The president of the second largest Christian university in the world is at it again.
Falwell Jr. has blocked me on Twitter, so I cannot embed his recent tweet. But this is what he wrote:
“Sorry to be crude but pastors like @plattdavid need to grow a pair. Just saying.”
Falwell was responding to this tweet from Fox News radio host Todd Starnes:
Church members “hurt” after pastor prays for @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/GKSI9HAPY0 Maybe they should take the plank out of their own eyes before casting stones — lest they hit the wrong person. #StarnesCountry #MAGA
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) June 4, 2019
Apparently Falwell was not happy with pastor David Platt’s letter to his congregation that explained how he handled the Trump’s visit to McLean Bible Church on Sunday. Falwell’s tweet suggests that Platt’s decision to explain himself to his congregation made him appear weak and not manly enough.
- First, a word about his language. Falwell begins by “apologizing” for his crudeness. It is worth noting that he is the president of a university. Most university presidents are able to communicate their ideas without being crude. In other words, they have civil language at their disposal. But Falwell knows that his base–conservative evangelical Christians–love this kind of language. In some ways, Falwell’s use of language says less about him and more about the kind of evangelicals that gravitate toward him. I would not be surprised if there was a small spike in donations to Liberty University today.
- This tweet reveals that Falwell views the world primarily through politics, not Christian reconciliation or unity. Remember, Platt wrote this letter as a way of dealing with conflict in his congregation–McLean Bible Church. It was a pastoral epistle. Platt was trying to heal wounds and keep his church body together after a difficult day. He knew there was some division in his church after Trump’ showed- up unannounced and he wanted to explain why he handled the president’s visit in the way he did. For Falwell to criticize Platt for trying to maintain unity in his congregation suggests that the divisive rhetoric of Trumpian politics (or any politics for that matter) is more important than unity in the body of Christ. But this is nothing new.
- It is also worth noting how Falwell responded to one of his critics on Twitter. Winfield Bevins, a professor a Asbury Theological Seminary, called Falwell out in a tweet: “What an unbelievable statement from someone who calls themselves a minister of the gospel. @LibertyU should call on you to repent.” Falwell responded on twitter with this: “You’re putting your ignorance on display. I have never been a minister. UVA-trained lawyer and commercial real estate developer for 20 years. Univ president for last 12-years–student body tripled to 100000+/endowment from 0 to $2 billion and $1.6 new construction in those 12 years.” Trump couldn’t have said it any better.
???? ??????? (@NateFleming__) says
I really wish I had gone to Liberty and been very generous with donations since graduation so that I could stop donating now.
Tony Lucido says
“Conservative Evangelical Christians love this language.” That’s a very broad brush. Equivalent to baldly asserting progressive Evangelical
Christians love the language of racial grievance and secular identity politics.”
You note that Falwell Jr. — I’m not a fan — primarily views the world thru politics. I think that’s a fair critique. But what does it say about members of Platt’s congregation who were “hurt” that he showed grace, and hospitality, and prayed for Trump in an entirely Biblical and non-political way? I think that they, too, primarily view the world thru politics, just of a sort diametrically opposed to Falwell’s.
Falwell and Graham have soiled the names and legacies of their fathers.
Headless Unicorn Guy says
“Rags to Riches to Rags” is a folk proverb in both English and Chinese.
Headless Unicorn Guy says
Not only through politics, but through POWER Politics.
“When you play a game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
— Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
Alex Waardenburg says
Equally sad? How do you figure? You’re comparing a church member to the leader of a university that disciples tens of thousands of young Christians every year. Not to mention, all we know is that some members were “hurt”. I haven’t seen any record of them resorting to crude language.
Tony Lucido says
Alex: I was specifically addressing the elevation of purely political considerations over spiritual ones. I see little to no distinction in that regard between Falwell and those upset that Platt welcomed and prayed for their political enemy.
I don’t believe the president thinks within the context of a true Christian. That could explain his showing up at Platt’s church to be prayed for. He is supposedly accessible to a good number of Christians, including his VP. If all Trump felt was a humble need for prayer he knows more people pray for him than possibly any other American. Also he could easily have had any number of his inner circle of Christian leaders come to the White House or somewhere else to privately pray for him. Obviously he wanted to make a public show of the thing. He made a public show of the thing. Platt wasn’t wrong to pray for him.
The president may really feel a need for prayer. Whether he understands much about the faith is debatable, but he may feel a need.
So he may not have mixed in a real humble need with a crass political move.
Some of my friends have seen a picture of Trump in the Oval Office being prayed for, looking down at the top of his desk, saying nothing, and gone on and on about how wonderful to have a president leading the nation in prayer. They scare me!