I am having a little bit of a comment debate with an acquaintance over he death penalty. He is an evangelical christian and believes God is very much for it citing the Noahic Covenant, Jesus affirming Pilate’s right to kill him the Mosaic Law etc. He is not a catholic, so he would be unimpressed with church documents speaking against capital punishment so I am trying to argue against it strictly biblicaly. I know this subject is an important one for you, and I am wondering if you know of any angles I could advance from.
The problem with “Bible only” Protestantism is that the Bible doesn’t interpret itself (no book does). So the Protestant is always bringing his semi-permeable interpretive membrane of things he does and does not want to see in it and reading it through that. It works this way:
If a thing is condemned by the Church, but permitted by the Protestant (say, gay marriage) the demand is for an explicit text forbidding it (“Show me where Jesus said one word about not allowing gay marriage! That’s just the Church imposing its purely human ideas on what Jesus came to say.”).
Conversely, if a thing is allowed by the Church but condemned by the Protestant, the demand is for an explicit text commanding it. So, for instance, we get demands like, “Where in the Bible do you find anyone asking us to pray to dead people? That’s just the Church imposing it’s purely human ideas on what Jesus came to say.”
If your friend wants to see a command for the death penalty there, he will and no mortal power will stop him. Of course you can also wring “biblical proof” for everything from the Loch Ness Monster (“Behemoth” in Job) to extraterrestrials (the wheels within wheels of Ezekiel) from the Bible too, with sufficient will power. That’s why we need a Magisterium, to situate the text within the Tradition and to read the signs of the times.
So I would suggest two things. Have a conversation about sacred tradition (use my book By What Authority? as the way to start that conversation and then read this essay on why abolition of death penalty is urged by the Church. Hope that helps!