Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Primer on the Christian Understanding of Capital Punishment

He notes: "there are essentially two positions that Christians have taken with regards to capital punishment":

  • Rehabilitationalism
  • Retributionalism

Retributionalism: Believes that capital punishment is prescribed by God for all people in order to maintain societal order and retribution.

Rehabilitationalism: Believes that capital punishment is repealed by the New Testament’s command to love one another and let God have final retribution.

Arguments for Capital Punishment (Retributionalism):

1. It is God’s way of punishment instituted at the time of Noah.

Gen 9:6
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”

2. It is continued in the Mosaic Law with further offenses that call for death.

Capital Offenses

3. The New Testament does not repeal the penalty with respect to the government.

4. The New Testament does inform Christians that the government is part of God’s common grace, given to men in order to keep order in society.

Romans 13:3-4
“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”

5. Paul implicitly accepts and agrees with the government’s authority to use the death penalty in his own life.

Acts 25:11a
“If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die.”

He concludes with Arguments Against Capital Punishment (Rehabilitationalism) as well as his position.

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