Sunday, July 8, 2007

De Natura Boni

If you estimated that telling someone a lie would substantially increase the chances of them becoming a Christian, would you do it?


R. L. Vaughn said...

No. Nor can I think of any Biblical reason that telling a person a lie would substantially increase the chances of that person becoming a Christian.

Tim G said...

No - no way, no how.

Now if it meant that person taking me out to dine on Mexican food (since I have had none in 7 months) I might be tempted but would hope I could resist and trust the conviction of God to lead the person to feed me so that I could feed him :)!

Groseys messages said...

No not even for Mexican food... but Tim I am glad you are shouting :)

Anonymous said...


The prosperity crowd does just that every time they open their deceitful mouths.

"If you just accept Jesus (and send in your "seed" gift), you won't get sick, you'll have lots of money ..."

I want no part of it.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life ..." That's good enough, amen? :)

Jeremy Green said...

2 Cor 4:2, "[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God"

2 Cor 13:7-8, "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest... For we can do nothing against the truth."

Eph 4:15, "But speaking the truth in love..."

Eph 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness"

1 Tim 2:4, "[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth"

Anonymous said...

Bart: not if I knew I was lying. But given all the various positions on how one can become a follower, born-again believer and Christian, I might lie unknowingly.

However, if someone asked me what I was going into a foreign country to do and I was smuggling Bibles in and didn't want to get beheaded before I followed through on my goal...uh, geesh. I might tell a fib to get myself into the country. I just don't know. I sure wouldn't lie about how to be saved. Nor would I ever lie if asked if I were a Christian and believer in and on Jesus Christ.

Ron Phillips, Sr. said...


Ron P.

Big Daddy Weave said...

I assume this post serves as a prequel to the Yarnell letter posted by Jeremy Green.

All I have to say is WOW.

CB Scott said...

The "Camel" method is very poor. It belittles our Lord and greatly cast doubt upon the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

The plain gospel shared and trusted to the Holy Spirit has always worked and always will. To "enhance" it with deception or lessen it without the cross is sin.

May God help us if we have come to a place wherein we think we can improve the telling of truth with the telling of a lie to bring a person to the truth of salvation.

Sharing the gospel is not baseball. The "curve ball" is not allowed.


Groseys messages said...

Having read the Yarnell letter I must concur with him in his estimate. Over the last ten years Australian Baptists Missionaries in Malawi went the Camel method.
After ten years they had "planted" half a "church".
One man from my church worked in Malawi in that same ten year period among the same muslim people group, and planted more than 120 churches (he was with Sowers International). He expressed the very same concerns that Malcolm Yarnell expressed so effectively. He also pointed out that God had done a miraculous work among the Salvation Army and open Brethren churches among which he worked, whilst the "Camel method" had produced little effective evangelism and MUCH confusion among the peoples (christian and muslim and pagan alike).
The bottom line?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation among all them that believe...
There was a people movement towards the gospel.. but it was on the same basis every revival and every people movement of history, the unashamed preaching of Jesus Christ as Lord, and Him crucified and resurrected.

Anonymous said...

In countries where missionaries cannot enter on a religious visa - we find other ways. We send them under medical visas, education visas, etc. We send doctors, teachers, etc., educated in these areas, to work in these areas, but going for bigger and better reasons. Spiritual reasons. Do Southern Baptists stretch the truth about why they are in a country or who is paying their salary to share the gospel in these countries?

The Milkman said...

I think any good Calvinist would have to say no.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the consensus says "no" and so do I.

I know some of the folks in high security countries and they do what I did when I was there--they do what they told the country's immigration service they were going to do. They also share the gospel as they go about their business (or tourism or whatever). It's not a lie. I know some of them have had a real crisis of conscience when a "platform" didn't pan out for them. They found another platform. Again, not a lie, not even nearly comparable to the lie Corrie Ten Boom's family struggled with over the Jews they were hiding in the closet.

Writer said...

No. I'm not a situational ethicist. I actually seek to follow Holy Scripture.


Bart Barber said...

Dear Friends,

Yes, this post has arisen out of conversations with friends about The Camel method. No, that does not mean that this post is uniquely and entirely about that approach. Rather, the conversation about The Camel method provoked in my mind this underlying question. As some of you have already noted... can apply to the way we describe the benefits of conversion (trust Jesus and you will have a new Cadillac, will have no more problems, will be happy all the time, etc.)

...although it does not apply directly to the question of "platforms" (even if that is lying, it is not really lying to the person whom you are trying to win, is it? Unless you are witnessing to the folks who work at immigration?), that subject does pose an interesting related question. does seem to apply directly to the conversation about The Camel Method. As to that method in and of itself, I am gravely concerned, but I am seeking counsel from missionary friends to make certain that I understand the method as applied in the field. The book clearly poses several fundamental problems.

I think that the root question has to do with the nature of "the good" and with our approach to ethics. I think that there is a Utilitarianism that is an inherent vulnerability of Arminianism (that statement will probably trouble those of you who think that I necessarily am an Arminian since I do not believe in Limited Atonement and am not so sure about the irresistability of grace). Rampant pragmatism as a result of a Finney-esque evangelistic method can give one pause over this question about lying for the sake of the gospel, I think.

R. L. Vaughn said...

You make some excellent points, Bart. Telling someone a lie in order to increase his/her chances of becoming a Christian is probably a direct outgrowth of the "whatever it takes" concept of church growth/evangelism and the man-centeredness of much modern "gospel". Perhaps we have shifted from man's chief aim being glorifying God to the chief aim being "winning souls".

cameron coyle said...

Bart, since you brought up the question of platforms...

I don't think that establishing a presence in a country via a platform necessitates lying... but in my view many of the folks I've met who use platforms are doing just that. I think platforms are too often thought of as just a cover operation (which makes it a lie) rather than as a means of integrating the missionary into his new culture. When done right, a platform can create a valid need for the missionary in the world's eye and enable him to be an asset to the society he is attempting to reach with the gospel.

Such a platform would require that the M have real knowledge and skills which would be useful to the host country - something that the average MDiv lacks. I think that is a major contributor to why so many treat platforms as a mere formality.

Bart Barber said...

R. L.,

I agree with you. I also think that it reveals a fundamental lack of trust in the power of the gospel.

Bart Barber said...


You have a great point. Platforms can be legitimate. I don't even know that you have to be that good at it. Does the host country ask you how good you are at your "occupation"? The fact is, most Americans who go to China to teach English are motivated by something other than a desire to teach English to Chinese people. They may be "covert" tourists or adventurers. They may think they are building some sort of cultural bridge (cue the music to "We Are the World"). Some of them perhaps are going in order to live there as a faithful Christian. Unless they expressly say that they are not Christians or have no intention of living as such while in-country, they aren't lying.

cameron coyle said...


Wouldn't you agree though that there is a significant difference between the adventurer and the missionary? Namely the fact that one is on the payroll of an organization whose primary purpose is to grow the kingdom of God through the planting of churches? We both know that the M's job is not teaching ESL. So isn't a little deceptive to tell the host country that you're an English teacher just so you can get a visa? I think it would be one thing if you were well qualified for the job, but when your only qualifications are that you speak English and you attended a two day crash course in ESL... I'm not so sure that I would feel right about claiming to be an ESL teacher.

Like I said before though, if you have the knowledge and the skill to truely be the person you claim to be on your visa application, then the platform becomes a great tool.

I would also add though, that a platform like what I have in mind would require enough leeway from the Board to spend significant amounts of time doing things not directly related to planting churches. I'm not sure just how much tolerence the Board has for that.

Jason Epps said...


If you are looking for a new method of evangelism, send me an email and I'll get you some suggestions ;0)