Watch this youtube clip:

Three years ago when this youtube clip of Penn Gillette first came out, I said that if ever I started a blog, I’d like to blog on this incident. Many people encouraged me to start right then and there, but I didn’t; it’s three years later, but this is still worth talking about. So here goes. . . .

Three times Penn mentions how this man “looked him in the eyes.” (He also mentions that the man was “sane” – so it wasn’t a creepy stare in the eyes, but sincere, serious, unapologetic, and non-defensive, concern and interest in Penn as a human being that clearly made a lasting impression on him.)

The exchange struck Penn at a deep level, even though it didn’t prompt the “conversion” on the spot that perhaps the man was hoping for. Penn was taken aback by the intelligence of the man’s engagement, and his kindness, which set a tone and a context for the reception of the gift the man gave (of a Gideon pocket New Testament – with Psalms).

I would say this was a profitable and worthwhile exchange, in that it “shed new light” for Penn on “what Christians are like.”  Penn still has “a deep disagreement” about “very important matters” with this man. (Penn remains a self-identified atheist.)  Nevertheless, this exchange helped shape or alter the “category” he has for “where Christians fit” on the spectrum of the conversations he’s interested in pursuing and thinking about.

I’m curious as to what you see and find significant about Penn Gillette’s reflections.

I am not generally an advocate of “cold turkey evangelism,” in that such an approach tends to treat (unbelieving) people as an impersonal “mark,” rather than as people of genuine concern to God (or to God’s people). This exchange managed to overcome quickly the impersonal and confrontational and intrusive qualities of a “cold turkey evangelistic exchange,” even though this was the first substantive “conversation” these two people had ever had. What was it exactly that helped broach the topic of “have you considered the claims of Christ and your need for Jesus as Savior” in a way that addressed Penn more as a friend than a stranger, as a person for whom the man was concerned rather than as just a “target” for evangelism? 

These are the kinds of conversations I’ll be pursuing in greater depth in my upcoming elective course, TH 657: Apologetics in a Postmodern Age (which starts Tuesday night, November 15) – still room for you in the course!

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical.  He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention.  Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.  See also


0 # Dale Childres 2012-02-21 21:56
I really like Penn's openness on things that he doesn't know. We could all learn from him.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # R. Todd Mangum 2012-02-22 07:26
I agree, Dale. Of course, he also has made a handsome living ridiculing things he (believes he) knows, and despises. . . . That's probably not so good. :-) But yeah, when the clown takes off his make-up -- as in this youtube clip -- and bares his soul, and lets us in on what he's wrestling with, . . . yeah, it's admirable. And worth learning from.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Coleman J. Anderson 2015-03-04 18:07
Penn gives excellent advice to every Christian; in Mark 16:15 tells us Mark 16:15King James Version (KJV)
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. We as Christians need to tell the Gospel to everyone. It is their decision but we should love everyone and give the opportunity to know the Lord. We should all heed his advice.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

Security code

Sign-up Today

Join thousands of students, faculty, and staff who are following Jesus into the world. You will receive notification when a new blog is posted, and be receive help in your place in life.

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 17 June 2016 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 02 February 2016 - by Kyuboem Lee
Written on 24 December 2015 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 17 December 2015 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 15 December 2015 - by Derek Cooper
Written on 03 December 2015 - by Derek Cooper
Written on 01 December 2015 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 24 November 2015 - by Kyuboem Lee
Written on 19 November 2015 - by Chang Hoon Oh
Written on 12 November 2015 - by David Lamb

Previous Blog Entries

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)

Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x130

215.368.5000 x130

215.368.2301 (fax)