01 May 2015

Mohler and Metaxas on Bonhoeffer

An interesting interview to be sure. They never specifically mention the Metaxas biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer but it's quite obvious they have it in mind. It's the elephant in the room.

It piqued my interest because under normal circumstances the Metaxas project would be something Mohler would appreciate. His understanding of history has led him to be what I would describe as a card-carrying member of the Churchill cult. He defends nuclear weapons and their use, praises the US military every chance he gets and he promotes American Nationalism and what I would call Christo-American syncretism. Like many other Nationalistic Baptists I know he more or less detests Europe and criticizes its culture and model every chance he gets. All geopolitical questions are viewed through specifically American viewpoints. According to Mohler these perspectives are all just manifestations of the Biblical worldview.

He's someone I intensely disagree with and I believe his influence is overall quite harmful. His daily briefings on the news are riddled with distortion and error and yet many look to him as something of a sage. Recently I was at a grocery store and was pleased (in a sense) to find one of his books in the bargain bin. It provided his Biblical commentary on the secularization of American culture. His whole framing of the question is just an exercise in question begging and has little to do with Scripture. He's a champion of Christendom to be sure. I almost forgot myself and grew so irritated by some of his statements in the book I almost threw it down the aisle. I had to just set it down and walk away. I do find it quite upsetting when Christian leaders promote and defend evil. I wish more Christians were bothered by it but that's not the case.

Now after all that to listen to this podcast and realize that Mohler, yes even Mohler is turning on Metaxas. Well that says something. It says that Metaxas' work is of such poor quality that even a Christo-American propagandist like Mohler can't endorse it without feeling like his integrity has been compromised.

Metaxas was writing for a particular American context and shaped the history to fit it. He either is ignorant of the theological milieu that shaped Bonhoeffer or he deliberately distorted it to fit his narrative.

This is not something unique. This type of exercise permeates Evangelical circles. They are caught in an echo chamber and have closed their minds and hardened their hearts. The politicization of knowledge means that all of history and its interpretations have to be shaped to fit an agenda and packaged in a way that makes it accessible and able to be utilized. Historical interpretation has fallen prey to good old political pragmatism. Dominionist theology has epistemological and ethical implications and they're not good. It sows seed in the heart that bears a rotten fruit.

Mohler is certainly one of them and yet apparently Metaxas crossed the line. Even Mohler's deformed ethic was compromised by the scholarship of Metaxas.

In the end it doesn't matter, Metaxas' star is ascendant. His Bonhoeffer biography and other works have made him rich and he's getting his own radio show. He says what itching ears want to hear and that's a sure guarantee for success and financial reward.