CBP: Well, if you don’t mind sharing with us your testimony and your background; I think readers would really enjoy knowing where you’re coming from.
Jerry: Okay, the Chicago area ultimately. No, I was reared in a Christian home, but I didn’t really fully understand the Gospel. And it was while I was a freshman in college, Tulane University, through the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Chapter that I was exposed to the Gospel.
To be honest with you – I’m embarrassed to say this – but at the time, I had not dated a whole lot and I was looking for avenues to some girls, and when this friend invited me to a Bible study, I didn’t know much about that at all. I never grew up with studying the Bible or anything. I went to the Bible study and there were a lot of pretty girls there so I kept going. And after a period of time, I got very interested in the Bible itself, and Christianity and so forth.
This group of Christians stood out like a beacon on the campus. It was a very hedonistic time; the mid-70’s, and this was a group of people who knew what they believed in; they knew why they believed, and they had something and I wanted it. And after about three months I accepted Christ. That was an exciting experience, and then ten years later, I was working for Dr. B. James Kennedy, and I’ve been with him for 20 years. So for 20 years I’ve served primarily doing interviews and putting together documentaries.
We have a special coming up later this month that we put our heart and soul into and it’s all about – it’s kind of a definitive piece on the Christian heritage of America. It’s called One Nation Under God. It basically shows how Christianity and the Bible was a decisive force in the settling and then the founding of America. And we deal with all the Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and their views. We show that even those of the secularist marshal – if you look at their actions and what they say about God and the Bible; they come off like born-again Christians. Of course they weren’t; they weren’t saved, but still, of the founding fathers about 95% were Orthodox, Trinitarian, committed to their church, active Christians. And their political views – they found that the Bible is quoted four times more than any other source in their political writings of the founding era than any other human author or whatever.
So America has a unique Christian heritage. In fact we have a chapter of that in Lord of All, but this special, I think, is going to be a definitive piece. We have Dr. Kennedy at Colonial Williamsburg at the Church there. And that’s where we did a lot of the stand-ups we call them. And also there’s Yorktown which is a little bit further away from there, and that’s where religious freedoms and all of our other freedoms were won in the final battle of the Revolution.
And, you know, when the war ended and there was finally peace between Great Britain and America, three of the founding fathers signed the treaty with Great Britain – it’s called the Treaty of Paris because it was conducted in Versailles – when it was written, it started out as Ben Franklin, John James, John Adams, it starts out “In the name of the most holy, undivided Trinity.” Now, it’s in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, okay now let’s get down to brass tacks.
CBP: You use the term “world and life view,” is there a distinction that you make between those and what is commonly termed “worldview”?
Jerry: Not really.
CBP: Okay. Maybe it’s just a new way of saying it.
Jerry: Right. We all have a worldview. The issue is, is it informed by the Gospel of Christ? Is it informed by the Bible, or is it really informed by Secularism? So I’ll be honest with you, I don’t mean to insult anybody, but even today some of what is called Christian education is essentially a secular worldview with this veneer of spirituality. That’s not always the case, but that does happen sometimes, where the people are really inculcated with a thoroughly secular worldview. Yeah, they go to church on Sunday, yeah they read the Bible and have their private devotions, but their faith has a disconnect with their daily lives.
CBP: And do you think that’s not intentional teaching, but they just don’t realize – what they call Christianity they think is truly the Christian love of Jesus.
Jerry: Right. It’s a form of compartmentalization. I’ll give you an example: I met somebody within our own denomination that is a Presbyterian elder in a conservative branch of the Presbyterian Church, and I found out he was one of the key decision makers in a major mutual fund program. And I said, “Great. It’s wonderful to know that there’s a great Christian in such a major leadership.” I said, “Tell me, are you able to sometimes steer away the mutual fund from investing in pornography or tobacco, or things that are harmful?” He said, “Oh no, no, no. My faith has nothing to do with our investment decisions.”
And that’s the problem. When you multiply that anecdote to the nth degree and you see how we have a problem. Obviously, for example, we have serious, serious problems with marriage in this culture, and the family. I feel like chapter 21 of this book – I’ve said this before – money-back guarantee: you read Chapter 21 if you’re not married – if couples read Chapter 21 and apply the principles therein, it will prevent the vast majority of potential divorces; because it’s God’s principles.
This is hard to believe but we point it out in this book, in those cultures where marriages are arranged, those marriages tend to be much, much better. When you have the support of the larger family, it isn’t just a man and a woman coming together against the whole world, you have the support of the larger extended family. The family breakdown is the root of all kinds of problems in this culture.
The key is that love is a commitment. And it’s like a covenant, but the feelings come and the feelings go, and you may have the feeling of not being in love anymore; so what does that mean? What happens when you deal with those feelings? Well, you’re still married and you made that commitment before God and before your family, and above all to your spouse. So you work at it. If you enter marriage with the thought that there is no divorce option –
CBP: We don’t even say that word. We’ve never said that; it doesn’t even enter my mind.
Jerry: Why would you? My wife and I made a commitment before we got married that we would freely use that word, but that after we got married we would never even use it ever. It just wouldn’t be a part of our vocabulary.
And then another point too is that Christ is the one that we love first and foremost, and not our spouse. We don’t put on our spouse some sort of expectations that only God can fulfill.
CBP: Good point.
Jerry: So there’s a lot of wrong thinking about marriage, and Hollywood doesn’t help, frankly. And the tabloids don’t help, and the latest scandals with the couples that are splintering off.
CBP: I want to talk to you about children, and I guess because it’s a personal issue. You talk a lot about public schools about what’s going on in there in terms of the whole philosophy and that sort of thing. Do you advocate that parents, then, homeschool, or that we ought, as Christian parents, to try to make changes within our schools – be that light. That’s, you know, a big debate. I wonder what your thoughts are about that.
Jerry: That’s a great debate. I don’t think one size fits all, number one. Number two, I certainly think that Christians should, as much as possible, impact the culture, including the public education system. On the other hand, you don’t send in your ten-year-old child as a missionary to a 40-year-old veteran skeptic. If Christian education or homeschooling is an option for you, if it’s a priority to you, then I think you ought to pursue that.
In our case, we have been a one-income family for years – God bless my wife for making that commitment to be at home and rear the children. And when they were young we made sure they got that Christian foundation, and I thank God we were able to do that. But not everybody has that option. We recognize that. In fact, my wife even tried homeschooling our daughter for the first two years. She did do it. But it was very difficult, and there were some learning disabilities that our daughter had that we didn’t realize. And it was a very difficult process. It’s not something that everybody can do. I will say this: I think that there are certain pockets of public schools systems and people in the situations that would be very encouraged if you saw it, and there are some places where it’s not a secular wasteland, and you don’t have the anti-Christian bigotry; you even have a preponderance of Christian teachers and administrators.
CBP: And you don’t want to discourage them either by pulling out your child.
Jerry: Yeah. Absolutely not, and I think that’s a hot-button debate, and I would just like to say that one size does not fit all. I am going to say God bless all those fine Christian teachers. Let’s be honest, about 90% of Christian people in this country are in the public schools. Now, that’s an older statistic, maybe it’s gone down a little bit because of all the homeschooling. But again, it’s not for everybody. D. James Kennedy, back in the 70’s, his own daughter was approaching high school or junior high, and the local high school, it turned out, really wasn’t an option. He said the word on the street was the kids called it the “drugstore;” this particular high school in Fort Lauderdale, not too far from the church. And so he thought, I’m not going to put my daughter in this drug school. He looked at other Christian schools in the area and felt that there wasn’t enough of a fully orbed Christian worldview; a Christian view of science, and a Christian view of history, so what do you do in a case like that when you’re D. James Kennedy and you’re a man of vision and action? He started his own school, and Westminster Academy is one of the finest Christian schools in the whole country. But not everybody can afford it. It’s an excellent school.
CBP: Is it possible, or should we accept that if we send our kids into a public school or any of these situations that you mentioned, is it possible, as parents to counter the worldview that they get in school through home instruction.
Jerry: To supplement things?
CBP: Yeah, because we really train our children and do a lot with them but is it enough to counter – in your experience – is it enough to counter that influence?
Jerry: I think so. I think, actually, the concerned parent who is willing to take the time and make the commitment, can do more to – they are a greater influence even than the schools. Obviously, in some cases, that can be a very difficult thing.
Let me put it in a radical example for a minute. You remember the story about Columbine and Cassey Bernal – she wasn’t, apparently, the one who said yes after all. It turns out she wasn’t the one who was asked and said yes, it was someone else? But regardless of that, there’s no question that two or three years before she was killed, she’d had a radical conversion and changed and became this radiant, fine Christian girl. Anyway, what happened was two or three years before her radical conversion, she had started to be with the wrong crowd, and she had gotten into gothic type stuff, the occult, and one day her father discovered handwritten notes with even gross illustrations about how she was going to kill her parents and then take their own internal organs and wrap them around her neck; it was absolutely disgusting. He went to their pastor and said, “What do we do?” This girl raised in a Christian home and then so the pastor said, “I think you should talk to the sheriff.” So they went to the sheriff and talked to him. He said what they could do is radical surgery in this case. “What you need to do is to take her 100% out of the environment, kicking, screaming, and yelling. But she needs to be cut off from all of those friends.”
And one thing the parents said about those friends is that whenever they would come over or whatever and the parents would try to make eye contact, the kids would always look down, they would never look at them in the eye. And so they yanked her out of the public school, they put her in a Christian school; they did not allow her to have any contact with those friends. She screamed and yelled and kicked and so forth. And after a couple of weeks at the new Christian school she was invited to a retreat, she decided to go, and that was when she was really truly converted, and she had all these Christian friends and then the Christian friends would come over and the Bernal’s would say how they would look you in the eyes and they were radiant; it was so exciting. In some cases, if you see warning signs – and that’s such an extreme case – take preemptive action and deal with it.
But there’s other cases where you have some kids in public school settings where it’s a magnate program and where the kids are kind of – they have a Christian worldview of themselves, and they can ask pointed questions and can change things around.
One of my favorite parts of this book is in the section on creation evolution. In particular there’s a college professor many years ago in a secular school – this professor gave a lecture, a dogmatic lecture on why evolution was correct. He’s a science professor. And one of the students says, “That was a great lecture doc, but I’ve got some questions for you.” They made an appointment and it was going to be a 20 minute appointment. It ended up lasting three hours. She asked him questions such as, “You proved in class months ago that mutations are always harmful. How is it that we’re supposed to believe at just the right time over, and over, and over in the evolutionary schema, mutations turned positive, and that happens every single time in all these different ways? How do you explain that?” And “Probability science, Professor, how is it likely or even possible that the first cell gave life to this, that, and the other in light of the complex structure of DNA?”
Well, after a while, he realized that evolution was scientifically sanguine, and he put on a good face at that particular meeting, but he said that he became – intellectually he became a creationist first and then a Christian. And we told his testimony in this and, to me, it’s a good example of how a Christian in that case that girl, who went on to become a missionary, here a Christian with one worldview by interfacing very positively with somebody in a very secular worldview. I mean, imagine, there’s not much of a harder class to reach, I think, than a crusty, secular, professor who is dogmatic in his beliefs – you know, probably atheistic, womanistic, kind of like the last vestiges – even though science itself might develop in such a way, for example, in microbiology Darwin’s black box. They’ve discovered that the so called simple cell is not simple at all. It’s like a mini factory. We’ve summarized that in Lord of All. But with all of this new scientific information, and yet these scientists are still clinging on to evolution because it gives them a way to explain the world without God.
And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with God?
Jerry: Exactly. And there’s a story we tell in the book about one of the Huxley grandsons – Thomas Huxley who was Darwin’s bulldog who really championed evolution in the 1860’s – anyway, Mr. Huxley was sitting there, he was interviewed on PBS or something like that – Dr. Kennedy saw this himself and he almost fell out of the chair. The interviewer asked, “Mr. Huxley, why did the world jump on evolution once Darwin’s Origins of the Species was published? Why did it become so popular and believed in the intellectual community?” And he said – what do you think he said? Because, if you ask the average high schooler – because of the scientific evidence that was out there. But Huxley was honest and he said, “Well, the idea of God interfered with our sexual moiré.”
CBP: He was pretty honest about that!
Jerry: So, you know, it’s an interesting – so our goal in this book was to explore six different spheres of human existence, including the issue of origin, creation, evolution, education, the government which includes economics, the family, and the church, and look at these different areas and the ultimate value of human life and apply a Christian world-life view to each of these areas.
CBP: And that’s to prepare people, then, who encounter “the professor,” or is it to inform them so they can take quick action, not just in a one to one situation, but in a broader activism sense? What is it that you hope people will do?
Jerry: All of the above. It has to start with us. We have to start thinking Christianly; we’re never going to redeem the world if we don’t think Christianly. And I think there are a lot of kind-hearted persons who are doing their best in their little sphere of influence, but they don’t realize the political aspects of what they believe in.
Could I quote from the book? I feel like this one quote – there’s a fellow named David Lure who’s pastor of a Southwest Community Church, I believe, in California. He wrote a book called Five Lies of the Century. We interviewed him at one of our conferences. And we asked the question, “Can we reclaim America for Christ?” And I want you to listen to his answer.
“I certainly hope so. The reason that I invest some of my time and energy in this arena, is because I believe it’s a winnable battle, and I wouldn’t give a chunk of my life for something that’s over. I’m always concerned about the pastors who will preach with the spirit of, “well, you know, we’re the last faithful twelve, and it’s over, and we’ve given away the country, and we just have to wait for Jesus to come and rescue us.” Well, he is going to return and he will rescue us in his time. But what if it’s a hundred years from now? What if it’s five hundred years? What kind of a world do I want my children in? What kind of a world do I want my grandchildren raised in? And if I don’t get involved to tell the truth and be involved in the impact politics and use the little sphere of influence that I have for something that’s wholesome, my grandkids may wonder why I gave away the park. “
I think part of the reason we’re in this mess today – We’re in a mess! Even in America; it’s a mess, morally, culturally, spiritually. I think part of that is because there was a time when many Christians retreated from the political arena. They said, “Oh, politics, that’s for the atheists.” The media, that’s for the atheists; let them take control. And then we wonder why everything’s such a mess. We as Christians are part of the problem by our inactions. We haven’t shown up.
Woody Allen once said something like 80% of success in life is just showing up.
CBP: Well, I’ve started over because – we live in such a different government than has been patterned in the Bible. And if you use the Bible as your guideline, it’s really hard to – because this government is ruled by the people, including me. In history you had a prophet, you had a king, you had ruling under foreign, hostile governments. And so you can see how believers respond and how God instructed them to behave. So it’s so unique what we do now because we are responsible instead of responding to, we’re in a different position. So it’s kind of hard to say, well, should I be? How far should I go, and how much do we trust God’s sovereignty to just take – it just goes on.
Jerry: It’s a difficult balance and I think we have so much power and ability and energy that can be tapped into more and more and more. I think we just saw the tip of the iceberg in the 2004 election – in fact, I think that particular story brought out the cultural divide in a huge way. I remember there was a, kind of, anti-Christian paper, it was interesting what they showed on a map of the United States and also of Canada. So a map of North America, and it had the blue states and the red states, and they called the blue states kind of extended from Canada and drew the line at certain parts of the United States, and they called that the United States of Canada, and then the red states were called Jesus Land. It was a little dig. But still, part of the whole thing about the Bible, you have to realize that when Paul was writing and Peter – they were dealing with a hostile dictatorship and they had absolutely zero way to directly influence the government. In contrast to that –
CBP: But they didn’t really try to except for maybe Paul’s speaking individually to the Roman guard, but it’s not like, let’s go storm the gates. And the country feels that we have to do that go storm the gates of the White House or whatever, and yet we don’t have that kind of example given to us in the Bible.
Jerry: No, that’s true. I feel like, as I was saying before about the one nation under God, how Christianity and the Bible plays a decisive role in the settling and founding of America. There’s a unique way in which, for example, you look at all the colonial charters, virtually every one of them with the exception of New Jersey, mention God – well, they all mention God; God and the Christian faith – nowhere could I find in the New Jersey charter did it mention the Christian faith. All the other ones do. New York didn’t have a charter because it was originally founded by the Dutch and the British took it over; kind of a loveless takeover.
So anyway by the time you get to the founding era of America where you’ve got the founding fathers, not all of them were born-again Christians. But many of them were. And a lot of people you don’t hear about were. And they saw the opportunity to create a new nation under God, and they said in the Declaration of Independence, our rights come from God, and what God has given us man should not take away. King George had violated that. The Declaration of Independence called upon God as a witness, the Declaration of Independence is sort of Part 1 of our two part founding documents. The second part is the Constitution. The Declaration is the why; the Constitution is the how to; the two together are like the covenant that the Christian people created when they first settled the land.
The beginning of the Mayflower Compact there’s about a hundred or so compacts, frames of government, covenants, Constitutions that paved the way for the unique Constitution of the United States. It’s an American invention. So Christians play a unique role in that. We have unique freedoms and I don’t think we should squander those. We are told by Jesus occupy until I come; we are told to be salt and light; so why shouldn’t we?
CBP: But I guess the question is, should it be from the angle of influencing others at our local neighborhood in a one on one level, or should we be doing it from the top and saying you will follow God’s law even though you’re not a Christian.
Jerry: No. I think, first of all, and it’s really important, Dr. Kennedy makes a great point and it’s really important to grasp. There’s only one theocracy that God Almighty has recognized in the history of the world and that was in Israel. That’s the one and only theocracy. Okay? Where God himself was the ruler. And what we have is a Constitutional public and Christians have the right to influence as do non-Christians, as do other groups. So there’s a huge difference between the two.
Second point: Jesus gives us the example of serving others. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom to many. And, I think, as Christians become more serving, we get the opportunity to be heard and to have influence. Now are there some situations where you have a Christian majority in a particular locale or community and they vote in something because that’s what the majority wants and some people are offended by it? Yeah, but there’s a lot stuff that Christians are offended by, too. The Constitution doesn’t say there’s a constitutional guarantee to not be offended. And yet we have all these egg-shell plaintiffs, as one person put it, that are offended by a cross on the city hall.
I understand what you’re saying and I think there’s a fine balance there and I think the salt and light concept is the best way. Let’s put it this way, God has given each of us a little turf, you be faithful to what God has given to you to do. Sometimes Christians get critical of other Christians because those Christians don’t seem to get involved in their particular thing that they feel that God has called them to do. So if I asked you out in front of an abortion clinic handing out pamphlets to girls before they’re going in and aborting their babies, a lot of them feel guilty after they do this, why aren’t you doing it? Maybe you’re informing people, or writing books about the reality of the unborn and the humanity angle. So God has called us and equipped us with different gifts and so forth so it’s important to recognize the body of Christ.
Paul elaborated on that so well in Philippians where he talks about all are not called to be feet, all are not called to be eyes, all are not called to be hands, so don’t be critical of the others.
CBP: But don’t allow everyone else to do your work either.
Jerry: That’s true; and be faithful with what you’ve got. I just think there’s a lot of Christians who are on the sidelines. And they’re approaching Christianity as a spectator sport and maybe their Christian commitment is going to church on Sunday. If we’re all in God’s army, do you ever get points added up for how many times you went to mess hall, you ate, you get appreciation – do you get promoted in the ranks because you spent x number of hours in the mess hall? No, but when you go to church, you know, part of that’s being fed. That should be just the tip of the iceberg; for many professing Christians is kind of like the sum total.
So there’s a great need for Christians to rediscover a rich Christian heritage that has made us great.
CBP: Now, where is the One Nation Under God going to be showing. Is there a particular channel?
Jerry: Yes. It will be on what used to be called PAX television.