Scripture Prohibits Capital Punishment
Old Testament Law clearly calls for capital punishment. So those who believe Scripture prohibits capital punishment argue that the developments of the New Testament era supersede the Old Testament Law.
ARGUMENT 1Israel was a theocracy, a nation ruled directly by God. Therefore, its Law was unique. Executing false teachers and those who sacrificed to false gods are examples of provisions that sprang from Israel’s unique position as a nation of God called to be holy. When Israel ceased to exist as a nation, its Law was nullified.Even the execution of murderers stemmed, in part, from God’s special relationship to Israel. Numbers 35:33 says that the blood of a murder victim “pollutes the land,” a pollution that must be cleansed by the death of the murderer. If the murderer could not be found, an animal was to be sacrificed to God to purge the community of guilt .
ARGUMENT 2Christ’s death on the cross ended the requirement for blood recompense and blood sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, replaced the sacrifice of animals. His death also made it unnecessary to execute murderers to maintain human dignity and value because the crucifixion forever established human value. Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
The Gospel Of Life And The Sentence Of Death: Catholic Teaching On Capital Punishment
Many Catholics find the Church’s teaching on capital punishment confusing. While Christian faith affirms the sanctity of human life, the Church also affirms the legitimacy of executing a duly convicted criminal in particular circumstances. To eliminate this confusion, two distinct but related questions need to be considered: 1) Does society have the right to put a criminal to death for a heinous crime? If so, 2) Do today’s circumstances justify the exercise of this right?
The Public Debate
Certainly, recent developments have prompted public officials to reconsider these two issues. For example, last year the State of Illinois released Anthony Porter after more than fifteen years on death row and officially reversed his conviction. Another man had confessed on videotape and was charged with the double murder for which Porter had been convicted and sentenced to die.
On another level, Porter’s case is not extraordinary at all. Too frequently the administration of justice comes dangerously close to what Illinois governor George Ryan calls “the ultimate nightmare, the state’s taking an innocent life.” According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973 almost ninety people have been freed from death row after the discovery of exculpatory evidence.
The Church Asks: Can We?
The Church Asks: Should We?
Capital Punishment In The Bible
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The Sabbath-Breaker Stoned
Capital punishment in the Bible refers to instances in the Bible where death is called for as a punishment and also instances where it is proscribed or prohibited. Perhaps the strongest case against capital punishment in the New Testament can be made from John 8, where Jesus seems to say that capital punishment should not be carried out contrary to Mosaic law. There are however far more verses that command and condone capital punishment, and examples of it being carried out, especially in the Torah/Old Testament. Sins that were punishable by death include: homicide, striking one’s parents, kidnapping, cursing one’s parents, witchcraft and divination, bestiality, worshiping other gods, violating the Sabbath, child sacrifice, adultery, incest, and male homosexual intercourse .
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Capital Punishment In The New Testament
The New Testament adds important context to the topic but doesnt clearly instruct us one way or the other regarding the death penalty. The apostle Paul acknowledges that wielding the sword is a legitimate exercise of government authoritypresumably he is referring to its duty to punish criminals, with violence if necessary. On the other hand, many of Jesus actions and words, such as his foiling of the execution of the adulterous woman, suggest that mercy and humility should stay societys killing hand. And of course, no Christian is unaware of Jesus own experience with capital punishment: he was the ultimate innocent victim of the governments sword wielded unjustly.
Because the New Testaments gospel of grace is held to have fulfilled the Old Testament law, it is worth questioning whether Old Testament capital punishmenta powerful enforcer of that lawis a tool we should use today or whether it was appropriate only within the context of the Old Testament covenant. An over-arching theme of the New Testament is the undeserved forgiveness extended to us by a merciful God. As recipients of Gods grace, we are called to extend grace to others as well. How do we reconcile the need for justice with the importance of mercy and forgiveness? Do the requirements of justice trump the opportunity for mercy, or vice versa?
What The Bible Says
Lets start in Genesis 9, shall we? Genesis 9:6 says that Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image . By this clear statement, we can definitively say that God instituted the death penalty. It was His idea. But its important to understand the why here.
The last part of the verse says for God made man in his own image. God created the death penalty because the imago Dei is sacred. When you murder somebody, you are murdering a person made in Gods image. He takes it that serious.
We see more about the death penalty in Exodus. Whoever strikes a man so that he dies, Exodus 21:12 says, shall be put to death . If you take a life then your life will be taken. Its truly that simple.
The death penalty is explicitly grounded in the fact that God made every individual human being in His own image, and thus an act of intentional murder is an assault upon human dignity and the very image of God, Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. The one who intentionally takes life by murder forfeits the right to his own life .
The New Testament even chimes in as well. We are told by the Apostle Paul that the government does not bear the sword in vain .
The Bible is very clear on capital punishment.
God Instituted Death Penalty
As we read the Old Testament, it wont be long before you come across a scripture where God commanded certain people to die. In fact, death penalty is part of the civil law that He gave to Moses. Some of the most common crimes or acts that were punishable by death penalty are the following:
- Rebellious children
There were even instances when God commanded the Israelites to wipe out a whole nation .
With all these scriptures, isnt it clear that Christians should support death penalty? While this might be the case, there are other considerations that we should have. After all, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are ways higher than ways and thoughts than thoughts .
Does Christianity Support The Death Penalty
There has been some agreement in Christian tradition that capital punishment is a valuable and practicable penalty and that it is also social. The death penalty comes under scrutiny for varying reasons, one of which is the belief that some translations of certain texts deny the use of the death penalty.
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The Argument Against The Death Penalty
As stated by the FIACAT Representation to the United Nations, The death penalty does not respect the right to life. In addition to this main reason, other arguments include that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, it is built upon a faulty governmental system, it does not truly protect society, and it does not give the opportunity for the criminal to repent.
Concerning the last reason, if a person is sentenced to death, they would never have time to accept Jesus into their lives. There are numerous ministries today focused on helping prisoners come to know Jesus across the world. Prison ministries emphasize forgiveness and redemption to the prisoners as all people can be saved.
A person is only given forgiveness because of placing faith in Christ . Even if a persons past is filled with sin, God can still forgive them and redeem them. Nothing is too unforgivable for God if the person comes before God in genuine remorse. Paul was a persecutor of the faith, he strongly opposed the apostles message, and he was even a murderer.
And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison .
Capital Punishment In The Old Testament
Capital punishment was a significant feature in the justice system of Old Testament Israel. Execution was called for in response to extreme civil crimes like murder and rape, as well as for offenses against Gods holiness, like false prophecy and witchcraft. There were mechanisms in place to avert the death penalty in some situations, and God sometimes spared the lives of people whose actions, legally speaking, would have otherwise meant the death penalty. The establishment of capital punishment in ancient Israel is often used to argue for the death penalty in modern timesand it seems reasonable to conclude that since God incorporated it into Israelite society, capital punishment is not antithetical to His nature.
The death penalty was never employed arbitrarily or frivolously. In fact, observing the use of capital punishment in the Old Testament actually shows us how precious human life is to God. Because human beings are image-bearers of God, murder was such a serious affront to both God and man that it had to be answered with the blood of the murderer. Genesis 9:6 suggests that this sense of justice is woven into the moral fabric of Creation:
Whoever sheds mans blood,his blood will be shed by man,for God made manin His image. Genesis 9:6
Christians are well aware of the atoning power of blood, believing that Christs bloodshed at his execution on the crossspares us from the spiritual death penalty that our sins would otherwise merit.
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The Christian Argument Against The Death Penalty
06 June 2019
The christian argument against the death penalty
In all societies, repression has shifted gradually from the notion of vengeance to the rational organisation of punishment. Throughout this transition, politics and religion have been intimately linked. For centuries Christians had recourse to the death penalty and justified it. Nowadays, the vast majority of Christian Churches are against the death penalty and actively campaign for its abolition.
The law of the Old Testament stipulated the death penalty for various crimes . However, God frequently demonstrated his mercy. Jesus would have approved of the death penalty in certain cases but showed mercy in situations where it should have been applied. The apostle Paul recognises the right of governments to provide for capital punishment where necessary.
The Christian Churches current position on the death penalty
- The Reformed or Protestant Churches
For the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Where the death penalty is implemented, Gods redeeming love is violated. .
A declaration of the World Council of Churches of March 1990 proclaimed its unconditional opposition to the death penalty: in taking away a human life, the state usurps the will of God. The WCC recommended that governments abolish the death penalty and ratify promptly the second optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, concerning the abolition of the death penalty.
- The Roman Catholic Church
Bible Verses About Death Penalty
Bible verses related to Death Penalty from the King James Version by Relevance
Genesis 9:6 – Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.Exodus 21:12 – He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.Romans 12:19 – Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine I will repay, saith the Lord.Exodus 20:13 – Thou shalt not kill.Jude 1:7 – Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.Matthew 5:43-44 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.Matthew 5:38-39 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: Exodus 21:17 – And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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A Hard And Complicated Situation
Each Christian has to choose whether or not they believe in the death penalty. There are strong reasons for each side of the argument. In the Old Testament, there were times when the death penalty needed to be enacted and it was carried out.
Even though capital punishment is a reality in the present world today, believers need to approach the subject with wisdom. Galatians 6:6-7 tells us, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
God does not desire anyone to die however, there are consequences for our sins. God can forgive any sin, but the government and authority figures have created their own human system for justice. It is fully possible for criminals, prisoners, and murderers to place faith in Jesus and receive forgiveness.
As Christians, we need to study the Bible and come to our own findings on the death penalty. Praying for Gods guidance, direction, and wisdom will help believers make good decisions for all areas of life, including taking a stance on the arguments of capital punishment. God promises to give us wisdom if we ask for it.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you .
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Matters Of Life And Death: Crime Punishment And Justice
Christians believe that sin is a part of human nature, we all have the potential to commit a crime and criminals should be treated justly. However, there is disagreement on what justice means.
. Murder is the ultimate capital offence:
quoteMan was made like God, so whoever murders a man will be killed by his fellow-man.Exodus 21:23
The Old Testament also permits limited revenge:
quoteThe punishment shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.Exodus 21:23
Some would argue that the commandment Do not commit murder supports capital punishment as it affirms the seriousness of the crime of murder. However, others may argue that this commandment is against all taking of human life, whether by a murderer or by the state giving a punishment.
Jesus says it is better not to take revenge at all:
quoteBut now I tell you, do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.Matthew 5:39
The idea of not taking revenge continues in the New Testament with the letters of Paul, when he writes:
quoteAsk God to bless those who persecute you.Romans 12:14
However, Paul does say that the state has a right to carry out punishment on Gods behalf against wrong-doers:
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Why God Instituted Death Penalty
We need to remember that the nation of Israel is composed of carnal, UNCONVERTED, and worldly individuals. They didnt have the Holy Spirit and only a select few have it. Since they dont have the Holy Spirit, they cant understand spiritual things. At their best, they can only keep the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. This is the reason that God dealt with them in a purely PHYSICAL manner.
Thats why apart from the Ten Commandments, the spiritual and eternal law of God, He also added civil laws to govern the physical government of Israel. And some of the penalties included in the civil law is the death penalty.
Supporting Capital Punishment In The New Testament
9. Acts 25:9-11 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he asked Paul, Are you willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on these charges with me as your judge? Paul said, I am standing in the emperors court where I must be tried. I havent done anything wrong to the Jews, as you know very well. If I am guilty and have done something wrong for which I deserve the death penalty, I dont reject the idea of dying. But if their accusations are untrue, no one can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal my case to the emperor!
10.Romans 13:1-4 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are Gods servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are Gods servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
11. 1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme
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