One of our editors, Pam Glass, met with Robert Jeffress to talk about Hell? Yes!
CBP: Tell me a little bit about you and your background. I know you’re a pastor and have been for quite some time. What led you to write this particular book at this particular time?
Robert: Well, about five years ago, our church took a stand against two homosexual books in our local library, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate. A member brought me those books, she had checked them out of the library, and I had just been preaching through Genesis – in fact, that coming Sunday I was doing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah – and one of the applications I made was that as a society, we cannot afford to condone what God has condemned. And something inside me said, “You need to hold on to those books and refuse to give them back.” And I said, “I’m not going to give these books back!” And our church passed a resolution, and we presented it to the city council to have the books removed out of the children’s section.
Well, it caused a firestorm of controversy, not only in our community, but PBS sent a documentary crew to come down and film what was going on. The ACLU threatened our tax-exempt status. All sorts of things erupted. But what surprised me most was not the response of non-Christians, but the response of Christians who said things like, “Well, that may be what we believe, but we can’t impose our beliefs on society.” Or, “The Bible was written 2,000 years ago and science has changed our thinking about homosexuality.” And I began seeing that political correctness was taking its toll among the Christian world. And I suppose that was the beginning of my thinking about this book. And then the events in recent days, the attempts to ban the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, the gay marriage agenda, all of these things really spoke to me and said, “It’s time for Christians to stop apologizing, and start standing up for these historic beliefs. And so I wrote this book Hell? Yes! as a way to equip Christians to stand up for some of the most politically incorrect truths in the world today.
CBP: How does this book differ from other books that are similar on the market right now?
Robert: Well, first of all, I’m not aware of any book right now that addresses all seven of these hot-button issues. And, again, I took the seven most politically incorrect truths that I believe Christians can articulate in today’s world, and give Christians the ammunition they need to defend those truths in a compassionate but confident way. Most Christians are not going to read a whole book on evolution, they’re not going to read a whole book on homosexuality, or on the Christian heritage of our nation. And what I did was, I gleaned from hundreds of resources, the best evidence, the best arguments for each of these beliefs. So a Christian can read the chapter and pretty well understand the issues and how to defend those issues.
CBP: This morning I read the chapter in your book on the Christian heritage of our nation, and some of those quotes from the legal cases are just amazing!
Robert: The one from the Church of the Holy Trinity vs. U.S. – in 1892 the Supreme Court said, without hesitation, this is a Christian nation, and it quoted from an 1811 decision, earlier, I mean within 30 years of the Bill of Rights that said this nation was founded, not upon many religions, or imposter religions, but on Christianity. Most people don’t realize that the entire city of Washington D.C. was laid out by our forefathers in the form of a crucifix. It was designed that way! The Washington Monument is the center, the top part is the Lincoln Memorial, at the bottom of the cross is the Capitol, and then the horizontal bar of the cross is the White House on one end and the Jefferson Memorial on the other end. And here today people are arguing about the phrase “under God” in the Pledge when the whole city is laid out in the form of a crucifix! We were in the Capitol not long ago and took an evening tour that some of the Congressmen had arranged for us, and they took is into the room where the Supreme Court used to meet -- before they had their own building they used to meet in the Capitol -- and before they would meet together to consider cases they would have a three hour Communion service. This was in the early 1800’s. And they would pray for God’s wisdom before they would begin deliberating over the cases. You never hear that.
CBP: What do you say to the person who believes that salvation, discipleship, evangelism, are the only way to shape and change a culture, and that a Christian should not be engaged in public affairs?
Robert: Well, I think we have to go back to what Jesus said, that you are to be the salt and the light of the world. And to be salt and light it means that we need to come into contact with non-Christians. And part of our purpose is to prevent the premature decay of our culture. And I certainly believe there’s a balance there. I mean, ultimately, the way we change people is one life at a time by introducing them to faith in Jesus Christ. That is the Great Commission. But although it’s the primary thing we are to do, it’s not the only thing we are to do.
I believe that God has given us freedom in this nation as a stewardship that we need to protect, and take advantage of in the best possible way, so I think it’s erroneous to say that Christians are to isolate themselves and to have no involvement at all in the political process. Our nation’s forefathers gave their lifeblood to give us the freedom to vote, and I believe when Christians stand up for the truth they are being good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. This book is not so much a call to politics, it’s about equipping people so that they, in a one-on-one basis, can share with people who have been blinded by the lies of the Evil One to say, “Look, this is what the truth is.” You’re not ever going to argue anyone into the Kingdom of Heaven. But I do believe that the material in this book will help strip away the false arguments and excuses people are using to not believe the truth, so they can see that the real issue is their own personal relationship with God, not the idea that the Bible is historically inaccurate, or is intolerant or bigoted. Strip away those arguments so that people can really understand what the real issue is. This isn’t a book to help people argue more loudly. I believe we have to follow the model of Jesus, and I talk about it in the last chapter, “Becoming a Velvet-Covered Brick.” Jesus was hard in His convictions, but He was soft with people, and we need to follow that model in standing up for the truth.