know. Around my 25th birthday, I had what can only be described as an utterly miraculous experience. Jesus came into my life. I knew that the Bible is true. I knew that Jesus is Lord.

I knew that what I had believed you couldn’t know was true, changed everything. Jesus came into my life literally overnight. My whole everything changed. And in the weeks and months after that, my worldview naturally changed in accordance with my new knowledge that the Bible is true. God is real. God loves me. He wants me to love others. Everything changed. My worldview changed. I became what I guess today we would describe as more politically conservative. So, yeah. Everything changed for me around my 25th birthday.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About Eric’s Experience with Ultimate Reality

Doug Monroe:

Okay. I just watched a video or two of you describing the goldfish encounter. And you described what the pond was, and what the symbolism was, and the dream. I’d like you to give for the umpteenth time to my camera, have that. But I just want to say to me as based on some of the worldview interviews we’ve done, if this is correct, I think you experienced ultimate reality briefly.

Eric Metaxas:

Yes.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. It came to you.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Ultimate reality.

Eric Metaxas:

More than once. But this was the sort of seminal, inciting incident.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

It was a golden fish, not a goldfish. It was a golden fish. And it was not a pond. It was a lake, the largest lake in the state of Connecticut. But so you want me to tell the dream?

Eric Metaxas – Grace of God and Its Impact: The Golden Fish Story

Eric Metaxas:

Okay. I have to tell the background quickly because what the dream did is was God speaking to me I say in the vocabulary of my heart. The dream would not have meant anything to anyone else. God was speaking to me in the most personal way, taking the elements of my life and speaking to me out of my own life. So, it wouldn’t have made sense to anybody else. And it was that very idea that makes it mind-blowing. That God is real and he’s speaking to me in a way as though he knows me because he does know me.

So okay, to give the background so that the dream makes sense. I had the dream around my 25th birthday. If you’d said to me around my 25th birthday, “Hey, who are you in your core,” maybe three things would’ve come up. The first was my identity as the son of Nick Metaxas, a Greek immigrant. Greeks always teach their kids to love their Greek heritage, to celebrate their Greek heritage. I grew up in the Greek Orthodox church surrounded by a loving community of Greeks. And that was very important to me. That was a big part of who I am.

Doug Monroe:

It’s part of Westerners too. I’m proud to be related to your-

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah. I mean, all this stuff can relate-

Doug Monroe:

I’m proud to be related too.

Eric Metaxas:

… in a sense wider.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But for me, it was just personally very important. The second part of my life, if you’d said to me, “And so, what do you do with yourself? What are your hobbies?” I mean, I grew up in Danbury, Connecticut. I spent all my time watching comedy on TV, doing homework, getting straight As. But what did you do for fun? Well, I fished. I was a fisherman. We fished for largemouth bass, smallmouth, bass, trout, fly-fishing, spin casting. I mean, that was my main thing, fishing. So, in a sense, there’s this Greek identity, the fishing thing, that was my thing.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a lifelong love. Yep.

Eric Metaxas:

I won a bass tournament, age 16. I was in my age category on Kenwood Lake. But the third thing is what I described, somebody says, “Who are you?” The life of the mind. Trying to figure out the meaning of life. When I was at Yale, I was an English major. But even reading the classics of the Western canon, I’m looking for clues to the meaning of life. To what is reality? What is truth? Whether reading Thomas Mann or anything, I was kind of looking, trying to puzzle out what is the meaning of life?

Can I find the meaning of life through this great literature? Thinking about the big questions. And at one point in my life, I guess I was probably in my early 20s out of Yale. I graduated Yale at age 20, graduated a year early. And I was lost, totally lost. And I thought, “Well, okay. Christianity can’t be true. That’s so parochial. And I’ve been told.” Like, “No, that’s just, that’s for people in flyover country. The sophisticates, we don’t believe that. What do we believe?” So, I was trying to make sense of things.

And I came up with this, it’s classic undergraduate idea, right? Only undergraduates could be arrogant enough to think, “I figured out the meaning of life. Here it is.” And it was kind of this Jungian-Freudian idea that life is like a frozen lake, and that the ice is the conscious mind. This is Jungian, right?

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Eric Metaxas:

The ice is the conscious mind. The water beneath the ice is the unconscious, the collective unconscious. And I thought, “Oh, so the goal of life, the goal of all religions is to drill through the ice to reach the collective unconscious. To drill through the conscious mind, to touch divinity Godhead,” which Jung calls the collective unconscious. This kind of new-age idea of divinity, God, whatever it is. Not the God of the Bible, right?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. It’s a beautiful metaphor.

Eric Metaxas:

So, it’s a nice idea.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

So, but I have to say to tee up the dream, so the Greek part of my life was important. Fishing was important. The life of the mind was important. My dad, my Greek dad, we were pulled up at exit eight off of I-84 in Danbury, Connecticut. And we see a car-

… off of I84 in Danbury, Connecticut, and we see a car in front of us with a fish symbol on the back, one of those chrome…

And my father says to me, all excited, it’s a Greek word. You know where that is, Eric? That Christians use that symbol of the fish because the Greek word fish, ikhthū́s, is an acronym. The early Christians, before they even adopted the cross as the symbol, they had the early fish because the acronym in the Greek letters spelling the word fish, ikhthū́s, is Iēsoûs Khrīstós, Theoû Huiós, Sōtḗr, the acronym, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.” So that fish there on the back of the car means Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior. It’s a Greek word. My father was as excited about the meaning as about the fact that it’s a Greek word. So, ikhthū́s.

So I thought, okay, so the fish is Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior. Greek word, okay? All of which to say is that I’m drifting along in life. I’m lost. I graduated at age 20. I’m trying to be a writer. I’m totally lost. I don’t know the meaning of life. I’m floundering. I always joke around that if you graduate college and you begin to flounder, you will move back in with your parents. That’s just going to happen. It’s like an axiom.

Doug Monroe:

Unfortunately you didn’t know that then.

Eric Metaxas:

No. And you don’t want to do that. And you certainly don’t want to do that if your parents are working class European immigrants, because they struggled and struggled and struggled, worked menial jobs to put you through Yale, and here you are like, what’s the meaning of life? Or what do I do? And I think my sophisticated Yale friends’ parents said, “Oh, Eric’s trying to find himself.”

And my parents were like, “Yeah, Eric should find himself a job and get on with it.”

So I moved back with my parents. It was a very tough year. I take a job as a proofreader at Union Carbide in Danbury, Connecticut, which was a nightmare. Meet a guy there, Ed Tuttle, who starts sharing his faith with me. And I’m not having it. I’m like, yeah, I’ll listen politely, but I’m not going there. I don’t want to become some right-wing, conservative Jesus freak. But I was in enough pain to keep listening and to have the conversation, but I’m not buying it.

Well, one night, around my 25th birthday, I have a dream. And in the dream… I mean Ed Tuttle, my friend, had said to me, “Well, why don’t you ask God to reveal himself to you?” And I thought, I don’t even know that God exists. Am I going to ask the oxygen in the room? How do I… But if you’re in enough pain, and I was really in a hard place in my life that year, you will sometimes say, “Okay, God, give me a sign if you’re there,” whatever. I would do that. But also thinking like, well, I’m talking to nobody. And so it was a strange thing.

One night I have a dream. In the dream, I’m standing on a frozen lake. I’m standing on Candlewood Lake in Danbury, Connecticut, where I had fished many times. I’m standing on the frozen lake. It’s a glorious winter day. Bright, bright sun, piercing blue sky, white snow and ice, and we’re ice fishing, and there’s a hole in the ice. And I look into the hole and I see a fish pointing its snout out of the hole. That never happens when you’re ice fishing. So I look down, I reach down and I pick it up by its gill and I hold it up in the sun. This fish, this large fish. It’s either a large pickerel or a pike, which is a bronze-colored fish. And in the glorious sunlight, this fish looks golden. So it doesn’t look bronze, but it looks like it’s made of gold. And then in the dream, suddenly I realize this fish doesn’t look gold, this is a golden fish. It is made of gold and it is alive.

And suddenly, like the paragraphs just dropped into my head in the dream, “Eric, you thought the meaning of life was to break through the ice, your conscious mind, to reach the collective unconscious, which is this God divinity.” And in the dream, I realized this fish, fish out of water, this golden fish is God saying to me, “You wanted to reach inert water. You thought that was the goal, but I want to give you something better. I want to give you my son, your Savior, Jesus Christ.” Ichthus. The golden fish was ichthus, was Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior.

Suddenly in the dream, all these things come together in a moment in my mind, in the dream. And I’m staggered by the reality of it. I’m staggered that God has spoken to me in this unbelievably personal way to make meaning of my whole life, and that he basically one-ups me with my own symbol system. I have this symbol system that you want to drill through the conscious mind to reach the collective unconscious. And he says, “Okay, I got you. And by the way, your goal is not to reach the collective unconscious. I’m going to send you something infinitely better, my son, your Savior, Jesus Christ.”

And in the dream, I’m holding this fish and I realize that this golden fish is Christ, is Jesus, and I’m flooded with joy in the dream. I know that I have found the meaning of life. I know that I have found the answer to what I’d been looking for, to what I didn’t think you could find. In the dream, I knew that this was real, that this was true, and I was flooded with joy.

The next day, my friend asked me, or I said, “I have to tell you this story.” And I told him the story.

He says, “What do you think it means?”

I said, “It means I have accepted Jesus.” I had never wanted to say those words. I thought that was awkward. That point I knew it’s over. I have jumped across the broomstick into another world. And so I was utterly born again, and by the grace of God, I’ve never looked back. It changed everything for me. And it was utterly miraculous. There’s just no… I’ve never had a dream like that before or since. It was just completely mind-blowing.

Doug Monroe:

Just a detail question on that. When the fish you had raised it up was… I’m thinking it could have been one or two things. It was the realization that it was golden and it was alive, and-

Eric Metaxas:

It’s like a fairy tale.

Doug Monroe:

Yes.

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s right out of a fairy tale. And I’ve written so many children’s books and I’m a big student of fairy tales. So this was like something out of a fairy tale.

Doug Monroe:

It’s totally out of a fairy tale. Did the fish look at you or were you taken up by the realization?

Eric Metaxas:

No.

Doug Monroe:

It wasn’t like Jesus was doing this-

Eric Metaxas:

No. No. I just knew, I just had this sense as I’m holding this, that God sent his son to me and I’m holding… I have the truth. I have the answer. I’m holding it. It is real.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About the Golden Fish Itself and Eric’s Christianity

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. It’s almost like a baby or something.

Eric Metaxas:

It was absolutely… I was flooded with joy in the dream. It was just clear as a bell.

Doug Monroe:

I understand that. Well, it’s official. I would call that a born-again experience.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

So you can be a Baptist if you want to be. Are you Episcopalian or are you a… What do you do?

Eric Metaxas:

Let me answer that by saying, heck no.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Eric Metaxas:

No, no, I’m a mere Christian. I’m a Bible-believing Jesus follower.

Doug Monroe:

Gotcha.

Eric Metaxas:

Most of the mainline Protestant churches have gone so far off the rails, I never even think of them. They have really got to the dark side and it’s heartbreaking.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. No, I understand.

Eric Metaxas – How did you get into writing biographies? Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, Luther

Doug Monroe:

Okay, this is a little bit of an egghead question, but I’m interested. I’m seeing you… I think most men who aren’t in a flow, and we mature so late now that 25 is, you’re right in the middle of it. We get very anxious if we’re not in a flow. And so you leave that experience and you know you’re approaching a flow that has carried you to age 60. You got into biography writing. Tell me about your strategy there. Did you have one or did you just start and get good at it?

Eric Metaxas:

Oh no, no. There is no strategy. In fact, if you had asked me at any time prior to 2006 or 7, “Do you think you will ever write a biography of anyone?” I would’ve said emphatically. “No. I have no ambition to ever write biographies.” I thought I would be a fiction writer. I wasn’t sure what I would do. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never had the ambition to write any biographies. I also had never had an ambition to write children’s books, and I’ve written 30 of them. So God, if we put our life in God’s hands, he has plans for us, of which we often know little or nothing.

No, I was kind of tricked by God into… Sometimes he’ll maneuver us. And I wrote a book, there are three in the series, but it’s called Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask), which is just kind of apologetics, Q&A, some humor, but the basics of the faith.

Doug Monroe:

Great stuff. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

And so I wrote that. And the first one came out in 2005. And I just had a couple of paragraphs in there about William Wilberforce because I thought, if you believe the Bible, it changes everything. Wilberforce believed the Bible, became a Christian around age 26 in 1785, and it changed everything. So here he is, a politician, and he decides to give his whole life over to God, and it leads to him leading the battle for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. A monumental thing.

Doug Monroe:

In the world.

Eric Metaxas:

A monumental victory in the world.

Doug Monroe:

In the world. In the world.

Eric Metaxas:

Just unbelievable. Because he believed the Bible. So I just write a couple of paragraphs in the book about, “Hey, maybe it’s a good idea to take the Bible seriously. Here’s one example.” I get on CNN to talk about the book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask), and the woman interviewing me asks me, “What’s this on page 88?” I was not prepared. I thought she’s going to ask me about angels and demons and evil and whatever. Asking about this, so I talked a little bit about Wilberforce on CNN, which leads to a publisher approaching me and saying, “Hey, there’s a film coming out, Amazing Grace, about the life of William Wilberforce. Would you like to write a biography to come out when the film comes out?”

Doug Monroe:

Wow, gotcha.

Eric Metaxas:

And I thought, well, I know a little bit about Wilberforce because of my friend Os Guinness, because of Chuck Colson. I’ll think about it. And I decided to do that. And so I write this biography, Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce, and I realized in writing it, it kind of allowed me to in some ways express my literary talent in a way that I hadn’t in these other books. And I enjoyed it. I loved the history. So I thought maybe I would write one other biography in my life, and if I did, it would have to be about Bonhoeffer. Because my mother grew up in Nazi Germany. My grandfather was killed in the war. Very personal for me what happened in Germany, because I’m German.

And so I thought about it, thought about it. Eventually wrote the Bonhoeffer biography. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was a very painful experience. Had to switch publishers. It was a real agony. But God miraculously spoke to me and assured me that he had his hand on the book somehow. And I didn’t know what that meant. I just wanted to get it done. It ended up being 600 pages. I refused to cut it. And it became the book that blew my whole career into existence because it sold over a million copies. It was translated into 20 languages. There’s a film coming out in November, not officially based on my book.

But so much has followed from my writing the Bonhoeffer book. It seems obvious to me that God created me to write the Bonhoeffer book. There’s no doubt about it. And the story of Bonhoeffer led to where I am now in trying to help do what Bonhoeffer did, to wake people up about what your Christian faith requires of you. Not just intellectual assent, but living out your faith. I mean, I was literally in Harlem last night in the footsteps of Bonhoeffer right where he lived for a year in an effort to stand up for the Jews today. Bonhoeffer stood up for the Jews because of his Christian faith in the thirties.

So it’s really, it’s one of those things where you realize God’s hand was on me, steering me to write biographies. I never intended to write one. I wrote two. Then I was finally persuaded to write a biography of Martin Luther, which came out on the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.

Doug Monroe:

2017.

Eric Metaxas:

So came out 2017. So, I don’t think I will probably write any more long biographies, but my book Seven Men, my book Seven Women, my book Seven More Men, these are all short biographies. God clearly intended for me to do this, but there was zero thinking on my part. God maneuvered me to do this, and it’s only in retrospect that I have seen the value of it. It’s not like I saw the value and I thought, well, let me write a biography or two. I just had kind of an innate sense to follow God’s leading.

Eric Metaxas – How can humor be used to communicate and connect?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, God puts you as an English major at Yale, and then he gave you pretty much the dream of a lifetime. And at that point, he’s saying to you, “If you can’t take a joke, Eric, to hell with you, I’m giving you the answer.” And at some point you got to jump on the boat. And Martin Luther, there are real parallels, wild and crazy times to now, and you put Bonhoeffer together with that. So you’re on a really good launching pad.

All right, that’s a lead into a question that I didn’t ask you, but one of the unique abilities you have, and I wish more church people did this, some ministers can, not many conservatives are real good at it like Reagan, but you use laughter and comedy, and I know you did that at Yale, as a skill set to further the Lord. What can you say about that?

Eric Metaxas:

Anything that’s good and beautiful and true. Humor is a gift from God. And since I was a kid, I have been surrounded by people cracking jokes. I talk about it in my autobiography, Fish Out of Water. My mother’s side of the family, the German side of the family, were hilarious. My grandmother was one of the funniest people I ever knew. She was like a comedian. And I grew up with the language of humor, cracking jokes were constant, not knowing that wasn’t normal. That was my family.

When I went to Yale, I was the editor of the humor magazine at Yale. After I graduated Yale, while I was staggering trying to find my métier and the meaning of life, I published humor pieces in the New York Times Magazine, in the Atlantic Monthly, following the footsteps of SJ Perelman and Woody Allen and Garrison Keillor. I wrote these humor pieces. So humor was… I wanted to be a writer for Letterman, for Seinfeld. This has just been something that I have… It’s just who I am.

Doug Monroe:

You could have ended up Second City if you hadn’t had the dream.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I love all that stuff, and it’s kind of wild to think the path that God took me on. But humor to me was always just a way of communicating. It’s very natural for me. It’s not like I’m planning it. It’s just kind of who I am. But I think it’s important, because I think it disarms people. There’s something important about humor. Humor has always been directly related to truth-telling, whether you think about court jesters speaking to the king and telling the uncomfortable truths to the king.

And so I feel that it’s just a big part of who I am, and it’s a big part of my life. Now, if you read my biographies, except for the Luther biography, there’s not much humor in the story of Bonhoeffer. There are sly jokes if you read it very carefully, and in the Wilberforce book. The Luther, there’s a lot of humor in there. Again, you have to be a careful reader. But-

Doug Monroe:

Well, he had a strange sense of humor.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, he had a wild sense of humor. He had a wild sense of humor.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I meant that in a good way.

Eric Metaxas:

So humor is just hugely important to me. And Socrates in the City is a place where I have allowed myself to be silly and stupid in a hopefully humorous vein. But it’s just a big part of who I am on my radio show. I think humor, at least for me, it’s important. And the tagline for our company, Metaxas Media, is “Truth, Humor, Hope.” So Metaxas Media is this company that we’re launching all these media projects. But I feel like there’s a time to be serious and there’s a time for kidding around, and this is not one of them. That’s also a joke. It’s hard to follow.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah, there’s a time for kidding around and a time to be serious. This is not one of them.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But the point is that clearly there are times when I’m, you know, in writing these books, Letter to the American Church

Doug Monroe:

I get it.

Eric Metaxas:

… and Religionless Christianity, hyper-serious. But there are plenty of places where it’s a delight to be goofy and to be humorous.

Eric Metaxas – Serving God in Mainstream Media & Making the Case for God

Doug Monroe:

All right, now my last question before we move to the substance is you’re in a unique position, this is my Chris Farley question, where I really think you can see the world.

Eric Metaxas:

It was pretty cool being the bass player for the Beatles, if that’s your question. But go ahead.

Doug Monroe:

No, I mean you’re at 575 Madison Avenue. It’s maybe the center of part of the universe. You’re in touch with Christians all over the country. You have a radio show. You’re constantly in media. You have a window on things that very few people do. How does that feel? Is that responsibility? Do you realize that or what?

Eric Metaxas:

I’m not sure that I realize it fully. And I think that’s part of God mercifully keeping me genuinely humble, because I’m aware that anything I have is a gift from him and it’s an honor to do most of what I do and I don’t deserve it. It’s a privilege and it’s a gift. It’s his mercy. And so, I feel since I had my born-again experience at age 25, I knew that I just wanted God to use me for his glory with the gifts that he’s given me. And much of that has been very difficult, I mean it’s been… We haven’t talked about it and we don’t need to, but it’s been a real struggle. There’s no doubt. You wouldn’t know that from the outside. From the outside, you only see the success or whatever it is. But it has been a brutal struggle. It is a spiritual battle. This is not about career.

Doug Monroe:

I get it. I get it. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

This is about serving God. So it’s a spiritual battle. And so therefore I’m prayerful and humble about it because I know that it’s the greatest honor to be able to be even trying to serve God with your gifting that he has given you. And so yeah, it’s been tough.

I feel like I have not yet begun to fight, so to speak. I have tremendous ambitions to do things that I have not yet done. And we’re working on that now. We’re trying to raise millions of dollars to create video streaming series of a number of my books, because I feel, like when we touched on the book Is Atheism Dead? most people aren’t book readers and most people, including Christians, aren’t aware of the information in, for example, the book Is Atheism Dead? And I think this information is so astonishing that I desperately want to get it to the world, and certainly to the church, to Christians, because when you know these things, and this is just this one book, but it changes everything. And most people don’t know it.

And so God uses me often as a popularizer because there are all these people that they write books on faith and science, but most people don’t read them or aren’t aware of them. I will read them and then say, okay, now I need to put this into a book like Is Atheism Dead? that pretty much everybody can read or that everybody will read because it’s readable, because I tell stories and so on and so forth.

But that’s still just scratching the surface. To really reach the culture… And this is a broken secular culture. We’re seeing the bitter fruit of decades of brokenness and secularism and buying the lie that God probably doesn’t exist. That in order to reach the culture, in order to lead to the redemption of this broken culture, you’ve got to get these ideas into the mainstream. And I often have felt that’s what the church has not done effectively. It sometimes gets these ideas into the pews, but usually it doesn’t even do that.

And so I kind of want to speak directly to the culture, and that’s why we’re trying to raise these millions of dollars because I feel like the time is so late and so many people I know, when they encounter this information or these stories, they will be thrilled. Because they’re thinking, why haven’t I known this? Why didn’t I… Well, part of the reason is because the culture is so secular that the cultural gatekeepers either themselves don’t know this, or if they ever encounter it, they bat it away. They’ve already bought the lie that, look, that doesn’t fit our narrative. We’re not interested. Sometimes it’s open hostility, but oftentimes it’s just ignorance, that, well, we don’t get into that here. And I’m thinking there is not a human being in the world who’s not created in God’s image, who does not hunger for truth. So when people, most people, encounter these kinds of things, they think, my goodness, this is astonishing. Why haven’t I heard this before?

Eric Metaxas – God’s Truth in the Media: WSJ’s “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God”

Eric Metaxas:

The ultimate example is when I wrote my book Miracles. The first part of the book Miracles, I go into the miracle, before I get into the miracles that I or friends have experienced, the simple miracle of the creation of the universe. When you look at it and you look at the fine tuning, the evidence for God from that is, as I said earlier, mind blowing. And I thought, that’s got to be the front of the book.

So, I put that in there, in my 2015 book Miracles, and then I thought, oh, I should write an op-ed to help publicize the book. So, I write an op-ed called “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” It goes into the Wall Street Journal, Christmas Eve 2015.

Doug Monroe:

I remember that.

Eric Metaxas:

It went so viral, it became the most popular article in the history of the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because the hunger for truth in a world that almost never provides evidence for God, much less from science. When you read this in the Wall Street Journal, you think, what? Why have I never heard this before? People shared it like insane. I mean, literally, it was by a factor of more than a hundred percent-

Doug Monroe:

I sent it around. People were sending it.

Eric Metaxas:

… the most popular article in the history of the Wall Street Journal because somehow the information never gets into the mainstream. And so the time that it did, it went crazy. And when I realized that, I thought, okay, I need to write a book where the whole book is about this, because the hunger is astonishing. People are dying to know what’s true. “I’ve been told God doesn’t exist. That doesn’t really make sense to me. But I guess that’s what the smart people say. So I guess I better not ask…”

Eric Metaxas – A Second Reformation that Flips the Script 

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, to me, we are potentially on the verge, not just of revival, but of something like a second Reformation. You mentioned Luther. When things are really crazy, people become more open. They look around, thinking things are nuts. What’s real, what’s true? I believe these lies. I’ve been told this. I’ve been told that. The openness increases. I think we are there now, and it’s why we want to turn Is Atheism Dead? into a streaming TV series. But again, that’s just one of many things. But that’s kind of in some sense, the most basic narrative that needs to be flipped. The idea that science is at odds with faith in God. Total lie. That narrative needs to be flipped. We have been fed this narrative since the BBC’s Ascent of Man in the seventies.

Doug Monroe:

Voltaire.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, Voltaire, yes. But I’m saying but in recent times, you have Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series, complete garbage. Here you have, again, very smart people pushing a false narrative. And everybody goes, oh, okay. What do I know? He’s really smart. It’s just wrong. And we now have the receipts. We can show you, no, science points to God. You don’t have to like it, but here’s the evidence. You can’t really dispute this evidence. Good luck because the evidence is piled up to the height of Mount Everest. But nobody knows this. And so I have a passion to get this out because I know the hunger for it is great. And I think that there’s a joy in that. There’s a joy in that.

Eric Metaxas – Importance of Telling True Stories & Teaching America’s Roots

Doug Monroe:

Well, somebody has to realize it, but in every age, and let’s call it an age of 30 to 50 year period, popularizers have to refine the best thinking and the best and match it to what’s going on and serve it up. That’s why we’ll always have biographies of Luther or George Washington or another one on Lincoln or good old Robert E Lee, he’ll be back. I guarantee you that. Frederick Douglass. They’ll always… We have to have this.

Eric Metaxas:

Right.

Doug Monroe:

We have to have this.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, we particularly have to have it now because we have, as I’ve said, we’ve been living through a period… Or maybe I haven’t quite said it. Really since the sixties, we’ve been living with some utterly false narratives that’s been part of the drinking water of American culture. We have not taught physics. We haven’t taught about the uniqueness and the exceptionalism of the United States of America. Not human beings that we’re better. No, no, no. But the idea of the American founders’ vision of self-government, it’s the most glorious thing in the history of the world and it led to the freest, most prosperous country in the world. We haven’t been teaching that since I was a kid.

And so you have a lot of people kind of drifting along, not understanding that we need to preserve America or we need to return America to its roots. That faith is at the center of the American founding. That’s inescapable. And that lie that we are founded by French Enlightenment rationalists has been pushed. That’s another book I wrote called If You Can Keep It, which is the second book we want to turn into a streaming TV series. When you get this information out there, people think like, how have I missed this?

Doug Monroe:

Did you know John Locke was a secularist? Did you know that? I mean, that’s so ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, it’s all so ridiculous. And the thing is that once you discover all this, you think, how have I missed this? And then you start thinking, well, I’ve missed it because the cultural elites have a dog in the fight. They don’t like the idea of God. And they have whitewashed, just like Stalin, they have just edited out the stuff they don’t like and they’ve created this false narrative. And it has led to the madness in which we currently find ourselves, which has increased people’s hunger for, well, wait, what is the truth?

And so, the story of America and the beauty of America, and the link between faith and freedom, which is inescapable, that story needs to be told. The story of the reality of God and how faith in God led to modern science.

Doug Monroe:

Yes. Yes.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s the opposite of the narrative we’ve been fed. So part of what I feel God has called me to do is to flip these narratives, to be a part of flipping these narratives. And I think there are many, many people alive today who they’re simply going to be astonished. They’re thinking, how have I lived all these decades and I never heard this stuff? Well, again, because we’ve been living… We’ve been so blessed that we’ve drifted along in this kind of apathy and we’ve drifted in the wrong direction. And we need to rediscover these truths. Things have gotten so bad that before we hit the waterfall, we’re like, “Hey, hey, hey, wait a minute. Where are we?” We better start paddling.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About Flipping Narratives

Doug Monroe:

I want to turn now to the main reason we’re here. But I will add to what you said there with my old pal who’s also a Praxis Circle, now deceased, wonderful man, Rodney Stark, who I think he rose to the top of the pile in sociology, and then he realized exactly what you’re talking about, there’s so much that I know where the narrative is false, that I can make a good living and do a lot of good for the world by just putting the narrative that’s true out there.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah, that’s right.

Doug Monroe:

Which he did for about five to 10 years. He was a master. And you’re doing the exact same thing. I couldn’t get him to admit that he was a Christian. I think he was, but he wouldn’t do that to the camera while he was sitting at Baylor University in his religion foundation with Christians all around him.

Eric Metaxas:

That shows you how bad things are.

Eric Metaxas – Is hiding your faith Christianity? Atheism hides science

Eric Metaxas:

Well, no, but that’s the point, that how polluted is the academy that you can’t say, “And by the way, I’m a Christian”? If people don’t like it, you just want to say, “Excuse me, why don’t you go jump in a lake? Because you should be embarrassed that you’re an atheist. You should be ashamed of the intellectual bankruptcy of your worldview, but you’re not, but you should be.” So the idea that Christians should be humble to the point of hiding their faith is a joke. And that’s part of the narrative that I want to flip. Like what nonsense, as I say in the book-

Doug Monroe:

You’re doing it.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, as I say in the book Is Atheism Dead? and I got it from John Lennox, let me tell you what’s the enemy of science. Atheism is the enemy of science. And people like Nagel at NYU, these are atheists who are seeing this. So this is real, and we need to have the… I guess we ought to have confidence in our faith and boldness in our faith, because you’re going to say to me, “Well, don’t say one plus one equals two. All the smart guys say that that’s stupid.” Well, I don’t care. One plus one is two, and they can all jump in a lake. They should be ashamed that they don’t know that one plus one equals two. That’s kind of where we are.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, no, a hundred percent. The problem is that even smart people, they have to know a whole lot to be able to appreciate what you’re saying, and they don’t know it. They’re either biased against it for whatever graft they’re seeking or power, but you really have to know, you have to be reading off the beaten path. And there’s a lot out there, like in your book here. I’ve read most of the books that you cite, but people don’t read those books.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I mean, that’s why I wrote my book, because I know that people don’t read those books. I said, I want to put the cookies on a lower shelf so that everybody can read them.” Because this stuff, it’s hard not to get excited when you see this information.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About “The Letter” and Its Sequel

Doug Monroe:

It’s woohoo.

Eric Metaxas:

I’m doing everything I can to get it out there.

Doug Monroe:

It’s wow. Okay. Let’s go to a little more serious, not that this is… This is all serious.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

But we’re in bad shape. I think that since the summer of 2020, every American has realized something’s not working here. How do we get here? And I read Religionless Christianity. And these two books are, they go together.

Eric Metaxas:

Yes.

Doug Monroe:

As you say, clearly they go together.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah. The Letter to the American Church is the first one. Religionless Christianity, which just came out is the sequel. That’s right.

Eric Metaxas – Faith Without Works Is Dead: Bonhoeffer, “Letter to the American Church”

Eric Metaxas:

God called me to write Letter to the American Church. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t like when Christians speak sloppily, but I have never felt like I did about this message that I’ve got to write this. I was going to self-publish it. I just felt I have this burden from God. I must write what I have to say in Letter to the American Church and get it out. I did. Some people read it and heard my message and said, “This needs to be a documentary film.” And they made a documentary film, Letter to the American Church. People can go to lettertotheamericanchurch.com, and that unpacks it in a much more dramatic way.

I wrote Letter to the American Church to speak to people in the middle and say, “Please reason with me about the role of the church,” trying to make the connection between Bonhoeffer in the ’30s. And it’s funny because Letter to the American Church is the first book, Religionless Christianity is the sequel. In some ways, my Bonhoeffer book is the prequel that if you read Bonhoeffer, these books unpack Bonhoeffer for where we are now. What are we talking about? We’re talking about the madness.

Doug Monroe:

See, this is the window that you have. That’s what I was talking about. At 575 Madison, you put yourself into a window not only from your media, but from your research.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I guess-

Doug Monroe:

You’re seeing things that other people can’t see. Keep going.

Eric Metaxas:

I think, well, part of that has mostly to do with this gift from God to me to tell the Bonhoeffer story. Again, it wasn’t some idea that I had. It was God’s idea. And as I told the Bonhoeffer story, I was awakened in telling the story of Bonhoeffer in my book, which I recommend so people can get the details.

But in telling that story, I thought, “Wow, this could happen in America.” And as I wrote the Bonhoeffer book, it was dawning on me as I’m writing it, this smells familiar. What is this? Could this happen in America? And it really wasn’t until 2020 that it started happening for real. And what we saw was… Well, before I say that, let me say, if somebody puts a gun to my head, says, “What’s the story of Bonhoeffer?” Okay. The story of Bonhoeffer is a man of God trying to wake up the German church to understand that it is their job, their duty assigned by God to stand against the Satanic evil rising around them in the form of Hitler and the Nazis. The German church failed to heed this prophetic cry through Bonhoeffer, failed to understand that it is their duty, Biblically and directly from God to stand against evil self-sacrificially, even to the point of death.

This is what Christians are called to do, to live out our faith. They thought, “No, no, no, we just want to focus on Romans 13. Whatever the government says, we’re just going to go along with it. We don’t want any trouble. We just want to do church. Oh, we just want to preach the gospel. We want to have nice church services while the Jews go to hell. We don’t care that they’re going to Auschwitz and Treblinka. And we are going to focus on theology, absolute abdication of duty as Christians.

Bonhoeffer said, “It is our duty as Christians to speak up for the Jews, to stand against evil.” He was trying to wake up the church to be the church and to say to the church, “Hey, church, you see these evils rising around you? It is your duty to stand against it. You have no excuse not to. You say you believe Jesus defeated death on the cross, so you shouldn’t fear death. You should boldly, joyfully stand against these evils now united. You have the cultural power as the church in Germany to stand against this and win.”

But they said, “No, no, no, we just want to do church. We just want to play church. We just want to have nice church services. We don’t want any trouble. We don’t want to get involved in the controversial stuff. Oh, we’re not supposed to be political.” And Bonhoeffer said, “That’s nonsense. Of course you’re supposed to be political. You’re supposed to be anything and everything to do what God called you to do.”

And by the way, Wilberforce wasn’t just political. He was a politician standing against the evil of the slave trade. But these lies which we see today in the American church, were there in the German church. And we have the classic case of the church failing to stand against evil and thereby opening the door to Satanic evil in the form of the Nazis who gained power and crushed millions.

Eric Metaxas – Christians Must Be Brave and Political

Eric Metaxas:

I realized in 2020, 2021, this is where we are in the American church. You have many, many, many, many, many Christian leaders, pastors, Christians, who have bought the same lie that the German church bought in the ’30s. They are convinced, “Not our job to be political. Oh, we don’t want to be political. Oh, we just want to preach the gospel and do church.” Nonsense. That is the devil’s church. If you were doing that in Germany as the Nazis were rising, you were serving the devil.

But they thought, “Oh, but it’s also religious.” And it’s like that’s the point. Bonhoeffer uses the phrase Religionless Christianity. Yeah, you’re doing religion. You’re not living out your Christian faith. You are trying to fool God with these trappings, these fig leaves that you think are going to fool God. They’re not fooling God. They’re not fooling the devil. The devil is thrilled that you are keeping your church locked, that you’re keeping your faith locked into the church on Sunday morning and not living it out 24/7 beyond the walls of the church seven days a week.

I saw clearly that’s the American church today, and it was so clear to me that the same excuses were being given for inaction, the same nonsense that, “Oh, we don’t do politics.” You don’t do politics? Evil is rising and you’re afraid to be controversial. You’re afraid to support a candidate who’s speaking out against these evils or who has a greater likelihood of speaking out against these evils. You’re saying you don’t do, but you’re afraid to lose some people in the congregation. That’s pathetic. That’s you’re serving the devil and you’re giving religious excuses, which are the foulest excuses of all.

Letter to the American Church, I try to make the case for people in the middle and say, “Hey, you’re sitting on the fence? The devil owns the fence.” You need to understand the same thing happened in Germany in the ’30s. Now it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, the Nazis, oh, we know they’re evil.” No, no, no, no. In 1933 and ’34, many, many Germans did not know where this was going. Bonhoeffer tried to make them understand where it’s going to go if you don’t get off your rear and stand against it with everything you have. And if you don’t stand against it with everything you have, it shows you do not have the faith you claim to have.

Eric Metaxas – Faith in Action: “Letter to American Church” and “Religionless Christianity”

Eric Metaxas:

Bonhoeffer always talked about faith in action. In the book of James, it says, “Faith without works is dead.” Many American Christians, precisely like the German Christians of the ’30s had bought this lie that, “Oh, yeah, I’m saved by faith,” which means I don’t need to do anything because if I do something that’s works righteousness. That’s not biblical, folks. If you have real faith, it will be born out by your works, by your actions. If you think that you can pretend to have faith and say, “Well, it’s in my head and I believe these things,” but you’re not living it out self-sacrificially. God knows, and the devil knows you don’t have the faith you think you do.

And you should be worried about your salvation because that is really having faith. It’s going to look like you have faith. It’s going to cost you something because you know Jesus already paid it. I can’t out-give God and I’m going to live out my faith. Bonhoeffer lived out his faith. But I realized as I say that the nightmare of 2020 with the insane BLM riots, just the madness, the anarchy, the lie that you can’t leave the building without a mask, but people can burn stuff and tip over cars and smash windows and they’ll get a pass. I mean, most Americans looked around and said, “What is happening? Is this America? What is going on?” I think that’s when I realized that the church’s failure to stand at that time against the various evils, I mean that’s just one.

BLM is a Marxist organization. They don’t care about actual racism any more than the devil cares about racism, anymore than the KKK cares about. They use the term to get more power, but all they care about is using whatever they can to guilt trip people into saying, “Oh, okay, I’ll give you some money. I’ll go along with whatever you’re selling.” And I think that the church failed dramatically. The church failed very dramatically in shutting down during COVID, in pushing the vaccines.

I mean, so many people had legitimate questions. The right thing to do would say, “Let’s air these questions, let’s talk about this.” Instead most of the American Evangelical church and other parts of the church went along with the narrative being pushed aggressively, extraordinarily aggressively by cultural elites, “Shut up, do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that. And if you don’t, we’re going to call you names and we won’t let you into the concert.”

That proved in a sense, the bankruptcy of the church of today. And that’s when I realized that we need to repent. We need to understand what God is calling us to do. We have the example of what happened in Germany right in front of us, clear as a bell. It’s like if you want to see how this goes, read the Bonhoeffer story. That’s why I wrote Letter to the American Church. And the sequel, Religionless Christianity, is meant to unpack more of that to help people understand what’s the difference between playing this religious game, being merely religious versus actually living out your faith in action, which is what Bonhoeffer was trying to get the German church to do.

Eric Metaxas – Is America really facing evil similar to Nazi Germany?

Doug Monroe:

You’re hard on the church because we should expect so much of the church. That should be the core of truth and goodness, et cetera. A couple of comments and then I want to drill in a little more to get you to define some things. But I was thinking after watching your video about the letter, is it really that bad? I mean we’re not going to be murdering people here. But the problem is there was no Dachau in 1932, but there was in ’33. It can happen.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, that was just the concentration camp. Yeah, there were no death camps until ’42. Think about that. In other words, that the Nazis, they’re not going to say, “Oh, we want to serve the devil and murder millions of women, children, old people.” They’re not going to say that. They’re not stupid. They’re very, very smart and the devil is smart.

Doug Monroe:

The devil is damn smart.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s why IQ is not…

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Has nothing.

Eric Metaxas:

They use their intelligence for a satanic evil. But we need to be clear that most people didn’t see where it was going. And Bonhoeffer tried to wake them up. “If you don’t speak up now, if you don’t get this now where this is going, you will not have a voice in five minutes if you don’t speak up now. It’s you’ll be silenced. If you don’t spend your money for God’s purposes today, this money will be confiscated from you. You better get in the battle.” Bonhoeffer was calling the church to that. And similarly, I’m one of a number of voices calling the church to that in America today because we are precisely where Germany was in ’33, ’34, naively thinking that if we do nothing, it’ll probably be okay. It will not. And it’s clear that it won’t.

Doug Monroe:

I’m with you 100%. I’m thinking of another book that was… I’m saying, yes, we need to be hard on the church. That’s totally true and it’s our responsibility, secularists as well. And I’m thinking of Albert Speer’s book about Inside the Third Reich, where he basically explains from prison how probably wasn’t a bad guy. He got pulled into Hitler. It was self-justification to a great extent. But it’s very easy to be fooled by people that are good at it. Right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, this is like the way the Mafia works. They just try to find some dirt on you. How can we manipulate you? How can we take your greed and use it against you? You want this, you want something for nothing? We’ll get you. That’s what the Nazis did. That’s what the devil does. And that’s what happened. I mean, it happened in Germany in the ’30s and it’s happening now where some people are flat-out working for evil. But most people are just going along with it a little bit.

Most people say, “Well, I’d like to keep my job. I work for the FBI, I want my pension. I’ll get it in five years. What’s my job today? Oh, to smash down the door of someone who’s a pro-life activist. To smash down the door of somebody who was on the Capitol grounds who did nothing, but you know what? It’s my job. I’ll do my job. I will go along with evil for my pension. I will do… Tell me what I need to do. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to get what’s coming to me.”

And so, everybody makes these compromises. Or I will go along with suppressing truth about the vaccines. Why? Because the price to speak these truths, I don’t even know where it’s going. I don’t know my position on the vaccines, but I know that if I ask these questions, I’m going to lose something. Maybe doctors were getting paid to go along to say, “Oh, you can’t prescribe this.” Everybody makes these tiny compromises with truth and you don’t need to be waving a flag for Hitler or the devil. You just need to go along with the lies. Look the other way when something bad is happening.

To the extent that any of us participates in that, we are helping evil to win. And that’s exactly what happened in Germany. You don’t need to be super pro-Nazi. You just needed to look the other way while they’re doing what they’re doing. Don’t ask questions because you might get thrown into a concentration camp. You might lose your job. You might be taken out of Gestapo headquarters. You don’t want any trouble.

Well, if you know God, you don’t fear a little trouble, and you fear not doing what God has called you to do. And that’s what it is to be. The church and that’s, we in America, we’ve had it so good and so easy that we’ve forgotten that God asks us and expects us to do something to pay certain prices. He’s paid the ultimate price. If we know that we’re going to live differently. But I think that we’ve been lulled into inactivity and silence. And I think taking the example of Bonhoeffer, we have to wake up yesterday because it is, the hour is very, very late.

Eric Metaxas – The Film “The Letter to the American Church”

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, I agree. Your documentary that’s there does list the trends that are obvious. If you’ll give it a full hour, it will be shown. And I’m not going to ask you to list that.

Eric Metaxas:

The film, Letter to the American Church, lays out a number of the various evils. One which we haven’t mentioned is the transgender madness. Children, it’s effectively child abuse, they’re being exposed to ideas that are evil, evil ideas to expose children to the confusion of their various genders. That’s a lie. And confusing them.

Then pressuring the parents to shut up. This is like, “We know better. We’re going to use your tax dollars to confuse your children and to lead them down these paths.” If a child is so confused that he says, “Well, I want to change my sex,” they have in cases now literally taken the child away from his parents. This is right out of the communist playbook. This is in America.

And many in the church are saying, “That’s not my problem. It’s not my problem. If young girls are having their breasts surgically removed.” There is a level of insanity and evil that has been unleashed. It is the job of the church to speak against it. And many who are not Christians are speaking against it to shame. I think it’s God’s way of shaming the church into action.

Doug Monroe:

To speak to what Religionless Christianity is. You would look at not only what Bonhoeffer said, but how he lived the last few years of his life. That’s a challenge to the individual.

Eric Metaxas – What is Religionless Christianity?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, Religionless Christianity is just a fancy term for actual Christianity. Right. It’s like the devil calls it Christian nationalism. Living out your faith is the most beautiful thing. God created us literally to do that. He died on the cross and rose from the grave and sent down his Holy Spirit to fill us so that we could actually live out our faith. We’re meant to do that.

To keep our faith in some little religious box is a joke. You can have that kind of Christian faith in China. Yeah, go in that little building, do your weird rituals on Sunday morning. We don’t care. It’s irrelevant. And when you come out, you will bow to the secular authority of the state. That’s not being the church. That’s creating a defanged, declawed, safe version of Christianity, which is the opposite of the roaring lion of the tribe of Judah that we’re supposed to be.

But the point is that people need to understand this is what God created you to do. This is not extra credit Christianity. This is what it is to live out your faith. You were born for this. This is not like, “Oh, I’m scared. I’m scared.” You should be scared of not doing this. This is the joy. If you understand that God is real, he’s not like I hope he’s real. If you know that he’s real, if you believe in him, a lot of people say they do. If you do, you will live this way.

And I think we have to raise the bar in the church and we have to say to people, “This is what God made you for, is to live this kind of faith, to be active in every sphere.” Some people will be active school boards.

Doug Monroe:

100%.

Eric Metaxas:

Some people will be active in other ways. Some people get involved in politics. The point is it doesn’t matter. Be active in your faith anywhere you can. Be outspoken about the truth anywhere you can. Do not fear the consequences. Doesn’t mean be foolish. But the point is that if everyone would do this, the world would change yesterday.

Eric Metaxas – The Decline of Protestantism: Hope in Remnant Action

Doug Monroe:

Yes. And I have the question here. You may have noticed of how did we as Christian Americans and Jody Bottum pointed out two days ago in this interview that we’ve gone from 50% Protestant to 10% in the US since the ’50s. And so, we painted ourselves into a corner where we can only talk about God maybe to our wife, if we’re lucky if we married the right girl let’s say.

Eric Metaxas:

We can only talk about our faith to our wife you said?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. I mean just I can’t talk to anyone about it, right?

Eric Metaxas:

But then it proves you have no faith.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, exactly.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s a joke.

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. That is a joke.

Eric Metaxas:

It’s a joke. And I don’t know what the world should be…

Doug Monroe:

But we’ve let that happen to it.

Eric Metaxas:

Saying about Protestantism because all these terms are irrelevant. They’re irrelevant. I mean, mainline Protestantism has been dead for decades. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Evangelicals, Pentecostals, people who are really serious about their faith, they themselves have drifted. But I think that there’s always been a remnant of people who are serious about their faith.

And anybody who talks about faith needs to be part of that remnant, needs to be part of, I am serious about God. This is why I am on planet earth. And so I have hope that there are people because of the craziness around us day by day are waking up and saying, “You know what? I get it now. I didn’t get it before. I get it now. What they’re doing in our court system, what they’re doing weaponizing parts of our own government against us. I get it. I need to fight against it.” And so, it’s a joy to see people of various stripes linking arms to fight evil and the madness.

Doug Monroe:

It is happening. It is happening. And out in the flyover country, in the rural areas, I mean Richmond, what good ever came out of Richmond? There’s a lot of creativity. There’s a lot of energy. The churches are growing, people are active. They’re alert. 

Eric Metaxas – The War: American Family, Flag, Faith, and Truth vs. Global Marxism

Eric Metaxas:

Let’s be clear. This is a war. First of all, it’s a spiritual war, good versus evil. It’s an ideological war. The vision of ordered liberty given to us by the founding generation. That idea and those ideas held sway through the decades and centuries. They have been undermined dramatically in the last 50 or 60 years to the point that we are now facing open Marxism.

In other words, the idea that the government owns you, owns your kids. And whenever the government has that kind of power or gets that kind of power, it is at war with the family, it is at war with truth. It is at war ultimately with God because the government at that point wants to be God. And the greatest threat to government power as it becomes unmoored from the people governing themselves as it becomes an unelected bureaucracy, the greatest threat is the people of God is the church, is God himself.

And so what they eventually end up doing, which is what they’re trying to do now, is to do what the Constitution says you can’t do. They’re establishing a religion which is a religion antithetical to the religion of the Bible. And so they’re taking stands where they have no business taking stands on what the church can do, on whether the church can live out its faith in all spheres. Starting to establish a religion along these insane pansexual lines.

And so that right there, you have to say, “Well, look, I don’t need to be a Christian to know that’s unconstitutional.” The government is supposed to have no thumb on the scale with regard to people’s beliefs. And so, ultimately the government is at war with all the institutions of God, marriage, the family, the idea that a professional class of educators would dare in America say, “We know better what’s good for your kids than you do.” That is out of the pit of hell. That is communism and evil on a level we have never seen in America. And everybody should rise up against that and say, “How dare you, how dare you?” This is out of the communist playbook. I never thought we’d see this in America.

Doug Monroe:

Well, in the ’70s or ’80s our time, that person wouldn’t have gone to jail, would’ve gone to the funny farm. We just wouldn’t have, it wouldn’t have-

Eric Metaxas:

I mean again, this shows you the mission drift over the decades. The idea that anybody would accept this. People should be out in the streets. This, how dare anyone come between me and my kids? The madness of the groomers of the drag queen story hour of what… It is a level of madness none of us thought we would ever see. And people should be up in arms against this. It’s just absolutely crazy.

And I think that it’s become dramatically clear. Over the decades it was like you could see it. Some people would talk about it, but it’s now out in the open where you really have an open battle between the founder’s vision of America, which is inevitably faith-based, inevitably based on honor and virtue. And then this mad Marxist globalism, which is at war with the idea of America, which is at war with American sovereignty, which is at war with the idea that we would have borders. That we would say who’s a citizen who’s not.

All of this stuff has risen to a level that, again, I think that lots of people who’ve been drifting along are waking up and saying, “Wow, how did we get here? Do I need to do something?” And the answer is, yes, you do.

Eric Metaxas – What steps to take to “keep the Republic?” Are we “Christian Nationalists”?

Doug Monroe:

I’m going to refer again to the documentary that you did. It lists these forces of society that are taking us to a bad place. I want to end on this topic. Also in there, I screenshot it. You have a list of things the average person can do to help. And you may not have that front of mind and we can just serve that up. But it’s a really granular and I thought helpful list. I mean, what do I do when I go back to Richmond?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, it’s a partial list. And again, people, if they go to lettertotheamericanchurch.com, they can see all the places around the country where there are free screenings. They can see the film, they can get the book, they can get the study guide, they can get the DVD. But if you see the film at the end, there’s a list of things, yes, this is what you can do. But it’s really a partial list. The real answer to that is anything and everything. God has made each one of us different so we’re not all called to do the same thing. But if you’re not doing something, you are part of the problem. That is a fact. And people need to understand.

Doug Monroe:

That may be the theme right there.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, that’s it.

Doug Monroe:

For good to-

Eric Metaxas:

If you’re not doing something to keep the Republic. Again, I wrote a book, If You Can Keep It, that’s Benjamin Franklin’s famous phrase. He leaves the Constitutional Convention and he’s asked, “What have you given us, Dr. Franklin, a monarchy or republic?” Because no one had ever created a republic where people govern themselves in the history of the world and they didn’t know. Did they pull it off in that building at Independence Hall in the summer of 1787?

Doug Monroe:

It’s amazing.

Eric Metaxas:

What happened?

Doug Monroe:

It’s amazing.

Eric Metaxas:

“What have you given us, a monarchy or a republic?” “A republic, madam,” he answers, “If you can keep it.” In other words, you, we, the people must keep the Republic. Must live out these freedoms in a conscious, active self-sacrificial way, or it goes away and we become enslaved, either by an authoritarian state or by some tyrant. But you cannot be free unless you work at it.

And that’s a joy. But if you forget, if you’ve been given this message, like when George W. Bush said, “The best way to fight terrorism is everybody goes shopping.” We’ve got professional military, we’ve got it covered. No, no, no, no, no. That’s a complete… I mean it reveals his profound misunderstanding of how America and American liberty works. And that’s why I wrote If You Can Keep It, because Os Guinness gave me this idea of to really understand how it works, you realize, “Oh, it requires every one of us to pay into the system, to live my life in such a way that I’m helping keep the republic.” By doing nothing, I am helping the republic to go away. I’m helping us to lose our freedoms, which we’ve seen so dramatically.

Ultimately, everyone has to do something. And I say this as an author. If people will read my books because I communicate as an author, they will get a lot of this. I write these books to inspire and encourage people because you could talk for days about what you can do, but I think everybody will get a sense of, okay, I need to be involved. And I’ll say finally, the lie that we shouldn’t be political, that is a pernicious, horrible lie.

And many Christians have associated being political with making an idol of politics. That’s like being a faithful husband, you associate with making an idol of marriage. We should be more worried about neglecting our spouses than making an idol of marriage. Being a patriotic American in the right way is a beautiful thing. It’s an important thing. And I think that many Americans are so naive that they buy this, “Oh, I don’t want to be a Christian nationalist.”

We should laugh in the face of anybody who even uses the term Christian nationalism. We are far less political than we ought to be if we’re properly political. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and John Adams were not Christian nationalists. They were patriotic Americans. They understood the beauty of what we have here. Every American needs to understand that beauty.

Doug Monroe:

They were Americans because they were Christians. Another little Praxis Circle story is… And that George Weigel had me read a couple of books after I’d read eight of them that he had written before we interviewed. And I’m pretty convinced that one of them was basically showed how John Paul II was a Polish nationalist.

Eric Metaxas:

Of course. I mean, you can be a nationalist…

Doug Monroe:

He was for nationalism.

Eric Metaxas:

You can be a nationalist the way Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were nationalists. Or you can be a nationalist the way Hitler was a nationalist. Nationalism is neutral. This idea that nationalism is a bad idea. I’ll tell you what, it’s a bad idea. Globalism is a bad idea. Communism is a bad idea. Let’s get it right.

Eric Metaxas – How would you define a miracle? God Revealing Himself

Doug Monroe:

In my intro to these questions about your 2014 book, Miracles, I say they’re two kind of interesting worldview questions to me about God. But I think it boils down from all I read. And one is, is God real? I mean real like that. And is God a good idea? I mean, even if it’s not real, it could be it’s a good idea to have God and so on. And a lot of atheists are actually starting to think God’s a good idea.

But I’m interested in talking to you about is God real? And that’s what I think you really wrote Miracles about to some extent.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s right.

Doug Monroe:

And then you got more into it here with the book, Is Atheism Dead? So my question about Miracles, I’m going to flip the page here. And I’m only going to keep you for 15 minutes and get you out of here is just asking you, this is a trick question, to define a miracle.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, in writing my book, Miracles, I wanted to define a miracle because I think people speak cavalierly and sloppily, generally speaking, and certainly about what is a miracle. They say, oh, the miracle of birth. What do you mean? On one level it is an astonishing miracle. But people sometimes just talk of miracles like a cool thing, a great thing. A miracle in the way that I am defining it in my book, Miracles, which is I think the biblical definition, it’s the Greek word Semeion; it’s a sign. What is a sign? A sign from whom to whom? It is God doing something to speak to us.

So a miracle is God revealing himself in a way that makes us say, “Wow, that was a miracle. There was no way that could have happened. God is speaking somehow through the miracle.” And so it’s a high bar. In other words, if I say, “Wow, it’s a miracle I passed that test.” A miracle is not just something like, oh, how fortunate. A miracle is God revealing himself in a way that is absolutely astonishing and that we realize that was God.

Now, God can reveal himself in many ways. I mean, if somebody has cancer and you pray for them and the cancer goes away, you say, “Well, that’s a miracle.” If somebody hears … in many cases, there’s a couple of stories … in the book. Well, let me be clear. In the book, Miracles, I said, I only want to speak to people I know, except for I think in one case it was a friend of a friend. But people that I know that I can trust, if they tell a story of a miracle. That you get the idea that this obviously actually happened. This is not just some story.

So there are a lot of journalistic details that I put into each story. Specifically so you understand, we’re not making this up. This is exactly what happened. And the details usually make you realize the miracle. It’s the details. So when people speak sloppily, you say, “Wait a minute, what happened?” You need the details.

But in the book, Miracles, I tell many, many stories of people that I know of things that happened to them. And almost everyone is different. Which is kind of the point is that whenever God shows up, it’s in a different way. Or I shouldn’t say whenever. But often God shows up in ways that are unique or specific to a person or to a story. And I’ve had many miracles that I did not put in the book, which I’m going to write a sequel to my memoir, Fish Out of Water, where I tell from Age 25 onward. I’ve experienced many, many miracles. I think I put two in my book Miracles.

But the point is that a miracle is when God reveals himself one way or the other, and that you know that was God. And again, that can be any number of things. In one case, I have a friend who ought to have drowned. Who was far from shore, felt a giant hand drag her through the water up onto the beach. And then when she looked around, there was nobody there, no footprints. I mean, it was an angel. So that’s an angelic miracle. Now, again, if you know my friend, you know she’s not making this up. Now, if you don’t know her and you don’t want to believe it, you can say, “Oh, she made it up.” But I know this person. This is a very bright, sensitive, talented person giving me these details.

There are many cases in the book like that where you hear the story and you think, “Holy cow, that’s crazy.” But because I know all of these people as not crazy, as not liars, as people who care about truth, I said, I want to document these stories. Now, these are only stories of people that I know. Everywhere I go, I hear more stories like this. And I’ve known people in the past that have told these miracle stories. And so I thought it’s important to document this. This is, let’s call it anecdotal evidence for God. But it’s kind of like we’re trying to describe a reality. It’s no less real than any reality.

And so if you’re living in the 18th century and somebody says, atoms exist. In the future, there’ll be this thing called the periodic table. And there are all of these elements, da, da, da. And you’d be like, well, what are you talking about? We can’t see atoms. What are atoms? Show me the atoms. Well, you say it’s real, it’s real, it’s real. Well, over time, people were able to do experiments and infer information and then eventually infer more information. And then begin to put together a pattern of what was invisible to the naked eye, but eventually construct this, oh, there’s this reality. There are these chemicals, there are these elements. That’s called doing science.

And I think that the geography of the spiritual world is very similar. You hear anecdotal stories. If you hear enough of these stories, you begin to put together patterns and you go, there’s a reality here. Maybe we can’t see it when we want. But clearly if you listen to all these stories, there’s a reality here. And I think that we need to understand that the reality of God, the reality of eternity outside of time, it is as real or actually infinitely more real than the material reality in which we live. And so I think we need to look at it really in a way through a scientific lens and say, let’s look at it. Let’s see, what do you think? Does this sound like hallucination to you? What does this sound like to you? And so I make the case in my book, Miracles, to help people understand that, this is real.

Eric Metaxas – The Spiritual Realm: Why the trouble sharing our supernatural experiences?

Doug Monroe:

Well, remembering back on your stories and your explanation, that you just gave. Most of the stories had what I would call objective verification involved. There are different ways that that can happen. And I’ve been kind of like you all my life, maybe because I thought, I’m sure that I saw a ghost with a friend. And that may not be what you’re talking about, but this was when we were 16. We both had the exact same experience and verified it. And then there are a couple of stories in my family history. So I’ve always been attuned to it.

And one thing you find … and this is exactly what you did, if you start talking about it, everybody’s got lots of stories like this. So my question is, are we snubbing discussion of-

Eric Metaxas:

Of course.

Doug Monroe:

The supernatural and miracles?

Eric Metaxas:

Of course. People are cowards, people are worried, somebody’s going to think I’m crazy. Why don’t you grow up, have a little courage? Are you crazy? Oh, you’re not. Well, then why are you so insecure that you’re afraid to tell the story? I mean, look, you just said when I was 16, two of us-

Doug Monroe:

Two of us.

Eric Metaxas:

Saw something. Now you’re not saying you know what you saw. Okay, it might’ve been a demon. It might have been … but the point is, you both saw something. Just testify to what you saw and then say, okay, we’re not sure what it was, but we know that we saw something-

Doug Monroe:

It was impossible thing that we saw.

Eric Metaxas:

That was from another world. What do we make? Let’s just be scientific. What do we make of it? We saw a phenomenon. What was it? Is it possible that there is another realm beyond time and space, that there’s a realm, an eternal realm? Many, many, many people have had experiences with that realm. Now you may come to different conclusions, but to say that realm doesn’t exist is myopia of the materialist variety. I mean, it’s worse than myopia.

Doug Monroe:

Do you believe it does exist?

Eric Metaxas:

There’s no doubt that it exists. It’s like saying, do you believe that there are atoms in the table that you just hit with your hand?

Well, I can’t claim that I see the atoms, but I know enough to know that, yes, there’s an atomic structure there and everywhere. It’s just real. I don’t need to like it, I don’t need to understand it completely. I don’t understand how a car works, but I jump in the car, I turn the ignition and I drive places. So we’re not going to know everything instantly. But to say that, well, if you don’t know everything about a car, how do you know that car works? How do you know it exists? I mean, that’s playing games. Of course there’s a reality, we can know some things, we can infer other things. We can learn more, we don’t need to know everything, and we certainly don’t yet know everything.

Eric Metaxas – Are miracles happening now as in the Bible? Relationship with a Living Being

Doug Monroe:

So my last question on this topic, and then I’ll circle to the end is, so the Bible’s filled with what we would call miracles and things from start to finish. And so if they’re still going on today, they’ve been going on since Revelations was written. So that’s 1900 years or some number. So you’re saying that miracles don’t end in the Bible, they actually are happening like they were then to some extent?

Eric Metaxas:

Oh yeah. Anybody who has a cessationist viewpoint is they’re playing games. I mean, if you talk to people who’ve lived on the mission field in particular, there is no doubt that the God who is alive today speaks today. Now, he never contradicts himself, he will never contradict the Bible. If something contradicts the Bible, then you know it’s from the demonic realm and it’s not God. But there is a spiritual realm, of course, that wants to manifest itself and deceive people. Which is why some people are so hesitant about going into the supernatural at all because they have this wise caution in a sense that there’s this dark side.

But God invites us into a relationship with himself. Not relationship with a book, not a relationship with a set of principles, a relationship with a living being. God is a living being. He speaks to us. He speaks to everybody differently. He speaks to some people. I know people that have heard him speak audibly. And I think to be close to that because you can get it wrong, is like saying, “I think science is stupid. I’m going to avoid it because there have been scientific charlatans and I don’t want any part of that.” That’s crazy. I mean, obviously we’re called to not be charlatans and to be judicious and wise as we approach things. But I believe it’s very clear from the scripture that God wants us to at least be open to moving in the miraculous, to praying for people, for supernatural healing, to pray for supernatural results. What is prayer? What are we doing there? And so if I pray for something and it happens, to some extent, that’s a miracle depending on the circumstances. But I think that that’s normative Christian faith.

Doug Monroe:

Christian faith, okay.

I have a theory that I’ve developed that is not original. But that people are believe in God or believe in the supernatural or believe in the Bible more because of what they experience in their own life over time than because they read a book somewhere. And could it be that some of the naturalists that are out there that are wonderful people, most of them are closing off that personal experience because of the culture.

Eric Metaxas:

I’m not sure what you mean, because of the culture.

Doug Monroe:

Because the culture is so secular, that-

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

We snub any discussion of that-

Eric Metaxas:

There’s no doubt about it.

Doug Monroe:

So that they close off their personal experience to what’s all around.

Eric Metaxas:

Again, so people are living in kind of fear of what others think. Which look, that’s called insecurity and people should be ashamed to be so insecure that they’re not speaking whatever truth they’ve experienced. If you’ve experienced something, you ought to be surrounded by people who would want to help you figure out what was that.

But I have experienced so many miracles and have met so many people that have experienced miracles that are undeniable, that there is no way for me to pretend that. Well, it might all be in my mind. If you hear some of the stories that I’ve experienced, I don’t know how anyone can conclude that it’s just in your mind. But there are people who will conclude that because it makes them so uncomfortable. Because they don’t want to be pointed to the God of the Bible. And so in my sequel to my book, Fish Out of Water, which I guess in the next couple of years will come out. But I tell many, many of these miracle stories, and they’re astonishing. They were astonishing in every case to me, absolutely astonishing, stunning stories that I’ve told over and over because they effectively prove God.

Eric Metaxas – Is there Orthodox Christianity? Yes: Truth

Doug Monroe:

One is, you may or may not be connected with the church. I’ve been Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and I probably ought to be Catholic. But I love all churches, I love golf, I love all the golf courses I play. But my question is, do you believe there’s an orthodoxy in Christianity? And I don’t mean dogma. I mean when people read the Bible, an orthodoxy that Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox Christians can agree on, is there such a thing?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, there ought to be. CS Lewis called it Mere Christianity. I mean, to my mind, it more and more becomes about reality. It’s either true or it’s not. And so the idea that it’s this Christian thing, it’s this orthodoxy or it’s theology. It’s either true or it’s not. The God of the Bible is the God of all reality. He’s the God of science, he’s the God of the physical universe. So this idea that we kind of parochial lies and limit faith, and that’s part of what I get at in my book, Religionless Christianity, is that we become very theological, very ecclesiastical. And you realize Jesus was talking to everyone about everything, it’s about reality and truth. And if it’s about reality and truth, it touches everything.

It’s not something we do on Sunday mornings. It’s not theological. It’s about everything. So sometimes we need to use theological terms. But what we ought to be talking about is reality. I’m reality based. So if somebody is living in a fantasy world making up stories, I could say, “Well, that’s not actually true.” I want to believe what’s actually true. So I’m not a relativist. In other words, I believe in objective reality. And I think that God wants us to believe in objective reality because I think if you don’t, then what you tend to do and you see this happening now in the transgender movement, whatever I think is reality, it’s like, no, that’s fantasy. That’s crazy. It’s not whatever you think, there’s a reality. You’re either biological male or biological woman. And this idea that whatever I feel like or whatever, it leads to madness. It’s like saying that I’m a frog or I’m a tree. Well, actually, no, you’re not.

And so I think we’re living at a time of such craziness that we just need to be reality based. And if you believe in the basics, that’s controversial now. But not just on the issue of sex, but on everything. If you just leave in common sense in the basics in math and actual science and scientific inquiry and following where the evidence leads, and that’s become controversial. But that’s really part of how we honor God because he created reality.

Eric Metaxas – Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

Doug Monroe:

Well, there’s so much good going on there. To turn to the finish line here, I don’t know how you’d answer this question. I would say, are you optimistic? Let’s say, how optimistic on America or pessimistic are you relative to five years ago now? And how do you look at the future in America? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? How is your pessimism… what’s your meter running?

Eric Metaxas:

It’s real simple. It’s real simple. I do not believe God would’ve called me to write the book Letter to the American Church unless it was his will that we pull out of the death spiral in which we now are. That is his will. And I do not believe that he communicates his will to us if there’s no possibility of us doing the right thing. So I am encouraged that God spoke to me strongly enough about this message.

I’m encouraged by the reception of the message. The book has sold dramatically better than I thought it would. I didn’t think a documentary film of the book would be made. I am encouraged. Now, when I say I’m encouraged, at the end of Religionless Christianity, the sequel to Letter to the American Church, I bring it back to George Washington. Because what I say is we are now … I think is on the first page of the book. We are now in the third existential crisis of our history in America. The first was the Revolution, the second was the Civil War, and the third is where we are now. An existential crisis means that it is a battle of life and death of the existence of America.

Doug Monroe:

The soul. The soul of America, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, when I say the existence of America, I mean America as the founders.

Eric Metaxas – America’s Third Crisis (1776, 1861, 2024): Optimistic with God and Action

Eric Metaxas:

You can have America in name only. You can have a communist demonic place that’s still called America, United States of America. Which is no longer effectively the United States of America. But the United States of America, which the founders brought into being, Washington and Lincoln and where we are now, it’s an existential crisis. And in each case, we ought not in the natural to survive. We ought never to have come into being in The Revolution. The odds were so stacked against us. Same thing about the Civil War, and the same thing about where we are now.

So the question simply is, if you go back to George Washington, and this is the last chapter of the book, Religious Christianity. I say, if you go to ask George Washington in 1776, how is it going? How do you think it’s going? He would inescapably say, “It’s going very poorly. We are on the path to lose.” But if providence be with us in this cause of liberty, we may prevail. So we fight on, we are in a war. In a war there will be casualties, there will be sacrifices. But if you’re fighting for the right thing, you may have the victory.

If you don’t fight because it’s looking real bad, so let’s leave, let’s stop. You will certainly not prevail. So Washington fought on because he believed it was the right thing. And to some extent, in The Revolution, in the Civil War, and now, apart from God’s intervention, miraculous intervention, we lose, we don’t win. But there was miraculous intervention. In my book, If You Can Keep It, I talk about the miracle of the Battle of Brooklyn. I mean, miracle. We ought not to have survived. The cause of liberty ought to have been strangled in the cradle. But God gave us a miraculous victory right here in New York, very close to where we are now. And Washington fought on and fought on and fought on. And somehow by the grace of God, absolutely, America came into being.

The same thing happened in the Civil War. Michael Medved’s brilliant books, I interviewed him at Socrates and City. He talks about that. Where we are now is the same case. You could say, “Well, things are looking very bad.” But if it’s the Lord’s will that this experiment in ordered liberty continue on, we have to fight and fight and fight and pray and trust God, do what he calls us to do, sacrifice, be willing to take hits, casualties, whatever that looks like. This is not easy. But you fight because it’s the right thing, because there’s something beautiful and noble and true that you’re fighting for against wickedness.

And therefore, that’s my long way of saying, I am ultimately optimistic. If the people of God will rise up and actually be the church, put away their childish theological fussiness, and actually be the church, put their faith into action, now, not in three years, now. Enough horrors have arisen to wake people up, to make people understand, okay, okay, I finally get it. We’re going to lose everything, we’re going to descend into Marxist tyranny if we do not act. Politically and in every other way, if we don’t do that, if we just play church, we’re going to get what we deserve. We’re going to get what the Germans got because they said, “No, thank you. We just want to do church.”

So ultimately, I’m optimistic. I see people waking up every day. Everywhere I go, I’m speaking about this. The hour could not be more late. And if you’re not part of the solution, you are unavoidably part of the problem, and you’ll live with that shame for the rest of your life. And so this is a warning, but it’s also a call to action. Join what God has called you to join. He’s called you to be a force for good. He’s not going to force you, but he invites you. He created you for this.

And so ultimately, I say, this is the hour of the American Church. If the American Church will rise up and be the church in the way that the German church failed to be the church, we will lead America through this existential crisis to what I think Lincoln was speaking about prophetically when he talked about a new birth of freedom. And what Bonhoeffer was speaking about prophetically when he said, Religionless Christianity to something beautiful that we haven’t imagined, to something on the other side of this Reformation that I think we’re experiencing right now. So ultimately, I’m hopeful. But I’m not cavalierly hopeful, we have to really fight and pray otherwise we will not prevail.

Doug Monroe:

This book and I do think you can see the hand of God in military history very easily. I consider myself one of those. And I think my friends would verify that. And so I just want you to know it’s been an honor and a privilege to spend this time with you, and I will never forget it. I hope we meet again. I hope I can get you to come South and teach you some Confederate-oriented military history. I’m glad we lost the war, but it was a damn close and fought to the bitter end. And I think that many of the thoughtful Confederates believe God’s hand was in that, actually. And so they accepted it and moved on.

But anyway, thank you for this time. It’s been just terrific. And anything I can do to help you, let me know.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, this has been an honor to be here. Thank you. And I expect we will meet again and do more for God’s purposes. So thank you very much.

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. To the glory of God.

Eric Metaxas:

Amen.

Doug Monroe:

That’s the way I look at it.

Overview

Eric Metaxas

Praxis Circle Contributor Eric Metaxas is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the award-winning biography Bonhoeffer, and is host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Radio Show. He is also the founder and host of the event series Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life. Praxis Circle interviewed Eric because of his perspective on orthodox Christianity and his perceptive ability to foresee threats to our liberties and freedoms within the United States.    
Transcript

Opening Conversation About Bonhoeffer’s Commitment to God

Doug Monroe:

And I just want to say I’ve followed you very closely, like so many people, have since Socrates In The City and since Wilberforce. And I know Oz Guinness and you share the love of that man. And so, I really got up to speed on him. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you with Religionless Christianity.

Eric Metaxas:

My new book, just to be clear. Yes, it’s a Bonhoeffer phrase. I got it from Bonhoeffer. And at some point, I have to explain that. But thank you. It’s my newest book. Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Well, I had read Bonhoeffer. And I’d forgotten exactly what it means in that context. And so, I thought Religionless Christianity. Well, this will be easy. He won’t require much of me. But what you reminded me of is actually you have to be brave and you have to actually serve others. And that’s not so easy, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I mean, it all depends on how we define easy. Because God requires absolutely everything of us, everything. And yet, that’s what he designed us for. Not to give him everything is actually foolish, and in the end is harder. So, that’s the conundrum. That’s the paradox of actually having faith in the God of the Bible. So, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

If you could do that with peace, and I sense that Bonhoeffer may have had that in his last few years. Maybe resolving in New York. And I don’t know.

Eric Metaxas:

I think-

Doug Monroe:

You’re the biographer.

Eric Metaxas:

… he was, well, that’s the whole thing is that God wants us to live out our faith. But people often say, “Well, Bonhoeffer is so courageous.” Or, sometimes they will say to me, “Oh, you’re courageous.” And I think, “No. No.” What you mean I guess is maybe it looks like courage. But in the case of Bonhoeffer, he actually believed what the Bible said. If you actually believe, not hope, but if you know that the God of the Bible loves you, is with you, created you for his purposes, and that he’s with you as you speak truth, and as you live truth, of course there’s a peace because you know it’s real and true.

You don’t hope. If you hope, there’s this anxiety, “I hope.” No. Even if you kill me, I don’t die. You know Jesus actually defeated death on the cross. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not a nice idea. It’s actually, it’s true. If you know that these things are true, you’re going to live differently. And so, yes, I think Bonhoeffer went to his death with deep peace. Why? Because he knew he was not going to his death. He was stepping into real life. He knew that. That’s just not, “Oh, how nice for him.” No, no, no. That’s actually reality. And he knew that. And God wants us all to have the deep peace that comes with actually knowing that because it’s actually true.

Conversation About Proof of God and “Is Atheism Dead?”

Doug Monroe:

You get into some of that in the death of atheism about the historical accuracy of the Bible and so on.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And we won’t go down that route. But it’s actually true. If you believe that, then that means a lot, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I guess just to say a word on that, the book, Is Atheism Dead, which just came out a couple of years ago. First of all, the reason I titled it, Is Atheism Dead, is that since 1966, we’ve been living in a culture that kind of assumes the 1966 Time Magazine article, Is God Dead, kind of assume that like, “Oh, yeah. Science has kind of pushed God out, whatever.”

And I realized that as time has passed, and that’s the thesis of the book, Is Atheism Dead, exactly the opposite has happened. The evidence for God has become open and shut. I don’t mean strong. Open and shut, kind of like let’s discuss is the earth flat? No, it’s not. Well? Well, nothing. We know it’s a sphere. We know this, right? Some people say-

Doug Monroe:

Just so you’ll know. I totally agree with you. And I think if you don’t get that, you’re either unstudied or you’re a moron.

Eric Metaxas:

But that’s what’s so interesting is-

Doug Monroe:

You’re either unstudied or a moron.

Eric Metaxas:

… to me is that the evidence for God has become so strong. And as I looked at all this evidence over years, I realized most people, including Christians, don’t know this. When you know that the evidence from science, since roughly the ’60s, has become increasingly strong to the point that it’s open and shut, it changes your faith. You just realize this is just reality. It’s kind of like saying you believe one plus one equals two.

Yeah. Well, you’re sure? Yeah. The evidence for God from science, the evidence for the historicity of the Bible, from archaeology, the evidence from every quarter for God and the Bible has become astonishing. And I think it’s important for people to know that, including people of faith, because it strengthens your faith. It makes you think like, “Okay, this is not something, man, I hope it’s true.” It just is true. And we need to all know that it’s true because then you live differently.

Doug Monroe:

Well, stone-cold naturalist physicists, many, have moved into the God-believing category just because of their science.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And I think science is proving God. That’s my personal belief.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, I think it has. I mean, if dare to look at the evidence.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, it has. It has. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Most people either don’t know the evidence or don’t really want to know the evidence. Or, if they know some of it, they have to come up with some preposterous theory, like the multiverse theory, which is more insane. It’s like saying Zeus is real or Santa Claus is real.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

The evidence is open and shut. So, if anybody dares to read just what I wrote in my book, there’s much more information. But I put the basics in the book, Is Atheism Dead, just the basics. It is mind-blowing. And so, I’m very excited that we’re at a time where people’s opinions will be changing.

Eric Metaxas – Are you a Fish out of Water? 

Doug Monroe:

Fish Out Of Water. Are you the fish out of water? I think the answer is yes, kind of.

Eric Metaxas:

The answer is yes.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But in the course of the book, I eventually say that we’re all fish out of water. And the solution to our problem is Jesus, who is the ultimate fish out of water. Jesus left his environment, heaven, to come to earth. There’s no death in heaven. He came here to die. A fish that leaves water dies. I mean, there’s much more to it. But my story, I’m a fish out of water in the most basic sense that grew up in a home, my father’s Greek, my mother’s German.

Wherever I went, I didn’t fit in. Hanging out with the Germans, I was Greek. Hanging out with the Greeks, I was German. Hanging out with the Americans, I was this weird European son of immigrants. Everywhere I went, I didn’t quite fit in. And that’s part of my story. Going past my childhood, go to Yale. I’m a working class European immigrant among these cultural elites.

When I had my born-again experience around my 25th birthday, suddenly I’m a born-again, evangelical Christian, all of whose friends think, “Oh, he must have lost his mind because we’re all sophisticated agnostics.” So, that’s kind of a theme in my life. And there’s more to it. But the end of the book, Fish Out Of Water, you see that Jesus is the fish out of water. And there’s kind of a staggering culmination of this theme in a dream that I had, which I won’t tell because it’s too long.

Doug Monroe:

No, I want to hear that.

Eric Metaxas – Who shaped you growing up? The Product of Two Hard-Working Immigrants

Doug Monroe:

But so, let’s come to that. But say Evan Alexander, the guy who wrote, Proof of Heaven, that died and came back to life. And we interviewed him extensively because we want to know if the supernatural world comes to you, which it most likely did, or you go to it and come back, that’s reality. That’s truth, right? And we may not know exactly what it was. But so anyway. Let’s go to who when you were coming of age, there must have been two or three, prior to going to Yale, men or women that influenced you the most to get you where you are today?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, it was my family. It was my father, who just passed a couple of months ago at age 96.5 He’s on the cover of my book, Fish Out of Water. I love my father profoundly as I love my mother profoundly. They were humble people who came to this country from war-torn Europe who suffered a lot in their childhoods and as young adults. Really suffered, and struggled, and were blessed by God to be able to come to this country and to find each other. They met in an English class here in New York City, literally about a half a mile from where we’re sitting.

And in a class to learn the English language, met each other. This Greek immigrant, this German immigrant. My mother grew up in Nazi Germany, which became East Germany under Stalin and the Soviets. She escaped at age 17 alone. It’s amazing. And so, they met. They both knew communism was evil. They both knew freedom and American democracy were a gift. And they formed me because I knew their suffering in the war, just telling the stories of growing up. They both lost their fathers when they were 10 years old, each of them.

They suffered. And it gave their lives this dignity and this meaning so that when they said something, it comes with this authority. They’ve been hungry many, many, many times. They have suffered under evil regimes. The communists tried to take over Greece. The communists took over Germany, which had already been taken over by the Nazis. My mother lived through that. So, all of that is this background. And so, I had a different experience growing up as an American because that was part of my life is that my parents had experienced all this. So, I didn’t take America and freedom for granted. And so, that’s a big part of who I am.

Doug Monroe:

It’s obvious just hearing that. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas – The Reality of Good and Evil

Eric Metaxas:

And it’s amazing to me. Because that had nothing to do with becoming a born-again evangelical because this is before all that. And this is where I think a lot of Christians go wrong. They act like Christianity is some kind of like this really rare philosophy or something. We’re either talking about reality and truth for everybody or it’s garbage.

Doug Monroe:

Correct.

Eric Metaxas:

And so, when you’re talking about good and evil, it’s not Christian good and Christian. It’s either true or false. It’s good or evil. So, my mom and dad, they didn’t talk in terms of politics very much or theology. It was just good and evil reality. They had grown up and experienced suffering, and seen evil, and whatever. It’s really basic. I think the problem with most Americans is we’ve been so blessed, we kind of forget that there’s this thing called evil.

We kind of forget how bad things could get. But if you’ve tasted the Nazis and Hitler or Stalinist communism, you know things can get unbelievably bad. You take that seriously and you live that way. Most Americans, I think the reason we’re in the mess we’re in today is most Americans have had such liberty and such flourishing that you think, “What could happen? Oh, the market could dip. I could lose some money in my 401.” The evilness of evil has not been something we’ve had to face, until now. I think we’re getting a good taste of it.

Doug Monroe:

Right.

Eric Metaxas:

And it’s a wake-up call for many people.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, it is. In America, just real quick, we’re slow to see the badness as it develops outside of us in say Europe during the first half of the 20th century. And then once things calm down, we think the rest of the world is just like us. We project ourselves onto.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, it’s preposterous.

Doug Monroe:

And it’s just not at all like us.

Eric Metaxas:

No, no.

Doug Monroe:

Nowhere is like us.

Eric Metaxas:

But that’s why people don’t understand the satanic evil of atheistic communism in China. They would have no moral qualms about murdering millions of people any more than Hitler had moral qualms about murdering millions of people. They don’t even believe in good and evil. They believe in power. We are so naive in America. Because most people we know, even the worst of them, they kind of think the way we do. Well, there are many people who don’t.

Eric Metaxas – What are your thoughts on your alma mater, Yale? 

Doug Monroe:

I want to go to my favorite question in here of all. And it won’t be your favorite question. And that is, where I come from people do get into Harvard. They do get into Princeton. But once a decade, somebody gets in Yale. I knew a guy once who went to Yale. He actually won the Harvard-Yale football game for Yale. I got recruited to play football at Yale. That shows I wasn’t a very good football player. But what was it like going to Yale? No one gets in there. No one. You got to prove to me you went to Yale.

Eric Metaxas:

I got to tell you, today, I’m not a fan of Yale, or of any of the Ivy League. They’re effectively Marxist breeding grounds. They’ve gotten worse, and worse, and worse. They were already bad in the early ’80s when I was there. It was already a place that you come, there’s a working class European immigrant, and you’re suddenly surrounded by cultural elites who mock God, mock people who love God. Whether you’re a serious Jew or a serious Christian, that’s not going to cut it.

They have this kind of sneering, sophisticated cynicism toward people of faith, toward heartland values, toward patriotism, loving America. You pretty much pick up that that’s not the way we do things here. And I was naive enough, and young enough, and insecure enough to kind of go along with that. I think young people tend to do that. So, it’s not like I drank the Kool-Aid and became a Marxist atheist. But whatever basic faith I had in God or basic patriotism I had was washed away so that I was utterly confused and lost.

So, I didn’t become some defiant sinner. I just was absolutely confused and lost. So, I’m not a fan of the Ivy League or of most of the academy at this point because they… Let’s cut to the chase. They’re utter hypocrites. They once pretended or cared, I should say, they once cared about such things as truth, beauty, goodness. That went away. They then kind of pretended to care about it. And we’re now at a point where they have embraced evil nihilism, relativism, just to a point that, well, you can see the fruit.

There’s madness on these elite campuses. Absolute madness. And essentially, the Ivy League and all these elite institutions are dead. They have gone so far from their founding. I mean, they were already far from their founding when I was there in the ’80s. But they’ve just embraced madness.

Doug Monroe:

I’m involved with Chapel Hill. I went to Carolina for four years and then UVA law business for four years consecutively. And I’m involved with both alumni free speech organizations. And we’re working with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth. They have similar organizations that are finally, alumni saying, “We’ve had enough.”

Eric Metaxas – is there any benefit in going to an Ivy League? Intelligence vs. Wisdom

Doug Monroe:

I want to get you to catalog some of these things that are in your video with Letter to the American Church later. But let me ask you this about Yale. Certainly, as you made it through your 20s into your 30s you start hitting your flow, wouldn’t knowing that you are at the top of the world intellectually, literally, I mean, there are schools that are as good as Yale, but you at least know, “Well, is that all there is my friend? Well, I can do that,” isn’t that a benefit to you?

Eric Metaxas:

I guess if you’re insecure and you need that kind of validation. I mean, that’s nice. But here’s the issue.

Doug Monroe:

There’s no one stupid in your class period, from an intellectual standpoint.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, I’ve met many. You see, here’s the-

Doug Monroe:

Not wise.

Eric Metaxas:

Let’s make a distinction right here.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Eric Metaxas:

Right? Intelligence is irrelevant. You can be brilliant and serving the devil. You can be absolutely brilliant. Hitler was not stupid. He was brilliant. Stalin and Mao were brilliant. You have evil figures, the most evil figures in history, all of whom were brilliant. How you use your intellect, which is a gift from God, is the question. Will you be wise and humble, or will you be an arrogant fool?

Intellect, IQ, is absolutely irrelevant. You can have someone with an IQ of 100 who is a grounded, wise person. And you can have someone with an IQ of 160 who is a demonic madman. So, this lie that is promoted in the secular circles of the cultural elites in America, especially in the Ivy League, is that intelligence is somehow an unmitigated good. That’s absolute nonsense. It’s like saying, “I am seven feet tall and I am very strong.”

You can use that to harm people weaker than you or to protect people weaker than you. The strength is neutral. The intelligence is neutral. And so, if you have schools like the Ivy League filled with mostly smarter people, the question is what are they learning to do with that? And what they’ve been learning to do with that for many decades, at least since Buckley wrote, God and Man at Yale about the Yale of the ’40s, which had already been given over to communist atheistic thinking in the late ’40s, they haven’t been learning what I would say biblical values.

It’s all been subverted. It’s basically drifted in a Marxist atheistic direction, which is going to lead to something like the bloodbath of the French Revolution, not to the founding of the United States of America. Completely different paths. One is enlightenment, rationalist to the nth degree, and the other one is grounded in truth.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About When Western Secular Evil Really Started

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. And having read Whittaker Chambers book, Witness, in the last couple of years, he reminds you that it was going on in the ’20s and ’30s.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, absolutely.

Doug Monroe:

This has been going on really since the Russian Revolution certainly. And-

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s been going on since-

Doug Monroe:

… you have to go back to the 1800s.

Eric Metaxas:

It’s been going on since the Garden of Eden.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s been going on since the French Revolution. We could start there.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. No, exactly. Exactly, yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But the seeds of these things have been whatever-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, okay.

Eric Metaxas:

They’re planted in the soil of humanity since the fall.

Eric Metaxas – Has your worldview ever radically changed?

Doug Monroe:

Okay. One last kind of worldview question, and then I want to hear you tell us your first story. And that is, has your worldview ever changed? I don’t even want to say radically because that’s pretty rare. But like say St. Augustine, he went through a couple of worldviews and settled on one. Do you feel like you were actually where you went down a path and switched?

Eric Metaxas:

Around my 25th birthday, I had an utterly life-changing experience. Up until that point, I had been convinced that we couldn’t know whether there was a God. We couldn’t know whether Jesus was God, whether the Bible was true. And that sophisticated people had to deal with not knowing and living in a world where we don’t know. Around my 25th birthday, I had what can only be described as an utterly miraculous experience. Jesus came into my life. I knew that the Bible is true. I knew that Jesus is Lord.

I knew that what I had believed you couldn’t know was true, changed everything. Jesus came into my life literally overnight. My whole everything changed. And in the weeks and months after that, my worldview naturally changed in accordance with my new knowledge that the Bible is true. God is real. God loves me. He wants me to love others. Everything changed. My worldview changed. I became what I guess today we would describe as more politically conservative. So, yeah. Everything changed for me around my 25th birthday.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About Eric’s Experience with Ultimate Reality

Doug Monroe:

Okay. I just watched a video or two of you describing the goldfish encounter. And you described what the pond was, and what the symbolism was, and the dream. I’d like you to give for the umpteenth time to my camera, have that. But I just want to say to me as based on some of the worldview interviews we’ve done, if this is correct, I think you experienced ultimate reality briefly.

Eric Metaxas:

Yes.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. It came to you.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Ultimate reality.

Eric Metaxas:

More than once. But this was the sort of seminal, inciting incident.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

It was a golden fish, not a goldfish. It was a golden fish. And it was not a pond. It was a lake, the largest lake in the state of Connecticut. But so you want me to tell the dream?

Eric Metaxas – Grace of God and Its Impact: The Golden Fish Story

Eric Metaxas:

Okay. I have to tell the background quickly because what the dream did is was God speaking to me I say in the vocabulary of my heart. The dream would not have meant anything to anyone else. God was speaking to me in the most personal way, taking the elements of my life and speaking to me out of my own life. So, it wouldn’t have made sense to anybody else. And it was that very idea that makes it mind-blowing. That God is real and he’s speaking to me in a way as though he knows me because he does know me.

So okay, to give the background so that the dream makes sense. I had the dream around my 25th birthday. If you’d said to me around my 25th birthday, “Hey, who are you in your core,” maybe three things would’ve come up. The first was my identity as the son of Nick Metaxas, a Greek immigrant. Greeks always teach their kids to love their Greek heritage, to celebrate their Greek heritage. I grew up in the Greek Orthodox church surrounded by a loving community of Greeks. And that was very important to me. That was a big part of who I am.

Doug Monroe:

It’s part of Westerners too. I’m proud to be related to your-

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah. I mean, all this stuff can relate-

Doug Monroe:

I’m proud to be related too.

Eric Metaxas:

… in a sense wider.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But for me, it was just personally very important. The second part of my life, if you’d said to me, “And so, what do you do with yourself? What are your hobbies?” I mean, I grew up in Danbury, Connecticut. I spent all my time watching comedy on TV, doing homework, getting straight As. But what did you do for fun? Well, I fished. I was a fisherman. We fished for largemouth bass, smallmouth, bass, trout, fly-fishing, spin casting. I mean, that was my main thing, fishing. So, in a sense, there’s this Greek identity, the fishing thing, that was my thing.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a lifelong love. Yep.

Eric Metaxas:

I won a bass tournament, age 16. I was in my age category on Kenwood Lake. But the third thing is what I described, somebody says, “Who are you?” The life of the mind. Trying to figure out the meaning of life. When I was at Yale, I was an English major. But even reading the classics of the Western canon, I’m looking for clues to the meaning of life. To what is reality? What is truth? Whether reading Thomas Mann or anything, I was kind of looking, trying to puzzle out what is the meaning of life?

Can I find the meaning of life through this great literature? Thinking about the big questions. And at one point in my life, I guess I was probably in my early 20s out of Yale. I graduated Yale at age 20, graduated a year early. And I was lost, totally lost. And I thought, “Well, okay. Christianity can’t be true. That’s so parochial. And I’ve been told.” Like, “No, that’s just, that’s for people in flyover country. The sophisticates, we don’t believe that. What do we believe?” So, I was trying to make sense of things.

And I came up with this, it’s classic undergraduate idea, right? Only undergraduates could be arrogant enough to think, “I figured out the meaning of life. Here it is.” And it was kind of this Jungian-Freudian idea that life is like a frozen lake, and that the ice is the conscious mind. This is Jungian, right?

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Eric Metaxas:

The ice is the conscious mind. The water beneath the ice is the unconscious, the collective unconscious. And I thought, “Oh, so the goal of life, the goal of all religions is to drill through the ice to reach the collective unconscious. To drill through the conscious mind, to touch divinity Godhead,” which Jung calls the collective unconscious. This kind of new-age idea of divinity, God, whatever it is. Not the God of the Bible, right?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. It’s a beautiful metaphor.

Eric Metaxas:

So, it’s a nice idea.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

So, but I have to say to tee up the dream, so the Greek part of my life was important. Fishing was important. The life of the mind was important. My dad, my Greek dad, we were pulled up at exit eight off of I-84 in Danbury, Connecticut. And we see a car-

… off of I84 in Danbury, Connecticut, and we see a car in front of us with a fish symbol on the back, one of those chrome…

And my father says to me, all excited, it’s a Greek word. You know where that is, Eric? That Christians use that symbol of the fish because the Greek word fish, ikhthū́s, is an acronym. The early Christians, before they even adopted the cross as the symbol, they had the early fish because the acronym in the Greek letters spelling the word fish, ikhthū́s, is Iēsoûs Khrīstós, Theoû Huiós, Sōtḗr, the acronym, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.” So that fish there on the back of the car means Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior. It’s a Greek word. My father was as excited about the meaning as about the fact that it’s a Greek word. So, ikhthū́s.

So I thought, okay, so the fish is Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior. Greek word, okay? All of which to say is that I’m drifting along in life. I’m lost. I graduated at age 20. I’m trying to be a writer. I’m totally lost. I don’t know the meaning of life. I’m floundering. I always joke around that if you graduate college and you begin to flounder, you will move back in with your parents. That’s just going to happen. It’s like an axiom.

Doug Monroe:

Unfortunately you didn’t know that then.

Eric Metaxas:

No. And you don’t want to do that. And you certainly don’t want to do that if your parents are working class European immigrants, because they struggled and struggled and struggled, worked menial jobs to put you through Yale, and here you are like, what’s the meaning of life? Or what do I do? And I think my sophisticated Yale friends’ parents said, “Oh, Eric’s trying to find himself.”

And my parents were like, “Yeah, Eric should find himself a job and get on with it.”

So I moved back with my parents. It was a very tough year. I take a job as a proofreader at Union Carbide in Danbury, Connecticut, which was a nightmare. Meet a guy there, Ed Tuttle, who starts sharing his faith with me. And I’m not having it. I’m like, yeah, I’ll listen politely, but I’m not going there. I don’t want to become some right-wing, conservative Jesus freak. But I was in enough pain to keep listening and to have the conversation, but I’m not buying it.

Well, one night, around my 25th birthday, I have a dream. And in the dream… I mean Ed Tuttle, my friend, had said to me, “Well, why don’t you ask God to reveal himself to you?” And I thought, I don’t even know that God exists. Am I going to ask the oxygen in the room? How do I… But if you’re in enough pain, and I was really in a hard place in my life that year, you will sometimes say, “Okay, God, give me a sign if you’re there,” whatever. I would do that. But also thinking like, well, I’m talking to nobody. And so it was a strange thing.

One night I have a dream. In the dream, I’m standing on a frozen lake. I’m standing on Candlewood Lake in Danbury, Connecticut, where I had fished many times. I’m standing on the frozen lake. It’s a glorious winter day. Bright, bright sun, piercing blue sky, white snow and ice, and we’re ice fishing, and there’s a hole in the ice. And I look into the hole and I see a fish pointing its snout out of the hole. That never happens when you’re ice fishing. So I look down, I reach down and I pick it up by its gill and I hold it up in the sun. This fish, this large fish. It’s either a large pickerel or a pike, which is a bronze-colored fish. And in the glorious sunlight, this fish looks golden. So it doesn’t look bronze, but it looks like it’s made of gold. And then in the dream, suddenly I realize this fish doesn’t look gold, this is a golden fish. It is made of gold and it is alive.

And suddenly, like the paragraphs just dropped into my head in the dream, “Eric, you thought the meaning of life was to break through the ice, your conscious mind, to reach the collective unconscious, which is this God divinity.” And in the dream, I realized this fish, fish out of water, this golden fish is God saying to me, “You wanted to reach inert water. You thought that was the goal, but I want to give you something better. I want to give you my son, your Savior, Jesus Christ.” Ichthus. The golden fish was ichthus, was Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior.

Suddenly in the dream, all these things come together in a moment in my mind, in the dream. And I’m staggered by the reality of it. I’m staggered that God has spoken to me in this unbelievably personal way to make meaning of my whole life, and that he basically one-ups me with my own symbol system. I have this symbol system that you want to drill through the conscious mind to reach the collective unconscious. And he says, “Okay, I got you. And by the way, your goal is not to reach the collective unconscious. I’m going to send you something infinitely better, my son, your Savior, Jesus Christ.”

And in the dream, I’m holding this fish and I realize that this golden fish is Christ, is Jesus, and I’m flooded with joy in the dream. I know that I have found the meaning of life. I know that I have found the answer to what I’d been looking for, to what I didn’t think you could find. In the dream, I knew that this was real, that this was true, and I was flooded with joy.

The next day, my friend asked me, or I said, “I have to tell you this story.” And I told him the story.

He says, “What do you think it means?”

I said, “It means I have accepted Jesus.” I had never wanted to say those words. I thought that was awkward. That point I knew it’s over. I have jumped across the broomstick into another world. And so I was utterly born again, and by the grace of God, I’ve never looked back. It changed everything for me. And it was utterly miraculous. There’s just no… I’ve never had a dream like that before or since. It was just completely mind-blowing.

Doug Monroe:

Just a detail question on that. When the fish you had raised it up was… I’m thinking it could have been one or two things. It was the realization that it was golden and it was alive, and-

Eric Metaxas:

It’s like a fairy tale.

Doug Monroe:

Yes.

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, it’s right out of a fairy tale. And I’ve written so many children’s books and I’m a big student of fairy tales. So this was like something out of a fairy tale.

Doug Monroe:

It’s totally out of a fairy tale. Did the fish look at you or were you taken up by the realization?

Eric Metaxas:

No.

Doug Monroe:

It wasn’t like Jesus was doing this-

Eric Metaxas:

No. No. I just knew, I just had this sense as I’m holding this, that God sent his son to me and I’m holding… I have the truth. I have the answer. I’m holding it. It is real.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About the Golden Fish Itself and Eric’s Christianity

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. It’s almost like a baby or something.

Eric Metaxas:

It was absolutely… I was flooded with joy in the dream. It was just clear as a bell.

Doug Monroe:

I understand that. Well, it’s official. I would call that a born-again experience.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

So you can be a Baptist if you want to be. Are you Episcopalian or are you a… What do you do?

Eric Metaxas:

Let me answer that by saying, heck no.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Eric Metaxas:

No, no, I’m a mere Christian. I’m a Bible-believing Jesus follower.

Doug Monroe:

Gotcha.

Eric Metaxas:

Most of the mainline Protestant churches have gone so far off the rails, I never even think of them. They have really got to the dark side and it’s heartbreaking.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. No, I understand.

Eric Metaxas – How did you get into writing biographies? Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, Luther

Doug Monroe:

Okay, this is a little bit of an egghead question, but I’m interested. I’m seeing you… I think most men who aren’t in a flow, and we mature so late now that 25 is, you’re right in the middle of it. We get very anxious if we’re not in a flow. And so you leave that experience and you know you’re approaching a flow that has carried you to age 60. You got into biography writing. Tell me about your strategy there. Did you have one or did you just start and get good at it?

Eric Metaxas:

Oh no, no. There is no strategy. In fact, if you had asked me at any time prior to 2006 or 7, “Do you think you will ever write a biography of anyone?” I would’ve said emphatically. “No. I have no ambition to ever write biographies.” I thought I would be a fiction writer. I wasn’t sure what I would do. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never had the ambition to write any biographies. I also had never had an ambition to write children’s books, and I’ve written 30 of them. So God, if we put our life in God’s hands, he has plans for us, of which we often know little or nothing.

No, I was kind of tricked by God into… Sometimes he’ll maneuver us. And I wrote a book, there are three in the series, but it’s called Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask), which is just kind of apologetics, Q&A, some humor, but the basics of the faith.

Doug Monroe:

Great stuff. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

And so I wrote that. And the first one came out in 2005. And I just had a couple of paragraphs in there about William Wilberforce because I thought, if you believe the Bible, it changes everything. Wilberforce believed the Bible, became a Christian around age 26 in 1785, and it changed everything. So here he is, a politician, and he decides to give his whole life over to God, and it leads to him leading the battle for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. A monumental thing.

Doug Monroe:

In the world.

Eric Metaxas:

A monumental victory in the world.

Doug Monroe:

In the world. In the world.

Eric Metaxas:

Just unbelievable. Because he believed the Bible. So I just write a couple of paragraphs in the book about, “Hey, maybe it’s a good idea to take the Bible seriously. Here’s one example.” I get on CNN to talk about the book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God (But Were Afraid to Ask), and the woman interviewing me asks me, “What’s this on page 88?” I was not prepared. I thought she’s going to ask me about angels and demons and evil and whatever. Asking about this, so I talked a little bit about Wilberforce on CNN, which leads to a publisher approaching me and saying, “Hey, there’s a film coming out, Amazing Grace, about the life of William Wilberforce. Would you like to write a biography to come out when the film comes out?”

Doug Monroe:

Wow, gotcha.

Eric Metaxas:

And I thought, well, I know a little bit about Wilberforce because of my friend Os Guinness, because of Chuck Colson. I’ll think about it. And I decided to do that. And so I write this biography, Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce, and I realized in writing it, it kind of allowed me to in some ways express my literary talent in a way that I hadn’t in these other books. And I enjoyed it. I loved the history. So I thought maybe I would write one other biography in my life, and if I did, it would have to be about Bonhoeffer. Because my mother grew up in Nazi Germany. My grandfather was killed in the war. Very personal for me what happened in Germany, because I’m German.

And so I thought about it, thought about it. Eventually wrote the Bonhoeffer biography. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was a very painful experience. Had to switch publishers. It was a real agony. But God miraculously spoke to me and assured me that he had his hand on the book somehow. And I didn’t know what that meant. I just wanted to get it done. It ended up being 600 pages. I refused to cut it. And it became the book that blew my whole career into existence because it sold over a million copies. It was translated into 20 languages. There’s a film coming out in November, not officially based on my book.

But so much has followed from my writing the Bonhoeffer book. It seems obvious to me that God created me to write the Bonhoeffer book. There’s no doubt about it. And the story of Bonhoeffer led to where I am now in trying to help do what Bonhoeffer did, to wake people up about what your Christian faith requires of you. Not just intellectual assent, but living out your faith. I mean, I was literally in Harlem last night in the footsteps of Bonhoeffer right where he lived for a year in an effort to stand up for the Jews today. Bonhoeffer stood up for the Jews because of his Christian faith in the thirties.

So it’s really, it’s one of those things where you realize God’s hand was on me, steering me to write biographies. I never intended to write one. I wrote two. Then I was finally persuaded to write a biography of Martin Luther, which came out on the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.

Doug Monroe:

2017.

Eric Metaxas:

So came out 2017. So, I don’t think I will probably write any more long biographies, but my book Seven Men, my book Seven Women, my book Seven More Men, these are all short biographies. God clearly intended for me to do this, but there was zero thinking on my part. God maneuvered me to do this, and it’s only in retrospect that I have seen the value of it. It’s not like I saw the value and I thought, well, let me write a biography or two. I just had kind of an innate sense to follow God’s leading.

Eric Metaxas – How can humor be used to communicate and connect?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, God puts you as an English major at Yale, and then he gave you pretty much the dream of a lifetime. And at that point, he’s saying to you, “If you can’t take a joke, Eric, to hell with you, I’m giving you the answer.” And at some point you got to jump on the boat. And Martin Luther, there are real parallels, wild and crazy times to now, and you put Bonhoeffer together with that. So you’re on a really good launching pad.

All right, that’s a lead into a question that I didn’t ask you, but one of the unique abilities you have, and I wish more church people did this, some ministers can, not many conservatives are real good at it like Reagan, but you use laughter and comedy, and I know you did that at Yale, as a skill set to further the Lord. What can you say about that?

Eric Metaxas:

Anything that’s good and beautiful and true. Humor is a gift from God. And since I was a kid, I have been surrounded by people cracking jokes. I talk about it in my autobiography, Fish Out of Water. My mother’s side of the family, the German side of the family, were hilarious. My grandmother was one of the funniest people I ever knew. She was like a comedian. And I grew up with the language of humor, cracking jokes were constant, not knowing that wasn’t normal. That was my family.

When I went to Yale, I was the editor of the humor magazine at Yale. After I graduated Yale, while I was staggering trying to find my métier and the meaning of life, I published humor pieces in the New York Times Magazine, in the Atlantic Monthly, following the footsteps of SJ Perelman and Woody Allen and Garrison Keillor. I wrote these humor pieces. So humor was… I wanted to be a writer for Letterman, for Seinfeld. This has just been something that I have… It’s just who I am.

Doug Monroe:

You could have ended up Second City if you hadn’t had the dream.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I love all that stuff, and it’s kind of wild to think the path that God took me on. But humor to me was always just a way of communicating. It’s very natural for me. It’s not like I’m planning it. It’s just kind of who I am. But I think it’s important, because I think it disarms people. There’s something important about humor. Humor has always been directly related to truth-telling, whether you think about court jesters speaking to the king and telling the uncomfortable truths to the king.

And so I feel that it’s just a big part of who I am, and it’s a big part of my life. Now, if you read my biographies, except for the Luther biography, there’s not much humor in the story of Bonhoeffer. There are sly jokes if you read it very carefully, and in the Wilberforce book. The Luther, there’s a lot of humor in there. Again, you have to be a careful reader. But-

Doug Monroe:

Well, he had a strange sense of humor.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, he had a wild sense of humor. He had a wild sense of humor.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I meant that in a good way.

Eric Metaxas:

So humor is just hugely important to me. And Socrates in the City is a place where I have allowed myself to be silly and stupid in a hopefully humorous vein. But it’s just a big part of who I am on my radio show. I think humor, at least for me, it’s important. And the tagline for our company, Metaxas Media, is “Truth, Humor, Hope.” So Metaxas Media is this company that we’re launching all these media projects. But I feel like there’s a time to be serious and there’s a time for kidding around, and this is not one of them. That’s also a joke. It’s hard to follow.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah, there’s a time for kidding around and a time to be serious. This is not one of them.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

But the point is that clearly there are times when I’m, you know, in writing these books, Letter to the American Church

Doug Monroe:

I get it.

Eric Metaxas:

… and Religionless Christianity, hyper-serious. But there are plenty of places where it’s a delight to be goofy and to be humorous.

Eric Metaxas – Serving God in Mainstream Media & Making the Case for God

Doug Monroe:

All right, now my last question before we move to the substance is you’re in a unique position, this is my Chris Farley question, where I really think you can see the world.

Eric Metaxas:

It was pretty cool being the bass player for the Beatles, if that’s your question. But go ahead.

Doug Monroe:

No, I mean you’re at 575 Madison Avenue. It’s maybe the center of part of the universe. You’re in touch with Christians all over the country. You have a radio show. You’re constantly in media. You have a window on things that very few people do. How does that feel? Is that responsibility? Do you realize that or what?

Eric Metaxas:

I’m not sure that I realize it fully. And I think that’s part of God mercifully keeping me genuinely humble, because I’m aware that anything I have is a gift from him and it’s an honor to do most of what I do and I don’t deserve it. It’s a privilege and it’s a gift. It’s his mercy. And so, I feel since I had my born-again experience at age 25, I knew that I just wanted God to use me for his glory with the gifts that he’s given me. And much of that has been very difficult, I mean it’s been… We haven’t talked about it and we don’t need to, but it’s been a real struggle. There’s no doubt. You wouldn’t know that from the outside. From the outside, you only see the success or whatever it is. But it has been a brutal struggle. It is a spiritual battle. This is not about career.

Doug Monroe:

I get it. I get it. Yeah.

Eric Metaxas:

This is about serving God. So it’s a spiritual battle. And so therefore I’m prayerful and humble about it because I know that it’s the greatest honor to be able to be even trying to serve God with your gifting that he has given you. And so yeah, it’s been tough.

I feel like I have not yet begun to fight, so to speak. I have tremendous ambitions to do things that I have not yet done. And we’re working on that now. We’re trying to raise millions of dollars to create video streaming series of a number of my books, because I feel, like when we touched on the book Is Atheism Dead? most people aren’t book readers and most people, including Christians, aren’t aware of the information in, for example, the book Is Atheism Dead? And I think this information is so astonishing that I desperately want to get it to the world, and certainly to the church, to Christians, because when you know these things, and this is just this one book, but it changes everything. And most people don’t know it.

And so God uses me often as a popularizer because there are all these people that they write books on faith and science, but most people don’t read them or aren’t aware of them. I will read them and then say, okay, now I need to put this into a book like Is Atheism Dead? that pretty much everybody can read or that everybody will read because it’s readable, because I tell stories and so on and so forth.

But that’s still just scratching the surface. To really reach the culture… And this is a broken secular culture. We’re seeing the bitter fruit of decades of brokenness and secularism and buying the lie that God probably doesn’t exist. That in order to reach the culture, in order to lead to the redemption of this broken culture, you’ve got to get these ideas into the mainstream. And I often have felt that’s what the church has not done effectively. It sometimes gets these ideas into the pews, but usually it doesn’t even do that.

And so I kind of want to speak directly to the culture, and that’s why we’re trying to raise these millions of dollars because I feel like the time is so late and so many people I know, when they encounter this information or these stories, they will be thrilled. Because they’re thinking, why haven’t I known this? Why didn’t I… Well, part of the reason is because the culture is so secular that the cultural gatekeepers either themselves don’t know this, or if they ever encounter it, they bat it away. They’ve already bought the lie that, look, that doesn’t fit our narrative. We’re not interested. Sometimes it’s open hostility, but oftentimes it’s just ignorance, that, well, we don’t get into that here. And I’m thinking there is not a human being in the world who’s not created in God’s image, who does not hunger for truth. So when people, most people, encounter these kinds of things, they think, my goodness, this is astonishing. Why haven’t I heard this before?

Eric Metaxas – God’s Truth in the Media: WSJ’s “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God”

Eric Metaxas:

The ultimate example is when I wrote my book Miracles. The first part of the book Miracles, I go into the miracle, before I get into the miracles that I or friends have experienced, the simple miracle of the creation of the universe. When you look at it and you look at the fine tuning, the evidence for God from that is, as I said earlier, mind blowing. And I thought, that’s got to be the front of the book.

So, I put that in there, in my 2015 book Miracles, and then I thought, oh, I should write an op-ed to help publicize the book. So, I write an op-ed called “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” It goes into the Wall Street Journal, Christmas Eve 2015.

Doug Monroe:

I remember that.

Eric Metaxas:

It went so viral, it became the most popular article in the history of the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because the hunger for truth in a world that almost never provides evidence for God, much less from science. When you read this in the Wall Street Journal, you think, what? Why have I never heard this before? People shared it like insane. I mean, literally, it was by a factor of more than a hundred percent-

Doug Monroe:

I sent it around. People were sending it.

Eric Metaxas:

… the most popular article in the history of the Wall Street Journal because somehow the information never gets into the mainstream. And so the time that it did, it went crazy. And when I realized that, I thought, okay, I need to write a book where the whole book is about this, because the hunger is astonishing. People are dying to know what’s true. “I’ve been told God doesn’t exist. That doesn’t really make sense to me. But I guess that’s what the smart people say. So I guess I better not ask…”

Eric Metaxas – A Second Reformation that Flips the Script 

Eric Metaxas:

I mean, to me, we are potentially on the verge, not just of revival, but of something like a second Reformation. You mentioned Luther. When things are really crazy, people become more open. They look around, thinking things are nuts. What’s real, what’s true? I believe these lies. I’ve been told this. I’ve been told that. The openness increases. I think we are there now, and it’s why we want to turn Is Atheism Dead? into a streaming TV series. But again, that’s just one of many things. But that’s kind of in some sense, the most basic narrative that needs to be flipped. The idea that science is at odds with faith in God. Total lie. That narrative needs to be flipped. We have been fed this narrative since the BBC’s Ascent of Man in the seventies.

Doug Monroe:

Voltaire.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, Voltaire, yes. But I’m saying but in recent times, you have Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series, complete garbage. Here you have, again, very smart people pushing a false narrative. And everybody goes, oh, okay. What do I know? He’s really smart. It’s just wrong. And we now have the receipts. We can show you, no, science points to God. You don’t have to like it, but here’s the evidence. You can’t really dispute this evidence. Good luck because the evidence is piled up to the height of Mount Everest. But nobody knows this. And so I have a passion to get this out because I know the hunger for it is great. And I think that there’s a joy in that. There’s a joy in that.

Eric Metaxas – Importance of Telling True Stories & Teaching America’s Roots

Doug Monroe:

Well, somebody has to realize it, but in every age, and let’s call it an age of 30 to 50 year period, popularizers have to refine the best thinking and the best and match it to what’s going on and serve it up. That’s why we’ll always have biographies of Luther or George Washington or another one on Lincoln or good old Robert E Lee, he’ll be back. I guarantee you that. Frederick Douglass. They’ll always… We have to have this.

Eric Metaxas:

Right.

Doug Monroe:

We have to have this.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, we particularly have to have it now because we have, as I’ve said, we’ve been living through a period… Or maybe I haven’t quite said it. Really since the sixties, we’ve been living with some utterly false narratives that’s been part of the drinking water of American culture. We have not taught physics. We haven’t taught about the uniqueness and the exceptionalism of the United States of America. Not human beings that we’re better. No, no, no. But the idea of the American founders’ vision of self-government, it’s the most glorious thing in the history of the world and it led to the freest, most prosperous country in the world. We haven’t been teaching that since I was a kid.

And so you have a lot of people kind of drifting along, not understanding that we need to preserve America or we need to return America to its roots. That faith is at the center of the American founding. That’s inescapable. And that lie that we are founded by French Enlightenment rationalists has been pushed. That’s another book I wrote called If You Can Keep It, which is the second book we want to turn into a streaming TV series. When you get this information out there, people think like, how have I missed this?

Doug Monroe:

Did you know John Locke was a secularist? Did you know that? I mean, that’s so ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, it’s all so ridiculous. And the thing is that once you discover all this, you think, how have I missed this? And then you start thinking, well, I’ve missed it because the cultural elites have a dog in the fight. They don’t like the idea of God. And they have whitewashed, just like Stalin, they have just edited out the stuff they don’t like and they’ve created this false narrative. And it has led to the madness in which we currently find ourselves, which has increased people’s hunger for, well, wait, what is the truth?

And so, the story of America and the beauty of America, and the link between faith and freedom, which is inescapable, that story needs to be told. The story of the reality of God and how faith in God led to modern science.

Doug Monroe:

Yes. Yes.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s the opposite of the narrative we’ve been fed. So part of what I feel God has called me to do is to flip these narratives, to be a part of flipping these narratives. And I think there are many, many people alive today who they’re simply going to be astonished. They’re thinking, how have I lived all these decades and I never heard this stuff? Well, again, because we’ve been living… We’ve been so blessed that we’ve drifted along in this kind of apathy and we’ve drifted in the wrong direction. And we need to rediscover these truths. Things have gotten so bad that before we hit the waterfall, we’re like, “Hey, hey, hey, wait a minute. Where are we?” We better start paddling.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About Flipping Narratives

Doug Monroe:

I want to turn now to the main reason we’re here. But I will add to what you said there with my old pal who’s also a Praxis Circle, now deceased, wonderful man, Rodney Stark, who I think he rose to the top of the pile in sociology, and then he realized exactly what you’re talking about, there’s so much that I know where the narrative is false, that I can make a good living and do a lot of good for the world by just putting the narrative that’s true out there.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah, that’s right.

Doug Monroe:

Which he did for about five to 10 years. He was a master. And you’re doing the exact same thing. I couldn’t get him to admit that he was a Christian. I think he was, but he wouldn’t do that to the camera while he was sitting at Baylor University in his religion foundation with Christians all around him.

Eric Metaxas:

That shows you how bad things are.

Eric Metaxas – Is hiding your faith Christianity? Atheism hides science

Eric Metaxas:

Well, no, but that’s the point, that how polluted is the academy that you can’t say, “And by the way, I’m a Christian”? If people don’t like it, you just want to say, “Excuse me, why don’t you go jump in a lake? Because you should be embarrassed that you’re an atheist. You should be ashamed of the intellectual bankruptcy of your worldview, but you’re not, but you should be.” So the idea that Christians should be humble to the point of hiding their faith is a joke. And that’s part of the narrative that I want to flip. Like what nonsense, as I say in the book-

Doug Monroe:

You’re doing it.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, as I say in the book Is Atheism Dead? and I got it from John Lennox, let me tell you what’s the enemy of science. Atheism is the enemy of science. And people like Nagel at NYU, these are atheists who are seeing this. So this is real, and we need to have the… I guess we ought to have confidence in our faith and boldness in our faith, because you’re going to say to me, “Well, don’t say one plus one equals two. All the smart guys say that that’s stupid.” Well, I don’t care. One plus one is two, and they can all jump in a lake. They should be ashamed that they don’t know that one plus one equals two. That’s kind of where we are.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, no, a hundred percent. The problem is that even smart people, they have to know a whole lot to be able to appreciate what you’re saying, and they don’t know it. They’re either biased against it for whatever graft they’re seeking or power, but you really have to know, you have to be reading off the beaten path. And there’s a lot out there, like in your book here. I’ve read most of the books that you cite, but people don’t read those books.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I mean, that’s why I wrote my book, because I know that people don’t read those books. I said, I want to put the cookies on a lower shelf so that everybody can read them.” Because this stuff, it’s hard not to get excited when you see this information.

Eric Metaxas – Cross Talk About “The Letter” and Its Sequel

Doug Monroe:

It’s woohoo.

Eric Metaxas:

I’m doing everything I can to get it out there.

Doug Monroe:

It’s wow. Okay. Let’s go to a little more serious, not that this is… This is all serious.

Eric Metaxas:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

But we’re in bad shape. I think that since the summer of 2020, every American has realized something’s not working here. How do we get here? And I read Religionless Christianity. And these two books are, they go together.

Eric Metaxas:

Yes.

Doug Monroe:

As you say, clearly they go together.

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah. The Letter to the American Church is the first one. Religionless Christianity, which just came out is the sequel. That’s right.

Eric Metaxas – Faith Without Works Is Dead: Bonhoeffer, “Letter to the American Church”

Eric Metaxas:

God called me to write Letter to the American Church. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t like when Christians speak sloppily, but I have never felt like I did about this message that I’ve got to write this. I was going to self-publish it. I just felt I have this burden from God. I must write what I have to say in Letter to the American Church and get it out. I did. Some people read it and heard my message and said, “This needs to be a documentary film.” And they made a documentary film, Letter to the American Church. People can go to lettertotheamericanchurch.com, and that unpacks it in a much more dramatic way.

I wrote Letter to the American Church to speak to people in the middle and say, “Please reason with me about the role of the church,” trying to make the connection between Bonhoeffer in the ’30s. And it’s funny because Letter to the American Church is the first book, Religionless Christianity is the sequel. In some ways, my Bonhoeffer book is the prequel that if you read Bonhoeffer, these books unpack Bonhoeffer for where we are now. What are we talking about? We’re talking about the madness.

Doug Monroe:

See, this is the window that you have. That’s what I was talking about. At 575 Madison, you put yourself into a window not only from your media, but from your research.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, I guess-

Doug Monroe:

You’re seeing things that other people can’t see. Keep going.

Eric Metaxas:

I think, well, part of that has mostly to do with this gift from God to me to tell the Bonhoeffer story. Again, it wasn’t some idea that I had. It was God’s idea. And as I told the Bonhoeffer story, I was awakened in telling the story of Bonhoeffer in my book, which I recommend so people can get the details.

But in telling that story, I thought, “Wow, this could happen in America.” And as I wrote the Bonhoeffer book, it was dawning on me as I’m writing it, this smells familiar. What is this? Could this happen in America? And it really wasn’t until 2020 that it started happening for real. And what we saw was… Well, before I say that, let me say, if somebody puts a gun to my head, says, “What’s the story of Bonhoeffer?” Okay. The story of Bonhoeffer is a man of God trying to wake up the German church to understand that it is their job, their duty assigned by God to stand against the Satanic evil rising around them in the form of Hitler and the Nazis. The German church failed to heed this prophetic cry through Bonhoeffer, failed to understand that it is their duty, Biblically and directly from God to stand against evil self-sacrificially, even to the point of death.

This is what Christians are called to do, to live out our faith. They thought, “No, no, no, we just want to focus on Romans 13. Whatever the government says, we’re just going to go along with it. We don’t want any trouble. We just want to do church. Oh, we just want to preach the gospel. We want to have nice church services while the Jews go to hell. We don’t care that they’re going to Auschwitz and Treblinka. And we are going to focus on theology, absolute abdication of duty as Christians.

Bonhoeffer said, “It is our duty as Christians to speak up for the Jews, to stand against evil.” He was trying to wake up the church to be the church and to say to the church, “Hey, church, you see these evils rising around you? It is your duty to stand against it. You have no excuse not to. You say you believe Jesus defeated death on the cross, so you shouldn’t fear death. You should boldly, joyfully stand against these evils now united. You have the cultural power as the church in Germany to stand against this and win.”

But they said, “No, no, no, we just want to do church. We just want to play church. We just want to have nice church services. We don’t want any trouble. We don’t want to get involved in the controversial stuff. Oh, we’re not supposed to be political.” And Bonhoeffer said, “That’s nonsense. Of course you’re supposed to be political. You’re supposed to be anything and everything to do what God called you to do.”

And by the way, Wilberforce wasn’t just political. He was a politician standing against the evil of the slave trade. But these lies which we see today in the American church, were there in the German church. And we have the classic case of the church failing to stand against evil and thereby opening the door to Satanic evil in the form of the Nazis who gained power and crushed millions.

Eric Metaxas – Christians Must Be Brave and Political

Eric Metaxas:

I realized in 2020, 2021, this is where we are in the American church. You have many, many, many, many, many Christian leaders, pastors, Christians, who have bought the same lie that the German church bought in the ’30s. They are convinced, “Not our job to be political. Oh, we don’t want to be political. Oh, we just want to preach the gospel and do church.” Nonsense. That is the devil’s church. If you were doing that in Germany as the Nazis were rising, you were serving the devil.

But they thought, “Oh, but it’s also religious.” And it’s like that’s the point. Bonhoeffer uses the phrase Religionless Christianity. Yeah, you’re doing religion. You’re not living out your Christian faith. You are trying to fool God with these trappings, these fig leaves that you think are going to fool God. They’re not fooling God. They’re not fooling the devil. The devil is thrilled that you are keeping your church locked, that you’re keeping your faith locked into the church on Sunday morning and not living it out 24/7 beyond the walls of the church seven days a week.

I saw clearly that’s the American church today, and it was so clear to me that the same excuses were being given for inaction, the same nonsense that, “Oh, we don’t do politics.” You don’t do politics? Evil is rising and you’re afraid to be controversial. You’re afraid to support a candidate who’s speaking out against these evils or who has a greater likelihood of speaking out against these evils. You’re saying you don’t do, but you’re afraid to lose some people in the congregation. That’s pathetic. That’s you’re serving the devil and you’re giving religious excuses, which are the foulest excuses of all.

Letter to the American Church, I try to make the case for people in the middle and say, “Hey, you’re sitting on the fence? The devil owns the fence.” You need to understand the same thing happened in Germany in the ’30s. Now it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, the Nazis, oh, we know they’re evil.” No, no, no, no. In 1933 and ’34, many, many Germans did not know where this was going. Bonhoeffer tried to make them understand where it’s going to go if you don’t get off your rear and stand against it with everything you have. And if you don’t stand against it with everything you have, it shows you do not have the faith you claim to have.

Eric Metaxas – Faith in Action: “Letter to American Church” and “Religionless Christianity”

Eric Metaxas:

Bonhoeffer always talked about faith in action. In the book of James, it says, “Faith without works is dead.” Many American Christians, precisely like the German Christians of the ’30s had bought this lie that, “Oh, yeah, I’m saved by faith,” which means I don’t need to do anything because if I do something that’s works righteousness. That’s not biblical, folks. If you have real faith, it will be born out by your works, by your actions. If you think that you can pretend to have faith and say, “Well, it’s in my head and I believe these things,” but you’re not living it out self-sacrificially. God knows, and the devil knows you don’t have the faith you think you do.

And you should be worried about your salvation because that is really having faith. It’s going to look like you have faith. It’s going to cost you something because you know Jesus already paid it. I can’t out-give God and I’m going to live out my faith. Bonhoeffer lived out his faith. But I realized as I say that the nightmare of 2020 with the insane BLM riots, just the madness, the anarchy, the lie that you can’t leave the building without a mask, but people can burn stuff and tip over cars and smash windows and they’ll get a pass. I mean, most Americans looked around and said, “What is happening? Is this America? What is going on?” I think that’s when I realized that the church’s failure to stand at that time against the various evils, I mean that’s just one.

BLM is a Marxist organization. They don’t care about actual racism any more than the devil cares about racism, anymore than the KKK cares about. They use the term to get more power, but all they care about is using whatever they can to guilt trip people into saying, “Oh, okay, I’ll give you some money. I’ll go along with whatever you’re selling.” And I think that the church failed dramatically. The church failed very dramatically in shutting down during COVID, in pushing the vaccines.

I mean, so many people had legitimate questions. The right thing to do would say, “Let’s air these questions, let’s talk about this.” Instead most of the American Evangelical church and other parts of the church went along with the narrative being pushed aggressively, extraordinarily aggressively by cultural elites, “Shut up, do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that. And if you don’t, we’re going to call you names and we won’t let you into the concert.”

That proved in a sense, the bankruptcy of the church of today. And that’s when I realized that we need to repent. We need to understand what God is calling us to do. We have the example of what happened in Germany right in front of us, clear as a bell. It’s like if you want to see how this goes, read the Bonhoeffer story. That’s why I wrote Letter to the American Church. And the sequel, Religionless Christianity, is meant to unpack more of that to help people understand what’s the difference between playing this religious game, being merely religious versus actually living out your faith in action, which is what Bonhoeffer was trying to get the German church to do.

Eric Metaxas – Is America really facing evil similar to Nazi Germany?

Doug Monroe:

You’re hard on the church because we should expect so much of the church. That should be the core of truth and goodness, et cetera. A couple of comments and then I want to drill in a little more to get you to define some things. But I was thinking after watching your video about the letter, is it really that bad? I mean we’re not going to be murdering people here. But the problem is there was no Dachau in 1932, but there was in ’33. It can happen.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, that was just the concentration camp. Yeah, there were no death camps until ’42. Think about that. In other words, that the Nazis, they’re not going to say, “Oh, we want to serve the devil and murder millions of women, children, old people.” They’re not going to say that. They’re not stupid. They’re very, very smart and the devil is smart.

Doug Monroe:

The devil is damn smart.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s why IQ is not…

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. Has nothing.

Eric Metaxas:

They use their intelligence for a satanic evil. But we need to be clear that most people didn’t see where it was going. And Bonhoeffer tried to wake them up. “If you don’t speak up now, if you don’t get this now where this is going, you will not have a voice in five minutes if you don’t speak up now. It’s you’ll be silenced. If you don’t spend your money for God’s purposes today, this money will be confiscated from you. You better get in the battle.” Bonhoeffer was calling the church to that. And similarly, I’m one of a number of voices calling the church to that in America today because we are precisely where Germany was in ’33, ’34, naively thinking that if we do nothing, it’ll probably be okay. It will not. And it’s clear that it won’t.

Doug Monroe:

I’m with you 100%. I’m thinking of another book that was… I’m saying, yes, we need to be hard on the church. That’s totally true and it’s our responsibility, secularists as well. And I’m thinking of Albert Speer’s book about Inside the Third Reich, where he basically explains from prison how probably wasn’t a bad guy. He got pulled into Hitler. It was self-justification to a great extent. But it’s very easy to be fooled by people that are good at it. Right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, this is like the way the Mafia works. They just try to find some dirt on you. How can we manipulate you? How can we take your greed and use it against you? You want this, you want something for nothing? We’ll get you. That’s what the Nazis did. That’s what the devil does. And that’s what happened. I mean, it happened in Germany in the ’30s and it’s happening now where some people are flat-out working for evil. But most people are just going along with it a little bit.

Most people say, “Well, I’d like to keep my job. I work for the FBI, I want my pension. I’ll get it in five years. What’s my job today? Oh, to smash down the door of someone who’s a pro-life activist. To smash down the door of somebody who was on the Capitol grounds who did nothing, but you know what? It’s my job. I’ll do my job. I will go along with evil for my pension. I will do… Tell me what I need to do. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to get what’s coming to me.”

And so, everybody makes these compromises. Or I will go along with suppressing truth about the vaccines. Why? Because the price to speak these truths, I don’t even know where it’s going. I don’t know my position on the vaccines, but I know that if I ask these questions, I’m going to lose something. Maybe doctors were getting paid to go along to say, “Oh, you can’t prescribe this.” Everybody makes these tiny compromises with truth and you don’t need to be waving a flag for Hitler or the devil. You just need to go along with the lies. Look the other way when something bad is happening.

To the extent that any of us participates in that, we are helping evil to win. And that’s exactly what happened in Germany. You don’t need to be super pro-Nazi. You just needed to look the other way while they’re doing what they’re doing. Don’t ask questions because you might get thrown into a concentration camp. You might lose your job. You might be taken out of Gestapo headquarters. You don’t want any trouble.

Well, if you know God, you don’t fear a little trouble, and you fear not doing what God has called you to do. And that’s what it is to be. The church and that’s, we in America, we’ve had it so good and so easy that we’ve forgotten that God asks us and expects us to do something to pay certain prices. He’s paid the ultimate price. If we know that we’re going to live differently. But I think that we’ve been lulled into inactivity and silence. And I think taking the example of Bonhoeffer, we have to wake up yesterday because it is, the hour is very, very late.

Eric Metaxas – The Film “The Letter to the American Church”

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, I agree. Your documentary that’s there does list the trends that are obvious. If you’ll give it a full hour, it will be shown. And I’m not going to ask you to list that.

Eric Metaxas:

The film, Letter to the American Church, lays out a number of the various evils. One which we haven’t mentioned is the transgender madness. Children, it’s effectively child abuse, they’re being exposed to ideas that are evil, evil ideas to expose children to the confusion of their various genders. That’s a lie. And confusing them.

Then pressuring the parents to shut up. This is like, “We know better. We’re going to use your tax dollars to confuse your children and to lead them down these paths.” If a child is so confused that he says, “Well, I want to change my sex,” they have in cases now literally taken the child away from his parents. This is right out of the communist playbook. This is in America.

And many in the church are saying, “That’s not my problem. It’s not my problem. If young girls are having their breasts surgically removed.” There is a level of insanity and evil that has been unleashed. It is the job of the church to speak against it. And many who are not Christians are speaking against it to shame. I think it’s God’s way of shaming the church into action.

Doug Monroe:

To speak to what Religionless Christianity is. You would look at not only what Bonhoeffer said, but how he lived the last few years of his life. That’s a challenge to the individual.

Eric Metaxas – What is Religionless Christianity?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, Religionless Christianity is just a fancy term for actual Christianity. Right. It’s like the devil calls it Christian nationalism. Living out your faith is the most beautiful thing. God created us literally to do that. He died on the cross and rose from the grave and sent down his Holy Spirit to fill us so that we could actually live out our faith. We’re meant to do that.

To keep our faith in some little religious box is a joke. You can have that kind of Christian faith in China. Yeah, go in that little building, do your weird rituals on Sunday morning. We don’t care. It’s irrelevant. And when you come out, you will bow to the secular authority of the state. That’s not being the church. That’s creating a defanged, declawed, safe version of Christianity, which is the opposite of the roaring lion of the tribe of Judah that we’re supposed to be.

But the point is that people need to understand this is what God created you to do. This is not extra credit Christianity. This is what it is to live out your faith. You were born for this. This is not like, “Oh, I’m scared. I’m scared.” You should be scared of not doing this. This is the joy. If you understand that God is real, he’s not like I hope he’s real. If you know that he’s real, if you believe in him, a lot of people say they do. If you do, you will live this way.

And I think we have to raise the bar in the church and we have to say to people, “This is what God made you for, is to live this kind of faith, to be active in every sphere.” Some people will be active school boards.

Doug Monroe:

100%.

Eric Metaxas:

Some people will be active in other ways. Some people get involved in politics. The point is it doesn’t matter. Be active in your faith anywhere you can. Be outspoken about the truth anywhere you can. Do not fear the consequences. Doesn’t mean be foolish. But the point is that if everyone would do this, the world would change yesterday.

Eric Metaxas – The Decline of Protestantism: Hope in Remnant Action

Doug Monroe:

Yes. And I have the question here. You may have noticed of how did we as Christian Americans and Jody Bottum pointed out two days ago in this interview that we’ve gone from 50% Protestant to 10% in the US since the ’50s. And so, we painted ourselves into a corner where we can only talk about God maybe to our wife, if we’re lucky if we married the right girl let’s say.

Eric Metaxas:

We can only talk about our faith to our wife you said?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. I mean just I can’t talk to anyone about it, right?

Eric Metaxas:

But then it proves you have no faith.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, exactly.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s a joke.

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. That is a joke.

Eric Metaxas:

It’s a joke. And I don’t know what the world should be…

Doug Monroe:

But we’ve let that happen to it.

Eric Metaxas:

Saying about Protestantism because all these terms are irrelevant. They’re irrelevant. I mean, mainline Protestantism has been dead for decades. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Evangelicals, Pentecostals, people who are really serious about their faith, they themselves have drifted. But I think that there’s always been a remnant of people who are serious about their faith.

And anybody who talks about faith needs to be part of that remnant, needs to be part of, I am serious about God. This is why I am on planet earth. And so I have hope that there are people because of the craziness around us day by day are waking up and saying, “You know what? I get it now. I didn’t get it before. I get it now. What they’re doing in our court system, what they’re doing weaponizing parts of our own government against us. I get it. I need to fight against it.” And so, it’s a joy to see people of various stripes linking arms to fight evil and the madness.

Doug Monroe:

It is happening. It is happening. And out in the flyover country, in the rural areas, I mean Richmond, what good ever came out of Richmond? There’s a lot of creativity. There’s a lot of energy. The churches are growing, people are active. They’re alert. 

Eric Metaxas – The War: American Family, Flag, Faith, and Truth vs. Global Marxism

Eric Metaxas:

Let’s be clear. This is a war. First of all, it’s a spiritual war, good versus evil. It’s an ideological war. The vision of ordered liberty given to us by the founding generation. That idea and those ideas held sway through the decades and centuries. They have been undermined dramatically in the last 50 or 60 years to the point that we are now facing open Marxism.

In other words, the idea that the government owns you, owns your kids. And whenever the government has that kind of power or gets that kind of power, it is at war with the family, it is at war with truth. It is at war ultimately with God because the government at that point wants to be God. And the greatest threat to government power as it becomes unmoored from the people governing themselves as it becomes an unelected bureaucracy, the greatest threat is the people of God is the church, is God himself.

And so what they eventually end up doing, which is what they’re trying to do now, is to do what the Constitution says you can’t do. They’re establishing a religion which is a religion antithetical to the religion of the Bible. And so they’re taking stands where they have no business taking stands on what the church can do, on whether the church can live out its faith in all spheres. Starting to establish a religion along these insane pansexual lines.

And so that right there, you have to say, “Well, look, I don’t need to be a Christian to know that’s unconstitutional.” The government is supposed to have no thumb on the scale with regard to people’s beliefs. And so, ultimately the government is at war with all the institutions of God, marriage, the family, the idea that a professional class of educators would dare in America say, “We know better what’s good for your kids than you do.” That is out of the pit of hell. That is communism and evil on a level we have never seen in America. And everybody should rise up against that and say, “How dare you, how dare you?” This is out of the communist playbook. I never thought we’d see this in America.

Doug Monroe:

Well, in the ’70s or ’80s our time, that person wouldn’t have gone to jail, would’ve gone to the funny farm. We just wouldn’t have, it wouldn’t have-

Eric Metaxas:

I mean again, this shows you the mission drift over the decades. The idea that anybody would accept this. People should be out in the streets. This, how dare anyone come between me and my kids? The madness of the groomers of the drag queen story hour of what… It is a level of madness none of us thought we would ever see. And people should be up in arms against this. It’s just absolutely crazy.

And I think that it’s become dramatically clear. Over the decades it was like you could see it. Some people would talk about it, but it’s now out in the open where you really have an open battle between the founder’s vision of America, which is inevitably faith-based, inevitably based on honor and virtue. And then this mad Marxist globalism, which is at war with the idea of America, which is at war with American sovereignty, which is at war with the idea that we would have borders. That we would say who’s a citizen who’s not.

All of this stuff has risen to a level that, again, I think that lots of people who’ve been drifting along are waking up and saying, “Wow, how did we get here? Do I need to do something?” And the answer is, yes, you do.

Eric Metaxas – What steps to take to “keep the Republic?” Are we “Christian Nationalists”?

Doug Monroe:

I’m going to refer again to the documentary that you did. It lists these forces of society that are taking us to a bad place. I want to end on this topic. Also in there, I screenshot it. You have a list of things the average person can do to help. And you may not have that front of mind and we can just serve that up. But it’s a really granular and I thought helpful list. I mean, what do I do when I go back to Richmond?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, it’s a partial list. And again, people, if they go to lettertotheamericanchurch.com, they can see all the places around the country where there are free screenings. They can see the film, they can get the book, they can get the study guide, they can get the DVD. But if you see the film at the end, there’s a list of things, yes, this is what you can do. But it’s really a partial list. The real answer to that is anything and everything. God has made each one of us different so we’re not all called to do the same thing. But if you’re not doing something, you are part of the problem. That is a fact. And people need to understand.

Doug Monroe:

That may be the theme right there.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, that’s it.

Doug Monroe:

For good to-

Eric Metaxas:

If you’re not doing something to keep the Republic. Again, I wrote a book, If You Can Keep It, that’s Benjamin Franklin’s famous phrase. He leaves the Constitutional Convention and he’s asked, “What have you given us, Dr. Franklin, a monarchy or republic?” Because no one had ever created a republic where people govern themselves in the history of the world and they didn’t know. Did they pull it off in that building at Independence Hall in the summer of 1787?

Doug Monroe:

It’s amazing.

Eric Metaxas:

What happened?

Doug Monroe:

It’s amazing.

Eric Metaxas:

“What have you given us, a monarchy or a republic?” “A republic, madam,” he answers, “If you can keep it.” In other words, you, we, the people must keep the Republic. Must live out these freedoms in a conscious, active self-sacrificial way, or it goes away and we become enslaved, either by an authoritarian state or by some tyrant. But you cannot be free unless you work at it.

And that’s a joy. But if you forget, if you’ve been given this message, like when George W. Bush said, “The best way to fight terrorism is everybody goes shopping.” We’ve got professional military, we’ve got it covered. No, no, no, no, no. That’s a complete… I mean it reveals his profound misunderstanding of how America and American liberty works. And that’s why I wrote If You Can Keep It, because Os Guinness gave me this idea of to really understand how it works, you realize, “Oh, it requires every one of us to pay into the system, to live my life in such a way that I’m helping keep the republic.” By doing nothing, I am helping the republic to go away. I’m helping us to lose our freedoms, which we’ve seen so dramatically.

Ultimately, everyone has to do something. And I say this as an author. If people will read my books because I communicate as an author, they will get a lot of this. I write these books to inspire and encourage people because you could talk for days about what you can do, but I think everybody will get a sense of, okay, I need to be involved. And I’ll say finally, the lie that we shouldn’t be political, that is a pernicious, horrible lie.

And many Christians have associated being political with making an idol of politics. That’s like being a faithful husband, you associate with making an idol of marriage. We should be more worried about neglecting our spouses than making an idol of marriage. Being a patriotic American in the right way is a beautiful thing. It’s an important thing. And I think that many Americans are so naive that they buy this, “Oh, I don’t want to be a Christian nationalist.”

We should laugh in the face of anybody who even uses the term Christian nationalism. We are far less political than we ought to be if we’re properly political. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and John Adams were not Christian nationalists. They were patriotic Americans. They understood the beauty of what we have here. Every American needs to understand that beauty.

Doug Monroe:

They were Americans because they were Christians. Another little Praxis Circle story is… And that George Weigel had me read a couple of books after I’d read eight of them that he had written before we interviewed. And I’m pretty convinced that one of them was basically showed how John Paul II was a Polish nationalist.

Eric Metaxas:

Of course. I mean, you can be a nationalist…

Doug Monroe:

He was for nationalism.

Eric Metaxas:

You can be a nationalist the way Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were nationalists. Or you can be a nationalist the way Hitler was a nationalist. Nationalism is neutral. This idea that nationalism is a bad idea. I’ll tell you what, it’s a bad idea. Globalism is a bad idea. Communism is a bad idea. Let’s get it right.

Eric Metaxas – How would you define a miracle? God Revealing Himself

Doug Monroe:

In my intro to these questions about your 2014 book, Miracles, I say they’re two kind of interesting worldview questions to me about God. But I think it boils down from all I read. And one is, is God real? I mean real like that. And is God a good idea? I mean, even if it’s not real, it could be it’s a good idea to have God and so on. And a lot of atheists are actually starting to think God’s a good idea.

But I’m interested in talking to you about is God real? And that’s what I think you really wrote Miracles about to some extent.

Eric Metaxas:

That’s right.

Doug Monroe:

And then you got more into it here with the book, Is Atheism Dead? So my question about Miracles, I’m going to flip the page here. And I’m only going to keep you for 15 minutes and get you out of here is just asking you, this is a trick question, to define a miracle.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, in writing my book, Miracles, I wanted to define a miracle because I think people speak cavalierly and sloppily, generally speaking, and certainly about what is a miracle. They say, oh, the miracle of birth. What do you mean? On one level it is an astonishing miracle. But people sometimes just talk of miracles like a cool thing, a great thing. A miracle in the way that I am defining it in my book, Miracles, which is I think the biblical definition, it’s the Greek word Semeion; it’s a sign. What is a sign? A sign from whom to whom? It is God doing something to speak to us.

So a miracle is God revealing himself in a way that makes us say, “Wow, that was a miracle. There was no way that could have happened. God is speaking somehow through the miracle.” And so it’s a high bar. In other words, if I say, “Wow, it’s a miracle I passed that test.” A miracle is not just something like, oh, how fortunate. A miracle is God revealing himself in a way that is absolutely astonishing and that we realize that was God.

Now, God can reveal himself in many ways. I mean, if somebody has cancer and you pray for them and the cancer goes away, you say, “Well, that’s a miracle.” If somebody hears … in many cases, there’s a couple of stories … in the book. Well, let me be clear. In the book, Miracles, I said, I only want to speak to people I know, except for I think in one case it was a friend of a friend. But people that I know that I can trust, if they tell a story of a miracle. That you get the idea that this obviously actually happened. This is not just some story.

So there are a lot of journalistic details that I put into each story. Specifically so you understand, we’re not making this up. This is exactly what happened. And the details usually make you realize the miracle. It’s the details. So when people speak sloppily, you say, “Wait a minute, what happened?” You need the details.

But in the book, Miracles, I tell many, many stories of people that I know of things that happened to them. And almost everyone is different. Which is kind of the point is that whenever God shows up, it’s in a different way. Or I shouldn’t say whenever. But often God shows up in ways that are unique or specific to a person or to a story. And I’ve had many miracles that I did not put in the book, which I’m going to write a sequel to my memoir, Fish Out of Water, where I tell from Age 25 onward. I’ve experienced many, many miracles. I think I put two in my book Miracles.

But the point is that a miracle is when God reveals himself one way or the other, and that you know that was God. And again, that can be any number of things. In one case, I have a friend who ought to have drowned. Who was far from shore, felt a giant hand drag her through the water up onto the beach. And then when she looked around, there was nobody there, no footprints. I mean, it was an angel. So that’s an angelic miracle. Now, again, if you know my friend, you know she’s not making this up. Now, if you don’t know her and you don’t want to believe it, you can say, “Oh, she made it up.” But I know this person. This is a very bright, sensitive, talented person giving me these details.

There are many cases in the book like that where you hear the story and you think, “Holy cow, that’s crazy.” But because I know all of these people as not crazy, as not liars, as people who care about truth, I said, I want to document these stories. Now, these are only stories of people that I know. Everywhere I go, I hear more stories like this. And I’ve known people in the past that have told these miracle stories. And so I thought it’s important to document this. This is, let’s call it anecdotal evidence for God. But it’s kind of like we’re trying to describe a reality. It’s no less real than any reality.

And so if you’re living in the 18th century and somebody says, atoms exist. In the future, there’ll be this thing called the periodic table. And there are all of these elements, da, da, da. And you’d be like, well, what are you talking about? We can’t see atoms. What are atoms? Show me the atoms. Well, you say it’s real, it’s real, it’s real. Well, over time, people were able to do experiments and infer information and then eventually infer more information. And then begin to put together a pattern of what was invisible to the naked eye, but eventually construct this, oh, there’s this reality. There are these chemicals, there are these elements. That’s called doing science.

And I think that the geography of the spiritual world is very similar. You hear anecdotal stories. If you hear enough of these stories, you begin to put together patterns and you go, there’s a reality here. Maybe we can’t see it when we want. But clearly if you listen to all these stories, there’s a reality here. And I think that we need to understand that the reality of God, the reality of eternity outside of time, it is as real or actually infinitely more real than the material reality in which we live. And so I think we need to look at it really in a way through a scientific lens and say, let’s look at it. Let’s see, what do you think? Does this sound like hallucination to you? What does this sound like to you? And so I make the case in my book, Miracles, to help people understand that, this is real.

Eric Metaxas – The Spiritual Realm: Why the trouble sharing our supernatural experiences?

Doug Monroe:

Well, remembering back on your stories and your explanation, that you just gave. Most of the stories had what I would call objective verification involved. There are different ways that that can happen. And I’ve been kind of like you all my life, maybe because I thought, I’m sure that I saw a ghost with a friend. And that may not be what you’re talking about, but this was when we were 16. We both had the exact same experience and verified it. And then there are a couple of stories in my family history. So I’ve always been attuned to it.

And one thing you find … and this is exactly what you did, if you start talking about it, everybody’s got lots of stories like this. So my question is, are we snubbing discussion of-

Eric Metaxas:

Of course.

Doug Monroe:

The supernatural and miracles?

Eric Metaxas:

Of course. People are cowards, people are worried, somebody’s going to think I’m crazy. Why don’t you grow up, have a little courage? Are you crazy? Oh, you’re not. Well, then why are you so insecure that you’re afraid to tell the story? I mean, look, you just said when I was 16, two of us-

Doug Monroe:

Two of us.

Eric Metaxas:

Saw something. Now you’re not saying you know what you saw. Okay, it might’ve been a demon. It might have been … but the point is, you both saw something. Just testify to what you saw and then say, okay, we’re not sure what it was, but we know that we saw something-

Doug Monroe:

It was impossible thing that we saw.

Eric Metaxas:

That was from another world. What do we make? Let’s just be scientific. What do we make of it? We saw a phenomenon. What was it? Is it possible that there is another realm beyond time and space, that there’s a realm, an eternal realm? Many, many, many people have had experiences with that realm. Now you may come to different conclusions, but to say that realm doesn’t exist is myopia of the materialist variety. I mean, it’s worse than myopia.

Doug Monroe:

Do you believe it does exist?

Eric Metaxas:

There’s no doubt that it exists. It’s like saying, do you believe that there are atoms in the table that you just hit with your hand?

Well, I can’t claim that I see the atoms, but I know enough to know that, yes, there’s an atomic structure there and everywhere. It’s just real. I don’t need to like it, I don’t need to understand it completely. I don’t understand how a car works, but I jump in the car, I turn the ignition and I drive places. So we’re not going to know everything instantly. But to say that, well, if you don’t know everything about a car, how do you know that car works? How do you know it exists? I mean, that’s playing games. Of course there’s a reality, we can know some things, we can infer other things. We can learn more, we don’t need to know everything, and we certainly don’t yet know everything.

Eric Metaxas – Are miracles happening now as in the Bible? Relationship with a Living Being

Doug Monroe:

So my last question on this topic, and then I’ll circle to the end is, so the Bible’s filled with what we would call miracles and things from start to finish. And so if they’re still going on today, they’ve been going on since Revelations was written. So that’s 1900 years or some number. So you’re saying that miracles don’t end in the Bible, they actually are happening like they were then to some extent?

Eric Metaxas:

Oh yeah. Anybody who has a cessationist viewpoint is they’re playing games. I mean, if you talk to people who’ve lived on the mission field in particular, there is no doubt that the God who is alive today speaks today. Now, he never contradicts himself, he will never contradict the Bible. If something contradicts the Bible, then you know it’s from the demonic realm and it’s not God. But there is a spiritual realm, of course, that wants to manifest itself and deceive people. Which is why some people are so hesitant about going into the supernatural at all because they have this wise caution in a sense that there’s this dark side.

But God invites us into a relationship with himself. Not relationship with a book, not a relationship with a set of principles, a relationship with a living being. God is a living being. He speaks to us. He speaks to everybody differently. He speaks to some people. I know people that have heard him speak audibly. And I think to be close to that because you can get it wrong, is like saying, “I think science is stupid. I’m going to avoid it because there have been scientific charlatans and I don’t want any part of that.” That’s crazy. I mean, obviously we’re called to not be charlatans and to be judicious and wise as we approach things. But I believe it’s very clear from the scripture that God wants us to at least be open to moving in the miraculous, to praying for people, for supernatural healing, to pray for supernatural results. What is prayer? What are we doing there? And so if I pray for something and it happens, to some extent, that’s a miracle depending on the circumstances. But I think that that’s normative Christian faith.

Doug Monroe:

Christian faith, okay.

I have a theory that I’ve developed that is not original. But that people are believe in God or believe in the supernatural or believe in the Bible more because of what they experience in their own life over time than because they read a book somewhere. And could it be that some of the naturalists that are out there that are wonderful people, most of them are closing off that personal experience because of the culture.

Eric Metaxas:

I’m not sure what you mean, because of the culture.

Doug Monroe:

Because the culture is so secular, that-

Eric Metaxas:

Oh, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

We snub any discussion of that-

Eric Metaxas:

There’s no doubt about it.

Doug Monroe:

So that they close off their personal experience to what’s all around.

Eric Metaxas:

Again, so people are living in kind of fear of what others think. Which look, that’s called insecurity and people should be ashamed to be so insecure that they’re not speaking whatever truth they’ve experienced. If you’ve experienced something, you ought to be surrounded by people who would want to help you figure out what was that.

But I have experienced so many miracles and have met so many people that have experienced miracles that are undeniable, that there is no way for me to pretend that. Well, it might all be in my mind. If you hear some of the stories that I’ve experienced, I don’t know how anyone can conclude that it’s just in your mind. But there are people who will conclude that because it makes them so uncomfortable. Because they don’t want to be pointed to the God of the Bible. And so in my sequel to my book, Fish Out of Water, which I guess in the next couple of years will come out. But I tell many, many of these miracle stories, and they’re astonishing. They were astonishing in every case to me, absolutely astonishing, stunning stories that I’ve told over and over because they effectively prove God.

Eric Metaxas – Is there Orthodox Christianity? Yes: Truth

Doug Monroe:

One is, you may or may not be connected with the church. I’ve been Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and I probably ought to be Catholic. But I love all churches, I love golf, I love all the golf courses I play. But my question is, do you believe there’s an orthodoxy in Christianity? And I don’t mean dogma. I mean when people read the Bible, an orthodoxy that Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox Christians can agree on, is there such a thing?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, there ought to be. CS Lewis called it Mere Christianity. I mean, to my mind, it more and more becomes about reality. It’s either true or it’s not. And so the idea that it’s this Christian thing, it’s this orthodoxy or it’s theology. It’s either true or it’s not. The God of the Bible is the God of all reality. He’s the God of science, he’s the God of the physical universe. So this idea that we kind of parochial lies and limit faith, and that’s part of what I get at in my book, Religionless Christianity, is that we become very theological, very ecclesiastical. And you realize Jesus was talking to everyone about everything, it’s about reality and truth. And if it’s about reality and truth, it touches everything.

It’s not something we do on Sunday mornings. It’s not theological. It’s about everything. So sometimes we need to use theological terms. But what we ought to be talking about is reality. I’m reality based. So if somebody is living in a fantasy world making up stories, I could say, “Well, that’s not actually true.” I want to believe what’s actually true. So I’m not a relativist. In other words, I believe in objective reality. And I think that God wants us to believe in objective reality because I think if you don’t, then what you tend to do and you see this happening now in the transgender movement, whatever I think is reality, it’s like, no, that’s fantasy. That’s crazy. It’s not whatever you think, there’s a reality. You’re either biological male or biological woman. And this idea that whatever I feel like or whatever, it leads to madness. It’s like saying that I’m a frog or I’m a tree. Well, actually, no, you’re not.

And so I think we’re living at a time of such craziness that we just need to be reality based. And if you believe in the basics, that’s controversial now. But not just on the issue of sex, but on everything. If you just leave in common sense in the basics in math and actual science and scientific inquiry and following where the evidence leads, and that’s become controversial. But that’s really part of how we honor God because he created reality.

Eric Metaxas – Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

Doug Monroe:

Well, there’s so much good going on there. To turn to the finish line here, I don’t know how you’d answer this question. I would say, are you optimistic? Let’s say, how optimistic on America or pessimistic are you relative to five years ago now? And how do you look at the future in America? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? How is your pessimism… what’s your meter running?

Eric Metaxas:

It’s real simple. It’s real simple. I do not believe God would’ve called me to write the book Letter to the American Church unless it was his will that we pull out of the death spiral in which we now are. That is his will. And I do not believe that he communicates his will to us if there’s no possibility of us doing the right thing. So I am encouraged that God spoke to me strongly enough about this message.

I’m encouraged by the reception of the message. The book has sold dramatically better than I thought it would. I didn’t think a documentary film of the book would be made. I am encouraged. Now, when I say I’m encouraged, at the end of Religionless Christianity, the sequel to Letter to the American Church, I bring it back to George Washington. Because what I say is we are now … I think is on the first page of the book. We are now in the third existential crisis of our history in America. The first was the Revolution, the second was the Civil War, and the third is where we are now. An existential crisis means that it is a battle of life and death of the existence of America.

Doug Monroe:

The soul. The soul of America, right?

Eric Metaxas:

Well, when I say the existence of America, I mean America as the founders.

Eric Metaxas – America’s Third Crisis (1776, 1861, 2024): Optimistic with God and Action

Eric Metaxas:

You can have America in name only. You can have a communist demonic place that’s still called America, United States of America. Which is no longer effectively the United States of America. But the United States of America, which the founders brought into being, Washington and Lincoln and where we are now, it’s an existential crisis. And in each case, we ought not in the natural to survive. We ought never to have come into being in The Revolution. The odds were so stacked against us. Same thing about the Civil War, and the same thing about where we are now.

So the question simply is, if you go back to George Washington, and this is the last chapter of the book, Religious Christianity. I say, if you go to ask George Washington in 1776, how is it going? How do you think it’s going? He would inescapably say, “It’s going very poorly. We are on the path to lose.” But if providence be with us in this cause of liberty, we may prevail. So we fight on, we are in a war. In a war there will be casualties, there will be sacrifices. But if you’re fighting for the right thing, you may have the victory.

If you don’t fight because it’s looking real bad, so let’s leave, let’s stop. You will certainly not prevail. So Washington fought on because he believed it was the right thing. And to some extent, in The Revolution, in the Civil War, and now, apart from God’s intervention, miraculous intervention, we lose, we don’t win. But there was miraculous intervention. In my book, If You Can Keep It, I talk about the miracle of the Battle of Brooklyn. I mean, miracle. We ought not to have survived. The cause of liberty ought to have been strangled in the cradle. But God gave us a miraculous victory right here in New York, very close to where we are now. And Washington fought on and fought on and fought on. And somehow by the grace of God, absolutely, America came into being.

The same thing happened in the Civil War. Michael Medved’s brilliant books, I interviewed him at Socrates and City. He talks about that. Where we are now is the same case. You could say, “Well, things are looking very bad.” But if it’s the Lord’s will that this experiment in ordered liberty continue on, we have to fight and fight and fight and pray and trust God, do what he calls us to do, sacrifice, be willing to take hits, casualties, whatever that looks like. This is not easy. But you fight because it’s the right thing, because there’s something beautiful and noble and true that you’re fighting for against wickedness.

And therefore, that’s my long way of saying, I am ultimately optimistic. If the people of God will rise up and actually be the church, put away their childish theological fussiness, and actually be the church, put their faith into action, now, not in three years, now. Enough horrors have arisen to wake people up, to make people understand, okay, okay, I finally get it. We’re going to lose everything, we’re going to descend into Marxist tyranny if we do not act. Politically and in every other way, if we don’t do that, if we just play church, we’re going to get what we deserve. We’re going to get what the Germans got because they said, “No, thank you. We just want to do church.”

So ultimately, I’m optimistic. I see people waking up every day. Everywhere I go, I’m speaking about this. The hour could not be more late. And if you’re not part of the solution, you are unavoidably part of the problem, and you’ll live with that shame for the rest of your life. And so this is a warning, but it’s also a call to action. Join what God has called you to join. He’s called you to be a force for good. He’s not going to force you, but he invites you. He created you for this.

And so ultimately, I say, this is the hour of the American Church. If the American Church will rise up and be the church in the way that the German church failed to be the church, we will lead America through this existential crisis to what I think Lincoln was speaking about prophetically when he talked about a new birth of freedom. And what Bonhoeffer was speaking about prophetically when he said, Religionless Christianity to something beautiful that we haven’t imagined, to something on the other side of this Reformation that I think we’re experiencing right now. So ultimately, I’m hopeful. But I’m not cavalierly hopeful, we have to really fight and pray otherwise we will not prevail.

Doug Monroe:

This book and I do think you can see the hand of God in military history very easily. I consider myself one of those. And I think my friends would verify that. And so I just want you to know it’s been an honor and a privilege to spend this time with you, and I will never forget it. I hope we meet again. I hope I can get you to come South and teach you some Confederate-oriented military history. I’m glad we lost the war, but it was a damn close and fought to the bitter end. And I think that many of the thoughtful Confederates believe God’s hand was in that, actually. And so they accepted it and moved on.

But anyway, thank you for this time. It’s been just terrific. And anything I can do to help you, let me know.

Eric Metaxas:

Well, look, this has been an honor to be here. Thank you. And I expect we will meet again and do more for God’s purposes. So thank you very much.

Doug Monroe:

Exactly. To the glory of God.

Eric Metaxas:

Amen.

Doug Monroe:

That’s the way I look at it.

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