One does not come across too many bona fide evangelical members of the cultural intelligentsia. Eric Metaxas of New York City is one of the few.
I’ve come into contact with Metaxas’s writing and speaking through a variety of venues. For those who are not familiar with him, here’s a snatch from his website bio:
“In a decidedly eclectic career, Eric Metaxas has written for VeggieTales, Chuck Colson, and the New York Times, three things not ordinarily in the same sentence. He is a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and works of popular apologetics have been translated into Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Macedonian. The Hartford Courant has declared figuring him out “like trying to stick a pushpin in a cyclone.”
World Magazine recently did a couple of stories on Metaxas and his unique work in the first city of America. Here’s the teaser to a story about the program Socrates in the City, an initiative run by the writer:
“A meeting begins at the Union Club in Manhattan, one of those elegant places with a rotunda, columns, three-tiered crystal chandeliers, marble floors, oil paintings in gilt frames of distinguished-looking gentlemen, and gold and blue swag drapes. Two hundred guests sit on upholstered empire chairs as host Eric Metaxas admonishes them: “This is a traditional club with traditional rules. Also, I might add, no spitting.”
Metaxas says this about the Clapham Sect, the group Metaxas and others seem to have taken as their role model:
“Wilberforce is a role model for Metaxas because he was both deeply religious and delightfully witty—”ardently evangelistic, always thinking of ways to bring those he knew to think about the state of their souls . . . but he never came across as a dour moralist; all who met him thought him winsome and full of joy.”
Metaxas insists that Wilberforce and his friends “were not mere culture warriors, trying to climb over the ramparts to take control, but rather were already insiders who knew how to behave like insiders, and who would do their best to change things from within. They knew how to move in their high circles of influence; knew the unspoken language of those circles; and knew when to push and when not to push and whom to ask about this or that, and whom not to ask.”
World Magazine’s Marvin Olasky also just published an interview with Metaxas that covers the culture’s lack of familiarity with Christ and Christianity.
I’m personally encouraged by Metaxas’s unique ministry and the exciting work of the gospel that is currently unfolding in NYC, with groups like the Kairos Journal/BibleMesh, The King’s College, World Magazine, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church leading the way. There seems to be something of a gospel groundswell in Gotham that reminds one of the efforts of Wilberforce and his friends.
Here’s hoping that the Lord will continue to bless the work of this man and his fellow modern-day Claphamites. And here’s hoping that younger evangelicals will investigate the unique program of Metaxas and find much in it to emulate in seeking to reach the lost “tribes” of our world with the gospel and to season our world with Christian “salt”.
I would encourage readers of this blog to purchase Metaxas’s books. He has a weighty mass-market tome on Dietrich Bonhoeffer coming out soon that looks terrific. He has already published several texts, each of which you can find here.