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Capital Punishment

What is the Christian view on capital punishment?

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February 04, 2008 12:23PM

; It is likely that there is not one single Christian view. One Christian view would refer to the verses below as containing relevant principles. In particular the carrying out of justice upon an evildoer is most certainly permitted by these verses.

But, unlike the Law of Moses, given specifically to the Israelites, there are no details in the New Testament regarding specific punishable offenses, although Genesis 9:6 is a foundational principal on which capital punishment for murder could be carried out. See below.

The New Testement makes a clear distinction between the life of an individual as a Christian believer and the believer as a citizen under another institution of God, the state. As an individual believer he is to turn the other cheek. As a citizen of the state he is to be subject to the higher powers when such do not conflict with God's higher law.

1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 6Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. This is one of the primary differences between the Law of Moses, given specifically to Israel, and the 'law of life in Christ Jesus' which sets Christians free to willingly serve and love both God and their fellow man and also be good citizens 'subject to the higher powers.' Unlike the Israelites who were specifically classified as a 'stiff-necked people' (i.e. stubborn and unteachable) in the Old Testament, Christians are to be both humble and teachable, and due to the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables victory over sin, will not themselves require capital punishment, at least not justly.

Christians are divided today on the use of capital punishment, although many do support it, in limited circumstances and most certainly on principles of universal application, not on rules relating only to one nation at one time in history.

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== == The Old Testament invoked the death penalty for a variety of sins in the theistic governmental society of Israel, such as adultery, bestiality, blasphemy and so forth. However, in the New Testament, Jesus stopped the stoning of the woman caught in adultery. He asked that he who is without sin, cast the first stone. Since none were without sin, they all walked away. This doesn't necessarily mean he was banning the death penalty, but he was certainly indicating a need for mercy in some circumstances. == 1Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.