Alan Jacobs on Jerry Falwell Jr.


The Baylor University evangelical intellectual weighs in at his blog.  Get some context here.

A taste:

Point the first: Jerry Falwell, Jr., though not a pastor and holding no advanced degrees in Bible or theology, graduated from two institutions founded by his pastor father for the express purpose of offering seriously Christian education: Liberty Christian Academy and then Liberty University. (JF Jr.’s college major was Religious Studies.)

Point the second: As is evident from the statements that French discusses in his post, Jerry Falwell, Jr. shows no evidence of having even the most elementary understanding of what the Bible says and what the Christian Gospel is.

The problem, as discerning readers will already have noted, is how to reconcile these two points. How could someone raised as Jerry Falwell, Jr. was raised, educated as he was educated, living as he now lives, say that Jesus “did not forgive the establishment elites”? Could he really not know that Jesus said of those establishment elites who killed him, “Father, forgive them”? And this is not an isolated incident. Quite often in recent months JF Jr. (like a number of other evangelical leaders) has made statements that clearly contradict some of the best-known passages in the Bible.

Read the rest here.

2 thoughts on “Alan Jacobs on Jerry Falwell Jr.

  1. You speak as though those two conditions are somehow exclusive. Or is it that those facts can be true simultaneously about a person, but not about an institution or even a government?

    Oh, and you forgot fact #3: Falwell profits enormously, and balancing the exposure of those facts determines the force of his revenue stream. He has the pedigree (and the name), and he espouses the ideas; power and money come to him. Careless organization of that relationship would reduce his income, so he spends his time carefully curating this persona. It just happens to be a time when a richer mix burns best. As you know, (and French certainly knows) the richer the mix the deeper the insult to those of us who think differently.

    I am an atheist, and I adhere more closely to the ethics of Jesus than any five Falwells and all of the David Frenches that have ever bowed their heads in public. It takes work and creates painful and confusing paradoxes in behavior most days. I can take the idea that reptiles like Donald Trump have become rich and powerful men despite paltry gifts; it is reinforcing in a way, and makes my daily work of service feel better rewarded, illogical though that might be. But the sanctimony of the Falwells, and the damage they have done to people, is an insult. And the careful parsing of these men by experts, word and phrase, as if that were some sort of constructive process…that darkens the world in a way I can’t understand.


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