He had been hospitalized before for heart congestion problems and it seems he died of heart failure. He is remembered for TV ministry, money issues (did he really receive 3.5 million from the Moonies), fundamentalism, politics, Moral Majority, Religious Right, Liberty University, welcoming Catholics, lawsuits with Penthouse and Hustler, overplaying his cards at 911, strong views against homosexuality and abortion . . and tele-tubbies.
What sticks in my mind about Jerry Falwell?
What I remember most about Jerry, apart from blaming abortionists and gays for 911, are his thoughts . . . [or lack of thoughts] . . . about overeating and the tendency of Southern Baptists to replace alcohol with food (“Weighty Matters: Is Religion Making Us Fat?). Southern Baptists,, according to a 1998 Perdue University Study, have the highest average body mass of any other denomination and far higher than non-Christians. Jerry admitted that gluttony was a sin but denied that there was a strong connection between Baptist life and obesity. Some have hinted that SBC stands for ‘Stomach Bigger than Chest’.
I’m not trying to bash Jerry, or Southern Baptists. Others are doing that quite well today. But I am wondering if Baptist theology was a few degrees more holistic and a few degrees less docetist in practice, and if it embraced a stronger theology of the body leading to changes in diet and exercise . . . . then maybe Baptist preachers like Jerry Falwell could log in a few more years in ministry. I remember Howard Hendricks used to recommend physical exercise for ministers and is quoted in “The Discipled Physical Life“. I also remember Bill Bright teaching on fasting and prayer at Amsterdam 2000. We should take this more seriously. I dont talk about it much because I am naturally skinny and its a bit mean to bring it up. But brought it up I have.
Centurion has a cool story about Larry Flynt who said:
“I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.”