If you were watching Fox News a few weeks ago and lighting bolts and hail started flying out of your TV screen, don't worry. This wasn't a sign of the Apocalypse. Rather, it was just the perfect storm of pompous moronicism that took place when Bill O'Reilly interviewed Bill Maher on the Irishman's highly rated TV show.
If you would like to watch the clip, watch it. If not, this is, if you suck all the hot air out of their conversation, essentially what each of them said:
Maher: Believing in the God of the Bible is bad.
O'Reilly: Believing in the God of the Bible is harmless.
At the conclusion of this less-than-productive debate between two less-than-productive debaters, I realized that Bill O'Reilly had just given a very good example of why Liberal Christianity is doomed to die a quiet death and have nobody come to its funeral.
(While O'Reilly may be a political conservative, he is by no means a theological conservative. As someone who believes that the Bible is not the actual, real word of God, that the stuff described as having happened in the Bible didn't actually happen, and as someone who doesn't believe that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, O'Reilly can't help but fall under the category of a theological liberal.)
And the great problem with theological liberalism, at least when it comes to Christianity, is that it can never give any compelling reason for its own existence.
You see, Bill Maher is on somewhat of the right track. Christianity is either true or it's a big, heaping pile of lies. The Apostle Paul says exactly that in 1 Corinthians 15. Maher's problem is that he's drawn the wrong conclusion on the resurrection of Jesus. But in O'Reilly's mind, when it comes to the Christian faith, it's not a matter of true vs. untrue. It's really a matter of fine vs. not fine. And Christianity is fine. It's sweet. It's quaint. It's harmless. It gives people a sense of meaning and teaches them to be good neighbors who love their children and walk their dogs and buy Bill O'Reilly's books.
But the problem with O'Reilly's view is that, instead of viewing Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life, it treats Him like Skittles. So Skittles are fine. As long as you're not a fanatic about eating them, they're harmless. And honestly, how can a person ever be a jerk while tasting the rainbow? But, in the end, you don't need skittles. You'll be just fine without them. And if you happen to find something else that makes you feel just as good and makes you act just as nice, then you're in just as good of shape.
And if that's what the Christian faith is like, then why bother with it? If Christ is not the Bread of Life, then why partake of Him? If Skittles aren't necessary for my soul, and I don't particularly like Skittles, why should I eat them? Why should I go to a church if it can't give me anything better than what I'm offered in a billion other houses of worship or in the temple of my own heart (aka sleep)? If Christianity's worth is only found in its utilitarianism, why should I believe its teachings when there are other utilitarian religions that won't require me to believe that I'm a sinner and won't ask me to pick up a cross and follow someone other than myself?
Or perhaps look at it this way: If a man and his family were dying, and the only cure was found in the Bread of Life behind enemy lines, that man will scale barbed wire fences and dodge bullets and stare down the barrels of bazookas to get his hands on the only thing that will give him and his family life. He'll even give up his own life in order to make sure that his wife, his children can feast upon their only salvation, the Bread of Life.
But if a man and his family aren't dying, and the only thing found behind enemy lines is a pack of Skittles that neither he nor his family actually needs, he won't even think about entering the war zone. Ever. And so we see that the reason Liberal Christianity is doomed to die a quiet death is because a faith that isn't worthy dying for isn't worth living for either.
My name is Pastor Hans Fiene. Thanks for reading.