LYNCHBURG, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, which hails itself as the world’s largest Christian university, has deleted a vulgar tweet that provided his personal opinion on David Platt’s explanation to his church on why he decided to pray for President Trump on stage when he arrived on Sunday with short notice.
Falwell had acknowledged in writing the tweet that his remark was “crude,” writing, “Sorry to be crude, but pastors like @plattdavid need to grow a pair.”
Some were reportedly disappointed in Falwell’s choice of language. According to Relevant Magazine, one follower replied, “What an unbelievable statement from someone who calls themselves a minister of the gospel. @LibertyU should call on you to repent.”
Falwell responded by saying that he isn’t a minister, but rather an attorney and real estate developer, and his responsibilities at Liberty University are success in academics, athletics and finances. Liberty University’s longtime tagline has been “Training Champions for Christ.”
“You’re putting your ignorance on display. I have never been a minister,” Falwell wrote. “UVA-trained lawyer and commercial real estate developer for 20 yrs. Univ president for last 12 years-student body tripled to 100000+/endowment from 0 to $2 billion and $1.6B new construction in those 12 years.”
“The faculty, students and campus pastor @davidnasser of @LibertyU are the ones who keep LU strong spiritually as the best Christian univ. in the world,” he continued. “While I am proud to be a conservative Christian, my job is to keep LU successful academically, financially and in athletics.”
While the latter remarks remain on Falwell’s Twitter, the initial tweet with the crude comment was deleted. See here and here.
Falwell was referring to the lengthy explanation David Platt, the pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia and former president of the Southern Baptist International Missions Board (IMB), provided to his church after he decided to bring Trump on stage and have the congregation collectively pray for him.
Trump had made an unannounced visit to the church on Sunday and Platt said that he was advised with short notice that the president would be arriving and would like prayer.
“I immediately thought about my longing to guard the integrity of the gospel in our church,” he recalled.
But he also thought of the exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:
“I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men — for kings, and for all that are in authority — that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
“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,” Platt explained. “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.”
Platt, known for the book “Radical,” which discusses abandoning materialism and the quest for the American dream, said that he was releasing the statement as some of his members were hurt by his decision to pray for Trump on stage. He said that he was thankful for the opportunity to pray for the president as commanded in Scripture but also did not want to “purposely ever do anything that undermines the unity we have in Christ.”
“[S]ome within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision,” he wrote. “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.”
In the end, Platt asked his congregation, “[W]ould you pray with me for gospel seed that was sown today to bear fruit in the president’s heart? Would you also pray with me that God will help us to guard the gospel in every way as we spread the gospel everywhere?”
While some have characterized Platt’s statement as apologetic, others opine that Platt made no apologies, but rather sought to clarify and explain himself to those who were offended.
As previously reported, Falwell has been an ardent supporter of President Trump, repeatedly asserting throughout Trump’s presidential campaign that the then-candidate bears the fruit of one being born again because of his characteristic good deeds.
“I’ve seen his generosity to strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children,” he said on CNN’s “Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield” in February 2016. “I’m convinced he’s a Christian. I believe he has faith in Jesus Christ.”
Falwell made similar comments to Fox talk show host Sean Hannity.
“He may not be a theological expert and he might say two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians, but when you look at the fruits of his life and all the people he’s provided jobs, I think that’s the true test of somebody’s Christianity, not whether or not they use the right theological terms,” he contended.
Falwell asserted that those who expressed concerns about Trump’s behavior were violating the “judge not” clause in Matthew 7:1.
“Jesus said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged. Let’s stop trying to choose the political leaders who we believe are the most godly because, in reality, only God knows people’s hearts. You and I don’t, and we are all sinners,” he said in an interview with the Liberty University newspaper in March 2016.
He also told the Washington Post earlier this year that he doesn’t believe that the teachings of Christ were meant to be used for public policy, but that the government should rather be “free of religious association.”
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Colossians 3:8 also exhorts, “But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy [and] filthy communication out of your mouth.”