Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Perhaps I am a deeply uncharitable person...

...but when I saw the WSJ news alert in my inbox that Jerry Falwell had died, my first thought was: "Well, life just got less embarrassing for American Christians."


Pro Ecclesia said...

Whatever the guy's faults, and I was NOT a fan, he deserves some credit for being instrumental in getting notoriously apolitical religious conservatives organized and engaged in the political process.

John Farrell said...

Yes, but I have to confess I thought the same thing as Darwin.

Fidei Defensor said...

I'm with Jay on this one.

Anonymous said...

Besides that, he doesn't seem to have been on a par with Bob Jones in the anti-Catholic department.

Yes, there were more appealing Evangelical leaders, but there were also much worse.


CMinor said...

Although his hoof-in-mouth disease was notorious and he could be lacking in charity at times, I'll give Falwell credit: He seems to have practiced what he preached, unlike some other noted evangelists you could name, and I'm not aware of his having publicly claimed direct messages from the Almighty to justify his positions.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I had a much "less" charitable thought when I heard the news.

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Anonymous said...

Oh Jerry Falwell could say some foolish things but he was a very great man and an open advocate of Catholics and Fundamentalists working together, as well as a foe of anti-Catholic bigotry. I take this from a Fundamentalist website attacking Falwell on this point:

"Though Jerry Falwell claims to be a fundamental Baptist, he acts like a New Evangelical. He is a groundbreaking ecumenist who is helping pave the way for the creation of the end times one-world harlot “church.” He has long worked with Roman Catholics, Charismatics, and others who are opposed to the doctrine that he professes.

One of Falwell’s first steps toward compromise was in the late 1970s when he decided that he needed to influence politics, and toward that end he formed the Moral Majority. By 1986, Moral Majority had 500,000 active contributors and a mailing list of six million people. In Christianity Today, Feb. 21, 1986, Falwell stated that Catholics made up the largest constituency (30%) in the Moral Majority.

In his autobiography Strength for the Journey, Falwell referred to the “Catholic brothers and sisters in the Moral Majority” (p. 371).

Christianity Today, Nov. 2, 1979, records an ecumenical gathering Falwell attended in 1979. “Seated with Falwell on the platform were ministers of varying racial, ethnic, and denominational backgrounds, including traditionalist Catholic theologian, William H. Marshner.”

Falwell was one of the speakers at the April 1980 “Washington for Jesus“ rally. Fellow speakers were Catholic priests John Bertolucci, John Randall, and Michael Scanlon; as well as Modernist Robert Schuller; and a host of radical Charismatics, including Jim Bakker of PTL, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, and Demos Shakarian of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register published in the May 9, 1982, issue, Falwell said that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II are “the greatest men in my lifetime.” He did not give any warnings at all about the pope’s false gospel that is cursed of God. While admitting that there are differences between Roman Catholics and “conservative Protestants,” Falwell made the amazing statement that Roman Catholics accept “the new birth experience.” Surely the man knows that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the new birth is in baptism and that in no sense do Catholics believe in “the new birth experience” in a scriptural manner. While attending the St. Louis 2000 ecumenical conference with press credentials, I asked many conservative charismatic Roman Catholics who work for various Catholic ministries when they were born again, and not one of them gave a scriptural answer. Many of them did not even know what I was talking about.

In 1983, Cal Thomas, Moral Majority’s director of communications, said that the group is composed of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Protestants and some “non-religious” members. He noted that they do not pray in their meetings. Jerry Falwell told a meeting of the Religious Newswriters Association that “if we ever opened a Moral Majority meeting with prayer, we would disintegrate” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Feb, 1983, p. 14).

Also in 1983, Gary Habermas, a professor at Falwell’s school, co-authored a book which, according to an advertisement in Charisma magazine, reached an amazing conclusion: “The Shroud [of Turin] [which the Catholic church claims to be Christ’s burial shroud] is almost certainly authentic. Through its revelation about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it helps build faith in an unbelieving age” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Feb. 1983). Habermas would have us believe that a bogus Catholic relic can actually build faith in an unbelieving generation, an amazing conclusion for supposed Fundamentalists to reach. There are many objective reasons for rejecting the Shroud of Turin. For one, the image on the Shroud depicts a longhaired man. This could not possibly be the Lord Jesus Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 11:14, which says it is a shame for a man to have long hair.

In the December 1984 issue of Falwell’s Fundamentalist Journal, a Roman Catholic cardinal was given a forum to tell Fundamentalists what he felt they needed to hear. This is like asking the Devil what he thinks of Fundamental Baptists! Journal editor Edward Dobson said:

“‘What would you say to a Fundamentalist if given the opportunity?’ This was the question we recently asked a Jewish rabbi, a Roman Catholic cardinal, an Evangelical leader, and an articulate voice for liberal Christianity ... For too many years, we Fundamentalists have existed in our hermetically sealed world and promoted the attitude that we do not care what anyone else thinks about anything. In this issue of the Journal, we venture into new territory and listen to what others say and think about Fundamentalism.

“The article by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin is especially interesting. It reflects many of the changes that have occurred in the Roman Catholic church in recent decades. We view much of that change in a positive light. ... To Cardinal Bernardin’s unique insight into the American Catholic church we say, ‘gratias’” (Fundamentalist Journal, Dec. 1984).

God has not called His people to listen to heretics; He has commanded that we reject them! For a supposed fundamentalist to call the changes in Rome “positive” is evidence of overwhelming ignorance and blindness.

Dinesh D’Souza, in his 1984 biography about Falwell, quoted Falwell as saying, “I know many Catholic priests who are born again and who preach the same message I do” (p. 169). D’Souza also said: “To the chagrin and horror of fundamentalists, [Falwell] is frequently seen at prayer meetings with Catholics and Jews. ... He has become more gracious--he is more accepting of Roman Catholics and orthodox Jews” (Falwell Before the Millennium, pp. 180-181).

The March 1985 issue of Falwell’s Fundamentalist Journal contained the following statement on page 14: “Extremists who declare that the Papacy is anti-Christ, or who dehumanize others with emotive declarations of their own bigotry, are insensitive to others and lack the love of Christ.” Ever since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church, Bible believers have labeled it anti-christ. In our 331-page book Rome and the Bible we have given many such quotations from Albigenses, Waldenses, Anabaptists, and Protestants. Will Falwell apologize to all of these persecuted brethren of the past for his vicious statement mis-characterizing their zeal for the truth and love for the Lord with bigotry and hatred?

Also in 1985, Falwell gathered with thirty-two Catholics, Protestants, and Jews at Indiana University for discussions sponsored by Rabbi Leon Klenicki (Australian Beacon, Nov. 1985).

It was also in 1985 that Falwell invited radical Catholic Senator Edward Kennedy to speak at Liberty Baptist College and Thomas Road Baptist Church. “The Senator announced to the audience of 5,000, ‘I am an American and a Catholic.’ He then lectured them on Pope John XXIII’s renewal of the gospel call and the voice of Catholic bishops in the U.S.A. He opened his speech with these words. ‘I have come here to discuss my beliefs about faith and country, tolerance, and truth in America. ... I love my country and I treasure my faith.’ ... In spite of Kennedy’s travesty of historical facts, open defiance of Biblical standards (‘I utterly reject any such standards,’ he said), his obvious scorn of Biblical truth and defense of his Roman faith, the Senator was given two standing ovations and was interrupted a dozen times by applause. Cal Thomas’ impression as Moral Majority spokesman was that this is a step towards ‘disarming ideologues on both sides’” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Mar. 1985).

In the Fundamentalist Journal for December 1986, a photo of Falwell shows him addressing the students at Notre Dame University, a major Roman Catholic school. By the way, not only is Notre Dame University a hotbed of Catholic dogma; it is a hotbed of theological Modernism. The professors teach that the Bible is a mixture of truth and myth, that Adam and Eve were not historic, that the world evolved, that Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, etc.

In an editorial in the Jan. 15, 1988, issue of Christianity Today, author Terry Muck noted Falwell’s radical, ground-breaking ecumenism:

“Perhaps Falwell’s greatest accomplishment, however, was getting Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to work together on common causes. The Moral Majority is a coalition of groups that heretofore had let theological differences stand in the way of coordinated activity on shared concerns like abortion and pornography. It stands as a model of ecumenicity of the best sort—an agreement to work together on issues without trying simply to gloss over theological differences” (Christianity Today, Jan. 15, 1988).
Falwell has spoken highly of the pope on several occasions. In his January 1985 Moral Majority Report, Falwell called the pope and Billy Graham great moral and religious leaders.

In 1988, Falwell mailed a letter to bookstores advertising a film about Pope John Paul II. Falwell made the following amazing statement about this Catholic pope:

“Dear Christian Bookstore Owner: Pope John Paul II will never become a Baptist, and it is for sure that I will never convert to Roman Catholicism. However, I have stated often that I believe this Pope is a man of unique character and courage. His consistent stand on moral and social issues has provided the world leadership so desperately needed at this hour. Robert Evans is the Cecil B. deMille of this generation. It should be, then, no marvel that Mr. Evans has so perfectly captured the innermost person and principles of John Paul II. When I first watched the ‘Power of Faith,’ I was deeply moved. While the Pope and I have broad doctrinal and theological differences, this man’s commitment to the dignity of human life and his strong opposition to tyranny and bigotry provide a shining light for the people of our generation who need such reinforcement. ... I think people from all faiths and walks of life will appreciate this film” (Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Report, Jan. 1985).
Why would a Baptist leader promote a video by a religious leader who preaches a false gospel and thereby leads multitudes to eternal Hell? The Bible says the pope is under God’s curse (Galatians 1). Does Falwell not fear that someone reading his recommendation of the pope might be encouraged to listen to him and thereby be deceived into following Catholicism? The Bible says we are not even to bid “God speed” to those who deny the doctrine of Christ (2 John 8-11), because those who assist false teachers become partakers of their evil deeds. In praising the pope and recommending his video, Falwell is doing much more than bidding him “God speed.”

Billy Graham was the commencement speaker at Falwell’s Liberty University in 1997, and in the October 1995 issue of the National Liberty Journal Falwell praised Graham for his “long and faithful ministry.” Billy Graham, who accepts degrees from Catholic colleges and says the Catholic gospel is the same as his own; who has turned thousands of converts over to apostate churches; who thinks the previous Pope was a great evangelist; who thinks there is special power in infant baptism; who doubts that Hell is a place of literal fiery torment; who invites Catholic bishops onto his platform to bless those who come forward at his invitations; who praises Christ-denying Modernists; who has promoted practically every perverted Bible version to appear in the last five decades--Billy Graham has had a faithful ministry? This is evidence of incredible spiritual blindness.

When New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor died on May 3, 2000, Falwell praised him. O’Connor was who was one of the most prominent Catholic leaders in America. In his news fax on May 4, Jerry Falwell said: “The Cardinal and I differed on a few theological and social issues, but my respect for him was unwavering because of his ministerial kindness and unconditional willingness to help those in need. . . . Every pastor in America can learn a great lesson from this man. We should never permit our political or social differences to hamper our God-given instruction to minister to our fellow man. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I cannot expect people to take this message seriously if I am unwilling, as a representative of Christ, to meet them where they are. Change in people’s lives comes after a relationship with Christ begins, so we must be frequently disposed to taking the Gospel to unfriendly environments. Cardinal O’Connor embodied this mandate. I am grateful that John O’Connor -- a man of courageous faith -- had such a profound influence on the Catholic Church through his fifty-five years of ministry. I pray that another pro-life, pro-family minister can be found to fill his significant and substantial shoes.”

I can understand how Pastor Falwell could say he was thankful for Cardinal John O’Connor’s efforts against abortion and homosexual “rights,” but in praising him so profusely and in failing so completely to warn that the cardinal preached a false gospel, Falwell is misleading his listeners. Yes, he does mention in passing that he and O’Connor “differed on a few theological and social issues.” A FEW! Cardinal John O’Connor believed that salvation is through the sacraments of Rome, that the Pope is the Holy Father and Vicar of Christ, that the Catholic priesthood mediates between God and man, that Mary is the sinless Queen of Heaven, that dead “saints” can answer prayer, that the mass is the literal body and blood and re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that Christians go to purgatory, etc. Are those simply “a few” theological matters? In truth, they are the difference between Heaven and Hell! Yet Jerry Falwell--addressing his vast listening audience composed of people from all sorts of denominations, including Catholic--leaves them with the impression that he believed Cardinal O’Connor was a true Christian minister. Furthermore, according to 2 John 9-11, we are not even to bid false teachers like John O’Connor “godspeed.” We are not even to greet them, let alone praise them!

We see just how cozy Falwell has become with Roman Catholicism in a scene described by Keith Fournier in his book Evangelical Catholics. Fournier, Dean of Evangelism at Roman Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville, verifies Falwell’s shifting position concerning the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking about a meeting he attended of the “American Congress of Christian Citizens,” Fournier states:

“In our meeting room were major Evangelical leaders I’ve admired for years—Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, and many others. I found not only a tremendous openness to my presence, but also a growing respect for my church and a thawing in what had been hard ice in the past. Perhaps the comments by Dr. Falwell were most illustrative. He told the whole group not even to consider trying to affect public policy with only a narrow Evangelical Protestant church coalition. He said that from its inception any such effort must include Catholics and consultation with great churchmen such as Cardinal Law and Cardinal O’Connor. Clearly not backing off one bit from his self-described ‘narrowness of doctrine,’ Dr. Falwell showed a refreshing openness” (Evangelical Catholics, p. 172)."

I suspect that the type of greeting Falwell received from Christ as he departed this world is the one we all hope to achieve.