Michael Gerson on Evangelicals Like Eric Metaxas in The Trump Era and Creating Doubt About Religion

There has been a lot happening with evangelical author Eric Metaxas which this blog will write about shortly. One of those items is Metaxas offering to die for Donald Trump and his cause. Michael Gerson in the Washington Post writes about Metaxas and about evangelicals who support Trump continually. As always this blog enocurages people to subscribe and support their newspaper. 

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Isaac Asimov

and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Matthew 2:4-6 ESV

Eric Metaxas

This blog is still working on what is a complex post on the Liberty University’s Board of Trustees. But its getting closer to being completed. In the meantime while I work on that post I want to put up a couple of other articles to drive this blog forward. There has been a lot happening with evangelical author Eric Metaxas. I have been putting aside material to write about him. So expect a couple of posts in the near future. But in the meantime I saw an op-ed in the Washington Post by Michael Gerson that is interesting on Eric Metaxas. As always this blog encourages you to support your local newspaper and subscribe. The original article can be read in, “Prominent evangelicals are directing Trump’s sinking ship. That feeds doubts about religion.”

President Trump’s naked attempt to overturn a fair election — with key elements of Joe Biden’s victory vouchsafed by Republican state officials, Republican-appointed judges and even the Justice Department — has driven some Trump evangelicals to the edge of blasphemous lunacy.

“I’d be happy to die in this fight,” radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas assured Trump during a recent interview. “This is a fight for everything. God is with us. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty.”

Elsewhere Metaxas predicted, “Trump will be inaugurated. For the high crimes of trying to throw a U.S. presidential election, many will go to jail. The swamp will be drained. And Lincoln’s prophetic words of ‘a new birth of freedom’ will be fulfilled. Pray.”

Just to be clear, Metaxas has publicly committed his life to Donald Trump, claimed that at least two members of the Trinity favor a coup against the constitutional order, endorsed the widespread jailing of Trump’s political enemies for imaginary crimes, claimed Abraham Lincoln’s blessing for the advance of authoritarianism and urged Christians to pray to God for the effective death of American democracy. This is seditious and sacrilegious in equal measure.

There is something pathetic about Metaxas’s panting desire to be cruise director on Trump’s sinking ship. But I don’t think his attitude is merely the result of ambition or hero worship. Metaxas seems to be a man in the grip of a powerful delusion. And this ends up feeding doubts about religion itself.

When prominent Christians affirm absurd political lies with religious fervor, nonbelievers have every reason to think: “Maybe Christians are prone to swallowing absurd religious lies as well. Maybe they are simply credulous about everything.” If we should encounter someone who believes — honestly and adamantly believes — in both the existence of the Easter Bunny and in the resurrection of Christ, it would naturally raise questions about the quality of his or her believing faculties. It would call into question the standard of evidence being applied and muddy the meaning of faith itself.

Dedicating your life to Trump is in the same category. If a Christian leader believes — honestly and adamantly believes — that Trump is a fount of truth, a defender of the faithful, a Lincolnian guardian of liberty and a victim of a nationwide electoral conspiracy, he or she is likely to fall for anything. People like this — people like Metaxas — make the critical intelligence of Christians seem limited. And what these leaders say about religion loses in credibility.

It is easy to laugh at a figure such as Metaxas. But this plays down the true stakes of faith and doubt, which could hardly be higher. For me, doubt is like staring into an abyss. The triumph of doubt involves a downward spiral of consequences. Without a transcendent moral order, ideas such as good and evil, noble and ignoble, are pegged in mid-air. Yes, it is possible to live honorably in revolt against a meaningless universe. But it is also possible to live dishonorably with the same justification. If raw matter is all that is, ideals such as justice are ultimately rootless. Consciousness would be a brief gap between oblivions. And death would always win in the end.

Needing faith in some higher order does not make that faith true. But needing it does not make it false either. So how do we decide? If Christianity were judged entirely by the quality of Christians, it would be a tough sell — and I include myself in the judgment. Most of us are a jumble of resentments and fears. Most of us can be proud, cruel, foolish and self-deluding.

The best response is found in Advent. The most reassuring message of the season is that the existence of hope does not depend on us. It does not rely on our virtue or wisdom. It is a delivery from elsewhere. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer — who knew something of the subject — compared Advent to a prison cell “in which one waits and hopes and does various unessential things . . . but is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside.”

The Advent narratives are filled with waiting people: Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna. They lived in patient expectation and were receptive to the Good News when it arrived. Their hope did not come as the result of a battle. It came like a seed planted in the ground. Like the sun rising in defiance of night. Like a child growing within his mother.

We are not the heroes of the story. Our contribution is to be watchful and open. But hope arrives in awesome humility. God is with us. Jesus is with us. This is everything.

7 thoughts on “Michael Gerson on Evangelicals Like Eric Metaxas in The Trump Era and Creating Doubt About Religion

  1. I watched a brief CNN piece this morning with a reporter interviewing people at a Trump rally. Several were wearing t-shirts that said:
    Jesus is my Savior and Trump is my president.
    My first thought was, from a classic Christina perspective, that’s pretty close to blasphemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In all my years, I’ve never seen such devotion to a President.
    Not even during the Reagan years.
    In all honesty, what do they see in that man?
    It’s eery and creepy, almost straight out of Stephen King’s novel:
    The Dead Zone

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember your “History Written in Advance(TM)?”
      And the accompanying “Tsk.Tsk.” quote from my time in-country about “Those Heathens”:
      Both quoted by those who today have taken The Mark of The Trump on both forehead AND right hand.

      The small press pencil/paper/funny dice role-playing game Rapture: The Second Coming had a much better scenario timeline than any of the official Prophecy Ministries; one of the kickers in the first edition was that the Born-Again Christians were instrumental in putting The Beast on his Throne in the Holy of Holies — after all, he didn’t exactly match the predictions in their End Time Prophecy Charts so he COULDN’T be The One!


  3. I think in Metaxas’ case, he also is rewarded by ‘a base’ when he speaks and writes ‘what they want to hear’;
    so I would not take him seriously, other than to see him as a manipulator in that old game of ‘let’s you and them go fight’, a game Trump will be pleased to see played by his ‘followers’.

    Right now, all these who are ‘stirring the pot’ are so much more talk than action; but they are instigators and cheering violence on from the side lines for sure. If Metaxas means business, we shall all find out soon enough, but I think he is hopeful of Trump’s approval and also recognition in the state of trump which will form when all the cult members bond and carry forward . . . you don’t get this kind of ‘infection’ without some kind of a ‘final battle’, and God forbid that final battle is the kind of violence Metaxas is referring to.

    Vigilance is needed, if we would guard against fascism and those who would destroy our Constitutional form of government . . . . they openly do speak ‘against’ democracy. I am old enough to remember the days of Joe McCarthy and the ‘red scare’ and how in the end, through McCarthy’s own hatefulness, his whole scene fell into disgrace . . .

    but trumpism has found a home among fundamentalists-evangelicals who already belonged to the cult of the Pharisee who judged ‘those other sinners’ and saw himself as more worthy than ‘the others’. So much for being ‘bible-based’ are these modern day Pharisees, as though St. Matthews Gospel did not warn them that God favored the humble repentant man who asked God for mercy, and NOT the self-righteous self-praising Pharisee who pointed the finger and could not see his own sin of pride.

    some thoughts

    Liked by 2 people

    • but trumpism has found a home among fundamentalists-evangelicals who already belonged to the cult of the Pharisee who judged ‘those other sinners’ and saw himself as more worthy than ‘the others’.

      Because Divine Trump will seat US at His Left and Right Hand!
      The God Donald Gives Us What We Want!
      The God Donald Gets Things Done!

      Chesterton(?) wrote that the appeal of Goetia — summon-and-bargain-with-demons Black Magic(k) — is that in the Unseen Realm, it’s the Dark Powers who have the reputation of Get tingThings Done.
      “Where Love can only plead, FEAR COMMANDS. Serve Those Above in Rejoicing, Serve Those Below in Terror.”
      — Magickal incantation from several Manly Wade Wellman stories (primarily “Coven”)


  4. “I’d be happy to die in this fight,” radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas assured Trump during a recent interview. “This is a fight for everything. God is with us. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty.”

    Trashcan Man beholding The Walkin’ Dude in The Stand.
    Or the recurring tag line from The Omen series.

    Elsewhere Metaxas predicted…
    “WE ARE THE STORM!!! WWG1WGA!!!!!”


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