Stephen Colbert Talks Faith, Heaven: That's 'How to Be a Christian in the Public Square,' Tim Keller Says

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Feb 08, 2022
Stephen Colbert Talks Faith, Heaven: That's 'How to Be a Christian in the Public Square,' Tim Keller Says

Saying "death is not defeat," comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert delivered a monologue about his Catholic faith last week that sparked a viral video and drew applause from a few prominent evangelicals.

The monologue took place on The Late Show during an interview with singer Dua Lipa, who turned the tables and asked Colbert a question. Noting that Colbert has been "open and honest" about his faith, Lipa asked: "Does your faith and your comedy ever overlap? And does one ever win out?"

"I think ultimately, us all being mortal, the faith will win out at the end," Colbert said to laughter. "But I certainly hope when I get to heaven, Jesus has a sense of humor."

Colbert's tone then grew more serious.

"I'm a Christian and a Catholic, and that's always connected to the idea of love and sacrifice, being somehow related, and giving yourself to other people, and that death is not defeat," he said.

Continuing, Colbert said his favorite movie of the past year was Belfast.

"I think this is also a Catholic thing, because [Belfast is] funny, and it's sad. And it's funny about being sad. In the same way, that sadness is like a little bit of an emotional death but not a defeat if you can find a way to laugh about it because that laughter keeps you from having fear of it. And fear is the thing that keeps you from turning to evil devices to save you from the sadness," he said.

"As [poet] Robert Hayden said, 'We must not be frightened nor cajoled into accepting evil [as] deliverance from evil. We must keep struggling to maintain our humanity, though monsters of abstraction threaten and police us.' So if there's some relationship between my faith and my comedy, it's that no matter what happens, you are never defeated. You must understand and see this in the light of eternity and find some way to love and laugh with each other."

A Late Show tweet with the monologue drew 43,000 likes and 4.4 million views.

Tim Keller, an author and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, applauded Colbert's answer.

"This is a brilliant example of how to be a Christian in the public square," Keller tweeted. "Notice the witness, but in a form the culture can handle. We should desire to have more Christians in these spaces and give them grace as they operate."

After receiving pushback, Keller wrote in a follow-up tweet, "Note: when you quote a person as an example in a particular moment, it doesn't mean you have to answer for that entire person's life for that quote to be valid. It's almost like those who do so don't want to deal with the material at hand."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rich Fury/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.