On November 8, 2020, a man of widespread fame passed into eternity at the age of 80 and met his maker. This man was known for answers and questions. He gave statements of fact and expected the right questions in response. This man was Alex Trebek, longstanding host of the game show Jeopardy!
While I have spent many hours as a Jeopardy! fan, after his death I wondered what Alex Trebek believed. Was this man who loved knowledge a Christian? What I have seen in print, if accurate, doesn’t give evidence he had an understanding of the truth found in the Bible about God, man, salvation, and eternity.
For all of those 36 years of answers and questions, it appears this master of trivia got the most important questions wrong. I found quotes in various articles, quotes taken from Trebek’s autobiography which was released in July, and which I have not read.
One article noted, “He doesn't believe in any particular god or ‘a particular version of the afterlife.’” Another article mentioned his reference to prayer in a video, but compared that with what he wrote in his book: “A year after his cancer diagnosis, Trebek released a video in which he said that giving up his battle with cancer ‘would certainly have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf.’ Unfortunately, the story doesn’t stop there. In his autobiography, Trebek writes: ‘Am I a believer? Well, I believe we are all part of the Great Soul—what some call God. We are God, and God is us. We are one with our maker. How do I know this? It’s not that I know it. It’s that I feel it.’ He added, ‘But do I pray to a specific god? Do I anticipate a particular version of the afterlife? No, I do not.’”
How interesting that the man of knowledge would base his beliefs on feelings, rather than knowledge. The man whose very show promoted knowledge. While Alex may have held all the cards in his hands as he stood at that podium night after night in an Armani suit, it is the Lord, in fact, who says, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me” (Job 38:3).
If Trebek was the contestant, would he have responded with the correct questions?
Answer: “That they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Question: What is eternal life? (John 17:3).
Answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Question: What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30-31).
Pontius Pilate could have been a contestant on Jeopardy! as he gave a most famous question in response to Jesus: “What is truth?” Jesus had told Pilate, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37-38).
Each of us must answer this fundamental question – what is truth? Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to his Father except through Him (John 14:6). He said God’s word is truth (John 17:17). And, if we abide in that word, we are his disciples, we know the truth, and we are free (John 8:31-32).
Of course, we don’t know the end of Trebek’s story. A blogger highlighted this quote from Trebek’s book: “However, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about that old line they used to use in the military: ‘No one’s an atheist in a foxhole.’ If ever there was an opportunity to believe in God — a god — this might be a good one, Trebek, now that you’re on the verge. What have you got to lose?”
Well, we know from God’s perspective Trebek had eternity to lose. In Mark 8:36, Jesus himself said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Yet, it’s good to remember that the Lord changes the heart (Ezek. 36:26), and he can change the heart at any moment in a person’s life – after they’ve recorded videos for fans, after they’ve written a book, or after the last treatment option is exhausted.
So, at the end of the day, I don’t know if Alex Trebek repented of his sins and turned to Christ for his salvation.
But we can know truth with certainty. Not because we feel it, but because God has spoken in his word, and his word is truth. He says of himself, “I am God and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9b).
As for me and my house, we may have watched endless hours of Jeopardy!, but in the end, we’ll always take the Bible for 1000, Alex.