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A few years ago atheist Penn Jillette, of the magician duo, Penn & Teller, expressed indignation at evangelicals who don’t share their faith, asking, “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Video, followed by transcript, below:

“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.”


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8 thoughts on “An Atheist Chastises Evangelicals Who Don’t Evangelize”

  1. jim says:

    But would you tackle and save someone if you knew the truck was coming, but didn’t know when? I think context is everything in terms of how and when one performs the tackle.

  2. Noel Muscutt says:

    I just played this clip last night for our church’s college and career after our study! Now I find it up here. Great clip. Not that we should have any doubt about evangelism always being appropriate, but watching this certainly motivates.

  3. David says:

    I’m sure this is just a clip taken from one of Penn’s more extensive videos. Anyone know the url or title of the full length video from which this is taken?

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    This video doesn’t get old.

  5. Letter from an Atheist

    A tract written by an atheist dramatically changed the life of C.T. Studd, (1860-1931)and his perspective of the short time we have on this earth. It seemed to help him turn from lukewarm Christianity to being on fire for God. After reading the tract, he walked away from great financial wealth and being one of the greatest athletes in England’s history, to become a missionary in China and Africa. What did the tract say?

    It said [b]”did I firmly believe, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, religion would mean to me everything. I would cast away all earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as Follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought, and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I should labor in its cause alone. I would take thought for the tomorrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences should never stay my hand, nor seal my lips. Earth, its joys and its griefs, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable. I would go forth to the world and preach it in season and out of season and my text would be, “what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”[/b]

    Mr. Studd said “I at once saw that this was truly consistent Christian life. When I looked back upon my own life I saw how inconsistent it had been. I therefore determined that from that time forth my life should be consistent, and I set myself to know what was God’s will for me. But this time I determined not to consult with flesh and blood, but just waiting until God should show me.”

    The important question now is what does the tract say to you and me?

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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