Engaging Culture

Robin Williams Death And Why The World Thinks Christians Are Idiots

It’s already begun.  Just days after the tragic death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, Christians are coming up with the “answers,” and (surprise) pitching their DVD’s in the process. The most widely promoted so far is Robin Williams: The Sad Truth The Media Won’t Tell You from over at “Good Fight Ministries.” In the article it states: “Robin Williams acknowledged that he had opened himself up to transformative demonic powers that aided him on stage.” I’d encourage you to read the quote that statement is based on.

Having worked in Hollywood for more than 30 years, I can tell you the idea Robin’s talking about in the quote isn’t “demon possession” but a common term actors use to fill a character.  I’m sure writer Joe Schimmel is trying to do the right thing, but using that quote as a guide, he would have to (and perhaps does) assume every actor and comedian in Hollywood is demon possessed.

But even more important is the question – did this writer ever actually speak to Robin? Did he counsel him? Did he even have a lengthy personal interview? If not, how can he make such sweeping and insensitive statements – particularly within hours of Robin’s death?

We wonder why Christians are marginalized by the culture and wonder why non-believers aren’t interested in anything we have to say. Well go no further than this article (and I’m sure plenty from others that will be coming.)

There is evil in the world. There is demonic activity in the world.  But there is also mental illness.  Of all the people in the culture, Christians should be more sensitive than anyone during times of tragedy.

And I’ll no doubt get the “But Phil – we must speak the Truth” argument back. That’s true as well. But when that is required, it is a grave and serious responsibility – not an opportunity to pitch our latest DVD. And perhaps more important – when Christians make grand judgements and pronouncements, they should be based on rock solid evidence, not fragments of interviews or our own assumptions.  I’m reminded of the quote from writer Anne Lamott:  “You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.”

Think about the bigger picture here. Do articles like this really advance the Kingdom? Do they cause readers to be so convicted that they want to turn to God? Or do they simply feed the stereotype that Christians are insensitive jerks, who are more concerned about condemning than caring?

During times like this, our hearts should burn. WE should be consumed with guilt that we haven’t done enough to share the Good News.

Not take an attitude that will simply drive away the very people we are trying to reach.

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144 Comments

  1. Phil, I so appreciate your honesty in holding our “family”, the Christian community, responsible for our actions. We need to stop REACTING to the world, but RESPONDING with love, grace and wisdom. If anyone has heard Rick Warren’s painful response to the horrible things some Christians said to him when his son committed suicide, we would be stunned into silence and never comment again at the heartbreaks in our world!

  2. Honest and challenging as always, Phil. I’m glad that when the choir needs preaching to, you take the pulpit.

  3. We need to not get so caught up in our doctrines and opinions that we miss the ONE thing that matters most: love. It’s not that we shouldn’t voice our opinion, but without love, it’s just noise. Love is patient… it waits for the RIGHT time; Love is kind… it waits for the right way. Just because we have an opinion doesn’t mean we must voice it. We need to resist the urge to always answer tragedy with our versions of WHY. Especially when we DON’T KNOW WHY. This is where we cross from being a healer, to being a judge. Only God knows the heart. Yes, we see the actions, but it’s not our place to determine the motive of the heart… the why.
    All through the Bible, God places emphasis on location; on regional authority. Speak where you have authority to speak, otherwise be silent and let those actually involved have the mic. When you have been given or earned authority in a subject (fame, depression, suicide) or in a region (such as community, church, family), then you can speak in love because you have a stake in the outcome. To carelessly, or worse, self-righteously, speak out opinions in areas that frankly are not our business, adds to noise, confusion and hurt. Still have your opinions but share them privately. In this case, a man was desperate enough to take his own life, leave behind those who actually knew him and really loved him. All the voices trying to explain the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’s, though mostly trying to be helpful, only cause more harm and pain. We do not have to opine and persuade the entire world on every issue. But, we do need to show love to them all, regardless of our judgment of their actions. Above all, can we please remember there are real people reading our words, and from our words flow death and life. Choose life.

  4. Thanks for this, Phil. Jesus came to bring healing to more than our souls. He came to heal our total person. If someone suffers from mental illness, Jesus wants him to get help and take his medication.

  5. Thanks for the link. It shed a lot more light on the subject your post initiated. I wouldn’t have known anything about this otherwise. I did want some clarification on this statement you made though: “, the idea Robin’s talking about in the quote isn’t “demon possession” but a common term actors use to fill a character.” From your 30 years of experience in Hollywood are you saying no one really gets possessed to do fill a role? Especially not the people mentioned in the article?

  6. The insensitivity of the article by Joe Schimmel is
    disheartening to say the least. God’s
    Grace, (which is where we should always come from) instructs us in Colossians 4
    verse 5 to “Walk in wisdom toward those
    who are outside, redeeming the time.”
    Kairos is the Greek literally meaning opportune
    time. In other words, make the most
    of every opportunity! The goal is to
    draw others in, not put them down and cut them out!! The article by Schimmel also displays an
    ignorance of the submerging process that any actor of substance needs to
    experience in order to create a true character.
    He quotes Heath Leger as “having fear” when approaching his portrayal of
    the Joker. When Heath states that he was
    “excited by that fear” he wasn’t talking about demons. Heath’s only fear was of not portraying this iconic role with the accuracy the “fan boys of
    the world would demand”. To read what
    Leger was really saying, check Schimmel’s misused source here:

    http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?nid=21560) It is also astounding to me that this man has
    dragged the name of many other notable celebrities into his article, accusing
    them of demonic activity and possession.
    This is incredibly irresponsible at any time, but especially at a time
    like this, when we have lost a very precious human being. Let’s remember Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace,
    seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one. I stand with you on your statement Phil
    that “during times like this our hearts should burn with the burden that we
    haven’t done enough to share the Good News.”

  7. You are so right on in your post. I’m angered by Schimmel’s article. He shows ignorance on many levels as well as self-righteousness. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.

  8. Well, we know what Joe Schimmel’s “One Big Thing” isn’t.

    He really doesn’t understand the context of all the quotes he tries to use. He doesn’t seem to understand the Christian context to many of those words are very different from the world’s and entertainment industry’s context.

    Also, there are a number of factors that must be considered for each quote before one uses it for their personal assumptions or conclusions. Here are a few factors off the top of my head that must be considered and clearly understood for each quote before drawing conclusions or assumptions from any interview. There is the interviewees health (tired, not tired), pressure (in a hurry, what fears), context (who was interviewing), what message was to be passed on in each interview, and what the target audience was for each of the interviews. If you don’t consider all these factors for each quote, one can surely misunderstand what was intended to be communicated.

    This isn’t our personal fight and our Father knew this was going to happen before the foundation of the world. He’s got this factored into His loving plan like millions of other mistakes we Christians are making everyday, doesn’t He?

    But most important; our condolences go out to the Robin Williams family, and a heart felt apology to them for our errant brethren during their most difficult time.

  9. Hmmm every time I speak on Sunday morning I pray for “People to see Jesus and Jesus only.” I pray my words will be His words and not mine. I reckon I ought to stop praying for and using the phrase “possessed.” Great article Phil. I read the comments below and don’t have much to add except to reiterate what you and others have said: “Read the context.” Mr. Shimmel reminds me of the prosperity teachers who want to take one verse or even one sliver of a verse and make it say what they want it to say.

  10. I agree with the content but disagree with the title. The world doesn’t think Christians are idiots, just a lot of the US.

    1. UK here. I just think, if Christianity makes you unpleasant to people, you’re doing it wrong. Quite surprised to hear you say a lot of the US does. I think we consider the US to be far more into Christianity than we are.

  11. This is hands down the worst “Christian” response to his passing I have seen, but there are far too many runners up. So many claim to know if he was saved or not. Why is it that anyone thinks they know what was in Robin Williams’ heart regarding Jesus in the moment he passed from this life to eternity? The best response I saw from a Christian pastor was urging others not to take to the pulpit this week and talk about suicide and salvation. If we don’t want to look like cheesy headline grabbers, we as the Church need to be sensitive to not adding hurt on to top of hurt. The nation is grieving over this loss, we need to let them.

    1. Its not cheesy headline grabbing. Depression and suicidal thoughts are real burdens and if the pastor uses Mr. Williams’ death as a plea for anyone in his or her congregation to get help, its not exploitive, its caring.

  12. Phil, I’m glad these words were bolded in your post: There is evil in the world. There is demonic activity in the world. But there is also mental illness. Of all the people in the culture, Christians should be more sensitive than anyone during times of tragedy.
    Thanks for sharing a rational viewpoint on a sad story.

  13. Well, I’d say Rush Limbaugh’s response to Mr. Williams’ death won the prize for the most heartless and tackiest response, if only because more people saw it, but Schimmel’s is in a photo finish for a first place no one should want to win. Thanks for posting a response filled with perspective and clarity, Phil.

  14. Obviously these are ignorant statements made by ignorant people, who did not even know Robin Williams. Sad and embarrassing stuff, no matter how well intentioned.

  15. I’ve said it more times than I can count: We must stop referring to people with mental illness and addiction issues as having “demons”. There is nothing demonic about suffering from a debilitating disease. And I’m a person of prayer. Praying as I write this and I know that prayer ALONE is not the answer.

  16. To be fair, we must allow everyone their audience, also the Christian writers. If they write to fellow-believers, non-Christians may find it to be all jibberish because they’re not familiar with our references. So it is not helpful and must only go awry when in-house memos are passed around in the general public, so to speak. I for one practice grace with things said in ignorance; I’m glad I’m not an expert in dark stuff and thank God. I’m also allowing myself to not be able to help everyone with mental problems, I’m out of my league and readily admit it, besides prayer I got nothing for you. As far as what people think of Christians, I personally tend to go with Galatians 1:10 – If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. I hate how this tragedy has turned into this brawl. Can we really not process anything anymore without making it about us and how we’re doing
    ?

  17. Perhaps there is a balance here. Believers should certainly show love and compassion for Robin and his family, friends, & fans. However, we should be careful not to excuse his suicide as being morally neutral or being beyond his control. To do that can actually encourage others to give in to thoughts of suicide, rather than fighting them in every way possible. Whether mental illness or demons (or perhaps a combination of both) depression and suicide are evil enemies that strive to destroy human beings.

  18. The title of the article at Good Fight Ministries reminds me of the crap we were bombarded with at my private Christian school as well as passed around youth group, that rock bands were specifically serving satan, etc. while I have no doubt some of them were, so much of the stuff we were told was half truths, assumptions, quotes taken out of context and, yes, outright lies, “in service to Christ.” Or more specifically, in service to safety and, at the time, record sales. The worst example of this of course being Mike Warnkee. Thanks Phil for making an effort to get the Believers to hold people accountable for nonsense like this.

  19. An older lady at the church approached a new young couple and their baby. She proceeded to greet them and told them how beautiful their baby was. After a week or two she says she was convicted of telling a lie because she didn’t think the baby was beautiful. So, she found this couple after church the next week and told them that she in fact thought their baby was quite homely. She spoke the truth but should she have? What did it gain her? It did nothing more than hurt someone. Truth can and should be avoided sometimes.

  20. Phil,

    Great post, and I think posts like the one you mentioned today DO feed the stereotype of Christians being inconsiderate, narrow minded jerks.

  21. You say,

    “There is evil in the world. There is demonic activity in the world. But there is also mental illness. ”

    Is that not stated in the article?

    “While we need to avoid two extremes – the claim that mental illness is always demonic or that all mental illness is simply of a material nature”

    I believe the entire tone of the article was one of mourning. At the beginning of many of the sentences I read the words, “Tragically”, “Sadly” “Unfortunately” etc.

    The quote that was used by pastor Schimmel in entirety was this:

    “Yeah! Literally, it’s like possession ‑ all of a sudden you’re in, and because it’s in front of a live audience, you just get this energy that just starts going…But there’s also that thing ‑ it is possession. In the old days you’d be burned for it…But there is something empowering about it. I mean, it is a place where you are totally ‑ it is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where you really can become this other force. Maybe that’s why I don’t need to play evil characters [in movies], ’cause sometimes onstage you can cross that line and come back. Clubs are a weird kind of petri dish environment. I mean, that’s where people can get as dark as they can in comedy ‑ in the name of comedy, be talking about outrageous stuff and somehow come out the other side. I mean, that’s one place where you really want to push it”

    I think that if we look at this statement, and see that there was a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it came to his performances, there might be something to the quote above. On many of his movies (Flubber, Mrs. Doubtfire etc.) he was seen as a wholesome lovable character. But I remember as a kid turning the channel to his stand-up! Wow! I saw a video someone made where in 1 performance he uses the F word over 100 times. And says uses the Lord’s name blasphemously a countless number of times as well.

    You may like to to think the article makes Christian looks like “idiots”, but in all honesty, in my dealings with people, it is those who attempt to be cool in the culture (Like writing about how worship leaders should take tips from Katy Perry and Taylor Swift), that come off as disingenuous and reaching. I have no problems with people making assessments off of the things that people have said in interviews and do in their performances. By all accounts we know of him, he was not a practicing Christian (We also cannot know what his last thoughts were prior to passing), and according to Ephesians 2:2, the god of this world works through the sons of disobedience. Does it not make sense that he would use those in the spotlight? Do you think Satan just sits back as the millions of people that loved his G rated movies now are watching the filth he put out in his standup and say “Wow, I should have thought of that”?

    1. I can’t speak for everyone, but reading the responses to my post, it seems you’re in a minority David. Perhaps more important, why write it when the author knew so little about the issue? To my knowledge he hadn’t even met Robin or the other actors he mis-characterizes. And have you read the accounts that say otherwise? Like this one:

      http://blog.godreports.com/2014/08/robin-williams-grew-closer-to-god-during-rehab/

      and this one:

      http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2014/s14080050.htm

      1. Yes I have read them Phil, but how do they say otherwise? This article seems to help solidify many of his points. Did you read it?

        “You’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump!’” he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

        Sometimes the voices told him to do things that, as an addict, he knew were utterly senseless. “The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.”

        All his humor about God, the Bible, and fundamentalists emerged from a restless soul, wrestling with his own personal demons, but the mainstream media devoted little attention to this side of his gifted and tumultuous life.”

        Are you contending that he was a believer (Once again I believe God gives us every opportunity and wills for all to be saved and I have no idea what his last thoughts were)? As I pointed out previously,

        “I saw a video someone made where in 1 performance he uses the F word over 100 times. And says uses the Lord’s name blasphemously a countless number of times as well.”

        This is certainly not the material you would hear from a believer, right?

        Regardless if you have good responses to your post it still doesn’t make it right.

        When you say things like: “Christians are coming up with the “answers,” and (surprise) pitching their DVD’s in the process”

        You then do exactly what the liberal media does, attempt to give narrative for the authors reasoning in doing the article. I still stand by the fact that what you are contending that makes Christians look like “idiots” (I personally wouldn’t use that term based on Matthew 5:22) is not those speaking of the reality of spiritual warfare, but those who attempt to be cool in the culture (Like writing about how worship leaders should take tips from Katy Perry and Taylor Swift), that come off as disingenuous and reaching. I was also disturbed to find a quote made by the likes of Joel Osteen on the cover of your book. There are almost no televangelist as far reaching as him, and I have been lumped into a camp with him long ago as soon as I say I’m a Christian. He is a false teacher, and you parade a quote around on the front cover of your book by him and act as this is a good thing. Very sad.

        1. I agree with David’s comment. Like I said before, I would not have known anything about this article if it were not for this post.

          When we read something that we perceive to be casting Christianity in a negative light, the last thing we should do is bring it to more people’s attention.

          1. “When we read something that we perceive to be casting Christianity in a negative light, the last thing we should do is bring it to more people’s attention.”

            Is this from the archdiocese guidebook on crisis management for bishops?

          2. I agree, it does, but we are not talking about homosexual priests, we are talking about jumping in someone’s grave who happened to be “famous” and probably not a believer.

          3. If you are genuinely concerned about casting Christianity in a negative light and “the world” thinking Christians are “idiots,” then a good place to start would be learning the difference between a gay person and a pedophile.

          4. Not sure what you’re reading, but it got plenty of attention from the secular press – places like Huffington Post. That’s why I wanted to clarify it. That’s not us.

  22. I don’t want to say that Christians aren’t insensitive, because I catch myself being insensitive often enough, but I think part of the problem is that many of the “insensitive Christians” aren’t Christians at all. They may be among those that Jesus referred to when he said that many who called him Lord, Lord and believed they were prophesying, casting out devils, and doing wonderful works in his name would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” The world sees some of these people who believe they are Christians but are not and the world assumes that Christians act like these people.

    1. No True Scotsman. Dodging legitimate criticism by pretending that Christians who do anything remotely improper cannot possibly be Christians.

  23. Yes, there are some irrational Christians, but I doubt more than in the general population. I think the media likes to cherry pick these people and say the “represent” Christianity, when they don’t. They may self-select themselves as prophets, but these rantings don’t come from mainstream Christianity.

    It’s a logical fallacy to present them as representatives.

    1. While I agree with what you are saying, it is something we all do much of the time. We hear a few outspoken people from any particular group and then proceed to assume that most of those in that group think/feel/act the same way. Whether it is the Tea Party or environmentalists or liberals or Christians. We look at the loudest/weirdest ten percent and assume the rest are the same. We even know better, but still do it.

    2. These rantings don’t come from mainstream Christianity? Surely you cannot be serious. After any and every disaster or tragedy there are mainstream Christians trying to capitalize off of it in either dollars or souls (or both).

    3. sadly, I’ve seen comments from acquaintances that were downright condemning. We all need to learn humility before God and not take up His job. That’s a lesson that’s lacking in either what’s being taught or what’s being learned.

    4. They may not represent Christianity to you but as a Pagan I see them more than I see the gentle Christianity that supposedly exists.

      Just saying…..

  24. I too was horrified to read comments (within hours) speculating on the state (or lack of) Robin’s faith. At that point, it was irrelevant and deeply insensitive – a poor, poor man had been so traumatised, he’d seen no option but to take his life. That is all that matters – and I’d like to hope it’d propel Christians to think about how we treat people in our communities who suffer with mental health issues. But nah, some would rather argue over whether he was a believer or not. Not cool.

    1. Great point Tom. However, I paid attention and wrote about it because a number of significant secular news sources did, and I felt someone needed to speak up. But normally, you’re right on the mark!

  25. I read that article too. Someone brought it into the office and was passing it around. My first thought was “why?” Why would anyone write that article right now? What’s the point? I thought we were supposed to be known by our love for others…. Where have we gone wrong??? Even if it were true, I think Jesus would have said… “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    1. Writing that article so soon after Robin’s death seems whoreish. I see someone cashing in on an “A Lister’s” name so their article shows up on a Google search along with news items and tributes. I’m guessing that his article got more circulation from people who “THINK CHRISTIANS ARE IDIOTS”.

      Other Christians are using this tragic incident to educate people on depression and addiction. We can’t change the past but there now is a wonderful opportunity to save lives through education.

      Perhaps this article should be used a good example of how Christians should NOT be presenting themselves.

      1. This reminds me of a Biblical NT quote where some people said to Jesus ” we did this all in Your name” and he tells them : Depart from ME, I never knew you.” There are people who call themselves Christian who ( to borrow Christian theology) are puppets of Satan in their arrogance.

  26. People with faith and people without faith take their own lives. The tragedy is no less for one than the other. It is as senseless to blame the death of a non-believer on his lack of faith as it is to blame the death of the faithful on that faith. Find a better way! If you must find a grand design in everything then why try at all? Take dom. Responsibility fogr you life. Good people make bad errors of judgment and bad people sometime reap
    A temporAry reward.

  27. Christians? U mean, some people, claiming to be Christians or someone claiming to be a Christian? Why don’t u just say white people since some are white? Because that’s how you sound when u associate the entire Christian population with some crazy thing you read. I’m a Christian and I dont know where u get off associating all of us, with one article you read. Maybe next time reference the author, versus an entire population.

      1. You might want to re-read the post. It’s not what I think that matters. It’s what the unbelieving culture thinks. Why drive away the very people you’re trying to reach?

    1. As a “non-believer” Pagan Imagine what I see when I see stuff like this. It shows to me that this ” Christian” is a vulture peddling his merchandise at the expense of the demise of a famous person. His example is added to the list of examples of other Christians I have come across over my life that are, shall we say, less than honest followers of Jesus Christ and more like Christian Pharisees.

      I would like to see more Christians actually counter the fundies, criticize them when they deserve it, as Phil Cooke did in this piece.

  28. Thank you for stating the truth Phil! That ill conceived article fails the “Christian Litmus Test” in many ways.

    “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” ~ Jesus of Nazareth

  29. I have served in ministry as a broadcaster, pastor and itinerate teacher for twenty-six years. During that time I have conducted the burial services of quite a number of folk, both those “of faith” and those many would conclude we’re “not of faith.” These include the tragedy of suicide and loss of life through substance abuse.

    Early in my years as a pastor I adopted what I consider to be a prudent, as well as, true stance. When asked by the grieving family and friends about the eternal destiny of the deceased, I never once uttered a word about suicide or substance abuse being damnable sins.

    Was I spreading false hope? Was I simply avoiding difficult pastoral situations? No. The truth is, we may look at the circumstance and easily conclude that, since their last act was to take their life, or to commit a drug overdose resulting in death, there is no hope to be had.

    I believe that would be an assumption we are unqualified to make. As the wise pastor who challenged me once said, “One never knows the extent to which our loving God will go to redeem a lost one…even in the waning moments of consciousness.” That is something we simply cannot know, and must resist the temptation to assume the outcome.

    1. I sure wish we were all taught that. We are unqualified and to even go there is trying to know what God will do. That won’t work well, He is so far outside our little box that it’s not even funny. What we should all do is to find ways to comfort the hurting, I think that’s what we are called to do… bake some cookies and keep our small-minded comments to ourselves.

  30. As an actor, I’d say you do get taken over by the emotion of a character or the energy of a crowd. And you do have to get your bearings. But talk about cherry picking! Funny, how they demonize movies but make liberal use of DVD production and sales. MAMMON. Robin Williams showed more compassion and love for humanity – as did Jesus! — in a single scene than Good Fight Ministries do on their website. Sick.

  31. Sin brought Williams down. Let’s not sugar coat it. At some point, God’s grace simply wears out. Serve Jesus and live. Serve sin and die. Hopefully the family that survives him will learn a bitterly hard lesson.

          1. Jesus’s first words in public ministry were, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matt 4:17). Faith without works is dead. In my opinion, no way was Williams a Christian. By their fruit you shall know them. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.

          2. Then you are saying that I can judge you. If that is true, then I can find all sorts of scripture to misuse against you. The fact is, Jesus life is a proclamation that we can NOT fulfill the law. Matthew 23 speaks to the flaws of keepers of the Jewish law, and although the commentators refer to this passage as the Seven Woes, it is more accurately defined by Christ speaking to the “inside”, which can only be addressed by Him, and Grace alone. Galatians 6 speaks to how we should regard ourselves with and towards others. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also will be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”

            I also suggest you read the definition of grace as well.

            As far as the use of the term resentence, in the words of Watchman Nee: “Repentance … means a change of mind! Formerly I thought sin a pleasant thing, but now I have changed my mind about it; formerly I thought the world an attractive place, but now I know better; formerly I regarded it a miserable business to be a Christian, but now I think differently. Once I thought certain things delightful, now I think them vile; once I thought other things utterly worthless, now I think them most precious. That is a change of mind, and that is repentance. No life can be truly changed apart from such a change of mind. (The Normal Christian Life, p.132)

  32. I must add to the above, that Christians spend a lot of time doing God’s work as Judge and Jesus’ work as our Advocate instead of playing their part of living a life worth emulating and drawing non Christians to Christ. It is indeed a waste most times when we use the Sword to cut instead of pointing it. Let’s do our part and let God do His part. Avoid changing roles with God. He is God and not you. PERIOD.

  33. Certainly, the vast majority of Christians do not understand the New Covenant Gospel of Grace. We have a choice in life to accept the flesh (sarx is the original Greek term), or the Holy Spirit.
    Because we too often teach about behavior, we also live in the flesh, and not with the understanding of who we are in Him, and Him alone. We fail to understand that Jesus has made us whole, once and for all eternity (the original term meaning without a beginning or an end), and that nothing we do on this earth will change that.
    That is why Paul was able to proclaim what he did, in deference to the constant threat upon his life that he faced. I feel compassion for the depression that Robin Williams felt, and note that even Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8b, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” I have experienced my own deep depression, as most humanity will.
    I also have compassion for those who use instances like this, to proclaim a gospel that is not of Jesus Christ. I pray that it will be revealed to them, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that He may be proclaimed.
    Am I preaching? Maybe. And yet, the joy I know because of knowing Him, by His revealing himself to me, not by my own efforts, is the most joyful thing I have experienced by far in my life. Because when He died, the inner court of the temple was destroyed, and He made a way for us to become that pure, holy temple for Him to be in us, from the time of our acceptance, and for all eternity.
    Oh that Robin Williams could have known that joy while here in this world, and that the human judges who are preaching another gospel could know that as well. For I once thought it was not possible to experience peace, joy and contentment here on this earth, and now know something entirely different.
    For those of us who have come to believe in Christ as the savior, He is in us, and we are in Him (all the time, without a beginning or an end). The New Covenant Gospel proclaims that we are holy, pure, redeemed, sanctified, and He likes us. That is the true cure for depression, and nothing else.

    1. I am one who was caught in symptoms of depression. I thank God for leadership that is sensative to the Holy Spirit and taught on Grace. Believers can grow and overcome. Paul died daily. So, for we Christians, thanks to great teachers and the work of the Holy Spirit, what was a fact in the flesh yesterday, can be forgotten history today, when one makes up their mind. We are all at different stages and people are (I pray) being added constantly to the Body of Christ. So you will ALWAYS see Christians in the flesh. I have come to understand that it doesn’t mean Christians are not growing and dying daily to the flesh. It can mean, like school, you have students at every level of learning and application. That can be our confession and prayer for the Body.

  34. Is it me or would there be more outrage if a fictional character like Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” or any other network show said the exact same thing? People from The Westboro Baptist Church and Good Fight Ministries inspire works of fiction (Especially in Comedy) then these people complain that the liberal media mocks them but they accept no blame for being the inspiration in the first place.

  35. “During times like this, our hearts should burn. WE should be consumed with guilt that we haven’t done enough to share the Good News.”

    And that’s the bottom line. The right question now seems to be how can we do better–better demonstrating the love of God to Robin’s family and to every other person.

    1. Here’s an idea. Leave the Williams family ALONE. Your ” sharing the gospel” with then is additional insensitivity than what this jerk did.

  36. The first thing I heard from a friend was “Did you hear that Robin Williams let demonic powers get him to success?”. What? It’s sad that Christians attacked him the moment he died without doing any research. ANY. Christians are so quick to jump on things that affirm what they believe is real: “See, there are demonic powers out there!”

  37. Correction. Some Christians, not Christians. This type of animals exist among other religious groups and the atheists too.

  38. I can not understand how a church group/ groups can preach such nonsense, as a person who has long suffered from manic depression , when we are struggling and alone , telling us that we are possessed or are demons is not really going to help. Compassion and understanding is what is needed. If those closest cannot understand us than what chance anyone else. Fellow suffers don’t talk about it as we are constantly struggling. My faith has saved me numerous times. I pray that we as humans and not a religion or other groups can support each other.

    1. Sadly there are Xian churches and pastors who teach that nonsense and worse. Just ask a LGBT son or daughter of Xian parents who shun them. Or that one vid of a church pastor preaching one should ” beat the gay” out of a limp-wristed child- to the cheers of his congregation. Then OC there are the ” deliverance ministry” types who think pretty much everything has “demons”, including those with mental illnesses. Or the anti-Halloween stuff. I can go on and on, but you get the idea.

  39. In times like these, everyone wants to be an armchair quarterback or psychologist. Most think they have the answer in a 140 character tweet. Christians do need to show more sensitivity and you’re right, we need to be advancing the kingdom and not chasing people away from Jesus.

  40. It’s equally dangerous to affirm that, “He’s in a better place now.” (Even “R.I.P.” is an odd and technically un-Blblical sentiment for a Christian to offer.) We Christians do injury to the cause of truth when we carelessly throw around those sentiments. If we truly believe that Jesus paid a terrible price, sacrificing His Life so that anyone who believes in Him will indeed have eternal life, then we must also believe the inverse: those who do not receive Him will not have eternal life. And that kind of eternal life is decidedly NOT a better place.

    Though I might have some educated guesses, I am in no position to judge where Robin Williams is spending his eternity, not in a better place, nor in a worse place. And making proclamations about that immediately after his death betrays an insensitivity that is not representative of our Savior, who was no doubt weeping along with many here on earth.

    1. Ejody you forget one thing. According to Christian theology NO HUMAN knows the fate of a human soul after the person dies and the ONLY ONE to judge is G-d. Your complaint about people saying he is now in a better place is for HUMAN COMFORT since he was LOVED. Your view of ‘ being saved” as the only path to heaven negates Christian theology that includes the view that G-d judges not by whether one is of your exclusive club but by what was in their heart.

      IMO Robin is in paradise, joking and laughing with Chris Reeve, Johnathan Winters and his father. The idea that sch a good, wonderful man is in hell because he didn’t become ” born again” makes your god a sadistic tyrant and unjust. It is precisely that view that is one of the reasons I chose not to be Christian.

  41. I agree with what you are saying. And I agree with the fact, as Christians, and really as Humans we love to have opinions about things we have no foundation in. But Phil I have one question and I understand if you can’t and won’t answer on here. I will first say that this question is irrelevant to the above article, or Robin Williams. But simplely, do you believe that people can have demons, be influenced by demons and even at times be taking over by them to achieve something?

    1. I answered that in the post. And no matter what anyone believes about demon possession (or not) that doesn’t justify a sanctimonius and judgmental statement toward someone the author knows remarkably little about.

    2. I would say no, just adding to the conversation. Spirituality is a two edged sword. When opening up to spiritual worlds or the belief that they can even exist, it could be very well a door that not only lets a little sunlight in but the dust as well. Know what I mean? But as for me personally No. I don’t believe in spirits so therefore no demons either.

  42. Much of what I read on the subject whenever the word “depression” is brought up in the context of the church (certainly I’m not saying all but an alarming number) simply don’t understand much about the many facets of mental illness. There is such a stigma attached to mental illness and we’ve perhaps all been guilty of saying things like, “oh you belong in the looney bin” . I’ve often wondered how many people sit in church Sunday in and Sunday out and have a true struggle going on with mental illness that can often be treated successfully and people can go on to lead productive lives free from many of the problems of untreated mental illness. I think often Christians lack compassion for such people. I know this first hand. I have dealt with depression in my life and thank God have been able to ignore some things people have said and gotten help and treatment, counseling etc. that made life much happier. I don’t know if people are uncomfortable in dealing with people with mental illness and I am certainly aware and the world should be there are varying degrees of it. Just as there are with heart and lung illnesses, etc. People get treated for those illnesses and most people grasp what’s going on and sympathize. But depression seems to be the one more people in the church suffer shame over and often must live with it as a closely guarded secret or they are accused of “not having faith or not believing strongly enough”. My heart is heavy when I hear about people who have lived with mental illness or who have suffered from it and felt there was no hope left. It can be as painful as a physical injury. God grant us the grace to be patient and more compassionate with people who suffer with mental illness..as JESUS WOULD DO!

    1. I have suffered through depression and cannot for sure say it is completely gone, such is the way of it. But I will let you know this I thought the love displayed by my Christian friend in opening his home to people on Tuesday nights was kind and living up to the person they called savior. So I was pulled in and my depression after meeting so many nice folks was diminished. I thanked the lord for my healing. Everything went fine for a few years and then at the time of the election of Obama the church changed from loving to hating, it removed its ministries of food banks and helping the poor to becoming introverted and conservative. It was way obvious in the way things got political real quick. It was so bad I could feel the depression coming back. There was so much hate building up in that church that I had to leave after having been through ordination. I got so fed up with their hatefulness I could feel the bottom dropping out again. I did not want to go back to the way I was. I was having those thoughts again. I left. I left because I found out the truth of Christianity and the big business opportunities it held for folks like us pastors. All we had to do was tell people what they wanted to hear. I have never been dishonest before why should I be with people who looked up to me? Anyway here I am, in shock about Robin, and going through rough times again. I hope his family will pull through alright. I am doing better now BTW leaving church was the best thing I did. But now to get my parents who were so proud of me to understand why. The fights not over. Thanks for letting me rant.

  43. Love this Phil. I taught a seminar to some college students once about engaging from a place of relationship before proclamation and befriending non-Christians authentically, with no ulterior motive. One student asked, “but isn’t the Gospel offensive?” I answered him. “Yes, and it doesn’t need your help. You don’t have to be a jerk.” I think we forget that Jesus life of love speaks for itself as we live it out and he had compassion on those people in and of the world. His patience waned with religious people. Even the rich man that went away sad because he had lots of stuff, the bible says, “and Jesus loved him.” Not sure if it’s relevant to this conversation, but just some thoughts.

    1. Great response. It’s true that far too many people think that we’re SUPPOSED to make the gospel offensive. If the world is going to hate us, let’s make it for the right reasons…
      Thanks for posting!

      1. Hey, Phil!

        When I heard about Robin Williams, I was shocked and wished it wasn’t true. Just sincere condolences to the family. But here’s a different perspective: How come there wasn’t a slew of such love coming from numerous other Christians to greatly outweigh any one single misstep? Can we do more?

    2. Loveone as a Pagan in America Its been my experience that the Xian who ” friends” me does so with an agenda to convert me, not treat me like a human being. When I don’t convert on the spot, they abandon me. This is a cult tactic, not authentically caring for another person. Their agenda is too obvious to me, so when another Xian tried that last month on me, I sighed and told them I don’t like false friendship and being deceived.

    3. Amen. Scripture says, “We have the mind of Christ”. Can we imagine that Jesus Christ would be intentionally offensive? Scripture says to live with the Fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, etc. If I were not already a believer harsh Christians would certainly convince me that joing up with a bunch of hateful people was a bad idea.

  44. Thank you. I have to agree wholeheartedly. I accepted the Lord in 1991, was diagnosed w/ lupus and fibromyalgia in 2000, and had a routine surgery go horrible wrong in 2008. It’s only God’s grace that I’m alive today. Instead of love, empathy, encouragement and compassion, many so-called “friends” and other fellow believers have hit me on the head w/ wonderful comments like “Where’s your faith, sister?” “Oh, you must have spoken word curses over yourself,” “There are ‘x’ number of blessings of obedience, but ‘y’ number of curses for disobedience,” and other such unloving, unkind statements along the lines of Job’s non-friends. As much as I used to enjoy going to church and basking in the Lord’s presence, it has become much more difficult, not only because of accessibility issues, but because of these sorts of attitudes that prevail in churches. An acquaintance put on Facebook “No Jesus, no peace.” While true, where is the love? What a cruel thing to say about someone who committed suicide to escape the pain of living!

  45. Then there is McExorcist Bob Larson’s claims about Williams having DID.

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Bob-Larson–Robin-Williams–Demons.html?soid=1101641219446&aid=srzB2yxxaeg

    — with Larson’s grandiose claims he could have diagnosed him in 15 minutes. Thankfully the WBC jerks didn’t get to pocket RW’s funeral. And yes as a Pagan when i see Christians do something like this it disgusts me.

    The irony is that Robin Williams did so many compassionate and loving things for others, all without asking for credit or to be paid for his services.

    And you wonder why people like me never convert…..

    1. You won’t come to Christ because you’re a rebellious sinner. Don’t blame it on other folks. When God asks you, after you die, why you rejected his Son, pointing fingers at others simply will not do. He’ll see right through you. So don’t go there. Today, will you leave sin behind and follow Christ on the narrow road to heaven?

      1. jesusislord2, how nice it must be for you to judge others without even knowing them as people. You might want to loosen your halo there. The constriction to your brain isn’t doing you any good. Making false claims about me and assuming I am something I am not shows more about you than about me. Long story short, I don’t reject Jesus Christ, assuming he ever existed that is. I do reject the deity I see depicted in the Bible for I doubt such a being is Deity. IMO Deity relates to us by how we relate to It, so for me it is the Goddess.

        You proved my point about certain self righteous judgmental Xians. I doubt you even realize how what you posted is a hint of the dark side of Christianity. Sorry, threats of hellfire judgment don’t work on me anymore.

        I’ve been a fan of Robin Williams ever since Mork & Mindy and what his religion was if any is none of my business. I miss him and treasure the laughter and joy his performances brought into my life. And you have no relevance to me other than IMO you are a religious nut. Goodbye.

          1. Jesus was an historical figure who is beloved and followed by untold millions of people. Thor, Zeus, and their ilk are mythological figures who are mainly studied as myth, not followed with devotion.

      2. I don’t convert because I see the ” fruits” of Xians like you. I actually went to a Christian church for awhile when I was young.. Here I was , a high school student, put in a vacation Bible class with second graders. Add to that in the church itself the people were far from friendly to me. If their shoulders were any colder, global warming could have been stopped. Sorry, Ive seen the dark side of Christianity too much to believe people like you. What I have observed from these Xians would make your Satan happy. I have encountered only a few loving compassionate people who are Christians but I think they are .the exception, not the norm.

        I understand Mr. Cooke’s intention to portray his religion as not like this Joe Schimmel and that Schimmel is not the norm. We all would like to see our own religion only in a good light and how great and wonderful our own faith is. Any belief is only as good or as bad as its adherents. You are an example of the latter.

          1. You’re not Jesus Christ. BTW thank you for affirming Cooke’s headline. At the risk of repeating myself I will say again I do NOT Hate Jesus Christ.

            Arguing with an insane person is useless.

          2. The gospel makes no sense to those outside of it. To us it is the power of God. Our eyes are open to truth that you don’t see. The key to unlocking this secret is repentance. You come to Jesus on your knees. Bless you my friend.

          3. No Christians are hated because of themselves not Jesus. Don’t blame Jesus for you being an ass.

          4. Exactly right Gary. We can expect to be sometimes rejected because of the message. But when we get rejected because of the way we deliver that message, the shame is on us.

        1. I am 100% agreement on the cold shoulder thing. My mom and dad (elderly) took me to church with them and they were telling us how wonderful and happy and friendly everyone was. No one NO ONE said hello and spoke to NO ONE. It was the strangest thing to see. It was like 78 degrees in that room but it felt like it was 40. I spent 5 years in the church and even was ordained. The attitudes changed a lot when Obama was elected and I had to leave after that. The hatred that those people have was so bad my wife and I left the ministry. I am no longer a believer as I found the truth while being ordained. It is a sham.

  46. Phil, I wonder how the Christians of the day reacted to iconic George Reeves (aka Superman) reported suicide and what the press filled their papers with? He was a hero to many a child growing up in the 50’s & 60’s. Have we become such a publicly aggressive stylized church that we attack first, then look to see what or who we have attacked? Shoot first then ask questions later!!! What a poor example of Christ’s love. Oh well can’t wait to see which foot we stick in our mouths next. LOL

  47. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? Mark 8:36 Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die!

  48. Sorry to point this out, but… demons… don’t… exist… *facepalm*!!! People think Christians are idiots because they believe in ghosts, angels, demons etc. on insufficient evidence. There’s really not much difference between Dungeons and Dragons and Christianity… just that the DnD nerds don’t actually BELIEVE it.

  49. Trust me, Christians and Jesus Christ are going to be made to look like idiots since this world rejects God and His commandments. I don’t care, if you want to go to Hell, go do it, God won’t stop you and honestly, it is not in my interest to stop you either. Go to hell, most people that are alive want to go there since they live like Hell.

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