MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Thursday, September 3rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Commentator Cal Thomas now with some thoughts on the source of true power.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The resignation of Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. after numerous embarrassing incidents is another in a long list of object lessons each generation of Christians seems to have to learn anew.
In 1999 the late Edward Dobson and I co-authored a book titled Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America. Dobson was a former dean of students at Liberty and for a brief time I was vice president of Moral Majority (which one critic said was neither moral, nor a majority). In the book we warned about the dangers when Christian leaders get too close to politicians who often use Christian leaders to further an earthly agenda and cloak their own moral shortcomings.
This is not unique to the current president or to contemporary evangelical Christians. Yes, many conservative Christians are good-hearted people who fear the cultural decline is harming the nation they love and is a threat to how they practice their faith. The problem is too many go about seeking change through the very political and government structures they have previously criticized as unable to achieve noble ends.
Political power is a seduction more subtle than sex, though the two often seem to be linked. It was King David of Israel who wrote nearly three millennia ago a profound warning against putting too much faith in political leaders: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
Why must this lesson constantly be re-learned? There’s a long list of attempts to improve humanity, including Prohibition, “moral re-armament,” the Christian Coalition, even the United Nations, to little avail. Much of it is about fundraising and projecting an image of power and influence. Ignored is the inevitable decline of nations that forget history and abandon unchanging standards of virtue.
Liberty University is faced with an opportunity. It needs to bring in someone with impeccable academic credentials and who practices a consistent Christian faith; someone who eschews proximity to power and associates instead with the meek and lowly; someone who seeks approval from God, not a political leader.
The school also should dismiss the board that acted like a rubber stamp for Falwell and conduct a comprehensive audit that will get everything out in the open. It should also stop inviting politicians to speak at commencement and convocation. An outside firm has been hired to investigate the tenure of Falwell’s presidency, including his real estate dealings. That’s a good start. These are steps that will restore credibility to a very good university with a potentially bright future.
The university’s motto has been “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” That’s from 2 Corinthians 3:17, and it’s time to invite that Spirit to return.
I’m Cal Thomas.