Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wait A Second, Which Woman Is Trump Again?

I posted about this on Facebook and I am surprised that very few people know about it. Maybe we are so numb to foolishness coming from Christian public figures that we stopped paying attention a long time ago. Anyway, on Thursday morning last week I was driving around and had NPR on. That in itself is noteworthy. I used to always listen to Morning Edition on my way to work and All Things Considered on my way home. It was clearly deeply liberal but if you knew that ahead of time you could still get some edification out of their in-depth stories. Not anymore. You really are pressed to find a story that is not a) claiming "climate change" is the root cause of every problem in the world, b) breathlessly praising homosexuality or c) some iteration of "Black Lives Matter" propaganda. A really good NOT story includes all three. But I was out in the middle of nowhere Kentucky so I was listening to Morning Edition and the story that stuck with me was: Ted Cruz Delegate Will Loyally Favor Trump; Falwell On Why He Backs Trump. The second half was an interview with Jerry Falwell, Jr. who is President of Liberty University. Liberty is, according to their webpage, the largest Christian university in the world and the largest private, not for profit university in America. They boast 14,500 residential students and a whopping 95,000 online students. Their seminary is huge especially their online presence. I took several semesters of classes from the seminary, the Rawlings School of Divinity (it wasn't called that at the time) and they were pretty good. I am setting the table here to make the point that Jerry Falwell, Jr. is the head of a major center of influence for the church, especially the conservative Evangelical wing of the church in America. He is also an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. What he said during the interview was so obviously wrong that my jaw literally dropped.

During his interview with Steve Inskeep from NPR, after accusing Russell Moore of being a closet liberal because he doesn't support Trump which is funny because Trump holds essentially no classically conservative political position except for a couple that he put on for the election like he put on his dorky "Make America Great Again" hats, Inskeep asked the obvious question about Trump's well documented and often flaunted immoral behavior, behavior which would have presumably gotten him kicked out of Falwell's school on multiple occasions. Here is the exchange:
INSKEEP: Is his personal life or any candidate's personal life relevant to you? 
FALWELL, JR.: Well, I think Jesus said we're all sinners. When they ask that question, I always talk about the story of the woman at the well who had had five husbands and she was living with somebody she wasn't married to, and they wanted to stone her. And Jesus said he's - he who is without sin cast the first stone. I just see how Donald Trump treats other people, and I'm impressed by that.
Anyone with even a basic level of familiarity with the Gospels knows something is wrong here. Falwell is talking about two different events in the Gospel as if they were the same event. He uses enough detail to conclude that he is drawing from both but he doesn't seem to realize they are different accounts. I imagine he had this response to the inevitable question from Inskeep ready and still he totally confused the two. As a refresher, the woman at the well with five husbands comes from John, chapter 4, specifically John 4:7-30. This is a Samaritan woman Jesus is speaking to. Four chapters later, in John 8:1-11, Jesus brings him a woman, I assume a Jew, who was caught in the act of adultery and the Pharisees wanted to trap Him in how to deal with her. This account is pretty controversial in terms of whether it should be included in John's Gospel or not. Regardless, we have two events with two very different sets of circumstances. The only commonality was that both stories dealt with women engaged in sin. It is also instructive to note that with the woman about to be stoned, Jesus said to her to go and sin no more, not go and sin some more and then run for President.

I might expect and excuse someone who was a young Christian and had not had the chance to study the Bible like he should that made this mistake. The President of a Seminary, a 54 year old man who grew up in the household of Jerry Falwell and undoubtedly was at church multiple times a week for more than half a century, a man who oversees the education of over 100,000 students who trust that Liberty is an evangelical school? Please. This was more than just a slip on a small detail, this is the statement of someone who apparently doesn't know that what he described as one event is what the Bible records as two distinct and very different events in the ministry of Jesus. You might think I am nitpicking or being overly harsh but if anything I am being too soft on this.

It is bad enough that someone with the public platform and influence over not just the tens of thousands of students at Liberty but potentially millions more who are taught by clergy and missionaries trained at Liberty, not to mention getting on national news broadcasts on a regular basis, is using his influence to shill for a deplorable individual that is the antithesis of every quality the Bible tells us to emulate. To do that while butchering a Biblical example that makes little sense anyway and making a fool of himself while he is at it is inexcusable. Mr. Falwell might be better served and might serve the student body of Liberty better if he spent less time singing the praises of Donald Trump and more time reading the Bible.

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