Is Eric Metaxas the next Chuck Colson?

Print More
Eric Metaxas took over some of Chuck Colson's roles after Colson's death, including part of BreakPoint, a radio show Metaxas wrote for in the late 90s. Photo courtesy Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas took over some of Chuck Colson's roles after Colson's death, including part of BreakPoint, a radio show Metaxas wrote for in the late 90s. Photo courtesy Eric Metaxas

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

(RNS) Eric Metaxas took over some of Coloson's roles, including part of BreakPoint, a radio show Metaxas wrote for in the late '90s. He took Colson’s place on the board of the Manhattan Declaration, a movement Colson helped found to focus Christians’ attention on life, marriage and religious freedom issues, too. But comparisons to Colson go only so far.

  • Tracy

    Good journalism should be absolutely clear. When you say “credited with keeping Christians engaged in politics and culture through books, radio and other outlets,” what you mean is, “credited with keeping . . . politically conservative, evangelical Christians . . . engaged in politics and culture. . . ” Metaxas does not speak to or for all segments of Christian America. This is clear in the rest of the article, but one can no more make a blanket statement about “Christians” than about any other large demographic.

  • Tim

    Tracy, following your own line of reasoning, you cannot force the statement to mean that he only relates, or speaks to, “conservative, evangelicals.” It is quite clear from the rest of the piece that Metaxas is not bound to certain sects of Christians (as you mentioned). And to suggest that only Americans are impacted by him was equally as limiting. Ms. Bailey was correct in her broad use of “Christians” because it reflects the “interdenominational” quality of Metaxas’ work that is trying to be communicated. Of course it cannot be implied that one man is able to connect to, or represent, ALL “segments” of the Christian faith…We’re still waiting on the polling results to clear this up…

  • I tend to find that X is the new X articles less than useful. Why can’t Metaxas just be Metaxas. We don’t need a new Billy Graham. We don’t need a new Chuck Colson. God made one of those already.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Hi Adam, thanks for your note. Perhaps it’s a bad habit from reporters like me to try to see comparisons and parallels. I tend to think it helps people put others in perspective. I think we find that in history: xx leader paved the way for xx leader. I don’t know if Metaxas would be where he is without Chuck’s (and others’) help. For those who aren’t Christian, I hoped to help explain how Metaxas got to where he is, and I think Chuck was key. Thanks for reading and engaging.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    I try not to make sweeping generalizations, but thanks, Tim, for helping explain what I was trying to pinpoint.

  • ctd

    In addition, it had been widely rumoured that Metaxas would take over Colson’s ministries, i.e, become the “next Chuck Colson.” Ms. Bailey would have been remiss if she did not address those rumours.

  • Philip Daniels

    What the article fails to mention is just who published the Christian Century article. While I understand that Christian Century can be a little daft usually and that they have their own ax to grind, the criticism of Metaxas’ biography was pretty sound. In addition, it is most important to note that it was written by Clifford Green. He is considered one of (if not the) top Bonhoeffer expert in the English language. He is the editor of the multi-volume Fortress Press editions. Obviously the Liberals are not happy with Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, and Green’s assessment is spot on. But conservatives too have trouble with Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer as Richard Weikart demonstrates by listing the areas of divergence between Bonhoeffer and “American Evangelicals” (read: fundamentalist Evangelicals). But Bonhoeffer is more complex than any cardboard cut-out Bonhoeffer; just as American Evangelicals are more complex than they are often painted.

    As a Lutheran myself, I began to read Bonhoeffer in high school. Ethics changed my life. It helped me understand “the fall” and wrestle with the great sin in my life: pride. Bonhoeffer was a mentor to me and perhaps I feel kind of like the hipster who sees a beloved underground band suddenly catapulted to fame. The more I read Bonhoeffer the more orthodox he sounds and the more there seems to be a desire to make him less orthodox and more American (be it right or left). Can we just allow a Christian to be a Christian? That is my problem with Metaxes, he writes well and edits poorly. I would recommend learning from Bonhoeffer and not people trying to sell him as “one of us.”

  • JakeR

    Metaxis “was raised in a Greek Orthodox home” yet “became a Christian at 25 years old.” Are we to presume either that he was faking it as an Orthodox Christian, or that the Orthodox are not Christians? This disconnect reminds me of an Evangelical in a Spanish class, who was preparing for a stint as a missionary to Spain. When I pointed out that 90-odd percent of Spaniards are Catholic, she said, “Oh, they’re not Christians.”

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Jake, I don’t make that assumption, but it’s how Metaxas describes himself.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    I spoke with many and heard of no such rumors. Let me know if there’s actually any truth to this.

  • Tim

    Jake, I don’t believe we are to assume that he was “faking” it in the Greek Orthodox church, although I have read other interviews with Metaxas where he touches more completely on his attitude of non-devotion and complacency while attending as a child and young adult. He also had a period while at Yale where he essentially fell away from any sort of belief in God and basically became agnostic, so there is room for at least a re-dedication experience there. However, I think the main point is the difference between the Orthodox beliefs and the Evangelical stance. Whereas evangelicals believe that scripture alone can stand upon its own authority and can be interpreted by the individual, the Orthodox church trusts in the combo of the scriptures as defined by the first seven ecumenical councils and the concept of Holy Traditions. In addition there is the orthodox practice of the Eucharist, and etc. Orthodoxy rejects predestination, immaculate conception, and differ on other doctrinal issues like the idea of gradual salvation. Now if I’m wrong on any of these details feel free to correct me, but the point is not whether or not Greek Orthodox Christians are “saved”, or classified as Christians, the point is that there is a vast difference of doctrine between the two groups. As a result of Metaxas’ luke-warm, at best, belief in the Greek Orthodox faith as a child (such belief being noted as worse than unbelief in Revelation 3), he sites his conversion experience as occurring later in life, at which time he “converted”, or decided to align himself based upon scriptural examination, with the Evangelical Christian doctrine. There is no disconnect here, just as you would not claim a disconnect if a Shia Muslim became a Sunni Muslim. The question is not whether or not they were previously followed a brand of “Islam.” The question is that of doctrinal correctness. In this case doctrinal correctness regarding salvation.

  • My impression–no I haven’t studied this–of the Orthodox is that they’re predominantly legalistic in their faith, rather than trusting solely in Jesus Christ for salvation. I’m certainly willing to be proved wrong, though.

    That said, Metaxas could have been raised in a thoroughly biblical home yet without embracing Christ for himself before he hit age 25. No inconsistency there; quite common, in fact.

  • Pingback: First Links — 8.5.13 » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog()

  • Pingback: Metaxas vs. Me: A Reprise | Somber and Dull()

  • Pingback: Mere Links 08.02.13 - Mere Comments()

  • Pingback: Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer gay? A new biography raises questions | Social Dashboard()

  • Pingback: Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer gay? A new biography raises questions |()