Jerry Falwell has Died

May 15, 2007

Big news today as it is being reported that Reverend Jerry Falwell has died. I have no doubt that he is now with our Lord and Savior. Our prayers and thoughts should go out to his family and friends.

Although I was quite harsh on him in my book (For God's Sake Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak Effectively and When to Remain Silent ), I still had hope that he could become a more positive public figure for Christians. My hope and prayer now is that the next generation that arises to take his place will be much more careful and less polarizing with their words.

9 comments

  1. diane2:21 PM

    I guess I don't understand how a person who was as nasty and said such horrible things about others is automatically assumed to have gone to heaven.

    Why should I try to lead an life based on Christ's teachings if I could do what Rev. Falwell did and go to heaven?

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  2. Diane: That is an excellent question. My firm belief is that the only test is if one has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Falwell claimed he had and I suspect he probably had. I do think he often acted and spoke in ways that were not Christlike, and he will probably have to answer for that.

    I fear that if we decide he was not a real Christian based on something other than having a personal relationship with Jesus then we are acting no better than he often acted. He wrongly made judgments about people based on issues other than having a personal relationship with Jesus. That was wrong of him. But it would also be wrong of us. Only God knows for sure, and that means neither Falwell nor ourselves can make such judgments.

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  3. Diane3:26 PM

    I am not judging him. I have no right to judge anyone. That I leave up to God.
    But, my faith teaches that a combination of a good life and a belief in Jesus Christ will get you to heaven.
    I guess I don't see it any other way. Why should you just be able to say,"I believe", but live a life that is not in line with what christ taught?
    I'm just trying to understand.
    You don't have to answer this,

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  4. Diane: You make a great point, and I think I understand your struggle here. I believe that one should both believe and live that out faith. I think Falwell probably did a lot of good work, especially early in his ministry and at the local level. That being said, I could be wrong here.

    Ethics Daily has an article that I think does a good job of being respectful without lavishing too much praise on Falwell. In it, Bruce Prescott states:

    “I do not believe that it was a positive influence, nor do I believe that it represents what is best in the Baptist tradition. ... I could be wrong. I trust that every Baptist will find comfort in knowing that God will be the judge of his legacy.”

    I think is a good point.

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  5. Well said. I agree with kaylor. We are saved by faith, not by works.

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  6. Chuck5:30 PM

    Diane,

    From your comments, one might wonder if you have a greater propensity for judgmental words than the late Rev. Falwell was ever credited with.

    I have a son just completing his freshman year 1200 miles from home at Liberty University.

    On my two weekend trips to Lynchburg, I observed Rev. Falwell to be a fulfilled Christian, doing what he loved to do--pastoring, preaching, parenting, and educating young people to be "champions for Christ."

    Just as I'd have imagined--but much earlier--Jerry Falwell exited this life while at his workplace. Thousands of 18-22 year old young people--most Christian, some not--mourned the loss of a great founder and friend. Many who disagreed with him and with the gospel also paid tribute to his warmth and sincerity.

    I only hope that I can see such a God-sized, Christ-centered vision come to fruition in my lifetime as Rev. Falwell has left behind--housed on Candler's Mountain in his hometown, but impacting the nation and world.

    I hope you'll also re-consider your statement regarding your faith, and conclude that saving faith in Jesus alone--not in combination with a good life or anything else--will get you to heaven.

    That truth applies to Jerry Falwell, to you, and to me!

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  7. Chuck: Thanks for the comment. One thing I have noticed in this whole thing is how many of the public figures have remarked about Falwell being a nice guy in person. Even people often on the other side of debates with Falwell mentioned that. I find it pretty sad that although he was apparently a nice guy in private, his public persona was so divisive and polarizing. If only everyone could have seen him as a nice guy.

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  8. Kaylor,

    I appreciate the curteous, kind demeanor you use in your writing.

    I too, can wish that everyone could have seen Jerry Falwell as a nice guy. But the reality is, despite my limited public life, not everyone sees me as a nice guy either. Especially if, in verbally witnessing, I mention sin and the need for forgiveness in Christ.

    Every fellow believer can respect Jerry Falwell for his zeal in public life to impact the culture (and, to some degree, the church) according to his convictions, whether agreeing or not with his every conviction,action or word. (He apologized for and recognized the sin of some things he said.)

    But regarding the unbelievers, Scripture certainly allows, and in instances assures us, that proclaiming the gospel of Christ will be foolish and offensive to
    many. And pointing out a society's sins while proclaiming its citizens' need for forgiveness and a Savior proved deadly for many of the apostles.

    As believers, we should understand the reaction to, and impression of, those unbelievers offended by the message, and perhaps the delivery method of, Jerry Falwell. But, we should neither join them in their disdain nor condone any lifestyle or attitude God calls sinful.

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  9. Chuck: Thanks, you make some good points. I would say, however, that Falwell could have been more careful than he was so as to not be overly controversial.

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