Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Methinks Metaxas Meant It: Eric Metaxas' Stunning Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast

Right after giving his address at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln believed his speech a failure. It is now considered by many the greatest Presidential speech of all time. When Beethoven premiered the 9th Symphony, he believed it poorly received, unable to hear the rousing applause due to deafness. Masterpieces of word and craft are sometimes not recognized by either the author or the audience until the passage of time. A couple of weeks ago, Eric Metaxas delivered what may one day be considered the greatest speech ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. The National Review has written of Metaxas' address in a remarkable article entitled The President and the Prophet: Obama's Unusual Encounter with Eric Metaxas. After Metaxas delivered a speech for the ages, the President followed with his own speech, amply illustrating with his words Metaxas' mantra that "A dead religion uses the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic. Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing,”

The Review summarized Metaxas' speech and the President's follow-up address in this manner: "One got the feeling that this was a modern-day, and perhaps more humorous version, of what Old Testament prophets regularly did to Kings of Israel: deliver brutally honest messages from Yahweh with little regard for their personal safety. Only this time, there were no beheadings, only the difficult-to-watch spectacle of seeing a president forced to uncomfortably read a speech which had just been shredded to pieces by a man who couldn’t possibly have known what was coming. And as he did so, the audience in that room likely left with Metaxas’s four-word condemnation, intentional or not, of the 44th United States President ringing in their ears: 'God is not fooled.'"

I have spoken with Eric a couple of times on the phone, mostly in relation to coming to Enid, Oklahoma. I found him as humorous in our personal dialogue as he was on the platform with our President. Humor serves a wonderfully grand purpose: It allows the incredibly sharp words of truth to slip less painfully into the soul. The laughter in the auditorium anesthesized the crowd. What they had just heard, and I'm sure with the passage of time my judgment will be affirmed by many others, was a speech that will go down in history as a masterpiece. I urge you to fast-forward to the 35 minute mark of the embedded video linked here and listen to the introduction of Eric Metaxas, followed by his 30 minute speech. Continue watching the video and listen to the President, who immediately follows Metaxas. The irony and dichotomy of the two speeches juxtaposed against one another is jaw-dropping. Well done, Eric Metaxas. May your tribe of fearless prophets increase.


KJ said...

Greatest speech ever at a National Prayer Breakfast? Compared to the likes of Tony Blair and Bono?

The National Prayer Breakfast is a farce. It is a political event sponsored by The "C Street" Family of Abe Vereide and Doug Coe to build a leadership fraternity along the vaguest --"Jesus plus nothing"--themes of Christian culture.
In ambushing President Obama with an anti-abortion screed and a call for an old time Christian revival, Mr Metaxas was guilty of being a rude and ungracious guest. Furthermore, he was inconsiderate of his audience by violating the ecumenical tone and purpose of the event.
The National Prayer Breakfast is not the Old Time Gospel Hour,, nor--if the lamentable ritual continues--should it be.

That the Bible of the right-wing, National Review would praise Mr Metaxas for embarrassing the President makes me wonder whether the stunt was intentional.

Was Metaxas inspired to such
incivility for embryos or was this a political dirty trick designed, intended to revive doubts that our President is somehow--by blood, upbringing, or faith-- "not one of us?"

Credit NR for admitting this as a possible pretext.

>>Obama has been under pressure for some time now to somehow prove his Christian bonafides, for it’s no secret that millions of Americans doubt his Christian faith. A Pew Poll taken in 2010 found that only one third of Americans identified him as a Christian, and even among African-Americans, 46 percent said they were unsure of what religion he practiced.<<

Rex Ray said...


Thanks for proving ‘It’s the bit dog that barks’.

Rex Ray said...

Or is that ‘It’s the bit dog that hollers’?

“…embarrassing the President” ???

He didn’t mind ‘embarrassing America’ by bowing down to a Muslim king.

Wade Burleson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wade Burleson said...


One of the reasons I love the Internet is to meet folks like you.

I have often told my wife that Mr. Obama is more Presidential in terms of his demeanor, speaking and aura than any man since Reagan. I believe he is a brilliant politician. This post is not meant to personally criticize a President who holds to liberalism.

This post is designed to ask people to LISTEN to Metaxas WORDS. Look through the humor, hesitate with the laughter, and HEAR what Metaxas is saying.

I believe it is brilliant because he is unapologetically using the words of Jesus and Scripture to define truth, insisting that to simply quote "Scripture" without living it is not Christianity.

I particularly loved what he said about "loving enemies." If the President was embarrassed by what Metaxas said, one should be reminded that Metaxas went first and had no idea what the President would say in his speech.

But, as always, we can disagree with grace!

Wade Burleson said...


I wholeheartedly agree with you that for the President to bow before a Muslim leader is undefensible. I don't think you will ever see him make that same mistake again.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


That was an incredible speech by Eric Metaxas! Thanks for bringing it to our attention because I hadn't seen it.

How very sad that KJ accused Eric of embarrassing the President. This man shared his deep spiritual convictions in a manner that was truly inspirational!

If Eric travels to Oklahoma to address the congregation at Emmanuel, I hope you will share his address with all of us here. I'd love to watch it.

Wade Burleson said...


Good point! Were we ever to get to the point in our society that people are NOT FREE to speak with passion their convictions, out of fear of 'embarrassing' the hearers, we would be in bondage. My position is people ought to be strong enough to take whatever comes there way.

Secure people need no defense and are able to love their enemies.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Eric, bravo!


Rex Ray said...


Cartoon of the day OR cartoon of the year?

‘I won’t allow the half of Americans who pay NO taxes to bear the burden of the other half who aren’t paying their fair share.’

‘The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.’

I've had to guess everytime at one of the letters in one of the words to prove I'm not a robot.

It's not fun.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and I'm a long time reader. What an important contribution you are making to the Baptist world and to Evangelical Christianity in general. If I ever make it out to Oklahoma, I am definitely going to make an effort to visit your church.

I must say I disagree with your's and the National Review's assessment of the two speeches. I agree that Metaxas' speech was engaging and a powerful witness to true Christianity. As for the president's speech, it was not nearly as engaging as Metaxas and it was at times a bit dry but the idea that he should be hanging his head in shame based on the words that came before him is a decidedly partisan one. I'm not quite sure how you come at your conclusion that Obama's speech provides an "eerie example" of how God is not fooled unless the view is that one can't possibly be a true genuine Christian and be a Democrat who supports a pro-choice position. While I don't agree with the pro-choice position I also don't ascribe to the idea that a pro-life position is a litmus test for a true Christian. I know you have been in dialogue with Pres. Carter and found him to have sufficient credibility as a Christian. And while acknowledging other religions and their worth is not something required of church leaders, as a leader of a nation with a variety of religions, I don't see that as a deal breaker either. He didn't say that anyone of these religions is as good as the other for finding God, he just said that they shared some positive values. Just my two cents.

As I say, great blog. Keep up the great work.


Wade Burleson said...


Valid point. I have gone back and listened again to the President's speech.

I should not have used the word "eerie" in the title of my post. A mistake I regret.

In fact, I am removing the entire second section of the title in the blog line.

Thanks for confirming what I think the Spirit was revealing.

Pam said...

I don’t think that Obama thought of it this way but was bowing to a muslim not showing love to an enemy as we as Christians are suppose to do?

Loren said...

I'm sorry Wade, but I just didn't see what you saw. Eric did a masterful job and spoke the truth, but I didn't see it targeting the President. There were parts of his message where I thought he was talking about Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

And I thought the President gave a good testimony about the meaning of prayer in his life.

I think it may come down to all of us seeing what we want to see, myself included.

Anonymous said...

Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 seem to indicate that God wrote our names in the Lamb's Book of Life long before the ovum and sperm ever met.