A Biographer of Martin Luther Promotes Faith in the Face of Evil

A Biographer of Martin Luther Promotes Faith in the Face of Evil
Photo

Eric Metaxas

GOTTA HAVE FAITH: Just in time for the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Eric Metaxas’ biography “Martin Luther” hits the hardcover nonfiction list at No. 7. One of the book’s more familiar theses is the extent to which mass media (in the form of the printing press) and populism (in the form of a German-language Bible) helped to spread the Reformation’s ideas; had Luther lived today, it’s not hard to imagine him behind a talk radio microphone.

That’s just where Metaxas himself has ended up, as it happens. A practicing Christian whose previous best sellers include an argument for the existence of miracles and a biography of the anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he also hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show and is a frequent guest on other programs. The day after the Las Vegas shootings, he was scheduled to discuss his new book with the Fox News Radio host Tom Shillue, but in light of events the interview got underway instead with a detour about the problem of evil if there’s a benevolent God. “A lot of people,” Shillue said, wonder “where is God in all this?”

“One answer is, that is the greatest question ever,” Metaxas replied. “It’s the most important question, and if you don’t ask that question you’re a fool. And … the other answer is, that’s the stupidest question in the history of the world. Like, Oh there’s a shooting so now you’re wondering about God. Have you heard of the Holocaust? Maybe you didn’t read about it; let me tell you about it. Like, 12 million human beings were butchered — six million Jews, six million everything else were killed for no reason in a systematic way by intelligent bureaucracy. It wasn’t a crazy shooter. So suddenly there’s a shooter, or suddenly there’s a tsunami or an earthquake or a hurricane, and people say, where’s God, where’s God?” After a quick summary of the free will defense (“an unsatisfying answer,” he conceded), he threw up his hands and retreated to faith as its own answer: “If you’re just going to complain every time things go wrong, where’s God, where’s God, but then the moment that goes away you’re fine, I guess I don’t take the question seriously at that point.”

SUBTEXT: Jennifer Egan’s new novel, “Manhattan Beach,” enters the hardcover fiction list at No. 3. Egan told the publishing trade magazine Kirkus she had hoped to write an “old-fashioned adventure story” — and she did — but “it’s really about parenthood. … I never thought I would write a book about that. I hope I disguised it well.”

Continue reading the main story

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *