LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–People should view the world through the lens of the Bible, and not vice versa, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said July 6 during an appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was one of five guests to participate in a discussion on “The Real Jesus.” The program featured Anne Graham Lotz — daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, Rev. Michael Manning, Rabbi Harold Kushner and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Manning is Catholic, Kushner and Boteach are Jewish. Hugh Downs served as guest host in place of Larry King.
Mohler made a point midway through the program to respond to comments by Boteach and Kushner. Boteach had said, “While I agree [Jesus] is a great light, once we say he is the only light, this is what leads to all kinds of spiritual racism and the division between Jews and Christians.”
Earlier, Boteach had said that calling Jesus the Son of God would be the “ultimate Jewish heresy, ” and that Jesus deserved an apology for what Boteach termed “character assassination.” Kushner had said that he makes a distinction between the religion of Jesus and a religion about Jesus.
“Hugh, what we have here even in this discussion is a clear distinction between two different worldviews — one that looks at the issue of the world through the lens of Scripture, and the other that puts Scripture under the lens of the world,” Mohler said. “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.”
Mohler then added that Jesus clearly referred to himself as the only pathway to God.
“It is 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,” Mohler said. “That was spoken to us by the Lord himself, and we are under his authority. So the church is responsible to preach Jesus Christ, and to preach him as revealed in the Gospels.”
In the last segment of the show, Manning seemed to embrace Boteach’s universalistic theology.
“I am more open to the belief that the rabbi can be saved if he’s a good rabbi,” Manning said. “I believe that Jesus is the source of all salvation. It’s clear that he’s God in that. But in the reality of our world today we have a world that isn’t a small Catholic world.”
As for the program’s topic — “Who is Jesus?” — Mohler said Jesus answered that question in Matthew 16.
“He took his disciples off to the region of Cesarea Philippi, and … he asked them first, ‘Who do others say that I am?'” Mohler said. “Then he turned to his own disciples and he said, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.’ And Jesus Christ himself said, ‘That’s right, and on that confession of faith I’ll build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ That is the confession of the true church through all the ages — that Jesus Christ is … fully God and fully man, and he is the savior of the world. He is the one the Lord sent in order to be the redeemer of mankind.”
Both Graham Lotz and Mohler responded to recent critical approaches to the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Downs asked Graham Lotz to give her view on the ABC documentary “Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus.”
Downs said it was “well done,” but Graham Lotz — a Southern Baptist who founded AnGel Ministries — disagreed.
“I was very disappointed,” she said. “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. They were denying the credibility of the eyewitness accounts of [Jesus’] contemporaries that we have in the Gospels.”
Mohler said such approaches usually miss the mark.
“The evidence for Jesus — historically speaking — is found in the Bible,” he said. “There is so much material there, and there is so little [material] anywhere else — as is true of anyone in the first century. They [critical scholars] 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 the deep well. They see their own reflection, and they think they’ve made a great discovery. They just find their own conceptions.”