A megachurch pastor that was recently jilted by New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow after extending an invitation to speak at his church is now being rebuked by a renowned creationist and apologist for comments he made last night on The O’Reilly Factor.
Following the success of the television documentary The Bible, FOX talk show host Bill O’Reilly brought Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas on his broadcast to talk about whether the Bible should be taken literally. He began by asking about Adam and Eve and evolution.
“Did they literally live in the Garden of Eden and usurp the evolutionary process?” O’Reilly asked Jeffress.
“Absolutely,” Jeffress replied. “They lived. They were actual human beings, and Jesus affirmed that in Matthew 19, and so I think Jesus knew what he was talking about.”
“[But] don’t you kind of have to reject the science of evolution and carbon dating, and all of those things?” O’Reilly inquired. “So, it’s kind of incompatible with science — or am I wrong?”
“No, I think you’re wrong on this, Bill,” Jeffress responded. “The Bible does not contradict true science. It may contradict the passing fads of scientific theory that are always evolving. For example, it used to be thought that the cosmos always existed. But, then we had Sir Frederick Coyle, who named the Big Bang Theory, who said, ‘Guess what? The universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago.'”
O’Reilly then asked Jeffress if he believed the earth began 13.7 billion years ago.
“I think it very well could have been,” Jeffress acknowledged. “One of the things fundamentalist Christians mess up on is they try to say the earth is 6,000 years old. The Bible never makes that claim.”
O’Reilly then outlined that he believes that the Bible is an allegory, and that God guided evolution.
“Now, I was taught in my Catholic school that a lot of stories in the Bible are allegorical,” he said. “For example, in the Old Testament where you stone people [and] you have slaves, and obviously Jesus didn’t want to stone anyone or have slaves. And Jonah got swallowed by a whale for three days. He lived in a condo in the whale’s tummy. You know? Come on!”
The two then began to wrangle about how much of the Bible is literal.
“Why would you stop at the Old Testament?” Jeffress asked. “Why would you as a believer — and you’re a believer –”
“Yeah, I believe,” O’Reilly answered.
“Why would you stop at the Old Testament and say these stories are too fantastical to believe, but [say] I’m going to believe in a virgin birth and resurrection?” Jeffress questioned.
“It’s certainly possible that the Lord God who created the universe could have had Jonah in the belly of the whale,” O’Reilly admitted. “It’s possible, alright, if you’re a believer at that level.”
Nearing the end of the segment, O’Reilly asked Jeffress if he could be considered a Christian despite his beliefs.
“Can I be a good Christian if I believe that the Bible in some cases is allegorical?” he inquired. “Can I be?”
“You can certainly be a Christian and go to Heaven,” Jeffress affirmed. “All you have to do is believe in Christ as your savior.”
“That’s what I thought,” O’Reilly answered. “I feel better now.”
“Well, good, I want to make you feel better,” Jeffress said with a smile.
Upon viewing the segment which was posted on YouTube by Jeffress’ church, Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, denounced Jeffress’ statements as casting doubt upon the written word of God. He posted on Facebook about the matter this morning.
“I was so saddened to hear a number of the pastor’s responses to Bill O’Reilly’s questions,” he wrote, citing several areas that caused concern. “[T]o send a signal to coming generations that one can accept such false ideas like the Big Bang and billions of years they are taught at public school and secular colleges — and many compromising Christian Colleges — is a major factor why so many of the coming generations begin to doubt the authority of the Word of God.”
“I cut him a little slack in some areas,” he told Christian News Network later today, noting that Jeffress did defend a literal Adam and Eve and contended that the Bible is not metaphorical. “But I believe in this area he is undermining the authority of Scripture.”
Ham said that pastors like Jeffress need to be aware of how damaging comments such as his can be to the cause of Christ.
“You have just caused the church a major problem, [because you are saying that] it doesn’t matter what you believe about these things,” he explained. “You tell the world, ‘You can go and have your Big Bang Theory.'”
“Dr. Jeffress represents a lot of pastors who believe it doesn’t matter what you believe about the age of the earth as long as you believe the Gospel,” he lamented. “Pastors need to be told that when you do that, you undermine the authority of Scripture. … They are helping atheism by undermining the authenticity of the word of God.”
He stated that the Bible nowhere supports the notion that the earth is billions of years old.
“You don’t get billions of years in Scripture. You get it from man’s flawed dating methods,” Ham said. “You’re imposing something from outside into the Bible.”
He also expressed concern about Jeffress’ comments about not having to believe in the Bible to go to Heaven.
“How that came across to people is not good. I would like clarification on what he means,” Ham said. “In some ways I think he was trying to be nice to Bill O’Reilly, but it’s not a matter of making people feel good; it’s a matter of challenging people with the truth.”
As previously reported, football superstar Tim Tebow recently decided to cancel his appearance at an upcoming grand opening ceremony of Jeffress’ new $130 million church facility, an effort that is said to be the largest in church history. However, the New York Jets quarterback did not cancel over Jeffress’ thoughts on the age of the earth, but rather that the pastor is deemed as controversial by some for various public statements regarding his opposition to homosexuality and other matters.