The Washington Post just published an interview with Jerry Falwell. I don’t even know where to start in addressing this. It has been difficult all these years hearing one fallacy after another of why Christians should not get involved in politics, or not hold civil government accountable to biblical standards. But I have never seen it piled this high all at once.
If you take every fallacy and poor excuse ever proffered by Evangelicals when it comes to Christianity and politics, everything American Vision has tried to fight and correct for 40 years now, put them all into a jar and shook them, scrambled them so that even some of the sentences ended up in other paragraphs, then poured it out into a pile, it would look like the answers Jerry Falwell just gave.
Do we Fundamentalists and Evangelicals find this persuasive? Does it soothe the conscience? I am not sure, but I know it will come at great cost.
I don’t intend to cover everything here. If I did, I would have to reprint the whole interview. It’s that riddled with everything, for example, Gary DeMar wrote about in Myths Lies and Half-Truths or God and Government, or the type of principled thinking in my God versus Socialism or Restoring America. The reader is just going to have to read the interview for themselves and marvel at the presentation.
Never before have I seen it so brazen. I would have loved to have a seen his face as he repeated whopper after whopper; was there any tell, or is he so skilled as to keep it straight? Or does he actually believe what he’s saying? If so, is Evangelicaldom really so deceived or misguided?
Here are just a few of the common fallacies Falwell employs:
The “my kingdom of not of this world” fallacy
The “render unto Caesar” fallacy
The “God’s law does not apply to governments” fallacy
The “you can’t impose God’s law” fallacy
The “Jesus didn’t get involved in politics” fallacy
American Vision has addressed all of these fallacies over the years. I have never seen them so condensed and compiled in one small space before.
He even worked in the appeal to dreaded “theocracy,” but in a newly twisted way I’ve never heard. Somehow, to think that public policy should reflect the commands of Jesus would be “theocracy.” That’s an astounding claim.
Actually, Jesus did tell Caesar how to run Rome. It’s called the law of God. It is a model for all the nations (Deut. 4:5–8).
Yes, the teachings of Jesus are indeed supposed to apply to governments. Why do you think socialism is wrong to begin with? Because, “Thou shalt not steal” applies to governments, too.
In fact, the laws for Kings given in Deuteronomy 17:14–20 are nothing more than the Ten Commandments applied to the government, along with a command that requires the government to acknowledge God’s law is supreme. Jesus specifically told us to disciple the nations (not just “save some souls”) and to teach them everything he commanded (Matt. 28:18–20). He said we must do this not because his teachings apply in the heavenly kingdom but not in this earth, but specifically because “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
Then there is denial and dreamland thinking. Falwell says the main thing that earned his support was Trump’s business acumen. “Our country was so deep in debt,” he said. The interviewer immediately followed by reminding him the deficit and debt had increased during both of Trump’s first two years. Falwell didn’t blink:
Yeah, Congress, the spending bill that they forced on him in order to get the military spending up to where it needed to be — he said that would be the last time he signed one of those. But he had no choice because Obama had decimated the military, and it had to be rebuilt.
So, when confronted with facts that contradict his ideal, he blames everyone else but the guy with the alleged business acumen who was supposed to fix it. Do we think Falwell will hold Trump accountable to “he said that would be the last time he signed one of those”? Trump is now demanding another unbalanced deficit bill that includes even more funding for his wall. He’s shut down the government (not a bad thing in itself) demanding he get his way, which includes even more deficit and debt. What will Falwell say the next time Trump signs yet another debt-laden bill?
I know what he will say; wall or no wall, debt and all, “Go, Big Don!” Because no matter what failure Trump commits, total sellout means total support. Falwell admits this openly. Read this exchange:
Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?
That’s the shortest answer we’ve had so far.
Only because I know that he only wants what’s best for this country, and I know anything he does, it may not be ideologically “conservative,” but it’s going to be what’s best for this country, and I can’t imagine him doing anything that’s not good for the country.
Imagine the reaction of conservative and Christian leaders if an interviewer had asked a top liberal pundit, “Is there anything President Obama could do to endanger your support?” Imagine the outcry that would immediately be plastered across every conservative news outlet, headlined on Drudge, and shared across ever conservative social media network by the millions: “Can you believe this? Total sellout? They would support this guy no matter what lie, failure, socialism, commie!” “Proof it’s party over principle!” “They’ll stop at nothing.” “No principle!”
That’s exactly what we’re seeing from Falwell and those Evangelicals he represents. No principle except support a party no matter what, even if that party itself is not doing what it says it stands for.
“We need conservative leadership.” “Well, maybe it’s not actually ‘conservative,’ but. . . .”
What comes next? What follows the open, purposeful compromise of principle?
When you support an unprincipled man, you will soon find yourself excusing his lack of principle. You will make excuses for his failures. You will live in denial. You will ignore facts that run counter to the image you project of your hero. You will blame others for the failures. Where you can’t blame others, you will remind people we’re all sinners, after all. “Don’t judge.”
Perhaps worst of all, when God’s word clearly defies your life or your program, you will create a theology that says, “God’s Word does not apply here.”
One day soon you will wake up and realize you have surrendered every ounce of moral high ground you ever had. You will realize that by selling out for failure, lies, debt, socialism, excuses, strong arm tactics, dualism, two kingdoms thinking, shunning God’s law in public policy, and every other precedent you’ve set in the process—you will realize that you have justified every lie, debt, excuse, socialism, strong arm tactic, dualism, and dismissal of God’s law that the liberals do, too.
Every time conservatives support an unprincipled candidate, they say, “Let’s beat the liberals first, then we can hold his feet to the fire.” Now is the time to hold the feet to the fire. Where there should be fire, the Falwell Jrs. of the world bring showers of shameless praise.
With blind support like this for Trump, Evangelicals are setting themselves up for massive blowback in the near future. And they will have to stand there and take it, because they justified every bit of it. And when they cry out in opposition, they will rightly be treated like spoiled children who can’t take what they give. When they cry foul, they will be reminded how foul they themselves have been all along.
They can easily be, and will be, reminded of their precedents with an endless stream of soundbites collected from Jerry Falwell, Jr.