Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How much do you have to hate someone to not tell him about Christ?

Just a thought to consider in this day and age when evangelism is under attack as being hateful and judgmental.

"How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"  - Penn Jillette, an atheist comedian, magician, and filmmaker, recounting how someone recently gave him a Bible following a show.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I sat at my desk, staring at the monitor, not sure if I should cry, kneel down and repent or run out and proselytize the entire town until I collapse. I'm not sure why it took a sincere atheist to say what Jesus laid down His life to say; every life is worth the greatest sacrifice (at the very the least social awkwardness that he refers to). Wow. I'm so in the habit of being politically correct... Now what?

alan leonard said...

What a tremendous video. . . Penn's sincerity comes thru. Although an atheist, he seems like a 'good man' too.

In my experience, it's not so much hate that keeps from evangelizing, rather fear and apathy. May we find in Christ the capacity to overcome whatever keeps us from loving others.

Anonymous said...

What Penn saw in the "Good Man" that Penn had a hard time explaining was the "Holy Spirit", Penn saw Jesus in the Good Man but couldnt explain. Jesus comes to us all, its up to us to whether to accept and believe in him! Did not Pilate's wife see the innocence in Jesus!

sjd said...

I am not impressed with Penn's statement at all. So he liked the "good man", big deal! Does that change his life? Does it change where he will go when he dies? No. Hundreds of Scripture verses like Ps.53:1,"The fool says in this heart, 'There is no God!'" and Jn.3:19, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." and Rev.22:11, "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile..." apply to men like Penn.

But what is sad, is that senseless statements like this impressive so easily naive Christians. I will only be impressed with Penn if he actually goes all the way and repents and becomes a fellow believer in Christ. Then I will rejoice with him; otherwise, he still goes to hell when he dies.

Glenn Penner said...

My, oh my, sjd, aren't we in a fine mood? All or nothing, eh? Rather than seeing this a sign that God might be at work, you choose to dismiss the whole thing out of hand. Too bad. You might want to reconsider calling anyone who fails to see things from your perspective "easily naive".

sjd said...

Glenn,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but does not Scripture say it's all or nothing? Does it not say that we either go to heaven or hell when we die? There is no middle ground. And the determining factor of where we go is if we believe in the work of Christ in the here and now. This is not "my perspective," this is what Scripture says.

I never said that God "might" be working, nor did I dismiss the whole thing out of hand. I clearly stated that if Penn repents then I would rejoice with him, the angles in heaven and God Himself. Until then, according to John 3, he is still under the wrath of God.

Penn's own words were, "Now I know there is no God." And what does Ps.53:1 say about people who say this? If Penn dies this very day, without repenting, Scripture says he goes to hell, not me.

Glenn Penner said...

Of course, the path to conversion may take a while, sjd. This is what I am referring to when I referred to being "all or nothing". I think we can rejoice that at least he met a sincere believer who demonstrated both the love of God and the fear of God in his actions of trying to bring Penn to Christ. Perhaps this may mark the beginning of his path towards Christ. I will certainly pray to that end. I agree that apart from repentance and faith in Christ, Penn is lost. But he does make a good point, however. Most Christians don't share their faith; one really has to wonder about the sincerity of their claim to love their neighbour as themselves. You may not like the messenger, but the message is right. But then again, God can even speak through donkeys, can't He?

sjd said...

Glenn,
I agree with you 100% that the path may take a while, and that this “might” mark the beginning of his path to Christ (although, the beginning could have started before this moment), and I too pray for this; however, my point still stands. Not everyone who is witnesses too will choose to believe and receive the gift of Christ; not when they are witnessed to, not ever. Scripture tells us this in Mt.22:3; Jn.5:40; Ac.14:2; 19:9; 2Th.2:10; and Rev.16:9, 11. All these verses say, “they refused to come, believe, love the truth, or repent.” And Christians who have the “gift” of evangelism need to understand this and move on; stop throwing their pearls before swine.

Like you, I rejoice that Penn met a sincere believer that he likes; but again, but point still stands. As of this moment, his encounter with this believer has not altered his opinion of God, nor his destination when he dies.

Unlike you, I do not agree that Penn’s point of Christians not sharing their faith is either “a good point” or “right.” And I certainly do not question Christian’s sincerity because they don’t “share” the way Penn thinks they should. First of all, not every Christian has the “gift” of evangelism. Second, those who do have the “gift” of evangelism better take care not to brag that their ministry is above all other Christian ministry; for it is not them who “wins” the sinner to Christ but the Holy Spirit who does the convicting (Jn.16:8) and God who makes things grow (1Cor.3). As Scripture says, we are not all an eye, or a hand, etc. i.e. we all do not have the “gift” of evangelism, BUT, all of our gifts are equally valuable in God’s sight and as the Holy Spirit determines who gets which gifts.

Lastly, Christians do not need to evangelize verbally to witness; if a Christian is living a truly obedient life before God, then their “life” will be a greater witnesses then any verbal witnessing that they do. I admit, that in the last 50 years or so, Christians in North America have been beaten into silence by the liberals, socialist and secularist; however, please do not get over excited because an atheist as thrown a morsel of crumbs our way.

A brother and fellow worker for the Kingdom and glory of God Almighty. Praise God Hallelujah!!

Thanking for posting my comments that obviously grates you the wrong way.

Glenn Penner said...

Actually, your comments really don't grate me the wrong way. I just believe that we need to give credit where credit is due, rather than simply dismissing the words of a atheist as having little or no value. If one believes in common grace, then we must recognize that all truth is God's truth, regardless of who speaks it. And just because someone is not saved, this does not make everything he says suspect, any more than just because a Christian says it, it must be accepted. One need not be redeemed to speak some truth.

One point about witnessing with one's "life". I have heard many others say things similarily. Interestingly enough, to the best of my knowledge, the word "witness" in scripture is never referred to in the context of just living right. It ALWAYS involves verbal testimony. It is interesting to note that all references to witness or witnessing in the book of Acts, for example, are public (1:8; 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39,41,43; 13:31; 14:3; 15:8; 16:2; 20:26; 22:15,18,20; 23:11; 26:16,22). This is not to downplay righteous living. But as Paul said in Romans 10:14-17 "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Righteous living must accompany righteous words, but living right is not witnessing (at least not in a biblical sense).

sjd said...

Glenn,

You're a hoot; I like you. I do not disagree with anything in your first paragraph. I too am a big believer in giving credit where credit is due (those who know me, know this; though it might not show through in theses comments of mine at the moment). Also, of course I agree that one does not need to be redeemed to speak some truth. But that is not the real issue.

As for your second paragraph, let me clarify. I believe that there are two types of evangelism. One is what I call planned evangelism; which is what Christians who have the gift of evangelism do- like Billy Graham and others like him. And two, is what I call personal (or natural) evangelism; which is what the rest of Christians, who do not have the gift of evangelism, do. Personal evangelism stems from those who live obedience lives to God, in which He causes the sinner, who is interested, to question us about our Christian life and/or God, which leads us to verbally witness of the glory of God. It is not planned, it just happens naturally.

Rebecca Manly Pippert wrote a book back in 1979 called, "Out of the Saltshaker and into the World," and in this book she basically says the same thing, “Evangelism is not something that we do, it is a lifestyle.” I just happen to agree with her 100%.

Glenn Penner said...

A hoot, eh? Thanks :-)

How that; we finally agree! I knew if we tried hard enough, we eventually would! I understand where you are coming from and totally agree. Evangelism is a lifestyle that must include words. Thanks for the great discussion. I just learned at the end of the day that some of my staff were following it and really enjoying it. Have a good weekend!

sjd said...

Your welcome.

It is difficult to get to know someone over one statement; it is too easy to misunderstand them and then to stay upset over it. But Scripture says much about loving one another and if we are to be true to Scripture, then we must take the time and energy and make the effort. And if we stick with it, then God will be glorified, as Scripture says, iron sharpens iron. I enjoy greatly having discussions with other believers and ending the discussion in agreement, it is a testament of Christ in our lives if we allow him to work.

God bless and have a great weekend as well.

Glenn Penner said...

Indeed. I hope to hear from you again sometime about another topic or two. Take care!