Falwell Comments at Liberty University Morally Reprehensible and Tactically Reckless
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2015 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Statement by the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck (pronounced "SHANK"), president of the National Clergy Council and 21-year missionary to top government officials in Washington, DC:
"The remarks on Friday by President Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University, regarding the terrorist attackers in San Bernardino, California, were morally reprehensible.
"While an argument can be made that the Bible and Christian moral tradition allow for use of deadly force under extreme circumstances, killing another human being, under any circumstance, is always regrettable and deeply tragic. For someone of Dr. Falwell's stature to make light of killing even those intent on doing harm, especially when he is armed himself and ready to kill, violates the biblical mandate for loving our enemies. At the same time, it places Christian workers in Muslim countries at great risk. Even worse, by irresponsibly conflating terrorists with all Muslims, Dr. Falwell insulted an entire people group that is loved by God and has risked alienating those same people from their Christian neighbors.
"Dr. Falwell's comments contradict the Gospel itself. In the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, Jesus said, 'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.'
"It's hard to imagine how Dr. Falwell's words could be construed as obeying Christ's command to 'do good to those that hate you.' In fact, Dr. Falwell's words are closer to what we hear from our enemies. In contrast, earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns, 'You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person.'
"It's understandable that emotions run high after horrendous acts of violence against innocent people, and Dr. Falwell can be excused for that, but to make the contemptuous remarks he did from his seat as president of the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, and in front of more than 10,000 of his charges, not to mention on an international video feed, is inexcusable.
"When we say and do the wrong things, we must repent of our failure, admit to our wrong, beg the pardon and forgiveness of God and those we have offended, and set things right as best we can. I respectfully suggest Dr. Falwell follow that course.
"As Christians, we must do better than others because we are called to the highest of moral and ethical standards by virtue of our witness to the One that was perfect in every way."
The Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck (photo) is an ordained Evangelical minister and president of Faith and Action in the Nation's Capital, located in Washington, DC. A leader among American Evangelicals, Dr. Schenck is serving his second term as chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, one of America's oldest associations of independent Evangelical clergy.
As featured in Abigail Disney's newly released documentary, The Armor of Light (Fork Films, 2015), Dr. Schenck has recently challenged the prevailing attitudes of American Evangelicals on gun ownership, opening a vigorous debate in his community on the ethical dimensions of gun use and related public policy questions. He recently preached a sermon on the subject at the Washington National Cathedral. (youtu.be/9sTQNWeJsUs)
Dr. Schenck holds a B.A. in Religion, M.A. in Christian Ministry, D.Min in Church and State, and was recently named a senior fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. His professional memberships include the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Academy of Religion, the International Bonhoeffer Society, the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club, and The University Club of Washington.
Dr. Schenck lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Cheryl, a psychotherapist in private practice.