On “The Colbert Report,” the comedian host pretended to defend O’Reilly, calling him his mentor. “As a Catholic, Bill believes in the Trinity,” Colbert joked, treading awfully close to blasphemy. “In this case, the father, the son and the holy ghostwriter.”


Comedian Stephen Colbert

“Bill knows he is simply God’s humble servant,” Colbert told his audience, showing a media clip where O’Reilly said he is simply one of many who have been blessed by God. Colbert went on to joke that the Almighty actually came to him first with the idea for Killing Jesus, but that Colbert declined. He then told his audience that he actually was the one who whispered the idea into O’Reilly’s ear at night.

What about O’Reilly’s claim on “60 Minutes” of extraordinary insights, particularly a claim that Jesus would have been unable to speak while on the cross – which contradicts the biblical account? Colbert noted: “This is O’Reilly claiming that his book about God is more factually accurate than God’s book about God.”

“The Holy Spirit may have inspired Killing Jesus,” quipped theologian Candida Moss, in a special column on CNN’s website, “but he didn’t fact-check it.”

Candida Moss

Candida Moss

It’s “the best-selling book in the world right now. But it’s far from flawless,” writes Moss, a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. She is no stranger to controversy as the author of The Myth of Persecution, claiming Christians haven’t been mistreated all that badly over the years. Apparently she isn’t alarmed by the idea of being fed to lions in the Coliseum, gunned down by militant Islamists in Sudan or Nigeria, or being targeted by police in Pakistan, China or Iran.

Among her odd complaints with Killing Jesus is her assertion that Roman historians didn’t always get the facts right and O’Reilly shouldn’t have relied on them so heaveily. Well, they were on the scene. Now, 2,000 years later, it’s a little gutsy to believe we have a better perspective – unless we want to assert that O’Reilly was, indeed, divinely inspired and didn’t need to cite any sources.

Going down a list, she claims that contrary to O’Reilly’s book, the Apostle Paul was not a Christian. That’s an interesting claim, considering that Paul wrote most of the New Testament and is credited with spreading the faith as the first missionary – establishing churches throughout the known world of his day, then dying a martyr.

Bill O'Reilly and his new book

Bill O’Reilly and his new book

She is offended by O’Reilly’s statement that Paul was “a former Pharisee who became a convert to Christianity.” No, claims Moss. “Paul was not a Christian; he was a Jew who moved from one branch of Judaism to another. He never uses the word Christian. It seems that the early members of the Jesus movement referred to themselves as followers of ‘the Way.’” That would seem to be splitting hairs. Perhaps she would like to debate how many angels can dance on the tip of a needle.

Of course, O’Reilly knows controversy sells books and has fanned the flames – claiming that the media is targeting him because of his faith.

But even though he protesteth too much, one wonders. Why didn’t he come under such criticism when his topics were merely conservative politics and dead presidents?

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