CNN host Don Lemon was discussing the statues controversy this week when he made this statement: “Jesus Christ—if you believe in, if that’s who you believe in, Jesus Christ—admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth. So why are we deifying the founders of this country?”
If Lemon is right, Jesus cannot be the divine Son of God. He cannot be our Savior, for his death would have paid for his sins rather than ours (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Of course, the Bible teaches that Jesus “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22) and is “holy and blameless, unstained by sin” (Hebrews 7:26 NLT). As “a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19), he was tempted in every way we are, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
But if Lemon is right, the Bible is wrong.
Why would Don Lemon, who grew up Baptist and attended a Catholic school, make such a heretical statement?
In an article titled, “My Faith: How I learned to stop ‘praying away the gay,'” Lemon wrote that he began struggling with same-sex attraction as a boy. He claims that at his Baptist church, “preachers taught that liking someone of the same sex was a direct and swift path to hell.” He prayed for God to change him until he started attending college in New York.
He writes: “That’s when common sense began to take hold and I realized that no amount of prayer would change me into something that wasn’t natural to me.” He decided that “the Bible was about the lessons you learned, not about the events or words.”
In his evolving view, believing that “religious teachings happened word for word as they were written in Scripture” is “naïve, even dangerous.” He points to “Christian doctrines that supported slavery, segregation, and the subjugation of women” as examples. Now, he says, “I’m no longer a member of any church, but I do believe in a higher power.”
How I would share Jesus with Don Lemon
I would appreciate the privilege of discussing Jesus’ sinlessness with Don Lemon, but I suspect he knows the biblical statements I would cite. In his worldview, truth is what we believe to be. If he believes that Jesus “was not perfect when he was here on this earth,” he has the right to his opinion, or so he would likely say. His position is just one example of our “post-truth” culture.
How can Christians share the objective truth of the Bible with people who do not believe that the Bible is objectively true?
One approach is to do what the first Christians did. In their day, quoting Scripture to pagan Romans would obviously be less than persuasive. Would a Muslim win you to his faith by quoting the Qur’an? Would a Mormon persuade you to join his church by quoting the Book of Mormon?
Rather, early believers demonstrated the truth of Scripture by demonstrating its relevance in their lives. They could not persuade Romans biblically that life begins at conception, so they rescued abandoned babies and raised them as their own. They could not convince Romans biblically that slavery is evil, so they purchased slaves and set them free.
They loved each other and they loved those who did not love them. And they became the mightiest spiritual movement the world has ever seen.
For me to persuade Don Lemon that Jesus was sinless, I would need to show him the power of Jesus to help me refuse sin in my life. I would need to earn the relational right to offer him Jesus’ forgiving and transforming grace.
In other words, I would need to share with him what Jesus has given to me.
Whose job is evangelism?
This week, we’ve been claiming the promise of Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” We’ve seen that when we make God our Lord and King, serve him in solidarity with others and in personal obedience, and seek the help only he can provide, we experience his best.
Let’s close by answering our Father’s call to pay forward the blessing and grace he offers us.
In an article I wrote this week for the Stream, I noted a recent study indicating that only one in ten churchgoers average at least one evangelistic conversation a month. More than half of those who attend church at least once a month said they had not shared their faith with anyone in the last six months.
Barna reports that almost half of practicing Christian millennials say evangelism is wrong. Many Christians believe that evangelism is the job of the local church rather than their personal responsibility.
But if people like Don Lemon are not attending anyone’s church, how can the church reach them?
“Be known unto all the nations”
You and I will spend eternity in heaven because someone shared the word and grace of God with us. Now we can be containers of God’s blessing, or we can be conduits to others.
Ask the Lord to put a Don Lemon on your heart today. Begin praying for that person by name. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring people into their life who can share the gospel with them effectively. Then volunteer to be the answer to your prayer (Isaiah 6:8–9; Matthew 9:38–10:1).
In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote: “Run to and fro everywhere, holy fires, beautiful fires; for you are the light of the world, nor are you put under a bushel. He whom you cleave unto is exalted and has exalted you. Run to and fro and be known unto all the nations.”
Where will you begin today?