Michael Novak, who moved to the next phase of eternal life at age 83 last week, was many good things to many people, but to us at Alliance Defending Freedom, he was a dear friend who spoke for us, wrote for us, counseled with us, stood by us when we were unfairly and falsely attacked, and did so much more for which we loved him.
But we remember him best as a “translator.” As a man who had radically moved in his faith walk, in his words “from left to right,” and who loved our Lord Jesus more with every life passage, he had a unique ability to have ". . . authentic conversation with people who think differently." Not only that, but he could translate those conversations for the rest of us in unique and meaningful ways to help us see the Imago Dei, the image of God, in even the most disagreeable of opponents.
And Michael was not just a translator of the current, but also of the lives and words of those who lived in earlier centuries. He translated the words not only of biblical figures and giants of history and Christianity, but also our nation’s first president under the Constitution of 1789.
I first met Michael after I wrote a strong endorsement in review of his 2003 book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding. ADF bought and distributed several hundred copies, wherein he reminded us that America’s “Founders believed that they were not only acting according to reason and common sense, but also obeying a religious duty.”
My favorite of memories with Michael is a special candlelit night at Mount Vernon. After a private tour of our first president’s home, he brought me and many others to tears with his translation of the writings and words of Washington into 21st century language.
Michael explained with great feeling and depth how Washington, as he sacrificed the best years of his life for freedom’s future, “…held fast to the conviction that America's liberty was dependent on our faithfulness to God's will and our trust in Providence. [Showing us] Washington not only as a man of resource, strength, and virtue, but also as a man with deeply held religious values.”
I commend to all who have not read the short volume he co-authored with his daughter Jana, Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country.
May he rest in peace with Christ.