The Forgotten Promise Of American Liberty

If You Can Keep It

It is during election years that the precarious nature of our republic is most evident to even the politically disengaged. Eric Metaxas newest book that releases today does a great service to our Republic by publishing a book that addresses the fault lines in our political system yet at the same time offer hope for the future by examining the foundations of the past.

A year ago I read A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness a fantastic read. Guinness builds the case that the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom. That the biggest danger to our republic is not from an external army but internal vice. Arnold Toynbee famously observed that

“History shows that all great nations commit suicide.”

Lincon said of this

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Metaxas address the precarious nature of liberty in the famous exchange between Mrs. Powell and Benjamin Franklin. At the conclusion of the constitutional congress, Mrs. Powell approached Franklin and asked “Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin famously responded: “A republic, madam- if you can keep it.”

Both Guinness and Metaxas build their case for sustainable freedom around Guinness’ “Golden Triangle of Freedom.” The Golden triangle of freedom states that for us as a country to maintain her freedoms we need three interdependent things, freedom, virtue, and faith. If you lose any of those there ingredients, our republic will decline and eventually commit suicide. Guinness uses a more philosophical approach to the idea of the Golden Triangle. Metaxas uses a more historical approach. Because of the similarities and the difference of each they compliment each other very well.

In light of the horrific terror attack in Orlando, I was deeply saddened by the loss of so many innocent lives. I found it interesting and disheartening that politicians on both sides of the aisle want to diminish or suspend our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. When we the people don’t do what our duty is the government will gladly step in as we hand over our freedom for the false sense of security they provide. We make the deadly mistake of thinking that gun laws or surveillance laws will save us. Metaxas says

“Some problems cannot be cured through legislation. But they must be attended to nonetheless. And here is the problem: The less the culture attends to these things, the more the government will attend to them and the less freedom there will be.”

Reading Eric’s book, I was deeply impacted by not only the tenuous nature of freedom but the responsibility I have to keep Ameria free. It is very easy to get cynical when our voting options are a potential tyrant and a potential inmate. As a Christian and a parent, we must do the follow to be faithful “keepers” of the freedoms we have been given.

  1. We must read biographies of great men and women who lived lives of faith and virtue. We must do more than just read them we must pass on the stories of their lives to our kids.

    “The proper role of the heroic, to call us higher than ourselves. To call us to fight not merely for what is ours but for what should belong to everyone – for what is right.” – Eric Metaxas

  2. We must live lives of virtue empowered by the grace that only the Spirit of God can provide. My desire as a Christ follower is that every person to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. I want to live a life that reflects the love of Christ and demonstrates the transformation the gospel provides.
  3. We must make goodness fashionable – If we as a country continue to be ruled by our vices rather than by virtues I fear for the world, we leave our grandkids.
  4. We must pray for personal and national revival. One of the things I never realized was how much the Great Awakening affected the birth of our nation.

The events in the news daily, the posture of our culture reveal that we are a country that has largely abandoned virtue and has so personalized and segmented faith that our freedom that was bought at such a high price is hanging by a thread. There is time to reverse the damage but to do so we must fight, we must love, and we must trust.

I completely enjoyed “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.” In the next few months before you cast your vote for our next President do yourself a favor turn off CNN and Fox and read “If You Can Keep It” and “A Free People’s Suicide.” They will give you a new sense of gratitude for the blessings we have received and perhaps a fresh perspective to see past the craziness of our time to what has always made America so unique and so exceptional, flawed yes but still exceptional. The shining city on a hill that Reagan always said it could be.

[*I was provided a free copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review for you on my blog.]

If You Can Keep It: Q & A With Eric Metaxas

reprinted with permission

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I have been huge Metaxas fan since his voice work as the narrator of VeggieTales rendition of Ester. I joke. I frist became aware of his writing from his book on Bonhoeffer and have since read most of his books. In his writing, his candor, wit and wisdom always shine through. Eric’s newest book If You Can Keep It is no different. I will be posting a review on my blog of Eric’s book in the coming days. I really enjoyed it. It releases officially this Tuesday, June 14th. Here is the Amazon link to pre-order until then and to purchase after the 14th.

How did the idea for the book first come about?

Honestly, I’ll never forget it. I was listening to the author Os Guinness
give a speech about the Founders unique idea of “ordered liberty” and
he described it in terms of what he called the “Golden Triangle of41MVx69VbUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Freedom.” It all made perfect sense, but I was shocked and
embarrassed to realize that somehow I’d managed never to have heard any of this before and that neither had most people I knew. So after I stopped perspiring, I tried to figure out how a reasonably well-educated American could miss these ideas that are utterly foundational and central to what America is and who we Americans are as a people? What could have happened? Then I read his book A Free People’s Suicide and was staggered further still, because I realized that if this country — which was expressly founded on these ideas — had ceased to understand them and pass them on to the next generation, it would eventually cease to be America in any real sense, and I realized that that’s precisely what had been happening in the last four or so decades. To say that I had a sense of urgency about it is an understatement. I talked about it whenever I went and pushed Os’s book on everyone I
knew, and as my thinking on it all expanded I realized I needed to get my own thoughts into a book — and to promote that book as widely and forcefully as any book I would ever write. Because I saw that once America devolved to being “America”, the whole world would suffer. Despite our ills and shortcomings, we have been a beacon of liberty to the whole world — my parents, for example, as I discuss in the book, who came from places of misery to this place that represented hope and a future — and if that beacon should go out in our generation, what Lincoln called the “last best hope of earth” would have vanished. It would be as though we had effectively committed suicide because we had forgotten to eat. So to cut to the chase, this book is about saving America, and in doing that, saving the world. That’s all. No pressure, right?

Throughout the book you refer to the popular quote “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” What does that mean to you and how has America strayed from that?

This has manifested itself differently between liberals and conservatives. For example, conservatives have sometimes felt that America’s greatness was indeed that kind of chest-beating pride that people have misunderstood as “American exceptionalism,” and have forgotten that we have an important role to play in reaching out to the rest of the world, in welcoming others to our shores and in sharing our blessings — whether ideas regarding freedom or material blessings — with others. They’ve sometimes acted as though greed were indeed good, as though laissez-faire capitalism didn’t require a moral component to work as it should. And they’ve sometimes acted as though self-government didn’t require virtue — and a people and ethos that that prized virtue and hailed it as a social good. On the other hand, liberals have mostly in recent decades misunderstood the role that faith has played in our history and will continue to play if we allow it to do so. People of faith have been at the forefront of the Abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights movement. These were not secular movements. Our history in doing good could not and did not happen without people of serious faith playing a vital role, so to allow a new secularism to push people of faith out of the cultural conversation is to deny our history and to prevent our future together in any meaningful sense.

In If You Can Keep It, you write that self-government cannot exist without virtuous leaders. What do you think has been the biggest cause of the erosion of virtue in our modern-day political leaders?

What Relevance Is

revelant

One of the things I have come to discover in reading old books is there is nothing new under the sun. That when you take the time to discover what people have said in centuries past you realize how profound they really are. You see how relevant old things are. They help us see what is good, true and beautiful because it has always been so. The relevant of today is fickle and given to fads and trends. What was relevant centuries ago is in many ways more instructive for us as leaders. Do Kanye and Kim define relevance to our culture? I would argue no. They are the trendsetters perhaps but relevance true relevance goes deeper.

I’ll illustrate it with two things that have come across my path they last few weeks one is a picture the other a poem.

Three Actions to be a Better Parent Overnight.

Father-and-Child-parents

Everyone no matter where you come from, how much you make or where you live, you have the same thing in common, we all have twenty-four hours in each day. No more no less. The difference comes in where you chose to invest those 1440 minutes. There are so many things that take up our time that are important and much needed. If we were all honest, there are many things that we invest our precious moments on that are a complete waste of time.

Over the past few years, I have done several funerals what I find fascinating is how people invested their lives. There are some who worked their whole lives others invested in hobbies, and still others family was everything. Every time I do a funeral or attend one I ask myself if I am investing my life in what matters most. When talking with people at the end of their lives, I often ask what they regret most; some have no regrets. Of those who have regrets, almost all of them is not spending enough time with family. I think our generation does spend more time with family, but often I find in talking with parents it’s not concentrated devoted time. It’s on the go time; it’s hurried time. There is nothing wrong with on the go time it’s still time, but I find that unhurried time is where life happened, and big questions get asked. It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.

If you are a parent and are looking to invest your time where it matters most to get the most bang for your buck, I would urge you to consider the three things I have listed below. These things make a huge difference quickly but more importantly they make a huge difference in the long run. I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am working on these myself. Our family does dinner almost every night mostly because of my amazing wife. We just started doing family worship and we aren’t as consistent as I would like. As far as the cell phone goes, I am trying to disconnect but it’s not easy.

Do you want to be a better parent overnight?

3 Books that Need To Be Written That No One Would Buy

3-Books

I love reading books. When I don’t know how to do something or I don’t understand something the first thought that usually comes to me is “I’ll bet there is a great book out there that would help me understand this.” And there usually is. The challenge we now have is not is there a book on a given topic, and the challenge is finding good books on a given topic. Forbes Magazine says “there are there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.” So needless to say finding a good book is easier said than done.

I understand that books are written with three aims in mind. The first is be helpful and the second appeal to your audience and beyond, third sell more than 250 copies. Of all the books I have read, I have never come across many books that fit the four books below that I think need to be written. I think they need to be written because they would be helpful, but I don’t think they would sell more than 250 copies.

3 Books that Need To Be Written That No One Would Buy

  1. Sometimes Healthy Things Die. “Why Faithfulness matters more Fruitfulness” – One of the things I used to say all the time is “Healthy things grow” While that may be true I think it oversimplifies what is true in the statement. Healthy things do grow, and I would say this because my goal wasn’t health but growth. Is there anything wrong with more people, more produces more stuff? Not necessarily. I do think that statement for me was geared around fruitfulness more than it should have been. In the scriptures, we see many examples of how farming works. We plant we water God makes it grow. Faithfulness is something we can do by God’s grace. Fruitfulness is something God does for us, through us and sometimes despite us. I want they leaders I am pouring my life into to avoid that mistake and find their worth in being faithful and leave the fruitfulness up to God.