Latest book review – Letter to the American Church

I have been wanting to read Letter to the American Church for a while now (this is a common theme in my life). Recently, I finally had some time, and I blew right through it. I think Eric Metaxas is a brilliant writer and I love listening to his podcasts, so I assumed I would enjoy this book. But it definitely was even better than I expected.

The German Church

Metaxas talks a lot about the German church throughout this book, specifically because he is quite familiar with it. In another of his books, Bonhoeffer, he wrote extensively on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor who stood against the Nazis during WWII. There are so many parallels to what happened to the German church during WWII and our current cultural moment, it’s hard to put words to it. But Metaxas does it quite well.

The idea that the church is to stay in her lane and not get involved in politics is not something only recently embraced. As you may have guessed, this was a repeated mantra of many in the German church right before WWII. The church was, is, and will always be called to be the conscious of the people. Metaxas explains when we marginalize the church and only allow it to function in certain situations, it will always turn out to be to the detriment of society.

The silent church?

Just as the German church so many years ago, the American church has allowed her voice to be squelched, to the point of silence. For many in the church, the reason is to remain “gospel focused.” I think many of us have noticed that this has left many faithful Believers floundering, not knowing what to do in our current cultural context. How do we deal with issues such as life in the womb? Or what about the claims of structural racism? What’s marriage? And what of that age old question, what in the world is a woman?

Although Americans have a rich history of faithful pastors who stood up to face tyranny, today’s church has remained awkwardly silent. Metaxas writes of those pastors at the founding of our country: “Was it not their voices that helped us to gain our freedoms and that helped us to create a Constitution in which all of our freedoms were enshrined in a way that has been the envy of the whole world ever since?… Did they not even have an obligation to educate their congregations on such things and to encourage them to choose leaders who shared God’s views?” (page 9).

Yes and Amen.

Wake up

The chapters in this book all argue for what many of us know needs to happen, and yet have perhaps failed to articulate well. It’s a breath of fresh air (and to be frank, a kick in the pants) to read the words of Metaxas. The clarity with which he’s able to communicate his points was both affirming and convicting.

I especially appreciated how Metaxas gave a unique perspective on the parable of the talents (Chapter 13). He clearly explained how there was no middle way, or “safe option.” If we choose to do nothing and play it safe, the LORD will only condemn us. When we choose to fail to do what the LORD calls us to do, we are essentially tying God’s hands. We “put ourselves out of the reach of that master’s grace” (page 113).

Who do we serve?

If we call ourselves Believers, we must stand and obediently choose to serve God. Even when it costs us something. What it really comes down to is Who do we serve? Do we believe God is Who He says He is? When we say, “God is good, all the time,” do we really mean it? Do we trust and love Him enough to obey, even when it may not make sense and when we may not foresee or understand the outcome?

Our culture is obsessed with safety and comfort. I’d be the first to say I struggle with this myself! Who doesn’t want to be comfortable? Is there anyone out there that really wants to live in constant danger? But we must not forget that just like Aslan in Chronicles of Narnia, “We remember that God is good, but His goodness is not safe and it is not tame… He does not call us to be tame or safe or religious” (page 138). There are things in this life that supersede our safety and comfort.

Challenge accepted (gulp)

Metaxas challenges his readers to essentially believe God. Will we? I know myself too well. I can be so full of fear sometimes. And so I pray that as long as I have breath in my lungs, I will pray for courage, wisdom, and faithfulness to the LORD. The LORD listens to each of those prayers, even if it’s given every minute. Just as the parable of the persistent widow taught, the LORD is gracious and listens to His people’s persistent and repeated prayers.

God really is good. He will never leave us or forsake us. Father God, help us to stand for Truth and be Your bride who brings You glory.

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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