Interviews

Is There a Hell?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: The cover of TIME magazine last week, Holy Week, featured a Michigan preacher who says there might not be a Hell, that nobody will be punished for eternity. As you may know, the basis of Judeo-Christian tradition is that good will be rewarded and evil punished in the afterlife. If that equation breaks down, so does the tradition.

Joining us now from Raleigh, North Carolina, Pastor Jack McKinney, a Ph.D. who consults with religious clergy and congregations. So, good news for Adolf, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao Zedong and  other villains who slaughtered millions of people, right? They're not going to pay. That sounds like good news, huh?

DR. JACK MCKINNEY, PASTOR: Yes, Bill. I think that would not be the issue except the church doesn't just teach that mass murderers go to Hell. They teach that people like Gandhi go to Hell, and that puts God in a very difficult place. We're turning God into a monster by teaching of a literal Hell.

O'REILLY: Which church teaches that? Which church teaches that? My church doesn't teach that. The Catholic Church doesn't teach that.

MCKINNEY: The conservative church does teach that.

O'REILLY: The evangelicals you mean.

MCKINNEY: Yes, evangelicals but other segments of the church teach a literal Hell for anyone who doesn't accept Jesus. I think it's a theological, historical mistake.

O'REILLY: OK. In the Christian community, with all due respect to evangelicals, who we do respect, I think that's an extreme position. Let me -- let me define what the Catholic Church's position on this is, all right?

"Non-Christians who seek God with a sincere heart," which would be Gandhi, "and move by his grace, try to do his will as they know it through the dictates of conscience, can also be saved without water baptism. They are said to desire implicitly. That is called baptism of desire."

I was taught that in third grade, that the Holocaust victims, who were primarily Jewish, they're damned because they're not Catholic? That's insane. All right. Little babies who die upon birth, they can't get baptized. They're not going to heaven? That's insane. I think the problem is, with this no Hell business, is that you have to deal with the Hitlers and the Pol Pots and these tyrants. And if you say there is no Hell, then there really isn't any regulation of behavior at all. And scripture goes right against that, does it not?

MCKINNEY: No. I think there's been a real historical and theological misinterpretation of scripture about Hell. But your point there, Bill, is a good one. That all across the church you have different interpretations of what Hell really is and who's headed there. The end result, though, is if you're talking about eternal damnation for people, that is a very psychological, debilitating thing. I see it all the time in my counseling practice. I see good, committed Christians, for instance, gay people, good, committed gay Christians, who have been told they're abominations; they're going to Hell forever. It does enormous damage.

O'REILLY: They're not told that by my church. My church tells people you don't make those judgments. No one makes those judgments but the deity because we're all sinners. That's clear. So I think -- I think what's going on here is that you're taking, Pastor, with all due respect, an extreme position in the Christian community and using it as a barometer to say, "Well, it can't possibly be a Hell."

Well, I'll submit to you, if there is no Hell, Judeo-Christian tradition just breaks down. I'll give you the best example ever, and this is germane to Easter and Holy Week last week. When Jesus turned to Judas and betrayed him and said it would be better had you not been born, OK? And then you know what happened to Judas. When you betray someone in any way, shape or form, and you don't repent, you're gone, according to Christian and Jewish tradition. You are gone. If that doesn't exist, nothing really matters, does it?

MCKINNEY: But, Bill, you just articulated judgment is best left in the hands of God.

O'REILLY: Right.

MCKINNEY: But by teaching a literal eternal Hell, we turn God into a monster, Bill.

O'REILLY: I don't think so.

MCKINNEY: There is no limit to the literal Hell we're talking about.

O'REILLY: I'm not turning God into a monster. I think God wants everybody to repent, wants everybody to be good and gives everybody the opportunity to do that. Free will. But if you spit in the face of God, and you kill millions of people, I think there has to be a reckoning. I'll give you the last word.

MCKINNEY: Yes. So you think Hell is designed for mass murderers, killers, those kinds of people?

O'REILLY: People who turn their back on good; unrepentant people who do evil in this world, I believe will get something when they die. They will not be with the Lord in heaven.

MCKINNEY: Yes, I wish that only that was being said out in the church. But...

O'REILLY: But do you believe what I believe? Do you believe that?

MCKINNEY: No, I don't believe in a literal Hell. I think it's a historical and a theological mistake.

O'REILLY: Do you believe in a literal heaven?

MCKINNEY: I do.

O'REILLY: OK, so that means you're going to see Adolf up there. Say hello to him for me because I've got to tell you, I don't want to be anywhere near him.

All right, Pastor. I appreciate your point of view.

MCKINNEY: Great to talk to you, Bill.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

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