Should Christians lionize Stephen Colbert?

Robbie George issues a pointed admonition about Stephen Colbert:

For Christians—Catholics in particular—to lionize this guy is a huge mistake. It’s on a par with lionizing Wendell Berry, something many Christians—especially Evangelicals—did. I understand the temptation to “claim” as one of our own an icon of the cultural elite, but caveat emptor. When push comes to shove, and the choice is between Judaeo-Christian morality and liberal orthodoxy, people like Colbert and Berry play for the other team. Often enough, they go out of their way to express contempt for those Christians who refuse to yield to liberal dogmas (on sex and marriage, for example, or the sanctity of human life). I suppose that’s their way of reassuring people in elite circles that they’re not like their “backward,” “retrograde,” “on the wrong side of history” co-religionists.

I was never a regular viewer of Colbert’s program on Comedy Central, so I’m sure there are many readers who can explain better than I why some believers might have viewed Colbert in the way George describes. I only saw a handful of episodes of the program, but even I can remember an episode that might have fed the impression that he is an ally. It is a head-to-head with Bart Ehrman (see below).

Using his trademark wit, Colbert does more to discredit Ehrman’s attack on the Bible than any apologist I’ve ever seen. It really is uncanny.

In any case, it is worth noting that Robbie George warns not to read too much into interviews like this one. By the way, if you’re not following Robbie George on Facebook, you should. That’s where he posts regular tidbits about the news and culture. Here’s the link.

13 Responses to Should Christians lionize Stephen Colbert?

  1. Brian Holland August 20, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Huh? He’s a progressive! His “religion” is mutually exclusive and incompatible with Christianity.

  2. Lauren August 20, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    The link to Robbie George’s page isn’t working. Is there a better way to get to it?

  3. Curt Day August 20, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    Should Christians lionize anyone? If get stuck in this trap of lionizing and worshiping heroes or not, we will either uncritically learn the wrong things from some or while being to critical to learn good things from others.

    Colbert has some good things to say and perhaps some important things to say to us. Was how we opposed certain practices the right way? We might not ever consider the question without hearing people like Colbert. On the other hand we need to realize that Colbert did say things that are not supported by the Scriptures. In fact, everybody does.

    • Ian Shaw August 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

      We shouldn’t lionize anyone. We don’t know their true motives for saying something.

      It’s like having someone come up to you and say “you have got to start listening to “this guy”, (pick your present day popular evangelical, ie.Platt, Piper, Mohler, Driscol, etc.) and all they ever do is gush over these people. Every church has somebody that acts that way. Read your Bible first and foremost.

    • Ken Abbott August 20, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

      Lionize the Lion of Judah.

      • Christiane Smith August 21, 2015 at 1:20 am #


  4. Christiane Smith August 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Even Ehrman has trouble keeping from laughing.
    I enjoyed this. Thanks, DENNY.

  5. Dee Parsons August 20, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Thank you for sharing Colbert’s discussion with Ehrman. He did a great job. Ehrman even looked slightly uncomfortable.

    It is now my second favorite Colbert clip. However, nothing will ever beat his interview with Smaug.

  6. Esther O'Reilly August 20, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    Colbert is trending right now because he recently gave an interview to GQ where he spoke positively about Catholicism and the theology of suffering, with reference to authors like Tolkien. It’s one thing to note some interesting insights he might have, it’s another to try to “claim” him.

  7. Doug Hess August 20, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    I think Colbert is a fascinating example of the modern, committed Catholic in the West. He seems to cling strongly to his faith in matters of eternal significance (see his forthcoming interview in which he discusses the death of his father and suffering in general) while accepting carte blanche the culture’s dogma on social issues such as gay marriage. It shows how little influence the Catholic Church has on many moral issues these days on even its more committed members.

  8. Christiane Smith August 21, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    Colbert illustrates how satire can be a very potent weapon against hypocrisy. You may not appreciate some of the choices of his targets, but you have to admit that he cuts through a lot to get people to think about what is at the core of an issue. Using humor and satire has always been threatening BECAUSE it presents issues under the cover of attacking them falsely, so the ‘attack’ is there, but it is done in a way that is supposed to be hilarious as a joke . . . in short the satirist cannot be pinned down as his work can be examined from both sides, and usually the examiners are laughing while trying to do this.

    Disarming? Well, you have to watch how he works to get what he is up to. But if you want to see Stephen’s Catholic side in earnest, take a look at his appearances before Congressional hearings . . . one interesting one was when he spoke up for migrant workers who have been suffering. Catholic? Oh, yeah. Very Catholic. No question.

  9. Ian Shaw August 21, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Funny, didn’t Mark Driscoll say that God’s humor would be a cross between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

  10. buddyglass August 21, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Some of these quotes need unpacking, IMO.

    “When push comes to shove, and the choice is between Judaeo-Christian morality and liberal orthodoxy, people like Colbert and Berry play for the other team.”

    How so? Just curious.

    “Often enough, they go out of their way to express contempt for those Christians who refuse to yield to liberal dogmas (on sex and marriage, for example, or the sanctity of human life).”

    It’s possible George mistakes “moral condemnation” for “contempt”. Like religious conservatives, religious liberals treat issues like same-sex marriage as “moral” ones. It’s not merely a policy difference for them when someone opposes s.s.m.; it’s a moral decision that hurts actual people. So they tend to react with moral outrage. Imagine how you, personally, regard inveterate racists; that’s how they regard you. Is that contempt? Or rather some sort of “moral disgust”?

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