20 December 2008

Penn Jillette on Evangelism

by Phil Johnson

inda speaks for itself:

Phil's signature


naturgesetz said...


What an encouragement to evangelize.

W. Ian Hall said...

Thanks for the video - really encouraging and challenging video.

Jason said...

Thank you for posting this. It is a real encouragement to how I've been going about some personal evangelism lately.

SolaMommy said...

Now that's a kick in the pants to start opening my mouth.

James Scott Bell said...

Apparently "gentleness and respect" are in 1 Pet. 3:15 for a reason.

Boerseuntjie said...

James 5:19-20
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that HE WHO TURN A SINNER FROM THE ERROR of his way WILL SAVE A SOUL FROM DEATH and cover a multitude of sins."

Messiah JESUS said:
Matthew 16:26
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

John 13:35
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”"

Luke 5:32
"I have not come to call the righteous, BUT SINNERS, TO REPENTANCE.”"

The Prophecy concerning Jesus the Messiah, the LORD:
Matthew 1:21
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He WILL SAVE His PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.”"

The Apostle Paul said near the end of his life and ministry:
1 Timothy 1:15
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world TO SAVE SINNERS, of whom I am chief."

Boerseuntjie said...

As a physically incapacitated member of the Body of Christ I find it hard not being able to be supported to go out and "preach the Gospel" of "repentance and remission for sins" "to every creature".

I think that Tony Miano has written a very good blog with wonderful Evengelistic ideas to reach the lost with the Hope of Christ, feel free to have a read at:

There is a lesson for all of us, which accords with 1 Corinthinians 1 & 2, the simplicity of the Law and Gospel preached, and the power of YAH displayed through His Spirit alone in the gift of faith.

May the few workmen be approved by Him and work out our responsibilities in love, fear and trembling.

Soli Deo Gloria,

ltlgeorge said...

Yup yup, kinda' says it all.

DJP said...

What a great find, Phil. Having seen Jillette a lot, I kept waiting for the "sting" — but he clearly was very impressed with the man's genuineness, sanity, looking him in the eye, really believing what he says he believes, and showing care for his soul.

I started realizing very similarly shortly before my conversion.

donsands said...

I had one of those small Gideon NT Bibles with the Psalms.

I have never heard an Atheist say what Penn said about proselytizing.

Thanks for posting this. Quite encouraging.

Mike Westfall said...


Not all conservative evangelical Christians conform to the MSM's caricature.

Sorry, no film at 11.

Willem Bronkhorst said...

Three things struck me about the Penn Jilette footage. The first is the GRACIOUSNESS with which an atheist comedian is prepared to "differ about deep things" with a Gideon. I find it a rare thing to come across matching graciousness among Christians, in general, and evangelicals in particular, even on less deep things! I am, for instance, often staggered by how one gets dissed when fellow evangelicals find out that one is not an ardent Joyce Meyer or Rick Warren fan, for instance, or when they find out that one is (horror of horrors) Reformed in one's theology. I was deeply touched by the refreshing GRACIOUSNESS and sheer decency of Penn Jilette.

The second thing that struck me was the effectiveness of the straightforward, being-himself approach of the Gideon. By effectiveness I mean the reception it gained for him with Penn Jilette (although this could have had more to do with Jilette's own accommodating spirit than with the Gideon's forthright approach). However, Jilette does point out that he was impressed by this Gideon, and that is truly significant from an evangelism point of view. The things that impressed him are valuable pointers towards effective evangelism, and it has very little to do with what we are told to do by pragmatists! This brings me to the third thing that impressed me:

It has to do with Jilette's logic that people of faith must "proselytise" (to use his term. He argues that not warning people about hell, or not telling them about eternal life if one believes in either or both, is tantamount to a form of deep hatred for people who are not in the know about these realities. As an atheist he expects and welcomes an unapologetic and unceremonious "tackle me out of the way of the oncoming truck" approach. I have learnt more from Penn Jilette about effective evangelism than from many others in recent times. The lessons?

Look people in the eye.
Be sincere (not flattering).
Be honestly nice.
Be nicely honest.
Be straightforward.
Give them the Word.

...sounds so simple, does it not?

Rachael Starke said...

I completely agree - God bless that businessman!

But my heart also is so broken for Jillette! This is a man whose entire life is dedicated to his denial of the existence of God, miracles, magic.

May God cause him to take and read the Book he was given, and miraculously open his eyes to the great I AM.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Penn Jillette? Do we hear The Wind blowing here?

The Puritan said...

Notice Jillette still demands everything to be on his terms. He's the judge. It's all about him and how he feels. And he's obviously thought about this way too much to still be a sixteen-year-old level atheist.

Frankly, the person I identify who planted the seed of evangelism in me was currently drunk and being provocatively - perhaps even mockingly - direct. I was mocking something about Christians, and he simply wrote on a piece of paper in front of me: "Jesus saves." He was doing it like: "You immature fool. I'm drunk, and I know this."

CR said...

You know the part where you didn't hear anything but crickets in the background was his stinging (but right) rebuke to Christians saying how much we must hate a person if we really believe in Heaven and Hell and yet don't proselytize to that person.

Unknown said...


He gets it. That's amazing.

It reminds me of that famous Seinfeld episode where Elaine dates this guy who professes to be a Christian but is seemingly unconcerned about her spiritual well-being simply saying to her "I'm not the one going to hell."

The most profound part of the show is when Elaine comes back and says "you should be trying to save me...I am not going to hell and if you think I'm going to hell, you should care that I'm going to hell even though I am not."

Susan said...


Fred Butler said...

Is it just me or is Penn starting to look like Tiny Tim? Dude needs a haircut.

Carol Jean said...

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) (NKJV)

JustJan said...

This post was very encouraging for me.

I have been exchanging emails with someone I knew from high school and believed to be a Christian. He contacted me 2 years ago to let me know that he was an atheist with a new mission in life....to deconvert as many Christians as possible, particularly those he knew from high school.

The email conversations have been challenging and faith building, but I have not always been certain that I should continue the discussion.

Mr Jillette is very good at what he does. He does seem to be a man who values truth and reason. I pray that God touches his heart so that he can see real truth and find reasoned faith in Jesus Christ.

"I know there is no God." I am always curious about that statement. How do they know?

donsands said...

"I know there is no God." I am always curious about that statement. How do they know?" -JustJan

They want physical evidence, which they believe Evolution supplies. At least that's what the atheists I talk with say.

I simply take them to the evidence of Jesus Christ risen from the dead, which is documented in the Bible, which is an incredibly reliable book for evidence.

But God has to open their hearts, and their eyes, as he does even the religious people who say they believe in God, but have not Christ.

"I pray that God touches his heart so that he can see real truth and find reasoned faith in Jesus Christ."
Amen. I pray that too.

Anonymous said...

He clearly wasn't a Calvinist. He didn't say "God made you an atheist."

JustJan said...


My experience is that it isn't as simple as "evolution" explains it all, because it doesn't. The first cause is still a mystery. The total of man's knowledge compared to the universe is like taking a bucket of water from the ocean and saying that you know that there are no whales. It's just intellectually dishonest.

Why don't they say plainly that they have not seen any physical evidence that confirms that God exists?

Jon said...

Beowulf said, "He clearly wasn't a Calvinist. He didn't say "God made you an atheist."

And why is it you even comment on this site? You're hatred for "Calvinism" is thoroughly documented, so it seems to beg the question of why you troll this site?

donsands said...

"Why don't they say plainly that they have not seen any physical evidence that confirms that God exists?"

That's exactly what some do say. At least to me.

They say, "I want evidence that there is a God: Physical evidence."

Then they go through the routine of Darwinism evidence, to show all that we see evolved from nothing.

Though, "they", the atheists, don't want to talk about where life came from.
They want to zero in on how could kangaroos be in Australia, since they got off Noah's Ark.

I have been able to discuss these things with a few atheists while blogging, and have learned much as to how they see creation, God, and mankind.

Bottom line for me has been Christ. Without Christ no one can understand, nor even see the kingdom of God.
The Gospel is the power of God to soften a callous heart.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

"And why is it you even comment on this site? You're hatred for 'Calvinism' is thoroughly documented, so it seems to beg the question of why you troll this site?" (Jon)

The real question is why a Calvinist posts a video of an atheist talking about how he was given a Bible and yet he claims "I know there is no god" and the Calvinist shies away from pointing out that according to the Calvinist philosophy (for that's all it is) his god made this man an atheist. But instead they want to act like "oh, i'm praying for him" and all this crap that makes no sense in the putrid framework of devil worship known as Calvinism.

FX Turk said...

Your problem, "beowulf", is that you have received an open invite from me at your blog via your moderated comments -- and have declined to post that invitation from me on you site, and have declined to comment on it.

That invite was to discuss any one-sentence thesis about Calvinism at my DebateBlog, with the only precondition being that you disclose your name and your church as I have done -- so you cannot hurl insults from anonymity.

I accept your silence as sa decline of that invite. Since you don't want to actually debate this issue, or discuss it in a way in which any kind of productive disagreement can come around, I'm banning you from TeamPyro.

Any future posts you make will be removed from this site. You can argue with yourself over at your own (mostly unread) blog.

W. Ian Hall said...

re beowulf "I'm banning you from TeamPyro."
That is good news.

Sharon said...

re beowulf "I'm banning you from TeamPyro."
That is good news.

Ditto. This kind of vitriolic hatred we can do without.

A Musician by Grace

Anonymous said...

I hope the Gideons know about this video.

Does anyone know how to download and convert the video into a useable file? My pastor wants to use this video.

Mike Westfall said...

Try this. [12 MB]

You'll need a program that can either play FLV files or convert them to something else that Windows Media Player can deal with.

Willem Bronkhorst said...

beowulf got banned from teampyro of his own free will. I'll be praying for him (Really!).

Auto Angel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.