Monday, I purchased Bill O’Reilly’s new book: Killing Jesus. I have not read the book yet, so starting with this one, I will have at least one more, if not several more posts reviewing the book; but for today, this post will be more of what I am looking for going in.
To start with, I generally like O’Reilly. I do not always agree with his views on social issues, but I admire his willingness to state his opinions on such matters. I generally agree with his economic views; as for his views on international issues, I generally think he is all over the map.
Having watched his program, I became aware of his latest book some time ago. After Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, I was surprised to hear that he would be looking at the topic of Jesus. O’Reilly, while a strong Roman Catholic, generally focuses on political and historical issues, not religious ones. His faith is mentioned on his program, and occasionally he discusses it, but one would hardly consider his program to be faith based. In other words, if the news relates to his faith, he will discuss it; but he does not necessarily go out of his way to do so.
And so we have this book, which he clearly went out of his way to write, the public was hardly demanding he write such a book; and the result is that he seems unsure of how to promote it, offering contradicting answers on the book’s subject.
The most infamous example occurred a week or so ago, when the book was first released, and O’Reilly went on the CBS morning show to discuss the book. In that interview, he indicated that the Holy Spirit was involved in his writing the book.
That is an interesting claim. Any pastor or priest would certainly say that the Holy Spirit was involved whenever he prayer or preached a sermon, and a scholar might say such a thing about a commentary; but to make such a claim about a book that has been released for general publication?
Regardless, to say the Holy Spirit was involved when you are writing a book thereby sets that book to a very high standard. How are we to judge the book? Do we judge it by sales? By its accuracy? By how many people come to faith after reading it? The Holy Spirit certainly works through strange means (see The History Channel’s recent miniseries The Bible), but to make the claim outright to a media and public that will largely misinterpret it, is an interesting thing to say.
Which brings us to the Friday edition of The O’Reilly Factor, where O’Reilly read a letter from a viewer who indicated that he had read the book, and was taking his sons to mass on Sunday for the first time in years. O’Reilly’s response was that was nice, but the book was meant to be more historical, not spiritual.
Well which is it now?
Did the Holy Spirit inspire you to write a book that may people to saving faith; or did you write a historical text book along the lines of Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy?
Because Jesus is not just a historical figure in the way that Lincoln and Kennedy are, relegated to a brief moment in history. Jesus is the Son of God; He is both a moment in history and He is all of history. Jesus occupies a very finite amount of time on earth, but He is also present at the creation of the world, and will come to judge the living and the dead on the last day.
Jesus is far more significant than popular presidents; He is the Savior of the world. You can agree or disagree with Lincoln or Kennedy and you might get some debate; but if you disagree with Jesus, your salvation is at stake. How does O’Reilly handle this?
I am interested to see what O’Reilly has to say; at one point while writing the book, he claimed to have a lot of interesting facts in the book; we will see.
No matter how O’Reilly wants the book to be described, the question of faith is at hand. You cannot write about Jesus and be neutral: you are either profiting people toward salvation, or you are hindering their salvation. Do I expect to see an uptick in church attendance if this book reaches number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list as the others did? No; but if someone does come because they read the book, well, Praise God for that.
I will post a final review of the book when I am done; and depending on how it all goes, I will post some other writings about the book.