Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rev. Falwell

Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and Baptist pastor died yesterday. While, like all of us human beings, Falwell was not always tactful and did make mistakes, he was a major religious leader of our times and succeeded in convincing many separatist leaning fundamentalists to engage the world and become involved in the issues facing their communities. For this, he deserves thanks, even if the process was less than perfect.

But in part, Falwell was the victim of the media as well as a major public figure. Secularists, radical political liberals, and even less evangelical Christians have trouble understanding or accepting that a Christian can be honest about sin while loving sinners. For them love requires acceptance of behavior and culture, rather than (as ethicist Louis Smeeds would have said) “wishing the other well and acting consistently and logically upon that wish.” But I do not doubt that for all his apparent bombast, Falwell was a loving man. Mathew Reynolds, producer for the Northern Radio Alliance, and a Liberty student who had met Falwell, said this on the blog “Captains Quarters:”
“But thing that most stood out was his great conviction and belief in his Lord Jesus Christ and his love for everyone, especially those he disagreed with. Dr Falwell spoke weekly with Larry Flynt for years as a result of the lawsuit. He had Sen Ted Kennedy come speak at Liberty University in what has been called one of the top 10 speeches of the 1990s. And while many find this hard to believe, it was this love that allowed him to bring back Mel White to speak at his church and work on reconciliation with the homosexual community and the evangelical church.
Many people have confused his Christian beliefs with hate-speech. This was not the case. While Dr Falwell may have disagreed with their lifestyle, he really cared about each person he met on an individual level.”
As someone who shares belief in the Christian “fundamentals,” but does not accept all of fundamentalist culture, I occasionally disagreed with Falwell about aspects of the law, history, aesthetics, style, the fine points of the unessentials of theology, and more. But I recognize that he accomplished a lot in the context in which God placed him. In many ways our country would have been worse off without him. He reached and discipled for Christ a large number of people who would not have been easily reached by others and who could have been much worse served. And as I said above, he opened many separatist fundamentalists to political and cultural involvement after decades of retreat into cultural insignificance. What is tragic is that the political parties have mostly ignored and squandered the political consensus on moral issues that Falwell helped achieve.


thekingpin68 said...

As someone who shares belief in the Christian “fundamentals,” but does not accept all of fundamentalist culture.

A good point, Dean. There is a difference between being a conservative Christian that accepts Biblical, Christian fundamentals, and being a fundamentalist. Many in the western media seem to be oblivious to this point.

Vance Esler said...

I appreciate that Rev Falwell helped mobilize people to action. Faith without action is useless. If we love our way of life, love freedom, and love the ability to share our faith without fear of going to jail, then sometimes the action called for is political.

Tim A. said...

I appreciate your article. Dr. Falwell should be appreciated for the way he represented Christ, and always stood firm in Him.

Dean McConnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dean McConnell said...

I very much agree that Falwell did well in standing firm in Christ. Recognizing Jesus for who He is - the second person of the Trinity, the Creator, the Divine Logos, fully man and fully God, the sinless lamb of God who shed His blood and lived a righteous life so we could be justified by grace through faith in Him, and who rose from the dead, proving who He is - and being a loving witness of this truth to others, is the most important thing any of us can ever do.

Seth said...

Wonderful to read your thoughts. And thank you for linking to my blogs!

Sacchiel said...

Hello Dean!

It should also be noted Rev. Fallwell was not the originator of the idea Tinky Winky (purple teletubbie) was a sort of gay icon by announcing it in the February 1999 edition of the National Liberty Journal.

CNN had this to say about the character in December 24, 1997:

"The Teletubbies also have a following among the gay community. Tinky Winky, who carts around a red handbag but speaks with a male voice, has become something of a gay icon"

Also Joyce Millman from Salon wrote back in April 3, 1998"

"So, to the BBC's dismay, gay groups in Britain hailed Tinky Winky (the purple one with the coat hanger coming out of his head) as the first queer hero of children's TV because he often carries around a big red purse."