What Atheist Penn Jillette Taught Me about Evangelism

Wes  —  March 24, 2013
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Recently, a brother in Christ sent me a YouTube video of magician, comedian, and atheist, Penn Jillette. Jillette is pretty well-known for his foul mouth and advocacy of atheism. However, the video was (surprisingly) a very humbling lesson on evangelism (link to Penn Jillette video)

penn-jillette

In the video, Jillette talks about a time that a man gave him a Bible after one of his shows. It is with the utmost respect that Jillette talks of how this man was kind and complimentary. The man looked Jillette in the eyes and handed him a copy of the New Testament. Although the encounter did not change Jillette’s mind about the existence of God, it prompted him to make some rather profound points about evangelism.

His most profound statement was this, “How much do you have to HATE somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Wow! Did you hear that?! An atheist saying Christians must truly “hate” unbelievers if we are unwilling to share the gospel with them! The excuse we use for not evangelizing, “Well, it would make it socially awkward,” he finds ridiculous. He said, if he believed a truck was going to hit you, but you didn’t believe his warning, there would come a certain point where he would “tackle” you. Forget socially awkward! If someone is going to die, do whatever you can to get them out of danger!

Jillette even admits, warning someone about the danger of hell is “even more important” than warning someone about being hit by a truck. The implication is, if you would TACKLE someone to keep them from being hit by a truck, why wouldn’t you at least risk social embarrassment to warn others about hell?

Here are the lessons I took away from Jillette’s message:

1. I cannot say I love someone if I will not share with them the truth about eternity.

2. I have to care more about their soul, than whether or not the conversation is “socially awkward.”

3. I must be genuinely kind, look people in the eyes, and tell them the truth.

This video reminded me of Romans 10:14-15 (ESV), “How then will they 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!'”

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams