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42 thoughts on “Martin Bashir Explains the Gospel to Bill O’Reilly”

  1. Aaron says:

    Great Clip! Thanks Mr. Bashir!

    I”m not a Billo apologies or anything. . but I find it funny that we just now were able to find/post this clip since no one watches MSNBC.

    1. Aaron says:


  2. Matt says:

    I’m obviously missing something. I’m glad Martin Bashir understands the Gospel but that wasn’t what Bill O’Reilly was saying. O’Reilly asked why the Romans killed Jesus NOT why God sent His son to the cross. There is an argument that the Romans killed Jesus as a revolutionary. Yet, Bashir seems to engage a false dichotomy that Jesus could have died on our behalf while also dying, in the eyes of the Romans, as a insurrectionist (even if Pilate was less convinced that he was one).

    1. Dave says:

      Given that Divine sovereignty always lies behind human agency, especially so concerning the cross, e.g. Acts 2:23, it follows that whenever someone attempts to explain why Jesus died, and points only to human agency, they should be corrected, because it’s such a glaring omission to leave out why God sent his Son to the cross.

      I have no problem with someone saying the Romans (Pilate) killed Jesus because they thought it politically expedient, or that the Jewish authorities killed Jesus because they thought him a blasphemer – provided they go on to give the ultimate reason – God giving his Son as per the gospel explanation of why the cross happened.

      If they fail to mention that ultimate reason, and instead offer as a ‘bottom line’ reason one that comes from mere human agency, or if they attempt to take Jesus’ death on the cross and co-opt that awesome event for some purpose of their own (e.g. an argument about taxes), then they should be corrected.

      It seems to me from the clip that O’Reilly is saying something like ‘let me tell you all the REAL reason Christ died on the cross – taxes!’ – and that is such blasphemous nonsense that it should be corrected.

      I don’t know whether Martin Bashir is a Christian. Perhaps he is, and saw this as an opportunity to tell the world why the cross happened. If so, wonderful. Perhaps he isn’t, and is presenting the theologically correct reason why Jesus died as a way of trying to make O’Reilly look rather foolish.

      If so, I’m reminded of Philippians 1:15-18, where Paul says that some preach Christ from true motives, some from false motives, but Paul rejoices either way because Christ is being preached.

      1. Dillon says:

        Dave, thanks for this. Your reply to Matt seems to go something like this: Even while O’Reilly’s explanation of why Jesus was killed may be true, it is so reductionistic (merely “horizontal,” missing the “vertical,” more theological explanation) as to be offensive to God.

        Fair enough. I think you’re right, and your point is well-taken and appreciated. But I can also imagine quite a public outcry (against a station already stereotyped for Christian sympathies) if Bill *had* gone on to explain Christ’s theological significance *in the context of a discussion on taxes* (at least, I presume that’s the context, given it’s the first half of Mr. Bashir’s segment)? In which case, O’Reilly’s segment might have gone something like: “Taxes are bad. God died for your sins,” while many skeptic viewer friends are left saying, “There goes Fox again…”

        Let me be clear: I’m NOT saying that any public outcry should stop him or anyone else from bold proclamation. I’m simply suggesting that we be “shrewd as serpents” with how we proclaim. If Mr. O’Reilly had outlined the Gospel aright as we’re wishing he had, it seems to me there may have been unintended, unhelpful consequences, except to those already in agreement, as is typically the charge against Fox (and MSNBC).

        It seems to me that Mr. Bashir is able to get away with unpacking robust theological content on MSNBC in this instance because he’s correcting Fox News (in a manner seeming more [theologically] conservative than the [political and presumably theological] conservative, adding to the rhetorical punch of his explanation.) You pointed this out as possible in your post, too.

        I’m immensely grateful for any honest discussion about the Gospel to proceed over public media (Phil. 1:15-18). It’s a rare gem to thank God for. And yet, I find myself slow to pat Mr. Bashir on the back for his Gospel two cents when he was (it seems to me) merely using the Gospel as a springboard against the anchor of a rival (and much despised by most MSNBCers) news station. I.e., while Paul is thankful for Christ preached in any sense, I’m not sure he’s going to the “false-motive preachers” and telling them “well done,” either.

        I’m thankful for the Gospel’s proclamation. But it seems to me Matt has a point–O’Reilly is using a very different context with very different methods, in which the true, awesome and eternally worthy theological significance of Christ’s propitiatory death may not have been immediately applicable. In brief, there is a difference between why the Romans killed Jesus (Acts 4:27) and why the Father sent his Son to the cross (Acts 4:28).

        As a postscript: The world is already hard at work making Christians (and especially conservatives of any stripe–political or theological) look bad in any way possible–especially on MSNBC. We might do well to be a tad cautious before throwing someone sympathetic to our cause (even Mr. O’Reilly as a Catholic) under the bus. I find too many blogs in which well-meaning Christians do this especially to conservative pundits in attempt to make the Gospel sound more plausible in the eyes of the left. I’m NOT saying that is Mr. Taylor’s motive–simply observing that it is common practice and, I believe, a counterproductive one.
        Nor am I saying we should not publicly correct public errors spoken by Christians or conservatives. I’m only suggesting that when discussions about the Gospel are public like this one, as much care is taken with Mr. O’Reilly’s case as possible, since voices coming from any sort of “right” side are often more virulently maligned in public media than those from the left.

        But make no mistake: Our allegiance must be to the Truth of the Gospel. And when there are errors, they ought to be gently, lovingly examined–when appropriate, exposed. Insofar as this post accomplishes that end, I am grateful to God.

    2. Young says:

      Matt, can you elaborate more on what you mean by Marin Bashmir engaged in false dichotomy?

  3. Bruce Russell says:

    Where does Martin go to church?

  4. Jeremy says:

    He used to go to Tim Keller’s church, not sure if he still does.

  5. Rachael Starke says:

    Can he do the same thing with Glenn Beck next?

    1. Melody says:

      How about in person in a nicer voice too?

  6. Joe says:

    Wonderful gospel message, total misrepping of O’Reilly, as Matt sez. And he seemed awful zealous to preach it, brother, as a club against tax cutters. “Lies” of networks? Please. Fox, MNBC, take your pick, right? This reminded me of Pat Roberston in a lather, just with New York sophistication.

  7. Reality Check says:

    Wow, I mean… Wow! just a great job by Martin Bashir and on MSNBC to boot.

    And on the other end of the spectrum, Matt and Joe who are defending O’Reilly, who is not only flat out wrong on the tax comment but already on record for allegorizing much of the bible. In September he’s coming out with a “Killing Jesus” book. Hopefully Bashir will review it and not Matt and Joe. Geez.

    1. Joe says:

      Um, not defending O’Reilly: saying Bashir came off as pompously opportunitstic. If that’s a great job, have at it.

  8. Adam says:

    In Poland he would be fired. It is Impossible to find one person who could talk about the gospel in programs like this one and impossible to issue program like this in public or private TV. There was one man who tried to talk about Jesus and the gospel in program about sensations and difficult domestic affairs. He was a gangster and he was saved in jail. His story and declamations were manipulated and they showed him like a freak. This is our reality. Please pray for our country.

  9. Cedric says:

    If you guys like good MSNBC teachings from the bible on taxes:

  10. Tim says:

    “One should discharge one’s responsibilities to the state…”

    Sounds to me like he’s saying the government should take care of everything….

    He too places political views onto the gospel.

  11. Yes, nice job explaining the gospel while reinforcing the perception of Brits as smug, patronizing know-it-alls! :)

  12. David says:

    Glad for the clear presentation of the Gospel but I’m pretty sure MSNBC let that pass only because it serves their political agenda.

  13. Paul says:

    This is Bashir taking a cheap shot at O’Reilly in a smug tone. It’s something that shouldn’t be posted on the Gospel Coalition website. Very disappointing.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Should Philippians 1:15-18 play into our thinking on this one?

      1. Paul says:

        I’m a PCA pastor who considers the Gospel Coalition a valuable gift to the Church and I’ve been a big fan of your blog, especially when you were more active. I also appreciate the Philippians passage. I’m just not sure why you’d want to publicly pat someone on the back and say “nice job” when foul play is involved. Paul isn’t encouraging his contemporaries to preach Christ with wrong motives, nor is he giving them a greater platform to continue in their sinning. He’s simply rejoicing in the fact that God can use even the bad motives of preachers to bring about some good.

        1. Reality Check says:

          I don’t doubt that Bashir’s motives are suspect but it doesn’t change the fact that he indeed did do a “nice job” in what he said, and that is all that Justin said. And considering the network he said it on, I have no doubt that a lot of people who heard it, needed to hear it. Who knows, it might even prompt some of them to seek out a Pastor such yourself for further explanation.

        2. Richard says:

          As I recall, Mr. Bashir attends a PCA church.

  14. Flyaway says:

    Bill O’Reilly said what he said so that everyone will read his book.

  15. Carl says:

    I have to agree with Matt. Bill O’Reilly did not say “Why did Jesus die.” He asked “Why did the Romans kill Jesus?” Big difference. He is probablywrong about why he thinks the Romans killed Jesus but we must listen to what people say instead of responding too quickly.

    Could have Bil’s statement given the impression to some that the only real reason that Jesus was killed was because of taxes. I guess. But that is not how Bashir corrects O’Reilly. Bashir could have stated that O’reilly gave the impression in his statement that this was all Christ died for. Or he could have actually argued against O’REilly’s view that the Romans killed Jesus because of taxes. Unfortunately Bashir was overlyzealous to correct and make fun of Fox and BIll O’Reilly. Both Fox and MsNBC (CNN also) have problems. Both sides are smug and fighting not over facts but over talking points. Just sad on many levels.

  16. joel says:

    Bashir did the same to Rob Bell a while back. Implicating something that was not said. Very unprofessional and deceptive. Christians ought to wise up on who they are listening to.

    1. Reality Check says:

      With all due respect Joel, if somebody got something Rob Bell said wrong, it almost certainly would be an improvement on what Bell said in the first place.

    2. Barchetta says:

      Bashir’s history has been to dishonestly edit pieces to grind his own ax or in this case that of his network. He’s been called out on it several times. Personally, I think the world would be a better place without either of these guys on the air.

  17. Blake says:

    Wow, barely any amazement or thanksgiving on these comments that the phrase “substitutionary atonement” was used correctly and biblically in a proclamation of the gospel in the mainstream media! Come on people!

    1. Richard says:

      This goes to show that to some politics matters more than the Gospel, I guess.

      1. Melody says:

        No Richard, he got the information right but where was the love? I’m glad that Bashir gets it. I’m sad that O’Reilly has shown himself to be similar to Oprah. Personally I think both their political agendas stink.

        The fact that we are so starved to hear the gospel proclaimed in the media that we would shout Good Job when someone uses it as a club is really really sad.

  18. Richard says:

    This isn’t the first time O’Reilly has shown an ignorance of the truth claims of Christ, as Mike Horton at The White Horse Inn points out here:

  19. Ron Miller says:

    I can rejoice in the fact that I now know at at least one progressive knows his theology and at least the 5 or 6 people who watch MSNBC got to hear the TRUE gospel preached, even if it was under false pretenses (there is a difference between purpose and reason)God’s Purpose of Jesus death was atonement. The reason he died was people conspired and falsely accused him. Luke 23:2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” perhaps the GC and Bashir have found a different translation somewhere that says the Pharisees came to Pilate and said we must crucify this man so he can be our substitutionary atonement. Martin Bashir began his argument saying Jesus was not a tax cutter (political argument) which if Jesus is the same yesterday today and tomorrow I’d have to disagree. (See 1 Kings 12, also tax collector returned funds to people with interest). I don’t know where O’Reilly stands on the Gospel, I do know he is correct even the Scriptures support his argument from above, maybe O’Reilly will come out and share what he believes from a theological stand point and the reason (purpose) God had. There was a trial, there were charges brought forth and they included taxes and declaring himself king. Being correct on theology doesn’t save, (Rom 10:9-15). So both are correct on the death of Christ, Martin is wrong on taxes! Rejoice in the Lord, I say it again Rejoice!

  20. Martin says:

    Aaron, no one watches MSNBC? Well, I do. And so should you.

    I also watch Fox. I find political agendas in each. If anyone watches one of them alone, it’s a big mistake. They each pander to their own crowd. I don’t believe either presents a Chiist-centered worldview consistently. But, everyone knows that. It just needs to be said.

    “Fair and Balanced” – I don’t think so. “Unfair and Biased” – that’s the ticket!

    1. Melody says:

      I don’t watch any of them any more unless something has happened in the world. I have enough trouble loving people without having that fed into my heart.

  21. Jon says:

    It would probably be ever better if most of the people commenting here actually stopped spending all their time on Christian blogs discussing who said what and instead if they profess to be a Christian actually go live it out in the real world where souls are won and believers grow in spiritual maturity. There are no important arguments to win here, but rather opportunities everyday to show Christ to the world in our regular lives amongst the lost.

    1. CG says:

      “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?”
      – 1 Cor 12:17

      God uses people to build up the body in different ways. We should be cautious about saying, “You people are wasting your time, you should do what *I* think is worthwhile.”

    2. Reality Check says:

      Sounds great Jon, how about you first?

  22. Martin says:

    Jon, I will come to your defense … somewhat. While blogs do give us an opportunity to learn from each other (if we are really listening to alternate views), I sometimes think the TGC blog is “over the top” on academic viewpoints. We MUST be listening with sensitivity to the Spirit of God, alive and moving in each of our lives and in the whole world. His voice will lead us to ministry towards those in need.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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