Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

updated 9/2019

New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming
Dudley Sharp   

Through today and for more than 2000 years, there has been Christian New Testament support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary, particularly those wrongly dependent upon secular concerns such as defense of society and the poor standards of criminal justice systems in protecting the innocent, as the error filled, amended CCC: 2267 of 1997/2018 demonstrates.

Major Christian denominations didn't start to, officially, oppose the death penalty until the mid 1950's, the Catholic Church, not until late 2018. 

Did the bible and fundamental theology, suddenly, change after 1950 or in 2018? Of course not.

In 2018, Pope Francis and others are saying that the greatest of all Catholic Popes, Saints, Doctors of the Church, biblical scholars and theologians, were dead wrong for over 2000 years and that those most revered figures are morally and intellectually inferior because, for over 2000 years, they found the death penalty not just admissible, but, sometimes, obligatory, merciful, part of Holy Scripture, and that it, specifically, recognized the dignity of man and was just - all very well known.

All of a sudden - POOF - those 2000 years of teaching are thrown in the trash heap.

Here are some recent (2018-19), detailed reviews of some of the most obvious problems in The Church's newest, most curious teachings, 

1) "For the earnest believer, the derogation of the doctrinal patrimony of the Church on this matter—as though Scripture, tradition, the consensus of the Fathers, the teaching of Aquinas, and the teaching of all papacies up to the present had been swept away—is in its way as saddening as is the derogation of spiritual and moral integrity in the case of Theodore McCarrick."

from    Magisterial Irresponsibility, First Things, 10/18

2)  Three questions for Catholic opponents of capital punishment,  Dr. Edward Feser, Catholic World Report, 9/15/2019, 

3) Critical Dismay:  The Catholic Church's Latest (2018-19)
Death Penalty Catechism Amendment

"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"

Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position:
The Catechism & Section 2267 

"In Defense of the Death Penalty", Chris Plance and Timothy Gordon, Church Militant, 11/28/17,

Archbishop Charles Chaput: 

“Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment . . . " "The Church cannot repudiate (the death penalty) without repudiating her own identity."  

"Archbishop Chaput clarifies Church’s stance on death penalty", CNA, Catholic News Agency, Oct 18, 2005. Chaput was then archbishop of Denver, now of Philadelphia


A Review of All Innocence Issues


"The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’, for the representative of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice." St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, Chapter 21.


Christianity and the death penalty.


"The rejection of capital punishment is not to be dignified as a ‘higher Christian way’ that enthrones the ethics of Jesus. The argument that Jesus as the incarnation of divine love cancels the appropriateness of capital punishment in the New Testament era has little to commend it. Nowhere does the Bible repudiate capital punishment for premeditated murder; not only is the death penalty for deliberate killing of a fellow human being permitted, but it is approved and encouraged, and for any government that attaches at least as much value to the life of an innocent victim as to a deliberate murderer, it is ethically imperative." Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, Twilight Of A Great Civilization, Crossway, 1988, p 70,72.


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


"It is because humans are created in the image of God that capital punishment for premeditated murder was a perpetual obligation. The full range of biblical data weighs in its favor. This is the one crime in the Bible for which no restitution was possible (Numbers 35:31,33). The Noahic covenant recorded in Genesis 9 ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed. "Gen 9:6) antedates Israel and the Mosaic code; it transcends Old Testament Law, per se, and mirrors ethical legislation that is binding for all cultures and eras. The sanctity of human life is rooted in the universal creation ethic and thus retains its force in society. The Christian community is called upon to articulate standards of biblical justice, even when this may be unpopular. Capital justice is part of that non-negotiable standard. Society should execute capital offenders to balance the scales of moral judgement."  From "Capital Punishment: A Personal Statement", by Charles W. Colson., a former opponent. He is spiritual advisor and friend to numerous death row inmates and the Founder of Prison Fellowship, the largest Christian ministry serving incarcerated prisoners.


Pro Life: The Death Penalty


With regard to some Catholic anti death penalty statements,  Catholic theologian Steven Long places the arrow:

" . . . (it) is symptomatic of a society that can garner more support to spare the guilty than to save the innocent."

"The crowd still wants Barrabas."

Four Catholic Journals Indulge in (anti death penalty) Doctrinal Solipsism, Steven Long, THOMISTICA, March 5, 2015,


Categorical Pardon: On the Argument for Abolishing Capital Punishment, J. Budziszewski, 16 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 43  (2002).


" . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." (p. 111-113), Quaker scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey. A Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College, "A Bible Study",  from Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.

The Death Penalty: Fair & Just

95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty

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

Is There a Biblical Requirement for Two Eyewitnesses for Criminal Prosecution

The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

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

Murder Victims' Families Against The Death Penalty:

More Hurt For Victims Families

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Sister Helen Prejean: Does Truth Matter?

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?"

Pre Constantine Death Penalty Support

Pre Constantine Death Penalty Support
Dudley Sharp

Not infrequently, do we hear that the death penalty did not have Christian support until after Constantine's conversion in 313.

It is, simply, untrue.

Does one, simply, presume, that for 1700 years, scholars, including Popes, Saints,  Doctors and Fathers of the Church, countless church leaders, ministers, biblical scholars and theologians did not take into consideration the Constantine effect with their pro death penalty interpretations,  that somehow it was unknown or unrevealed to them, but that some much smaller group of lesser scholars, over the last 100 years,  found that it was only Constantine that allowed a pro death penalty Christian interpretation, even though it existed prior to Constantine, with some serious scholars, inclusive of Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost and for the next 2000 years (1)?  

1) Clement of Rome (Saint & Father of the Church), Bishop of Rome, 90-100 C.E.

First Epistle to the Corinthians (Ch 41)  96-98

Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin- offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned.

Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death.

Clement argued that God alone rules all things, that He lays down the law, punishing rebels and rewarding the obedient, and that His authority is delegated to Church leaders. Clement went as far as to say that whoever disobeys these divinely ordained authorities has disobeyed God Himself and should receive the death penalty.

2) Clement of Alexandria (153 - 217) Saint & Father of the Church

a)  The Instructor - Bk I,  Ch VIII (Against Those Who Think That What is Just is Not Good)

Furthermore, the general of an army, by inflicting fines and corporeal punishments with chains and the extremest disgrace on offenders, and sometimes even by punishing individuals with death, aims at good, doing so for the admonition of the officers under him.

And God does not inflict punishment from wrath, but for the ends of justice; since it is not expedient that justice should be neglected on our account. Each one of us, who sins, with his own free-will chooses punishment, and the blame lies with him who chooses.

b)  The Stromata

i. (Bk I, Ch 27)  The Law, even in correcting and punishing, aims at the good of men. But when it sees any one in such a condition as to appear incurable, posting to the last stage of wickedness, then in its solicitude for the rest, that they may not be destroyed by it (just as if amputating a part from the whole body), it condemns such an one to death, as the course most conducive to health.

"Being judged by the Lord," says the apostle, "we are chastened, that we may not be condemned with the world." For the prophet had said before, "Chastening, the Lord hath chastised me, but hath not given me over unto death." "For in order to teach thee His righteousness," it is said, "He chastised thee and tried thee, and made thee to hunger and thirst in the desert land; that all His statutes and His judgments may be known in thy heart, as I command thee this day; and that thou mayest know in thine heart, that just as if a man were chastising his son, so the Lord our God shall chastise thee."

And to prove that example corrects, he says directly to the purpose: "A clever man, when he seeth the wicked punished, will himself be severely chastised, for the fear of the Lord is the source of wisdom."

"But it is the highest and most perfect good, when one is able to lead back any one from the practice of evil to virtue and well-doing, which is the very function of the law. So that, when one fails into any incurable evil, -- when taken possession of, for example, by wrong or covetousness, -- it will be for his good if he is put to death. For the law is beneficent, being able to make some righteous from unrighteous, if they will only give ear to it, and by releasing others from present evils; for those who have chosen to live temperately and justly, it conducts to immortality."

ii. (Bk II, Ch 23) On Marriage

"In order to check the impetuosity of the passions, it commands the adulteress to be put to death, on being convicted of this; and if of priestly family, to be committed to the flames. And the adulterer also is stoned to death, but not in the same place, that not even their death may be in common." 

"And the law is not at variance with the Gospel, but agrees with it. How should it be otherwise, one Lord being the author of both?"

"She who has committed fornication liveth in sin, and is dead to the commandments; but she who has repented, being as it were born again by the change in her life, has a regeneration of life; the old harlot being dead, and she who has been regenerated by repentance having come back again to life. The Spirit testifies to what has been said by Ezekiel, declaring, "I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn." Now they are stoned to death; as through hardness of heart dead to the law which they believed not. But in the case of a priestess the punishment is increased, because "to whom much is given, from him shall more be required."

3) It is impossible to say that the teachings of God/Jesus/Holy Ghost are not pre Constantine. Here are some New Testament references, for them and others.

Jesus, the Holy Ghost and the Death Penalty

"Paul repeatedly refers to the connection between sin and death. He writes to the Romans with an apparent reference to the death penalty, that the magistrate who holds authority does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer (Rom 13:4). No passage in the New Testament disapproves of the death penalty." (Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, "The Death Penalty: A Right to Life Issue?", 10/7/2000, at

Paul, in his hearing before Festus, states: "if then I am a wrong doer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die." Acts 25:11. "Very clearly this constitutes an acknowledgment on the part of the inspired apostle that the state continued to have the power of life and death in the administration of justice, just as it did from the days of Noah (Gen 9:6)".

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. By executing  two such devoted Christians for lying to Him, does the Holy Spirit show confirmation of His support for His divinely instituted civil punishment of execution for premeditated murder or does it show His rejection of capital punishment? 

And read all of Revelation.

 "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." Jesus, Matthew 5:17-22. 

Should any explanation be necessary, Jesus is saying that even as execution is the required punishment for murderers, as per the Old Testament, He tells us that those who speak ill of others and have hatred in their heart shall suffer in hell. Not only does Jesus never speak out against the civil authorities just use of execution for murder, He prescribes a much more serious, eternal punishment for those who hate and speak ill of others. And what price does God exact for any and all sin? Death. (Romans 5:12-14)

4) St. Athanasius (c 296 - 373) Archbishop of Alexandria, Father of the Church

a)   Two Books Against the Heathen - Bk I

# 12. Other shameful actions ascribed to heathen deities. All prove that they are but men at 
former times, and not even good men. For, to mention a few instances out of many to avoid prolixity, who that saw his lawless and corrupt conduct toward Semele, Leda, Alcmene, Artemis, Leto, Maia, Europe, Danae, and Antiope, or that saw what he ventured to take in hand with regard to his own sister, in having the same woman as wife and sister, would not scorn him and pronounce him worthy of death?

b)   Ad Afros Epistola Synodica - 369

What then do such men deserve, but to be called Arians, and to share the punishment of the Arians? For they were not afraid of God, who says, 'Remove not the eternal boundaries which thy fathers placed,' and 'He that speaketh against father or mother, let him die the death:'

c)      Defense of his flight - 357

But for as much as they pretend to charge me with cowardice, it is necessary that I should write somewhat concerning this, whereby it shall be proved that they are men of wicked minds, who have not read the sacred Scriptures: or if they have read them, that they do not believe the divine inspiration of the oracles they contain. For had they believed this, they would not dare to act contrary to them, nor imitate the malice of the Jews who slew the Lord. For God having given them a commandment, 'Honour thy father and thy mother,' and, 'He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death;' that people established a contrary law, changing the honour into dishonour, and alienating to other uses the money which was due from the children to their parents.

Although one must consider St. Athanasius a post Constantine source,  it is most likely that he was influenced by both Clements (above), as I think it even better shown by his reliance upon scripture to support his position. I am unaware of any acknowledgement or evidence of a Constantine influence on him.


1) New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming