Jerry Falwell, Jr.

I usually keep a blog posting between 400 – 600 words, but to comment on the recent interview Glen Beck conducted with Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., I may have to break this up into a few installments.  You can read the transcript of the interview here, but the main statement from Falwell that caught my eye was, “we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”

Wow.  A leader of a major liberal arts evangelical school dismantled the biblical task of believers in culture in eleven words.  We need to consider what this really means. 

First of all, it’s clear to me that this statement is not a chronological plan as much as it is a value judgement or statement of priority.  Waiting until after our country has the right people in power passing the right laws to discuss what we really believe shows a priority list, not a timeline. 

Is Falwell really saying that we should focus all efforts on changing the moral direction of our nation by political change rather than by the truth of God’s Word?  That’s where theology comes from.  The word “theology” literally means “the study of the nature of God”.  Did I just hear Falwell say that our world needs cultural change more right now through the work of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, evangelicals, etc., then we can talk about God and the Bible and truth and where all of us are headed for eternity?  When exactly would be a good time for Falwell to broach that subject with others?

This is where moralism leads – to grand, hyperbolic statements that undermine the true, biblical role of the church in the world and that our sinful, corrupt, godless leaders are obstacles to freedom as we like it, not souls for whom Christ died.

Maybe it will help to see a little more context to those eleven words:

If we don’t hang together we’ll hang separately, I mean, that’s what my father believed when he formed Moral Majority, was an organization of Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, people of no faith. And there are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country. . . But you’re bringing all these types of people together on your show every day, and it’s creating a partnership between groups that may have never talked to each other otherwise, and I think nothing could be more important at this stage of our history.

Well, putting it in context actually sounds worse, so as we break these observations into several posts, I would also like to include thoughts from John MacArthur’s Can God Bless America?  His final chapter outlines 16 ways moralism can be dangerous.  Since we’re talking about priorities, this is from number 15: Moralism reverses the divine order

Moralism makes morality the power of salvation, rather than vice versa.  Many evangelicals today seem to operate with the notion that if we can elevate the morality of our culture, then more people will believe the gospel.  They imagine that if we can clean up the country, it will afford greater opportunities for the gospel.  That’s exactly the reverse of the divine order. (p. 95)

Followers of Christ do not have the luxury of deciding what our priorities should be in affecting our culture.  We have been instructed in the Scriptures what our main task is and that task is centered on the Word of God, which means that task relies on good theology.  When Jesus gave His commission to His disciples, He emphasized theological disciple-making.  Our message is to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).  When Paul wrote that the church should pray for governmental leaders, the ultimate reason was that “God, our Savior… desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b, 4).

Falwell apparently thinks we can’t wait to save our country.  Christ has taught we can’t wait to teach the world about Him and His ways.  That’s also known as theology and should be the church’s real priority. 

Next time: Part 2 – Arguing Theology