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Mission to Metropolis

"Mission to Metropolis" Continued...

Issue: "The Obama era," Feb. 14, 2009

Metaxas concludes that Wilberforce and his friends knew that London was "not their true home, but they did what good they could there because ignoring their culture meant ignoring those trapped within it, including the suffering and the poor." The Claphamites themselves derived benefits from work alongside those who did not share their faith: "Their faith itself became more robust, relevant, and real. It had to be so, since the reforms they were trying to effect depended on their making their case in the public sphere. . . . If they had come across as merely odd religious fanatics, their success would have been seriously hurt."

Metaxas has sharp but true things to say about contemporary evangelical tendencies to complain about American culture but not do anything about it, either because "getting everyone saved" was the only important Christian activity," or because of Left Behind beliefs that the world would soon be ending: "This tactic has the double disadvantage of being unbiblical and not working. Indeed, it has backfired badly, because without Christians involved in it, the culture only got worse."

Metaxas also criticizes those who "hide in a separate Christian subculture" and "lose the ability to communicate effectively with those who are outside. We . . . become less and less able to speak to those who are different from us. That, of course, is the enemy of evangelism. We grow more and more fearful and suspicious of those outside the camp, until we slowly begin to think of them as a hostile 'other' whom we must destroy, rather than broken and exiled parts of our own selves, whom we are commanded by God to heal and restore."

Exiled parts of our own selves . . . and exiled parts of our own country. As suspicious Christians more and more abandoned "worldly" centers of influence, Metaxas notes that New York City "slid farther into secularism, and farther from the values of the rest of the country. And because of the rise of the media culture in the last 50 years, the influence of these increasingly secular cultural centers only increased. People who thought they could hide in small towns far from places like New York found that their children were going upstairs to watch their own TVs-and getting the values of New York and Hollywood elites anyway."

And a takeaway zinger from Metaxas: "We are sinners, too, in need of God's grace. Or did we think we could get to heaven simply by not watching HBO?"

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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