Ted Turner’s Assault on Christianity

 

            Have you ever noticed that some successful people in one field think they are experts in other fields?  For example, biologists, anthropologists, medical scientists and politicians often speak out on economics, on education and on religion when, as a matter of fact, they know nothing, or very little, about any of these topics.  Prominent scientists often accuse Bible writers of making grievous scientific blunders.  But some of those scientists will admit they have never even read the Bible.  They are operating primarily on hearsay or on ignorance.  Thomas Paine, a well-known skeptic, confessed in his book, Common Sense, that he did not own a Bible.  How can a person be an expert on any subject he has not studied carefully and honestly?

 

            Ted Turner, sometimes called “the mouth of the south,” has become one of the wealthiest men of all time.  He has made billions of dollars in advertising, in television and in other projects.  Before his financial empire merged with another corporation, Ted Turner owned both the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Atlanta Braves of the National League.  That he has become unbelievably successful from a material viewpoint no one can deny.  Does this financial success qualify him to speak as a theologian or as a philosopher?  I am not asking if he has a legal right to speak his mind about other subjects, but does his being a billionaire give Ted Turner the knowledge and wisdom to pontificate on unrelated topics?  Will you join me in examining “Ted Turner’s Assault on Christianity?”

 

            You may remember reading about Ted Turner’s comments on Christians.  He arrogantly affirmed that Christians are losers.  Have there been professed Christians and genuine Christians who have been losers?  It depends on how one defines the word “loser.”  Would you say, for example, that Stephen was a loser?  Acts 7 tells of Stephen’s condemning the rebellion and disobedience of some of the Jewish leaders.  He called them “stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart and ears.”  He accused them of always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as their fathers had done.  When the Jewish leaders heard Stephen’s speech, “they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth…  They cast him out of the city, and stoned him” to death (Acts 7:51, 57).  If this life is all there is, as Ted Turner seems to believe, then Stephen and all other Christians are losers.  On the other hand, if God does exist and has provided a place for the saved to live eternally, Stephen and all other followers of Christ are the winners and unbelievers will be the losers.  That is exactly what the word of God teaches.  The miracles of the Bible prove that the teachings of Jesus and of the apostles come from God almighty.  You should have no doubt about God’s existence and about the gracious provisions he has made for our eternal welfare.  So to reject Jesus and his word constitutes the very essence of stubbornness and hard-heartedness.  Paul’s observation about the Gentiles applies to millions of people in our day.  “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22).  The person who rejects God, his Son and his word is not using his God-given reason appropriately.

 

            Ted Turner does not believe in the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic covenant.  He seems to have a particularly strong objection to the seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).  Knowing the attitude and behavior of Ted Turner, I can understand why he dislikes the Ten Commandments.  Do you remember the attitude of many of the Jews during the period of the Judges?  “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  If a man is determined to lie, to covet and to commit adultery, it irritates and angers him for God to interfere with his wishes.  Who does God think he is anyway?  Does he not know that Ted Turner is a billionaire?  Should not billionaires be free to do whatever they choose, including leaving their wives and children and searching for more attractive women?

 

            As substitutes for God’s Ten Commandments, Ted Turner invented what he calls “Ten Voluntary Initiatives.”  Dr. D James Kennedy’s book, What if the Bible Had Never Been Written? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), lists the “Ten Voluntary Initiatives” that Ted Turner developed.  I shall not take the time to mention and discuss all of them, but I do want to discuss some of them.  A simple reading of them will show anyone who knows about the New Age movement that those so-called “Voluntary Initiatives” are rooted in the worship of Mother Earth.  Ted Turner says, for example, “I promise to have love and respect for the planet earth and living things thereon, especially my fellow species--humankind” (p. 253).  How does Ted Turner define “love and respect for planet earth and love and respect for planet earth and living things thereon, especially my fellow species--humankind?”  Do you know how the scriptures define those concepts?  “Honor your father and mother...You shall do no murder.  You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal.  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  You shall not covet” (Ex 20:12-17).  God does not leave moral values to man’s discretion; he tells us the difference between right and wrong.  Another of Ted Turner’s “Voluntary Initiatives” says, “I promise to have no more than two children, or more than my nation suggests” (p. 254).  What if you were living in China, which limits the number of children to one?  Did you know that China forces women who become pregnant with a second child to have the second child aborted or to kill the one who is already born?  If you think I may have over-drawn the situation in Communist China, read Steven W. Mosher’s book, A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company 1993).  Would Ted Turner force a woman who became pregnant two, three or four times to have their babies aborted?  Or would he kill the babies who exceed the state’s limit of one child per family?

 

            Ted Turner’s eighth initiative reads: “I reject the use of force, in particular military force, and back United Nations arbitration of international disputes” (p. 254).  Ted Turner is living in a dream world.  The rejection of force would allow the criminal elements in the various nations to control our lives.  It would also permit rogue nations, like Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Iran to trample under foot all the nations that give allegiance to reasonable moral values.  If the United Nations did not have some military force, its attempts to arbitrate international disputes would be laughed out of court by the rogue nations.  Is anyone so stupid as to believe that Osama Bin Laden would pay any attention to the United Nations, especially if the United Nations could not back up its negotiations with military force?  The only way the rogue nations can be kept in check is by superior military force? 

 

            If the United Nations were to be given the power Ted Turner advocates, then those who call themselves Christians would be under constant attack.  Many of the leaders in foreign countries have an intense hatred for Christianity and would use the power of the United Nations to eliminate Christianity from the face of the earth.  For example, countries like Morocco, Nepal and China are already persecuting and even killing those who claim to be Christians.  If those countries had the backing of the United Nations, professed Christians in every country would be in grave danger.  Many influential leaders in the United Nations are working diligently to gain control of the rearing of children and every other phase of family life in every country in the world.  To deny that is to be ignorant of what is occurring in our world.  On November 20, 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child--unanimously means that our ambassador to the United Nations voted for this monstrous proposal.  As of this date, 176 nations, including the Vatican and almost all industrialized nations have signed the convention.  The United States has not ratified the treaty, but is under great pressure both at home and abroad for our nation to join with the other nations of the world in allowing the United Nations to control our homes and our schools.  The organizations applying pressure to our government to send the treaty to the United States senate are some of the most radical groups in our nation, including the National Education Association, the National Council of Churches, the Children’s Defense Fund with which Hillary Clinton has been associated for years, Planned Parenthood, the National School Board Association, the American Bar Association and the International Council on Social Welfare.

 

            I shall mention only a few of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Child and allow you to apply your own judgment to the dangers of such a treaty.  The Convention prohibits schools from using corporal punishment.  It would also forbid parents, legal guardians and others from using any kind of physical punishment.  If the United States Senate were to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, our country will be required to guarantee that children are vested with “freedom of expression.”  Section one of the treaty says that a child has a right to “seek, receive and impart information of all kinds, regardless of the frontiers, either orally or in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.”  Under the convention, children will be guaranteed the “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”

 

            Does Ted Turner support such absolute stupidity?  From reading his Ten Voluntary Initiatives, it is obvious that he does.  But are the American people going to be so utterly foolish as to turn over the rearing of their children to the United States government or to the United Nations?  I am aware that there are no perfect parents, but if you want to see our nation go down the tubes fast, then let the United Nations set the agenda for our homes and for our schools.  Conditions that have promoted kids killing kids would multiply so fast we would not be able to keep up with them.

 

            Ted Turner shows just how bigoted he is when he recently called some of his employees “Jesus freaks.”  If Ted Turner had made such disparaging remarks about Blacks or homosexuals or Jews or American Indians, the press would have verbally crucified him.  But it seems to be permissible to question the beliefs and even the sanity of people who claim to be Christians.  What has occurred in our nation that has brought about this tragic situation?  The media, the colleges and universities and even some churches have constantly harped on the inconsistencies of professed Christians.  They make everyone think that all who claim to be Christians are like Jimmy Swaggart, although oddly enough, they have laid off criticizing Jesse Jackson for his philandering and dishonesty.

 

            The Tennessean (Saturday, March 17, 2001) printed this quotation from Ted Turner: “Almost every religion talks about a savior coming.  When you look in the mirror in the morning, you’re looking at the savior.  Nobody else is going to save you but yourself” (p. 3-B).  It is true that a promised messiah or coming savior is not unique to New Testament Christianity.  But Christianity is the only religion whose Savior had his deity and his mission authenticated by the prophecies of the Old Testament and by the many miracles he performed.  In most cases, the other so-called “saviors” did not even claim to be saviors.  Very few of them claimed to be God manifest in the flesh.  But Jesus made it very plain that he came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10).  He also proved by his miracles that he was what he claimed to be--the Savior, the Messiah and God manifest in the flesh.

 

            The apostle John reports a rather intense confrontation between Jesus and some of the Jewish leaders.  Jesus had miraculously cured an impotent man.  Jesus simply said, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.”  The Jewish leaders seemed not to have been disturbed by the healing of the lame man, but they were angry that Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath.  “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day.”  Jesus explained to the Jews: “My Father works until now, and I work” (John 5:8, 16-17).  The Jews were so angry because of our Lord’s statement that they sought the more to kill him.  Do you know what the Jews thought Jesus was claiming?  Since Jesus called God his Father, the Jews thought he was making himself equal with God.  And that is exactly what Jesus was claiming--that he was equal with God (John 5:18).  The rest of John five is devoted to proving that Jesus is God.

 

            I have time to examine just one argument from John five.  Would you agree that only God has the knowledge and the wisdom to judge all men at the end of the age?  In this world, both Christians and non-Christians have to judge in certain areas.  But God alone judges all men in every age of the world’s existence.  I am aware that liberal theologians like Leslie Weatherhead argue that such judgment is impossible and it is for ordinary men.  But the God who made the world and knows the thoughts and actions of every human being who ever lived can and will judge all men.  Jesus affirms in John five that he is deity and therefore will judge all men.  “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who honors the Son honors the father who sent him” (John 5:22-23).

 

            Would it be legitimate to formulate the following syllogism?  The first premise: Only God can judge the dead.  The second premise: Jesus Christ will judge the dead.  Therefore, Jesus Christ is God.  In the same chapter, John five, God himself bore witness to Christ’s deity.  Jesus said, “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” (John 5:36).  In very simple language, Jesus said, “the miracles I have done prove that I am what I claim to be: equal with the Father”.  What else could Jesus mean when he said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30)?

 

            It ought to be obvious that only one who is equal with the Father can save us.  That was the truth Peter had in mind when he told some Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: “This (that is, Jesus Christ) is the stone that was set at naught by you builders, which has become the head of the corner.  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). According to this passage and many others in the New Testament, there is one Savior and only one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  All others who claim to be saviors are thieves and robbers (John 10:1).

 

            Ted Turner says, “When you look in the mirror in the morning, you are looking at the savior.  Nobody else is going to save you but yourself.”  I do not know if Ted Turner officially claims to be a secular humanist, although his so-called “Ten Voluntary Initiatives” were published in The Humanist magazine, November/December, 1984, p. 176.  But whatever he calls himself, his beliefs conform to those of the secular humanists.  Humanist Manifesto II (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1973) asserts: “But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species.  While there is much we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become.  No deity will save us; we must save ourselves” (p. 16).

 

            There is one fact that no reasonable man can possibly deny: If we must save ourselves, we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19).  All of us know--including Ted Turner, I suppose--that we are going to die, unless Ted thinks his billions can somehow keep him from dying.  When we die, will that be the end of conscious existence?  Will we simply pass out into eternity never again to know or to be known?  Will our love for our family members and their love for us cease at the grave or will there be a reunion in the world to come?

 

            We have a Savior who came from the Father and who went back to the Father.  Before he departed this world for his heavenly home, he said to his disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go, you know, and the way you know.  Thomas says unto him, Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?  Jesus says unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:1-6).  We know what Jesus taught is absolute truth because his word was confirmed by the miracles he performed.

 

            My friend, you cannot save yourself.  But there is a Savior who gave his life a ransom for you (Mt. 20:28).  He has purchased your eternal redemption.  No one else in the universe can save you and give you a home in heaven.  So will you today confess your faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, repent of the sins that separate you from God and be baptized to have your sins washed away?  Whatever Ted Turner or any other unbeliever says, you cannot save yourself.  Only Jesus Christ can take away your sins and give you an inheritance among them who are sanctified in Christ.  

 

Winford Claiborne

The International Gospel Hour

P.O. Box 118

Fayetteville, TN 37334