Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How much?

A friend in Australia sent me this clip. In it, Penn, of the comic duo "Penn & Teller" asks a really bold question after a stranger gives him a Bible. His explanation of why we desperately need to witness to people completely caught me off guard.


Jason said...

This is why I think that we have to be careful of just how "seeker-sensitive" we are. In the end, there is a message that must be communicated. Either the hearer will believe it or he won't, but all we can do is share it.

Trina said...

We need that sense of urgency. Why does it not feel urgent when it truly is life or death?

Anonymous said...


and how...

and when

and i what way

and it was also about our own belief.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I just saw this over on another Christian blog, so it's funny that it should pop up over here too. Very challenging and encouraging. We live in the 'friendliest' society towards the Bible (meaning we don't risk our lives for it) at the worst, people are simply apathetic toward us, but big deal, right?

Richard said...

That is what I would tell people when I would tell them about Christ.

I haven't done that in a while.

Kate said...

His point about prostelytizing misses the fact that plenty of religious people don't believe you have to believe in Jesus to have "eternal life." And so if I believe there's eternal life but I don't think you need to believe in one specific individual to get there, that you just have to be a good person and do good deeds and try your damndest to live the life God wants of us, then am I prostelytizing by simply encouraging other to be good people?

I know this will be an unpopular view here, but I never said I was a Christian. All I'm saying is that his "you must hate someone not to prostelytize" is flawed -- if he's saying "you must hate someone to be a Christian who believes in Christ and not prostelytize," fine. I think it's ridiculous, but I get it. But to say that if you believe in eternal life and don't do it, you're hateful, is to overlook every other religion that doesn't believe you need jesus to GET to that eternal life.

Jewda said...

Thanks for the post.

Isaiah Kallman said...

That video is more inspiring than almost anything I've ever seen on YouTube.

My church talked a lot about evangelism this summer. Later, during a Wednesday night meeting, someone asked what the group thought of the message. I said, "I don't know how much I buy into evangelistic diagrams and strategy. Salvation doesn't work the same as Amway or Quickstar, or whatever they call it. Do we get better perks because we converted more people? Why do we have to even convince Christians to manufacture a situation so they can share the gospel? Even though I believe the gospel, I need to learn how to love it. To love it so much that the very thought of someone not knowing Jesus makes me burst into tears. I need to love it that much or else I'll never get around to telling anyone."

Penn's statement of "how much do you have to hate someone?" certainly arrests the attention of anyone who hasn't considered this other question, "How much do Christians really love the gospel?" It ought to be the best band we've ever heard, you know? What do we tell everyone about?

Bruce IV said...

The real tragedy is that he seemed so shocked that the Christian he met was a kind, normal, sane person - that he was surprised to find himself respecting him - its to be expected that the world doesn't agree with Christianity - but we collectively should be living in such a way that at the very least we can't be condemned for hypocrisy, can't be brushed aside as loud, unthinking people. We need to be real, true followers of Jesus (who was attacked as a minion of Satan, but never, if I recall correctly, condemned for stupidity)

Andi said...

Wow. I saw Penn and Teller in Vegas a few years ago and all I've done is complain about how offended I was by their show. Talk about feeling convicted. Thanks for sharing, Jon.

Jeff Lutz said...

I think that he nails it with a couple of his statements...He was a good man, he was sincere and that the compliments weren't flattery, and he reached out (I'm paraphrasing). To me that is loving the sinner and hating the sin. A lot of times I see the us and them mentality that ruins the outreach or a person has so much hate that they just won't reach out.

I'm with Andi when she said that she felt convicted.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to catch my breath. Talk about profound. Wonder if Penn understood what incentive he gave us all to talk about our relationships with God? Gotta Go-I need to tell someone something and you can bet it is going to be about God!

Willow Tree said...

WOW. Wish I had something witty or profound to say, but I'm still absorbing it. Thanks for sharing it.

Blessings, Carolynn

Anonymous said...

Penn reminded me that Christians should be respectful and sincere, to our friends and family, of course, but to those we are witnessing to as well. It is unfortunate that so many who want to spread the Gospel do it in a hostile way.

"How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them?"

I think it's important to remember that many people hate Christians. Not only in America, where there is freedom of religion, but in other countries where Christianity is illegal.

So, I'm sure there are Christians who want to tell people about Jesus, but they are unable to because of a country's government restrictions. And for those that do preach the Gospel regardless, there can be a heavy price to pay: being thrown into prison, beatings, or even death.

Yes, I know we should rejoice in all circumstances, but advocating for religious freedom is not bad, either.

I know from my own personal experiences that there can be signficant obstacles in the way when it comes to telling people about Jesus. You know, materialism, being busy, selfishness, fear, PRIDE, etc.

While I feel "friendship evangelism" is much better way than debating about religion, I am sorry for not being bolder...I hope God gives me, and other Christians around the world the courage to tell people about Him, especially, because Christmas is tomorrow.

chriscrossing said...

Oh my. I watched this video last evening and I've been chewing on it all night.

I think I mostly agree with what Isaiah said in his comments. I think we also have to listen for God's guidance. I have a friend who is an atheist and there are times when I can speak of God and how He is working in my life, and there are times I am listening to what she is saying and want to just tell her if she accepted Jesus she would be in a much better place - but I've felt like God has instead wanted me to just listen. She knows the gospel message - she has spouted it angrily at me. She knows all the biblical answers to her reasons for not believing in God. Me proselytizing would not work. She's been proselytized to already. But she loves and accepts me because I love her. And I love her despite what she believes - she was afraid the first time she told me she didn't believe in God that it would be the end of our relationship. That it wasn't spoke volumes to her, I think. And so maybe God is working slowly through our relationship. That's my prayer.

I really think it's our job to love Jesus and others as much as we can in our imperfect humanness, and God will use us in His plans to reconcile the world to Him if we let Him. He will use our love for other people to draw them to Himself. And He will provide opportunities where we can share His message. But I think we need to wait on Him to provide those opportunities or God isn't necessarily in it. And depending on our spiritual gifts, it may be evangelizing in a less personal way, or it may be through walking alongside someone, or it may be through meeting other's needs with our monetary gifts. It strikes me that the man Penn spoke of simply handed him a Bible after relating to him for a moment (and he left his contact information). That's the relationship part. But he was leaving it up to God to do the proselytizing through His word.

Having said all of that, I'm not sure I've got any of it right! I'm just a pilgrim on this journey of trying to figure out how to be who God wants me to be.

Raw Faith Real World said...

That was an interesting video. You could tell he was touched by the guy's actions. I really believe that honest real encounters like that are never wasted, and that sometimes they really are like seeds that are planted. Thanks for sharing the vid.

Donna said...


Evangelism Coach said...

This video is making the run on many blogs. I too was impressed by it.

I'm grateful that he took the time to respond and create such a video.

He makes a great point, and the person who gave him the bible did a great job. We may never know who he is (unless the media digs him up), but his impact is inspiring hundreds if not thousands of Christians.

Chris W

Arni Zachariassen said...

Yeah, that hurts, but is anyone really strong enough psychologically to carry the burden of hell? I don't think it's possible to actually live with what the evangelical doctrine of Hell demands of us. Which is why we are so apathetic to it most of the time.

Nick the Geek said...


Thanks for sharing this. I keep coming back to it and it is really kicking my butt. It is sort of like the song "Savin' Me" by Nickle Back. It is amazing to have an atheist tell me how I should be witnessing and getting it right.

heartafire said...

A friend in Australia sent me this clip. In it, Penn, of the comic duo "Penn & Teller" asks a really bold question after a stranger gives him a Bible. His explanation of why we desperately need to witness to people completely caught me off guard.

What, in this interview, surprised you or "completely caught you off guard?" What is "bold" about his question?

I find him a self-important, bloated geek who merely used this video as an opportunity to keep Christians 'in his fold" so to speak, as paying customers. Obviously he has not cracked the little book, or he would find it to be a New Testament with attached Psalms (which are NOT part of the NT by the way).
I find nothing moving, telling, inspiring or surprising about this video except for the fact that so many Christians would find something fresh or noteworthy about it.
"The word is foolishness to those who are perishing" comes to mind.

If we seek God's will in witnessing, He will make it abundantly clear to us WHO we are supposed to be witnessing to.

Unfortunately, and sadly, for so many people, that "unsaved person" He wants us to witness to, is usually not a celebrity.....but someone he has already put in our lives, such as a good friend, a co-worker, a child, a spouse, or another significant relationship.

heartafire said...

Also, (since he set himself up for this, with his pondering pseudo-thoughtful pronouncements on the "worthiness" of the messenger---i.e. commenting on his sanity, the fact that he looked him in the eye, the fact that he was effusive in his praise of the show., etc.):

I wonder what he would think of the sanity of a person who completely rejects something which he knows nothing about.
IOW, I have never gone to the beach---never seen it, haven't read about it, haven't seen pictures of it, nor spoken in depth with many people who love the beach--but I completely reject it. I am an anti-beach person, and feel very deeply and strongly in my complete rejection of the beach and all things ocean.

How sane is that person?

Now, back to the person who was the "messenger" in this case. God bless him for doing what he did, and doing it well and kindly.
But I hope he did it only because God made him, otherwise, it's just pearls before swine, and in this case, sadly, I'm afraid does more to advance the cause of atheism--- allowing this pseudo-thoughtful video "message" about atheism from a has-been celebrity to be seen by so many.

Dan with the Plan said...

Kind of respect that opinion. It definitely bugs me when Xtians casually tell me I'm going to hell like it's a parking ticket.
I'd contradict the person who said that lots of people hate christians. Generally the people who hate christians are other religious people, often from denominations that are indistinguishable to an outside observer. Atheists don't generally hate anyone. What's the point? Would you hate someone for having a delusion? Nope, you'd do your best to help them and, if it's not doing to much harm, eventually you'd just avoid the topic.

Jen said...

hearing him say "how much to you have to hate someone.." made me think of what I have heard before.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.

Of that I am guilty.