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Author Eric Metaxas on Las Vegas Shooting, Laws, and America's Freedoms

Author Eric Metaxas on Las Vegas Shooting, Laws, and America's Freedoms Read Transcript

Eric Metaxas is an author and radio host.

His latest book is about Martin Luther and the Reformation.

We're going to talk about the book in just a bit.

But first, there's some events in the news

we want to ask you about you join us here now to talk about.

Let's begin with the Las Vegas shooting.

It's the worst shooting in American history.

These events cause us as Americans

to question ourselves as a nation.

What kind of questions do you think we should be asking?

Well, I don't know that it would

make me think about questioning ourselves as a nation.

I think it makes me think.

I think it makes most people think

of the ultimate questions.

What kind of a world do we live in?

What kind of a God is out there?

If there is any God, what kind of a God would allow this?

Why would He allow this?

What are we supposed to think?

And I think the short answer is, we don't know.

This is a challenge to people of faith like me.

Now it's kind of funny, because you think, well,

why should we be challenged by this?

There's this thing called the Holocaust.

I mean, do we only pay attention to what's

happening in the news?

Shame on us.

We ought to understand that there's

brokenness and pain and evil in the world every single day

since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden.

I think we need to understand that,

that this is the reality in which we live.

It makes me say, this is why we need God.

This is why we need to know that God is with us in suffering.

He's not some Greek god up in the clouds,

capriciously dealing with us.

He loves us.

We live in a broken world.

By sending Jesus, He's bringing healing and reconciliation,

but we're not there yet.

It happens to each of us individually.

So it's something that forces us to think

about the big questions.

At least, we ought to be thinking

about the big questions.


We know that you've written about the link between virtue

and freedom.

How can events like this lead to a loss of freedom?

Well, I think that the typical thing that will happen,

whenever something terrible happens, people tend to say,

hey, how can we fix it?

I know how we can fix it.

Let's have more laws, more laws.

Now if you really understand American freedom,

if you understand freedom, you know

that the more laws you have, the worse you're off.

In other words, self government means

we govern ourselves to the extent

that we don't need too many laws.

If you think you can fix things with laws,

it's like trying to fix human nature with technology.

That's foolish.

Human beings are who they are.

I think that the standard thing is to figure out a way,

and it's always politics, to say we're

going to do this and this and this and this

and that's going to fix it.

It doesn't mean that we can't do something,

but we should err on the side of caution,

err on the side of fewer laws.

Because there is always a temptation

to give up a little freedom for more safety.

Every time you do that, you don't get that back.

How do we go about restoring increasing virtue you think?

Well, you've asked the right question, Ephram, thank you.

Because that's what I write about.

I wrote about in my previous book

about America, if you can keep it,

if we don't understand that at the heart of freedom

is this idea of virtue which all of the founders understood

and all of the founders understood

the link between virtue and faith and freedom.

If we do not understand that it's

going to be a vibrant church that restores freedom and that

makes America great again or it will never happen.

Period, end of sentence.

So the church needs to be the church.

The church needs to stop being timid.

We need to know what we believe and live it

in faith, in boldness, in love.

That's the only way you get freedom in this world.

So I say that as a challenge.

Because if we don't do it, it will not happen.


And speaking of challenges, we've

seen a rough few weeks from hurricanes, to floods,

to mass shootings.

But yet we continue to see the bravery, the generosity

of Americans stepping up.

You said that's part of American exceptionalism.

How so?

Oh, absolutely.

In other words, people think, first

of all, when we say American exceptionalism,

it doesn't mean that you or I are better than anybody else.

We're as sinful as anybody else.

But the ideas behind America, which you didn't come up with

and I didn't come up with, so we can't take any credit, right?

But we have been bequeathed these ideas from the founders

and where they get them from.

They got them, ultimately, from Martin Luther

and from the scripture and from God.

But these ideas never existed in history

until the United States of America

brought them into being in a way that people

say people can live like this.

Those ideas have spread around the world.

There are countries all around the world

that have little bits and pieces of this.

That's the only reason we're exceptional.

So let's not lose sight of the fact

that we can't beat our chest with pride.

But at the same time, we should be proud.

Because we've been given the honor

of representing these principles and these ideas in the world.

I really think that that's the only way

you have a healthy culture.

So that when tragedy like this happens,

you see people doing good things.

Trust me when I tell you, there are parts of Africa today

that are torn by--

you're not seeing this kind of stuff.

You're not seeing this kind of stuff in India or whatever.

This is because we have been steeped

as a culture in the idea of loving your neighbor,

even if you're not a Christian.

These ideas have become part of our culture.

We need to understand, first of all,

where they came from and then to say that, by the way,

these ideas are intended for the whole world,

not just for America.

Real quick, before we get to your book on Martin Luther.

You called on Christians to vote for President Trump in 2016.

How do you think he's doing as president in light

of all the events we've faced?

You know what his biggest accomplishment so far has been

is not being Hillary Clinton.

How's he doing there, 100% percent.

I never said that I thought like Trump

was a saint or a Reagan or something.

But I thought to be perfectly blunt,

and I said this over and over, I thought

that Hillary Clinton represented such a threat to freedom

that I said, we need to take that seriously.

When people said, well, I'm not going to vote,

because I don't like this about Trump.

He said this.

Look folks, if you don't vote and she gets elected,

you're on the hook.

I really feared that somebody to continue the policies of Barack

Obama, the worst of those policies,

it would be the end of America.

We're on the edge of the table right now,

and I think that this was an opportunity to pull back.

So how's he doing?

I would say he's doing fine.

Now your book is Martin Luther--

The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World.

How is the Reformation still affecting us today?

Oh, my gosh.

The fact that we are standing here having this conversation

is a direct result of the Reformation.

Now again, I didn't know this.

I go into writing most of my books pretty ignorant.

My friend Greg Thornberry twisted my arm

into writing this book.

He said you wrote Bonhoeffer.

It's the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

You need to write a biography of Martin Luther.

There isn't a book like this out there.

You've got to write it.

Finally, he persuaded me that Luther was so influential.

Again, as usual I'm embarrassed that I didn't know this,

but every freedom we take for granted.

Some of the ones we just touched on in America, self-government,

the idea that the individual has a voice, that the individual

can speak against the state.

That the state should back up when an individual who is free

says something.

Those ideas were not in existence

when Martin Luther was born.

In 1517, 500 years ago this month,

he did something that launched all of these ideas

into history.

The ramifications have been nonstop.

What I say is that everything that he did,

and I think those who read the book will understand this

very clearly, that what he did opened the door to the future.

For 500 years, we've been living in the world created

by the door that he opened.

It was by God's grace.

He didn't do it intentionally.

He was one of these humble men of God

that said I'm just going to do what God calls me to do.

And out of that came everything that we take for granted,

the modern world, what we call tolerance, pluralism, freedom,

religious freedom.

All of these things that we kind of take for granted

did not exist before he took his stand 500 years ago.

So at least knowing our history is a good reason for me

to write the book.


If you wanted people to know one thing about Martin Luther,

what would it be?

He was a chain smoker.

That's not true.

Luther is such a colorful character.

I joked around a number of times.

I said he makes Donald Trump look like Mike Pence.

Basically, he was so outspoken and colorful and brash

that his best friends were bothered by it.

They kept telling him stop tweeting.

Except 500 years ago, they would say stop saying this

and stop doing that, whatever.

But he's a colorful figure.

There's a big upside and there's a big downside.

So I think that all of that is my way of saying that he's

a very entertaining figure.

I wanted to write a book that was fun to write.

This was actually a lot of fun to write.

First time I think I've ever written a book that was fun.

But his story is not just important,

but it is very entertaining.

Because he was such a passionate, intense, colorful



Well, the book is called Martin Luther--

The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World.

Thank you so much for the book, and thank you for your time.

Thank you.

Much appreciated.


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