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Larry King Live
Who Is Jesus?Aired July 6, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HUGH DOWNS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, on LARRY KING LIVE, who is Jesus? And why is there such a fascination with that question now? Joining us tonight to discuss it, in Ft. Myers, Florida, Albert Mohler, who's president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; in Raleigh, North Carolina, Anne Graham Lotz, whose daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham and author of "Just Give Me Jesus;" in Boston, Rabbi Harold Kushner, who's author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People;" in New York, Rabbi Boteach, who's the dean of the Oxford L'chaim Society; here with me in Los Angeles, Father Michael Manning, who is seen frequently as the host of "The Word in the World." And welcome to all of you. That's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Hi, I'm Hugh Downs. I'm sitting in for Larry King.
And we have a very interesting topic tonight: Who is Jesus?
I want to start right off with Father Manning. Let me just ask you that question -- who is Jesus?
REV. MICHAEL MANNING, HOST, "THE WORD IN THE WORLD": Jesus is a man who came to this Earth and who was God. So he's a man, a complete genuine man, who is also god. He's one with the father. There's a trinity, and we speak of unity there, and he's come with a purpose to reconcile the world to God, a world that is separated to bring it together and to reconcile people that are separated to be one, and that the world might be united in one kingdom of God. So that's who Jesus is to me.
DOWNS: OK. How do you account for the fact there is such a resurgence of interest in traditional religions now? Fifteen years ago, you didn't have pictures of Jesus on the news magazine covers and everything, on secular magazines so much.
MANNING: I think that Jesus represents the hope and the life of people -- what's going to happen after die? Where am I going to go? What's the meaning of suffering? And Jesus represents a powerful meaning, an understanding of that, that can give us hope and victory. So I want good news. He's good news in a world that oftentimes is filled with a lot of negative things.
DOWNS: Now that was available to people, though, a generation or two ago, and it seems to me that there was a sort of a -- one period there was a decline in traditional religion. MANNING: It kind of moves away, doesn't it? Yes, there are times when it moves away. I think that what's happened, though, is we faced an awful lot with communications. It's opened doors of knowledge of things that are happening in spontaneous ways. I think communications and the flood of that is a big way of us being able to communicate with many of the things that are very much more important in our lives than we would had thought before. That's what I think.
DOWNS: I want to ask Rabbi Kushner, if I can. In the time of Jesus' youth -- he undoubtedly considered himself a law-keeping Jew -- was there was there any evidence that there was an intention on his part that he would found a whole new religion be what he became in minds of Christians?
RABBI HAROLD KUSHNER, AUTHOR, "WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE": Hugh, I don't how much of an authority I am on that. I read new testament as a work written by Jews in the first and second century, and I make a distinction between the religion of Jesus, which is a deeply humanistic Judaism, and a religion about Jesus, which is a faith that sees him as God on Earth and as the messiah and the redeemer.
As a Jew, I can respond to the first, and I can't really respond to the second. I see Jesus as God's instrument for making the morality of the Hebrew Scriptures the heritage of all humanity. It would have gone contrary to God's will had the morality of the Torah remained the property of one small tribal enclave in the Middle East. Jesus and Paul made this the property of human beings everywhere.
DOWNS: Obviously, you have great respect for him as a man. And on that subject -- I'll go back to you for a moment, Father Manning. He had to be human in order to be who he was.
MANNING: Completely human.
DOWNS: Completely human, and yet still completely God according to...
MANNING: Yes, completely God.
DOWNS: And how did that tie in with the development of a trinity, where you had two things going, but then the holy spirit was added to that.
MANNING: Yes. It became a development that we started understand the basic -- well, your question to the rabbi is important, because it shows that there was a development from Jesus, who was pretty much a good Jew. And I'm not sure that in a consciousness of a starting a new religion, that was where he was coming from. But as the church started to reflect and understand deeply the sayings of Jesus and experience what he was doing, we became aware that there was the equality between him and the father, and then we found the presence of the spirit as equal in that. So we found three persons in one God, a development that was not finalized until Nicea, which is around the year 325, when bishops got together and really clarified this. So we see a progression, a growth of the fullness of the understanding of revelation Jesus gave.
DOWNS: And even outside the Catholic doctrine, other sects acknowledge a trinity.
MANNING: Very much so, on Christians. The problem comes with some of the Christian denominations that, perhaps, don't really believe in the divinity of Jesus, don't believe as we do that from all -- from eternity, he has been God. There are some might say, well, he became God, or he is like God or he is a good example of God, but for the Trinitarians, he has always been God, and the father, son and spirit are that unity.
DOWNS: I want to ask Anne Graham Lotz. You've described yourself. You say that you are not the evangelist, that you are you are a messenger. Let me ask you two things. What is an evangelist? And why are you a messenger?
ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ, AUTHOR, "JUST GIVE ME JESUS": An evangelist is someone who brings good news. And as Father Manning was describing Jesus, of course is the good news, that through faith in Jesus, you can have sins forgiven, you can be reconciled to God, you can have eternal life, you can know with confidence that you're going to Heaven have when you die. So that's wonderful good news for any generation.
And an evangelist is someone who takes that good news to the world.
And the second question -- I can't remember your second question. But why am I messenger?
DOWNS: It's why you call yourself a messenger.
LOTZ: A messenger is somebody who takes the message of the good news, but not just the message of that good news of salvation, but the message that we can know God in a personal relationship, and my father, Billy Graham, and brother, Franklin Graham, are evangelists that their primary message is that gospel, or the good news telling people how they can be right with God through faith in Jesus. My message is more taking people who have already their placed faith in Jesus and helping them growing in their personal relationship with him. Through the knowledge of the Scriptures and through their obedience or their service, and I believe that's what we were created for; we where created to know God in a personal permanent relationship, and that's made possible through Jesus Christ.
DOWNS: I want to come back find out where you take your messages, where you speak and so forth.
But right now, we're going to take a break, and we'll be back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JESUS")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's a ghost! UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, no, it's Jesus! He's walking on the water!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Don't be afraid.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNS: We're back now, and our subject is, who is Jesus?
And I was talking to Anne Graham Lotz, who describes herself as a messenger.
When you give the message, what results -- first of all, where do you do this, Anne?
LOTZ: Well, I do it where I'm invited, and I'm invited to go to all different places, university campus, you know, denominational conferences for men and women, seminaries. I go around the world. I've just come back from Northern Ireland, was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Glasgow, Scotland, Cardiff, Wales, and there are people all over the world, as I know you would know from the ratings I think to some of these shows, people are really interested in what God has to say and who Jesus is. And so I take a passage of scripture and try to open its up so people can hear God speaking to them through his word, because the Bible is a living book. It is a wonderful book of prophecy, history and poetry, and some of these other things, but also God's word to us, and God speaks through the scriptures. And it's exciting to know that God is alive, that we can know him through faith in Jesus Christ, and he is relevant for our daily lives, and that's the message that I bring. It's a wonderful message of hope, and purpose and meaning for your life.
DOWNS: Is there some feedback for you as to what results you might be producing by doing that?
LOTZ: Yes. I get feedback through e-mail now. Of course you get it from around the world by e-mail. Also many letters and things that come to our office, as well to me personally. And people today, there are so many pressures, and problems. For instance in my own life, in the last two years, my son was diagnosed with cancer and went through radical surgery and radiation. My husband's office burned to the ground. I've from eastern North Carolina. We've had snowstorms, hurricanes. My mother and father through the hospital so many different times we have lost count, and some of those times have been life-threatening. And it's caused me to want just the bottom-line, most important thing, and to me, that's Jesus. And so my phrase this year is "just give me Jesus."
And I find around the world, there are people who have problems and pressures, and like me, they don't want to quit, and they don't want a vacation, they don't want sympathy; they just want some real answers, and we believe the answers are found in Jesus Christ.
DOWNS: Those things that happened to you remind us that bad things do happen to good people.
LOTZ: That's right.
DOWNS: We'll hear more from Rabbi Kushner on that.
Dr. Mohler, I wanted to ask you. You have said that if we want to examine the subject of who is Jesus, we ought to turn directly to scripture. Can you elaborate on that somewhat?
REV. R. ALBERT MOHLER JR., PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well absolutely, Hugh, a scripture that is the evidence for Jesus, that is the authority whereby we know who Jesus was, and what he did and what he said.
It's interesting, the question you asked tonight was specifically asked by the Lord himself. He took his disciples off to the region of Caesarea Philipi, and in Matthew chapter 16, he asked first, "Who do others say that I am?" Then turned to his own disciples, and he said, well, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon and Peter said, "Though art the Christ, the son of living God." And Jesus Christ himself said that's right. And on that confession of faith, he said, "I'll build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." That is the confession of true church throughout all the ages, that Jesus Christ is very God, a very man, and the incarnation, very god, a very god, fully God and fully man, and he is the savior of the world. He is the one the lord sent in order to be redeemer of mankind.
DOWNS: Now, what role do you think historians have in this, in trying to -- people from Albert Schweitzer to Renan, who've written about Jesus, either from the inside of their faith or from the outside as a historians. What is the role of historian tracking this?
MOHLER: Well, these so-called searches for the historical Jesus are a matter of interest, but also, very tragically, they simply do not lead anywhere, because the evidence for Jesus, historically speaking, is found in the Bible. And there is so much material there and there is so little anywhere else, as is true of anyone in the first century, they basically are looking for what they call evidence. They start with naturalistic assumptions and they come to naturalistic conclusions.
Back at the beginning of this century, a famous Roman Catholic scholar said of those who follow this practice, they are looking at the bottom of a deep well, they see their own reflection, and they think they've made a great discovery. They just find their own conceptions.
DOWNS: All right. What is your opinion of what Jesus looked like? There has been so much religious art that has depicted Jesus in a variety of ways. How do you think appearance was?
MOHLER: Well, that's a really good question. And you know, the incarnation is one of the great truths of the Christian faith, the most remarkable thing, that God became man. As the gospel of John says, "He assumed flesh and dwelt among us."
And, Hugh, what we know is that he was first century Palestinian, and so we would expect that he would look like a first century Palestinian, that might look very much like a Palestinian today, a Palestinian Jew. And his physical appearance the Scripture itself says was unremarkable. It wasn't his physical appearance that drew persons to him. It was the truth that he was the incarnation of God.
DOWNS: We're going to come back in a moment, and we want to hear from Rabbi Boteach.
But we'll take a break now and come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Wait a minute! Wait a minute, I want to talk to you.
I was never crucified. I never came back from dead. I'm a man like everybody else.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why you telling these lies?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What are you talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm the son of Mary and Joseph. I'm the one who preached in Galilee. I had followers, we marched on Jerusalem. Pilate condemned me, and God saved me.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No he didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Who are you talking about? Don't try and tell me what happened to me, because I know. I live like a man now. I work, eat, have children. I enjoy my life. For the first time, I'm enjoying it. Do you understand what I'm saying? So don't go around telling lies about me, or I'll tell everybody the truth!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNS: Rabbi Boteach is dean of the Oxford L'chaim Society. And, rabbi, would you explain, first of all, what that society is and does?
RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, DEAN OF OXFORD L'CHAIM SOCIETY: We bring world leaders to lecture on values-based issues, in an attempt and effort to inspire, especially students from the lead universities, to try to use their talents to make the world a better place.
DOWNS: Now, you said that Jesus was a rabbi. You know, in his time he may have even worn a yarmulke or the equivalent of it. Was -- you say he may have thought at that time that he was the messiah. Isn't that fairly well established in that he think that, or do you believe that?
BOTEACH: Well, Hugh, in addressing this whole question how Jews view Jesus, let's look ambivalence. On the one hand, we have this deep reverence for Christianity as a great world faith that brought the knowledge of God and converted billions of pagans to monotheism. On the other hand, Jesus is the ultimate Jewish taboo subject. Why is that? The main reason is -- and it's something that we've been skirted in this discussion so far -- is that, a, in Reverend Mohler's is saying about the Scriptures is only half the story. They Scriptures portrayed Jesus in three ways. Number one, he is a pharisee. He is a rabbi. He looks like a rabbi. He thinks like a rabbi. He behaves and acts like rabbi. Number two, he doesn't say he's son of God. On the contrary, in John chapter 5, verse 30, he says clearly, I can be nothing by my own authority; it's God's authority. He distinguishes between himself and god. And finally number three, he says in Matthew chapter 5, verse 17, that he is here to uphold the Torah, that not one iota of the Torah will ever be lost.
Suddenly, in the Pauline transformation of the historical Jesus into the Christ of Christianity, Jesus is, a, now a deity, which is the ultimate Jewish heresy. Number two, he's here to abrogate the Torah, seeing it as a straitjacket. And most alarmingly, number three, not only is he no longer a pharisee or a rabbi, he now makes statements that border on the anti-Semitic, and here's the tension been Judaism, and Christianity and how it used Jesus as a weapon.
The tension was that Christianity is a great world faith, but instead of saying, we are another religion separate from Judaism, the early church fathers tried to say we supplanted Judaism. Now there was a need to get Jesus to criticize the rabbis. So we go from beautiful, incredible teachings of Jesus from Matthew chapter 5, where you're supposed to pray for those who persecute you, are meant to turn other cheek, to horrific teachings, like Luke, chapter 19, where suddenly anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus, says, bring them before me and I'll slaughter them.
Or you go to John chapter 15, where Jesus says anyone that doesn't believe in him is like a withered branch that will cast into the fire and burned. Now in my opinion, this is character assassination. Jesus was a great teacher, a very ethical, moral, human being -- perhaps in our opinion, not a prophet, but certainly a phenomenal teacher and Christianity is a great world religion. To suddenly take that man and make him into instead of the prince of peace, the purveyor of prejudice or the hounder of heretics -- I mean, not only we're seeing today that great Christians, like Pope John Paul II, a great man, are making apologies to the Jews for anti-Semitism in the name of Jesus through the ages, but no one apologized to Jesus himself.
This is character assassination. He came along to bring peace into the world. And while I agree he is a great light, once we say he is the only light, this is what leads to all kinds of spiritual racism and a division between Jews and Christians.
DOWNS: Well, that's the answer to my question, from Rabbi Boteach. BOTEACH: When we come back, I want to talk to you further about that Father Manning.
We'll be back after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing) Listen, King of the Jews, where is your kingdom? Look at me! Am I a Jew?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I have no kingdom. In this world I'm through.
There may be a kingdom for me somewhere, if you only knew.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Then you are the king then?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's you that say I am. I look for truth, and find that I get damned.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What is truth? It's just unchanging law. We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNS: Rabbi Boteach has brought up a very interesting point, and I'd like your reaction to idea of an evolution of thought during the time of Jesus's ministry.
MANNING: We do. And it's very difficult when you get into the gospel of John, where you find statements against Jews that are calling them dogs, and just a very, very derogatory statements, which I agree with him, how can you find that in the mouth of Christ? I think that we've got to face the fact that there was a real political situation that was going on, in which Jews were intentioned against Christians, and we find Paul being persecuted by people who were followers of the law, and being stoned and being persecuted in great ways, and so there was an antagonism that built that started to be reflected in the Scripture.
BOTEACH: Father Michael, I have to disagree. Paul was not persecuted by followers of the law. This is a great historical misnomer. The New Testament itself says they were persecuted by the high priest. He was a Sadducee. He was not a Pharisee. The Sadducee were allies of Rome. They were the allies of Herod Anabaptist. They were the ones who tried, first of all, to put Jesus to death and then Peter to death.
On the contrary, the Book of Acts, chapter 6, says very clearly that Gomliel (ph), the head of the Pharisees -- those who upheld the law, rabbis like myself -- defended Peter from execution. And also Luke chapter 13, verse 31 says clearly that the Pharisees warned Jesus to run from Herod because he sought their death. This is nothing but an anti-Semitic libel that the Pharisaic rabbis were out to murder Jesus. On the contrary, he was a Pharisee himself.
There was nothing blasphemous to declare yourself the Messiah. Barcuspa (ph) did it 100 years after Jesus. The great rabbis, like Akiba, said that Barcuspa could indeed be the messiah. I mean, let's just put this into perspective. Leaders of law did not oppose Jesus the way the New Testament portrays.
MANNING: There was persecution, there was struggle, but I'm really going to concede to you, rabbi. I think that we really have to admit the fact that there have been things very un-Christian done with regard to Jews, and we've got to ask forgiveness and we've got to be able to start from this moment.
As you were saying in the break, we've come to a clarity of the understanding and a freedom to be able to see the scripture and to understand Christ in a new way, and so we come to you, rabbi, and say, forgive us, please, let's start now, let's start to move with the real power of Christ of love, and listen to you, and understand you and need the beauty what you have for us to understand what we are doing as Christians and our desire to come to the Father.
DOWNS: Let's look for a second at how this movement spread. It was, as we were saying earlier, considered kind of a splinter Jewish sect at the time it first started.
MANNING: Well, it was very much a Jewish sect. They worshiped in the synagogues, or in the temple. It was a very natural thing.
DOWNS: Now, obviously -- when Constantine embraced Christianity, that began to give it a kind of a larger venue, but that you that doesn't account for how large...
MANNING: That's 300 years later.
DOWNS: Three hundred years later. How did you account for the fact that it spread to size that it is now? What was it about Christianity that appealed to that many people on so many different levels?
MANNING: I think it was the good news. Again, it was reality of God. A human being, a God in the same reality, coming and saying, your sins are forgiven, you may be freed, and you have the promise of god instantly loving you and giving you the promise living forever. Whoa, the idea of being reconciled with God and being reconciled with the people with whom I live, even though they are very diverse, is a powerful draw to Christianity, powerful, and that's the joy of what Jesus is about. He gives us hope, and life and victory, and that -- it's a great sell, it's a great sell. I mean, your life has changed.
DOWNS: Well, it's certainly had a place in art, and literature and even the movies. You know, all kinds of media have had it. We've seen, various ways portraying Christ in some movies that were very good some that weren't so good. What would make a good movie? How would you cast a movie to that was biblical in nature still not make mistakes? MANNING: The problem I find with the movies is that they're trying to take the Bible make it into a history book or a biography of Jesus, like we might write the biography of JFK or something like that. To me, there are certainly the history, and there is the fact of there but much more, it is reflection of the faith of the early church that we understand how Christ was encountering people in the year 60 and the year 70 after -- in our common era, that that's what the Bible is. And so when you start saying, well, let's put a man into there, it becomes so difficult, because each of the books of the Bible represents a different foundation of experience in Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are different eras and different times, and experiences. It's a monumental thing, and it's good, but at the same time, be cautious, because you'll start to put Christ into a box, and he's much, much bigger than any expectations than a producers might have.
DOWNS: We're going to be back in a moment. We'll take a break right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE MIRACLE MAKER")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: John, when we were children, we played by this river. Our mothers called, and we ran to them; we followed them. Now, there is another call, my father in Heaven, and I must follow.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You are my beloved son. I delight in you. My beloved son. This is my beloved son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO CLIP OF "INTOLERANCE")
DOWNS: There's an excerpt from a movie that was made in 1916. If you saw it in color, it was colorized, I'm sure. And this is maybe not the first but it was a very early movie about the life of Jesus. And we've seen a lot of them since then, including some, I think, very well-made like Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth." That was a good movie.
But not only that, but in TV also Peter Jennings recently had a special on about Jesus, and it was so well-done -- it was a documentary style thing. It was well-done. And a cynical friend of mine said, "It's so well done it will get low ratings." But it got good ratings. It was astonishing.
And I wanted to ask Anne Graham Lotz if she saw that program and how you reacted to what Peter Jennings did in that program.
LOTZ: I did see that. In fact my family was on A vacation at the beach when that came on. But I wanted go back to that film clip that you just had on, because, you know, it was when I was about five or six years of age I was watching Cecil B. DeMille's film on Jesus called "The King of Kings." It was black and white if I remember right. And it was in watching that crucifixion scene that I was aware of my sin and cried, and my mother recognized it was real conviction of sin, and she prayed with me. And I told God I was sorry and asked Jesus to be my savior, to come into my life. And at that point in time I believe I became a child of God. So I just really thank the Lord for these different pictures that you do put on TV and on the movies, because they do have impact.
And Peter Jennings' program, I has approached it with enormous anticipation. In fact, a lot of people that I talked to were really looking forward to it. And then as I sat there and watched over the two hours, I have to confess that I was very disappointed. I felt like it was a gossip session, and that these so-called "scholars" were sort of giving their opinions based on somebody else's opinion based on somebody's conjecture about what Jesus was like, and they were denying the credibility of the eyewitness accounts of his contemporaries that we have in the Gospels.
And so -- so I was disappointed. I thought some of the footage was wonderful and some of the comments made were good. But as far as some of the conclusions and the discussion, I didn't even firstly feel it was a scholarly approach to the subject.
DOWNS: Interesting. What -- how often in your experience has that happened, where somebody might undergo a conversion or something from something other than preaching, like seeing a movie or things like that? Does that happen often, do you think?
LOTZ: I think that it happens -- you know, God is wonderful. He's creative in the way He reveals Himself to us, and certainly has revealed Himself to us fully in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, you could have a subject, "What is God or who is God?" and God is exactly like Jesus. And God has revealed Himself to us through His son, Jesus Christ, but He reveals himself also and we see glimpses of Him in creation, in our conscious as we instinctively know right and wrong, and in other ways also.
But that picture that I saw from Cecil B. DeMille, "King of Kings," was really portraying the Gospel story, and I think when we have some of these pictures on television, I would encourage the producers and the editors, the writers, to just stay as close to the Scriptures as they can. I don't think you can improve on the story that's already been written, and there's a much greater chance that you're going to be accurate if you stay close to the Scriptures.
DOWNS: Let me ask you, Dr. Mohler, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the oldest, I understand, serving the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest in the world. What do -- in studying theology there, is there an attempt to reconcile theological thought and Scripture with what's been going on in the world of science where there may be contention on that? Or what is -- what is the main aim of that organization?
MOHLER: Well, our purpose is to train ministers of the Gospel, and we certainly want them to be well-educated and to know the background of all issues going on in the conversation of the world. But the major issue's for them to understand the Scripture. We believe that the Scripture is from beginning to conclusion the very word of God, inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit. And it is the Bible that is our authority.
And here -- what we have here even in this discussion is a clear distinction between two different worldviews: one that looks at the issues of the world through the lens of scripture and the other that puts Scripture under the lens of the world.
We -- those who believe in Jesus Christ as savior and lord can make no distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. Unlike many of the comments made here tonight, we can make no distinctions between the religion of Jesus and the religion of the church. They must be the same. It was Jesus Himself who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me."
The church didn't invent that. That was spoken to us by the Lord Himself and we are under His authority.
And so the church is responsible to preach Jesus Christ, and to preach him as revealed in the Gospels.
DOWNS: Do you see any reconciliation now -- you know, science and technology have brought some pretty powerful reminders of what we think of as reality. Will there be a rapport eventually between religious views and how science sees the world?
MOHLER: Well, I believe there certainly will be a rapport when the Lord consummates all things and we see him face to face, and we understand when these things are revealed to us how they are indeed reconciled.
But you know, it's interesting that in the modern world we just accept certain things as absolutely fundamental, and a large number of Americans believe in a naturalistic world view and completely rule out the supernatural. And yet these same people also will go out and buy a crystal and sit down to meditate upon it. So there's a great schizophrenia in the modern mind.
But the believing church, from the beginning and through now and through the ages, believes that Jesus Christ is the very son of God, that He's savior whom God sent to shed His blood for the remission of our sins. We believe He was the pre-existent son of God who came in human flesh. We believe in history and in space and time he was crucified and buried. He rose again on the third day and has ascended to the Father.
And that's the message we preach: There is salvation in Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ alone. And we didn't come up with that. That's what Jesus Himself said was to be message of the church.
DOWNS: OK. We're going to come back in a moment and maybe talk a little bit about -- you used the word "salvation." We'll take a break now and be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JESUS")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I would never question you.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: But you question yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I just don't understand how you could believe in someone like me.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: God forgives you, Mary.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: If I were a man, I would be your most loyal disciple.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Those who speak for me are my disciples.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO CLIP, "THE KING OF KINGS")
DOWNS: It was in 1927 that Cecil B. DeMille directed one of the -- one of the most famous movies about the life of Jesus. What you were just looking at was from the silent film "The king of Kings." And that's what Anne mentioned earlier, seeing that was a kind of a revelation to her and led her toward the life that she is now leading.
We -- the term "salvation" came up, and I waned to examine this with several of you. How do you reach people who don't feel they need to be saved from anything? Is there any -- is there anything you would do if you want to bring people into the fold?
Let me start by asking Anne that, since you give messages about this. What would you say to somebody who said, I don't feel that I'm lost, I don't need to be saved from anything?
LOTZ: Well, of course, Jesus said that, you know, he didn't come to take care of those who are well but those who are sick, and I do think that there has to be a recognition of our need to be saved or a need to find God.
But you know, it's not a question of whether we need it. It's just a fact that we're sinners. The Bible says that we have all sinned. And if I can go back to the beginning, in the beginning God created everything. And that includes you and me. He created you had and me, or the human race, Adam and Eve in the beginning, that we might know him in a permanent personal relationship. But when man chose to rebel against God, then sin entered the human race and it's been passed down every generation since, so that we're all born in sin. And sin separates us from God.
So you go through the Old Testament -- and I'm sure these rabbis could explain much better than I could that the Old Testament sacrificial system was set up so that we could come back into God's presence. And when I say "we," really speaking of the Jews, because gentiles, of course, would have to come through the Jewish system. And if a person sinned, they would go to the temple, take a little lamb, grasp it with both hands, confess their sin. The guilt of their sin was conveyed to the little lamb, and then the sinner killed the lamb, and the blood of that lamb was sprinkled on the altar to make atonement for sin.
But the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament tells us that the blood of lambs and bulls and goats can't take away sin. That was just an audiovisual aid. It was like every time somebody made that sacrifice God was saying, because you've sacrificed I owe you forgiveness.
And then one day Jesus of Nazareth was walking beside the Jordan River, and John the Baptist said, "Look, there goes the lamb of God, who will take away the sin of the world," that Jesus Christ is God's lamb who paid up all of those IOU notes.
So when I grasped him by my hands of faith and I confessed my sin, it's as though my guilt is transferred to Jesus. He is slain in my place on the cross, and I'm forgiven. I'm saved from God's wrath, I'm saved from God's judgment. I can just live in the joy of my forgiveness.
And -- and that's what it means to be saved. But you have to acknowledge, of course, that you're a sinner in order to come to that point.
DOWNS: Father Manning, to what extent, if any, does that differ from Catholic doctrine, what she just said?
MANNING: Well, very -- she is right in line with where you're coming from. I wonder, though, if I could just take another side to that, and that's the side of if people aren't attracted to Christ, maybe it's because Christians are not offering the real Christ.
I believe that Jesus, as I read him in the Scripture and as I have experienced Him in my heart, is that good news and that life that could change a person's life to great joy, far beyond the commercialism and the enticements that we have. I'm wondering if maybe we Christians need to look at ourselves and say, are we really presenting Jesus?
Maybe it's more difficult in our commercial world. Maybe we need to look to the Third World, to the developing countries and find the poverty of Christ much more in line with the challenge of what He has...
DOWNS: And you're talking about something more than just a reward in heaven. You're talking about having your life while you live it be...
MANNING: Very much so. Very much so. A fullness of what we have, and maybe we need to be, as Jesus was, much more battlers to try to bring about the justice and the goodness that so many people don't have in this world today. And that's where maybe Christ needs to be shown. And once that's seen -- just like Mother Teresa. Look at this simple little lady, comes, and she picks up dead people and washes them in Calcutta. And yet she touched a nerve of attraction of the goodness to the forgotten. And that's who Jesus was: caring for people that nobody else cared about. And he brought life and vitality. And maybe if that were more real, that would be the answer to your question of how to bring more people into the power who Jesus is.
DOWNS: We'll come back in a moment and take some phone calls. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SOUTH PARK")
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNS: Now to the phones. Seattle, Washington, you're on the air.
CALLER: Yes. My question is for the rabbi.
DOWNS: Which one?
CALLER: From New York.
CALLER: I would like to ask him if he could tell me what in the Old Testament causes him to believe that Jesus is not the messiah, and if the others on the panel could clear that up for him in the New Testament.
BOTEACH: First of all, let me make that I feel that Jesus brought great light to the world, and in a very paradoxical way it's people like Reverend Mohler's insistence that he was the only light that actually parochializes him.
So I don't have to believe that he's the messiah to believe that he brought a phenomenal godly contribution to the world. And Christianity has brought more people to knowledge of God than perhaps any religion that preceded it. But there's Islam and there's Judaism. There's many ways to the one God.
But in particular, Isaiah chapter 11 says that the messiah must bring peace on Earth. He has to cure all disease. He has to rebuild the temple. When we look around the world today, we see none of the messianic prophecies having been fulfilled.
Christianity deals with this by speaking of a second coming. The Jewish response is, well, we'll wait and see. But up until now, the fact that the second coming is such an important Christian theological statement is an admission of the fact that none of those prophecies have yet to be fulfilled.
That does not mean that Jesus did not fulfill a messianic component in helping to disseminate the knowledge of God, which is what I do believe.
It also says that Elijah the Prophet has to herald the coming of Christ, and some Christians say that that was John the Baptist. But John the Baptist denies emphatically that he was Elijah. Most of the messianic prophecies were not in any way fulfilled. So Jews cannot accept that Jesus was the messiah.
Remember one more thing: The messiah is not a deity in Judaism. He is nothing but a Judaic king who will re-establish Jewish political sovereignty, especially in Roman times.
DOWNS: But that's something that Jesus did not do, establishing, as a king or a military leader or anything like that.
MANNING: No, he moved away from that strongly. Yes.
DOWNS: We have another one here from Burbank, California. You're on.
CALLER: Hi. My question is, How literal are we supposed to take the Bible? For example, the Bible states we are supposed to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Must I be rebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ to go to heaven?
DOWNS: Well, there's a question. Who wants to handle that?
MANNING: Well, it's interesting. When you say that, you're talking about the Acts of the apostles. And what you see in the Acts of the apostles, there was a man by the name of Apollos, who worked in Corinth, and he was baptizing in the name of Jesus and he had to be corrected. And so it was only after his correction that he realized that he needed to baptize in the name of the trinity. We see in the Bible an understanding and a growing of that understanding, very much so.
Does that make sense to you as a -- answer your question?
CALLER: Yes. Yes, it does.
DOWNS: Very good. As we go to break, I want to remind you, Franco Zeffirelli directed one of the -- one of many television miniseries about the life of Jesus. "Jesus of Nazareth" it was called. It aired in 1977. And here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JESUS OF NAZARETH")
ROBERT POWELL, ACTOR: Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you for my sake. Rejoice and be glad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNS: The point that was brought up a moment ago about -- about taking the Bible literally. And I would like to ask from -- on the fundamentalist view, if the Bible speaks of things like the four corners of the Earth, would a person be required to believe that the Earth was flat? Or what compromises can you make with scientific findings that would still allow you to be considered a religious person, instead of taking the Bible that literally? Dr. Mohler?
MOHLER: Well, we believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God, and certainly, when you use the word "literal" there are passages that quite clearly are to be taken literally, because they present propositional truth, narrative. They talk about history and space and time. The kind of language you use is clearly metaphorical, when it says that the Earth, the universe has four corners, as it is metaphorical when it says that God has a hand or that speaks of God face. We know that God is not a body. So we understand these are metaphorical expressions.
BOTEACH: Reverend Mohler, with all due respect, you do believe that God is a body. You just said that Jesus is God. So why can't we assume that the hand of God or the face of God literally refers to Jesus? Why did you just say that it's anthropological if it's not anthropological, not anthropomorphic?
MOHLER: Because in the Gospels it's very clear that in the Incarnation, all the way from Bethlehem to the Ascension, we're talking about the second person of the Trinity, who was God in human flesh. But the incarnation was a unique event in space and time and in eternity.
And so when you look at the Old Testament passages from the Psalms and when you look at that wonderful language, it's clear how we should understand that.
But the real issue here is the denial of the truthfulness of the Scripture and the denial of the historicity of the Gospels. Anne Graham Lotz is exactly right. Where we need to look is with the four original authorities by the inspiration of Holy Spirit, look to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They're the authority. Look to the New Testament, where it says that if we shall confess with our mouth Jesus Chris as Lord and shall believe in our heart that God has raised him from the dead, we shall be saved. And that is the great message.
DOWNS: Do you have anything to add to that?
MANNING: Well, I -- I'm much more open to the belief that the rabbi can be saved if he is a good rabbi. I believe that the Jesus is the source of all salvation. It's clear: He's God.
But in the reality of our world today we have a world that isn't just a small Catholic world or a small this world. We're able through CNN to see the entire world. And what about a billion Chinese that will never even hear the word Jesus in their life?
DOWNS: That's what I was going to ask. What about those people?
MANNING: I've got to believe that God loves these people deeply and is working in them in ways that I don't understand. And the power of the salvation that Jesus gives is much broader than I can understand.
I'm at peace and I want the rabbi to be a good rabbi. I want him to follow as best he can the movement that God has in his heart. And I'm at peace. I don't have to worry and say, well, only if you do this, rabbi, or, you know, I'm sorry, you're going to go to hell. No. That's God job.
I'm very at peace that God is loving you and is calling you to Himself for all eternity and now.
BOTEACH: Well, I want to thank Father Michael immensely for that, because I really have to ask myself what deep spiritual insecurities is experienced in the part of people like Reverend Mohler that they have to portray Jesus in such a negative light, that he has to be everything or nothing. They can't accept that there's any other way to God.
And every time he says that Scripture supports that, he knows that there are three or four verses, many verses that contradict that absolutely. I quoted some of them before where Jesus...
BOTEACH: ... constantly speaks of God's will as being separate to His. He speaks about being son of God, and even those things can many times be interpolations.
He refers to himself in the Hebrew as the "ben adam" (ph), "son of man," which is the way Adam's referred to, the way Ezekiel the Prophet refers to himself as.
The problem we have today is that we live in a deeply secular age, and instead of Jews and Christians working together, the way Jews and the Catholic Church are -- for example, my great spiritual teacher, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, who's the great Lubavitcher Rebbe, who's day of passing is today, he had Christians and Catholics work together to bring a moment of silence to public schools. Instead Reverend Mohler must pursue this aggressive policy where Jews and Christians are enemies, because if you don't accept Jesus you're going to hell.
DOWNS: We -- we're out of time now. We've had a fascinating discussion about Jesus, a little more doctrinaire than I thought it would on all sides, but it was stimulating. I appreciate all of your being here, and I appreciate also the opportunity to substitute for Larry King.
So I'll say good night for now and thanks to all of you.
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