"What do you think happens when you die, Keanu Reeves?"

(Patrick Harrell) #1

Keanu responded, “I know that the ones who love us, will miss us.” An estimated 3-million viewers watched this exchange between Stephen Colbert (Catholic) and Keanu Reeves (possibly Atheist, Buddhist, or Agnostic).
How would you respond to the question?



(Kathleen) #2

I love the way Colbert asks a cheeky deep question and then is genuinely blown away when Reeves answers as he did. Thanks for sharing this exchange!

To this question, if I were put on the spot like this in a similar situation, I would probably say something like, ‘I have no idea, but I am convinced that earthly death is not the end.’ :slight_smile:

Do you have an idea of what you would say?

(Patrick Harrell) #3

Love the reply KMac! :laughing:Thank you for the question. I would reply that ‘when one dies, it does not mean that they cease to be’. Do these words begin to open up a different view on the topic?

(SeanO) #4

@Patrick_Harrell I have no idea how I would respond if put on the spot. But if given more time to think, I would probably say something like: I believe when we die, we will see God as He is and ourselves as we are hoping that he would ask what I meant by that statement.

If he asked, I might say:

C. S. Lewis wrote a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche called ‘Till We Have Faces’. In it there are two sisters, Psyche who is beautiful and Orual who is not, who live in a kingdom called Glome. Orual has a possessive love for Psyche. When a plague sweeps through the land, the people sacrifice Psyche to the gods on a sacred mountain. Orual, in her grief, goes looking for Psyche and finds that she is living in a paradise as the husband of a god. But because of Orual’s possessive love, she convinces Psyche to betray the god, which results in Psyche being banished from the paradise. Now, when Orual dies, and here is the point, she has all of these accusations against the gods for injustices she believes she suffered in her life. But when she reads the scroll that is brought to her instead of exposing injustice on the part of the gods, the scroll she reads instead exposes her own jealousy of the gods and possessiveness of Psyche. She sees herself truly for the first time.

When we die, I believe we see ourselves truly for the first time. All of the thoughts of our hearts are laid bare before Him to whom we must give an account. And as a Christian that is why I think it is so important to consider Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Because Jesus said that on that day no one will stand justified before God apart from Him.

When I think of how bold Paul the Apostle was when he was before Felix, it boggles my mind. Clearly his words elicited fear in Felix’s heart because of conviction - not a response we often seek to elicit. I would have liked to be there to listen to how he expounded the Gospel. Of course his audience was someone very familiar with Judaism. He spoke differently at the Mars Hill in Athens.

John 16:8 - And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

Acts 24:24-26 - Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

(Dan Pollina) #5

Hi, it always best to respond to questions with God’s word whether or not someone believes or not. Otherwise that would mean we are trusting our own wisdom rather than trusting what God says in His Word. I would respond with one verse, 1Corinthians2:9: " no eyes have seen, nor ears have heard, no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those that love Him". This verse fills me with awe, wonder, expectation, reverance, and excitement Everytime I read it. God bless!!

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(Bill Brander) #6

I’d echo your comment Kathleen, and probably add something like: ’ …but as Jesus says there is something after this (Joh.14), and I trust Him, I’ll be with Him.
Stay blessed

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(Clyde Richard (Rick) Mayson) #7

I would simply say, “Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, though a person dies yet shall they live and if you believe in ME you will never die!” And the Bible says for those who ask Jesus to save them from their sins, When we die we are absent from our bodies and present with The Lord and so shall we ever be with Him! I believe that!!

(Patrick Harrell) #8

Thank you, SeanO. Very insightful. The C.S Lewis information is useful. How would you see this moving an Atheist to having a willingness to engage in the next baby step, in conversation, that would open up a friendly dialogue and deeper discussion? In addition, how would we handle the situation if the Atheist or Catholic in this instance, simply views this information as just another attempt of Christians to push their beliefs on the listener? Lastly, Keanu did not actually answer the specific question did he? I suppose the audience may have rewarded him, with applause, for his combined performance skills and his ability to answer quickly, in a neutralizing, broadly acceptable, friendly response.

(Michelle M. Halcomb) #9

Hi Patrick,

If I were engaging an atheist in this conversation, I would ask them if they have ever asked themselves what happens after they die. If so, have they ever thought about why would they ask it in the first place? It seems to me that in their point of view, we are cosmic accidents with no purpose and no value. If they indeed asked themselves this question (and who doesn’t?) then perhaps they do have value and purpose, and were meant for something eternal (I believe C.S. Lewis said that), certainly for something beyond this earthly life.

God has put eternity into the heart of every person, so they must have some thoughts or feelings that this is not all there is, they DO have value, they CAN know their purpose in life. Ask their thoughts along these lines (about purpose and value) and the answers they give might open up other biblical principles you can share with love and grace.

What do they struggle with? If there was a God, what questions would they want to ask Him? What things would they change about their lives or this earth, if they could?

As you ask questions in a genuine, caring manner, that will open them up, give you insight into what they need, and they will be less likely to think you are trying to shove your viewpoint on them. Sometimes just listening and say, “Hmmm, I’ve never thought of it that way” is a good answer and builds trust. :slight_smile:

(Cameron Kufner) #10

It was a great response by Reeves because it was a very profound, but a very true reply. That was a great exchange on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I always knew Colbert was Catholic (Interesting how he would justify his behavior with his faith? But that’s another story.)

I would try my best to preach the gospel in response.

My response would probably be: “Well, we go to one of two places, Heaven or Hell. The holy scriptures declare that is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement. If we accept the finished work of the cross, and repent of our sins and trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we will be assured that we will be in Heaven with him forever. If we continue to live in sin and reject Christ and his message, then we spend eternity in Hell.”

(SeanO) #11

@Patrick_Harrell I always find it helpful to watch different speakers handle situations like this one differently. If you’ve ever seen an interview with Francis Chan, even by secular media, he is very direct and goes straight to the Bible. He really doesn’t sugar coat it. And that works for some people. Rick Warren I feel is still quite direct, but tries to come at it from a bit more of a side angle. And Ross Douthat, in this interview with Bill Maher, I felt handled himself very well.

Since each of us has our own personality and any audience will contain people at different stages in their spiritual walk, I think that a variety of responses could prove beneficial. If I were actually put into such a situation, I would definitely need to lean hard on this promise from Luke 12 :slight_smile:

Luke 12:11-12 - “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

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(Patrick Harrell) #12

Thank you, Rick! How do you think an Atheist, who believes there is no god or is a free thinker, would react to this? I’m thinking that from an atheistic perspective, having never read the bible, the person might think you’re suggesting they would never physically die. How would you suggest explaining that?

(Clyde Richard (Rick) Mayson) #13

Hi Patrick,

So I find it hard to believe that anyone could believe that they would never physically die! We all physically die. The issue with everyone who is honest with themselves is there anything after physical death? I would suggest to such a person that I have found in every human I have come in contact with, three desires: 1. the desire to be loved and to love; 2. the desire to have some meaningful purpose for their life; and 3. if physical death is not the end, the desire to find their destiny! Only The Bible answers those questions. I love to engage people with a series of questions, show them Scriptures and have them read those scriptures aloud. After reading I ask “what does that say to you?” If one is seeking and being drawn by The Holy Spirit, you will engage with them!!! Our job is to plant the seed (1 Peter 3:15) and leave the convicting up to The Holy Spirit!!!

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(Patrick Harrell) #14

Hello DanP. Thank you for the wonderful response. What specific part of it explains what happens when you die?

(Dan Pollina) #15

Hi Patrick, obviously I was answering the question only from a believer’s perspective. That being said, that’s what I love about the verse I mentioned! As believers, we don’t know exactly what happens when we die except the fact that we will be in the presence of the Lord forever! God has wonderful, awe inspiring things in store for us. It’s really all a mystery which makes it so exciting!!

(Dean Schmucker) #16

I am thinking of the verse in Ecclesiasties that says He has put Eternity in our hearts. No one really believes that physical death is the end of us, in my understanding. The Atheists I have known are all trying to resolve the question of God and existence of evil by simply eliminating God, no matter how well documented his existence. I like to say there is no such thing as an Atheist, because proving a universal negative “There is no God” is impossible unless one has universal knowledge, which, if they really possessed such knowledge, would make them the God that they deny exists.

(Anthony Costello ) #17

This is interesting, because the internet was “abuzz” with clips of Reeve’s answer, which, on the face of it, was incredibly simplistic, even if heartfelt. And as @Patrick_Harrell pointed out, he didn’t really answer the question.

Moreover, and not to sound too cheeky nor too critical, I’m not sure that what Reeve’s said is actually true. It may be true probabilistically, in that we can speculate that those who love us now, will miss us when we are dead. However, his statement suggests that we will “know” that those who love us now will miss us when we are dead. I’m not really convinced this is true, at least not on an atheistic materialist view. After all, if there is no afterlife then we will know literally nothing, because there will be no “knower” to do the “knowing.” No soul, spirit, ghost, or disembodied mind of the deceased will be available to have knowledge about anything, let alone whether or not loved ones left behind will be grieving. So, in that sense I think Reeves could at best say something like “I believe, although I cannot know it, that people who love me will likely mourn when I am dead.”

Fortunately, just to add some apologetical punch to the mix here, I think there is now an increasing body of evidence for life after death. Currently I am reading a book Afterlife by Morton Kelsey, published in 1979. Kelsey was a theologian/philosopher who primarily worked on the topic of death and dying (see also Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross). Already in '79, so 40 years ago, there was mounting evidence for NDE’s or Near Death Experiences. Now, with more sophisticated technology, especially in health monitoring, reporting, and dissemination, I think it is clear that the evidence points to continued disembodied existence after physical death. Most NDE patients experience some common phenomena, e.g. hovering over their own bodies, seeing loved ones who have died before them, and, of course, the tunnel vision and then brilliant, white light, etc. However, there are a number of counterexamples of people who have experienced phenomena which can only be described as “hellish.”

So, perhaps as a starter if we were asked by a non-believer the same question Colbert asked Reeves, would be to point to the evidence for a continued disembodied existence after physical death. This could open the door to a more particular discussion about the Gospel and the promises of an afterlife with Christ.