John Cooper, Eric Metaxas, Allie Beth Stuckey, and Darrell Harrison Discuss ‘Engaging a Hostile Culture’ at NRB

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) 2022 convention took place over the past four days at Nashville, Tennessee’s Gaylord Opryland, where their Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday denouncing critical theory (the broader term that umbrellas critical race theory or CRT).

According to their website, the NRB is “a nonpartisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers.” They work to protect the NRB members’ free speech rights in a variety of ways including advocating those rights in government, corporate, and media sectors, the NRB explains.

NRB’s members include Christian media organizations, radio stations, television shows, movies, streaming services, podcasts, and more. The conference was attended by Eric Metaxas, Kirk Cameron, Darrell Harrison, Alley Beth Stuckey, John Cooper, and Greg Locke to name a few.

The resolution that was passed is titled “Opposing Critical Theory and Anti-Christian Ideology.”

“Critical theory places culpability for human suffering at the feet of anyone who thrives within, benefits from, or upholds an authority structure subjectively deemed corrupt by the secular culture,” the resolution reads. “Including God-given institutions such as the church, traditional family, and much more.”

“Critical theory advances the erosion of shared history and values, the yielding of human agency to tyranny, the supremacy of mob rule, and the deterioration of family and community bonds, producing great human suffering and alienation from truth,” the resolution continues. “As Americans, we inherit founding principles (equality of mankind, God-given rights, and self-government) that point to worthy and Biblical ideals for an orderly society, and we endeavor to advance these cherished promises for all.”

“NRB urges Christian leaders to reject anti-Christian cultural systems that hold out salvation apart from Christ, oppose the influence of critical theory in education, academia, Christian ministry, and Bible teaching, and faithfully apply historic truths of Scripture to contemporary cultural issues,” it concluded.

John Cooper, Eric Metaxas, Allie Beth Stuckey, and Darrell Harrison Discuss ‘Engaging a Hostile Culture’

On Thursday afternoon, the NRB brought together a panel of well known Christian voices to discuss the topic of “Engaging a Hostile Culture.”

The panel included popular BlazeTV podcast host and author, Allie Beth Stuckey, New York Times Bestselling Author and host of the Eric Metaxas Radio Show, Eric Metaxas, John MacArthur’s Grace to You’s Dean of Social Media and co-host of the Just Thinking podcast, Darrell Harrison, and Skillet frontman and author, John Cooper.

Lucas Miles, pastor of Nfluence Church in Indiana, filmmaker, and author, moderated the panel and told the audience that his hope was to encourage them. “We’re fighting cancel culture, we’re fighting transgenderism, we’re fighting an LGBT agenda, we’re fighting socialism—there’s a few things today that are really pushing against the purpose and the mission of the church,” Miles said, sharing that he’s heard stories from many who are doing well but others who are struggling because they’ve been kicked off social media platforms.

“How did, to this point, and why, suddenly, is the church finding itself in a precarious position,” Miles asked the panelists. Elaborating, Miles posed the question, “Is there anything from a historical standpoint—in recent years—this is where it began?”

Metaxas replied, “Since we don’t have a lot of time, let me cut to the chase,” and answered, “Cowardly pastors.”

“Good people, good pastors, good Christians can get it wrong,” Metaxas explained. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy‘s author said, “So when you look at the story of the German church during Bonhoeffer’s time, they didn’t say ‘We’re going to give up on Jesus, and we’re going to worship Satan and throw our faith under the bus.’ They all had, what they thought were legitimate reasons, for keeping their mouths shut.”

Sharing examples that weren’t far removed from the room they were sitting in, Metaxas said, “I’ve met people at this conference who have said things in the last two days dramatically similar. They don’t say, ‘We don’t care about truth,’ but they are making a calculation and the only problem is they’re mistaken…The point is there’s a time you need to realize we need to fight now, not maybe tomorrow or let’s see how it goes. That attitude is our sin nature. Prophetic voices like Bonhoeffer tried to get the church to see that you have to stand up now, not in two years, or three years.”

Metaxas brought up a time when Kirk Cameron appeared on Piers Morgan’s show and came under fire for saying that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, saying, “He said it sweetly. He wasn’t angry. Who spoke up for my friend, Kirk Cameron? A lot of people kept their mouths shut,” because they didn’t want to take the “heat” that Cameron was enduring for speaking what he believes the Bible says.

There are many people in churches not speaking up when it comes to cultural things that contradict God’s Word. The lack of leadership in the American church is a result of being “grotesquely blessed.” So blessed in fact that we don’t have to take any of this seriously, he pointed out. Some people have started to wake up, but it is “embarrassing when I think of how many leaders have said, ‘I don’t want to be controversial.’” Metaxas received applause after telling those in the audience, “That’s not a biblical model.”

Miles asked the panel how the church could have done a better job regarding the last few years, sharing that he feels the moment snuck up on some church leaders.

“In many of our pulpits, we have inept pastors,” Harrison said. “They don’t know what the gospel is themselves. They’re wearing pastor as a title—and a title only—they’re in as a job, as a career [and] it’s not a calling. With that being said, they’re not motivated to impart expositionally the truth of the gospel into their congregation so that their congregants become better apologists. That’s what we all are. Every professing Christian in this room is an apologist. You’re a theologian, you’re not just to read the Bible, you’re to study it—to show yourself reproved—so we can go out into the culture and offer an intelligent—well thought out—biblically sound—biblically orthodox apologetic against these issues that are coming against us.”

Harrison stated that he believes a primary concerned within today’s church is “biblical illiteracy. We know what the Bible says, but we don’t know what it means.”

Agreeing with Harrison, Stuckey added that many pastors are “incompetent for the leadership position they are in. If they were biblically literate then they would know how to engage in the culture and all of these complex questions that are set before them today.”

“A lot of pastors don’t want to touch what they see as political issues. They don’t want to talk about gender. They don’t want to talk about abortion. They don’t want to talk about marriage. Because they say that’s divisive—that’s political—no for the Christian that’s a Genesis 1 issue. We’re talking about the first chapter of the Bible. You’re telling me if you are not going to be able to preach the first chapter of the Bible that you’re going to be able to preach John 14:6 which is much more controversial than God made them male and female,” she explained.

These issues are pre-political for the Christian, Stuckey stated. Pastors who can’t preach the least controversial parts of the Bible like Genesis 1, “I have a hard time believing you’re going to be able to preach the gospel which is far more controversial,” Stuckey said referring to Jesus being the one and only way to God.

Stuckey believes that the culture is the one influencing pastors not pastors using God’s Word to influence the culture. Pastors are adhering to culture telling them what is divisive due to their soft stances over the years. Churches are filled with people who have believe they have soft hearts but in reality have hard hearts because they aren’t speaking against what the Bible calls sin happening within the culture.

Cooper stated that the fact that churches followed government mandates to close their churches in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic while the government allowed the killing of innocent babies in clinics to continue enraged him.

Referencing Christian pastors who spoke out against other pastors, like John MacArthur who refused to listen to government mandates, Cooper said, “Because they want to give to Caesar what belongs to God.”

Christians, and many who attend Bible colleges and hear smart professors pontificate on the Word of God, are listening to the whispers of the serpent, said Cooper. “It’s not different than being back in the garden [when the serpent says] is that really what God said? And now it’s, is that really what God meant,” Cooper said as he broke down the heart of deconstructionism.

Metaxas said that many Christians at the time of the Holocaust believed that Bonhoeffer should have stayed silent and probably used Romans 13 for their reasoning. Christians today say that knowing what they know now, they wouldn’t have told Bonhoeffer to be silent. Metaxas told Christians, “You’re doing it now.”

“I fear God more than I feared being cancelled or being called names by my friends—my brothers and sisters in Christ,” Metaxas said regarding why he had to stand up for what he believes the Bible says instead of caring what others think about him. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to deal with God.”

The American church has never had to fight for anything, including the truth, Harrison pointed out. “When you don’t have to fight for the truth of the gospel, you don’t spend time studying the Word,” and fail to sharpen yourself for the sake of the gospel. A lot of people’s Christianity stops and ends with just attending a church service on Sunday, Harrison claimed.

“The way John MacArthur was treated by Christians within the church was absolutely shameful,” Harrison told the audience, who applauded his words. “He was one of the few voices in the evangelical church who was trying to educate the church on why the church is above the state. The church is a divine organization. It is not a temporal, earthly entity. But the way John MacArthur was attacked was absolutely shameful.”

Explaining Revelation 21, Harrison said that when Jesus describes the sinful behaviors that will warrant people to be cast into the lake of fire, the “cowardly” is the first listed before murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars.

“My challenge to you this evening is if you profess to be a Christian—you profess to believe in the One who came from heaven into earth and died on a cross,” Harrison asked, “why do you not expect to not get nailed? Your Savior was murdered. Who in the world are you to think that you are to get off any easier than Him?”

Harrison said, “There’s a division between the culture and the church. We’re talking about engaging a hostile culture. The culture by nature—by design—is hostile. Why are you wasting time trying to be nice to a culture that by nature is your enemy?”

“I think that sometimes as Christians that we don’t actually believe that life in Jesus is fulfilling,” Cooper said near the conclusion of the panel’s time. “We think it will be fulfilling once we die [in heaven].”

Just like he tells the crowds that come to see him at Skillet shows, Cooper said, “Life with Jesus is fulfilling now. What that means is that His law is good…when people live in the liberty of Christ it’s a really wonderful thing.”

Cooper encouraged Christians not to think that telling people the truth of Christ is being “mean to people.”

“Jesus offers freedom. Who the Son sets free is free indeed,” Cooper said as the panel ended.