The President & The Prophet: Obama’s Unusual Encounter with Eric Metaxas – By Mark Joseph – The Corner – National Review Online.
On another religious-political note, it seems our President was recently upstaged by evangelical author Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer breakfast held on Feb.2, 2012. The National Review Online carried this story earlier this month (Feb.7, 2012) after Metaxas, author of the new biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (T.Nelson, 2010) spoke openly about those who profess to be Christian but in reality deny Christ – the kind of “Christian” Metaxas himself used to be. I heard Metaxas speak at Calvin College for their January series this year, and it sounds like his speech at the prayer breakfast was very close to what we heard. He is a gifted speaker and seems to be a sincerely committed Christian, though I do not know his precise church affiliation or theology. We can applaud the boldness of his convictions as they were displayed in this speech before our President. It reminded me of the passage in Ps.119:46: “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.”
Here is part of the story as reported by the “NR”; you may read all of it at the link above. And if you wish to watch a video of Metaxas’ speech, you may find it here. If you want to visit Metaxas’ own website for more on this speech, including some nice pictures, go here.
If the organizers of the national prayer breakfast ever want a sitting president to attend their event again, they need to expect that any leader in his right mind is going to ask — no, demand — that he be allowed to see a copy of the keynote address that is traditionally given immediately before the president’s.
That’s how devastating was the speech given by a little known historical biographer named Eric Metaxas, whose clever wit and punchy humor barely disguised a series of heat-seeking missiles that were sent, intentionally or not, in the commander-in-chief’s direction.
Obama has been under pressure for some time now to somehow prove his Christian bonafides, for it’s no secret that millions of Americans doubt his Christian faith. A Pew Poll taken in 2010 found that only one third of Americans identified him as a Christian, and even among African-Americans, 46 percent said they were unsure of what religion he practiced.
Obama came to the prayer breakfast with a tidy speech that was clearly designed to lay those doubts to rest. He spoke of his daily habit of prayer and Bible reading, his regular conversations with preachers like T. D. Jakes and Joel Hunter, and even told a story of the time he prayed over Billy Graham.
But before the president could utter a word, it was Metaxas who delivered a devastating, albeit apparently unintentional critique of such God-talk, recounting his own religious upbringing which he described as culturally Christian yet simultaneously full of “phony religiosity.”
“I thought I was a Christian. I guess I was lost,” he matter-of-factly stated.
Standing no more than five feet from Obama whose binder had a speech chock full of quotes from the Good Book, Metaxas said of Jesus:
“When he was tempted in the desert, who was the one throwing Bible verses at him? Satan. That is a perfect picture of dead religion. Using the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic.”
“Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing,” Metaxas added for good measure, in case anybody missed his point.
The eerie feeling that Metaxas was answering Obama on a speech he had yet to give continued, as he spoke about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the Christian religion. Moments after Metaxas finished his speech and sat down, Obama took great pains to describe the other great religions of the world as mirroring his own Christian faith.
“I believe in God’s command to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’” Obama noted. “I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs — from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.”
Translation: Christianity is great and so are the other major religions, which essentially teach the same stuff.