(Photo: First Baptist)
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly sparred with Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, over the literal nature of the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, during the "O'Reilly Factor" Wednesday night.
O'Reilly opened the segment by saying that the History Channel's 5-part miniseries, "The Bible," which was co-created by Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, "highlights fundamentalist Christian beliefs."
Long-time viewers of the "O'Reilly Factor," who are familiar with the host's firmly held belief that much of the Bible contains allegorical stories, are used to hearing him say exactly what he said to Jeffress, which is, "I was taught, in my Catholic school, that a lot of the stories in the Bible are allegorical."
However, for the Christians who gladly place themselves into what O'Reilly describes as the "fundamentalist Christian" category, they recoil when they hear Fox News' "no spin" guy label the Old Testament as fiction.
Jeffress challenged O'Reilly on his assertion and asked him why, as a Christian, does he believe that the New Testament contains accounts of actual events, but not the Old Testament.
"Here's the problem, Bill," Jeffress said to O'Reilly, who said that Old Testament stories are merely fictional lessons. "If you start labeling these stories as fictitious or fable, where do you stop? It's like peeling the layers of an onion, you end up with nothing."
O'Reilly, who said he doesn't believe the stories of Jonah who was swallowed by a whale, or Adam and Eve, asked Jeffress: "Adam and Eve, did they literally live in the Garden of Eden?"
Jeffress replied, "Absolutely. They lived, they were actual human beings, and Jesus affirmed that, Bill, in Matthew 19. … Jesus said that God created man and female in the garden, and he brought them together in marriage."
The megachurch pastor continued on, using New Testament examples in order to prove the accuracy of the Old Testament.
Jeffress told O'Reilly that Jesus knew the Old Testament stories were real, because "Jesus, for example, linked his resurrection to the story of Jonah. He said that as Jonah was in the fish for three days, so the son of man shall be in the ground for three days until God raises him up."
O'Reilly countered by saying that Jesus was using that story to "illustrate his point."
Jeffress then cited a second New Testament example: "Jesus linked the story of Noah to his second coming. He said, as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be for the second coming of the son of man," said Jeffress, who's the author of the new book, How Can I Know?: Answers to Life's 7 Most Important Questions. "If Jesus believed that the story of Noah was fictitious, why would he link it to a future probability and certainty."
"You don't link a future certainty with a past allegory," he said to O'Reilly, who's still holding on to his belief that, in some cases, the Bible is allegorical.