For the last couple of days, many blogs that I read have been offering commentary on the passing of Dr. Jerry Falwell. In the words of an old mountaineer I once met, Dr. Falwell was a “pucker or duck” kind of guy. That is, when you mentioned his name, people would either kiss you or take a swing at you depending on their opinion of him.
Many in the liberal media have been gleefully celebrating the homegoing of Dr. Falwell. That is to be expected, he stood for everything they were against. What is saddening however, is the number of evangelical Christians who are taking their shots at him during this time. I even read one comment by a reformed pastor who theorized that God had called him home to straighten him out on the “doctrines of grace” because of recent remarks Dr. Falwell had made about the concept of limited atonement.
Even many of those who are honoring the memory of this man are in some way trying to distance themselves from the extreme positions he sometimes took. They are offering a compliment in one hand and a caveat in the other.
I want to go on record and say that I liked and admired Dr. Jerry Falwell. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I think I would have loved to have done so. I appreciated his love for God and for his country (yes, I think there is room for both in the same heart). I appreciated his willingness to expose himself to the criticisms of conservatives and liberals alike for the sake of not letting critical moral issues get swept quietly under the rug.
I am thankful that he didn’t mind adopting an extreme position that was at times even beyond conservative, knowing that backlash was inevitable, yet doing it so that when the smoke cleared and he had somewhat mollified the left, the rest of us would have a position upon which to stand that was still well right of immorality.
I still smile when I remember the time I saw his frank conservatism frustrate Phil Donahue to the point that all he could do was stand there bug-eyed, spluttering unintelligibly into his microphone.
I am glad that he invested his time and work in God’s kingdom, preaching the gospel and taking an interest in the lives of thousands of young people who walked through the halls of Liberty University.
I like the fact that you never had to wonder where he stood in a matter. He always made his position clear, no caveats, no dodges, just the truth.
He was not afraid to call those who disagreed with him as “friends”. He realized that you don’t bring people to the truth by looking down your nose at them.
I want to go on the record as saying that even though I did not know him, I will miss him. There is a new gap in the hedge. I wonder who will stand in it?
Editorial Note: The reformed pastor to which I referred in the second paragraph has since issued a clarification and retraction of the comment I mentioned. It was not his intention for the statement to come across in the way that I took it. I appreciate his willingness to clear up the matter.