Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Rebuttal of Bill Maher's Commentary on the Subject of Osama Bin Laden's Demise

 [Preamble to this article:  I wrote this over a year ago in the aftermath of Osama Bin Laden's demise.  I wrote it as a response to Bill Maher's video which was aired on his show "Real Time with Bill Maher" on May 13, 2011.  This video can be viewed on You Tube if you need to view the context for this rebuttal.  I will not provide a direct link to it from this website but you will be able to locate it by searching "Bill Maher" and "Thy Will Be Gun" in the search criteria for that website.  But be forewarned that this video clip is rated R for language and is not censored.]

I do not care about addressing politics or humanistic moral viewpoints in this reply.  I have no rebuttal for that nor will I give one because my only concern is for getting the integrity of the Christian faith correct of which Bill Maher failed.  Nevertheless, I am not going to stand idle while, Bill Maher, an unrepentant atheist sinner, twists Holy Scripture out of context in order to lead people astray concerning the Christian faith.

I will occasionally give an ear to Bill Maher on secular topics involving politics and social issues but, even then, I don’t normally agree with all of his agendas.  Bill Maher is an entertainer and he is like every other pundit that pontificates at the extremes of liberalism or conservatism; they exaggerate and decontextualize opposing view points in order to, for the sake of their own glory, gain public approval and higher television ratings.  This video clip is no different and I find it laughable that an atheist is trying to rebuke all of Christendom with Holy Scripture as to how their reactions should have been to the assassination of America’s public enemy number one.  Moreover, in this case, Bill Maher deserves to be rebuked for his ignorance.

His ignorance to what Holy Scripture actually says, if left unchecked, is poisonous to anyone that is weak in his or her own Christian faith or is a seeking unbeliever.  The basis of Bill Maher’s entire rant against the “so-called Christian hypocrisy” is,  “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  (Matthew 5:44 ESV).  However, Maher chose to truncate Jesus’ entire thought (notice the comma instead of a period after the word, “you?”) in order to isolate it and twist it so he can use it for furthering his own agenda which is blaspheming Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, Maher wrongly attributes Jesus as saying, “do not repay evil with evil” and “do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you” when Holy Scripture shows that the author (under the power of the Holy Spirit, of course) was the apostle Saint Paul of Tarsus when he wrote the epistle to the Romans.  The passage that Maher is refering to:
Romans 12:17-21 ESV
(17)  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  (18)  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  (19)  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  (20)  To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."  (21)  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is exactly the same way that satan tried to tempt Jesus into jumping off the top of the temple in Matthew 4:6 ESV by reciting Psalm 91:11-12 ESV.  Satan truncated the Scripture in order to twist its context and meaning.  Psalm 91 is about trusting God not about testing God and so Jesus thoroughly rebuked satan with Scripture by reciting Deuteronomy 6:16 ESV.

If you allow Jesus to complete his thought, he says:
Matthew 5:44-48 ESV
(44)  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  (45)   so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.   (46)  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?   (47)  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?   (48)  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 
Jesus is giving an object lesson on what true holiness is and how it involves mercy and compassion even to one's enemies. He did this because the self-righteous in the crowd felt comfortable and secure with the love of their neighbors. In fact, the entire Sermon on the Mount was one gigantic gut check for the self-righteous in the crowd because Jesus raised the bar higher on every subject concerning holiness.

Lastly, Jesus concludes his thought on the love of one's enemies with “you must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Who can be this perfect?  Not a single finite human being can and that is Jesus’ point here.  He is calling the self -righteous to repentance of their sins.   He’s calling out anyone and everyone that has falsely put their faith in themselves or their good works to secure eternal life.  The Scripture says, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”  (Romans 3:9-11 ESV)

The linchpin for the gospel of Jesus Christ is simply that there is nothing that a human can do or practice that can reconcile oneself to God and earn eternal life.  Jesus’ ministry wasn’t to teach everyone to practice trying to be holy.  Rather, Jesus’ ministry was to tell people to “repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15 ESV)  All other world religions center around humanistic endeavors and deeds and, therefore, the followers of those false religions spend an inordinate amount of time building a ladder to try to get to heaven based on their own merit.

Christianity is the only religion in the world where the ladder of reconciliation with God drops down from heaven.  In Christianity, God does all the work through Jesus Christ and asks for people to acknowledge it through repentance and belief.   Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was designed to show people how far away they are from God's standard of holiness and to call them to repentance.  That’s what Bill Maher gets wrong.

Because, in reality, the true enemies of God consist of all of humanity, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 ESV).    Jesus is actually teaching on how God loves all of his creation even though they are enemies because of their sin against him “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)   Therefore, the following pretty much sums up what Jesus’ first advent on earth was all about:
 Luke 4:18-21 ESV
 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 
(Jesus is actually quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV here.  Remember this because I am going to refer to it later in a couple of paragraphs.)

God sent his son, Jesus, to release humanity of their sin guilt against a Holy and Just God so that He could extend mercy and compassion to humanity.  This is only possible for those who repent of their sins against God and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Which is why the most famous Scripture in the Bible rings true, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

All of this is possible because, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. “ (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)  That’s the gospel for those that believe in His name.  “Jesus” in the Greek literally means, “The Lord saves.”

However, there is something peculiar and interesting about Jesus quoting Isaiah 61: 1-2 ESV.  Jesus, Himself, truncated verse 2 when he finished reading the scroll that day in the temple.  Some Christians speculate that was because he was only talking about his first advent when he closed the scroll and proclaimed the Scripture fulfilled. In other words, this was no mistake, the Lord Jesus did so with a purpose.  Therefore, when he comes again the balance of verse 2 will ring true:
Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”
The true and living God is a God of mercy and compassion but he is also a God of justice as well.  Jesus’ second advent on earth will be for holy judgment.  In the day of the Lord, impenitent people will be judged according to their deeds, which, according to Scripture, are all (both "good" and "bad" deeds) “like a polluted garment.” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)
Furthermore, God doesn’t have to wait until judgment day to execute His justice.  God executes righteous judgments in His own time and in His own way.  Osama Bin Laden’s death, although carried out by the US government, was ultimately successful due to God’s sovereignty.  The Scripture says:
Romans 13:1-5 ESV
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
There are many examples of God using foreign governments to execute His righteous judgments throughout the Bible.  The 23rd chapter of Ezekiel shows one such example.   God is patient and loving but when it is clear to Him that the objects of His mercy reject Him and refuse to repent, He will execute righteous judgment.

While it is true that some Christians “rejoiced” when Bin Laden was executed, I contend that on this side of eternity, it may not have been the best way to display God’s mercy through Jesus Christ to an unbelieving world.  In fact, it displayed their immaturity in Christ especially since we are still in the age of mercy.  However, were they unrighteous for rejoicing?  Are they not Christians for rejoicing?  That is between them and the one true God.

Nevertheless, I think it’s clear that a day is coming when all who are in Christ will rejoice at God’s judgment on unrepentant sinners:
Revelation 19:1-3 ESV
“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever."
Lastly, all Christians did not categorically “rejoice” at the news of Bin Laden’s execution as Bill Maher lamented.  Some Christians received the news and took it to prayer.  These more mature Christians looked at the whole event with sober reflection and said to themselves, “that could have been me without Christ.”

1 comment:

  1. <>

    Agreed. I love the saying, "But for the grace of God, there go I."