The public fall of Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University, is a sobering reminder that even our most respected leaders are not exempt from failure. Increasing revelations of the Falwells’s lifestyle, which went on for years, paint a more disturbing picture than what was originally revealed.
Falwell now joins a tragically growing list of Christian leaders whose moral failures have severely damaged not only the organizations they led and built but also the reputation of the gospel.
From my perspective as a bishop, I believe Falwell’s failure is in part due to how evangelicals have built a culture that leaves little to no room for regular confession of sins, repentance and restoration. I believe we lost the practice of a confessional life because in our efforts to stay rooted in our Protestant beliefs we distanced ourselves from anything that could be remotely interpreted as Roman Catholic.
Being saved, for many evangelicals, means being declared righteous by the redemptive work of Jesus — all well and good, but “being saved” does not mean we stop being sinners. On the contrary, we need saving because we are sinners. As long as we are on this earth, we have a sin nature, even if we have committed and submitted our lives to Jesus. The inability to acknowledge the fact that we are all works in progress is a major flaw in evangelical subcultures.
This is not a modern Christian concept. Jesus himself taught his disciples the parable of the publican and the pharisee (Luke 18). The publican is praised not because of his righteousness but because of his repentant position before God as a sinner.
In Acts we also read the early Christians said they belonged to “the Way.” By calling themselves members of the Way, the early believers declared that following Jesus was about the journey not simply reaching a destination.
So why are we surprised when Christian leaders fail? The real question we should be asking is, what do we do when leaders fail and engage in a sinful pattern of living?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Joseph D’Souza