MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 19th. Thank you for making WORLD Radio part of your day.
Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the Olasky Interview.
Today, a conversation with conservative blogger and talk-show host, Erick Erickson.
WORLD’s editor in chief Marvin Olasky spoke to Erickson in early December during the heat of the election drama and before the protest in Washington a couple weeks ago. Their topic: “gospel-centered politics.” Olasky starts us off.
MARVIN OLASKY: So we have opponents. And it’s important to debate and to argue. But how do you keep from turning opponents into enemies, which is what we often seem to be doing and a lot of our media?
ERICK ERICKSON: Oh, I sometimes fall down on this as well. Sometimes it’s easy to get into hating someone else. And, and I there are people out there that I do just generally abhor. Unfortunately, I find now that that the list has become who has the wrong letter next to their name as to who these people actually are.
And I have to remind myself, that we’re all sinners and see the world in different ways. And I really do and this gets me so much hate for my own side, having worked at CNN for a number of years where I grew up in a lot of the people I worked with, they were the enemies growing up, they were Bill Clinton staffers and others. And then I got to know them, and we disagree on everything politically, but actually, are good friends.
And it’s a reminder to me that you can disagree in politics, and still be kind to each other. You can love your neighbor, even if you disagree on politics, but also, I’ve got to remind myself, there are people who see the world differently from me. They’ve got different values and presuppositions, and they’re not my enemy, nor do they want to destroy the country. They just genuinely believe as much as I do in my way of thinking that their way of thinking would lead to better outcomes for the country.
And we’re gonna disagree on this, but I shouldn’t hate them for wanting to take care of the country and go about it in a different way, even if it’s a way that I think actually would be ruinous.
OLASKY: So let me ask you about the underlying problem here, of turning politics into something that’s primary. What do you do with that basic problem?
ERICKSON: Part of this is a problem for churches. There are a lot of people who call themselves Christian in the same way people describe themselves as Catholic or Jewish. And they actually mean it more ethnically than they mean it as a matter of faith.
There are a whole lot of people who call themselves Christian who never darken the door of a church. They’re out on their bass boat, on Sundays instead, and I really, I go back frequently these days to Jeremiah 29, “to seek the welfare of the city in which you live and pray for it, and there, you’ll find your welfare.” And I think there are frankly, in the evangelical community now, there actually are a ton of churches out there that are not really engaged in their community, they’ve ceded the ground towards more liberal, progressive, theologically oriented churches, who believe in a social gospel. And these evangelical churches take the idea of if you, if you want me to fill your soul with the gospel, come hear us. But if you want us to feed your stomach, well, you’ve got the Episcopal Church down the road go there, they’ve got the food bank.
And I really think one of the things that we is, is if you’re an evangelical and you’re involved in politics, you’ve got to be mindful of the fact that you will change your local community more than you will change Washington, and your local community will change you more than Washington will change you. And we’ve lost our perspective. And we need to reorient our perspective.
I actually, yesterday, I did a monologue on my radio show where I pointed out that there are these 12 guys who never got involved in politics, they really couldn’t get involved in politics. They were all friends with a guy and none of them had real power except for their friend. And he died and conquered death. And these 12 after he was gone, went out and changed the world for him with the help of the Holy Spirit. They never cast a vote, they never ran for office, but yet they were able to improve the lives of the whole world.
And I think Christians need to have that perspective. At this point, particularly at a time, we’re gonna not have a president of the White House who shares our values. But you’ve got lots of people in your community who are suffering, and that guy in Washington is not going to help them but you actually can. And if you help them and improve their lives, you’ll see your life improved, regardless of what happens in Washington—if you are just willing to recalibrate your perspective ever so slightly.
OLASKY: Tombstone question, what do you want people to remember you for when you’re gone?
ERICKSON: I think I want to be remembered as a guy who was willing to share the gospel, even if it costs me.
OLASKY: I’m asking that because my friend Warren Smith five and a half years ago asked you that question, and you said, on your tombstone: “Here lies Erick Erickson, who said what needed to be said, even when people didn’t like it.” So in five years since then you are more specific about the gospel than you were then…
ERICKSON: Yeah, you know, look, I…a part of it is it’s my personality. When people tell me not to do something, I tend to do it. Maybe it’s the southern in me, although my dad is Swedish. But I’m doing five hours of radio a day, the radio landscape is changing part of it. Sadly, with Rush Limbaugh’s health situation, you have a lot of people looking at the national platforms.
And I have been told more in the last six months than in the last nine years on radio, you can’t talk about these issues if you want to be successful nationally. And I don’t believe that’s true. I think a lot of people who say it or people who aren’t believers, and they run the industry. And I’ve just committed to the fact that when people are telling me I shouldn’t be sharing the gospel, that’s a sign that I should be sharing the gospel. I should be telling people the truth they may not necessarily want to hear and part of that right now is absolutely that. We’ve got a God and He is coming back and you need to be on his side and with him. If you’re going to have salvation, and they if I can use my platform to do that, and if it costs me, well, you know, Christ said you can have all sorts of things, but you’ll have persecution too. And if it costs me now, that’s fine, because I know where I’m headed.
REICHARD: That’s Erick Erickson talking with Marvin Olasky. To read more of their interview, check out the January 16th issue of WORLD Magazine. We’ll include a link to it in today’s transcript at worldandeverything.org.