A few days ago Ann Coulter had a dust-up with Donny Deutsch on his CNBC program "The Big Idea." Ostensibly she was being interviewed about her new book "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans." But the interview turned into a discussion about how the Jews need to accept Christ in order to be "perfected," a concept that Mr. Deutsch found offensive.
You can view the crucial parts of the interview here
or you can read the transcript here
Note that it is Mr. Deutsch who brings up the topic, not Ann Coulter. Presumably she had come on the program to discuss her views of the upcoming presidential race, not her views regarding Christian theology and evangelism. But because she is nothing if not outspoken, Ms. Coulter waded right in. Along the way she tried to make some distinctions between law and grace, although she didn’t use those words and the way she said it no doubt confused most viewers. When she said that Christians are "perfected Jews," I presume she means that believers in Jesus are the true sons of Abraham, a point the Apostle Paul makes in Galatians 3. Again, that’s a theological concept that many people would not understand. Donny Deutsch affected a certain speechless disdain for her views, as if to say, "No sane person would ever say that Jews need to be ’perfected’ by coming to Christ for salvation."
I didn’t see the interview and didn’t realize that it had kicked up a dust storm until I read David Bernstein’s analysis called Ann Coulter–Christian Chauvinist
. If you have the time, read the comments (at this moment there are 157 of them so you’ll have to wade through a lot of verbiage) because they offer a wide spectrum of responses, most (but not all) of them negative toward Ann Coulter.
Evangelical theologian Andreas Kostenberger addresses the controversy directly in his blog post Do Jews Need to Be Perfected?
. I agree entirely with his analysis. Here are a few observations about the underlying controversy:
1) Ann Coulter is not the ideal representative of Christian theology.
2) To say that Jews need to be "perfected" by trusting Christ is awkward language at best.
3) The New Testament is a missionary religion at its heart.
4) Jesus commanded his followers to go into all nations and "make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20).
5) Christians have been trying to follow that command (with varying degrees of success) for the last 2000 years.
6) Jesus himself said that "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22), Jesus was a Jew, as were all of the apostles and 100% of the earliest Christians.
7) The question resolves down to this. Is Jesus really the only way of salvation?
8) Jesus himself said, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
9) Peter declared there is no other name (than the name of Jesus) by which men may be saved (Acts 4:12).
10) John 3:16 declares that whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life.
11) We send missionaries to every nation, seeking to win men and women to faith in Jesus Christ.
12) God does not have two ways of salvation.
13) God offered his Son as a single sacrifice for sin forever (Hebrews 10:12).
14) Salvation has now come to the world and anyone, anywhere, anytime can be saved by believing in Jesus.
15) This is what Christians have believed and proclaimed for 2000 years.
In that sense, there is nothing unique about what Ann Coulter said. Because of her other controversial statements in other contexts, some people tend to discount anything she says. And as a practical matter, I don’t think it’s useful to get into a discussion of "Do the Jews need Jesus?" The answer is yes, but not because they are Jews but because they are sinners like everyone else. When Romans 3:22 says "there is no difference," it means no difference between Jew and Gentile when it comes to sin and salvation. God doesn’t play favorites. Anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved.
Two weeks ago Marlene and I were in Thailand working with energetic Thai Christians who are burdened for their Buddhist friends. They earnestly desire to see their friends go to heaven so they do all they can to share Christ with them. And it’s not easier in Thailand than in America. Are the Thai Christians wrong to seek the salvation of their Buddhist friends? (Most of the Thai Christians were former Buddhists.) The answer is no. They are doing what Christians have always done–sharing the Good News with others.
The real problem here is that it’s not politically correct for people in the public arena to say that there is only one way of salvation even though that’s what Christians generally believe.
I think we shouldn’t get backed into a corner by people who ask, "Are you saying that all the ______________ need to be saved?" because it’s not a matter of a particular nation or ethnic group. The Good News is for all people everywhere. We’re not saying that all the ___________________ need to be saved. We’re saying that everyone, everywhere needs Jesus.
And if we complain that Ann Coulter isn’t the one to be talking about things like this, I reply that we don’t get to pick who speaks for us in the national media. Ann Coulter isn’t going to be speaking at Moody Bible Institute any time soon, but in this case I think she got it mostly right. And the same people who revile her for speaking as she did won’t like us when we say the same thing even if we say it in a better way.
(What do you think? Click here to offer your comments.)