Thank You Lord That I Am Not Like Woody Allen
by John Hendryx

I recently received this letter/request from a brother and he has graciously allowed me to use it here.

Dear brother in Christ,
I appreciate your website and use it often. Thank you for it! I have a request that you remove all quotes from Woody Allen. This is the only one I have seen.

"What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case I definitely overpaid for my carpet." - Woody Allen

Just because of what he stands for and the fact that he had an affair with his adopted daughter and divorced his wife to marry her. This is just a request. I plan on continuing my use of the wonderful materials of the Puritans that you have posted. Great work!

Brother ______:

Thank you for your kind comments about the website ... and I apologize if the addition of Woody Allen has caused you some offense. I deeply respect your opinion but am not quite sure I understand your reasoning. Do we therefore cast aside all the thinking of people simply because they are unregenerate even though they may have made contributions, in some way or another to mankind? Is Allen stripped of all possibility of bringing about something worthwhile simply because he is unsaved?

With this reasoning, since all people who are not saved are naturally hostile toward God, do we thereby marginalize everything about them and have nothing to do with them whatsoever? Are all their opinions to be disregarded? Are they not created in the image of God, receivers of common grace from whom we can actually learn some things? Do we test to see if everyone we quote from has never fornicated? Or what about other sins? Where do we draw the line? What about pride? Which is worse, Alan's sin of marrying his adopted daughter or the pride many of us evangelicals exhibit every day? And wasn't it just sheer grace that saved you? What do we have that we did not receive? What makes us any better than Woody Allen? Grace alone set us apart ... nothing else but God's good pleasure.

God has blessed all men (saved and unsaved) with a conscience and the capacity to promote virtue and civil righteousness. It is abundantly clear that many beautiful aspects of the world we live in have been brought forth by those which are unredeemed by God's regenerative grace. God has gifted natural men and women with the skill to create beautiful music, make profound works of art, to invent intricate machines and do countless things that are productive, excellent and praiseworthy. You say remove the quote, "because what Allen stands for". If this is the standard then it would appear that our only alternative would be to go up on a high mountain to live a monastic lifestyle somewhere to escape the world so we are not tainted by anything they have to say. This would also have to include separating ourselves from all the people who have made bad decisions in life at our churches as well. And how do we escape ourselves?

I actually know churches that use Woody Allen and even Karl Marx quotes in their bulletins quite frequently. Sometimes these men have profound insights into the human condition even though their conclusions are utterly wrong. Alan is an atheist, yet he recognizes the utter futility and meaninglessness of life without God and talks about it often. He concludes there is no God yet he profoundly understands the implications of his decision and his material often reflects that. He embraces a nihilistic sadness that reveals that he gets it, where many others just go on their way oblivious to the implications. It is sad to see but he is often insightful.

I conclude that, if what Allen SAYS in particular is offensive to you then I would be willing to take it down, but if it is merely because he is a flawed human being, like me, then I will leave him up there. If the standard were to only put up authors who have never sinned, then I would be left with only the Red Letters in the Bible to place on my website but the black text in the Bible would have to be taken off my site because them apostles were sinful men.

"...and Heaven have mercy on us all-- Presbyterians and Pagans alike-- for we are all dreadfully cracked about the head and desperately in need of mending." - Herman Melville

Don't get me wrong. We are to set our hearts like flint toward the heavenly Jerusalem, and to be putting to death all remaining sin in our lives. But "putting to death" means that we are not yet glorified and much work remains to be done. Our Lord continues to live and plead for us. Only because our sinless Savior died are our sinful souls counted free, not because we have anything to offer or something good God saw in us. Our hope rests solely in the merit Christ our Savior alone. God is satisfied because of Jesus Christ, plus or minus nothing. Nor are we sustained by our perfect obedience lest we boast in something other than Jesus Christ. I am no better a man than Woody Allen or any other pagan, and am equally, if not more, deserving of God's displeasure, but He was merciful to me, in spite of myself. My soul has been purchased by His blood and it alone cleanses me. For this is I rejoice and am exceedingly glad. Soli Deo Gloria

The Lord bless you and your family

Sola Gratia
john hendryx