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3 important lessons from Bill O'Reilly

The Gospel according to Bill O'Reilly, a 60 Minutes interview of Bill O'Reilly about his new book Killing Jesus - A History (Credit: CBS/60 Minutes)Bill O'Reilly has hosted the #1 cable news show in America for 13 years.  His previous books of popular history, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, have sold more than five million copies.  Last Sunday evening, he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes to talk about his new bestseller, Killing Jesus.  (my review)

Watching the interview, I learned three important lessons.

Lesson #1: be yourself.  Asked to explain his popularity, O'Reilly said, "I am who I am.  An Irish Catholic kid from Long Island."  He was a loquacious boy who questioned authority in elementary school, and maintains the same personality and approach to life today.  He writes his own scripts for each evening's telecast and is doing what he believes he was gifted to do.  His genuineness comes through and helps explain his enormous popularity.

Like Bill O'Reilly, we are each created by God for a purpose only we can fulfill.  We are happiest and most effective when we do what we were made to do.

Lesson #2: don't work for money.  O'Reilly earns more than $20 million from his television program, books, syndicated newspaper column and stage show.  He was paid $10 million to write Killing Jesus.  But he told 60 Minutes, "I never once in my life did any job for money. . . . I'm not addicted to all of this stuff."  He says that he gives millions a year to charity.

It's an odd fact that the more we work for money, the less we may earn.  But when we follow our passion and do what we love, financial results often follow.  "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Lesson #3: submit to the authority of Scripture.  O'Reilly attributes his inspiration for writing Killing Jesus to the Holy Spirit: "All of the ideas come to me in the middle of the night.  And one night I just woke up and went, 'Killing Jesus.'  I believe that comes from the Holy Spirit.  And so I wrote Killing Jesus because I was directed to write that."

However, this Catholic Christian and former high school history teacher says he does not take the evidence of Scripture literally.  For instance, he did not include in his book Jesus' statement from the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Why not?  Because he believes crucifixion would have made it impossible for Jesus to speak these words audibly.  Even though the Bible clearly states that Jesus spoke them as he was dying (see Luke 23:34), O'Reilly disagrees.

He also claims that Jesus was "very afraid.  Scared to die.  Scared to be put on a cross."  Actually, our Savior's fear was related to bearing our sin and being separated from his Father, not his physical death.  And O'Reilly claimed in the interview that Jesus was killed because he interrupted the "money flow" of the temple, not because he claimed to be God.  Actually, he was condemned by the Sanhedrin precisely because he claimed to be God (Matthew 26:65-66).  While O'Reilly clearly knows how to engage an audience, his words are no substitute for God's word.  Nor are mine.

While I disagree with Bill O'Reilly's approach to biblical authority, I'm glad he wrote Killing Jesus and that he made his faith so public on 60 Minutes.  I hope more Christians use their platform and influence to advance God's Kingdom.  The world has never needed our salt and light more than it does today.

Janet's Blog

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