Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Before going further, I should say that his biographies are great reads and there was much that was commendable about Metaxas’ presentation and his interaction with the faculty. He admonished us to engage in the public sphere with skill and temperance, and to avoid the kind of demonizing for which politics has become known. He spoke of love, prayer, and learning from those across the aisle. He also humbly acknowledged his surprise that his books had been so well received and that he has received such notoriety from his talk at the National Prayer Breakfast back in February.
Yet, it seemed to me, he is still a culture warrior who has been enamored by these heroic figures and can’t help but make use of them to rally his fellow evangelicals to fight against the left. For Metaxas, Wilberforce’s struggle against the slave trade or Bonheoffer’s efforts to subvert the Nazis are tantamount to the evangelical right’s efforts to overcome their liberal enemies. While I know this resonates with many of my peers, I cringe when I see how frequently history is used for various agendas, rather than understood on its own terms and in context. Are Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer inspiring? Absolutely. Is it a privilege to have Metaxas on campus? Absolutely. Do I think we often plunder the past for our own purposes? Absolutely.