It appears that Eric Metaxas is not taking the criticisms by leading evangelical historians in the best way, regarding his latest book, If You Can Keep It. You can follow the story from an evangelical historian at Messiah College, John Fea, here. Frankly, I do not understand why Metaxas fails to see what the problem is.
Fundamentally, the issue is one of promoting confusion among evangelical readers. For example, a dedicated follower of Veracity came up to me yesterday and asked if Eric Metaxas is promoting some type of Eastern religious philosophy and mysticism. I had to go back and read my previous post to figure out what he was talking about.
Now, I can assure you. Eric Metaxas is not promoting the New Age Movement, or any other type of Eastern mysticism. But he is confusing people by making statements about American history that are not consistent with established facts.
In his book, Metaxas claims that founding father John Adams was a “committed and theologically orthodox Christian” (p. 56). However, according to the evangelical historian, Gregg Frazer, at the Masters College, John Adams believed that “orthodox” theology can be gained from reading the Hindu Shastra. I think most evangelical Christians would agree that what the Bible teaches and what Hinduism teaches, while sharing some overlapping themes and ideas, represents fundamentally different views regarding the nature of God. So, why then does Metaxas make the strange claim that John Adams was a “committed and theologically orthodox Christian?”
Metaxas’ critics, such as John Fea in the article linked above, say that it is Metaxas’ use of sources which is the problem. Sadly, Eric Metaxas makes uncritical use of the works of popular evangelical spokesperson, David Barton, to put forward many of his claims. In 2012, David Barton had one his books pulled from publication by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, due to numerous errors. So then, why is Metaxas making such heavy use of David Barton? As John Fea, Gregg Frazer, and many other evangelical historians argue, David Barton has some real problems assembling historical material together.
Again, I like Eric Metaxas. I am sure Eric Metaxas sincerely wants to serve the wider Christian community (and others) by raising historical awareness regarding the Christian heritage of America. But he does a great disservice to his readers when he spreads historical misinformation. Having the right intention is no excuse for confusing his readers with historical “facts” that distort the past. Have I made my point?
Christians, of all people, should be those who pursue and promote the truth at all costs. Should we not?