The public fall of Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University, is a sobering reminder that even our most respected leaders are not exempt from failure. Increasing revelations of the Falwells’s lifestyle, which went on for years, paint a more disturbing picture than what was originally revealed.
Falwell now joins a tragically growing list of Christian leaders whose moral failures have severely damaged not only the organizations they led and built but also the reputation of the gospel.
From my perspective as a bishop, I believe Falwell’s failure is in part due to how evangelicals have built a culture that leaves little to no room for regular confession of sins, repentance and restoration. I believe we lost the practice of a confessional life because in our efforts to stay rooted in our Protestant beliefs we distanced ourselves from anything that could be remotely interpreted as Roman Catholic.