Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jesus and the death penalty

Jesus and the death penalty
compiled by Dudley Sharp

1) God/Jesus: 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.' Matthew 15:4.  full context -  

Jesus used this reference to condemn the Pharisees for their  intentional misinterpretation of God's Word, emphasizing that the Truth of God's Word must be enforced, which is precisely what He was doing with this well known passage, which references several quotes by God from the OT. Thorough reviews find about 60 references supportive.    www.newadvent.org/bible/mat015.htm

As Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ states: (10/7/2000) 

"At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). When Pilate calls attention to his authority to crucify him, Jesus points out that Pilate's power comes to him from above-that is to say, from God (Jn 19:1 l).Jesus commends the good thief on the cross next to him, who has admitted that he and his fellow thief are receiving the due reward of their deeds (Lk 23:41). "

Dulles states that Matthew 15:4 was a command. 

from "The Death Penalty: A Right to Life Issue?" at http://pewforum.org/deathpenalty/resources/reader/17.php3
NOTE: although Dulles makes secular errors of fact and logic within the sections "The Purposes of Punishment" and "Harm Attributed to the Death Penalty", it is a solid historical treatment of the Church and the death penalty

2) Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Jesus) replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43.

It is not the nature of our deaths, but the state of our salvation at the time of our death which is most important.

3) Jesus: Matthew 18:6-9 “Whoever causes one of these little ones* who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7* Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 8e If your hand or foot causes you to sin,* cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna. ( Temptations to Sin , http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/18)

Suicide or execution is preferable to the consequences of turning a child to sin.

4) Jesus: “So Pilate said to (Jesus), “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:10-11.

The power to execute comes directly from God.

5) Jesus: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22.

Fiery hell is a considerable more severe sanction than any earthly death.

6) The Holy Spirit, God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.

No trial, no appeals, just death on the spot for these two well known early Christians. Why and what for?

Some other references:

God: “You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death.” Numbers 35:31 (NAB) full context http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/numbers/numbers35.htm.

For murder, there is no mitigation from a death sentence, although mitigation is offered for all other death penalty eligible transgressions.

God: Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.

5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.

6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.

Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal - Murder requires execution of the murderer. It is a command. The Noahic covenant is for all persons and all times.

As the latest CCC states:

"CCC 2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God's gift of human life and man's murderous violence:
For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning. . . . Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.This teaching remains necessary for all time."

 . . . the source for which is the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:6, an eternal command, for all peoples and all times, which establishes the sacredness of life as the foundation for death penalty support.

Additional support:

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

"All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

"Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars".

The Catechism and the Death Penalty

Christianity and the death penalty.

Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,

The Woman Caught in Adultery, the Death Penalty & John 8:2-11

Is There a Biblical Requirment for Two Eyewitnesses for Criminal Prosecution? 


Pro Life: The Death Penalty

Forgiveness and Murder

"Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

Is Execution Closure? Of Course.

Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review

A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on the Death Penalty

"The DeLuna Deception: At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?"

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims