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Review: O’Reilly’s ‘Killing Jesus’

Bill O’Reilly says he got the inspiration to write “Killing Jesus” in the middle of the night.

According to Mr. O, since he is a Catholic, that means the Holy Spirit urged him to write the book. Right away, we have a theological problem. Based on my understanding of Scripture, a person is not filled with the Holy Spirit because they are a Catholic. They are filled with the Holy Spirit because they are a Christian. Bill seems to get those two confused quite often.

I have no doubt O’Reilly is a Catholic. But, I DO have doubts about whether he is a Christian. Being a Catholic does not automatically make you a Christian, just as being a Baptist, or a Pentecostal, or a Methodist, does not automatically make you a Christian. In our culture, people make all kinds of assumptions about why they are a Christian and most of those assumptions are wrong.

The denomination you choose does not make you a Christian. Your decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ determines whether you are a Christian. Your choice to attend church every Sunday does not make you a Christian. Your decision to step into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ makes you a Christian. Your choice to drop a little money in the offering plate every Sunday does not make you a Christian. Your decision to commit your life to Christ makes you a Christian.

BazHead2With that in mind, we will give Mr. O a pass in the same way the ancient Pharisees gave the Apostle Paul a pass. “We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (Acts 23:9).

About a year before KJ was released, O’Reilly began to say that he and co-author Martin Dugard had chosen to bypass the Bible itself and refer only to historical records to write the book. That made me cringe, because, it seems to me, if you were going to write a history about the death of the world’s most famous man, you should not discount the basic source for information about that man.

Bible scholars are not the only ones who would tell you that no history—Josephus, Tacitus, Roman history—are any more accurate than the New Testament. The fact that O’Reilly is disregarding the most obvious and the most credible source of information about Jesus borders on the absurd. That would be like me writing this review of KJ without ever reading KJ or referring to it. Instead, I wrote this review and in it I told you other sources and reviews about KJ were far more trustworthy than the book itself. I would think you would read my review with a great deal of skepticism, and rightly so.

Is the testimony of twelve chosen men with varied backgrounds, plus the synoptic (parallel) gospels that reveal their hanging on His every word and whim, not on the same level as the meanderings of some historian? Can only historians be objective and report without emotional bias? To me, that does not sound like a very sound premise for writing a book about the Savior of mankind.

Remember, when these twelve men started on their journey with Jesus, they did not know who He was, or what He was going to say or do—until He actually did it. This is a good sign that there was going to be objectivity in their accounts of the time they spent with Jesus. They were far more likely to be objective than the highly educated historians of that day. After all, those historians were not eyewitnesses to ANYTHING Jesus did.

Disregarding the Bible is one problem, and then there is O’Reilly’s conclusion that Jesus may not have actually said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This is also a problem. Bill says he thinks Jesus, in the midst of His suffering on the cross, would not have had enough breath to say those words, and even if He did, the hearers would be pushed too far back by the Roman soldiers to hear them.

If that is so, how did Jesus’ mother and His disciples manage to hear the instructions Jesus gave to John, the apostle, about taking care of His mother after He was gone? He spoke those words only moments before His death. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27).

Despite the problems, with the writing and publishing of KJ, O’Reilly may have pulled off one of the most amazing feats in modern times. In a culture where the media tends to shut out the gospel and in a day when a major evangelistic force like the aging Billy Graham no longer has the visibility and the influence he once did, O’Reilly and Dugard have managed to penetrate the world’s antichrist atmosphere.

Whether it was done wittingly or unwittingly, one thing is clear. O’Reilly was used by God to introduce people to the gospel even though they would normally never pick up a Bible in their lifetimes. That is no small accomplishment! Indeed, maybe the Holy Spirit did inspire him to write the book.

In spite of that, I worry about O’Reilly himself. What a tragedy it would be for him to write a book ABOUT Jesus and not KNOW Jesus! In the spiritual realm, head knowledge does not equal heart knowledge. Accepting Christ intellectually is not the same as receiving Him spiritually. If Bill O’Reilly is in that boat, he is not alone. Millions of people have heard about Jesus and believe He actually existed, but they have never placed their faith and trust in Him and made a commitment to follow Him like the twelve disciples did.

That means they are living in spiritual darkness and are headed for a place called hell. Without Christ, they will be forever separated from God the Father and they will have only themselves to blame. Many of them will have read “Killing Jesus” and still will never come to KNOW Jesus. That is sadder than sad.

In time, they will see the prophecy in The Revelation fulfilled. “And I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war: His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself.

“And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood and His name is called The Word Of God. And the armies which were in Heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16).


Ed Baswell pastors The Clarion Church and is the host of Crossfire Radio, weekdays from 7-9 am, on The Promise, 90.7 FM. The show is streamed live worldwide at promisetalkradio.org and at ktbs.com. It can be seen each day on the KTBS 24-hour, digital news channel.

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