Bill O'Reilly is to be commended for his noble efforts to help protect the rights of Christians in our country. Bill's popular television program on the Fox News Channel often exposes the way "secular progressives" seek to diminish the influence of Christianity in America. Having said that, I doubt if Bill realizes the fundamental error he promulgated on his program last week (April 2, 2015).
Whether intentional or not, Bill gutted the Gospel by disparaging the biblical teaching that one needs to accept Jesus as Savior in order to go to heaven rather than to hell. Here are Bill's words with a link to the short video clip:
First of all, there are not multiple "Christian religions," but I suspect Bill was referring to various "camps" within Christianity, such as denominations. The real problem is Bill's quarrel with the biblical message that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
As on previous shows, O'Reilly once again expressed dismay with several basic Christian teachings: (1) what it means to be born again; (2) heaven and hell; and (3) accepting Jesus as your Savior. These are not "deep doctrines" within Christianity. These basic beliefs are what the author of Hebrews refers to as "elementary teachings." (Hebrews 6:1)
Like many Catholics and Protestants today, O'Reilly seems completely mystified by the term "born again." Jesus Himself was the One who first used this term, and it isn't complicated. The third chapter of the Gospel of John lays out Christianity in simplicity and truth. And Jesus is the One doing most of the speaking.
The Gospel message is summed up in John 3:16, where Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." And a few verses earlier Jesus told Nicodemus, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3)
Simple, right? A person becomes "born again" by believing in Jesus as his Savior. Or another way of saying it: A Christian is someone who has "accepted Christ" as his Savior.
For all of his insights on a whole range of political and cultural issues, Bill has repeatedly fumbled the foundational message of the Christian faith. It's not complicated. And it isn't reserved only for "evangelical Christians," or "conservative Christians." Every Christian is born again; that is, someone who has received Jesus as Savior, whether that person attends a church which is Presbyterian, Catholic, or non-denominational.
Jesus said, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." (John 3:6) In other words, the Holy Spirit works the miracle of the new birth in your heart the moment you place your trust in Christ as your Savior. This is why Jesus proceeded to say, "You must be born again." (John 3:7) It's the only way to become a Christian.
Compare it to a child being born. Either the child has been born, or not. Likewise, you have either been born again, or not.
Why did Jesus say that being born again is the only way to enter the kingdom of God? Because heaven and hell are the only two options after death. This fact is highlighted over and over again in the New Testament. I don't know anyone who would have come up with the idea of hell. Nevertheless, God clearly tells us in His Word about a place we would have never dreamed could exist. Jesus said that hell was originally prepared "for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
And Christ spoke at least as much about hell as He did about heaven. In fact, the Lord died to save people from going to hell. He went through a "temporary hell" as it were on the cross in order to rescue people from going to a place of eternal condemnation. Jesus referred to this place of eternal suffering as "hell." (see Mark 9:43-48)
Here are a couple friendly questions for Bill O'Reilly: "So if those who reject Jesus as Savior are not going to hell, then what type of person is going there in your view?" In other words, "How bad do you have to be to go to hell?"
We tend to assume that "a little sin" in our lives certainly doesn't deserve punishment in hell. But then how much sin do you have to commit to deserve a place in hell? And does God look at "a little sin" the same way we tend to look at it with our human reasoning?