OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–When ABC (Disney’s educational media wing) news program “20/20” aired across the country May 12, you knew quickly there was an agenda to discredit the beliefs of those of us who believe we are saved by the blood of Jesus as revealed in the Bible. The comparative approach by the producers-turned-editorialists weighed heavily on the side of multicultural pluralism.
The segment, by ABC News religion correspondent Peggy Wehmeyer, centered on a 12-year-old Jewish boy in the Dallas area who made a profession of faith in Christ last year at a Southern Baptist church youth rally and subsequently declined to proceed with his planned bar mitzvah, the Jewish community’s formal acknowledgment that a child has become an adult in matters of faith and reason.
The parents of the young man were upset to learn their son had embraced Jesus as the Christ. After his parents and Hebrew school principal counseled with him, the youth recanted the conversion and, according to the program, plans to proceed with the Jewish ceremony later this year.
The producers of this 20/20 segment chose this event as a platform to comment on those of us who believe in the exclusivity of the gospel, that there is only one way to God, Jesus Christ. The program cast Southern Baptists as people who are hard-nosed, Bible-thumping biblicists, who are intolerant of other faith systems.
The reality is, our definition of “tolerant” is rather normative. We oppose the coercion of people belonging to other faith groups, but at the same time we reserve the right to lovingly share with all people the gospel truth. Tolerance does not mean other belief systems are equal in value to the truth about our God revealed in the Bible. We believe the truth of God’s Word is complete, and we are compelled to obey its teaching.
We believe Jesus’ teaching on evangelism, for example, must be obeyed. The pastor of the Texas church said, “Our church has a mission that we don’t try to hide: It is a mission to share Jesus Christ. For us, this is the most loving thing to do — expressing God’s love to other people and having a concern for people’s eternity.” The lost world does not understand this truth.
To make matters worse, the ABC program stated there are “Christian” groups — the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Presbyterian Church — that discourage the conversion of Jews. The program went on to state that many Christian denominations, including moderate Baptist affinity groups, believe one can get to heaven without believing in Jesus. Jim Sibley, an interfaith evangelism missionary for the North American Mission Board, said, “It’s evident our society does not want to hear that the Bible says there is only one way to God.” One member of a faith group said on the 20/20 program, “That kind of religious exclusivity just doesn’t belong in today’s society anymore.”
The above statement is illustrative of the new politically correct bigotry that exists against those who hold to the teachings of God’s Word. Baptists have a past, and contemporary, history of giving people the liberty to believe differently than we do. However, we also reserve the right to privately and publicly disagree with those who reject or disbelieve the Bible. We take a lot of heat protecting the religious liberties of those who disagree with us, but we have the same the liberty to publicly share the truth about Jesus.
We have become a minority voice in our culture. If you listen to the media moguls, they would lead you to believe that Bible-believing Christians are what is wrong with America today. Are you one of those the mass media demonizes?
Take inventory, you might be out of step with the cultural elite if:
1) You believe in the God of the Bible.
2) You believe Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and ultimately heaven.
3) You believe in the moral absolutes of the Bible, including the care of the poor and the abandoned.
4) You believe abortion is taking an innocent person’s life.
5) You believe sex is right and lawful only within the marriage relationship between one man and one woman.
6) You believe everything you have is not yours but the Lord’s and we are to be his managers.
7) You believe sharing your faith about the Lord Jesus is not only an act of obedience but also the most loving thing we can do for those who do not know him as their personal Savior and Lord.
If you said yes to the above, you must know by now that public consensus opposes you. Let us shout it from the rooftops that we believe Jesus is exclusively “the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father, but by him” John 14:6.
Yeats is editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.