Ineffective Biblical arguments against capital punishment

gavel.jpgI think that capital punishment (CP) is a completely Biblical proposition if properly applied and that it is actually a pro-life position.  Having said that, in my next post I’ll make some arguments from a Christian worldview against capital punishment as currently administered in the U.S.  But first I wanted to address some anti-CP arguments that I would not use.   

(Note that I don’t use the cost issues in either scenario – i.e., “Putting them in prison for life is too expensive” vs. “The legal costs of the death penalty are too expensive.”  Justice ain’t cheap.  We shouldn’t go one direction or the other because it might cost more or less.) 

I’ll address these arguments:

  • Jesus would forgive
  • We might be eliminating the condemned killer’s opportunity to place his trust in Christ and thus causing him/her to miss out on eternal salvation.
  • Jesus is against capital punishment / Jesus reversed the Old Testament teaching on capital punishment
  • We might be killing someone who is innocent
  • Capital punishment is not a deterrent
  • The Bible says, “Thou shall not kill”

“Jesus would forgive” – Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason points out that Mother Teresa once used this argument to argue against a California capital punishment.  It is flawed for a few reasons.   

First, Jesus would forgive if the criminal repented.  I don’t know if the condemned killer repented in that case or not, but many times they do not.  And, of course, only Jesus would know if the repentance is authentic.   

Second, Jesus offers divine forgiveness but He doesn’t always remove earthly consequences of our actions (examples abound – see King David & Bathsheba, other Bible characters, you, me and others). 

Third, and most importantly, this argument proves too much.  The rationale that “Jesus would forgive” presumably means we shouldn’t apply the death penalty.  But those arguing against capital punishment typically drop back to a punishment of life in prison.  But if Jesus would forgive, how could we put this person away for life?  How about just 20 years in prison?  No, Jesus would forgive.  And so on.  The literal application of the “Jesus would forgive” position would keep us from punishing anyone, ever.  And no, that isn’t a slippery slope argument.  It just means that if you say society must forgive because Jesus would and you define forgive as eliminating consequences, then why apply any punishment?     

Another bad reason for this and the remaining arguments is that the ACLU would just hate them because they mention the “J” word (sarcasm intended).  Actually, they might like the arguments.  Sometimes people are willing to relax their standards when something benefits their position.  I haven’t done precise Venn diagrams on this topic, but it seems like the “Jesus would forgive” crowd overlaps a lot with the “separation of church and state” crowd.  

“We might be eliminating the condemned killer’s opportunity to place his trust in Christ and thus causing him/her to miss out on eternal salvation.”  I am big on evangelism, and I love to hear the stories of people who repented and believed despite horrible circumstances and backgrounds.  David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, is a powerful example.  I am involved with the Kairos prison ministry and support ministries like Prison Fellowship who take the Gospel to prisoners and care for their families.  But this argument just doesn’t work for me.   

First, anyone who puts it forth would have to acknowledge that the murder the criminal committed is an even worse crime than the state recognizes.  After all, the government is punishing the person for taking someone’s earthly life.  If you truly believe that an opportunity for eternal life was taken then the crime is significantly greater, perhaps infinitely so.  That would imply the need for a stronger punishment, not a lesser one, so you are arguing against your own position.   

Second, this argument ignores the sovereignty of God.  Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that God knows which way we’ll choose.  If someone holds a different view then they need to revisit my first objection.  I don’t think any non-believers will convince God that if only they had lived longer they would have repented and believed.   

Third, it takes many, many years before a convicted murderer is put to death.  He/she has plenty of time to consider whether to put his/her faith in Christ.  Condemned killers probably have more time than their victim did and certainly a greater sense of urgency to consider their eternal destiny. 

“Jesus is against capital punishment / Jesus reversed the Old Testament teaching on capital punishment” – This is much simpler to refute than most people realize.  Consider the following two arguments: 

  • Capital punishment for murderers was God’s idea (For example, Genesis 9:5-6: “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”).
  • Jesus is God.
  • Therefore, capital punishment for murderers was Jesus’ idea.
  • The Old Testament clearly teaches that capital punishment is an appropriate punishment for justly convicted murderers – both inside and outside the Israelite culture.
  • No New Testament teachings reverse this teaching.
  • Therefore, capital punishment is still an acceptable punishment for justly convicted murderers.

Foreshadowing: My next post on “(Somewhat) Effective Biblical arguments against capital punishment” will focus on the “justly convicted” part.

It is possible that Jesus could have changed this teaching, but there are no passages to support this notion.  The Bible indicates that capital punishment was prescribed for more than a dozen Israelite-specific transgressions.  But capital punishment for murderers goes back much farther, all the way to Noah.   

Peter and Paul both point to the government having authority to punish people.  In Romans 13, Paul specifically mentions that rulers do “not bear the sword for nothing.”   Presumably, the “sword” was for capital punishment, not corporal punishment.   

When Paul was threatened with the death penalty in the book of Acts, he didn’t object to the penalty itself, he just pointed to his innocence (Acts 25:10-11).  Jesus did the same when He was on trial.   

The “turn the other cheek” passage sometimes used to assert that Jesus was against CP is a misapplication.  That teaching is about personal relationships when you are insulted, not for government punishments of condemned killers.  It is hard to turn the other cheek when you are dead. 

And while turning the other cheek when you are insulted is noble and Christian, turning the other cheek when someone weaker is threatened or killed is cowardice.  Read it in context and you’ll see that it has nothing to do with the government administration of the death penalty:

 

 

 

Matthew 5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

But what about the command to “love your enemies?”  Again, this is a passage to Christians, not the government.  It doesn’t even hint that the government wouldn’t hold people accountable for crimes committed against Christians.  If someone assaults you, you need to forgive them.  But jailing them may be the loving thing to do if it protects others (remember, you need to love your enemies and your neighbors).   

To make the case that capital punishment in general is un-Biblical one would need some clear passages to that effect.  And they simply don’t exist.     

“We might be killing someone who is innocent” – If a Biblical model of justice is followed, the odds of this happening are very, very low.  And God was willing to take that chance.   This argument does have some merit, as the U.S. has drifted from a more Biblical model of justice.  I’ll address that next. 

This is an unusual side note, but please consider that if someone is truly innocent, then their conviction is much more likely to be overturned if they are given the death penalty than if they have a sentence of life without parole. This is because a death penalty sentence has automatic appeals and legal support not available to someone with a sentence of life without parole.  Ironically, then, an innocent person sentenced to life without parole is more likely to die in prison than an innocent person given the death penalty.  This isn’t a major point either way, just one of those ironic twists.       

Keep in mind that many times there is no doubt about the guilt of the accused (Remember Karla Faye Tucker and “Free Tookie,” among others).    

“Capital punishment is not a deterrent” – Is so.  Romans 13:3: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.  Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?  Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God’s servant to do you good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God’s servant, and agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”  Sounds like a deterrent to me.   

Please spare me any statistics that allegedly show that capital punishment increases murders or has no effect.  I appreciate a good study, but if you can find one that eliminates all issues like more fatherless kids, less religious influence, etc. – not to mention the interminably long process required to carry out an execution – I would like to see that one.  When in doubt, I’ll stick with clear Biblical teachings over man-made surveys.   

Also, I think it is rather obvious that stronger punishments are greater deterrents.  Do you think driving behavior would change at all if traffic tickets only cost a nickel, or if the punishment was life in prison? 

And of course, we can be 100% sure that capital punishment certainly deters murderers from killing again.  Many murders have taken place when murderers were set free or when other prisoners were killed.  If we love our neighbors we will seek to protect them.

Does it deter everyone from killing?  Of course not.  But since when was that part of the criteria for deterring behavior?

“The Bible says, ‘Thou shall not kill’”  Actually, it says you shouldn’t murder, which is killing an innocent human being.  And that is such a great crime that it brought the death penalty.  People who think that is ironic to kill murderes are missing the point.  Life is so valuable that to take a human life is to commit the greatest crime possible.  Also see Pro-capital punishment = pro-life.   

Anyone making that argument had better be pro-life, or they need to be prepared for me to point out the hypocrisy of being for the legal killing of innocent human beings and against the destruction of guilty murderers.  Also see Abortion and Capital Punishment.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Ineffective Biblical arguments against capital punishment

  1. I dont know if this is still an active site, and if you (The author) will actually even see this comment, but I will leave it anyway.

    Ill tell you what the overall theme of your article is….Nitpicking to distract from fundamental christian principles, and to further your own agenda. Revenge is revenge my friend. It really doesnt matter whether it is one person, or a collection of people (The Government). Also, no one is calling for absence of accountability. When you imprison someone for life, the threat is eliminated. After that, it becomes revenge.

    Perhaps your most ridiculous argument is this: “He/she has plenty of time to consider whether to put his/her faith in Christ.”

    Who are you make that statement?? Seriously now. Everything is in God’s time. So do you feel more entitled to heavenly rewards than someone who puts their faith in Christ a few years after you? Simply because of TIME? I have a little passage for you to read….Matthew 20:1-16.

    One more quick thing….
    So the chances of an innocent person being executed are rare….No arguments here. But it does happen. And were not talking a couple, were talking dozens. So is your desire to seek revenge more important than the life of these innocent individuals? Sounds like that is precisely what you are saying. And that sir, is shameful. Which leads to this:

    “And God was willing to take that chance.”

    Was He now??? Do you have any scripture to back that statement up? Id love to hear it. Otherwise, you are claiming to understand God in a way that is not even remotely possible.

    The bottom line is, I could sit here all day and take every one of your arguments, and make them fall flat on their face. Every single one.

    Capital Punishment contradicts what Jesus represented, in the most fundamental ways. Another piece of scripture for you to think about:

    “God is the only Lawmaker and Judge. He is the only One who can save and DESTROY. So it is not right for you to judge your neighbor.”

  2. I dont know if this is still an active site, and if you (The author) will actually even see this comment, but I will leave it anyway.

    Ill tell you what the overall theme of your article is….Nitpicking to distract from fundamental christian principles, and to further your own agenda. Revenge is revenge my friend. It really doesnt matter whether it is one person, or a collection of people (The Government). Also, no one is calling for absence of accountability. When you imprison someone for life, the threat is eliminated. After that, it becomes revenge.

    You are not off to a very good start. You are arguing against something I didn’t say. I didn’t say it was about revenge, you tried to put those words in my mouth.

    Your primary problem is that you forget that capital punishment for murderers was God’s idea. And Jesus is God. So it was Jesus’ idea. So you need to refute Genesis 9:6, which did not just apply to the Israelites, and then you need to demonstrate clearly where the God says we should never use capital punishment. Good luck with that.

    Also see Romans 13. I doubt Paul meant that the “sword” was for corporal punishment and not capital punishment.

    Prisoners sometimes commit murder, so life imprisonment does not eliminate a threat completely. Also, the law is designed to punish wrongdoers — Romans 13:4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Perhaps your most ridiculous argument is this: “He/she has plenty of time to consider whether to put his/her faith in Christ.”

    Who are you make that statement?? Seriously now. Everything is in God’s time. So do you feel more entitled to heavenly rewards than someone who puts their faith in Christ a few years after you? Simply because of TIME? I have a little passage for you to read….Matthew 20:1-16.

    1. God is sovereign. He won’t lose anyone that He intends to save. 2. The murderer has much more time to choose God than the victim. Think about it.

    Matthew 20 simply does not apply here.

    So other than your claim that my argument is “ridiculous” you haven’t made a valid point yet.

    One more quick thing….
    So the chances of an innocent person being executed are rare….No arguments here. But it does happen. And were not talking a couple, were talking dozens. So is your desire to seek revenge more important than the life of these innocent individuals? Sounds like that is precisely what you are saying. And that sir, is shameful.

    Your problem is with God, not me. Tell him how shameful his commands and his guidelines for just trials were. He set the rules and gave the guidance. And you once again accuse me of revenge. No evidence of that.

    Which leads to this:

    “And God was willing to take that chance.”

    Was He now??? Do you have any scripture to back that statement up? Id love to hear it. Otherwise, you are claiming to understand God in a way that is not even remotely possible.

    Genesis 9:6 again. It was his idea. The burden of proof is on you to explain why the Bible opposes capital punishment in principle. We can understand plenty about God. How? By what He revealed to us. I’m not making claims of special revelation, I’m just pointing to his word.

    The bottom line is, I could sit here all day and take every one of your arguments, and make them fall flat on their face. Every single one.

    You’re batting 0.000 so far. Feel free to try again.

    Capital Punishment contradicts what Jesus represented, in the most fundamental ways. Another piece of scripture for you to think about:

    “God is the only Lawmaker and Judge. He is the only One who can save and DESTROY. So it is not right for you to judge your neighbor.”

    See Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13. Your argument proves too much. By your reasoning we wouldn’t have a judicial system at all. Think about it. That wouldn’t just apply to capital punishment, it would apply to all judgments.

    By the way, what verse is that?

  3. Hey Neil,

    I hadn’t read this post before, so I’m glad it was resurrected. Great points! I don’t blog about political issues, but your points about judicial process vs. personal forgiveness fit right in with my study on forgiveness – yet more confirmation.

    Great post – now on to part II…

  4. Hi Marie,

    Thanks! The odd thing is that I’m really not all gung-ho about capital punishment. I just see so many bad arguments used against it.

  5. First of all, it has nothing to do with you personally saying capital punishment is revenge, that’s what it is. Nothing about it is “just”. And let me remind you, a christian should not take that stance, being that what is just in the eyes of humans is not what is just in the eyes of God. This “just” thing is based on human principles.

    “Your primary problem is that you forget that capital punishment for murderers was God’s idea. And Jesus is God. So it was Jesus’ idea.”

    Oh boy. This is typical. Just stop with the Genesis 9:6. Again, if that’s the stance you’re going to take, we now need to incorporate every other condemnable offense listed in the OT into modern christianity. Because of the New Covenant, we DONT put to death homosexuals, adulterers and so on. You seem to want to use the OT and NT interchangably, and they are clearly not meant to be interchangable.

    “The burden of proof is on you to explain why the Bible opposes capital punishment in principle.”

    What exactly is it that you are missing?. The proof lies in the fact that without this very important, and very clear principle of “Do not repay evil with evil”, our entire belief system is flawed, and diminished in value. Not to mention, what then exactly separates us from the Muslims or the Jews? Not a whole lot.

    “Your problem is with God, not me. Tell him how shameful his commands and his guidelines for just trials were”

    We, as human beings, and more specifically christians, have certain morals and guidelines by which we are commanded to live. God is not held to the same standards. He is God. You and I are required to be compassionate towards our fellow man, and to forgive them, because we are not God. We dont know that person’s heart….Where they came from, whether they have mental health issues, what they have been through in their life, the actual circumstances surrounding the crime itself, etc….My problem is with humans taking it upon themselves to play God, and end people’s lives. When God does take someone’s life, I am not questioning HIS decisions.

    “That wouldn’t just apply to capital punishment, it would apply to all judgments.”

    No, it wouldnt. Yielding to government rulers doesnt imply yielding to death by human “justice”. If it did, the NT would be contradictory. Because again, Jesus came in the name of abolishing such “justice”. What you are doing is what every other DP-supporting christian does, and that is picking and choosing which OT laws still apply, and what ones dont, according to what you find acceptable as an individual. How can I possibly make it any clearer?

    The reality is, every argument you present involves the OT. And to acknowledge the OT in the way you are, you are undermining Jesus Christ himself, and minimizing what He meant to the world as we know it.

  6. First of all, it has nothing to do with you personally saying capital punishment is revenge, that’s what it is. Nothing about it is “just”. And let me remind you, a christian should not take that stance, being that what is just in the eyes of humans is not what is just in the eyes of God. This “just” thing is based on human principles.

    Sigh. You keep begging the question and assuming your views align with the Bible. You are the one using your human “wisdom.”

    And I never said it was revenge. It is punishment, and it is protecting others, and it is a deterrent. So quit with the straw man argument.

    “Your primary problem is that you forget that capital punishment for murderers was God’s idea. And Jesus is God. So it was Jesus’ idea.”

    Oh boy. This is typical. Just stop with the Genesis 9:6. Again, if that’s the stance you’re going to take, we now need to incorporate every other condemnable offense listed in the OT into modern christianity. Because of the New Covenant, we DONT put to death homosexuals, adulterers and so on. You seem to want to use the OT and NT interchangably, and they are clearly not meant to be interchangable.

    Calm down, fella. You don’t appear to understand the OT very well. Genesis 9 is a wee bit before the Israelites came into being. I’m pretty familiar with the moral, civil and ceremonial laws and how to distinguish between them.

    I’m still waiting for you to show me any verses that clearly overturn Genesis 9, as well as any refutations of Romans 13. Or why Paul didn’t complain about the threat of capital punishment but only appealed to his innocence.

    “The burden of proof is on you to explain why the Bible opposes capital punishment in principle.”

    What exactly is it that you are missing?. The proof lies in the fact that without this very important, and very clear principle of “Do not repay evil with evil”, our entire belief system is flawed, and diminished in value. Not to mention, what then exactly separates us from the Muslims or the Jews? Not a whole lot.

    That’s kinda fuzzy. What I’m missing is a single verse from you referring to where capital punishment is said to be wrong in principle. If it repays evil with evil, then you just accused God of being evil (bad idea). You beg the question in calling it evil. You have yet to demonstrate from the Bible where God says it is evil.

    “Your problem is with God, not me. Tell him how shameful his commands and his guidelines for just trials were”

    We, as human beings, and more specifically christians, have certain morals and guidelines by which we are commanded to live. God is not held to the same standards. He is God. You and I are required to be compassionate towards our fellow man, and to forgive them, because we are not God. We dont know that person’s heart….Where they came from, whether they have mental health issues, what they have been through in their life, the actual circumstances surrounding the crime itself, etc….My problem is with humans taking it upon themselves to play God, and end people’s lives. When God does take someone’s life, I am not questioning HIS decisions.

    God delegated this authority to governments. See Romans 13. And once again, you haven’t shown a single verse why CP is wrong in principle or was overturned.

    “That wouldn’t just apply to capital punishment, it would apply to all judgments.”

    No, it wouldnt. Yielding to government rulers doesnt imply yielding to death by human “justice”. If it did, the NT would be contradictory. Because again, Jesus came in the name of abolishing such “justice”. What you are doing is what every other DP-supporting christian does, and that is picking and choosing which OT laws still apply, and what ones dont, according to what you find acceptable as an individual. How can I possibly make it any clearer?

    If you use James 4:12 to say CP is wrong in principle then you just took away the government’s rights to make any judgments in court, ever. Remember, God didn’t delegate CP and justice in general to you and me but to governments.

    If you want to make it clearer, try to find a verse referring to CP and why it is wrong in principle. Don’t just find a “do not judge” verse and take it out of context, because those don’t say “don’t let gov’t make judgments about CP, but let them judge everything else. That passage obviously doesn’t apply to the justice system or it would say all judgments by courts are wrong.

    The reality is, every argument you present involves the OT. And to acknowledge the OT in the way you are, you are undermining Jesus Christ himself, and minimizing what He meant to the world as we know it.

    I didn’t realize Romans was in the OT ;-) . And I’ve read the red letters a few times and can’t see where Jesus overturned CP.

    I can see that this is a passionate issue for you, but it is very unproductive when you keep resorting to generalities to put me down for holding this view. You have not established any biblical arguments for why I am undermining Jesus Christ himself and minimizing what He meant to the world as we know it. That is just a bunch of words meant to put me down and dismiss my views.

  7. “What I’m missing is a single verse from you referring to where capital punishment is said to be wrong in principle.”

    There are literally dozens. The NT as a whole embodies the argument against capital punishment. Again, I must ask you….If we are to support capital punishment, what is it that separates us from Jews or Muslims?

    “If it repays evil with evil, then you just accused God of being evil (bad idea). You beg the question in calling it evil. You have yet to demonstrate from the Bible where God says it is evil.”

    Ok, so now we’re taking scripture in the most literal sense possible. The NT doesnt say the words “Capital punshment is wrong, and is not evil”, so killing someone to prove a point must be just fine. I was always under the assumption that “Do not repay evil with evil” is a general statement, and goes hand in hand with “Love your enemies”. It goes for everything. From someone insulting you, to the taking of someone’s life. I dont see scripture overturning the putting to death of homosexuals, adulterers and so on, any more than capital punishment. So is it also okay to you to put those people to death? And am I calling God evil if I say it’s wrong to murder a homosexual because of their lifestyle? That’s pretty much what you’re implying here.

    “God delegated this authority to governments”

    I knew this was looming. Yes, God gives these men the power to govern. That’s all He does. He doesnt approve of everything they do while they govern, now does He? If you are to refute that, we have now opened a whole new can of worms. We are now entering in a discussion regarding free will, which as we both know, will never end.

    “That passage obviously doesn’t apply to the justice system or it would say all judgments by courts are wrong.”

    No…And let me incorporate Romans 13 as a whole into this response. Without rulers, there is no order. God allows them to rule to maintain order. Punishment is also required to maintain order. KILLING someone is NOT required to maintain order. And let me again refer you back to the previous response. Just because God gives them the power to govern, doesnt mean He approves of HOW they govern.

    I am passionate about it. I am also not a liberal. I am a open-minded, free-thinking christian, who actually bought into conservative ideology for most of my adult life. I have no agenda, other than living the way Jesus commanded me to, and attempting to help others do the same. You claim you are not gung-ho about CP, yet you took the time to write a relatively detailed article defending it. That seems a bit strange to me.

    And Im not trying to put you down. Im trying to do my part to get rid of that mentality that so many christians have. It’s a mentality we are supposed to reject, in every form. We are obviously not going to agree on this. I approach this from the big, overall perspective. While you focus your attention on details, and particulars. I feel pretty good about the fact that when the day comes, I can stand before Him and say I openly rejected that philosophy.

  8. “What I’m missing is a single verse from you referring to where capital punishment is said to be wrong in principle.”

    There are literally dozens. The NT as a whole embodies the argument against capital punishment. Again, I must ask you….If we are to support capital punishment, what is it that separates us from Jews or Muslims?

    Graham, when you say there are literally dozens it would be helpful to list at least one or two. It would enhance your credibility. Thus far you’ve supplied zero.

    Can you see how I could make the opposite yet equally empty claim? “The Bible as a whole supports my view! So there!”

    I don’t see how your Muslim / Jew non sequitor re. capital punishment demonstrates anything. What separates us from Muslims and Jews is Jesus the Messiah and his death and resurrection, not his views on CP for murderers. Do you really mean to imply that the key difference of Christianity is that Jesus came to say the death penalty for murderers was being overturned?

    “If it repays evil with evil, then you just accused God of being evil (bad idea). You beg the question in calling it evil. You have yet to demonstrate from the Bible where God says it is evil.”

    Ok, so now we’re taking scripture in the most literal sense possible. The NT doesnt say the words “Capital punshment is wrong, and is not evil”, so killing someone to prove a point must be just fine. I was always under the assumption that “Do not repay evil with evil” is a general statement, and goes hand in hand with “Love your enemies”. It goes for everything. From someone insulting you, to the taking of someone’s life. I dont see scripture overturning the putting to death of homosexuals, adulterers and so on, any more than capital punishment. So is it also okay to you to put those people to death? And am I calling God evil if I say it’s wrong to murder a homosexual because of their lifestyle? That’s pretty much what you’re implying here.

    I’m not being overly literal, I’m reading in context. When it says don’t repay evil with evil, who is Jesus talking to? Is He saying that governments should not apply justice at any time for any offense? Again, your argument proves too much. It takes the passage directed at individuals out of context and applies it to all situations of justice. It would argue against all judgments and not just CP.

    You are distorting my arguments and displaying a lack of understanding of the OT with your emotive homosexual comments. I defy you to find one example where I’ve said that the Israelite-specific theocratic laws apply to Gentiles. You claim not to be a liberal but you are using one of their cheap tricks in this case.

    “God delegated this authority to governments”

    I knew this was looming. Yes, God gives these men the power to govern. That’s all He does. He doesnt approve of everything they do while they govern, now does He? If you are to refute that, we have now opened a whole new can of worms. We are now entering in a discussion regarding free will, which as we both know, will never end.

    “Looming?” How ominous. Yes, when discussing what the Bible says about justice my biblical arguments will always be looming.

    “That passage obviously doesn’t apply to the justice system or it would say all judgments by courts are wrong.”

    No…And let me incorporate Romans 13 as a whole into this response. Without rulers, there is no order. God allows them to rule to maintain order. Punishment is also required to maintain order. KILLING someone is NOT required to maintain order. And let me again refer you back to the previous response. Just because God gives them the power to govern, doesnt mean He approves of HOW they govern.

    Agreed, but you have failed to demonstrate how God overturned the punishment for properly convicted murderers. You just keep throwing out accusations and distortions and insist you have lots of verses but have yet to show one.

    I am passionate about it. I am also not a liberal. I am a open-minded, free-thinking christian, who actually bought into conservative ideology for most of my adult life. I have no agenda, other than living the way Jesus commanded me to, and attempting to help others do the same. You claim you are not gung-ho about CP, yet you took the time to write a relatively detailed article defending it. That seems a bit strange to me.

    I’m glad you aren’t a liberal. I am also open-minded and free-thinking. I listed in great detail how I came to my conclusions. Feel free to actually stay on topic and demonstrate where one of my analyses of the biblical text is wrong, but so far all you’ve done is ramble. Just because someone comes to different conclusions doesn’t mean you are open minded and he is not.

    And Im not trying to put you down. Im trying to do my part to get rid of that mentality that so many christians have. It’s a mentality we are supposed to reject, in every form. We are obviously not going to agree on this. I approach this from the big, overall perspective. While you focus your attention on details, and particulars. I feel pretty good about the fact that when the day comes, I can stand before Him and say I openly rejected that philosophy.

    Who says I don’t approach it from the big, overall perspective? My big, overall perspective is reading the Bible in context and taking it very seriously. Read my whole blog. I don’t get caught up in minor issues. I focus on the essentials: Jesus is the only way, He is God, the authority of scripture, etc. For you to leave all these comments and then act like I’m out of line to discuss this is a bit hypocritical of you.

    P.S. There is one capital punishment per week in the U.S. and twenty thousand abortions. Twenty thousand to one. Is it safe to assume that you are wildly pro-life and support legal restrictions against abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother?

  9. Like I said, we arent going to agree on this, obviously. Im not on board with this idea of applying Jesus’ words to some things and not to others. And as much as I disagree with you on this, I do greatly appreciate the fact that you are biblically educated on such an issue. I have been open about my stance on this with people I know, online and in real-life, and none of them even make an attempt at proving me wrong. Yet they will still adamantly disagree with me. It’s discouraging actually.

    Im glad you mentioned abortion, because it was something I forgot to mention actually. If we are going to accept capital punishment because it is enforced by people God has allowed to govern, how can you make an argument that we should then NOT accept abortion as well? It never says in the NT “Abortion is evil, and we are to reject it”. AND, if you accept the notion that an unborn baby is capable of sin (Which many believe), CP and abortion are exactly the same.

    “Is it safe to assume that you are wildly pro-life and support legal restrictions against abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother?”

    I suppose I am. Do YOU oppose legal restrictions on abortion? Because that’s not exactly something christians oppose.

    “For you to leave all these comments and then act like I’m out of line to discuss this is a bit hypocritical of you.”

    Im not acting like you’re out of line. Everyone has a right to discuss these things, they are important. Im just questioning your true motives.

  10. Like I said, we arent going to agree on this, obviously. Im not on board with this idea of applying Jesus’ words to some things and not to others.

    Not sure what you mean by that. I mean, it sounds reasonable, but if you are implying that I pick and choose I reject that.

    Im glad you mentioned abortion, because it was something I forgot to mention actually. If we are going to accept capital punishment because it is enforced by people God has allowed to govern, how can you make an argument that we should then NOT accept abortion as well? It never says in the NT “Abortion is evil, and we are to reject it”. AND, if you accept the notion that an unborn baby is capable of sin (Which many believe), CP and abortion are exactly the same.

    Do you see a distinction between these two things?

    1. Crushing and dismemberment, without anesthetic, a trial, any appeals, etc. of a human being that has done zero things wrong in the sight of the law.

    2. A cold-blooded murderer convicted in a fair trail and who lost 10+ years of appeals.

    Those are the two things you are trying to say are the exactly the same. I’m trying to take you seriously, but when you make arguments like that I must say it is very difficult.

    “Is it safe to assume that you are wildly pro-life and support legal restrictions against abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother?”

    I suppose I am. Do YOU oppose legal restrictions on abortion? Because that’s not exactly something christians oppose.

    I am fully in favor of legal restrictions against abortion and am glad you support them as well. Sadly, many Christians and “Christians” (i.e, real and fake) will suppport legalized abortion. Many will concede that abortion is wrong but do absolutely nothing to oppose it.

    “For you to leave all these comments and then act like I’m out of line to discuss this is a bit hypocritical of you.”

    Im not acting like you’re out of line. Everyone has a right to discuss these things, they are important. Im just questioning your true motives.

    I encourage you to stick to the facts. Still waiting on all those Bible verses you said were in there opposing CP ;-) .

  11. A comment from an email from Dudley, which includes some excellent quotes:

    No one can be redeemed, after death, if I understand my theoology correctly. But, it is unChristian to state that someone cannot be redeemed after they have been senteced to death. From our births, we have all been sentenced to earthly death, yet all Christians know of the promise of redemption.

    From Quaker, biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey: Carey, who agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer:

    “. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” (p. 116).

    ” . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none.”

    “It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect.” (p. 111-113)”

    synopsis of “A Bible Study”.from Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992. Dr. Carey was a Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College.

    • Hi Jonathon,

      That’s a good question. First, I should note that the earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53-8:11. That is one of only two or three suspect Bible passages that might have been added later. It could be real, and doesn’t have Jesus doing anything He doesn’t demonstrate elsewhere regarding grace and truth, but I wouldn’t use it to make any of primary points.

      But does the text teach that capital punishment is wrong? Not at all. Jesus is God. He can show grace whenever He likes, and if He shows it to a lady who some hypocritical Pharisees are using to try and trick Jesus then so be it.

      The Jewish law required multiple witnesses. Since they had all gone, Jesus was right in letting her go as well.

      Let me know if that helps or if you view it differently.

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