“I’m researching Killing Jesus, do you know why Jesus was killed, by the Romans? … You don’t know and you shouldn’t know because it was about taxes, taxes!” – Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor, March 2013 (see here: Jesus killed over taxes)
Now, I am no expert on Jesus Christ or the Roman occupation of Judea in the first century A.D., but I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and once, on the way to visit my in-laws, I slept in a Holiday Inn Express. But it wasn’t until that statement, from the renowned theologian Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, that I realized the true reason that Jesus Christ was killed was not atonement, redemption, propitiation or reconciliation, but “Taxes! It was taxes!”
I know, right! Those Romans are brutal! I mean, the IRS raided Willie Nelson and jailed Wesley Snipes, but crucifixion? That’s just medieval!
On Tuesday, the 24th of September, Killing Jesus: A History by BILL O’REILLY (in big bold all caps and the same font size as the words “KILLING JESUS”) and Martin Dugard (you better be wearing your bi-focals to see his name, but he’s the guy who does all the work and gets none of the credit; well, in this case – none of the blame) will arrive in bookstores and on e-shelves.
And according to the prophet of the “No spin zone,” the guy who said, “render unto Caesar” and who miraculously summoned a fish with a silver coin to pay, not only his own taxes but also that of his servant Peter, was somehow the spearhead of a tax revolt against the Romans.
The history of the Greeks, the Romans, the Christians and the Jews deny this, as does Christ himself, who, in a less than Simon bar Kokhba moment, told Pilate to the face that his kingdom was not of this world else his servants would fight. But then again maybe Fox’s own Ron Burgundy and his ghostwriter have discovered something that thousands of scholars, billions of words, and history itself have overlooked?
The write-up of the book promises to “take readers inside Jesus’s life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable – and changed the world forever.” Now, I’m all for tax revolts, but has the death of any tax revolutionary really “changed the world forever?”
And I’m pretty confident that the death of Jesus was inevitable because God decreed it and prophecy declared it:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. (Acts 2:23)
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:26-28)
After all, wasn’t Pontius Pilate reluctant to the last minute? Do you really think that a Roman Procurator would pause for reflection in the face of a tax revolt? A man renowned for his cruelty?
As a student with intellectual curiosity and somewhere around 3,000 theological volumes in my library, I appreciate the diversity among the scholars that appear there. I have the early church fathers, the great minds of the Reformation, Catholics, Calvinists, skeptics, scoffers and even atheists; though I must admit that O’Reilly will be the first theologian to grace my shelves that has been sued by a former producer for offering to introduce a falafel into her nether regions. But as a Christian who believes in redemption, I was excited to hear that the trouble-making Roman Catholic kid who was the bane of his Catholic school had grown up to write a book about Jesus. What an opportunity for a man who has truly been blessed with a magnificent platform and millions of viewers. How sad that he wasted such a golden opportunity. How truly tragic.
As nutty as Louis Farrakhan sounds when he claims that a Jew of the house of David and the tribe of Judah was black, as loopy as those in Queer Nation who claim that Jesus was “a gay man, extraordinarily gay, steeped in gayness,” nothing quite compares to the complete denial of thousands of years of Jewish prophecy and two millennia of Christian tradition. Not even Dan Brown had the chutzpah to write his anti-Christian screed as a work of non-fiction. That’s right “folks,” you don’t see this kind of pride and prejudice outside of the major cults or the halls of Pandemonium.
The fresh, bold piece of humanity has revealed himself as the hot steaming pile of vanity that both Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh have warned us about by implication for years. O’Reilly’s wacky, unhinged conjectures promise to make Oliver Stone seem like St. Augustine. Imagine the ego that went into his decision to straighten out God, history, tradition and even the skeptics about the life and death of Jesus Christ? Imagine the arrogant naiveté to suggest that a history of the death of Jesus belongs on the same shelf as Lincoln’s and JFK’s?
And the irony of a man who boasts, “The Factor has stood up for Christmas for fifteen years, defending the holiday from secular progressives.” I guess it’s all right to have Christ in Christmas but let’s revisit that whole Easter Sunday thing. So, we have been wrong all along with the “Christ died for your sins” confession; actually we should revise that to “Jesus died for your deductions!”
But will the Factor-heads bail him out on this one? You betcha! O’Reilly could “ralph” into the Holy Grail and there would be a bidding war on ebay. He still lives off the fumes of the average person’s middle finger to the media in their disdain of mainstream propaganda and their appreciation of Fox as a reliable news source. As for me, I would rather have him sign my loofah than toss him thirty pieces of silver like the Fox lemmings that will buy anything that bears his name and visage. How’s that for pithy?
The question that we must ask, that even fans of The Factor must demand, is why? Why would he write this book and why should we continue to pretend that Bill O’Reilly hasn’t morphed into the media version of the perpetual thumb in the eye that is John McCain? If I’m wrong about his following, and I hope that I am, then the title of his next book will be, “KILLING RATINGS”!
I leave you, my dear reader, to your own better discretion on whether to buy this book or support this man but let me just point out a question that should make “the folks” uncomfortable. “When is MSNBC more reliable than Fox News?” The answer is when Martin Bashir has to correct Bill O’Reilly about the true reason for the death of Christ.
You don’t know and you shouldn’t know because it was about taxes?’ Well, as anyone with a modicum of Biblical history will tell you, the death of Christ was an act of substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world. He neither lived nor died for taxes, in fact he simply said that one should discharge one’s responsibilities to the state by rendering unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. But the purpose and meaning of his death is spelled out by the prophet Isaiah:
He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
“He died for the sins of the world,” continued Bashir, “including the lies and the misappropriation of his life by those whose sole purpose is to make money at his expense.”
Watch Martin Bashir’s Commentary here: Bashir on O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus