So Then Should Christians Support Capital Punishment?
This is an ethical conundrum we have all thought about at one point. Enjoying God Ministries goes at length to put this question into Biblical context. To begin with…
Contrary to what many suppose, there is not a consensus in the Christian community on the morality of capital punishment. Although a majority of evangelicals probably endorse CP, at least in the case of premeditated murder, a significant minority oppose it. For example, representatives of the American Baptist Convention adopted this resolution in 1960 concerning CP:
- “Because the Christian believes in the inherent worth of human personality and in the unceasing availability of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and redemptive power, and
- Because the Christian wholeheartedly supports the emphasis in modern penology upon the process of creative, redemptive rehabilitation rather than on punishment and primitive retribution, and
- Because the deterrent effects of capital punishment are not supported by available evidence, and
- Because the death penalty tends to brutalize the human spirit and the society which condones it, and
- Because human agencies of legal justice are fallible, permitting the possibility of the executing of the innocent,
We, therefore, recommend the abolition of capital punishment and the re-evaluation of the parole system relative to such cases.” (Cited in “The Argument against the Death Penalty” in The Death Penalty in America, pp. 167-68).
[For a brief history of capital punishment and the legal developments in the U.S., see John Jefferson Davis, Christian Ethics, pp. 176-78.]
Our approach to this issue must begin by a careful analysis of the relevant biblical texts.
That’s not all. Here is the scriptural analysis.