Eric Metaxas on Phoney Religion vs. Real Faith

On February 2, 2012, Eric Metaxas delivered the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast. I had recently finished reading Metaxas’s excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so I decided to watch a replay of the speech a few days later. And I was impressed.

As I watched Metaxas deliver this speech – only a few feet away from where President Obama sat with the first lady – I couldn’t help but think of the prophet Nathan rebuking King David in 2 Samuel 12.

C-SPAN 3 doesn’t get much more edge-of-your-seat than this, folks. If you don’t have time to watch the full 30 minutes, I’ve collected some highlights below:

“There were plenty of churchgoers in England in the day of Wilberforce, and everybody in that day seemed to have no problem with the slave trade, or slavery…England paid lip-service to religion in those days. Everybody said, “Oh, I’m a Christian. I’m English. We’re Christians.” But they really seemed to think, most of them, that the slave trade was a fine thing. So keep in mind that when someone says, “I am a Christian,” it might mean absolutely nothing

[Wilberforce] fought politically. He fought hard. And the only people who were really fighting with him at this point were the “fanatical Christians”…the born-again nuts – the Quakers, the Methodists – that people made fun of. They were in the trenches, because they knew they had no choice but to regard the Africans as made in the image of God, and worthy of our love and respect. Everyone else was just going with the flow.”

african slave trade

“In Wilberforce’s day, going with the flow meant supporting slavery, and that Africans are not fully human. In Bonhoeffer’s world, in Nazi Germany, it meant supporting the idea that Jews are not fully human. So who do we say is not fully human today?”

“Wilberforce somehow saw what the people in his day did not see, and we celebrate him for it. Bonhoeffer saw what others did not see, and we celebrate him for it. Now how did they see what they saw? There’s just one word that will answer that, and it’s ‘Jesus’. He opens our eyes to His ideas, which are different from our own. Which are radical.

Now personally I would say the same thing about the unborn: that apart from God we cannot see that they are persons as well. So those of us who know the unborn to be human beings are commanded by God to love those who do not yet see that. We need to know that apart from God we would be on the other side of that divide, fighting for what we believed was right…

Today, if you have a Biblical view of sexuality, you will be demonized by those on the other side, who will call you a ‘bigot’. Jesus commands us to love those who call us bigots…to show them the love of Jesus. If you want people to treat you with dignity, treat them with dignity.”