Penn Jillette on Preaching the Gospel

Penn Jillette is from the well-known magician duo Penn and Teller. He’s rather famous and rather outspoken. Through radio, television, and even print, Penn’s opinions are made known to many. Penn is also an atheist, and holds to that view quite forcefully and with conviction. Thus, when I saw this video it sort of floored me.

Before this particular clip he is relaying a time when a gentleman waited outside one of his venues after a show. As Penn walked out the man struck up a conversation, commenting on his enjoyment of Penn’s work but he also did something else – handed him a Bible with a note inscribed in it. The whole story is worth watching, and you can do so here (Penn further discusses how the man’s gentleness and sincerity impacted him…definitely worth checking out if you have the time). But the video below is an excerpt from that fuller 5 minute clip. I’ve attached the transcript below it.

Beware that Penn uses some intense, possibly offensive language (not swearing…just wordage that might catch you a little off guard). My point is not that I wholeheartedy agree with him, I’d have to think about it more. My point is that an atheist, a really outspoken atheist in this case, understands the vital importance of sharing the gospel (what he calls proselytizing) with those that we love.

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Next week, we’ll take a deeper look at what it really means to “preach the gospel.” I’ll argue that if you’re not handing out Bibles and not preaching on street corners you can still be faithfully preaching the gospel. But there’s not enough time for that today…check back next week. But for now, let us consider how fundamental preaching the gospel is to our lives as Christians.

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