A Short Note on Eric Metaxas, “Letter to the American Church”

I just finished reading this book, about which I had mixed (though mostly favorable) feelings, and wanted to highlight just two points.  First, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is generally praised these days by all Christians, liberal and conservative, so it’s worth noting that he was pro-life (92-93; note that Eric Metaxas also recently wrote a biography of Bonhoeffer).

Second, I was most intrigued by Chapter 13 of the book, in which the author has an interesting interpretation of the Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 23:14-30).  He argues that the parable teaches that Christians should be risk-takers, and specifically that we should be bold in undertaking behavior even if we fear there is a chance that God may view the behavior as sinful.  Thus, if an action might be viewed by God as being a great good, we should undertake it even if there is a risk that God may not want it, rather than do nothing.  Relatedly, in the next chapter, Metaxas points out that the Aslan figure in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series “is not tame, but wild.  But the goodness of God is a wild and unpredictable goodness …” (123).  Another way to reach a similar conclusion is by bearing in mind that, as St. Paul said, we sin by not doing what we are supposed to do as well as by doing what we are supposed to do; thus, inaction when action is called for is a sin, and if the risk is that it is a great sin indeed, resulting in much harm on earth, then we should roll the dice.  If our heart posture is right, then we can be confident in God’s forgiveness even if we are wrong.

This is an especially salient point, as Metaxas argues, when a Christian is faced with great evils in the political arena.  When in doubt, it is better to oppose them than to stay on the sidelines.  I think there’s a lot of truth to that, though I would caution that Christians need to be careful in concluding that this or that political stance is a sin in the first place, especially when an issue requires secular expertise that the Christian lacks.  I have a post elsewhere on this blogsite titled, “Ten Thoughts on Politics and the Bible.”