Erwin Lutzer explains what it means for believers to speak out in the midst of a culture that is at odds with Christianity.
- We Will Not Be Silenced by Erwin Lutzer
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Todd: Well, today, you’re going to hear about one of the most relevant books for the church today. You do not want to miss today’s episode.
Dr. Erwin Lutzer is pastor emeritus of the Moody Church, where he served as senior pastor for 36 years. He’s the featured speaker on three radio programs that are heard on more than 1000 outlets in the United States and around the world. Dr. Lutzer is also an award-winning author on numerous books, including the amazing book that we’re going to be talking about today. He has literally spoken around the world and Dr. Lutzer and his wife Rebecca live in the Chicago area and have three grown children and eight amazing grandchildren. Dr. Lutzer, welcome to the Prophecy Pros podcast. How you doing today?
Erwin: I’m doing very well. And thank you so much for this dialogue, as we attempt to help believers during this very troubling and confusing time.
Todd: Absolutely, that’s definitely why we’ve got you here and I’ve had the chance to read a few chapters of your book and I cannot wait. I’m going away this weekend for a speaking gig. Actually, Jeff and I are both, we’ll both be in Texas, but I have some downtime. So on the plane so I plan to finish the book by the time I get home. I can’t wait to read the rest of it. Just to give our listeners a little context for your book, We Will Not Be Silenced. I want to read a paragraph from the back of the book that explains the reason and the purpose for this amazing work, It says, “In We Will Not Be Silenced, Dr. Erwin Lutzer prepares you to live out your convictions against a growing tide of hostility, gain a better understanding of nonbelievers legitimate hurts and concerns regarding issues like racism, sexism, and poverty, and identify the toxic responses secular culture disguises as solutions. In the process you’ll see how you can show compassion and gentleness to those outside the faith without affirming their belief.”
With that long setup, Dr. Lutzer, share a little bit about the book and kind of what led you to write it. How this all transpired?
Erwin: I wrote the book We Will Not Be Silenced when I began to realize that the radical left in America does not believe that America can be fixed. It has to be destroyed and completely rebuilt. And then as I began to understand cultural Marxism. Now, what we need to do is to understand that classical Marxism was primarily about economics. Marx believed that if the state had the means of production and owned everything then all of the benefits could be equally distributed. That of course was a disaster for many different reasons, but he also believed that the nuclear family had to be destroyed. And we need to understand the reason for that is that, for Marx, the key to history was oppression, and he saw the nuclear family as a unit of oppression. After all men oppressed their wives, parents oppressed their children. They took them to church and God was the ultimate oppressor.
So what he believed is that the nuclear family has to be destroyed, and we can talk about how that’s to be done, but to jump in something very relevant, I point out in my book Do Black Lives Matter, absolutely black lives matter. All black lives matter, but the organization that takes that mantra says that it is Marxist, and isn’t it interesting that on it’s website, it says that it believes in the disillusion of the unit of the nuclear family, because what happens is, and this is related to the whole issue of sexuality, it’s related to the whole issue of income, inequality, and so forth.
Now to give a quick survey to your initial question. What I do in this book is show how Marxism is applied to history, the destruction of our monuments, the attack against our Judeo-Christian values and origins, that all has to be destroyed. I also show how it applies to race. I certainly hope that we get into that today because I think the church has an answer that critical race theory and other Marxist ideas don’t work, but also how it applies to freedom of speech.
And as you might know, I also have in it a chapter on how propaganda works. Boy, I hope we get a chance to talk about that. The sexualization of children, socialism and all that. And since I’m giving a survey, also how it is that Islam, radical Islam, and radical left team up together to destroy capitalism and Christianity. And yet we live in a world where everyone is vilified and the person who shouts the loudest is the one who wins the argument.
So, that’s where we’re at. And it gives you a bit of my heart. My desire always is to prepare the church. It isn’t simply to give people information, but to help us to see in perspective and what it is that we should be doing as the dark times get darker.
Jeff: Amen. Dr. Lutzer, you’ve had the opportunity to sit in a position where you can sort of from a plateau standpoint, spiritually see the landscape of our country for many years and been able to see it transition through many different changes. From a biblical and a spiritual perspective how do you think we got to this point here? I mean, what are some of the factors biblically, spiritually, morally that have led to the condition that we find ourselves in in America today?
Erwin: I think that there are multiple streams that have formed this river. There is, as I mentioned, a cultural Marxism, which is being taught in our universities. And so these students come into their businesses and into their homes and that’s in their background. In addition to that, technology. In my chapter on the sexualization of children, I point out that the cell phone in your teenager’s hand does more to inform his or her view of the world and reality than an hour of church or an hour of Bible study. So what we need to do is we have to fight this on multiple fronts.
Furthermore, what you have is the fact that we as human beings, and Jonathan Edwards certainly agreed with this, he wrote an essay about it, are basically desire driven. And that’s why you see the church today conceding to the culture, is because we don’t really know what to do. We want to be loving. We don’t want to put up unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel. And so what we do is we preach love and we let everything else slide. This is a bigger issue than perhaps for us as pastors, than for the average person. The average church wants to be known as loving, as caring, and so they don’t discuss the cultural currents that exist in our society. Now I differed from that. At Moody Church, I tried to preach on such things as same-sex marriage, transgenderism, et cetera, but many people back off.
Now I have to get this in, and then we’ll go to your next question. This idea of love. Many people think, “Well, what’s wrong with love? What’s wrong if two men love each other?” et cetera. We have to understand that when Adam and Eve sinned, they didn’t stop loving. They just started to love the wrong things, lovers of pleasure, lovers of money, lovers of self. And so what we have to do is to realize that not everything that is loving is biblical. So people tend to go toward their desires.
And you folks oftentimes talk about prophecy, in a sense, this was prophesied, and what we need to do is to recognize that these things are happening. But one other word, I wrote the book We Will Not Be Silenced, that’s the book we’re talking about, not so much to reclaim the culture, but to reclaim the church, because I see the church being much more influenced by the culture than the culture is being impacted by the church. And the church is, in many respects, for many reasons, beginning to reflect the culture rather than challenge it.
Todd: That’s so well put. Yeah. And Jeff and I often talk about how a lot of that is the, prophetically speaking is some of that end times falling away from truth that we’re seeing and how the church is really watering down the gospel and that kind of thing. And I’m glad you’re talking about what you are, that we can speak the truth in love, and we’ve replaced the truth with all the love, which is only half of the equation. So I appreciate this book on that respect as well.
And to that regard, what are some of the tactics you see being used by secularists to silence biblical truth and kind of destroy the Judeo-Christian foundations of our country? You mentioned propaganda. In the book you talk about how the word tolerance, for example, has been given new meaning. It doesn’t mean what it used to mean and also things like the social gospel and other things that are creeping, not just into culture, but into the church at large.
Erwin: All right, I see you as asking a multiple number of questions.
Todd: Sorry, I’m famous for that.
Erwin: All right. Good. It’s good to be famous for something.
Todd: That’s right.
Erwin: Now, here’s the thing, the attack on our Judeo-Christian values is obvious. What people want to do, you have the 1619 Project, which I discussed where America actually began with slavery and with capitalism and that’s the seat of all of our ills. Slavery is terrible. We have to understand that, but at the same time, that’s not reason to give up our Judeo-Christian values and try to replace it with something else. And I discuss how even the Constitution, they hope to change.
But now to the other issue that you raised. What are the kinds of pressures on the church that we should be silenced, in contrary to the title of my book, We Will Not Be Silenced. No, here’s the thing. In it I discuss freedom of speech. Most people don’t know that the attacks against freedom of speech actually are Marxist. In the 1960s, there was a philosopher, a Marxist philosopher by the name of Herbert Marcuse And he said this, “If we have freedom of speech, capitalists are always going to win the argument because they’re the oppressors.” Remember we’re talking about Marxism, everybody’s in the category of oppressor or oppressed. “They are going to win the argument. So what we have to do is to limit freedom of speech. It’s time for the capitalists to be quiet and the oppressed alone should speak.” And that explains what’s happening in our universities where conservatives are silenced and so forth because they are the oppressors, and what we need is finally the oppressed, the LGBT community, the minorities, they should speak, and these bigots should be quiet.
So that’s interesting. But I have to take it beyond that in my chapter on propaganda. And by the way, the purpose of propaganda is to so change people’s perception of reality, that even when faced with a mountain of evidence, they will not change their minds. And that’s why politically, sometimes, facts really don’t matter. But here’s the point. In the book I discuss collective demonization. Now this was perfected in Russia. The point was simply this, that if Russia, if the leadership decided that somebody was a non-person, and that they were persona non grata, that they were to be deleted, as we would say today, everyone had to chime in.
There were people who never met the person, who didn’t even hear of his name, or what he believed, and they wrote letters, virtue signaling, “We’re on your side.” You young men might not know it, but many years ago, I wrote a book on Hitler’s cross. What we must do is recognize that churches in Germany sometimes put out Nazi flags on their door, saying in effect, when you come to the Christians, don’t come here, because we’re on your side. And isn’t that exactly what we see today, where you have de-platforming, one person is de-platformed. Just the other day I now heard about another ministry that you folks would know about, but I won’t mention, who have just been de-platformed. They’ve been on a certain channel. And that channel came along and said, “We can’t have you anymore.” Collective demonization.
And I might quote Churchill, who said, “An appeaser is someone who feeds the crocodile with the hope that the crocodile will eat him last.” So what you have is people saying today, asking themselves, “Am I woke enough to be seen as a person of virtue?” And one of the great problems is you have these people who believe that they are virtuous, and the rest of us aren’t, and therefore they can lecture us regarding a whole lot of other things. And that’s one of the failures by the way of Marxism. Marxism did not understand that we are all sinners. As Solzhenitsyn says, “The line between good and evil does not run between countries and races. It runs through every human heart.”
Erwin: And Christianity proves itself to be true in this regard, and we can’t solve the problems here in America without recognizing that. But unfortunately, that is not being recognized.
Todd: Yeah, I say this literally, it’s a brilliant satanic deception that he has foisted upon the church to make her think that she’s being more spiritual if she’s woke, as opposed to being awakened spiritually, as Jesus told, Revelation 3:2, “Wake up.” as opposed to being awake where we want to be woke because that gains us acceptance with the world. And you mentioned cancel culture. And this thing is just really getting legs. To be able to attack someone at the foundation of who they are, the mere appearance of racism, bigotry, impropriety, discrimination, all these things, if it sticks just long enough, that person can be canceled.
So, I think about what Paul said to Timothy in II Timothy 2:9, he says, “For which,” according to the gospel, “which I suffer hardship to imprisonment as a criminal, but the word of God is not imprisoned.” So Dr. Lutzer, how can we as Christians in this cancel culture, they’re basically saying to Christians, “You need to shut up, get out of the way, and move on with your life and get out of our way, so that we can be in charge of you.” How do Christians respond to that? How radical, how vocal, how tall do we stand in a culture that is beginning to fight against who we are?
Erwin: Well, once again, that’s a number of different questions, but here’s the point I want to emphasize, and I hope everyone listens carefully. I’ve studied a little bit of church history. As a matter of fact, I wrote a book on the Reformation. I assume that you folks perhaps haven’t read it. There are millions of people who haven’t read it. I know that all of you are authors. Have you ever noticed how you may think you have the gift of writing, but not too many people have the gift of reading?
Jeff: Exactly. We need to lay hands on those people and give them the gift of reading.
Erwin: Right. Give them the gift of reading. Now here’s the point that has to be emphasized. You look at church history. Church history teaches us you don’t need freedom of religion to be faithful. To prove that, ask the martyrs.
Erwin: When Luther stood at the Diet or Worms. It is Worms. It isn’t actually worms. There are those who think that there’s a diet of worms, but by the way, that diet really works. The diet of worms.
Todd: Because you won’t eat it.
Erwin: When he stood there at the Diet of Worms, and said, “My conscience is taken captive by the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant. So help me, God.” He was to be put to death. Now, he wasn’t, for some very fascinating, fascinating reasons, but he expected to be put to death. And if you read his prayer before he made that declaration, it gives you the chills. He’s saying, “Oh God, where are you going to be when I’m going to be on the rack?” There are those who say, “Well, I don’t feel God close to me.” The night before he said that Luther felt as if God had abandoned him, but he went through it anyway based on God’s bare word, and he stood there and he’s willing to take the heat. And you think of the people who are being martyred today, in many countries, especially the Middle East, North Korea and so forth, and they are saying to us, “You don’t need freedom of religion in order to be faithful. You just need to pay the price of faithfulness.”
Now, I have to ask you young men, and you’re much younger than I am, though I won’t estimate by how much, but I have to ask you, is the American church ready for that? Are we ready to take the heat? A school teacher in Chicago, and I talk about this in my book, he said he was told it is not enough if you simply tolerate same sex marriage, if you don’t celebrate it, you could lose your job. Well, that’s a line in the sand. Now, he has a wife and kids to take care of. What’s he going to do? But there has to come a time when Christians say, “I’m willing to take this stand. I’m willing to take the hit.” And then the church has to step up and say, “How can we help these believers? How can we help them financially, and in other ways, because they are paying the price of faithfulness, and we need to stand together.”
And that’s the challenge of the church going forward. I really do think that in America we are much further down the line of what I’ve just described than many people realize, even than I realize, because we’re headed in a wrong direction and it’s happening very fast. Take the whole transgender situation. I mean, this is to the point of absurdity, but nonetheless, having turned away from God, we are plunging in the wrong direction with horrible consequences. But here we are, and God has brought us to this moment. God has said, “You’re living during this era, and I’m going to be with you and I’m going to sustain you, but don’t think that you’re going to have a comfortable ride all the way to the finish line.”
Todd: That’s a great point. I think that the persecution that is heating up in America, as it has been in many other countries for centuries and for decades recently, we’re just beginning to feel it. But I really do feel like, Dr. Lutzer, that it’s going to purify the church, cause her to say, “Wait. What do I really believe? What am I willing to do for my faith?” And, thinking about prophecy things, Hebrews 10:25 says that, “Not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but to encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching.” And so perhaps this pressure that you speak of is going to cause the church to say, “We need to bond together and build each other up now more than ever before.”
Erwin: That’s a very optimistic statement, but you and I know that throughout history, God has sometimes allowed persecution that has actually destroyed the church. I wrote a book entitled The Cross In The Shadow of the Crescent. It’s about Islam. And I wrote it because when I was in Turkey, visiting the seven churches of Revelation, I discovered that there are no churches, there only mosques. And our Muslim guide said to me, “This is proof of the superiority of Islam. Islam can crush the church.” And this made me troubled because it made Jesus look weak.
So I asked God for wisdom as to what these non-existent churches have to say to the American church. And that’s why I wrote the book entitled The Cross In The Shadow Of The Crescent. But in the last chapter of the book that we’re talking about right now, We Will Not Be Silenced, you already referenced the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis, “Strengthen what remains.” And what I do in that chapter as I go through and I write what I think Jesus might say to the church today, the church in America, and Jesus said, “You think that you’re alive, but you’re actually dead.” But here’s the challenge that every single believer needs to hear right now.
In that same letter, Jesus said, “But you still have some people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments. And they will walk with me in white for they are worthy.” Wow.
Erwin: And you gentlemen, as you challenge the church today, and we can talk about prophecy and all the other things, but as you challenge them, let them know that God always has a remnant, even in an apostate churches during the period of time, there’s always a remnant who are still those who have not soiled their garments in the world. And one of the problems of course, with the Sardis church is they no longer saw the world as an enemy. And Jesus says to them, “You will walk with me in white for you are worthy.” So, let’s be among those who are faithful.
I’m often asked, “What does faithfulness look like? What should we do?” And I have to tell you, gentlemen, that really everyone has to answer that question for himself or herself. For some people, it means quitting their vocation because they don’t want to go along with the culture. They don’t want to write a letter that confesses and repents of the fact that they are white, whiteness.
Erwin: And so for them, it may mean drawing the line there. On the other hand, for the mother who’s home today with her children, her first responsibility is to them, teaching them, guiding them, praying for them. That’s faithfulness to her. So each of us has our own answer to the question of what is faithfulness. For you men, it means warning the church, instructing the church. It means standing for truth and taking the consequences. So we all have to answer that question, but we’re living in a time when there is no place to hide. The simple fact is the culture is closing in on us, legally, morally, spiritually. The attacks are coming from everywhere.
And Christians who think that they can continue to be silent, suddenly discover that, “I’m going to have to declare myself or simply submit to the culture.”
Todd: Amazing information. My mind’s going about eight different directions right now. And it’s also pivoting towards the prophecy side. As you mentioned, this is a show on prophecy and eschatology. So if we could pivot there with all this stage setting, and you mentioned the church at Sardis and Jeff and I have talked about the church of Laodicea and how the similarities are with the end time church. How much of this do you feel is stage setting for the future tribulation period? And what would you say to believers who, because we’re pre-trib, we talk to a lot of people about the strength of the pre-trib view. We want people to be encouraged by that, but at the same time Jeff and I have been saying the same thing you are, in that we think some dark times are coming, that people need to be prepared for. So how can we encourage people through Bible prophecy and how do you see all this as stage setting for the future tribulation period?
Erwin: All right. Let me take the last part of your question first, the stage setting, and then we’ll talk about getting through it.
Erwin: You and I know, me especially, who’s a little older, we used to attend prophecy conferences and we had different views regarding Revelation 13, the mark of the beast, what it was going to be. But I have to tell you without at all becoming sensational, because when it comes to prophecy, I’ve always said it’s best to say much too little than a little too much, because there haven’t been people out there who have made predictions.
Erwin: By the way, young men, I used to have a book in my library entitled The End Times Are Here Again. So we have to be very cautious when it comes to date setting and all.
Erwin: But it is absolutely clear to me how this can now work, where you can be canceled, even in my book, We Will Not Be Silenced, I talk briefly about the end time, there is talk about getting everybody a digital certificate to prove that you’ve been vaccinated against COVID, and this digital certificate is going to be used. It’ll have a lot of your information. And then I have an actual quote from the World Health Organization in my book that speaks about the fact that if we see something nefarious, that’s not the word that’s used, but that’s the idea, we can simply delete the person.
So, obviously we’re moving toward a cashless society. We’re almost there, actually. And when that happens, if you don’t fit the bill, you’re deleted, and you can’t argue with a computer. And if you can see what’s happening in China today, you’ve probably done a little bit of reading about that and the surveillance culture, that’s coming here. In fact, it’s coming here in ways that we don’t even know about, where all this information about us is being collected and eventually can be held against us.
So Revelation 13 really has very little mystery as to how this could be done. It could be done within a matter of weeks, actually, with the cash being created. The Fed, when they create money, they just move some zeros on a computer. So that being said, now, how do we combat it? Well, you have to go back to the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation. How did they overcome him? By the word of their testimony and by the blood of the lamb.
Erwin: Now that did not keep them from martyrdom necessarily, but what it meant was faithfulness to the very end. And one of the things that we have to ask ourselves is this? Do we have faith, at what point would we be willing to submit under pressure? There are Christians today who are asking that question and answering it in very different ways. If you ever read Fox’s Book Of Martyrs, you know that he talks about families who were told, “If you don’t deny the faith, we’re going to torture your children.” And they did not deny the faith. And they urged their children to be true to the faith, even to the point of death.
I don’t know that we have that here in America. In America, that is not happening yet. We are not thrown into jail. We are being canceled, and I want to make a prophecy. I’m not one of these people who makes these prophecies that later on have to be regretted, so I could be wrong, because I’m not the son of a prophet. That which is canceled today is going to be criminalized tomorrow. So I think that’s where we’re going. And the whole burden that I have, and that I know you have is, is the church ready to pay the price, and to do so joyfully? Knowing, as Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake. Great shall be your reward in heaven.”
Are we there? Or have we been so complacent with comfortable Christianity that we will fail the final test?
Jeff: Dr. Lutzer, as you’re talking, just all these scriptures and stories and principles are just popping in my head. There’s a wealth of wisdom in this book called We Will Not Be Silenced. Dr. David Jeremiah says, “If I could I would put this book into the hands of every Christian in America.” And this question popped into my mind, Dr. Lutzer, as you were talking just now, to ask believers and those who are listening to this broadcast, what will it take to shut you up about your faith? What’s it going to take? How much pressure would it take to cause you to say, “I’m done with this. I’m not going to talk about Jesus anymore.” And immediately I thought about Peter and John in Acts 4:20, when brought before the religious leaders of their day, essentially the cancel culture of their day, They said, “We cannot stop speaking about the things that we have seen and heard.”
And I guess the question, Dr. Lutzer, to our listeners would be, “What have you seen? What have you heard? What have you experienced with God through His word and your relationship with Him? Are those the kinds of things that compel you to not stop speaking about the glorious Jesus and the wonderful Lord that we serve?” And your book, Dr. Lutzer, does such a great job. It’s called We Will Not Be Silenced. And it is a must read. I’m with Todd. I’m going to finish it on the plane this weekend down to Houston.
But tell our listeners right now, Dr. Lutzer, how can people get ahold of this book? And maybe just a little bit more about your ministry as we close out?
Erwin: Well, as far as the book is concerned, they can go to Amazon. They can also go to Christian Books. As a matter of fact, Christian Books has now a 50% discount for the book that we’re talking about, We Will Not Be Silenced. If they want to know more about our media ministry, I suggest that they go to the Moody Church Media Ministry. The media ministry is different than the church website. They can go to MCM, Moody Church Media. Hey, by the way, they can go to mcmoffer, now, that’s all one word, mcmoffer.com, and for a gift of any amount, they can get the book. And that would help, of course, our ministry.
Erwin: Mcm.com. I need to tell you that I’ve transitioned from Moody Church a number of years ago, but our media ministry is in three different languages, in 20 different countries, and it has been growing every single year. So if people want to help us they can go to mcmoffer, Moody Church, MCM, of course, standing for Moody Church Media, mcmoffer.com. God bless you. And thank you so much for having me on today.
Jeff: Thank you, Dr. Lutzer.
Todd: Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an honor and we’ll be sure to put those links on the website when we push this episode out as well. Thank you so much for joining us. Our heads are swimming with information and we can’t wait to see how this plays out. And as people have to really choose their own line in the sand. How far am I going to be pushed? Where’s my line going to be when I stand for truth? We all are coming on at a time when we’ve got to make that decision. Thank you so much, Dr. Lutzer.
Erwin: Thank you. And God bless you.
Todd: Did you know, you can find the Prophecy Pros on the Edifi Network? That’s right. We’re there now. And we’re getting massive exposure. So cool. It’s E-D-I-F-I, the Edifi Network. Check it out, subscribe and listen with other podcasts as well on that great network.
Jeff: And as always, we want to thank Harvest House Publishers for making this possible. We could not do this without them.