Court Evangelicals Tony Perkins and Eric Metaxas Talk About Their Court Evangelicalism

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4 Court Evangelicals:  Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and Eric Metaxas

On July 5, 2019, court evangelical Tony “Mulligan” Perkins of the Family Research Council  hosted court evangelical and author Eric Metaxas on his “Washington Watch” radio program.  The conversation was devoted to Metaxas’s 2016 book If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty,  Readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog are aware that this book is riddled with historical problems, many of which I wrote about in a series of posts when the book was published.

Listen to the Perkins-Metaxas conversation here.

Here are some comments:

2:00ff:  Metaxas, citing Christian author Os Guinness, suggests that the founders believed that virtue was essential to a republic and that people could not be virtuous without “faith.”  There are some problems with this formulation.  The founders did believe that virtue was essential to a healthy republic.  Virtue was a political term.  The virtuous person–usually a man–was someone who sacrificed his own interests for the greater good of the republic.  With this definition, it seems as if there would be a lot of present-day Americans–including socialists–who might have a claim on this kind of eighteenth-century political virtue.  In fact, one of our best historians of American socialism, Nick Salvatore, has argued that socialists like Eugene Debs drew heavily upon this tradition of republic virtue.

Moreover, as I argued in my book The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America, many founding fathers, including Ben Franklin (who uttered the saying in the title of Metaxas’s book), believed that Christianity or religion was not the only source of this kind of virtue.

2:45ff:  I don’t know of any “progressive” or person of “the Left” who is invoking the French Revolution these days.  (I am willing to be proven wrong on this).  Metaxas describes the French Revolution in terms of bloodbaths, anarchy, madness, egalitarianism, socialism, and the general lack of freedom.  Later in the interview Metaxas says that fear was not a factor in the evangelical turn toward Donald Trump.  As I argued in Believe Me, fear-mongers often build on false or exaggerated claims.  Isn’t this what Metaxas is doing here?  Perkins and Metaxas want to keep everyone scared so they pull the lever for Trump in 2020 and continue to man the ramparts of the culture wars.

4:50ff:  Metaxas says that we have been given a “sacred charge, a holy charge by God” to preserve the United States of America.  Here Metaxas equates the fate of America with the will of God as if the United States is some kind of new Israel.  He also says that if the Christian church does its job in the United States, “freedom will flourish.”

Is this true?  Is the role of the church to promote political freedom?

Metaxas confuses the mission of the Christian church with American freedom.  He fails to recognize that if the church does its work in the world, Christians will realize that their American freedoms are limited by a higher calling.  For example, if the church is doing its work fewer Christians will “pursue happiness” in terms of materialistic consumption. Fewer Christians will commit adultery or file for divorce.  The number of abortions will be reduced.  Hate speech will decline.  The number of people viewing pornography will be reduced.  The right to be gluttonous, greedy, slothful, and envious will decline. The right to own vehicles that destroy the environment will be curbed.  Of course all of these things–materialism, consumerism, adultery, divorce, hate speech, pornography, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, the ownership of a big SUV– are legal and protected under our freedoms as Americans. They are also contrary to Christian teaching. Americans are “free” to hate their neighbor and their enemies.  But if you claim to be a follower of Jesus you are not free to do these things.  So if the church is doing its work in world, Christians should become less, not more, “free” in the American sense of the word.

9:40ff:  Perkins implies that those evangelicals  who do not support Donald Trump do not “think,” “pray,” or “act.” (For the record this anti-Trump evangelical does try to think, pray, and act).  Metaxas says that those who oppose the POTUS are “prideful” and “myopic.”

I’ve noticed that when Metaxas is talking with critics such as Kristin Powers and Jonathan Merritt he backpedals and issues calls for civility.  But when he is on the air with a fellow court evangelicals like Perkins, he returns to his 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed mode of calling out the judgement of God on anti-Trumpers.

10:35ff:  Metaxas says: “we are at a tipping point in America…we could go back to the 1750s where we no longer have American style freedom.”  This is more fear-mongering.  It reminds me of when Ted Cruz said that if Clinton won in 2016 the government would start erasing crosses and stars of David from tombstones.  Metaxas also fails to realize that his conservative approach to the world looks very much like the British freedoms all the American colonists enjoyed in 1750.

11:30ff:  Metaxas brings up David French’s article on fear and notes that the piece attacks him by name.  Read this and this.

11:50ff: Metaxas defends Richard Nixon. He claims that George McGovern wanted to “take us down a socialist road.”  The last time I checked, McGovern was not a socialist. Here Metaxas implies that Nixon may have indeed committed a crime in office, but at least he wasn’t a big-government liberal.

12:00ff:  Metaxas compares those evangelicals who do not “get their hands dirty” voting for Trump to those who did not stand up to Hitler.  (Of course Hillary Clinton is the “Hitler” figure here–a comparison Metaxas has made before).

12:30ff:  Throughout this interview, Metaxas sloppily (although I don’t think he believes it is sloppy) mixes Christian faith and American ideals.  He talks about the blood of Jesus dying for sinners and in the very same sentence references the “minute men” in the American Revolution dying for “freedom” and the un-“biblical” Loyalists.  This is not unlike the way in which many 18th-century patriotic ministers interpreted Galatians 5:1 to mean freedom from British tyranny instead of freedom “in Christ.”  (I discuss this old American evangelical bad habit in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction).

If we want a quick introduction to Metaxas and his thinking, listen to this interview.

56 thoughts on “Court Evangelicals Tony Perkins and Eric Metaxas Talk About Their Court Evangelicalism

  1. John,

    I don’t think Tony supports sexual license and I know I don’t. Neither of us have ever,stated that Trump is a Christian.

    Your objection to “what aboutism” goes farther than Trump’s whoremongering, however. Earlier you introduced it within the subject of Fox News. What does that have specifically to do with Trump’s women?

    The broader issue being discussed was people and their church affiliations. People leave churches for a whole host of reasons. “What aboutism” helps us explore those reasons.

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  2. Paul,
    If you don’t think I have spent a large portion of my life in the D.C. area, I don’t know how I can convince you, Paul. All I can tell you is that I have.

    Furthermore, we were talking about elites in Washington and D,C. at which time you introduced South Beach. What does that have to do with D.C.?

    James

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  3. Fea Writes: Donald Trump slept with porn stars and has committed adultery.

    James and Tony: “But what about John Kennedy?”

    I find both to be morally objectionable, but by appealing to Kennedy you fail to directly confront the immorality of Trump, the topic of our current conversation. Why is it necessary to change the subject every time Trump does something morally objectionable. It is not a good look.

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  4. James, first of all, I have no idea whether you have ever set foot in the D.C. area or not, but I don’t believe you have ever attended any party with “elites” (whatever you mean by elitist party).

    And you realize that millions of people live and work in Manhattan and DC, including Donald Trump, and loads of wealthy right-leaning business people. (In fact, just last week I had a free lunch with the president of a financial trade group at a fancy Midtown restaurant and when we were taking about speakers at the conference in South Beach she said the group had to cater to its Republican-leaning membership.)

    To say anything “trends Manhattan parties” is absolute nonsense. It’s a word salad of buzz phrases intended to heap scorn on people you know nothing about, to make the rubes resentful that there are evil people out there who JUST DON’T LIKE REAL AMERICANS. VOTE TRUMP TO SAVE US FROM THESE EVIL MONSTERS!

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  5. John,

    You have mentioned the “What aboutism” several times previously and I still cannot understand your opposition to it. In my opinion, all it does is balance the scales and put an issue in a broader perspective.

    In this vein I think we can all discuss why liberal Mainline Protestantism has had millions vote with their feet as their churches abandoned Biblical truth and substituted baptized humanism.

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  6. I agree that it is a personal decision. I recognize that, given the reality of the numbers as indicated by the polls, some of this is inevitable unless one leaves evangelicalism altogether. The question becomes how much each individual can or cannot accept as part of the “background noise” in their particular church situation.

    I regret not leaving my former church earlier when the “background noise” became so much more front and center. And I do not believe it was mere coincidence that the political anxiety and fear and anger many of my fellow attenders were voicing following the 2008 election happened to coincide with a particularly tumultuous and conflict-ridden period in our church, which rose to a level where 2/3 of the members and regular attenders left the church from 2011-2013. There were a variety of factors which led to this situation, but I do believe that some of that personal/political anger spilled over into church dynamics and contributed an additional complicating factor in that environment.

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  7. Hi Dave. I was probably too brash when I said “I would walk out.” Different people will have different responses when this kind of things happens. Sometimes we need to stay and sometimes we need to go. I also realize that if I leave, who is going to be around to question some of this stuff? 🙂 Whatever the case, leaving a church for overpoliticization is up to the individual to decide as they seek wisdom from God and others. As I see it, there is no right or wrong answer on this front. So far I have stayed at my Evangelical Free Church, but I have also supported many evangelicals (not necessarily folks from my church) who have needed to leave for their own spiritual health.

    So far my church has done a good job of staying out of electoral politics, although, like most conservative evangelicals I have met around the country, you get a lot of “whataboutism” from the laity whenever a Christian Right or Fox News talking point is questioned. I hear from people in my church who like my work and have been encouraged by what I have written and spoken about in this current climate. There are also people in my church who do not like my views and let me know about it (but almost never to my face).

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  8. I was silent for years in my previous denominational evangelical church when every election season conservative GOP campaign materials labeled as “Christian voting guides” were distributed, when the culture wars regularly received reinforcement from the pulpit, even when the pastor said in 2012 that the situation was *so* dire for Christians that he could no longer refrain from endorsing specific candidates from the pulpit, and told us in no uncertain terms that our Christian faith required us to vote for these specific GOP candidates. I heavily regret my silence as this environment grew more and more politically-driven.

    In the nondenominational evangelical church I currently attend, it has been an intentional decision to not discuss politics at all . . . until very recently when a church elder on two separate occasions took advantage during sermons to rehash a few culture war talking points, and to (wrongly) assert that the previous administration had labeled Christians as a threat to be attacked. (I described these instances in my comments on John’s 7/5 “Evangelical Rift” post.) This time I am speaking up. And if I see the trend continue, I am prepared to walk out.

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  9. Excellent post, John. I hope that you might check out my book, offering the Biblical foundation for your (and my) critique in Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God, _I Pledge Allegiance: A Believer’s Guide to Kingdom Citizenship in 21st Century America_ (Eerdmans, 2018).

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  10. Jeff,

    I can’t see a real parallel between Greenwood’s song and the parable in Luke 18. While the song itself doesn’t do a lot for me, it strikes me that Greenwood is expressing true gratitude about being born here——not about doing something self-righteous. The Pharisee, on the other hand, was commending his own behavior.

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  11. Jeff,

    You are correct that Christians should have higher moral standards than worldly people, but I cannot follow your other point. All I said to Justin is that there is groupthink within all groups. Any organization is necessarily going to have a measure of it.

    James

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  12. Paul,

    You asked what sort of elitist party sayings I have attended. Answer: Georgetown—-yes; Capitol Hill——yes; Manhattan——-no. But I do read the writing of people who trend Manhattan parties.

    If you don’t think that costal and urban elites think differently than the heartland, I recommend you look at the county by county vote totals in the 2016 election. Also take a look at the glum faces of the D.C. and Manhattan commentators on election night. Martha Radatz even started crying.

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  13. James, I would bet a million rubles that you have never been to a cocktail party in New York or Georgetown. I do, what with working in the financial industry and all.

    The idea that there is a cabal of coastal elites that look down on “real Americans” from the heartland is a damnable lie, concoted to breed resentment toward people who are actually trying to help middle America and deflect attention from those (like Trump) who are trying to pick their pockets.

    The ironic thing is that when I’m in evangelical world, they obsess over what the rest of the world thinks about them and constantly slander those on the outside. When I’m with people in other capacities (work, running clubs, etc.) they say absolutely nothing about Christians. They’re only interested in their own lives.

    Doesn’t make them better people, but your baloney (which you no doubt parrot from a script) is the opposite of truth. I hate to feed the trolls, but it is encouraging to read others take heart from the fact that there are reasonable people out there.

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  14. They played a video of “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood the Sunday after the 4th.
    It occurs to me that a lot of the song can be summed in the line, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free”. It seems eerily similar to the Pharisee who thanked God he was not like that tax collector.
    Not completely like that but that air of smug superiority. The church is an international entity and there aren’t them and us there.

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  15. Yes, James, but isn’t there SUPPOSED to be a difference between Christians and others? Shouldn’t a Christian hope for better from themselves and other Christians?
    Take the same point from a non-political context. If a Christian laments that there are so many divorces in the Church does it mean anything helpful to say there are lots of divorces in Manhattan?

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  16. Justin,

    If you think that only Christians exist in a cultural thought-bubble, you have not spent a lot of time around various other circles of opinion. Just start by reading the online sites of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, or perhaps the more extreme secularist journals. When you are finished with three or four hours of reading, then go to a cocktail party in Manhattan or in Georgetown. You will find the thinking to be at least as monolithic as the Christian milieu you are trying to avoid.
    James

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  17. “But if their purchase of a big SUV is driven by materialism or a failure to understand what such a vehicle does to the environment, then the purchase could certainly be a choice that does not conform to Christian belief”

    John,
    There seems to be an assumption that calling out the environmental problems caused by pollution encompasses the problems it causes people. But when you don’t make that explicit it leaves room for readers to interpret it however they want. I think the conversations around pollution would be served by separating the two. Something like this:

    “But if their purchase of a big SUV is driven by materialism or an indifference for what such a vehicle does to neighbors and the environment, then the purchase could certainly be a choice that does not conform to Christian belief”

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  18. Socialism has been added to the Religious Right’s lexicon. To them socialism is just as bad as abortion or same sex marriage. Bob Allen of Baptist News Global covered Jack Graham’s speech in an excellent article dated June 8: “Trump-supporting pastor says socialism and Christianity are incompatible.”
    Worth a read.

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  19. John,
    I have the book and have read it all once and certain sections twice. You did do plenty of research in support of your ideas but I couldn’t help but think that no Republican would have escaped your crosshairs. (Well, maybe Bill Weld.) We are all human enough to paint the editorial pictures which conform to our presuppositions. Trump did provide a more colorful and engaging target than most politicians!

    Fortunately, it wasn’t only the Christians but also others who were looking for an iconoclast.

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  20. My wife doesn’t get into stuff like I do. Wrestling with ideas, reexamining what and why believe things.
    She loves Christ and is genuine. She loves the ladies of this church.
    I stick and keep quiet for her. She has had a couple serious medical issues the last two years and the people are kind to her.

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  21. I grew up in circles where this kind of patriotic affirmation of Christian America was standard. Aside from one or two predictably apologetic and defensive posts on behalf of Trumpian Christians, the conversations in this thread have given me a renewed sense of hope that there are indeed Christians who can see beyond lazy patriotic religious dogma. Otherwise, it’s so disheartening to see these popular preachers touting rebranded Manifest Destiny, nationalism, patriotism etc as true Christianity. It’s discouraging, but I remember the very high personal cost of breaking free of certain evangelical delusions in my own life. People are often immersed in that kind of thinking for decades. The cultural bubble they live in is real, and shared with loved ones, and sugarcoated every Sunday to make the poison go down easier.

    Why do otherwise intelligent people sit passively by and watch their fellow Christians dive deeper and deeper into patriotic delusions (about politicians of any stripe) saving the culture or preserving their religious rights? I think it’s because they are emotionally invested in those relationships, and every decision to remain enmeshed in evangelicalism’s doctrinal/cultural bubble reinforces those emotional commitments, making it harder and harder for individuals who know better, deep down, to break free of the obvious nonsense. To challenge the worst of the nonsense is to challenge the least of the nonsense. Human relationships that provide comfort and mutual validation are more important for some people than existential integrity, which (emotionally speaking) is not as rewarding as participating in a perpetually affirming circle of self-righteousness or the easy-to-navigate black/white thinking of binary religious dogmas.

    One silver lining of the Trump circus is that it has served as a catalyst, driving those already caught in a web of self-serving delusions deeper into those delusions, and pushing those with reasonable doubts and reservations to the margins, even squeezing them out of toxic but comfortable Christianities. There is a eschatological parable like that in the New Testament: the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wide-cast net that gathers good and bad alike; in another place the wheat and the tares grow together; in another place the sheep and the goats are only eventually separated—based not on what doctrines and morals they cling to, but based on on their commitments to real human beings: visiting the imprisoned, helping the poor, comforting the sick. . How has American Christianity become so divorced from these basic human values? How did affirming the correct list of doctrines or spouting moralistic talking points become more important to Christians than practicing good humanity? I don’t know. But I do know that Trump has made it much easier for people to put their true values on public display.

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  22. Paul,
    You made a very accurate comment by stating that “…80-90% of lawmakers call themselves Christians.” The operative word is “call.” As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.”

    James

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  23. John,
    I have never hinted at this type Christian Nationalism in my postings on The Way of Improvement. If someone has perceived it that way, the error might be in my poor phrasing of a post. I have never even talked about American exceptionalism. (It is, however, possible to make a secular case for it but not a Christian case.)

    As far as others in the larger Christian realm, there might be some of that mixture of Christianity and nationalism; yet that still doesn’t signify a classic theocratic bent. There is simply too much traditional Baptist governmental thought underlying the politically active Christian Right.

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  24. John,
    I appreciate your site and know you are a busy man, but a few written ground rules about this as well as other basic matters would be valuable in helping people formulate their posts. 🙂

    James

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  25. I went to a monthly men’s bible study at my church last Saturday. Expecting a bible study. Instead a DVD was played that featured Newt Gingrich and his wife hosting a tour around Washington DC. I think called “Finding God in America”. It had different folks speaking as well. Of course Barton. Ed Meese I remember. Some other fellow in there called either Washington or America the “New Jerusalem”.
    My sense is all the men there are it all up except me, but I generally keep quiet. And when the discussion came after we had the obligatory lament by someone that they are tearing down all the confederate statues, destroying our history.
    A couple weeks ago the Pastor mentioned that either on Sunday or during the Wednesday night prayer meeting and stated that Lee should be honored for fighting for his country. I kept quiet then too!

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  26. Tony: You write “Practically everything John writes about Trump is an appeal to the authority of his opinion that Trump is The Worst Thing Ever.” Yes, you are correct. I wrote a book about this subject–it has footnotes and appeals to Christian theologians, historians, political philosophers and biblical scholars. (I even quote our pastor at one point). So I do write with some degree of knowledge here that others do not have. You may not agree with me, but please realize that my posts here about Trump are rooted in an intense book-length study of how he has appealed to evangelicals. Please read the book and then come back and engage my evidence-based opinion.

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  27. I agree with John Haas here. It is one thing to state an opinion. It is another thing to make claims that are not based on fact or evidence. At least a link, James. Part of this is my fault. I am way to liberal in allowing for these kind of opinions here at the blog.

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  28. Christianity is a religion, socialism is a form of government. This is comparing apples and oranges. Of course a Christian can be a socialist and a socialist can be a Christian.

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  29. James: You sound like every Christian nationalist I know. “No, we don’t believe the U.S. is a “New Israel” or “No, we are not theocrats.” While this is technically true (in most cases), there is still the belief that America is somehow exceptional because God has made it exceptional. America as God’s chosen nation. You are right, none of these Christian nationalists LITERALLY say that the U.S. has replaced Israel, but the chosen nation idea still drives policy.

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  30. A few quick comments, Tony:
    1. Why dwell on this one point? My comment about SUVs is part of a larger argument about freedom. When the church is “being the church” it does not necessarily result in more freedom.
    2. I am not going to tell someone not to buy a “big SUV” or not to buy a “big SUV.” I am also not going to bite on the questions you ask in your comment. People are “free” in America to buy a big SUV if they want. But if their purchase of a big SUV is driven by materialism or a failure to understand what such a vehicle does to the environment, then the purchase could certainly be a choice that does not conform to Christian belief, especially when other options might be available. Any disciple of Jesus who buys a big SUV must wrestle with these questions. The default position here is not “what can I get away with and still be Christian.” The default position should be a desire to avoid materialism and the degradation of God’s natural world and thus make choices about a vehicle (or a house, etc…) from that point of view.

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  31. Metaxes next book should be “Art of the Grift.” He sets up a phony legal institute that pretends to fight for poor, abused, powerless Christians (in a country where probably 80-90% of lawmakers call themselves Christians), takes tens of millions of dollars out for himself and his family in the process, he hawks ridiculous books about the end times (as predicted by the Bible!), and then becomes the lawyer and spokesman for the president of the United States.

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  32. You are correct, Jeff. The essence of dispensationalism is to mark a distinction between God’s promises to The Church and his promises to Israel. There is no Church running an earthly kingdom within true dispensational thought.

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  33. I came to the faith through a dispensational church. That theology as we understood it regarded as error the failure to not understand a distinction between Israel and the church.

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  34. Dave H.

    Trump told Hillary he would “lock her up.” Has he tried to do that?

    Trump promised to “build a Great Wall.” The imagery took most of us to China’s ancient wall. In reality he has started work on a reinforced fencing and surveillance system.

    As far as his other kept promises, we should salute a politician for keeping his word.

    James

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  35. Paul,
    You need to go back and read some of the classical dispensational texts. I suggest starting with Dr. Chafer’s Systematic Theology. It is the Covenant theologians who take Israel’s promises and apply them to the Church.

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  36. John Haas,

    I phrased it that way because I cannot read his mind; and neither can you. Had I known more about his theological predilections, perhaps I could have been more definitive.

    James

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  37. Paul,
    You are incorrect in stating that replacement theory is dispensational in its roots. I ask you to name one primary, secondary, or tertiary dispensationalist who advocates replacement theology. It is the polar opposite. Hal Lindsay even wrote a book on this subject.

    James

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  38. Tony, I think I understand exactly what John was referencing. He wasn’t simply referencing James expressing his opinion (as you correctly point out, we are all doing that . . . although hopefully also providing some facts to support those opinions). I believe John’s reference was much more specific, to James expressing his opinion THAT “Metaxas doesn’t mean what he seems to say, or that the mass of American Christians think this and not that.”

    If that is the case, I think he is posing a legitimate question. Throughout the 2016 election and in the early days of this administration, we were frequently told (following his more bombastic or shocking statements) that Donald Trump was speaking figuratively, he was colorfully engaging with his audience, that we shouldn’t be taking him literally on some of the things he was saying. Then, lo and behold, we did eventually find out that, in fact, he meant EXACTLY what he was saying, and sometimes even more.

    So when we are now told that we shouldn’t read too much into what someone is saying, that he’s just speaking off the cuff or speaking for effect, and that his statements don’t really represent his real or full viewpoint, and that we’re making too big a deal about his particular choice of phrasing or word pictures, you will have to forgive us if we no longer find that to be a reassuring response. When Donald Trump tweets something, we are no longer going to just shrug it off saying, “that’s just Donald Trump being Donald Trump,” because we are now used to seeing yesterday’s tweets become today’s policies. When we see people representing evangelicalism making provocative and strongly worded statements, and we are told that “most evangelicals don’t really believe that,” we are naturally going to be skeptical of that claim.

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  39. John: although your comment was addressed to James and he can speak for himself, I’m trying to understand your critique.

    You note that most of what James wrote constitutes … his opinion. Indeed. I’d say that 98.7% of what is expressed on this comment board is opinion. Practically everything John writes about Trump is an appeal to the authority of his opinion that Trump is The Worst Thing Ever. You might as well ask what anybody who posts here thinks he or she is accomplishing, including yourself. (I am trying to win the year end Koch Brothers cruise, but sadly I am not meeting my monthly comment quota.) What did your put down of James accomplish, other than to create some level of emotional satisfaction?

    Do you disagree with his opinion that an insignificant percentage of Evangelicals tout America as the new Israel? Perhaps you do, and perhaps you have facts which support your disagreement. But chiding him for expressing an opinion is odd. It’s certainly fair game for you to take issue with James’s attempt to get inside Metaxas’s head, so to speak. Plainly, you were unpersuaded by his explication. Do you have any facts or citations demonstrating that Metaxas does support theonomy?

    Using your framework, if we apply it to, say, Paul’s comment above, he wrote 11 sentences, every one of which “appeal to the authority of his own opinions.” I have no issue with this — again: it’s my belief that is what goes on here — but you do. Why is it that you did not direct your query to him? Allow me to posit that it may have something to do with the fact that many of his rather colorful opinions (Lies! Projection! Warmongering! Brainwashing!) may align more closely with your own, and thus do not vex in quite the same way.

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  40. The idea that “the church” has replaced Israel with regard to God’s favor and promises is extraordinarily insidious.

    For one thing, it allows Christians to misappropriate and misinterpret the books in the Hebrew Bible.

    Worse, it foments the idea that the Jews deserved to be punished because they rejected God’s plan for Jesus as Messiah (which isn’t in the Old Testament anywhere, as Pete Enns and others have demonstrated), and has led to tremendous persecution.

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  41. Metaxas is a big Bonhoeffer fan, and he compares Hillary to Hitler. Do you think he would have endorsed assassinating Hillary had she won?
    “We have got to get our hands dirty” – Eric Metaxas

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  42. None of this stuff is new. The idea that the church is a replacement for Israel is a doctrine that has been around for centuries, and is a staple of dispensationalism. It relies on treating the Bible as a puzzle book written for us to decipher, and not as a collection of writings that had a meaning to the people who wrote it and used it as a basis for their own worship.

    There are a lot of lies and deception here. Always ironic how liberals — one minute wimpy and against the death penalty and wars — turn into bloodthirsty killers when the purpose suits. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of projection there from people who support war, torture and the gross mistreatment of asylum seekers.

    Again, this confirms what I’ve written about for years (and posted links to here), that years of demonizing liberals has brainwashed evangelicals to see them not as people of good will with a different view of government, but as evil minions of a nefarious force that is an existential threat to religion itself. In that construct, whatever Trump does can be excused because at least he isn’t working for the Devil. It’s a dangerous and cynical game by people who don’t believe a word they say, but it sells well to the rubes.

    And the idea that Christians are more “moral” in any sense than anyone else is laughable. There is no evidence, either anecdotally or through data, that they are.

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  43. “I don’t know of any ‘progressive’ or person of ‘the Left’ who is invoking the French Revolution these days.” I am splitting hairs on this, and it certainly does not invalidate your contention, but I think Slavoj Zizek can be considered an apologist for what he calls the “divine violence” of the French Revolution in “Robespierre: Virtue and Terror.” Again, Metaxas certainly isn’t referring to him in his grotesquely over-simplified revolution.

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  44. James, your comment above consists of nine sentences. Seven of them involve appeals to the authority of your own opinions, to the effect that Mr. Metaxas doesn’t mean what he seems to say, or that the mass of American Christians think this and not that. It seems you very much enjoy hearing yourself expound on such matters, but do you really think you’re accomplishing anything by doing so?

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  45. Jeff of MD,

    You are correct that certain people are wont to confuse Christian liberty with political liberty. Furthermore, while there is a very small group touting America as the new Israel, it is not a significant percentage of evangelicals. I can’t think of one major leader advocating it. The rhetorical preaching style of a few evangelicals might lead one to believe that, but when pressed I think it would be hard to find more than a handful who would try to support such a claim with scripture.

    I don’t know anything about the specific doctrinal views of Eric Metaxas, but he’s not a stupid man and probably knows his Bible well enough to disavow the setting up of Calvin’s Geneva in the United States. His remarks in the interview were conversational and probably don’t represent the random pieces of a formal theonomous treatise on life in these states. Personally, I think his unscripted remarks to Mr. Perkins simply reflect the emotional antipathy which many of us feel toward the damage the secular left has inflicted on the country. All of us have circumstances in which we speak primarily with our feelings instead of our minds. I doubt that Mr. Metaxas would defend theonomy.

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  46. Maybe it’s a question of what we are free to do and what would be best? Just thinking off the top of my head.
    I don’t look down on Christians with substantial stuff. On the other hand it’s okay to ask about our priorities considering our “neighbors” I think.

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  47. A common error in my circle of ardent Trump supporters who also champion the vision of America as our Christian Nation, the new Israel, is a confusion on words like “freedom” and “liberty”.
    They fail to see that the biblical meaning of those words are far superior to and different in many ways from the founder’s use and how they are used in contemplating a political application.
    Freedom in Christ, freedom from sin’s hold, liberty purchased by Christ is not the same as what is recognized in the Bill of Rights for instance, or the right of the pursuit of happiness spoken of in the Declaration of Independence.
    Those things tell Americans they have a right, even if it’s an inalienable right from God, to do as they choose for their own purposes. The freedom of speech grants me the right to say some pretty mean untrue things if I wish.
    Freedom given to me by grace through faith is a very superior dynamic. What I say and do does not have to be what pleases me.
    This country, any country, is a lesser, corrupt entity. The church has it’s issues but it is the body of Christ. There are members of the body who happen to be citizens of various countries. But we are supposed to really be citizens of a Holy Nation being built, that is the church.
    The more people confuse the two, America and the church, the further the church is from what it should be. Christ is our head. He is powerful and eternal.
    He can do anything. But I don’t know why we go out of our way so much to make Him have that much more to accomplish in His church.

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  48. John: are you seriously suggesting that driving a “big SUV” is un-Christian? What about a muscle car? What about a boat with 4 big outboard motors? Who would provide theological guidance — to be codified by the state, I presume — on what vehicles are scripturally acceptable? Could I get away with driving a compact SUV with a fuel efficient turbo 4 internal combustion engine? Or would that still be sinful?

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  49. Jack Graham tweeted this Saturday: On PowerPoint this Sunday the message will be on the subject of Christianity vs Socialism . One of the most important messages I have delivered. Watch on TBN and Daystar. Check local listings.

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  50. Metaxas seems to be channeling Savonarola or Joan of Arc. He is actually more like Walt Kelley’s Pogo – “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

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