Lying, Christian Ethics and Islamic “Conversions”

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 1 month ago

Michelle Malkin is following the story of Steve Cintanni who was captured and then later released after his (and his colleague’s) “conversion” to Islam.  I posted earlier on his conversion at gunpoint.  Michelle is also blogging the issue of Cintanni’s conversion making him a target for future assassination attempts if he repudiates his conversion.  Finally, Michelle links to a great post by La Shawn Barber on the question “What would you do?” in “Gunpoint Conversions and Martyrdom.”  Let’s turn the microscope up a few notches and look at this question of Christian ethics in more detail.

First of all, let’s dispense with this silly and adolescent notion that all lying is immoral.  I know, this strikes you as a rather odd statement to make, whether you are a Christian or not, right?  Well, let’s revisit the story of Rahab.  In the book of Joshua, Rahab takes in the spies.  In Joshua 2 we read:

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.  The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”  But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”  (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)   So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.  Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof   and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”  ”Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

R. J. Rushdoony (in Institutes of Biblical Law) comments:

“Rahab clearly lied, but her lie represented a moral choice as against sending two godly men to death, and for this she became an ancestress of Jesus Christ (Mat 1:5).?

Concerning R. C. Sproul’s position:

While commenting on this passage Dr. Sproul posed the question, “Is there a time to tell a lie? And them he answered it by saying, yes, you must always tell the truth to whom the truth is due and you must always tell the truth to whom justice requires, the truth was not due in this case.?

However, it might be that Cintanni is not a Christian.  If not, then this issue does not apply to him.  Further, while Rahab clearly had reason to lie (saving the spies), saving yourself by denying your savior is clearly not in the same category.  There is no need for me to continue to live, for example, but if someone was in pursuit of a family member, I would lie to protect them.

If someone does in fact deny Christ, it does not mean that they lose their salvation.  La Shawn Barber is on point with this (she calls it once saved, always saved, while the more theological definition is “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints”).  But should I actually be in the position that Cintanni was in (and being a Christian), my hope is that I would not use Peter as an example (who denied Christ three times just befor the crucifixion — and who later repented, of course).

I do not know, but hope, that I would have the courage to pray an imprecatory prayer against my captor (something like “Oh Lord, since he is your sworn enemy, please allow him to be on the receiving end of a missle from an A-10, and failing that, please allow a U.S. Marine with an M249 to put nine rounds into him.  God is great, and Jesus is my savior”).

Just then, boom goes my brains all over the floor.  So my captor gets a missile, I get to meet my savior now instead of later, and my family gets all of my insurance money.  And thus the story has a happy ending.

I like happy endings.



  • Gene Robins

    “Is there a time to tell a lie? And them he answered it by saying, yes, you must always tell the truth to whom the truth is due and you must always tell the truth to whom justice requires, the truth was not due in this case.?

    While I can see an application there in the case of converting to Islam at the end of a gunbarrel I’m concerned with how much wiggle room that R.C. Sproul is leaving himself with that statement. Based on some things that are now coming to light it’s looking like Sproul probably has very flexible definitions for “truth” and “lie.”

  • Herschel Smith

    Gene, this is an interesting comment, and an even more interesting link. I appreciate your visit to my site. I think that the connection that R. C. Sproul, Jr., has to the so-called “New Perspectives on Paul” movement is unfortunate. As for RC himself, I knew none of this and know nothing of the veracity or lack thereof of these allegations, but it really makes no difference to the post. You might be missing the point. RC needs no wiggle room on the definition of a lie.

    I could have stopped with quoting RJ, but threw in Sproul for good measure. In fact, I could have given my view without quoting either one of them. My view is that Rahab did not sin. Lying is justified in certain circumstances. Note the import here. The point is not to redefine “lie” as if we need “wiggle-room.” The point is that in certain circumstances, lying is appropriate. I happen to agree with R. J. Rushdoony’s and Gary North’s defense of Rahab, and disagree with the Puritan’s disparaging of her lie.

    This next point is important: The point of the remainder of the post was to be able to address the issue of forced “conversions” without the baggage of having to deal with this juvenile notion that all lying is sinful.

    Finally, I cite La Shawn Barber in supporting the idea that one does not lose his salvation in such a forced confession, but still, for a Christian to confess anyone but Christ IS sinful and not appropriate (for reasons other than it is lying — it is denying Christ). I end with how I would like to go out if I ever face that exigency. I will never know unless God puts me in that position.

    There are things worse than death. And … statistics show that ten out of ten people die.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Religion and was published August 29th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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