Penn Jillette is half of the world-famous magical act known as Penn and Teller. In addition to being a super talented performer, he’s also an outspoken atheist. But that didn’t stop a fan from giving him a Bible after a show one night.
And the atheist’s response to the gift should be an encouragement to every believer.
When Penn says he’s an unbeliever, that’s putting it mildly. He’s featured in plenty of online videos wherein he tries to undermine religion in general, and Christianity in particular. One of his cars has a license plate that reads “dog on” (“no god” backwards). He’s even taken the “Blasphemy Challenge” in which he publically denounces the Holy Spirit.
Nope, he’s not a big fan of Jesus.
But after a show one evening, a fan approached Penn with a gift. He was a businessman affiliated with Gideons International, a global partnership committed to distributing God’s Word to as many people as possible. The man handed Penn a small copy of the New Testament (and Psalms) and was on his way. But the simple gift made a profound impact on the atheist.
Here’s a partial transcript of what Penn thought of the interaction:
And I’ve always said, you know, 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 Hell and people could be going to Hell or not getting eternal life or whatever and you think that, uh, ‘Well, 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 and keep your religion to yourself – uh, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
While you can watch the entire clip here, the question Penn raises is a wonderful one: How much do you have to hate someone to not share your faith in Jesus?
Let this be a lesson to all of us: even atheists know we should be doing what Jesus said to do in the Great Commission.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)