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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - The Hidden Enemy (with Eric Metaxas)

Michael Youssef - The Hidden Enemy (with Eric Metaxas)

Michael Youssef - The Hidden Enemy (with Eric Metaxas)

The clock is ticking for Christians in America and the Western world, and time is running out. We try to go about our daily lives, but the truth is, we know something is wrong, terribly wrong. We see it on TV news and in the newspapers, where Christian values are under siege. We see it online in the hysterical rantings and bullies on social media. We see it in schools and universities, where free speech is under attack. And we see it among our friends, as people are offended at the slightest thing. We've become more and more divided. In fact, the world has gone so crazy that it's almost impossible to articulate the problem anymore. On the left, an unrelenting liberal onslaught attempts to silence Christians and obliterate America's founding principles. On the right, a growing number of radical Islamic warriors fight daily to overpower the truth of Jesus Christ as they scheme to cripple the freest nation on earth. Will America's Judeo-Christian heritage even survive?

Eric Metaxas: Hey there, I'm Eric Metaxas. This is "Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef". As you can see, Dr. Youssef is here, but I'm here too because normally, you're preaching a sermon. This is a completely different show. There's a topic that's burning on your heart. It's also burning on my heart, but it's really burning on your heart. So, we're overlooking beautiful downtown Atlanta, kind of a different situation, so we can have a conversation on this very important topic. So, what exactly is the topic?

Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, the topic is the forces of evil that are working in our society. So many people feel it. Some people sense it. Some people don't know how to deal with it and they're frustrated. So, I basically wanna put that topic together to explain to people what it is, why they are so frustrated, how they can go about changing the frustration into a plan of action, and so I really want to talk about this for the remainder of our time together, of what are these forces that are working against us, not only here in America, but throughout the Western civilization.

Eric Metaxas: And just so I can sum up roughly what these two forces are so you know what we're gonna be talking about, and it's amazing that these two things are working together, but we're talking about the aggressive secular forces in the West, an aggressive secularism, and radical Islam. You never hear people talking about these two topics together. One is totally irreligious, and the other is religiosity taken to the farthest extreme, violence; and yet, they have a common enemy, which, to me, looks like the West and Christian values and the United States of America. So, as they say, I'm thrilled you wrote a book about it. But what is it that pushed you to actually write this book?

Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, I've watched. I watch things that's so incongruent, particularly for... I'll give you an example. Right after the inauguration of Donald Trump, the president, the next day, 40,000 feminists, and on the platform, there are all kinds of people, Madonna, and so forth. But then there was another woman named Linda Sarsour, who, wearing the hijab, who is an Islamist, and she calls herself, "Islamist feminist". And when she was calling for America to adopt the sharia, these 40,000 women standing there, yelling, "Yeah, sharia, sharia". I said, "This is absolutely beyond our world".

Eric Metaxas: I mean, we are talking about feminists, angry feminists who have traditionally presented themselves as the enemy of anything slightly patriarchal.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Or religious.

Eric Metaxas: And what could be more patriarchal or religious than sharia law? It's mind blowing.

Dr. Michael Youssef: And here's the thing. The sharia says that a woman in Islam, half of a man, that indeed, she only inherits half of what her brother inherits from his father, and that if the court of law says you need two male witnesses, and you cannot find two male witnesses, you have to have four female witnesses. So this is to give you an idea of what this sharia is about.

Eric Metaxas: When you are writing about aggressive secularism, you're just like me, anyone can write about that. But when you write about radical Islam, you grew up in the Middle East. You know this world. Tell us a little bit about your history because you come out of this world.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Right, well, the first time, I was young in the '60s, but nonetheless, it began to kind of... young as I was, I began to think Mr. Nasser, that's Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the president, dictator of Egypt, and he declared socialism, but then he declared Islam. And he is the first, to my knowledge, in modern times to marry socialism, or secularism, to Islam. And somehow, he forced them together. And I remember thinking, even back then, "Well, this is an amazingly very strange bedfellows". But the two had one thing in common, and that's they just did not want Judeo-Christian teaching. And so, when I came to this country over 40 years ago, and I began to see what's going on, and the forces are working, and how some of the Islamist groups are now, again, not Muslims, Islamists, these are the fundamentalists. These are the extremists. Working together with secularists, and I said, "Do they understand that in some Muslim countries, they take the homosexuals and throw them from high-rise buildings"? Here, as Christians, we love them and embrace them, and, you know, this is, whatever their choices are, we still love them. You see, that's the thing that it's absolutely baffled me and will baffle every one of our viewers, and those who will read the book. How can these two things...? I call it, "The two trains heading away from each other, but eventually, they will collide".

Eric Metaxas: Well, the only explanation for these two wildly disparate ideologies to have common ground in this way is that they have a common enemy, which I would say is the God of the Bible, and everything that emanates from the God of the Bible: freedom, love for your enemy, religious tolerance. All of these things which we prize as American values, which come right out of the Bible, is their common enemy. But what's interesting to me is that it's not just enough that it's their common enemy. When you describe the insanity of a woman at the Women's March preaching sharia, it's so bizarre, I guess I have to go to the next step and say, "Don't you think that this is a kind of a spiritual element"? That this has to be forces of darkness because it really makes no rational sense.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Now you put your finger on it, and I always think of the words of Jesus, who said, "The world will hate you". Even there may be two factions, and as in the days of Jesus, where factions of Judaism were basically united in hating Jesus himself, that he said, "As the world hates me, because the world hates me, it's gonna hate you". And so, in a sense, we're seeing that, literally, biblical injunction. It's being fulfilled in our own eyes, that we're seeing the world, even though they may be at each other's throat, they may hate each other privately, but they will put their differences aside in order to face this common enemy, and that is democracy, freedom, liberty, and the rule of law rather than theocratical government.

Eric Metaxas: And another way of looking at it, I guess, is that we have to understand, on some level, they don't know what they're doing. So when Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do". It doesn't make any sense that a woman who prizes her womanhood, who thinks of herself as a feminist would, on any level, get within any distance of this kind of anti-woman, genuine anti-woman ideology. It makes no rational sense.

Dr. Michael Youssef: No, and you know, and I began to think when I was watching this thing live on television, and I said, "You know, I read about in the Bible how a spirit of stupor came upon them, and they even, you know, fighting each other, and so forth, and you see the blindness that comes from above". And I said, "This is the blindness that we read about in the Bible, that they're blinding themselves to their own ideology for the sake of uniting together against the one cause, and that's the cause of Christ from which we in the West have received all of our values".

Eric Metaxas: And it's funny too because I realize that, you know, some people listening to us would think, "Well, you're insane. I just don't believe what you're saying". But I've noticed this over years, there's this visceral sense that even if they're not consciously aware of who their enemies are, they seem to know on some deep level, they seem to simply almost smell out, "You're my enemy". And it's fascinating to me because you don't hear on the news, for example, the reason I'm so happy about your book, "The Hidden Enemy," is that on the news, you never hear anybody talking about this. The only one who ever mentioned it was Glen Beck. Years ago, he was talking about the Antifa movement, and so on and so forth, and he was saying that you're seeing these radical Muslim forces and these radical leftist secular forces in America. And I remember, when he said it a number of years ago, I said, "He's right, but it sounds insane".

Dr. Michael Youssef: Yeah, it doesn't make sense.

Eric Metaxas: But you have seen this, and, again, this is why you wrote a book about it. So, what do you do propose as a way through this for us?

Dr. Michael Youssef: You know, the reason I wrote the book is I wanna document this. The average person who's watching and may not be necessarily a believer in Jesus like we are, and may be people who are seekers, and maybe they are just really wanna make sense of the events and the things that are going on around. I wrote the book so they can read it and there is the documentation. This is not an emotional response. It's not just a visceral response to what I'm seeing. These are all factual historical acts and evidence that have taken place. And so that, in the end, a person see, they said, "Okay, well, I couldn't understand, what I couldn't put my finger on, now he documents". But in the end, I don't want to leave the readers or even viewers, as many of them watch me Sunday after Sunday and week after week on television, listen to me on radio, they know that I am not a negative person by nature. I really am a positive person, and I always, whenever I highlight a problem, I want to find a solution. Now, of course, we know, in the general sense, only the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when a person is converted to Christ, he's transformed, she's transformed, and they begin to understand and see the truth. But I also, in the back of the book, I give some practical answers of how to go about seeing that this is an opportunity for us to, as believers, to make a difference and to change the direction. Because without that, we're helpless.

Eric Metaxas: Well, I always say, when people ask me about my books, that the most important thing about the book is to teach, and that it is to help people see what I have seen. And by being specific, by giving evidence and examples, you bring people along in such a way that they say, "This isn't just an idea, a wild idea; it's clear, there's evidence". So, let's talk a little bit about some of the evidence that you write about in the book of where these two things match up.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, they really don't match up in any way. They somehow grit their teeth. Or if you like, they kinda block their nose and work together. As you have said, ably, that it is that common enemy. And so, if I hate Western culture, as a secularist who demonstrated and proved and succeeded in taking out Western civilization out of the curriculum of many schools, because, to me, if I was a secular, I want to take Western civilization out because, as you have done in your book on Martin Luther, the Western civilization literally rests very strongly and heavily upon the Reformation.

Eric Metaxas: Oh, there's that, listen, this needs to be said clearly, okay? There is no doubt, and this is something that I can't say that I knew this a long time ago. I knew this, I learned this in the last few years writing some of my books. To see the clear, the clear connection, utterly clear, that out of the gospel comes freedom, there is no way we could have these freedoms without the gospel. Now, I know this and I've written about this, but it does follow that somehow, spiritually, what emanates from the gospel, all of these beautiful things which bless women, which have given women the vote, which have given, in other words, all to me, this all comes out of the gospel. It's so bizarre to see these people now who have these freedoms using these freedoms to attack the place from which the freedoms came. So there's tremendous irony.

Dr. Michael Youssef: You know what it's like? It's like this beautiful high-rise building we're in. And everybody says, "Oh, this is a beautiful building, beautiful high-rise building. But you know what? That foundation, we can't see it, so it really is not necessary. Let's just blast it. Let's get rid of the foundation". Well, imagine how long the building is gonna be here without the foundation. That's what they're doing. They want to blast the foundation upon which the whole of Western civilization rests, but the result is gonna be collapse of Western civilization.

Eric Metaxas: There's no doubt. And again, if you don't understand how Western civilization works, if you don't understand how self-government and American freedom works, you can't really appreciate this. In other words, once you see the connections, then you see, if we take this away, the whole thing goes down. Our mutual friend, the great late Chuck Colson said that, "These people are sawing off the branch that they're sitting on". I mean, right? You're sitting on a branch, and you're sawing it off, and you're gonna fall. But when you think about it, what gives us the ability to say to somebody who's in a gay lifestyle, "Even though I don't agree with you, I love you, and I want you to be free. I don't want you to be thrown off a building for it". Our ability to do that comes from our faith in Jesus. I mean, there's no doubt about it. But I think that, in a way, we've had these freedoms for so long that people take them for granted. They sort of assume they'll always be here.

Dr. Michael Youssef: And we've got used to it. It's like our birthright. And therefore, and as you know, most of these shows where a person go in front and they said, "What about this"? and, "What about that"? They have no idea of what the history, they don't know the history. And therefore, they don't know, like I said earlier, the concept of the foundation of this beautiful building. So they say, "Well, the foundation is really unseen, nobody sees it. It's not important. You know, let's just blow it up".

Eric Metaxas: I have to say, I'm shocked to hear that. I'm dismayed to hear that. This all sounds like bad news, but we wanna be clear. You and I truly, we have hope. We believe what the Bible says: "Be anxious for nothing". It doesn't say, "Be ignorant". You can know what's wrong. You can document it. You can be clear. You can be aware. You can tell people, but never be anxious. But pray, put your hope in God. I mean, I think it's important for us to say that because a lot of times people just think, you know, you're being alarmists. And I always wanna say, "Look, we wouldn't wanna be alarmists. We just wanna tell what's happening so people can be wise and so they can combat it with wisdom". And you said it earlier, that people in America, in a way, they're very passive. I think one of the problems with American culture is that everybody wants to be liked.

Dr. Michael Youssef: And they confuse kindness with speaking the truth. You see, speaking the truth in love is the formula that the Scripture gives us. By the same token, the Apostle Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation". And the problem is, we have so many people who are ashamed of the gospel. I'm talking about people in the churches. They're ashamed of the gospel, and they're kind of almost embarrassed to say, "Well, I'm a Christian," and mumble it because they think that people are gonna view them as, you know, ultra-right wing, and so forth. They don't realize that a... I said this to a neighbor of mine, very, very secularist, and I gave her a book, one of my books, and I said, "Did you read it"? She said, "No, because I opened the first page and it said, 'I write this book as a Christian.'" And so she said, "I closed it and put it by my bed". And she's in one of the big news media organizations. So, I walked up and said, "What, to you, is a Christian"? "Well, you know, a so-and-so, and so-and-so, and Jim Crow and all, you know, this kind of hating". And I said, "Do you know anything about what Jesus said"? And I began to tell her what... she said, "No. Really? That's Christianity"? I said, "Yes, that's what the Christian faith is". Because some people have, you know, misspoke the Scripture or pretended to be part of the Christian community, but they're not, and they have their own political ideology. It doesn't mean that our faith is changing, it hasn't changed. "Love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you". And when she gets it, "I gotta go back and read the book". And that is the message we need to give people. "Look, we are speaking the truth, but we're speaking it in love". We're not taking weapons because our weapon is love. Not the weapons of man, not the weapons of other religions that wanna kill in the name of their religion, but we wanna exercise and use that weapon, and our weapon is to love people. And because we love them, we want them to know the truth.

Eric Metaxas: I think that what we're talking about, there are always going to be people that are gonna say negative things. We have to say, "Look, I don't care. I'll pray for them". But there are people who want to hear common sense. They want to hear what we're saying, and I think that's part of what you say in the book, that we have to be bold. We have to stop somehow apologizing for having this glorious gift, which is a privilege, and we're acting as though it's something to be ashamed of.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Absolutely, and one of the things, when a person one time said to me, again, one of my dear neighbors, they said, "I think, I know you think of me as a sinner". I said, "No, you couldn't be a bigger sinner than me". And he looked at me, he said, "Really? You see yourself as a sinner"? I said, "Absolutely, except I acknowledge that I'm a sinner, you don't. And I acknowledge that I need help for my sin, and you don't. That's the difference. But if you acknowledge that you're a sinner, it's not because what I think of you, but what does God think of you? And he sees you as a person that he loved and died for and wants you to come and accept his gift of forgiveness". See, that is the message that we need to hammer away and hammer away, that we are to make a difference wherever we go, and that is really the bottom line. So I am raising these questions, and I'm showing the problems, but I'm saying, there is an answer, and his name is Jesus. And don't, don't be embarrassed or ashamed of him and his gospel because that's the power of God to salvation.

Eric Metaxas: There's no question about it, and I think we have to be clear about that, that, at the end of the day, Jesus is the only answer. The answer isn't American values or even Judeo-Christian values. I mean, those things, as important as they are, have to be subordinate to God. There's no doubt about that because then you think it's all about America. I mean, I guess the point is, we have to have our affections ordered correctly. God is the one who enables us to have the gift of American freedom, to have the gift of tolerance and love for people we disagree with, and all these kind of things. It's just important, I guess, to know that if Jesus is your God, there will be a joy and a hope, even when you're fighting, even when you're upset. There's something behind it,. People see God. They don't see you angry. They see God. And to me, that's so important because when the battle gets as heated as it's gotten right now, we need to see some real Christianity in the middle.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Yes. And unfortunately, who grabs the headlines are not the ones like you and me who are saying, "Please understand that the Christian faith is innocent of all these extremes, that the gospel is innocent of all these extremes. The gospel is the gospel". And, you know, our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are showing this in the Middle East. For the first time, I am watching some very well-known secular media personalities in the Middle East who are coming on television and saying, "These Christians, they are made of iron. They keep forgiving their enemies. They keep, their enemies keep killing them, and bomb their churches, and they kept saying, 'We forgive them.'" And for the first time, I am seeing some very, very significant people, in terms of their society, their culture, who are really even questioning, you know, their Islam. And then they are seeing the Christian... see, they are actually, should be our role model, the Christians in the Middle East. And I'm watching with a great deal of interest of how they're handling this most horrendous circumstances in which... and I tell you, there was a bombing last year on Palm Sunday. Several churches were bombed in Egypt. And then the following Sunday was Easter. And I was talking to a very high official of the church, and all the churches, and, you know, there are 10 to 15 million Christians in Egypt. But they said they took counts of the people who came to church on Sunday, on Easter Sunday, and there were over a million people more, the aggregate number, than the previous Easter Sunday. As if people are saying, "That's fine, you can kill us if you want to, but we are not going to back up from worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". And that communicated volumes 'cause it was in the secular media. It was in the press, you know?

Eric Metaxas: We need to see that in America. We really need to see it in America. It's, I mean, it used to be called, "Muscular Christianity," right? It's Christianity, Jesus is at the core, but it's not mushy, or it's not people pleasing. There's, I mean, it's kind of like when people misunderstand when Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek". There's something heroic and powerful in saying, "Go ahead, strike me. Go ahead, kill me. I'm not afraid of death. I worship the God who is the Lord of life, who conquered death". I mean, if you really believe this, which we say we do, you live differently.

Dr. Michael Youssef: No question.

Eric Metaxas: And people notice and they're kind of shocked and they say, "There's something there. Even if I don't like something about you, I can't help but seeing this other thing". That, to me, is the key to all of this, that people see Christ. And when you see people in the Middle East going through this hell with joy and with faith, I mean, it really is humbling to us.

Dr. Michael Youssef: Yeah, one of the commentators was interviewing the son of a man who was killed in a church bombing. And he was saying to him, "If this was my father, I want to go and kill 'em all". And the man said, "No, but my Lord Jesus on the cross said, 'Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they're doing.'" And he said, "That's how I prayed for the people who bombed that church and killed my father, 'Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they're doing.'"

Eric Metaxas: So, we're having this fascinating conversation. The good news is, people don't have to remember what we just talked about because you've compiled everything and much, much more, since I read it, in this book, "The Hidden Enemy". So, in a few moments, tell the audience why you think they should get the book.

Dr. Michael Youssef: I really believe with all my heart that this book is not gonna only open your eyes to what's going on, because I'm not just interested in sharing information. You can get that anywhere. But compiling the information together in the way I did, and it's my prayer that it will literally change your life. And if you're a Christian, like many people, who are so pacifist, and not doing anything, and they're just glad to be a Christian, and, "I'm saved and sanctified," and, "I'm going to heaven. My family's going to heaven. I don't care about anybody else". I hope this book is gonna change you and make you active Christian, that you will begin to make a difference in wherever God places you.

Eric Metaxas: That about says it. Thank you, Dr. Youssef. I'm just thrilled for this opportunity to talk to you about something so close to my heart, and I hope, after watching the program, and hopefully, after reading the book, it'll be close to everyone's heart. Folks, this is important stuff. God bless you.
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