Some Responses to Critics Regarding Capital Punishment

Some Responses to Critics Regarding Capital Punishment July 5, 2013

Thanks to all of you who contributed civil comments, pro and con, responding to my immediately preceding post about capital punishment as heresy. One commenter wrote:



” I may be on a different wavelength from many here, but I’d just like to point out that if we’re going to appeal to the authority of the God of the Old Testament to support capital punishment, then logically we are going to have to support capital punishment for far more than first degree murder. In the Old Testament God is of course also on record as commanding capital punishment for several other things: for example, a son who curses his father, for being a witch, for homosexuality, and for breaking the sabbath. He is also on record as commanding genocide and ethnic cleansing.


New Testament Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Word of God in all its fulness, the Word made flesh. Since his authority is paramount, everything in the rest of the Bible must be interpreted in harmony with his teachings. We do not bend the teaching of Jesus to harmonize it with the Torah. Rather, we bend the Torah to harmonize it with the teaching of Jesus.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

So, to those of you who use Romans 13 to argue that Christians should support capital punishment: Do you then believe that if a government (to which Christians are subjects) tortures people Christians have no right to opp0se it? Or, if a government over Christians executes criminals in extremely inhumane ways (literally using “the sword” which often requires several blows to sever a head) Christians should not speak out against that? I will have trouble believing you if you say  they shouldn’t.

And, to those of you who demand proof texts before I oppose capital punishment (or call it a heresy): What do you say about slavery? There is no scripture proof text that clearly says slavery is sin or wrong. The same can be said about abortion and a myriad of other things (e.g., apartheid, segregation of the races, torture to extract confessions, etc.) that you almost certainly believe are wrong. Are you not guilty of confusing hermeneutics with proof texting? I suspect so. Read William Webb, Slavery, Women and Homosexuals (IVP) to learn about hermeneutics.

Further, to those of you who refer to the OT’s commands to execute certain people: Do you then also believe rebellious teenagers should be stoned?

And, finally, to those who like to think of Jesus as a warrior (and probably a cage fighter, too), read the Sermon on the Mount carefully and prayerfully. And remember that what Jesus will do in the eschaton to Satan and his minions is no warrant for us to do the same to our enemies.

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