Powerless to Shut Up
by Tom Goodman
February 17, 2010
"I don't respect people who don't proselytize."
Sure, you'd expect to hear something like that from a Baptist pastor. But that statement was made by an atheist.
Penn Jillette is the outspoken half of the performing duo, "Penn and Teller." At his video blog, "Penn Says," he recalls a man who came to him after a show, gave Penn a Bible, and offered to explain the gospel to him:
It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive and he looked me right in the eyes and he was truly complimentary. It did not seem like empty flattery. He was really kind, and nice, and
sane, and looked me in the eyes and talked to me. Then he gave me this Bible.
I've always said 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 alone 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.
Mind you, so far Penn remains unconvinced of the gospel. But he understands the implications of the gospel message better than many who claim to believe it.
My heart is captured by a single line from Acts 4:20 -- "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." That line is actually a double negative in the Greek language. You could translate it, "We cannot not speak." The key word
is a variation of the Greek word for power -- dunameis -- where we get the word "dynamite." These guys were saying, "When it comes to the stories of what God has done for us, we just don't have the power to shut up!"
This Sunday @ 10, we're going to examine that text and discover how to have that kind of powerlessness, too!
Weblog: Check out my blog, "Get Anchored," with its Links to Your World -- interesting and informative links, posted every Tuesday.
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