One half of the comedy team Penn & Teller, Penn Jillette, filmed a short video in which he confessed appreciation for those who hold to the Biblical view of eternal life and who were not afraid to speak about it to those who are unbelievers. I took his message as very sincere and very telling since he actually pointed out that if Christians really believe what they confess and really love their fellow man, then they will be bold to tell them the truth God has entrusted to us because it is an act of love (1 John 3:18).
You may have seen this or may have not seen this since it was filmed back in 2008.
After recounting a story in which a man had gifted him a Gideon Bible following one of his shows, Jillette said that he really appreciated the sincerity of the man’s actions.
“He was kind, he was nice, he was sincere,” said Jillette.
Jillette went on about how the man was very complimentary of his show and was very appreciative of those compliments.
However, it was when the man presented him with a little New Testament that also contained the Psalms, which the Gideons are known to provide to many people, Jillette said, “It was really wonderful!”
“I believe he knew that I was an atheist, but he was not defensive and he looked me right in the eyes,” Jillette continued. “…And he was truly complimentary. It didn’t seem like empty flattery.”
“I’ve always said that respect people who don’t proselytize,” he added. “I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a Heaven and Hell and people could be going to Hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward… and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize… just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself…. Uh, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”
He then followed that up with a specific. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Jillette went on to say that if he believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that truck was coming at you and that you were unaware of the danger, he said he would “tackle” you, meaning that he would do all he could to get you out of danger.
In concluding his remarks, he said the man who gave him the Bible was “a really good guy.”
“He was polite and honest and sane, and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible,” he said.
I understand what Jillette is attempting to communicate in calling the man good, but Jesus said that there is only one good, and that is God (Mark 10:18). What Jillette had encountered was a man who had been touched by a good God.
The drawback was that Jillette claimed to “know that there’s no God.”
One has to question how he knows this since he is very limited, just as we all are, in our knowledge and ability to be everywhere in the world at all times to verify such a statement.
“And one polite person living his life right, doesn’t change that,” he added.
Exactly what makes Mr. Jillette determine that this man is living his life “right”? What is the standard of right and wrong? What authority is looked to for that standard? If the man is living right, then how is Mr. Jillette living? Wrong? I would love to pursue that conversation sometime with Mr. Jillette, respectfully of course, but nevertheless address these issues.
In the end, Jillette respected the man for what he believed, even though he disagreed and said, “I’ll tell ya, he was a very, very, very good man, and that’s real important.”
While he believes that religion “does a lot of bad stuff,” and hey, I agree with him on some of that. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy, cruelty and lawlessness more than he did anyone else and we’ve seen people take the name of Christ in history and drag it through the mud with their lawlessness. However, the real question he needs to ask himself is what “bad stuff” (sin, the violation of God’s Law) has he been engaged in, and who will rescue him from his own lawlessness? At the heart of the Christian message is that God has provided a Savior from sin in the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, the point I wanted to make in writing this article and sharing the video with you is that many people will attack me in social media and write me emails about bringing Christianity to bear in the public square. Many have abandoned me because I seek to do that, and why? It’s because I believe those things and do love people enough to tell them the truth, whether they agree or not. If a man who says he doesn’t believe in God, which according to the Bible is not true (Rom. 1:18ff), will tell you he respects those who practice what they believe and says you are really engaging in hate, not love, to withhold the truth of eternal life and Heaven and Hell from others, perhaps it’s time that cowardly Christians wake up to that reality, a reality that was not first spoken by Mr. Jillette, but has been communicated over and over in various passages of the Scriptures.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18
Jillette is well read. He is a thinker, and obviously, he looks to see if people practice what they preach. My prayer is that God might see fit to open his eyes fully and grant him true saving faith for God’s glory.