What is the O’Reilly gospel? This evening on the Bill O’Reilly show, a clip of Bill O’Reilly on the Don Imus radio show was presented. In the clip, O’Reilly and Don Imus discussed Jesus and the upcoming book by O’Reilly titled, Killing Jesus (due out in September). The clip that was indeed “clipped” did not show the full conversation between the two men. It was however clipped by O’Reilly’s staff and apparently portrayed an accurate view of O’Reilly’s position on the gospel of Jesus Christ. While many people view O’Reilly as a social conservative, his position on the gospel could not be more liberal.
Bill O’Reilly told Don Imus that he expects many people to be angry over his book on Jesus. If the pages of the book include his definition of the gospel as he articulated on the Don Imus show, he should have many genuine Christians angry for sure. Much like Joel Osteen’s pattern of overlooking the sin problem, O’Reilly seemed to commit the very same grievous error in his description of the gospel.
The clip begins with Don Imus stating that he believes that there is more than “one path to where ever it is that everybody thinks they’re going.” Imus is clearly opposing the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in his statement. O’Reilly responded by talking about a Roman Catholic doctrine known as “Baptism by Desire.” According to O’Reilly, a person who is not formally baptized with water on the head can still get to heaven by leading a good life. O’Reilly continues by stating, “The theology of Christianity is based on one thing – treating other people the way you want to be treated. If you do that and if you live in New Guinea, I think you’re gonna make it.” As the clip ends, O’Reilly appears on his show and explains that his reference to New Guinea was taken from part of his conversation with Don Imus where he argued that a just God would never assign people to hell who have never heard of Jesus.
This entire conversation is extremely troubling on several levels.
1. Bill O’Reilly, a Roman Catholic, is writing a book on Jesus without sufficient knowledge of the person and message of Jesus.
2. Bill O’Reilly flatly misrepresents the teachings of Jesus by telling Don Imus that people who live a good life will make it to heaven – without Jesus.
Jesus taught that He was the only way a person could be reconciled to God the Father and spend eternity in heaven. This is clear from John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The Scriptures echo that same teaching all throughout the New Testament (John 5:24; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:10-12; 1 John 2:23). In fact, the entire foundation of Christianity is based on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.
3. Bill O’Reilly misunderstands the gospel of Jesus Christ by stating that people who have never heard of Jesus will automatically to go heaven.
If Jesus spoke John 14:6, and He certainly did, no other way to heaven exists. The doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ insists that there is no other means whereby a person can be reconciled to God outside of Jesus Christ. This includes the position of ignorance. Therefore, if Jesus is the only way to God and the only way to receive the forgiveness of sins, that would mean that those people in New Guinea (or any other place on planet earth) who have never heard the gospel will not receive a free pass to heaven (see my article on this subject here). Why would the apostles leave families and die a ruthless death if other paths existed? Why would Jim Elliot die on the river bank in Ecuador trying to convert the Auca Indians if ignorance was capable of saving them? If Bill O’Reilly truly believes that people who have never heard of Jesus will go to heaven, the most damnable thing he could do is write a book about Jesus and publicize it on national television.
Last of all, Bill O’Reilly paints a faulty portrait of the attribute of God’s justice to Don Imus (and the world). He stated that a “just God” would never assign people to hell who have never heard of Jesus. The very attribute of God’s justice requires Him to punish all sin. Would a just God crush His Son on a Roman cross? Isaiah 53:10 points out the truth that God literally crushed His Son for sinners. Either my sin will be punished in hell or it was punished on the cross. There is no other means of satisfying the total justice of God. That would mean that the person Bill O’Reilly described on his show in New Guinea who has never heard of Jesus must have some other means of erasing their sin prior to entering heaven. This must happen or they will not be welcomed by God because His justice will not allow them into His presence. The reality that O’Reilly misses is that those people in New Guinea are all sinners. Just like those people in India. It’s the same for all of us in America as well. Romans 3:23 clearly teaches that we have all sinned and we deserve the wrath of God (Romans 6:23).
Bill O’Reilly is a very poor theologian who has now written a book about the Son of God. Although I have never read any of O’Reilly’s other books, with the glaring misrepresentations of Jesus and His gospel, it should cause us to ask ourselves if he got the information on Lincoln right. One of the most discouraging facts about O’Reilly’s position is that many evangelical Christians who watch his show every night didn’t hear anything wrong with his description of the gospel of Jesus. In his description of the gospel, O’Reilly kills the gospel and turns it into a self-righteous system of good deeds and morality. Paul gave a very serious warning to those who pervert the gospel of Christ. Bill O’Reilly should carefully read Galatians 1:8-9 – “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Charles Spurgeon said it well years ago when he stated, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”
It’s one thing to have strong political views. If you’re wrong, the stakes are not nearly as high. However, when you speak for God and define the gospel of Christ – the stakes could not be higher. Although O’Reilly said that he doesn’t use his position to tell people what they should believe, isn’t that exactly what he did on the Imus show and his own television show on July 23rd? Although Bill O’Reilly prides himself on stopping the spin, he spun the gospel into something that literally killed the gospel of grace and redefined it into a self-righteous system of works. If Killing Jesus is full of this view of salvation provided by Jesus, it will prove to be problematic to a clear understanding of the gospel of Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – Sola Fide,
Pastor Josh Buice