That’s a quote from atheist Penn Jillette, of the magician duo, Penn & Teller.

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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15 thoughts on “How Much Do You Have to Hate Somebody to Not Proselytize?”

  1. Eric T says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Loren Eaton says:

      Wow is right. I think the whole thing is even more powerful. Thanks, Mike.

  2. Todd says:

    Though I am not a fan of his, he is dead on with what he is saying. If we really believe, wouldn’t our actions line up with our thoughts?

  3. CR says:

    I saw this post first at Pyromaniacs, I think it was a year ago or so. Penn makes an interesting point, but in most cases there is a deeper problem. It’s not merely and not necessarily because of hating somebody. Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power unto salvation. Paul could speak about this experientially because he knew what he was prior to salvation in contrast to after salvation. The same should be true for all us.

    Many of us don’t proclaim the gospel because we’re ashamed of it. And many of us are ashamed of it because we don’t believe it is the power unto salvation. If we believed that it was the power we wouldn’t be ashamed of it. So, the problem is far more deeper than Penn makes it out to be. But he does have a good point.

  4. Looselycult says:

    CR is correct shame is a big part of it I think deffinitely more so than “hate”. However in this day and age I think that it is often times more about a shame of Gospel bringers than of the Gospel itself.

  5. Frank Martens says:

    Dude, how do you find this stuff?

  6. Ben Neumann says:

    Great post. I think this would also work: Instead of, ‘How much do you have to hate somebody’, ask, ‘How much do you have to love yourself?’ When I don’t witness about Christ to someone, it’s not that I have something against people…at least I don’t think. It’s more a matter of inconvenience for me, for whatever reason: I’m more comfortable not talking, I have to be somewhere in a few minuets, I don’t want to intrude on them, etc. etc. etc. I simply love my own comfort in those moments. How much do you have to love yourself to not proselytize?

  7. Mary Palshan says:

    If people are reluctant to proclaim the good news to potential converts, how much more recalcitrant are they in contending for the faith? If people are ashamed of preaching the gospel message, it seems to me they would be even less inclined to defend the faith.

    Whatever happened to the boldness, of say, John the Baptist?

    LOVE Pyromanics!

    Mary Elizabeth Tyler

  8. Damon Titus says:

    There’s a lot of good stuff here, I was convicted. However, the truck analogy breaks down at some point. If a truck is coming at you, I can tackle you against your will and save you from certain death, even if you don’t believe the truck is there. Can’t really do that with the Gospel. In fact that kind of behavior is one of things that Atheists usually hold fault Christians for, IE The crusades.

  9. DButler65 says:

    Great post! Our church is training people to share Christ with others. I am going to refer to this on my blog. I reiterate what Frank Martens says, “Dude, how did you find this? I guess Pyromaniacs is a site I should check out. Thanks.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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