Why I invited Gingrich to give speech at Liberty

By Jerry Falwell

This morning we are seeing reports of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitting to having an affair at the same time President Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliance with an intern was dominating the national headlines.

Mr. Gingrich admitted to the affair in a two-part interview with Dr. James Dobson, during a ”Focus on the Family” broadcast.

I was pleased to hear Mr. Gingrich state: ”I’ve gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.”

He has admitted his moral shortcomings to me, as well, in private conversations. And he has also told me that he has, in recent years, come to grips with his personal failures and sought God’s forgiveness.

I have been very impressed with the spiritual maturity of this man and am convinced that he has been honest and forthright in clarifying his past failings and his quest, as a Christian, for God’s forgiveness.

Mr. Gingrich, now 63 and a grandfather, openly discussed his two divorces with Dr. Dobson, including the affair that took place during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. It is a ”very painful topic and I confess that to you directly,” he stated.

As a pastor with more than a half-century of experience of working with fallible people, I have ministered to a few men who have experienced moral collapse. I have usually been able to tell which of these men was genuinely seeking forgiveness for their actions. My sense tells me that Mr. Gingrich is such a man. He is today happily married to wife Callista, and committed to being the husband he should be.

I well remember the challenge we evangelicals faced in 1980 when our candidate, Ronald Reagan, was the first presidential candidate who had gone through a divorce. We wisely made allowance for God’s forgiveness and America was the beneficiary of this historic champion.

Consequently, I decided earlier this week to invite Mr. Gingrich to come to Liberty University on May 19 as our graduation speaker. This will be his second commencement speech at Liberty, previously addressing graduates in 1991.

In recent years, Mr. Gingrich has dedicated much of his time to calling America back to our Christian heritage.

His most recent book, ”Rediscovering God in America,” is a brilliant essay that highlights the unique and obvious Christian influence that inspired our nation’s dawning. The book takes readers on a tour of Washington, D.C., inspecting many documents, memorials, friezes and writings of presidents and national leaders who clearly put allegiance to Almighty God at the forefront of the nation’s development.

There has been a war on God in our nation in recent years and the effort to rekindle our national commitment to God is urgently needed.

Mr. Gingrich is certainly one of the brightest men I know in public life today, and he is becoming one of our great ambassadors for reawakening the spirit of our Founders.

In fact, his topic during the May 19 graduation will be, ”Rediscovering God in America.” I am already anxious to hear it and am pleased that our young people will hear this modern American statesman.

I’m proud to call Mr. Gingrich my friend and I will continue to pray for him and his family as he contemplates a run for the presidency and as he deals with the coming media scrutiny of his past, present and future.

Note: As I stated last year when Sen. John McCain was our commencement speaker, I repeat this year: this is an invitation for Mr. Gingrich, not an endorsement.

Welcoming an American hero

This Sunday night, March 11 at 6:00 p.m., Thomas Road Baptist Church will welcome an America hero and one of my personal heroes, former Marine Sgt. Tim Lee.

Sgt. Lee, who lost both legs in combat, will bring a stirring message: ”America is Worth Dying For.” This man, who is representative of millions of Americans who have paid a great price of defending our freedoms, has been confined to a wheelchair since a land mine explosion took both his legs. Returning home to the cries of anti-war politicians and journalists following his terrible injury, he made a life-changing decision to choose victory over personal defeat.

Called by God to serve as an evangelist, he has become one his generation’s great communicators of the Gospel. Sgt. Lee has stirred and challenged Americans from platforms across the country. This Sunday, in addition to bringing his riveting Christian testimony, Sgt. Lee will discuss his support of President Bush’s efforts to stamp out terrorism abroad, rather than here in on American soil.

I invite readers to join us for this special service. Visit our website (TRBC.org) for directions to the church.