“How did, to this point, and why, suddenly, is the church finding itself in a precarious position,” Miles asked the panelists. Elaborating, Miles posed the question, “Is there anything from a historical standpoint—in recent years—this is where it began?”
Metaxas replied, “Since we don’t have a lot of time, let me cut to the chase,” and answered, “Cowardly pastors.”
“Good people, good pastors, good Christians can get it wrong,” Metaxas explained. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy‘s author said, “So when you look at the story of the German church during Bonhoeffer’s time, they didn’t say ‘We’re going to give up on Jesus, and we’re going to worship Satan and throw our faith under the bus.’ They all had, what they thought were legitimate reasons, for keeping their mouths shut.”
Sharing examples that weren’t far removed from the room they were sitting in, Metaxas said, “I’ve met people at this conference who have said things in the last two days dramatically similar. They don’t say, ‘We don’t care about truth,’ but they are making a calculation and the only problem is they’re mistaken…The point is there’s a time you need to realize we need to fight now, not maybe tomorrow or let’s see how it goes. That attitude is our sin nature. Prophetic voices like Bonhoeffer tried to get the church to see that you have to stand up now, not in two years, or three years.”
Metaxas brought up a time when Kirk Cameron appeared on Piers Morgan’s show and came under fire for saying that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, saying, “He said it sweetly. He wasn’t angry. Who spoke up for my friend, Kirk Cameron? A lot of people kept their mouths shut,” because they didn’t want to take the “heat” that Cameron was enduring for speaking what he believes the Bible says.
There are many people in churches not speaking up when it comes to cultural things that contradict God’s Word. The lack of leadership in the American church is a result of being “grotesquely blessed.” So blessed in fact that we don’t have to take any of this seriously, he pointed out. Some people have started to wake up, but it is “embarrassing when I think of how many leaders have said, ‘I don’t want to be controversial.’” Metaxas received applause after telling those in the audience, “That’s not a biblical model.”
Miles asked the panel how the church could have done a better job regarding the last few years, sharing that he feels the moment snuck up on some church leaders.
“In many of our pulpits, we have inept pastors,” Harrison said. “They don’t know what the gospel is themselves. They’re wearing pastor as a title—and a title only—they’re in as a job, as a career [and] it’s not a calling. With that being said, they’re not motivated to impart expositionally the truth of the gospel into their congregation so that their congregants become better apologists. That’s what we all are. Every professing Christian in this room is an apologist. You’re a theologian, you’re not just to read the Bible, you’re to study it—to show yourself reproved—so we can go out into the culture and offer an intelligent—well thought out—biblically sound—biblically orthodox apologetic against these issues that are coming against us.”
Harrison stated that he believes a primary concerned within today’s church is “biblical illiteracy. We know what the Bible says, but we don’t know what it means.”
Agreeing with Harrison, Stuckey added that many pastors are “incompetent for the leadership position they are in. If they were biblically literate then they would know how to engage in the culture and all of these complex questions that are set before them today.”
“A lot of pastors don’t want to touch what they see as political issues. They don’t want to talk about gender. They don’t want to talk about abortion. They don’t want to talk about marriage. Because they say that’s divisive—that’s political—no for the Christian that’s a Genesis 1 issue. We’re talking about the first chapter of the Bible. You’re telling me if you are not going to be able to preach the first chapter of the Bible that you’re going to be able to preach John 14:6 which is much more controversial than God made them male and female,” she explained.