Monday, December 22, 2008

WITNESSING
...when being considered a very, very, very good man gets confused with meaningful evangelism



Penn J. is a raw, but very gifted and talented comedian/entertainer. Part of his resumé that he's known for is that he is also an outspoken atheist. His venom against religion in general (Christianity in specific) are legendary and an ongoing part of his shows. But in the spirit of Christmas (which he doesn't believe in) he goes all nice on us for a brief moment.

The video above is Penn recalling a man who gave him a pocket NT with Psalms at a performance of his. He was struck by the goodness of this man and his warm demeanor. He even understands why Christians must proclaim the gospel - a surprise admission. But as nice as that sentiment is to hear, it is only sentiment. There is a lesson to be learned from this brief YouTube and I would like to know your thoughts about it.

The money line: 
"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 well it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward... 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?
Powerful words.

One caveat:
ask yourself this as you watch Penn J. - if John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, the Lord Himself, or Whitefield, Edwards, or even Keith Green and Paul Washer, etc. would have shared with him, would Penn have had the same warm reaction? or would he have walk away personally offended?

In closing, please pray for this man; for wouldn't it be great to see him come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of his life?

HT: HotAir.Com

15 comments:

Thankful Paul said...

Hello

SJ Camp said...

Was that "hello" meant as a good thing? or not a good thing?

Curious
Steve

Strong Tower said...

I think Hello is the emergent version of Hell. It is a wiggly unnailable thingy. It's like 'Have it your way.' If you want to believe there is a literal hell, welfyn. But, where's there?

The assumption is wrong, though, that a person believing in hell will be compelled out of love to try and convince others of its reality, when the reality is not truly known. Paul taught that he preached what he knew, and somehow I think that is because his master showed him very much so, what he knew. That is a make or break point in faith. Faith is knowing. The agnostic believes that there might be a hell and the evanjellyos don't know for certain there is such a destination or at least don't know what to say about it. How different from "Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God." The sight of a soul dangling over a possibility doesn't quite carry the image of one suspended over the reality. When one is fully convinced, that is, has a real knowledge of the place as a place and has been gifted by God to abhor the reality of it as revealed in their sin, then that is a whole different story. That is when the real passionate plea begins.

The Blainemonster said...

At 4:20 Mr. Jillette says, "I know there's no God." Wow. And how is that, exactly? It's always rather stunning when someone makes that particular statement so boldly.

Well, the Father had mercy on me, perhaps Penn will experience grace as well!

SJ Camp said...

Blaine
"The fool says in his hear there is no God..."

But being a presuppositionalist, we know according to Romans 1:18-23 that he does know there is a God; that he is without excuse; and has suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.

He needs to be told to flee the wrath to come; to be reconciled to God; to believe solely in the name of Jesus to be saved; to deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him; and to repent of his sins and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of his life and that God has raised Him from the dead.

Amen?

Thanks for your words my brother!

Steve

SJ Camp said...

Strong Tower
A good word brother. Thank you!
Campi

The Blainemonster said...

Totally amen, Steve. :)

Nathan W. Bingham said...

@Steve: Even though from Penn's account it doesn't appear much 'witnessing' occurred between him and this man, I don't believe he would have been offended if another preacher had shared the truth with him. Although we all agree the gospel is an offense, some people become so entwined with their delusion (that there is no God) that even the truth does not bother them. Remember, Penn is the one who brought up the topic of Heaven and Hell, which suggests he is aware of what us more fundamentalist (and Biblical) Christians believe about eternity and the demands of the gospel.

I think this video demonstrates an Atheist's attempt at being as consistent as he can be within his worldview. Being a presuppositionalist like yourself Steve, I know he cannot be totally consistent, nor is he being honest when he states he knows there is no God.

I do pray that the Lord would be gracious and save Penn, however I am also confident in the Lord's sovereignty and know that a 'celebrity salvation' can add nothing to the Word and the Spirit.

Have a Merry Christmas Steve - thanks for all your work here throughout 2008, and I look forward to Camp On This in 2009!

gigantor1231 said...

S.J.

Obviously this evangelical encounter was very meaningful, perhaps not to you or I but to Penn! That being said I think those that are seasoned in evangelism understand that not every individual should be approached with the same canned presentation. Just as we worship in spirit and truth so we should reach out to others in spirit and truth, understanding that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation to them who believe Rom. 1: 16, and just as Paul understood the role he was to take so should we. Paul planted, he proclaimed the Gospel beyond that it was God who brought the increase 1 Cor. 3. We should be of the same mind and if that means handing the Gospel to someone in written form then so be it, the Gospel was definitely proclaimed and Penn knows exactly what he was given, he will be held without excuse based upon his acceptance or rejection of the same.

As for your question;

"ask yourself this as you watch Penn J. - if John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, the Lord Himself, or Whitefield, Edwards, or even Keith Green and Paul Washer, etc. would have shared with him, would Penn have had the same warm reaction? or would he have walked away personally offended?"

Any answer to this question is truly speculative because the response is up to Penn, it is only up to us how and what we present to Penn. Obviously the 'what' is the Gospel but the question of 'how' is where the outcome of the scenario usually lies. If we want to be in your face we are probably going to get the same response in kind, if we want to be as sly as a serpent but as gentle as a dove then, usually, the outcome is more favorable, however the whole of the matter is really quite unpredictable. The bottom line here is that it is God who knows the beginning and the end of the whole matter, it is for us to obey and beyond that stand in that obedience, even if it means being persecuted for the message we proclaim.
I can only say that if it would have been Jesus who contacted Penn He would have spoke to him exactly what He needed, Penn's response would truly depend on Penn and Christ would have known exactly what that response would be! I would hope and pray that Christ would use us the same by His Holy Spirit and we would be able to minister His Gospel in spirit and truth.

Psalm said...
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professorpolisci said...

I must agree with gigantor. The gospel message must be presented to all but how we go about that will change with every presentation. There is no tried and true formula for winning a soul to Christ. We do have the assurance that God's word does not go forth and return fruitless.

I think the point Penn was trying to get across, apart from remaining obstinately in denial, is that some Christians are arrogant about the gospel and about salvation in a holier than thou way. I've met them, hung out with them, and no longer want anything to do with them.

Other Christians approach sharing the gospel as the most loving act one human being can do for another. There was a couple we lived next to for a few years, unbelievers who were extremely loving and kind people. On the other side of them lived a missionary family. We held regular Bible Studies, prayed for the unbelieving couple, and shared with them from time to time, even though they showed little interest. We invited them for Easter supper, which they accepted, and we asked them to church, which they declined though saying "I know that's probably bad, huh?" But a year later, that couple is attending a Bible Study and are hungry for God's word. God uses what little He has to work with in us in very powerful ways.

Blessings and Merry Christmas

SDG

Psalm said...
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LivingDust said...

I say this video shortly after it came onto Youtube. Penn is an avowed atheist and I was pleased to know that some brother in Christ took the time to go to him after a show and give him a New Testament. The brother cannot be responsible for the words of Penn in this video, but I believe that all of us can agree that a Christian man touched Penn's atheistic soul.

SJ Camp said...

LivingDust
The brother cannot be responsible for the words of Penn in this video,

I fully agree. And again, I thought some of Penn's words were very well said.

but I believe that all of us can agree that a Christian man touched Penn's atheistic soul.

I believe that a Christian touched Penn's sense of affability and was cordial to him and THAT meant something to him. But touched his soul? I respectfully disagree.

Not splitting words, but only the Lord through His Holy Spirit can do that. We cannot. I am grateful that someone gave Penn a NT and hopefully he would read it and hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and be granted the faith to believe unto salvation.

But again, let's not confuse Penn's affirming words about the demeanor of one man who approached as a Christian with proclaiming the gospel.

Campi

Bill and Merrilea said...

Older post but….Steve, you wrote…“But again, let's not confuse Penn's affirming words about the demeanor of one man who approached as a Christian with proclaiming the gospel.”

Yes, Amen…which begs the question… Ought every attempt, intentionally or not, by a Christian to evangelize always result in a true Gospel presentation? I hope so but so often in my evangelism I’m prevented from ‘going the distance’ for a variety of reasons.

Just voicing my thoughts as I learn more here, but the content of the Gospel aside as I fully agree with the Biblical voice you've constantly given to this issue, Steve, there is one thing about this that nags me that I’ve not read you addressing... not every conversation we have with the lost gives a full disclosure of the Gospel even though that is our intent. Are the reasons for this Biblical?

I affirm what you wrote to Blaine about what the lost need to hear. Obviously I think we all agree what we’d rather see Penn’s response be before our Holy God after conversing with a Christian, yet…

When is our attempt at Biblical proclamation not evangelism? - When we can’t ‘go the distance’ due to time constraints, hurdles in the lost’s presuppositions (Penn’s atheism or when proclaiming to a Hindu or a Muslim, etc.) to be clarified that are preventing them to understand the Gospel truths? IOW, what’s the bottom line you are making about doing evangelism? We agree about the gospel message itself as you underscored here but what are you saying about evangelism beyond clarifying what ‘it’ is. Or is that simply what you are trying to do?