Proverbs chapter 18 verse 2 states “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Recently I endured a double dose of foolishness by journalists making forays into areas they were ill equipped to navigate, religion and theology. I hold a Master’s degree in both Biblical Interpretation and Theology, and have been a pastor for over 14 years. Thus, I have some expertise in this area and I find my patience with foolishness is wearing thin.
It began during the Christmas season with Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” While attempting to explain why displays of the Nativity should be allowed in public, Mr. O’Reilly stated that “Christianity is not a religion. It is a philosophy.” He did this not once, but many times and on subsequent programs. I was taken aback, especially at the lack of response. Where were the experts firing back that O’Reilly had committed an egregious error?
Since none I know of have stepped up, allow me to simplify for Mr. O’Reilly. Here is one simple definition of religion; “Religion is a collection of beliefs concerning the origin of man and the universe, faith.” Now let’s examine a typical definition of philosophy such as this: Philosophy is the “study of the principles of existence, behavior and knowledge, study of the nature of human thought and of the world.” If these definitions are compared with Christianity, which one fits the best? Is Christianity a “collection of beliefs?” Does it concern “the origin of man and the universe?” Does it involve “faith?” Yes on all counts. Why did O’Reilly insist on calling Christianity a ‘philosophy’ and not a ‘religion?’ Was it intentional or in ignorance?
I believe it was a ‘bait and switch’ tactic so that the atheist’s target is no longer religion and therefore the First Amendment would not apply. O’Reilly may have good intentions, but I have heard those are used to pave a certain road leading to a very terrible place. The sad fact here is that this error, intentional or not, is unnecessary to make O’Reilly’s point. There are many organizations who fight this battle of church and state without claiming they are fighting for the rights of philosophers, but for Christians. O’Reilly would have been better served to consult them before he espoused his foolishness. When we who advocate for freedom of religion are ignorant of, or deceptive about, religion, we have lost both the argument and our credibility. So to Mr. O’Reilly, thanks but no thanks sir. Your argument isn’t helping.
The second example involves Lawrence O’Donnell who hosts “The Last Word” on MSNBC. In an e-mail ‘alert’ I noticed a reference to the Bible from January 10th and clicked it, possibly doubling his viewing audience. It was obvious he disliked what the Bible taught, but his point was aimed at the people who claim adherence to it. Why? He is upset with the original selection of a bible-believing pastor to give the benediction at Barack Obama’s inaugural. This pastor has preached that “homosexuality is a sin” according to the Bible. Once the administration knew this, the pastor was quickly ‘uninvited’ to the inauguration.
Not satisfied with this, O’Donnell then made two accusations about people who claim to follow the Bible. One was that “no church obeys everything in the Bible.” The second was that “no one believes every word of it.” Again this is a case of deception intentionally or ignorantly. The first claim he makes is true, however it is moot if one understands the Bible. You see, the New Testament serves to correctly interpret the Old Testament in the light of the teaching and acts of Jesus Christ. THAT is what Christian “churches” believe and strive to obey.
A reading of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7 might serve to correct some of O’Donnell’s foolishness, though I won’t hold my breath waiting. However, the second claim O’Donnell makes is simply false. There are millions of people who do indeed, “believe every word” of the Bible. Allow me once more to make it simple, this time for O’Donnell. Though I may believe “every word” of the Bible, I cannot claim to obey all of it.
The Bible itself says so. In Romans 3:23 it states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is a basic teaching of the Bible that we as humans are flawed, and the best of us can never fully obey the Word. The remedy for this, according to the Bible, is to place our trust in the only person who could and did truly teach and fully obey God’s Word, Jesus Christ. My fervent prayer is that those such as Mr. O’Donnell learn and embrace this particular teaching from the Word of God. Not only would this benefit them eternally, it would correct the “foolishness” they now espouse. But again, I’m not holding my breath.
Authored By The Daily Pamphlet