On Sunday night, two men that I highly respect had a very interesting and important conversation. Those two men were pastor and Bible teacher, John MacArthur and the very well-known political pundit, Ben Shapiro. MacArthur is known for his faithful biblical teaching. He’s been a pastor at the same church for nearly 50 years and is a true model of Christian leadership. Shapiro is an orthodox Jew and brilliant political commentator. I respect both of these men for their unique giftings.
When I heard that Shapiro was going to interview MacArthur, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to listen. The two men talked about a lot of different issues; primarily focusing on how religion should affect the culture at large. But my favorite part of the interview was when Shapiro asked MacArthur about the differences between Christianity and Judaism. In that segment, Shapiro had this to say: “When I read the New Testament myself, and I obviously am not a believer in the divinity of Jesus, but when I see what Jesus actually has to say about the Old Testament, it seems to me very similar to what Zechariah is saying or what Jeremiah is saying.” Shapiro’s point was that Christianity did not make a huge departure from traditional Judaism as many Christian scholars believe. In his view, Jesus was a great moral teacher, like one of the prophets, who called the people back to God and the fundamental teachings of the Old Testament. That is to say, in Shapiro’s view, Jesus came to teach the Jews about the values behind the Jewish law.
I find this absolutely amazing.
First of all, let me just say, I think, and many would agree with me, that Ben Shapiro is one of the leading intellects and thinkers in the United States today. This young man is sharp, witty and super smart. I have listened to him speak many times on political issues, and he does an incredible job espousing and defending what believes.
This is why I am amazed, because a man of his superior intellect actually read the New Testament and concluded that Jesus is just a good moral teacher!? How could this be? When you read the New Testament, Jesus went far beyond the office of prophet by forgiving sins, controlling the natural world, claiming to be God and the only Savior of the world, raising the dead, healing the sick, predicting His death and then being raised from the dead and claiming that He is judge of all humanity. One cannot sincerely read the gospel accounts and conclude that Jesus was just a good moral teacher. As C.S. Lewis once said, Jesus was either a liar, lunatic or He is Lord, but we cannot reduce Him to a good man.
So, why does Shapiro, who, again, is a brilliant man, fail to see Christ’s true identity? Because he is dead in his sins (Ephesians 2:1) and spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:4). To recognize, and come to a saving knowledge of, Jesus Christ requires more than mere intellect. It requires a supernatural act of God. This is why Jesus said you must be born again (John 3).
Shapiro, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, “search the Scriptures because [they] think that in them [they] have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about [Jesus], yet [he refuses] to come to [Jesus] that [he] may have life” (John 5:39-40).
During the discussion, MacArthur faithfully and repeatedly showed how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the very Bible Shapiro believes is God’s Word. But, just as Paul said about the Jews who rejected Jesus: “Their minds were closed…And even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:14-15).
I am hopeful for Shapiro’s salvation, because he heard the gospel clearly and was encouraged to believe. Join me in prayer for his salvation, because his intellect won’t get him there. Salvation is wholly of the Lord.
If you’re looking for a place to worship on Sunday. Come to Blue Ridge (Blueridgecuchurch.com). We have two services-9 and 11 am.
(Brandon Sutton is the Senior Pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville. He loves to hear from his readers. Email him at Pastor2334@gmail.com)