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October 17, 2015


This response is both marked by both truth and grace. Deny Christ would be a sin. But if we are not saved by good works, we can't be "unsaved" by bad works.

A missionary in a hostile field knows that they may be called to suffer persecution if they refuse to deny Christ when challenged. A hostage in the face of an active shooter is not called to this. We must get the word out that students or anyone in this situation must do all they can to survive. If that means lying to the shooter to buy time until the police arrive, that's what they must do. Pastors must tell their congregations they are not called to be martyrs in this situation.


Can you help me understand why you believe people MUST lie in the situation where their life hangs in the balance? You make a couple of assertions, "a missionary may be called", and "a hostage in the face of an active shooter is not called to this". Yet provide no foundation for these assertions. Please help us out.

As a father, that is the type of guidance I have given my children as they go off in the world. As a police officer who is most likely familiar with hostage situations, it would be helpful to have J. Warner Wallace weigh in on this. As to my assertions, I believe I am stating the obvious.

@ Paul;

You seem to reflect the sentiments of the Reformers in their attempts to promote a "Christian Church/State" or theocracy. I.e., the Christian wears two hats or practices "Situation Ethics". The one hat requires living the non-violence of the Sermon on the Mount in private life, but the other requires bearing the sword in wrath as an extension of the Magistrate in public life.

What it boils down to is that we must ask our attacker if they are planning to kill us because we are a Christian; in which case we respond as Jesus and the Apostles, or any Christian pacifist would.

Or we would ask them if they are attacking us as a civilian, where we respond as any Magistrate would by trying to kill them first.

It seems you have this in mind - no?


Peter denied knowing Jesus and was forgiven. But did Peter continue to deny Christ every time he ran into difficulty. No. What is obvious from scripture is that the Apostles, while they availed themselves of every legal opportunity, they never denied Christ, and were in fact, executed.

Don't get me wrong, I like your position. It gives me an out if ever confronted with this choice, but I just don't see a Biblical justification.


As a father, that is the type of guidance I have given my children as they go off in the world.

I might want my children to give the same response, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. That you give this guidance simply means you’d wish to avoid the pain of losing a loved one to this type of violence and accept it for what it is: A denial of God.

That’s what we’re talking about.

The pain of giving your life in this situation doesn’t necessarily correlate to the value you place on our own life. It’s the pain that would be left to your loved ones in this situation that is such a burden.

When Jesus asks us to drop everything and leave good things to follow Him, would we?

There is no out here. My own decision under these circumstances aside.

There is but one choice:

Sin and reject God and live


Proclaim your love for Him and die

If you are a underground missionary captured by ISIS, you knew the risk going in. If you're Cassie Bernal at Littleton and you're dealing with the criminally insane, you should hardly be expected to stand on principal when you may have the chance to get out alive. But oh well, American Christianity had a period in the evening news cycle, Michael W. got to write another song, and the Christian book sellers had a best seller. I call it a waste of young life. Forgive my cynicism. Maybe it's different if you know you are going to die and God gives you the grace to glorify Him in your trial. But until then, do everything you can to live.

But as it relates to the OP, we’re talking about denying God to save our own life. It’s straightforward. Now one can talk of mental insanity, ISIS, etc., but that’s really just defining our own terms. We’re defining our own terms that would make giving our life acceptable to us.

Further, it goes without saying that there is no time to make these sorts of assessments. “God forgive me but that crazed gunman was obviously a whack job.” Why do we need all the bells and whistles to rationally die? Must we be in a bright orange jumpsuit kneeling on a beach with an ISIS sword at our throat?

Even further, as a Christian, if the response “No” came after the question from the executioner, what would we call that flood of emotion that would wash over us after?

There is no moral requirement to say anything.

I’ll talk if and when God tells me to, thank you very much.

Since when do we “have to” dance to the tune of the likes of these shooters? If “Caesar” “demands” that we do some crazy X will we also just magically have to use our tongue to their command too?

Since when?

A: You do remember Scripture, don’t you?
B: Huh?
A: The demands of the teen executioner killing teens in a school are not on Scripture’s list of duty-bound obligations where the orderly cooperation of my tongue is expected.

There are an array of moral options for the teen hostage.

1) The teen can do what Jesus did and remain silent in very similar circumstances – yes – I’ll talk if and when God tells me to, thank you very much. That’s morally permissible.
2) Respond with words of or in kindness. That’s morally permissible.
3) Respond with words of or in love. That’s morally permissible.
4) In *other* situations there is an option of a citizen’s arrest. That’s morally permissible.
5) WWJD – remain silent. That’s morally permissible.
6) Answer the question at whatever cost. That’s morally permissible.
7) Some youth pastors and/or parents are insane themselves and essentially condemn a teen to hell if a teen has ever so much as felt a nanosecond of 1) doubt or 2) lust (etc.) and, so, if one is so unfortunate as to have such an insane youth pastor, or parent, and one has ever so much as felt a nanosecond of 1) doubt or 2) lust (etc.) then one could, well, “morally” (wink wink) claim that one is not a Christian. “Ummm….. –Cause Pastor and/or my Parents told me I just can’t be a *real* Christian… ummm…. –cause *real* Christians never, ever feel #1 or #2…” Sure, option 7 here is totally confused, messy, ridiculous, and so on, but hey, fighting the insanity of the shooter with the insanity of the adults in one’s life is just “….honoring the Christian adults God has put over me…” right?


I can’t imagine the life-long guilt and emotional damage some teens will be slammed with by such youth pastors, by such parents, should they opt for options 1 – 5.

Insane youth pastor and/or parent to the teen who survives: “Oh sure, Jesus remained silent BOY. But DAMN IT BOY I wanted to be able to BRAG on you BOY! And now I can’t BOY! You should have shouted “YES” BOY instead of remaining silent (or whatever) BOY!”

Indeed, WWJD.

Tactically speaking – one could hedge and dance in an attempt to save lives or buy time – but I don’t think any of us are in a position to comment on that. I’m certainly not. Cooperation in hostage situations seems to be the most likely path of avoiding harm, but, again, I’m in no position to give such advice. Of course, if it’s just obvious that an answer of “Yes/Christ” is going to result in certain death, well then tactics and stalling for time may become irrelevant. In which case, there are several morally permissible options one (morally) has, which will, in most cases, involve 1 - 6. Option 7 is questionable and a bit inane - but one must realize that, given said youth pastor, or said parent, there may be *real* room for a *real* hedge on the teen's part, and that is so, so unfortunate.


Qualification: KWM's point stands intact. Responding "No" in a lie does cross a line. Of course, we don't expel 14 year olds from high school for messing up on a graduate level exam and God doesn't expel teens from His Kingdom for anything on or in this experience ("exam"). Are you going to give your fifteen year old all your money and your car and your house and your retirement fund .... and your....? No? Well then get off of the "teens are adults too" insanity. Teens are not adults. Teens are all over the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual map and for the adult to act as if that is not the case is simply for the adult to go on and lie to oneself, and, as far as we know, adults shouldn't lie (X 1000) - that is to say - some adults here, after the event, may be far more culpable before God than the teen who did something other than option 6.


The OP and S. Bedard echo the point about the fact that God just is *not* expelling teens from His Kingdom for anything on or in this experience/exam.

OP: "But the denial in this verse is not talking about the momentary denial like Peter, or like a student scared for his life in the face of a gunman. That denial references the absolute walking away from the faith..."

S, Bedard: "This response is both marked by both truth and grace. Deny Christ would be a sin. But if we are not saved by good works, we can't be "unsaved" by bad works."

The quote in the OP about refusing Christ is not talking about the these situations. It is talking about a full and final - and volitional - refusal of what one knows to be the actual God.

WLC calls such the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit - and that has nothing at all to do with these situations. WLC calls that volitional, full and final, move the "meta-level" sin, of which there is only one:

Out of fear, Peter denied Jesus three times the night of His arrest. When he realized what he had done he was remorseful. I find nowhere in the Bible where Jesus ever laid it to his account. This testifies to the weakness of men and the grace of God.

I've often thought about this very question, and I'm convinced that if God wants me to die for Him, He will give me the strength to do so. On the other hand, if I deny Him out of fear and weakness, I trust in His grace to forgive me.

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