A Wake-up Call to the American Church
Yesterday, America honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As I pondered his life and work, I found myself considering the importance of forerunners, voices of change who point the way toward the right path. Their journey is always difficult as they challenge the status quo and ruffle comfortable feathers, but God gives them steel backbones and steadfast hearts. Some, like Dr. King, are also blessed with great intellect and communication skills.
One of the forerunners of our day who is certainly blessed with these extraordinary gifts and skills is Eric Metaxas. You may have read his great book on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Metaxas has other great books, but today I want to highlight his latest book entitled, Letter to the American Church.
I know Eric Metaxas, though not as a close friend. He is simply a person I greatly respect and admire. Neither he nor his publisher has asked me to promote his book; frankly, he doesn’t even know I’m doing this. I am doing so because I believe his message is urgent. Today’s American church has failed to be the voice we were called to be. The stakes could not be higher regarding our need for this to change. Eric’s appeal is passionate, intellectually and factually sound, historically reinforced, and biblically based. In the words of Erwin W. Lutzer, pastor emeritus of The Moody Church in Chicago, “This book is like a bucket of cold water thrown into the face of a sleeping church.”
Please read this book. Consider giving a copy to your pastor or a friend. I want to read a few paragraphs from his Introduction, after which we will pray.
“The German Church of the 1930s was silent in the face of evil; but can there be any question whether the American Church of our own time is guilty of the same silence? Because of this, I am compelled to speak out and to say what - only by God’s grace - I might say to make plain where we find ourselves at this moment, at our own unavoidable crucial crossroads in history.
“It is for good or for ill that America plays an inescapably central role in the world. If you have not read Alexis de Tocqueville on this subject, you likely nonetheless understand that the extent to which that central role has been used for good and for God’s purposes has had everything to do with our churches, or with the American Church, as we may call her. So if America is in any way exceptional, it has nothing to do with the blood that runs through American veins and everything to do with the blood shed for us on Calvary, and the extent to which we have acknowledged this. America has led the world in making religious liberty paramount…It was this that made Tocqueville marvel most: that while in other nations - and especially in his own nation of France - the Church was adamantly opposed to the idea of political liberty, in America, it was in the churches that helped encourage, create, and sustain a culture of liberty.
“Because of the outsized role America plays in the world today, the importance of whether we learn the lesson of what happened to the German Church ninety years ago cannot be overstated. Though it may be a gruesome thing to consider, the monstrous evil that befell the civilized world precisely because of the German Church’s failure is likely a mere foretaste of what will befall the world if the American Church fails in a similar way at this hour.
“And at present, we are indeed failing.
“We should underscore the idea that the centrality of our nation in the world does not mean that we are intrinsically exceptional, but rather that God has sovereignly chosen us to hold the torch of liberty for all the world, and that the Church is central to our doing this. So the idea that He has charged us with this most solemn duty should make us tremble. Nonetheless, we must carry out that duty in a way that is the opposite of prideful and that is meant to be an invitation to all beyond our shores. If we should aspire - in the words of Jesus as quoted by John Winthrop - to be a “shining city on a hill,” the idea is that we should exist and shine for the sake of others and not for ourselves alone. President Abraham Lincoln said that we in America were God’s “almost chosen people” and acknowledged that this placed upon us an almost unbearable burden. It is a certainty from the Scriptures and from our experience over the centuries that apart from God, we can do nothing. So if God has chosen us for some task, we must do all we can to shoulder that task, and must know more than anything that unless we lean on Him and acknowledge Him in all our ways, we are guaranteed to fail.
“We must also remind ourselves that when God chooses anyone - whether the nation of Israel or a single person - to perform any role or any task, it is never something to be celebrated, as though the one chosen has won a contest. Quite to the contrary; it is a grave and fearsome responsibility. So if the Lord has chosen America and the American Church to stand against the evils and deceptions of this present darkness, we had better be sure we understand what is required of us, and had better make sure we do all that is possible to fulfill our charge…
“If anyone would feel that believing God has chosen the American Church for such a vital role somehow smacks of an egotistical nationalism, they have already bought into the Marxist and globalist lie that America is nothing special - or is probably a force for evil at this point. In any case, they miss the point and have only leapt away from one ditch to fall headlong into another. It is a fact that God in His sovereignty chose the German Church to stand against the evils of its day, but it shrank from acknowledging this and from standing. Germany has been living with the deep shame over it unto this day. So for the American Church to say that God has not chosen us is as bad as saying He must choose us because we deserve to be chosen. Both stances are equally guilty of the sin of pride. It is far easier to ignore God’s call than to acknowledge it and rise to fulfill it, but it is more difficult and painful than anything to live with the results of ignoring God’s call. Let the reader understand.” (1)
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for raising up voices to point us in the right direction. Though forerunners often make us uncomfortable, they nonetheless prepare the way for needed change. We ask You to breathe great momentum into this book by Eric Metaxas. Use it to awaken the American Church, especially, but not limited to, leaders in the Church.
We see signs that a remnant in the Church has been awakened, and we thank You for this. But we ask for this to increase exponentially. Rain fire, passion, and great zeal onto Your people in America. Revive us, as You have promised. Breathe great favor and momentum into the voices of change.
As always, we thank You for your promise that America shall be saved. We declare our faith that You will do this, as we appeal to You based on Your obvious will and purposes. Continue to deliver us from evil and bring Your Kingdom authority to bear in our land. We thank You for this in Christ’s name. Amen.
You can find out more about Eric Metaxas and order his books at EricMetaxas.com.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Eric Metaxas, Letter to the American Church (Washington, DC: Salem Books, 2022), pp ix-xi, xiii-xiv.