The Common Good
September/October 2007

A Divisive Legacy

by Winton Boyd | September/October 2007

I am disappointed in Jim Wallis' commentary about Jerry Falwell ("Falwell's Legacy," July 2007).

I am disappointed in Jim Wallis' commentary about Jerry Falwell ("Falwell's Legacy," July 2007). Wallis says Falwell "did help to teach Christians that their faith should express itself in the public square …." Wallis seems to negate the generations—even centuries—of Christians who advocated for an active, public faith. Even in his own time, Falwell was surrounded by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., William Sloane Coffin, Billy Graham, and countless other local examples of publicly active Christian men and women. Maybe Falwell brought new life to the evangelical movement, but I would suggest that what he brought was a desire for power, often couched in divisive religious language.

He did indeed help redefine the term "Christian" in our day—in ways that have increased the divisions within the church and society. He was passionate, but one has to wonder where the passion was directed. No doubt many were inspired by him. But let's remember that for most of the last two decades, Falwell was out of the mainstream of any Christian tradition—quoted because he was reactionary and sure to provide a bizarre headline. Please, let's not forget that many have urged us to be active in the public square as Christians—evangelical, orthodox, mainline, progressive, emerging, etc.

Winton Boyd
Madison, Wisconsin

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