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Bill O’Reilly’s “Jesus” is Just “a Regular Guy”

He wouldn’t be the first celebrity pundit to overstep his bounds. But after Bill O’Reilly’s interview with 60 Minutes last night about his latest book Killing Jesus, I’m thinking the Fox News commentator might want to stick to politics and social commentary.

Oreilly-JesusApparently, the authors (Martin Dugard co-authored the book) claim the story of Jesus’ life and death “has never fully been told. Until now.” As if two-thousand years worth of testimony, research, and scholarship has failed to uncover what a 21st century pundit did in 8 months (the length of time the book was written in).

The Blaze compiled the Top 5 Moments From Bill O’Reilly’s ‘Killing Jesus’ Interview With ’60 Minutes‘. And while some will surely lose it over O’Reilly’s claim to have been “inspired by the Holy Spirit” to write “Killing Jesus,” it was several other points that might stick in the craw of anyone with an average knowledge of the New Testament.

From The Blaze:

O’Reilly also shared the most surprising thing he learned about Jesus throughout the writing process.

“That he was a regular guy, very afraid, very afraid,” the television host explained. “Scared to die. Scared to be put on a cross. And that he got angry and that he was a little violent — and that he was a man.”

While I get what O’Reilly is saying, who was the last “regular guy” who raised the dead, cast out demons, walked on water, or claimed to be the One True God? And while the Scriptures are clear that Jesus was in anguish of soul about His crucifixion, being “very afraid, very afraid” does not seem to capture the divine resolve which propelled Him through the valley of tears. Was He a “regular guy”? Yes and no. However, it’s the irregular parts of Christ’s life that the authors seem intent to skirt.

Later in the interview, the television host described what makes Jesus unique — mainly that the Christian savior was able to attract a following and a level of popularity that nobody, to date, has replicated.

“Jesus of Nazareth was the most famous human being who ever lived on this planet and he had no infrastructure and it’s never been done,” O’Reilly said. “He had no government, no PR guy, no money, no structure. He had nothing, yet he became the most famous human being ever.”

Am I missing something? What makes Jesus “unique” is that He “became the most famous human being ever” without having had “no government, no PR guy, no money, no structure”??? Huh?

Forgive me, Mr. Bill. But I’m thinking that Jesus’ uniqueness has nothing to do with Him not having had a PR guy.

Yet, for some reasons, O’Reilly seems determined to keep Christ’s claim to deity and the miraculous out of the equation:

Most Christians believe that Jesus is God’s son, so why didn’t O’Reilly include this central theological underpinning in the book? When O’Donnell asked this important question, he was candid.

“Because it’s not a religious book,” O’Reilly said, explaining that it’s rooted entirely in history. “There’s no religion in the book — nothing.”

Which may be the problem. In their attempt to keep the book pure “history,” the authors miss the real “uniqueness” of Jesus Christ.

Tim Challies, in his review of “Killing Jesus,” writes:

Jesus’ life is not mere history. Yes, he was a real man who lived a real life and died a real death, but that is not all he was and all he did. He also claimed to be God’s Son and his followers claimed that in his life and death he had done something unique and, literally, world-changing. The same Bible that describes Jesus’ life, also interprets and explains it. And this is the story the authors do not tell.

Any author who writes a narrative account of Jesus’ life will find it difficult to do justice to both his humanity and his divinity (and we saw, for example, in Anne Rice’s series on Jesus). These authors err far to the side of his humanity. It becomes quickly apparent they will not focus on Jesus’ miracles. While they mention a few of the wonders he performed, and especially the ones involving healings, they do not commit all the way and tend to present these as events Jesus’ followers believed had happened as much as events that had actually taken place. (emphasis mine)

Seeing Jesus as just a “regular guy” is the option He never left us. In fact, this is the exact argument Lewis makes in his classic, “Mere Christianity.”

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)

While O’Reilly may be correct about the political climate that contributed to Christ’s controversy and eventual crucifixion, to remove His claim to deity from the equation (not to mention His resurrection from the dead) is foolish. “He has not left that open to us.” A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher, a political revolutionary, or a social reformer. He would be a nut!

Yet skirting the claims Jesus made about Himself is the only way the authors of “Killing Jesus” can make Him what He is not… just “a regular guy.”

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Matt Rawlings September 30, 2013, 10:33 AM

    Well said.

  • Janet September 30, 2013, 11:39 AM

    There are many false teachers hanging out in God’s church. O’Reilly is following in the footsteps of the Jesus Seminar group, Crossan, Borg and those that claim the resurrection never happened. He is following in the footsteps of many Christians who say religion doesn’t matter, when it does.
    False teachers downplay what they don’t believe in.

    • Mike Duran September 30, 2013, 1:00 PM

      Janet, in all fairness, I don’t know if I’d put Bill O’Reilly in the same category as Borg or Crossan. He is a professing Catholic, so I’m assuming he does believe in a bodily resurrection. I’m guessing that the exclusion of such details was tactical, more of an attempt to reach a broader readership than just the religious crowd.

      • Janet September 30, 2013, 1:19 PM

        Mike,
        In all fairness to Jesus, that’s not our job as Christians to leave things out. He is following in the footsteps of Borg and Crossan. He may be a few steps behind, but it is still on the same path.

        Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ which does leave in all the religious information about Jesus has reached a broad readership, including many that were saved out of reading that book.
        What is the point of just talking about Jesus as a man to the exclusion of everything else, if not to draw people away from His divinity?

        R.L. Copple’s points below are excellent. The religion, His resurrection and all future events are related to His history as a man. You can’t leave it out.

        The Jesus Seminar group, this is exactly what they do. They vote to leave stuff out, because even though they still think Jesus has a significant role in history, not of His life is necessary. So, I have been exceptionally fair.

  • R. L. Copple September 30, 2013, 11:43 AM

    True. His problem, of course, is you can’t extract the religious aspect of the Jesus of history and expect to convey an accurate history. That is part of His history as a man, that He was God too. Leave that out and you get a perverted historical account as well.

    Has nothing to do with what we believe about Him, but with what He believed about Himself. That’s like doing a historical study on Confucius and failing to at least summarize his teachings and beliefs.

  • Tony October 1, 2013, 4:22 PM

    Why do some people think it is somehow more rational to separate Jesus the Man from Jesus, God in the Flesh? He wasn’t just a man. There is no “religious Jesus,” and then a “historical Jesus.” They’re one in the same.

    That’s a hard thing to accept — the idea that God came to Earth as a man. . .but it’s the truth. And there’s no avoiding it.

  • GEOFF WRIGHT October 1, 2013, 5:36 PM

    Thank God Jesus was a man, and thank God he was God. As for excluding the resurrection, Jesus said “I am the resurrection.” eg, at the raising of Lazarus. I wouldn’t buy the book. It’s not worth reading.

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