Falwell, Fowler, and the Moral Majority That Never Was 

Aug 28, 2020 by David Fowler

Falwell, Fowler, and the Moral Majority That Never Was 
It is easy for those of us who profess to be Christians to point to Black Lives Matter, sexual-identity advocates, feminists, abortion advocates, Democrats, and Republicans in Name Only as those who are leading to our nation’s decline. However, the resignation of Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the late founder of the defunct Moral Majority, offers professing Christians like me an opportunity to refine our focus and, more specifically, to focus on how we, too, have contributed to the mess our Nation is in.

A Necessary Personal and Probably Shocking Confession

For what follows about Falwell and the Moral Majority to make any sense, I must begin with a confession. I will develop it more fully in a new book I’ve been working on in my spare time, but here is the “teaser”: Until about three years ago I had never grasped the whole content of what is contained in, and meant by, the “gospel of the grace of God”[i](Acts 20:24). 
To understand that better, you will need to read the book, if I ever get it published. For now, here is the point relative to what follows about Falwell and a “Moral Majority” kind of politics: The “gospel of the grace of God” is not first and foremost about moral reform or even about morality per se. 
Rather, the fundamental point of the gospel is our separation from God. It manifests itself in us not being able to see the true glory of God—in not knowing God aright, as He truly is—and finding in the true and growing knowledge of Him all the springs of peace, joy, and contentment in this life that make us long to see by sight what now we see only by faith, namely, “the glory of God” that “is in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). 
A heaven full of wonderous things is but Hell if Christ is not there, and heaven will not belong to those who, whatever they fancy about themselves, have not been made ready in this life to be transformed fully into Christ’s present likeness on the day of final judgment.
The “gospel of the grace of God” was an awakening in me to the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing I could do to make up for those thoughts, words, and actions already done and for which I condemned myself. And, it was an awaking in me that I had no means within myself of having that “righteousness of God” that a person must have to be in the presence of a wholly righteous God (Hebrews 12:14).
I spent most of my life as the person the Apostle Paul described in Romans 10:2-3 (emphasis added):
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Walking a church aisle to escape the terror of hell to get to a heaven whose streets may be paved with gold does not give one the righteousness of God.

Application to the ‘Moral Majority’ Kind of Politics

The salient point today is not that Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s wife had an extra-marital affair or even that he’s been accused of having found something of personal "value" in it. Nothing new here; King David, who was a type of Christ before Christ’s advent, had an affair with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover it up.
No, the real point is that when those who profess Christ make the gospel about moral reform and outward actions, they proclaim, as the Apostle Paul said, “another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7). 
Those who do so (and I don’t know what Falwell, Jr. proclaims), and there are many of them, set themselves up for failure, because no one will ever be fully righteous in this life. Worse than that, they set up for ridicule and scorn what most perceive to be Christianity and, consequently, even Christ Himself. Count me as having been among them.
But Christians are those who know they are no better in and of themselves than the worst of those they would call “sinners.” They see the “plank” in their own eye first (Matthew 7:5, NKJV). 
Christians know they do not have the righteousness of God in them. They know that God, without any cause He could find in them (Romans 3:24), had “mercy” on them (Romans 9:15 quoting Exodus 33:19), and He gave them a righteousness that was not of their own doing (Romans 4:6, 10:3). 

Why a ‘Moral Majority’ Never Really Was

In other words, none of us are moral apart from that righteousness that God the Father offers to all who place the whole of their faith in the righteousness that Christ has secured for sinners, which happens when the Holy Spirit removes the “veil” that “lies on their hearts”  (2 Corinthians 14-16).
To claim we are “moral,” let alone part of a moral majority, is to deny the full depth of what the Apostle Paul wrote, quoting from Psalm 53:3, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). We only think we are righteous because we don’t fully grasp the “righteousness of God” and the desperate state of our human condition.

The Objection That’s Sure to Come

I expect that some Christians will say this is a gospel of permissiveness, that it will encourage slack moral living. That accusation is quite natural, because offering the free grace of the gospel to everyone seems too good to be true. Surely, we think, God can’t be that good, love that much. That is why Paul had to keep answering objections like this one all through his letter to the Romans (see 6:1 and 15, 7:7 and 13, 9:30). 
The gospel of free grace has always been considered a scandal by those who, as I did, want to believe they contribute at least something to their salvation, that they are only sick as a result of sin and need some help, not “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 5). But it was by spreading that gospel that things in the superstitious pagan world began to change, even politics.

Is There a ‘Politics of the Gospel’?

I have come to realize that Christian political action based on moralism is not political action according to the “gospel of the grace of God.” I’m still working on what a fully developed understanding of that kind of political action looks like. My next book will be finished when I get there.
But I’ve gotten far enough to say that the issues may not change much. That, I suspect, will assure those who love and support me and who may think I’ve not gone soft and, correspondingly, it will disappoint those who don’t and wish that I would.
However, I know a ‘politics of the gospel’ will be driven by something deeper, more satisfying, and more meaningful and enduring than fighting for America so we can maintain that standard of living and civil liberty to which we may have grown accustomed, and it won’t be measured strictly by legislative or courtroom “victories.”
Over time, I believe a ‘politics of the gospel’ might just change politics as we know it, because the gospel, when rightly understood and lived out, changes everything. 
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

[i]All Scripture taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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