Falwell Jr and the spiritual call to “grow a pair”

And here we go again!  Talking about Jerry Jr. on the Holman Report.  But yet again, he tweeted something out so ridiculous, that Liberty Alumni everywhere talked feverishly about it for days.  I did too.  It created an epic case study for what conservatism has become, which is namely, not so conservative.  I remember hearing years ago about the immorality of the liberal left, and their course mouths and their delight for all things anti-God and anti church.  Welcome to 2019!  The time period where we don’t have flying cars, but we do have leaders of Christian colleges calling other pastors to “grow a pair” on social media.

Last Sunday, President Trump surprised Mclean Bible Church and the pastor of the church and this happened:

Naturally, some people passed judgment that a pastor would “bow” to the President and became upset that Pastor David Platt would pray for President Trump.  I could talk about the ludicrous nature of this for a few minutes, but we already know that the president is divisive and there is a natural division between people when it comes to opinion on his presidency.  As soon as the video went viral, opinions were everywhere at whether or not the pastor should have prayed for 45.  There were a lot of opinions of “why that church?” or accusations about why the president picked going there and how he had to link back up with his evangelical base, as if a president being strategic was something so diabolical.

Then a few days later, Pastor Platt sent out a memo to his church communicating this.

Here is an excerpt of the meat of the memo:

At the end of my sermon at the 1:00 worship gathering, I stepped to the side for what I thought would be a couple of moments in quiet reflection as we prepared to take the Lord’s Supper. But I was immediately called backstage and told that the President of the United States was on his way to the church, would be there in a matter of minutes, and would like for us to pray for him. I immediately thought about my longing to guard the integrity of the gospel in our church. As I said in the sermon today, Christ alone unites us. I love that we have over 100 nations represented in our church family, including all kinds of people with varied personal histories and political opinions from varied socioeconomic situations. It’s clear in our church that the only reason we’re together is because we have the same King we adore, worship, fear, and follow with supreme love and absolute loyalty, and His name is Jesus.

That’s why, as soon as I heard this request backstage, the passage from God’s Word that came to my mind was 1 Timothy 2:1-6:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

Based on this text, I know that it is good, and pleasing in the sight of God, to pray for the president. So in that moment, I decided to take this unique opportunity for us as a church to pray over him together. My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president and other leaders to govern in the way this passage portrays.

I went back out to lead the Lord’s Supper and then walked off stage, where the president was soon to arrive. In that brief moment, I prayed specifically for an opportunity to speak the gospel to him, and for faithfulness to pray the gospel over him.

While I won’t go into the details of our conversation backstage, one of our other pastors and I spoke the gospel in a way that I pray was clear, forthright, and compassionate. Then I walked back out on stage, read 1 Timothy 2:1-6, and sought to pray the Word of God over the president, other leaders, and our country. (If you would like to see the full context of my comments and prayer, I have included the video below.) After I prayed, the president walked off stage without comment, and we closed our gathering by celebrating heroes among us, a couple who has spent the last 48 years spreading the gospel in remote places where it had never gone before they came. We then recited the Great Commission as we always do, sending one another out into the city for the glory of our King.

I wanted to share all of this with you in part because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision. This weighs heavy on my heart. I love every member of this church, and I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God. So while I am thankful that we had an opportunity to obey 1 Timothy 2 in a unique way today, I don’t want to purposely ever do anything that undermines the unity we have in Christ.

Not bad huh?  Doesn’t say anything negative about anybody, but mentions his desire to guard the church for the sake of the gospel.  I don’t always agree with Platt, having not really enjoyed some of his more famous works, but a guy who understands that his church has different kinds of people in it, is a solid pastor.

But not according to Jerry Falwell Jr, who tweeted this:

“Sorry to be crude, but pastors like @plattdavid need to grow a pair.  Just saying”

My point in this article is not that Christian leaders have to be held to a higher standard, although that is a principle in Scripture.  I don’t even want to say that Falwell Jr. has a responsibility to live “above reproach”, though there is something to be said about him doing that as a leader in one of the most influential evangelical universities in America.  My greater point is the medium which he chose to use in communicating his thoughts.  Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new sheriff in town, a new religion that we must all follow.  It started years ago when a reality show star looked across the table for the first time and yelled at his underling – one of the many whose fate he controlled – “You’re fired!”

This is the era of “I can say whatever I want to say in public and more times than not, It is going to be so outlandish that it will be impossible to keep me accountable.”  And there are multiple people engaging in the fun, starting with the president himself.  Then, and here’s the kicker, we enable those people by defending their tweets/statements/posts.

Listen, I get it.  Nobody wants an internet mob (though they happen to be around every day or so), but I want you to know this.  There is nothing wrong with calling out bad behavior.  In fact, not calling out bad behavior is what allows horrific leadership to continue no accountability.  It’s what allows Ted Haggard to become a leading proponent against homosexuality while practicing homosexuality.  It’s what allows pastors and church leaders across the country to say and do whatever they want at the cost of people being turned away from the church in droves, and its what allows hypocrisy in epic proportions when it comes to political parties.

So Pro life Democrats get ignored by their parties and Republicans who think safer gun laws are better than crazy white guys spraying schools with machine guns.

Back to Jerry Jr.

A lot of people don’t like that tweet, and they let him know that.  But a lot of them are Democrats who don’t like him, so I fully expect them to hate on him always.  But I wonder where his followers stand in all of this.

A friend of mine, a Liberty alumnus, wrote his opinion on Facebook, and tagged me and a bunch of his college friends as well.  Most of them call Falwell out, but a few, both politely and impolitely say that he had every right to say that and the pastor, who explained to his church why he prayed for Trump on stage, needed to grow a pair.  One guy even disagreed with many of my friends points, even though he clearly hadn’t read the pastor’s statement, but kindly “agreed to disagree.”  #Trumpfollower2020

Until this issue gets resolved here in America however, there will never be real unity in the church.  For you see, if a Republican can’t call out his fellow Republicans for foolish viewpoints or foolish “tweets”, or Democrats can’t call out their own for turning a blind eye on an important, world changing issue, than we are all just playing politics, and if you’re a Christian, playing politics is something we are called to transcend.

The good news is that as a Christian in the wilderness, you already have an advantage when it comes to this topic.  There are two ways in which we experience “sides”.  The first way is loyalty.  Loyalty is the king most people follow.  Whether it’s their church or their country or their political party, their side is their loyalty.  Whichever side they pick is the side that is right.  No amount of wisdom or fact matters when it comes to their loyalty.  Their elephant, donkey, flag, or color is how they experience life and sight.

The other way you can experience life or see things clearly is through truth.  Truth is not easy.  In fact, it is a delicate and fading wind that comes and goes in a breath.  Many have pushed away truth for it being outdated, choosing instead to follow after the newest government program or quick fix that will change their lives.  Many have given truth a fake boundary that allows them and their side the privilege of knowing truth, and denying it of those who think differently than they do.

But truth is not like that.  Truth doesn’t follow after your voting record and it certainly has no interest in making America Great again.  It is much deeper than allowing us to believe the change we need lies within a political party or a government plan.

Truth hovers beneath the surface of our reality, calling us to be better, love harder, and give sacrificially.  Truth starts with the Creator and travels within His Spirit as the believer allows him access through surrender.  He is as comfortable in the wilderness as He is in a church, and convicts even the hardest individual to love their enemy and build bridges.  And truth calls out the bs of the party line.  You know?  The organized public relations extravaganza of the platform.

So here we are, the Christians in the wilderness.  We are not truth, but we happen to have access to truth.  As a steward of that truth, please, please, please don’t be bribed by the world’s system or the fruit or the political party or whatever metaphor you want to use.  It is not truth, but you know what is.  Take some time, pray, fast, and be silent.  Then speak truth in whatever medium God has given you to communicate.  That might be Facebook and that might be on a stage, or at a coffee shop or a bar with a friend.

I’m happy to report something I had yet to see on Facebook in a long time on my friend’s thread.  The guy who agreed to disagree with me and my friend?  He recanted after a while and literally said this:  “I was wrong about Platt, my friend.  He did the right thing.”

Now that is a guy who found truth and “who already grew a pair!”

#jerryfalwelljr #Libertyuniversity #Davidplatt #mcleanbiblechurch #church #gospel #faith #truth

Written by Marty Holman


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