Friday, May 18, 2007

Remembering Dr. Jerry Falwell

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Christianity and Israel lost a good friend in the passing of Dr. Falwell.


Dr. Jerry Falwell: A Pioneer of Christian Zionism

On Tuesday, May 15, Dr. Jerry Falwell went to his reward in heaven. With his passing, the nation has lost a wonderful man of God and an important Christian leader. In addition, we in the Christian Zionist world lost one of our pioneers and leading lights.

When I was deciding whether to create Christians United for Israel, I called Dr. Falwell for his guidance. Dr. Falwell not only encouraged me to create CUFI in the strongest terms, but he pledged his full support. And Dr. Falwell kept this pledge. He served on CUFI's Executive Board from day one and, despite his health challenges, he traveled to Washington, DC last July to participate in our first Washington, DC summit.

Supporting Israel was hardly new for Dr. Falwell. When he created the Moral Majority in 1979, he declared that one of its founding principles was to provide "support for Israel and Jewish people everywhere." In the early 1980's, Dr. Falwell reached out to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin when much of the American political establishment was shunning Begin. This odd couple, a Southern Baptist preacher and a Polish Holocaust survivor, became fast friends and remained close until Begin's death.

When asked why he supported Israel so strongly, Dr. Falwell often mentioned Israel's democracy and the fact that Israel was a strong American ally in both the Cold War and the War against Terror. Dr. Falwell was also fond of quoting Genesis 12:3. As he once correctly noted: "I firmly believe God has blessed America because America has blessed the Jew. If this nation wants her fields to remain white with grain, her
scientific achievements to remain notable, and her freedom to remain intact, America must continue to stand with Israel."

In 2002, Dr. Falwell was interviewed for a segment that 60 Minutes was doing on Christian Zionism. With all of the challenges facing Christians in those days, Dr. Falwell made his top priority crystal clear. He looked in the camera and declared:

"There's nothing that would bring the wrath of the Christian public in this country down on this government like abandoning or opposing Israel in a critical matter."

As we mourn Dr. Jerry Falwell's passing, let us remember his example. Let us remember what he taught us about the need for Christians to speak out on the urgent issues of our time. And let us remember that he always placed Israel at the forefront of these issues.

Pastor John Hagee
Christians United For Israel