Monday, May 07, 2007

Jerry Falwell

UPDATE: I'm sorry for posting this the week before the man's death.

So I have a few friends that went to Liberty University back in Lynchburg (scary name), Virginia. Peter is convinced that I can be swayed to be positive about Jerry Falwell. He says that Falwell is misunderstood and that after hearing him speak in person many times as a student that he is a good man. It's tough for me to feel positive about a televangelist fundamentalist type so this will be a big challenge for the former rock-star turned youthworker to convince me.
So I have done some studying of my own and was a combination of shocked and surprised.
1. I didn't know that he opposed the Civil Rights Movement calling it the Civil Wrongs Movement. That's not so good.
2. He calls himself Dr. Jerry Falwell even though he hasn't earned a doctorate. He has three honorary degrees from schools I have never heard of. That's not so good either. Most of the time he does go by Reverend instead of Dr. So that's good.
3. He did a documentary on the Clinton financial scandal and had the producer pretend to be a journalist that was afraid to give their identity and spoke behind a silhouette. The producer, Patrick Matrisciana, admitted the hoax and said that it was Falwell's idea because he thought it would be dramatic. That's not so good as well.
4. He apologized for this, but he did say some intense things after 9/11 like this,
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
That's pretty extremist - especially about feminists.
5. Falwell said this month in WorldNetDaily about the emerging church.
"The site further states that members wish to "reanalyze the Bible against the context into which it was written." This is very dangerous territory. Such a view opens perilous avenues that enable suggestions that Jesus is not the Christ, that the Bible is not inspired by God Himself and that there are ways to heaven other than through Jesus. Such notions counter the very fabric of the Gospel."
I agree that there are many things wrong with the emerging church movement, but I don't think it's dangerous to look at the Bible in it's context even if that means reanalyzing certain things. I don't think it is dangerous at all and I don't think it will open up views that Jesus is not God. I feel like he is afraid of really looking into Scripture because he might find something he doesn't like. Don't be afraid Jerry. God is bigger than our fears.
6.This quote from Falwell in WorldNetDaily sums up well some of my issues with him and the Religious Right.
This Sunday night, March 11 at 6:00 p.m., Thomas Road Baptist Church will welcome an America hero and one of my personal heroes, former Marine Sgt. Tim Lee.
Sgt. Lee, who lost both legs in combat, will bring a stirring message: ''America is Worth Dying For.'' This man, who is representative of millions of Americans who have paid a great price of defending our freedoms, has been confined to a wheelchair since a land mine explosion took both his legs. Returning home to the cries of anti-war politicians and journalists following his terrible injury, he made a life-changing decision to choose victory over personal defeat.
Called by God to serve as an evangelist, he has become one his generation's great communicators of the Gospel. Sgt. Lee has stirred and challenged Americans from platforms across the country. This Sunday, in addition to bringing his riveting Christian testimony, Sgt. Lee will discuss his support of President Bush's efforts to stamp out terrorism abroad, rather than here in on American soil.
This soldier has a great story and should be heard by many. I just don't see why someone should come to a church to talk about Bush's efforts to stamp out terrorism abroad or how America is worthy dying for. How about, "Christ is worthy dying for" or someone's plan to take Christ to the people around the world? It just doesn't make sense to me in the church.
7. He has grown his church from the ground up and preached the gospel to millions of people. That's very good.
8. He has been married for almost 50 years and has two sons. That is great. Both his sons work for him. That's a bit weird, but mostly OK. In a pope-like system like in Lynchburg it might not make for a good balance of power.

That's all I have for now. Bring it on Liberty People!! I love you.

11 comments:

be_a_Mary said...

This guy has hurt MY reputation as a Christian. He makes us all lose credibility.

When a friend who is without christ behaves poorly, i am disappointed, but i also don't hold him to the same standard because he is of the world--even if he is good.

when a christian behaves poorly, i am full of angst, because he is of an eternal standard and is being watched closely by others (especially a Christian with influence) to understand what it means to be a Christian. (btw, I don't exclude myself from this either.)

By his public actions and repeated offenses, he sends the message that being a Christian is being above those who are not. i speak particularly in reference to his comments about Muslims, feminists, those who've had abortions, etc. super sad.

Peter Pizzuto - LU Alumni said...

Eric,

This whole post is a victory for me!! You are breaking down slowly but surely. In reference to Falwell you used 3 major adjectives = “good, very good, and great.” I think that’s a personal record for you. I knew you could do it.

When you initially mentioned to me that you were going to post about Falwell I was skeptical. But then you mentioned you did some research so I got excited.

After reading your post my excitement quickly fizzled as it appeared the extent of your research stayed mostly within the bounds of the brief and slanted wikipedia entry on Falwell. I hope your personal research reached beyond that. If not, shame on you.

You’re showing great progress in embracing Falwell but since your post is unfair I will take this opportunity to balance it out and add a little fairness to the mix.

In response to number:

1. I didn’t see you quote a source on this one but according to Wiki, “In 1965 Reverend Falwell gave a sermon at his Thomas Road Baptist Church criticizing [the] Civil Rights Movement, which he sometimes referred to as the Civil Wrongs Movement.”

Two comments: First, “sometimes” is the key word.

Second, most likely he opposed certain parts of the movement. I’m assuming specifically gay rights? If that’s the case, biblically some of the rights proposed can be argued to be wrong (marriage). And I think socially it can also be argued that they might not be completely legit in all cases for many reasons (marriage again being a forefront example).

2. Big deal. An honorary degree is an academic degree awarded to an individual as a decoration, rather than as the result of matriculating and studying for several years. An honorary degree may be (and often is) conferred by an institution that the recipient never attended. The degree itself may be a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree — the last being by far the most common. Usually the degree is conferred with great pomp and ceremony as a way of honoring a famous or distinguished visitor's valuable contribution to society. The university derives benefits by association with the person's status and so enhances its networking and publicity.


3. Here’s the whole article on the aftermath of the video - http://www.salon.com/news/1998/03/cov_11news.html - "Obviously, I'm not an investigative reporter," Matrisciana admitted, "and I doubt our lives were actually ever in any real danger. That was Jerry's idea to do that ... He thought that would be dramatic."

I admit it is a poor attempt to be dramatic.

4. To his defense, there are thousands of preachers who would be misquoted and nailed to the wall by the media if they we such a large public figure. Is biblical preaching always popular among the masses?

5. Worst post of the bunch. No response necessary.

6. Why not talk about it?

7. Yes, millions.

8. A little old school but not uncommon.

All this to say I am quite happy with your post Eric. There were glimmers of future embracement sprinkled throughout. You’re a lot further than I expected you to be at this point. I’m proud of you.

Anonymous said...

This whole conversation makes me want to get a blog. So fun. - melbro

Eric Wakeling said...

Peter, this post was created with you in mind throughout the writing. Yes, I did get some of the information through wikipedia, but all of that information is cited by legitimate sources. I quoted many things from his actual writings.

I didn't even talk about his inconsistencies with having Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce) come and speak at Liberty Commencement. I love that he can forgive Newt, but then others are just on his blacklist forever.

How can you not respond to #5? Are you afraid of looking at scripture in it's historical context? Will we all become J.D. Crossan and say that Jesus was only historical and not deity? Don't fear the truth about Jesus, Peter, just because he might not really be a gun-toting, organ-playing, right-wing Republican who uses religion to further his political positions and dominate the world into submission through his war machine while creating as much pollution as possible!

Just follow the wise words of the people who completely sucked the life out of Sheldon's book, In His Steps. What Would Jesus Do? Definitely not go to Liberty.

Eric Wakeling said...

Oh yea, in response to your response about #6, I would suggest that the church is a place for discussing the advance of the gospel, not the advance of the American military. That just seems like what Jesus did when he preached. Oh yeah, and all the apostles. That's all.

Peter Pizzuto - LU Alumni said...

Are you on his blacklist? I can get in touch with him if you want. There is still forgiveness for you Eric.

About #5 – He’s not afraid of doing what you accused him of not doing. He has come a long way over the years. Out of legalism for one thing. I didn’t respond because I took the word he used “Reanalyze” as reinterpret and redefine biblical theology and terms into something new. This is something very dangerous the emerging church loves to do.

I like your J.D. Crossen lingo though. Good example.

About not going to LU – easy now!

About #6 – I guess if you believe the war is justified morally and biblically it’s not that big of a deal.

By the way, I absolutely love this quote by you:

“Don't fear the truth about Jesus, Peter, just because he might not really be a gun-toting, organ-playing, right-wing Republican who uses religion to further his political positions and dominate the world into submission through his war machine while creating as much pollution as possible!”

This is definitely worthy of being framed for my desk area.

Lois said...

I like gun toting.

Eric Wakeling said...

I love Peter and this is all in fun. Peter should be the president of Liberty and Daneal could be the Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Peter Pizzuto - LU Alumni said...

Hey now...my wife does NOT belong in the depths of your rantings...This is between you, me, and Jerry.

Eric Wakeling said...

My comments on your wife were only positive. She is awesome. Please don't confuse my recommendation for her to replace Falwell as negative. That was only positive. My comments on Jerry are mixed.

Did you know that Jerry said this in 1965, “Preachers are not called to be politicians but soul winners.”

Jason said...

Eric you killed Jerry Falwell - he died on 5/15/07