Capital Punishment

This punishment is specified in Gen 9:6 and Rom 13:4. Paul puts all doubts to rest that the New Testament has abrogated the authority of this penalty when he states in Acts 25:11 11 If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar. Elohim also shows in the direct execution of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-6 that to put to death men for their faults is not repugnant to the spirit of the gospel. Those in the Eastern Orthodox Church complain that Jesus did not come to judge and did not meddle in such legalistic temporal matters in his ministry. Anthony Burgess replies, “Christ in his first coming was not as a Judge, and therefore did not take upon him to meddle in temporal punishments only as a minister”. (Burgess, Anthony. Vindiciae Legis: or, A Vindication of the Moral Law and the Covenants, from the Errors of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially, Antinomians (1647), pg. 192) Yet in his second coming he is a judge.

The same principles that the Eastern and many modern Churches reject about penal substitution also play a role in their view of Capital Punishment. The idea of vindicating justice has been removed from their conception of Elohim and so inevitably the vindicating justice behind Capital Punishment has been denied as well. Joining the company of the Eastern Church is the modern liberal movement that has rejected justice for rehabilitation and parole, such as John Dewey’s Instrumentalism. A primary objection to this punishment is that it does not deter crime. Well it deters it for the one killed! Second, the law itself cannot deter crime but enforcement of that law will. The problem is the law is rarely enforced and it has been this way for decades in this country. However, Elohim did make an exception for the murderer Cain (Gen 4). Therefore, it is not a necessity to execute every murderer. The question is, is capital punishment ever the course to follow or is it never to be considered? The biblical answer is yes it can be a course to follow and yes it can be considered.


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