A Conversation with Eric Metaxas
Eric Metaxas Interview Transcript (Full video link here)
Jason Yates: So what do you get when you cross a Greek, a historian and a political commentator? Sounds like a joke, right, but he's no joke, he's Eric Metaxas and Eric, thanks for being here. I looked up your last name to see what it means. Do you know what it means?
Eric: Yes, I do. Well, it actually comes from I mean, the actual name means like silk merchant or Silker. Yeah, but “mytaxi,” which is really a different entomological route, means between. So I think that means that I'm a moderate person who communicates in a silken way, which sounds slimy. So let's skip it.
Jason: All right. Well, I was thinking silk merchant and I was thinking, that's so appropriate because you are so involved in sort of the weaving together and thinking about culture and how it weaves together and making sense of it. So I thought it was appropriate.
Eric: I accept that I like that. OK, maybe I'm going to start using it.
Jason: Well, thanks for being here. You truly do speak into culture. Help us as Christians understand what's happening, but from a perspective of history, and I'm so grateful for that. Tell us a little bit about your latest project, your latest book, and how that relates to today.
Eric: Well, my latest book is called Is Atheism Dead? And there is a lot of history in it, the history of science. But it's just an amazing thing. I've always been interested in everything, you know? So people, because I wrote biographies, people sort of assumed that I'd found my genre or my mitee. And from now on, I'm going to be writing biographies and I thought, No, I'm interested in many things. And the book Is Atheism Dead? It's basically apologetics for the faith. But the headline is that there is so much evidence from science in recent decades pointing to God, that it's astonishing.
It's absolutely astonishing. And further astonishing is the idea that most people, including most Christians, are unaware of it. And I said, I have to write this book. I have to tell people that the evidence for God is overwhelming. The lie that we have all been taught over and over in the culture that science is at odds with faith. It's completely nonsensical. And now we can know that that's the case. And in terms of the history, ironically, not only does faith is faith not at odds with science, but science comes from people of Christian faith.
Christian faith led to what we call modern science. So this canard, this crazy idea that somehow science is at odds with faith, it doesn't make sense on any level. We need to know that we need to know that the god of history and the God of truth, he's the god of all truth. And there's no such thing as I have my little religious corner over here. Truth is truth. So so science and everything ultimately points to the God of truth. And I think that we need to know that we need to be encouraged because many of us, I think, you know, we're going through hard times in the culture and we need to know that what we believe is true and it's demonstrably true.
It's not just true for me, but if you're willing to look at the facts, you'll see that it's true for you.
Jason: But those, there are so many in culture today that oppose that. They want to draw this line and they say, follow the science. So much in advertising.
Eric: If you actually follow the science, the science will lead you to the God of the Bible. If you just want to talk about following the science, it'll lead you wherever you want. But the fact of the matter is we're living at a time where truth is in short supply, lying and shading. The truth has become horrifyingly commonplace, which speaks to the erosion of virtue in American culture. I wrote about that in my book, If You Can Keep It, you cannot have genuine self-government on the American model. You cannot have liberty unless you have, unless you hold virtue in high regard.
And we've seen a lot of, let's call it what it is lying in the culture on a level that we've never seen before. But if you drift away from the God of truth, the God who says, you know that he puts a value on our speaking, the truth, then that lying is wrong. It's a natural drift. And so we really have an obligation to tell people, Don't tell me that you say you believe in this and this and this, let's actually discuss it. And let's find out what you really do believe.
Because just when you say I'm pro-science, a lot of those people are not pro-science. They have an agenda, but they're using the term of science to bludgeon you into silence. And so that's anti-science. It's anti-truth. And so we're in a battle.
Jason: So this is fascinating to me because you not only around topics of science and in history, but you talk about politics, and there's so many parallels of what you just said to politics, these ideas that religion and science don't mix right. But I see so many Christians that are falling for that same argument of religion and their faith and politics don’t mix.
Eric: Well, since we don't have a lot of time, let me cut to the chase. If that's your theology, that theology is wrong and wrong, theology comes from the pit of hell. It's not just like, “Oh well, you get a B-minus.” No, no, no. Wrong theology is unbelievably destructive. The idea that politics is separated from faith or faith from politics. It's an utterly false idea, like the idea that science and faith are at odds.
William Wilberforce, because of his faith in Jesus, because he knew the Bible is the word of God, said slavery is wrong. There were tons of people who call themselves Christians who went to church, who didn't. Seem to see that, and he said the scripture leads me to believe that slavery is wrong, the slave trade is wrong. Therefore, I am obliged politically to wage war against this abomination called the slave trade. People in his day tried to tell him, You shouldn't mix faith with politics. What's wrong with you? Well, the African slaves were sure, hoping that he was going to mix faith and politics.
You say the same thing about the people, the Jews and boxcars going to death camps. They were. They were hoping that some Christians out there believed what they said so seriously that they were willing to get a little political for the sake of the Jews going to their deaths. So this idea is, it's a pernicious lie, and it has gripped many in the church. And I just want to say we're not supposed to make an idol of politics. We're not supposed to worship anyone other than Jesus. But the idea that your faith can somehow be clear of political issues is preposterous.
It's illogical and worse than that. It hurts people. If you care about people, you need to understand you have an obligation to get involved in politics, whatever it is, at least in voting. And because that's part of how it's kind of like saying, I'm against cooking. I mean, there are certain things that if you want to eat or if you care about feeding the hungry. Cooking may be involved. You don't need to make an idol of cooking. But the idea that somehow I don't want to be bothered with that, it really becomes foolish.
And again, the bottom line is it hurts people. We're commanded to love our neighbors. Our enemies were commanded to care for people. And the only way you can do that on some level, it involves it involves politics.
Jason: There are issues that we care about that find solutions even in government until we have to care.
Eric: Well,you could even flip it. You could say that if you really care about people, you may need
to get involved politically to cut down government, in other words. Government really is often the problem. Reagan said that. And so if you believe that government is the problem, you need to get involved in politics and government to whittle it down, to want to cut it back so that it is not effectively socialism leading into Marxist communism because those kinds of governments will push God out.
And when you push God out once again, you hurt people. It doesn't have to do with converting people to your point of view. It's just that if you care about human beings, you have to care about these, these other things. And so government usually is the problem. But unless Christians are involved in government, government will just grow and grow and grow. And biblical voices will get pushed out, which is what's been happening.
Jason: So Eric, one in three Christians, aren't voting. What did you say to them?
Eric: Well, to the extent that you're not voting, you're not a Christian. In other words, somebody say, Well, I'm saved. Well, good for you. I hope so. But God, you know, it's kind of like somebody. Somebody gives you a million dollars and you say, I'm just going to bury this in the ground and let it rot.
Jason: Someone gave a story about...
Eric: Well, this is a little different than that. But I guess what I mean is that if you've been given the gift of freedom, yeah, if you've been given the gift to vote, people have died like real people. People no different than we are have died for freedom, for the right to vote. If you regard it so lightly, it's like saying Jesus died for me on the cross. Who cares? I don't care. You don't have to care. But if you don't care, it's on you because he did it for you.
People have died. Jesus died so that we could be free so that we could join him in heaven. Human beings died so that we could be free so that we would not be under the heel of tyranny. And we in America have been so outrageously blessed that we take it for granted. Just the way many people take Jesus's death for granted. It's very easy to take it for granted because what price do we have to pay? Everything's good. Nobody's bothering me. Well, there are people around the world who depend on those of us who have a voice, who have a vote that we will use our voice and use our vote. And if we don't, they can't.
And so I really think we don't need to do this for ourselves. We need to do this for others. We need to do this for four poor kids in the ghetto. Their lives are going to be affected. If you don't vote, you're hurting them now, you might say. Well, but but I but I care about them and I'd say, Well, then if you care about them, you have an obligation to vote for people who are going to who are going to enact policies that are going to bless them.
And there's no way out of this. If you live in this country, you live in a states of America and you think you can opt out of this. You are. You've really been been taken in by bad theology. And again, it hurts people.
Jason: It is a theological question. I think of Galatians 6:10, it says, as you have opportunity, do good to everyone, but especially those of the faith and voting and engagement in the political sphere is an opportunity to do good.
Eric: Listen, let's get blunt during COVID because of bad leadership by people like Gov. Gavin Newsom. People died and I don't mean died of COVID. I mean, died of suicide. You didn't hear much about that, OK? Epidemic suicide, epidemic issues in lives because of bad policies enacted by governors elected by the people.
When I think of all of the Californians who say I'm a Christian who didn't vote in the recall or who didn't vote or who voted for Newsom, I want to say to those people, Listen, let's be honest, you're on the hook for those suicides, you're on the hook for the bad policies. That said, you can't sing in church. We're going to keep the strip clubs open. We're going to keep the casinos open, but we're closing down the churches.
That's what happens if Christians don't vote. And I want to say again, if you don't want to do it for yourself, that's fine. But there are tons of people whose lives have been affected, are being affected, will be affected by whether you vote and you can knock it out of that.
Jason: Well, we know it's not just voting, right, it's voting from a biblical worldview. It's applying,thinking biblically about the issues. Yeah, you do a great podcast, Socrates in the City. I got that right. It's fascinating. You are helping people think, well, apply wisdom.
Eric: Well, I'm glad I fooled you. Well, I do. You can find SocratesintheCity.com and I do a daily radio show podcast, The Eric Metaxas Show, where I talk to innumerable people literally five days a week. It's on the Salem radio network, and I encourage people just to go to my website, Eric Metaxas.com because if you sign up for my newsletter, we send you a lot of the stuff. But I have had interviews with people that can articulate the specifics on this infinitely better than I. And I really think it helps people think, just as you said, we need help processing this stuff.
We're living in divided times. How do I how do I do this? How do I do it in a winsome way? When am I being angry political or when am I being righteous because God has called me to a battle for the sake of others?
Jason: So are you saying I've got the wrong person in the chair that I should get other people that are on your show?
Eric: Well, a lot of what I do is is interview other people because they can help me think more deeply about the issues. I mean, I know I know what I know, but I learn from my guests. So again. Eric Metaxas, that comes to my website. But the show I interview so many people that I think if I hadn't had them on my show, I wouldn't know what to think about this situation or that situation. They kind of they kind of help me, but I want them to help my listeners as well.
Jason: Well, I appreciate so much you being here because I benefit from hearing you as well. We're encouraging people to pray, pray unceasingly for our nation to think biblically about the issues and to vote, go and vote in this year in twenty twenty two. There is a lot at stake. There are every single member of the House is up for election. Thirty four senators are up for election. Eighty four percent of all the state legislative seats are up for election. And over eighty one thousand school board elections are occurring. So we're talking close to a hundred thousand elections happening this year. A lot of influence. What do you say to these Christians, the one in three that aren't voting.
Eric: I really think that the Lord has allowed things to get this bad, to wake us up, to let us know. I mean, look, my mom and dad grew up in Europe. My mom grew up in Germany under the Nazis, and then it became East Germany under the Stalinist Soviets. My father grew up in Greece, saw the horrors of the war, saw the communists try to take over. They helped me to understand that. Things can get bad on a level that we in America have no idea. And I think that we are beginning to see that bad leadership, lack of leadership or simply bad leadership, can lead us into suffering that we simply didn't think in America it was possible, and I think what has happened...the nightmare of what happened in Afghanistan if you care about human beings, you need to ask yourself, what kind of leaders do we have that allowed this nightmare to occur? Whether you're talking about Russia, whether you're talking about Iran, whether you're talking about China, if you do not have the right people in place, there is just untold suffering.
And we need even if you didn't care about the United States, you even if you care about just the people in these other countries, how you vote here affects that and when you think that we have the power to effect change. To not use that power, to say, “Oh, I overslept, I didn't, I just didn't show up.”
If you read my book and William Wilberforce, amazing grace, he was trying to end the slave trade he had the votes for at one point four members of Parliament simply didn't show up. Think of the slaves of the suffering of the African slaves because four people said, I'm just not going to show up today. I had something else to do. We Christians have a serious responsibility for others. When, when gas is seven dollars. There are people around this country that is crushing to them. Maybe I can pay it, I grumble, but I pay it. There are people that are being crushed by a bad economy.
There are people being crushed by transgender madness, by being unable to explain to their kids why the kids are being taught America is a profoundly racist country. In other words, our votes affect people that really have no voice. They send their kids to schools. They live in our communities. So we, I think we have a responsibility to those people. And for some reason, many Christians got this bad idea that they can sit this one out or they don't want to be political.
And I just think that there is no such thing and God holds us responsible. And I just want to lovingly say to my brothers and sisters, “Please take these things seriously.”
Jason: Last question. I think there's right now, there's pushback against Christians who are showing pride in America. You’re a supporter of Flag Day...
Eric: It's utterly preposterous. This flawed country is without any question the greatest country in the history of the world. This country ended slavery. This country ended Jim Crow laws. This country, which got started out on the wrong foot when it comes to that stuff, had the processes and the people and the will to shed a lot of blood to do the right thing.
We have so much to be proud of in this country, people who don't understand that they simply don't know the history of other countries. And when you come from places like my parents came from, you know that to live in America is a privilege. None of us deserves it. If we get that, we need to be grateful. We need to use our freedoms to bless those around the world who don't have those freedoms. I mean, not to be a proud American simply at the end of the day is to be deeply, historically ignorant. And so, yes, we have an obligation to teach people the history of this nation, the history of other nations, so they can at least see what it is that we have. Because if you're not, if you're not proud of that, you're missing everything.
Jason: It is fascinating to spend time with you. Thank you for spending time and being here, and I just appreciate all you're doing to help people think well in context of our history and our faith. Thanks, Eric.
Eric: It's my privilege. Thank you.
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