Jerry Falwell: The Billy Graham of Independent Baptists
In a sermon preached in Evansville, Indiana, on December 12, 1978, Falwell said, “I believe God has called us in this last quarter of the 20th century to bring respectability to fundamentalism” (cited from Don Jasmin, Why Do Fundamental Schools Go Apostate, 2007, p. 171).
That was the same unscriptural pragmatic objective that was announced at the founding of the New Evangelical movement in the late 1940s. When Christianity becomes respectable in the sight of this sin-cursed world, it has left its biblical moorings. The Lord Jesus Christ is Almighty God, but He wasn’t respected when He came into the world 2,000 years ago, and He is not respected by the world today.
One of Falwell’s first concrete steps toward compromise was in the late 1970s when he decided that he needed to influence politics, and toward that end he formed the Moral Majority.
In the 1960s Falwell had rightly said, “Nowhere are we commissioned to reform the externals. We are not told to wage wars against bootleggers, liquor stores, gamblers, murderers, prostitutes, racketeers, prejudiced persons or institutions, or any other existing evil as such. I feel that we need to get off the streets and back into the pulpits and into our prayer rooms” (“TV Evangelist Jerry Falwell Dies at 73,” USA Today, May 15, 2007).
By the late 1970s Falwell had made an 180 degree turn with the formation of the Moral Majority. By 1986 the organization had 500,000 active contributors and a mailing list of six million people, and Falwell stated that Catholics made up the largest constituency (30%) (Christianity Today, February 21, 1986).
In his autobiography Strength for the Journey, Falwell referred to the “Catholic brothers and sisters in the Moral Majority” (p. 371).
Christianity Today, Nov. 2, 1979, recorded an ecumenical gathering Falwell attended that year. “Seated with Falwell on the platform were ministers of varying racial, ethnic, and denominational backgrounds, including traditionalist Catholic theologian, William H. Marshner.”
If Falwell had spoken the unvarnished truth and contended for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) at such forums, he would not have been invited back.
Falwell was one of the speakers at the April 1980 “Washington for Jesus” rally. Fellow speakers were Catholic priests John Bertolucci, John Randall, and Michael Scanlon, as well as modernist Robert Schuller and a host of radical charismatics, including Jim Bakker of PTL, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, and Demos Shakarian of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International.
In an interview published in the National Catholic Register, May 9, 1982, Falwell said that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II are “the greatest men in my lifetime.” He did not give any warnings at all about the pope’s false gospel which is cursed of God (Galatians 1:7-8). While admitting that there are differences between Roman Catholics and “conservative Protestants,” Falwell made the amazing statement that Roman Catholics accept “the new birth experience.” Surely the man knows that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the new birth is in baptism. In no sense do Catholics believe “the new birth experience” in a scriptural manner.
While attending the St. Louis 2000 ecumenical conference with press credentials, I asked many charismatic Roman Catholics who worked for various Catholic ministries when they were born again, and not one of them gave a scriptural answer. Some of them did not even know what I was talking about.
In 1983 Cal Thomas, Moral Majority’s director of communications, said that the group is composed of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Protestants and some “non-religious” members. He noted that they do not pray in their meetings. Jerry Falwell told a meeting of the Religious Newswriters Association that “if we ever opened a Moral Majority meeting with prayer, we would disintegrate” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Feb, 1983, p. 14).
In 1983 Gary Habermas, a professor at Falwell’s Liberty Baptist College, co-authored a book which, according to an advertisement in Charisma magazine, reached an amazing conclusion: “The Shroud [of Turin] [which the Catholic church claims to be Christ’s burial shroud] is almost certainly authentic. Through its revelation about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it helps build faith in an unbelieving age” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Feb. 1983). Habermas would have us believe that a bogus Catholic relic can actually build faith in an unbelieving generation, an amazing conclusion for supposed Fundamentalists to reach. There are many scriptural reasons for rejecting the Shroud of Turin. For one, the image on the Shroud depicts a longhaired man. This could not possibly be the Lord Jesus Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 11:14, which says it is a shame for a man to have long hair.
In the December 1984 issue of Falwell’s Fundamentalist Journal, a Roman Catholic cardinal was given a forum to tell fundamentalists what he felt they needed to hear. This is like asking the devil what he thinks of fundamentals! Journal editor Edward Dobson said:
“‘What would you say to a Fundamentalist if given the opportunity?’ This was the question we recently asked a Jewish rabbi, a Roman Catholic cardinal, an Evangelical leader, and an articulate voice for liberal Christianity ... For too many years, we Fundamentalists have existed in our hermetically sealed world and promoted the attitude that we do not care what anyone else thinks about anything. In this issue of the Journal, we venture into new territory and listen to what others say and think about Fundamentalism. The article by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin is especially interesting. It reflects many of the changes that have occurred in the Roman Catholic church in recent decades. We view much of that change in a positive light. ... To Cardinal Bernardin’s unique insight into the American Catholic church we say, ‘gratias’” (Fundamentalist Journal, Dec. 1984).
God has not called His people to listen to heretics; He has commanded that we reject them! For a supposed “fundamentalist” to call the changes in Rome “positive” is evidence of overwhelming ignorance and blindness.
Dinesh D’Souza, in his 1984 biography about Falwell, quoted Falwell as saying, “I know many Catholic priests who are born again and who preach the same message I do” (p. 169). D’Souza also said: “To the chagrin and horror of fundamentalists, [Falwell] is frequently seen at prayer meetings with Catholics and Jews. ... He has become more gracious--he is more accepting of Roman Catholics and orthodox Jews” (Falwell Before the Millennium, pp. 180-181).
The March 1985 issue of Falwell’s Fundamentalist Journal contained the following statement on page 14:
“Extremists who declare that the Papacy is anti-Christ, or who dehumanize others with emotive declarations of their own bigotry, are insensitive to others and lack the love of Christ.”
Ever since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church, Bible believers have labeled it anti-christ. In our book Rome and the Bible we have given many such quotations from Albigenses, Waldenses, Anabaptists, and Protestants.
In was also in 1985 that Falwell gathered with thirty-two Catholics, Protestants, and Jews at Indiana University for discussions sponsored by Rabbi Leon Klenicki (Australian Beacon, Nov. 1985).
That same year, Falwell invited Catholic, pro-abortion Senator Edward Kennedy to speak at Liberty Baptist College and Thomas Road Baptist Church. “The Senator announced to the audience of 5,000, ‘I am an American and a Catholic.’ He then lectured them on Pope John XXIII’s renewal of the gospel call and the voice of Catholic bishops in the U.S.A. He opened his speech with these words. ‘I have come here to discuss my beliefs about faith and country, tolerance, and truth in America. ... I love my country and I treasure my faith.’ ... In spite of Kennedy’s travesty of historical facts, open defiance of Biblical standards (‘I utterly reject any such standards,’ he said), his obvious scorn of Biblical truth and defense of his Roman faith, the Senator was given two standing ovations and was interrupted a dozen times by applause. Cal Thomas’ impression as Moral Majority spokesman was that this is a step towards ‘disarming ideologues on both sides’” (The Flaming Torch, Jan.-Mar. 1985).
The Fundamentalist Journal for December 1986 ran a photo of Falwell addressing the students at Notre Dame University, a major Roman Catholic school. Not only is Notre Dame University a hotbed of Catholic dogma; it is a hotbed of theological modernism. The professors teach that the Bible is a mixture of truth and myth, that Adam and Eve were not historic, that the world evolved, that Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, etc.
In an editorial in the January 15, 1988, issue of Christianity Today, author Terry Muck noted Falwell’s ground-breaking ecumenism:
“Perhaps Falwell’s greatest accomplishment, however, was getting Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to work together on common causes. The Moral Majority is a coalition of groups that heretofore had let theological differences stand in the way of coordinated activity on shared concerns like abortion and pornography. It stands as a model of ecumenicity of the best sort—an agreement to work together on issues without trying simply to gloss over theological differences” (Christianity Today, Jan. 15, 1988).
Falwell spoke highly of the pope on several occasions. In his January 1985 Moral Majority Report, Falwell called the pope and Billy Graham great moral and religious leaders.
In 1988 Falwell mailed a letter to bookstores advertising a film about Pope John Paul II. Falwell made the following amazing statement about this Catholic pope:
“Dear Christian Bookstore Owner: Pope John Paul II will never become a Baptist, and it is for sure that I will never convert to Roman Catholicism. However, I have stated often that I believe this Pope is a man of unique character and courage. His consistent stand on moral and social issues has provided the world leadership so desperately needed at this hour. Robert Evans is the Cecil B. deMille of this generation. It should be, then, no marvel that Mr. Evans has so perfectly captured the innermost person and principles of John Paul II. When I first watched the ‘Power of Faith,’ I was deeply moved. While the Pope and I have broad doctrinal and theological differences, this man’s commitment to the dignity of human life and his strong opposition to tyranny and bigotry provide a shining light for the people of our generation who need such reinforcement. ... I think people from all faiths and walks of life will appreciate this film” (Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Report, Jan. 1985).
Why would a Baptist leader promote a video by a religious leader who preaches a false gospel and thereby leads multitudes to eternal hell? The Bible says the pope and anyone else preaching a false gospel is under God’s curse (Galatians 1). Did Falwell not fear that someone reading his recommendation of the pope might be encouraged to listen to him and thereby be deceived into following Catholicism? The Bible says we are not even to bid “God speed” to those who deny the doctrine of Christ (2 John 8-11), because those who assist false teachers become partakers of their evil deeds. In praising the pope and recommending his video, Falwell did much more than bid him “God speed.”
Billy Graham was the commencement speaker at Falwell’s Liberty University in 1997, and in the October 1995 issue of the National Liberty Journal Falwell praised Graham for his “long and faithful ministry.” Graham, who accepts degrees from Catholic colleges and says the Catholic gospel is the same as his own; who has turned thousands of converts over to apostate churches; who thinks the previous pope was a great evangelist; who thinks there is special power in infant baptism; who doubts that Hell is a place of literal fiery torment; who invites Catholic bishops onto his platform to bless those who come forward at his invitations; who praises Christ-denying modernists; who has promoted practically every perverted Bible version to appear in the last five decades--Billy Graham has had a faithful ministry?
This was evidence of spiritual blindness on the part of Dr. Falwell.
When New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor died on May 3, 2000, Falwell praised him. O’Connor was who was one of the most prominent Catholic leaders in America. In his news fax on May 4, Jerry Falwell said:
“The Cardinal and I differed on a few theological and social issues, but my respect for him was unwavering because of his ministerial kindness and unconditional willingness to help those in need. . . . Every pastor in America can learn a great lesson from this man. We should never permit our political or social differences to hamper our God-given instruction to minister to our fellow man. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I cannot expect people to take this message seriously if I am unwilling, as a representative of Christ, to meet them where they are. Change in people’s lives comes after a relationship with Christ begins, so we must be frequently disposed to taking the Gospel to unfriendly environments. Cardinal O’Connor embodied this mandate. I am grateful that John O’Connor -- a man of courageous faith -- had such a profound influence on the Catholic Church through his fifty-five years of ministry. I pray that another pro-life, pro-family minister can be found to fill his significant and substantial shoes.”
I can understand how Pastor Falwell could say he was thankful for Cardinal John O’Connor’s efforts against abortion and homosexual “rights,” but in praising him so profusely and in failing so completely to warn that the cardinal preached a false gospel, Falwell was misleading his listeners. He did mention in passing that he and O’Connor “differed on a few theological and social issues.” A FEW! Cardinal John O’Connor believed that salvation is through the sacraments of Rome, that the pope is the Holy Father and Vicar of Christ and supreme authority over all churches, that the Catholic priesthood mediates between God and man, that Mary is the sinless Queen of Heaven, that dead “saints” can hear and answer prayer, that the Mass is the literal body and blood and re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that believers go to purgatory, etc. Are those simply “a few” theological matters? In truth, they are the difference between heaven and hell! Yet Jerry Falwell--addressing his vast listening audience composed of people from all sorts of denominations, including Catholic--leaves them with the impression that he believed Cardinal O’Connor was a true Christian minister. As noted earlier, according to 2 John 9-11, we are not even to bid false teachers “godspeed,” let alone praise them!
We see just how cozy Falwell became with Roman Catholicism in a scene described by Keith Fournier in his book Evangelical Catholics. Fournier, Dean of Evangelism at Roman Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville, verified Falwell’s shifting position concerning the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking about a meeting he attended of the “American Congress of Christian Citizens,” Fournier stated:
“In our meeting room were major Evangelical leaders I’ve admired for years—Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, and many others. I found not only a tremendous openness to my presence, but also a growing respect for my church and a thawing in what had been hard ice in the past. Perhaps the comments by Dr. Falwell were most illustrative. He told the whole group not even to consider trying to affect public policy with only a narrow Evangelical Protestant church coalition. He said that from its inception any such effort must include Catholics and consultation with great churchmen such as Cardinal Law and Cardinal O’Connor. Clearly not backing off one bit from his self-described ‘narrowness of doctrine,’ Dr. Falwell showed a refreshing openness” (Evangelical Catholics, p. 172).
The root of societal ills is religious or spiritual in nature. The root problem of America’s social ills is the apostasy and cowardice in the pulpits and the churches. Roman Catholicism, because of its apostasy from the Word of God, is at the heart of American’s problem (as is theological modernism and every other anti-scriptural ism). It is foolish in the extreme to think that Romanism could somehow be part of the solution. How can Roman Catholicism, which has never produced true biblical morality, be an effective accomplice in a coalition to bring back morality to America? Wherever Roman Catholicism holds sway over men’s lives (visit Italy or Mexico or the Irish Republic, for example), you will find rampant immorality (adultery, fornication, pornography, child molestation), even in its priests, divorce, annulments, gambling, lascivious dancing, immodest dress, alcoholism, juvenile delinquency, idolatry, occultism, superstition, hypocrisy, agnosticism. It is with no sense of joy that I say these things, but this is a fact that I have observed with my own eyes. I realize that not every Catholic priest is a moral reprobate, but huge numbers of them are; and I realize that not every Catholic man or woman practices the things I have listed, but large numbers of them do. Roman Catholicism simply does not have the spiritual life and power to produce genuine biblical godliness. The devil is the author of false religions like Roman Catholicism (2 Corinthians 11; 1 Timothy 4), and it is a strange sight to see men like Jerry Falwell clamor for unity with false religions for the purpose of defeating the devil’s works!
Falwell endorsed Chuck Colson’s 1992 book, The Body, which urges evangelicals to join forces with Catholics and charismatics and which looks upon the Catholic Church as a part of the body of Christ. Colson said, “...the body of Christ, in all its diversity, is created with Baptist feet, charismatic hands, and Catholic ears--all with their eyes on Jesus” (World, Nov. 14, 1992).
It was reported in 2000 that the coach of Falwell’s Liberty University’s football team is a Roman Catholic (Frontline, May-June 2000, p. 6).
In September 2004 Falwell yoked together with Rick Warren for a second “Super Conference.” Speakers included Ed Young, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Elmer Towns; charismatic Jim Cymbala; and others. It was held at Liberty University. Rich Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Community Church in southern California, holds the “judge not” New Evangelical philosophy and uses “Christian” rock to draw big crowds. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren says, “God warns us over and over not to criticize, compare, or judge each other.” In fact, while God’s Word warns against judging hypocritically or judging by our fallible human traditions it plainly instructs us to judge everything by God’s Word, especially doctrine and church practice. Acts 17:11 and 1 Thess. 5:21 are examples of this warning. Warren uncritically quotes Catholic heretics such as John of the Cross and Henri Nouwen with no warning to his readers. Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, is a charismatic. The Brooklyn Tabernacle’s statement of faith says, “We believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers as a definite endowment of power for service and is subsequent to, and separate from, conversion.” They also say that all the gifts of the Spirit are for today.
In November 2004 Falwell announced that he was launching a new version of the Moral Majority called The Faith and Values Coalition (TFVC). The three-fold goal is to lobby for pro-life judges, to seek a federal amendment barring same-sex marriage, and to elect another conservative president in 2008. Falwell’s son Jonathan was executive director and Mathew Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, was vice-chairman. Tim LaHaye was the board chairman. That this new venture would proceed on the same ecumenical platform that characterized the Moral Majority was evident in a fundraising letter that Falwell published on Nov. 16, 2004. He called radical ecumenists and charismatics “courageous and brilliant evangelical mega-leaders.” He listed 18, including Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Rod Parsley. Franklin Graham has said that his father’s ecumenical alliance with the Catholic Church and all other denominations “was one of the smartest things his father ever did” (“Keeping it simple, safe keeps Graham on high,” The Indianapolis Star, Thurs., June 3, 1999, p. H2). Pat Robertson, founder of the 700 Club and Regent University, is an ardent ecumenicist who has long worked with and fellowshipped with Romanists and exemplifies the deep compromise and disobedience that is rampant in evangelical-charismatic circles today. In 1985, Robertson revealed that during 25 years of broadcasting, he has “worked for harmony and reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics” and “refrained from airing major theological differences” (Christian News, July 22, 1985). Rod Parsley, pastor of World Harvest church in Columbus, Ohio, is a dangerous false teacher who preaches the Word-Faith heresy. He teaches that believers can have whatever they desire by faith and confession, promises healing as a part of salvation, etc. Those who backed the Independent Baptist Network were backing men like Falwell, because they are rampant in the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, and the other fellowships coming together in this venture.
In December 2004 Falwell said he believed America was on the verge of a spiritual awakening (Religion Today, Dec. 1). He wanted to build on this alleged awakening with the newly formed political action group The Faith and Values Coalition. Falwell believed “the church of Jesus Christ is now standing tall” and “if we will press the battle now--in the next four, eight, or twelve years, we can bring this nation back to the faith of our fathers.” He said America has been undergoing “a quiet spiritual awakening” during the past two decades, and points to the popularity of the Left Behind books, the rise of CCM, and the increase of those who describe themselves as evangelicals.
From where I stand, the only spiritual awakening discernible in America is one built upon spiritual compromise, heresy, and idolatry. Contemporary Christian Music is not spiritual revival: it is worldliness. The increase in the numbers of “evangelicals” is of no consequence because the definition of evangelical has become meaningless. The term “evangelical” describes a Roman Catholic praying to Mary, or a Fuller Seminary president denying the verbal inspiration of Scripture, or Wheaton College inviting a Mormon professor to talk about C.S. Lewis, or Cornerstone College hosting a rock & roll dance party, or someone falling on the floor and calling it a miracle or muttering nonsense and calling it tongues, or a movie about Jesus based on the visions of a Catholic mystic. Seeing that this type of thing is not on the periphery of evangelicalism but at its very heart, on what biblical authority do we describe today’s evangelicalism as spiritual revival?
Independent Baptists, take heed. Jerry Falwell was the blind leading the blind.
The fruit of Dr. Falwell’s compromise is evident in the changes that have occurred in Liberty University.
It was originally established as Liberty Baptist College with the emphasis on training Christian workers, but in the quest to achieve certification and “respectability” and approval by the Southern Baptist Convention it has changed dramatically.
To obtain certification from the Virginia State Board of Education, Creationism was moved from the science department to the philosophy department.
Don Jasmin observes, “Remember, the science department is where you supposedly deal with facts; the philosophy department is the area where you deal with fiction! Creationism is not just a philosophical concept, it is a Biblical and historical fact” (Why Do Fundamental Schools Go Apostate, p. 185).
Today the student application at Liberty University does not require a testimony of salvation. There is no compulsory church attendance. There is no doctrinal statement that teachers must sign.
Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, delivered the Liberty University graduation speech on May 19, 2007. Gingrich’s invitation, which was extended before Falwell died, is further evidence of the deep spiritual compromise that encompassed Falwell’s ministry in his latter years. Gingrich is a brilliant politician and historian, but he should not be the speaker at an alleged Bible-believing college. His testimony of salvation is very weak. He told James Dobson, “In terms of my own life, let me say that I was raised initially as a Lutheran and I ended up converting and becoming a Southern Baptist when I was in graduate school at Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church with Dr. Avery Lee, who was just a great, great preacher and moral leader” (“Newt has 'sought God's forgiveness,” WorldNetDaily, March 8, 2007). To convert from Lutheran to Southern Baptist is not a biblical testimony of salvation. I wrote to Gingrich’s organization and asked for his testimony, but they did not reply.
In his commencement address at Liberty University, Gingrich did not even mention salvation in Jesus Christ, and in his commencement address at the University of Mary Washington on May 13, 2007, Gingrich urged the graduates to follow “five basic rules of life.” They were “dream big, work hard, learn daily, enjoy life and be true to themselves.” It is not scriptural to be “true to yourself,” and he neglected the most important “rule” of all, which is to be born again and to fear God. Gingrich is twice divorced and thrice married and has had affairs both during and outside of wedlock (“Newt Gingrich,” Wikipedia). Gingrich actively supported a homosexual congressional candidate in Wisconsin, praising him for ‘courage’ in running for office, and he opposed an attempt in the House of Representatives to censure homosexual congressman Barney Frank for criminal conduct, including letting a homosexual prostitution ring be run out of his home (The New American, Dec. 1994). Gingrich is one of the top lobbyists for the alcohol industry (The Fundamentalist Digest, Jan.-Feb. 1993).
On April 25, 2014, Mormon Glenn Beck, Mormon political activist and conservative talk show host, spoke at Liberty University’s final convocation of the semester.
It was not a political address. It was a rousing, tear-drenched sermon about God and the Bible, a sermon in which Beck exalted Joseph Smith and cited Mormon theology, and it was received with frequent cheers and applause and a standing ovation at the end.
(Beck spoke at Liberty University’s graduation service in 2010 when he was given an honorary doctorate of humanities. Also, the Sounds of Liberty music group and Jerry Falwell, Jr., participated in Beck’s Restoring Honor event in Washington, D.C., that year.)
Jerry Falwell, Jr., gave Beck a glowing introduction at the graduation service in 2014 and received from him a $50,000 check as a gift to the school. This is in direct and blatant disobedience to God’s Word.
“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 8-11).
The Falwells need to learn a lesson from the early preachers.
“Because that for his name's sake they went forth, TAKING NOTHING OF THE GENTILES” (3 John 1:7).
You are not so tempted to compromise when you are content with God’s provision and aren’t spending heaps of money that you don’t have and when you aren’t pursuing accreditation from the world and when you don’t build mega-institutions that have no biblical authority.
Speaking before a large banner bearing the school’s motto, “Training Champions for Christ,” the Mormon’s message was filled with spiritual deception. At best, Glenn Beck has a false christ. (For more about this event, see “Liberty University and Mormons Together,” www.wayoflife.org.)
Liberty University recently justified its hiring of a homosexual advocate to teach students choreography for a presentation of Mary Poppins.
And a homosexual named Brandon Ambrosino was allowed to enroll as a graduate in Liberty’s seminary program.
Liberty University has also moved into the realm of contemplative prayer. In 2007, Lighthouse Trails reported that David Wheeler’s course Foundations in Youth Ministry II uses Mark Yaconelli’s book Contemplative Youth Ministry.
“Yaconelli, the son of the late Mike Yaconelli (founder of Youth Specialties), is a strong advocate for contemplative. On Mark Yaconelli's website, under Practices and Processes, Yaconelli lays out some ‘guidelines’ for centering prayer and recommends Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington, both of whom promote panentheism (God is in all things and people). In another course by Dr. Wheeler, he is using a book by Doug Fields (Saddleback Youth Pastor)” (“Liberty University Uses Contemplative/Emergent Textbooks,” Lighthouse Newsletter, Feb. 13, 2007).
The Liberty University course Evangelism and Christian Life has a bibliography that is “a who’s who of contemplative prayer (Foster, Willard, Warren, and Boa, etc.).”
In 2016, Liberty has scheduled two emerging preachers to speak at chapel services. Rich Wilkerson Jr., pastor of Vous Church near Miami, spoke at Liberty’s chapel service on January 20, and Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic of Los Angeles, is scheduled to speak on February 3.
Wilkerson is so cool that he is close friends with foul-mouthed, blasphemous rapper Kanye West, who appeared as a thorn-crowned Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone in 2006. His 2013 album was titled Yeezus, which is a play on West’s nickname Yeezy and the name Jesus. The cover art depicts West being crowned king by angels. In the song “I Am a God,” he raps, “I just talked to Jesus,/ and he said, ‘What up, Yeezus?’/ ... I know He the Most High/ But I am a close high/ ... I am a god.” The Book of Zeezus: A Bible for the Modern Day, published in 2015, is a version of the book of Genesis that replaces every mention of God with the rapper’s name. Wilkerson performed West’s marriage to pop icon and Playboy model Kim Karshashian. Wilkerson collaborates with West on a number of projects, including the “Yeezus Tour.” In a promotional video for his reality show Rich in Faith, Wilkerson says, “I come from a different perspective. I don’t think people are interested in a bunch of religion, like tell me what I can and can’t do. But I think people are interested in having a relationship with a higher power.” Wilkerson doesn’t warn about sin and judgment. He says, “I don’t know who’s going to Hell. I just know that followers of Jesus are going to Heaven--that’s what the Bible says. My message isn’t ever who’s going where” (“Liberty University Welcomes Reality Show ‘Pastor,’” ChristianNews.net, Jan. 20, 2016). Wilkerson never explains how his “Jesus” differs from the false christs that Paul warns about (2 Cor. 11:1-4).
Liberty University speaker Erwin McManus is author of The Barbarian Way, in which he urges Christians to reject rules and boundaries. As “evidence” he shows his complete disregard for sound principles of biblical interpretation by citing John the Baptist’s statement in Matthew 3:11 that Jesus would “baptize us in both Spirit and fire.” McManus’s amazing interpretation is that “Barbarians are guided by the wind of God and ignited by the fire of God” and that “the way of the barbarian can be found only by listening to the voice of the Spirit” (The Barbarian Way, p. 13). This is blind mysticism divorced from the protection of “sola Scriptura,” but it has nothing to do with what John was teaching in this passage. In fact, the baptism with fire is interpreted by John himself in the very next verse as eternal judgment, something that the emerging guys don’t talk much about. Mosaic is one of the many Southern Baptist Churches that have been taken into an emerging direction by a new generation of cool pastors.
Jerry Falwell Jr. would doubtless say that his associations aren’t indicative of his own beliefs and that he has liberty in such matters, but the Word of God exposes this error. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3), and, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17), and, “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
Liberty University is on a slippery slide of compromise that began under Jerry Falwell’s direction. His compromise started with small steps, as it always does, but the Word of God warns that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).
The following warning was given many years ago by former Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI) president Dr. Victor Sears:
“Dr. Falwell is not basically a fundamental Baptist. . . . [but] is a New Evangelical in the same compromising vein as Dr. Billy Graham. If we keep following the road paved by Falwellism, we of the (BBF) will lose our identity completely as old-fashioned, Bible-believing separatists” (Calvary Contender, June 15, 1987).
Sadly, most Baptist Bible Fellowship churches have followed the road paved by Falwell and have adopted the soft, non-separatist, contemporary approach. Already in the early 1990s, some prominent BBF leaders supported the radically ecumenical Promise Keepers.
We agree with what Jerry Huffman of the Calvary Contender wrote in September 2003:
“Spurgeon preached separation from error and compromise. He said: ‘That I might not stultify my testimony I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.’ We do great harm to the cause of Christ by appearing to condone the disobedience of those unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.