Metaxas: Peter Wehner’s Article in *The Atlantic* is PREPOSTEROUS

Metaxas

Many of you have seen Peter Wehner‘s piece at The Atlantic titled “Are Trump’s Critics Demonically Possessed.”  Wehner is responding specifically to Franklin Graham’s appearance on the Eric Metaxas radio program.  Watch (or if you can’t see the tweet, click here.)

Just for the record, here is the pertinent part of the video:

Metaxas: “It’s a very bizarre situation to be living in a country where some people seem to exist to undermine the President of the United States.  It’s just a bizarre time for most Americans.

Graham: “It’s almost a demonic power.”

Metaxas: “I would disagree, it’s not almost demonic.  You know and I know that at the heart it’s a spiritual battle.”

Graham: “It’s a spiritual battle.” 

Here is a taste of Wehner’s piece:

There are several things to say in response to the Graham-Metaxas conversation, starting with the theologically distorted and confused charges that were leveled by Graham and amplified by Metaxas. They didn’t make the case that Trump critics are sincere but wrong, or even that they are insincere and unpatriotic. Instead, they felt compelled to portray those with whom they disagree politically as under demonic influences, which for a Christian is about as serious an accusation as there is. It means their opponents are the embodiment of evil, the “enemy,” anti-God, a kind of anti-Christ.

There is no biblical or theological case to support the claim that critics of Donald Trump are under the spell of Satan. It is invented out of thin air, a shallow, wild, and reckless charge meant to be a conversation stopper.

Just ask yourself where this game ends. Do demonic powers explain opposition to all politicians supported by Graham and Metaxas, or to Trump alone? Would they argue that all Christians (and non-Christians) who oppose Trump are under the influence of Satan? What about when it comes to specific issues? Should we ascribe to Beelzebub the fact that many Americans differ with Graham and Metaxas on issues such as gun control, tax cuts, charter schools, federal judges, climate change, the budget for the National Institutes of Health, foreign aid, criminal justice and incarceration, a wall on the southern border, and Medicaid reform? Are we supposed to believe that Adam Schiff’s words during the impeachment inquiry are not his own but those of demons in disguise? Were the testimonies of Ambassador Bill Taylor, Fiona Hill, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman truthful accounts offered by admirable public servants that badly hurt the president’s credibility—or the result of demonic powers?

Eric Metaxas has responded to Wehner’s piece on Twitter.  Since Metaxas blocked me a long time ago I cannot embed the tweet here, but others have shared it with me.  It reads:

This article is PREPOSTEROUS. It claims I’ve said opponents of Trump “are under the spell of Satan  ” and other truly zany things.  I’ve written lots on this president & why I support him, but Mr. Wehner doesn’t seem overly interested in nuance. #slipshod

Metaxas should listen to his own radio program.  I am guessing that he will say there is some kind of difference between claiming Trump’s opponents are guided by a “demonic power” (as he said to Graham on his show) and claiming that Trump’s opponents are “under the spell of Satan” (which he said in the above tweet).  But I see no difference.  Neither does the average Trump-supporting evangelical. And neither does any right-minded person.  Metaxas can’t take a huge sum of money from Salem Radio (one source says he is worth $7 million) to pander to the Trump evangelical base and then claim, when intellectuals call him out on his use of words, that he is being misunderstood.  I might add that he has tried this before.  This is a man who knows that the Trump base butters his bread and yet still craves to be accepted as a New York intellectual–a man of “nuance.”

Ever since Trump has been impeached there has been an uptick in spiritual warfare language coming from the Christian Right.  If Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is correct, and Trump is indeed “the chosen one,” then opposition to the “chosen one” must mean opposition to God.  By claiming that Trump’s opponents are influenced by demonic forces, Metaxas and Graham are implying that Trump is on the Lord’s side.  And why do they believe that Trump is on the Lord’s side?  Because he is president of the United States.  And why is the POTUS always on the Lord’s side?  Because Romans 13 tells us that we must submit to government authority because such authority comes from God. (See more of our Romans 13 posts here). Moreover, America was founded on Christian principles and Trump, through his Supreme Court appointments and defense of religious liberty for evangelicals, is restoring America’s Christian heritage.

If you believe all these things, as Metaxas and Graham obviously do, then of course you will see American politics today in terms of spiritual warfare.  Ephesians 6:12 has now founds its way to the center of American political discourse.

Hey Eric Metaxas, Please Stop Using Ethnic Slurs About Italians So Cavalierly

Watch this Salem Radio love-fest between Eric Metaxas and Sebastian Gorka:

Most readers of the blog know Metaxas.  He is a court evangelical, author, and host of the Eric Metaxas Show on Salem.  Gorka’s brief and controversial stint as a Trump adviser landed him a radio show on the Christian network.

In this exchange, Metaxas and Gorka are discussing CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s recent profanity-laced outburst toward a man who was harassing him on a family vacation.  The CNN celebrity took offense to this man calling him “Fredo,” a reference to the weak Corleone brother in The Godfather.

Cuomo claimed that “Fredo” is an ethnic slur against Italians.  I am half-Italian and grew-up around a lot of Italian family members, but I have never heard the name of the late John Cazanale‘s character in The Godfather used as a slur–ethnic or otherwise. So on this point, Metaxas and Gorka are probably correct.

But Metaxas does not stop there.  He says, “you would think that someone had called him [Cuomo] a ‘no-good guinea, wop;’ and even that’s funny in this day and age.”

I am sure Metaxas will think I am a snowflake for saying this, but calling an Italian-American a “guinea” or a “wop” is NOT funny–not even in “this day and age.”  For many Italian-Americans, especially those of a certain generation, these terms still open-up old wounds.  Perhaps Metaxas should study some Italian-American history. 

Let me be clear.  We Italian-Americans now enjoy white privilege. Today, the words “guinea” or “wop” do not have the sting that they once had.  Things have changed over time for Italian-Americans.  I would thus never equate the discrimination Italian-Americans have faced with the the plight of African-Americans in our history.  (Although I know many Italian-American political conservatives who would make this kind of moral equivalence argument).

But many of us have also sat at the feet of elders who told us stories about the prejudicial treatment they once faced.  Some of these stories are not pretty.  A few of these elders are still alive.  Some of their wounds have not completely healed.

Italians No

It is also worth noting that Metaxas appears to defend Tucker Carlson’s recent “white supremacy is a hoax” line.

At one point in the conversation Metaxas says, “In America, we have the freedom to say stupid things.” Yup.

The Bible Answer Man Converts to Eastern Orthodoxy

Hank_Hanegraaff

Hank Hanegraaf signing one of his many books

If you are an evangelical, you are probably familiar with Hank Hanegraaf, aka “The Bible Answer Man.”

Christianity Today reports:

Last Sunday, 67-year-old Hank Hanegraaff and his wife entered into Orthodox Christianity at St. Niktarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The former Protestant is well known among evangelicals as the Bible Answer Man. Since 1989, Hanegraaff has been answering questions on Christianity, denominations, and the Bible on a nationally syndicated radio broadcast.

A champion of evangelical Christianity, he’s best known for arguing against cults, heresies, and non-Christian religions. His 20 books include titles like Christianity in Crisis, Counterfeit Revival, and The Kingdom of Cults [revised with Walter Martin].

Part of being the Bible Answer Man also includes running the Christian Research Institute (CRI), an apologetics ministry that Hanegraaff has been president of since 1989.

This week, Hanegraaff spent some of his airtime answering questions about his decision to leave Protestantism for Orthodoxy.

“People are posting this notion that somehow or other I’ve walked away from the faith and am no longer a Christian,” Hanegraaff said on his Tuesday broadcast. “Look, my views have been codified in 20 books, and my views have not changed.”

Read the entire report here.

Today, the Baptist Press is reporting that Hanegraaf’s conversion may have cost him his job.  It turns out that the Bott Radio Network, which has broadcast his show since 1989, is removing “The Bible Answer Man” from the airwaves to make room for the likes of David Barton and others.  According to Richard P. Bott II, the president of the Bott Radio Network, “we want to make sure that our listeners know that the programming that we have on Bott Radio Network is thoroughly biblical.”

Read the entire Baptist Press article here.  Apparently Eastern Orthodox Christians are not not “biblical” enough for the folks at Bott Radio.

Yesterday On Chris Fabry Live

The publicity push for Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past is just beginning.Though I think a lot of the book appeals to all students and teachers of history, since there are chapters on the relationship between Christian faith and history we have decided to do most of our promotional work in the Christian market.  This is largely because of my commitment to reaching the church with the importance of historical thinking.

Last week I was a guest on the Bob Dutko Show in Detroit.  Bob is a history buff and seemed interested in the book, but most of his questions focused on the historicity of the Bible and the resurrection.  My interview yesterday with Chris Fabry on the nationally syndicated “Chris Fabry Live” program was much better.

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I started listening to Chris’s show online about forty minutes before I was scheduled to be interviewed and heard him interviewing his wife about healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.  (To be fair, his wife is somewhat of an expert on healthy living and, believe it or not, I found much of the conversation to be interesting). But when the second hour rolled around, and I joined the show, things got a bit more serious.  Fabry was well-prepared.  I could not help but be impressed with his love of history and his interviewing skills.  (During the breaks he would ask me if there was anything else I wanted to talk about.  He really set me up with questions that played to my strengths).

The forty or so minutes I was on the air went by very quickly and I really had a good time chatting with Chris.  Perhaps my favorite part of the entire experience came before the interview started.  I asked Chris if he would be taking calls from his listeners during my segment.  He said “Yes, and the first caller will be David Barton!”  We both got a big chuckle out of this (Barton was not really on the program), but to his credit Chris did want me to talk about “certain Christian historians” who like to play and fast and loose with the historical record in order to promote their political agendas.

You can listen to the interview here.  It took place in the second hour of the October 15, 2013 show.

Stay tuned.  I think there are some more radio interviews to come.  Follow along at this blog’s “Speaking” page or follow me on Facebook or Twitter (@johnfea1) to get updates.