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May 1st, 2014
09:15 AM ET

Why Christians should support the death penalty

Opinion by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

(CNN) - The death penalty has been part of human society for millennia, understood to be the ultimate punishment for the most serious crimes.

But, should Christians support the death penalty now, especially in light of the controversial execution Tuesday in Oklahoma?

This is not an easy yes or no question.

On the one hand, the Bible clearly calls for capital punishment in the case of intentional murder.

In Genesis 9:6, God told Noah that the penalty for intentional murder should be death: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

The death penalty was explicitly grounded in the fact that God made every individual human being in his own image, and thus an act of intentional murder is an assault upon human dignity and the very image of God.

In the simplest form, the Bible condemns murder and calls for the death of the murderer. The one who intentionally takes life by murder forfeits the right to his own life.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians that the government “does not bear the sword in vain.” Indeed, in this case the magistrate “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the evildoer.” [Romans 13:4]

On the other hand, the Bible raises a very high requirement for evidence in a case of capital murder.

The act of murder must be confirmed and corroborated by the eyewitness testimony of accusers, and the society is to take every reasonable precaution to ensure that no one is punished unjustly.

While the death penalty is allowed and even mandated in some cases, the Bible also reveals that not all who are guilty of murder and complicity in murder are executed.

Just remember the biblical accounts concerning Moses, David and Saul, later known as Paul.

Christian thinking about the death penalty must begin with the fact that the Bible envisions a society in which capital punishment for murder is sometimes necessary, but should be exceedingly rare.

The Bible also affirms that the death penalty, rightly and justly applied, will have a powerful deterrent effect.

In a world of violence, the death penalty is understood as a necessary firewall against the spread of further deadly violence.

Seen in this light, the problem we face today is not with the death penalty, but with society at large.

American society is quickly conforming to a secular worldview, and the clear sense of right and wrong that was Christianity’s gift to Western civilization is being replaced with a much more ambiguous morality.

We have lost the cultural ability to declare murder – even mass murder – to be deserving of the death penalty.

Oklahoma's botched lethal injection marks new front in battle over executions

We have also robbed the death penalty of its deterrent power by allowing death penalty cases to languish for years in the legal system, often based on irrational and irrelevant appeals.

While most Americans claim to believe that the death penalty should be supported, there is a wide disparity in how Americans of different states and regions think about the issue.

Furthermore, Christians should be outraged at the economic and racial injustice in how the death penalty is applied. While the law itself is not prejudiced, the application of the death penalty often is.

Opinion: End secrecy in lethal injections

There is very little chance that a wealthy white murderer will ever be executed. There is a far greater likelihood that a poor African-American murderer will face execution.

Why? Because the rich can afford massively expensive legal defense teams that can exhaust the ability of the prosecution to get a death penalty sentence.

This is an outrage, and no Christian can support such a disparity. As the Bible warns, the rich must not be able to buy justice on their own terms.

There is also the larger cultural context. We must recognize that our cultural loss of confidence in human dignity and the secularizing of human identity has made murder a less heinous crime in the minds of many Americans.

Most would not admit this lower moral evaluation of murder, but our legal system is evidence that this is certainly true.

We also face a frontal assault upon the death penalty that is driven by legal activists and others determined to bring legal execution to an end in America.

Controversy over an execution this week in Oklahoma will bring even more attention to this cause, but most Americans will be completely unaware that this tragedy was caused by the inability of prison authorities to gain access to drugs for lethal injection that would have prevented those complications.

Opponents of the death penalty have, by their legal and political action, accomplished what might seem at first to be impossible – they now demand action to correct a situation that they largely created.

Their intention is to make the death penalty so horrifying in the public mind that support for executions would disappear. They have attacked every form of execution as “cruel and unusual punishment,” even though the Constitution itself authorizes the death penalty.

It is a testament to moral insanity that they have successfully diverted attention from a murderer’s heinous crimes and instead put the death penalty on trial.

Should Christians support the death penalty today?

I believe that Christians should hope, pray and strive for a society in which the death penalty, rightly and rarely applied, would make moral sense.

This would be a society in which there is every protection for the rights of the accused, and every assurance that the social status of the murderer will not determine the sentence for the crime.

Christians should work to ensure that there can be no reasonable doubt that the accused is indeed guilty of the crime. We must pray for a society in which the motive behind capital punishment is justice, and not merely revenge.

We must work for a society that will honor every single human being at every point of development and of every race and ethnicity as made in God’s image.

We must hope for a society that will support and demand the execution of justice in order to protect the very existence of that society. We must pray for a society that rightly tempers justice with mercy.

Should Christians support the death penalty today? I believe that we must, but with the considerations detailed above.

At the same time, given the secularization of our culture and the moral confusion that this has brought, this issue is not so clear-cut as some might think.

I do believe that the death penalty, though supported by the majority of Americans, may not long survive in this cultural context.

Death penalty in the United States gradually declining

It is one thing to support the death penalty. It is another thing altogether to explain it, fix it, administer it and sustain it with justice.

We are about to find out if Americans have the determination to meet that challenge. Christians should take leadership to help our fellow citizens understand what is at stake.

God affirmed the death penalty for murder as he made his affirmation of human dignity clear to Noah. Our job is to make it clear to our neighbors.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The views expressed in this column belong to Mohler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Courts • Crime • Death • Discrimination • Ethics • Opinion • Violence

soundoff (2,706 Responses)
  1. Doris

    What kind of Christian should I be today? The kind that marries gays in many states?

    May 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      I'm sorry you have such a hard time with obeying your creator Doris, it's akin to spitting into the wind.

      May 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
      • Doris

        @awanderinglemming – I'm sorry you have a tough time thinking for yourself.

        May 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
  2. Salero21

    When it come to matters of Life & death atheists/evolutionists are Totally clueless. They resemble roaches after a light is turned on, in a previously dark room, where they were creeping all over. Which brings to mind the idea that maybe we are also sent like sheep among the roaches. Jesus said: Luk. 10:3 "Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. So Jesus called Herod a Fox, and other unbelievers he called them goats, swine and wolves. He called himself the Good Shepherd!

    That's because Life & death are two issues that prove that atheism/evolutionism/idolatry are Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE.

    May 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
  3. Doris

    What kind of Christian should I be today? The kind that officially believes the Pope is an antichrist?

    May 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
  4. Doris

    What kind of Christian should I be today? The kind that lets their kids die rather than seek out medical care because of their beliefs?

    May 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
  5. Doris

    What kind of Christian should I be today? The kind that still sacrifices people in certain parts of the world?

    May 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
  6. hearthetruthonline2014

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    http://HearTheTruth.imgur.com

    May 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • joey3467

      Without ever clicking on this link I am willing to bet my life that there is probably no truth at all to be found on that website.

      May 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Doris

    Letting go of superst.ition

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yceHh5khkXo

    Speakers in order of appearance:

    1. Lawrence Krauss, World-Renowned Physicist
    2. Robert Coleman Richardson, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    3. Richard Feynman, World-Renowned Physicist, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    4. Simon Blackburn, Cambridge Professor of Philosophy
    5. Colin Blakemore, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Neuroscience
    6. Steven Pinker, World-Renowned Harvard Professor of Psychology
    7. Alan Guth, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Physics
    8. Noam Chomsky, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Linguistics
    9. Nicolaas Bloembergen, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    10. Peter Atkins, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Chemistry
    11. Oliver Sacks, World-Renowned Neurologist, Columbia University
    12. Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
    13. Sir John Gurdon, Pioneering Developmental Biologist, Cambridge
    14. Sir Bertrand Russell, World-Renowned Philosopher, Nobel Laureate
    15. Stephen Hawking, World-Renowned Cambridge Theoretical Physicist
    16. Riccardo Giacconi, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    17. Ned Block, NYU Professor of Philosophy
    18. Gerard 't Hooft, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    19. Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford Professor of Mathematics
    20. James Watson, Co-discoverer of DNA, Nobel Laureate
    21. Colin McGinn, Professor of Philosophy, Miami University
    22. Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge Professor of Ethology
    23. Sir David Attenborough, World-Renowned Broadcaster and Naturalist
    24. Martinus Veltman, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    25. Pascal Boyer, Professor of Anthropology
    26. Partha Dasgupta, Cambridge Professor of Economics
    27. AC Grayling, Birkbeck Professor of Philosophy
    28. Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    29. John Searle, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    30. Brian Cox, Particle Physicist (Large Hadron Collider, CERN)
    31. Herbert Kroemer, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    32. Rebecca Goldstein, Professor of Philosophy
    33. Michael Tooley, Professor of Philosophy, Colorado
    34. Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    35. Leonard Susskind, Stanford Professor of Theoretical Physics
    36. Quentin Skinner, Professor of History (Cambridge)
    37. Theodor W. Hänsch, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    38. Mark Balaguer, CSU Professor of Philosophy
    39. Richard Ernst, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    40. Alan Macfarlane, Cambridge Professor of Anthropology
    41. Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, Princeton Research Scientist
    42. Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    43. Hubert Dreyfus, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    44. Lord Colin Renfrew, World-Renowned Archaeologist, Cambridge
    45. Carl Sagan, World-Renowned Astronomer
    46. Peter Singer, World-Renowned Bioethicist, Princeton
    47. Rudolph Marcus, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    48. Robert Foley, Cambridge Professor of Human Evolution
    49. Daniel Dennett, Tufts Professor of Philosophy
    50. Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics

    FEATURED MUSIC:

    Mozart – Requiem Mass In D Minor K 626 – 1. Introitus 00:03
    Massive Attack – Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water 02:28, 19:14
    Max Richter – Embers 05:13
    Ludovico Einaudi – Andare 09:27, 24:30, 26:31
    Ludovico Einaudi – Nuvole Bianche 13:13
    Max Richter – Vladimir's Blues 29:21
    Ludovico Einaudi – Eni 30 Percento (The Earth Prelude) 33:16

    May 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • justpro86

      Carl Sagan is an idiot

      May 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
      • Akira

        Carl Sagan "is"nt anything. He's dead

        May 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • justpro86

          True but when he was alive

          May 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • Akira

          How?

          May 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Only an idiot would call Sagan an idiot... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

        May 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  8. revanthonywade

    A response to Dr. Mohler

    http://www.828ministries.com/articles/The-Death-Penalty-and-Chri-by-Anthony-Wade-Christianity_Death-Penalty_God-140502-291.html

    May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  9. Doris

    Unlearning Violence: Daniel Dennett & Steven Pinker

    As part of the February 2014 conference, "Unlearning Violence: Evidence and Policies for Early Childhood Development and Peace," Daniel Dennett and Steven Pinker addressed the question, "can we become a more peaceful species?" Discussion moderated by Alex de Waal.

    Dan Dennett is currently the Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University.

    Steven Pinker is a Canadian experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDNBEM3jMLY

    May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  10. Doris

    David Wood destroyed by Bart Ehrman

    Bart Ehrman, from the video [regarding the Gospel of Mark]: "These lots and lots of copies are from many centuries after Mark was written. How could we know that these copies stemmed from a correct copy, instead of an errant copy? Our earliest ones are all highly errant."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-IG05dQ88Y
    Published 04-14-2014

    NT scholar Bart Ehrman holds a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary (magna cum laude). He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs.

    May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • justpro86

      YOur point? How did he destroy a person? Because that one person agrees with your theory? Thats not destroying anybody but proves ignorance

      May 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      We've already been through this. Bart Ehrman became disallusioned with his faith, and now his desire is to drag as many as he can down with him, so he chooses language that is intended to deceive. You have just posted a prime example. He looks at the texts that we have and says there are "errors" in it, when the "errors" are as minor as things like placing a letter "e" after the spelling of a certain word, or where one text might render "Christ Jesus" the other text might render "Jesus Christ."

      Bart Ehrman is a deceiver. And anyone who has done research for himself KNOWS this to be true. Do not be fooled by him just because he has the appearance of wisdom, for "professing to be wise, they became fools..."

      May 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Doris

      Your generalized opinions. Ehrman's studies go well beyond covering "errors", Theo.

      May 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        Well, he has a right to be delusional I suppose. But then, anti-theists have never been bastions of sanity.

        May 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          really, corn pone? tell us all about jeebus, and satan, and the talking snake, and the guy who lived iinside whale, and the woman made out of a man's rib

          May 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Salero21

    When it come to matters of Life & death atheists/evolutionists are Totally clueless. They resemble roaches after a light is turned on, in a previously dark room, where they were creeping all over.

    That's because Life & death are two issues that prove that atheism/evolutionism/idolatry are Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE.

    May 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Salero21

      mmm... which brings to mind the idea that maybe we are also sent like sheep among the roaches.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
  12. justpro86

    The death penalty was never employed arbitrarily or frivolously. In fact, observing the use of capital punishment in the Old Testament actually shows us how precious human life is to God. Because human beings are image-bearers of God, murder was such a serious affront to both God and man that it had to be answered with the blood of the murderer. Genesis 9:6 suggests that this sense of justice is woven into the moral fabric of Creation:

    Whoever sheds man’s blood,
    his blood will be shed by man,
    for God made man
    in His image. – Genesis 9:6 (HCSB)

    Death Penalty I support

    May 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Salero21

      Very well said!

      May 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • justpro86

        Thank you

        May 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      "9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!" Psalms 137:9

      May 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
      • justpro86

        The punishment of who does this is Death

        May 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        Back up one verse, atheist. Babylon had done this to Israel, therefore Babylon will have it done to her. This is eye for eye.

        May 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          ALso, this is thoughts from david when he considers what Bablyon has done to his people....no commandment in this..just a man pouring out his anger, his heart..his frustrations of injustice wrought by the others

          May 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "the Old Testament actually shows us how precious human life is to God."

          "Babylon had done this to Israel, therefore Babylon will have it done to her. This is eye for eye."

          Did the Babylonian children do this? If not then the Old testament shows how little life means to God.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          Again if youre referring to Psalms...this was a MAN pouring out his heartover the injustices the Babylonians did to his people....it snot a commandment or an ok to do it

          May 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Yes, please do keep in mind that this was a song lyric sung by Gods chosen one, the one he picked to have his own son born into. And do recall what how God punished David for his murderous adulterous sin, "13 “I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan. “The Lord has removed your sin,” Nathan replied to David. “You won’t die. 14 However, because you have utterly disrespected the Lord by doing this, the son born to you will definitely die.” 2 Samuel 12:13,14

          So the God of the bible likes punishing the babies of those who disrespect him. And if you take into consideration the babies murdered in the flood along with the some 70% of conceptions that end in miscarriage the God of the bible is one of the greatest abortionists in history.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          who said God was punishing the babies?? not us..nor the BIble..that's twisted ignorance of someone who doesn't know the Bible

          May 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "who said God was punishing the babies??"

          "because you have utterly disrespected the Lord by doing this, the son born to you will definitely die"

          "9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!"

          Do you have a problem with reading comprehension?

          May 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          FIRST of all..i don't have reading comprehension problem..I think hyou do...because of the fact you are using two different instances....GOD takes the life of the baby...and this was not punishment to the baby...none of your passages youposted said this....second...the second passage was a MAN POURING out his heart of the injustices done to his people...not a command..not a license to do so

          May 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Oh, i'm sorry, correction, God was not punishing the baby, he was punishing David by murdering David and Bathshebas baby. Got it. Thanks you for clarifying that.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • joey3467

          Kermit if you are claiming that god killing David's child was a punishment to David, and not the child, then in my opinion it only makes god look worse.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Akira

    Reposted conversation between Theo and Russ; I found it interesting.

    Russ says:
    May 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm
    @ Theo Phileo:

    1) your policemen example does not match the criteria here.

    the only time it is legal for a police officer to take a life is in self-defense (when lethal means are the only means available to save another life) – which is certainly “loving your neighbor as yourself.” it something which happens as a last resort in a moment when there is no other recourse (a choice between two evils) & it is absolutely NOT premeditated.

    certainly you wouldn’t claim that is the same as an incarcerated executions, right?

    2) your standards here are both too low and too high.

    a) too low: who deserves death?

    you want to selectively assign death to a chosen few sins. what does Rom.6:23 say? and who will execute such justice? the point of the cross is that we ALL deserve to be executed – every last one of us – by God’s standard.

    b) too high: who can actually give ultimate justice? not you or me, but the Lord.
    we seek a temporal justice here – WHILE recognizing ultimate justice rests solely with the Lord (Rom.12:14-21 comes to mind).

    3) you said: “When a nation does not administer justice, it then eventually falls under God’s justice.”

    a) your hermeneutics are unclear here. i see you arguing for the abrogation of ceremonial & judicial laws elsewhere (which ARE the calls to execution by human govt), but not the moral laws (which hold us accountable to God’s law). how do you think the cross applies here? what sort of “justice” are we seeking?

    you quoted Gen.4:10 (“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground…”), but not Heb.12:24 (“Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel…”).

    you are quoting the OT a lot without engaging the cross as an answer to those calls for justice. why would you seek Jesus’ grace in your own life and not in a commensurate form within government? yes, we can’t just let criminals go as if the cross fixed it, but recognize that we are ALSO not claiming ultimate justice for them within our earthly justice system.

    b) the state bears the sword (earthly justice)

    i) the state does “bear the sword” for justice (Rom.13:1), but why take that as a tacit approval of executions? certainly the state is equally responsible for WRONGLY bearing the sword (Acts 5:29: “we must obey God, not men”) – and considering our EVIDENT inability to do that without fail, why choose this avenue when we could simply incarcerate them permanently?

    yes, the economic cost is high: but isn’t that the Gospel?

    ii) the state ‘bore the sword’ against Jesus. do you think Paul is affirming their actions there?

    frankly, we cannot give them ultimate justice (only God does that) & we have the ability to administer a temporal justice without killing them (life w/o parole) and risking killing a man who did not actually do the crime in question (which is a proven reality). how much is one innocent man’s life worth? (don’t you see how the Gospel is readily intertwined here?)

    SUM: most pointedly, i’d ask you:
    a) if the worst travesty of justice in history is at the heart of the Christian faith, do you then think God affirms the travesty of justice or is he condemning it?
    b) if the Good News is that God can redeem EVEN that evil (because that’s how He seeks HIS JUSTICE, why wouldn’t you want to seek that sort of redemption within our earthly judicial systems?

    May 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Theo's half didn't post. I'll try again.
      [Theo Philio to Russ]
      Sir, just to get your thoughts on a couple of areas…

      In the Bible, harlots are commanded to go and sin no more but soldiers and policemen are not asked to resign from their service when they come to Christ, even though executions are a part of their work.

      When a society rejects capital punishment for even the most serious crimes, including murder, it comes under blood guiltiness from God. Genesis 4:10 – “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground’ ”

      When a nation does not administer justice, it then eventually falls under God’s justice. Ezekiel 7:23-24 – Make a chain, for the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence. Therefore I will bring the Gentiles, and they will possess their houses; I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, and their holy places shall be defiled.

      Russ says:

      @ Theo Phileo:

      1) your policemen example does not match the criteria here.

      the only time it is legal for a police officer to take a life is in self-defense (when lethal means are the only means available to save another life) – which is certainly “loving your neighbor as yourself.” it something which happens as a last resort in a moment when there is no other recourse (a choice between two evils) & it is absolutely NOT premeditated.

      certainly you wouldn’t claim that is the same as an incarcerated executions, right?

      2) your standards here are both too low and too high.

      a) too low: who deserves death?

      you want to selectively assign death to a chosen few sins. what does Rom.6:23 say? and who will execute such justice? the point of the cross is that we ALL deserve to be executed – every last one of us – by God’s standard.

      b) too high: who can actually give ultimate justice? not you or me, but the Lord.
      we seek a temporal justice here – WHILE recognizing ultimate justice rests solely with the Lord (Rom.12:14-21 comes to mind).

      3) you said: “When a nation does not administer justice, it then eventually falls under God’s justice.”

      a) your hermeneutics are unclear here. i see you arguing for the abrogation of ceremonial & judicial laws elsewhere (which ARE the calls to execution by human govt), but not the moral laws (which hold us accountable to God’s law). how do you think the cross applies here? what sort of “justice” are we seeking?

      you quoted Gen.4:10 (“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground…”), but not Heb.12:24 (“Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel…”).

      you are quoting the OT a lot without engaging the cross as an answer to those calls for justice. why would you seek Jesus’ grace in your own life and not in a commensurate form within government? yes, we can’t just let criminals go as if the cross fixed it, but recognize that we are ALSO not claiming ultimate justice for them within our earthly justice system.

      b) the state bears the sword (earthly justice)

      i) the state does “bear the sword” for justice (Rom.13:1), but why take that as a tacit approval of executions? certainly the state is equally responsible for WRONGLY bearing the sword (Acts 5:29: “we must obey God, not men”) – and considering our EVIDENT inability to do that without fail, why choose this avenue when we could simply incarcerate them permanently?

      yes, the economic cost is high: but isn’t that the Gospel?

      ii) the state ‘bore the sword’ against Jesus. do you think Paul is affirming their actions there?

      frankly, we cannot give them ultimate justice (only God does that) & we have the ability to administer a temporal justice without killing them (life w/o parole) and risking killing a man who did not actually do the crime in question (which is a proven reality). how much is one innocent man’s life worth? (don’t you see how the Gospel is readily intertwined here?)

      SUM: most pointedly, i’d ask you:
      a) if the worst travesty of justice in history is at the heart of the Christian faith, do you then think God affirms the travesty of justice or is he condemning it?
      b) if the Good News is that God can redeem EVEN that evil (because that’s how He seeks HIS JUSTICE, why wouldn’t you want to seek that sort of redemption within our earthly judicial systems?

      May 2, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • Akira

        Never thought I'd see the day when Theo doesn't have a rebuttal or try to have the last, defining
        May 2nd. I'm writing this down.

        May 2, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
  14. guidedans

    I find it interesting that the Atheists on this blog spend so much time investigating the Bible in order to prove its illegitimacy. I am all for reading the Bible, but if you are doing it with the expectation that it is wrong, then of course you are going to find out things that "prove" it is wrong. You could do the same thing with a dictionary. If you are searching for something to be true, then you are going to be able to find evidence to support your beliefs, regardless of what they are.

    Do you guys ever wonder why the Bible brings so much joy and hope to so many people? Is everyone really just so much dumber than you that they cannot see through an obvious lie? If the Bible is as ludicrous as you are making it out to be, then it would be a miracle that even a small number of people believed in it so passionately, let alone one third of the world.

    I am going to throw out a hypothesis here that I really think you guys should put a little thought into. Maybe, you guys are missing something in your own hearts or minds that is causing you to find fault in a thing that may have more truth in it than you give it credit for. Maybe there is something in your beliefs that is preventing you from accepting something that might be true.

    I understand that logically, it is not a sound argument to state that because one third of the world believes something that it is true, but the Atheists here tend to be very strong advocates of evidence and one third of the world believing in something is definitely evidence that there is at least SOMETHING true in their beliefs.

    It would be astonishing if you could convince a third of the world that a blatant lie was true.

    May 2, 2014 at 11:56 am |
    • SeaVik

      "Is everyone really just so much dumber than you that they cannot see through an obvious lie? If the Bible is as ludicrous as you are making it out to be, then it would be a miracle that even a small number of people believed in it so passionately, let alone one third of the world."

      It's not a miracle, it's called brain-washing. You'll notice there aren't many people who weren't brain-washed as children who end up believing the bible is true. I don't think these people are all dumb, I just think they were submitted to a form of mental abuse by being indoctrinated from birth. Many people are smart / mentally strong enough to get over it, but many are not.

      And I don't read the bible. I tried once for literary reasons, but it was too boring. I have seen enough bible quotes posted here and elsewhere to know that it's factually false.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
      • new-man

        Amazing!
        You have not read the Bible, yet that's enough for you to make your pronouncements. Try looking in a mirror whenever you feel the need to call someone else "delusional".

        I don't mind if you don't read the Bible, but don't come here and argue against it when clearly you have no clue what you're arguing against!.
        Repeating ignorant, foolish, and unfounded atheist allegations is just downright silly and never deserving of a response.

        May 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Ok, fair point. I haven't read it. So maybe I"m wrong in thinking that the bible claims that a man rose from the dead after being dead for days. Maybe I'm wrong that the bible claims that a man put one of every animal on a boat to save them from a flood. Maybe I'm wrong that the bible says a man walked on water.

          If I am wrong about those things, then you have a valid point. If, however, the bible does indeed make those claims as is my understanding, then we know that the bible is factually untrue.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • guidedans

        SeaVik,

        Many people become Christians later in life, i.e., are converted to Christianity from a previous belief or no belief at all. Even children need to come to their own faith on their own terms. To explain away the vast numbers of Christians as simply "brainwashed" is unfounded.

        I personally came to my belief on my own. My parents did little to nothing to push me toward Christianity and in fact, pushed me away from it at times. I understand that this is just anecdotal evidence, but I am at least one person who freely chose to believe the Bible as truth due to its contents. Now, you can write me off as brainwashed, but more than likely, I, and a very large number of other Christians are not simply brainwashed, but are believing something that we genuinely hold to be true.

        You should ask yourself why we do that if it is so blatantly a lie. I have heard on this forum comparisons between God and fictional characters like the Easter Bunny. It is very strange that, if both of those figures are fake, that one of them commands so much more honest belief than the other.

        May 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • SeaVik

          There are cetainly exceptions and it seems you are one. Brain-washing is not the only reason that people come to believe in the unbelievable, but it is the reason that such a large number of people believe something preposterous. It is comparable to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus in that they are all equally ridiculous concepts that we actually are convinced to believe since we were told it was true by people we trusted from birth. The only difference is that our parents told us the truth at some point with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus (or we figured it out).

          May 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • SeaVik

      One other thing – I absolutely don't believe that a third of the world believes the bible is true. I'll assume you're correct that a third of the world claims to be a Christian. In my experience, very few Christians actually believe what the bible says. Probably less than 10%.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
      • justpro86

        Half the world believes in the bible, China is a good example more chinese are doing away buddhaism and becoming Christians shows a lot of leeway for the Bible because it is the only religious book full of facts and truths and joy and love...

        May 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • SeaVik

          That is perhaps the most naive statement I've seen on these boards. No, half of the world does not believe in the bible. Apparently you've never left Alabama.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • justpro86

          Apparently I know how to read the news

          May 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • Akira

          Source, justpro. That is patent bs. Half of the worlds population are not Christian.

          Source it.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • justpro86

          Every nation in the world you will find Christians and the Christian world view is steadly growing in China

          May 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Justpro, your claim was that half of the people in the world are Christians. That is completely untrue. Either you're lying or you're disturbingly misinformed.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I suggest that the atheists here who quote the bible mostly do so because they are familiar with it and rejected it as being in any way literally "true".

      That's not to say that the Bible isn't an important work from a literary or historical point of view or that there is nothing of any value in it.

      Living your own life according to a moral standard that you interpret from reading the Bible is fine, but insisting that it is the literal immutable "truth" of the divine and using specific versus to drive legislation that affects millions of people in a secular democratic country where freedom of an from religion is the first enumerated right of the people is completely unacceptable.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        verses

        May 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
      • guidedans

        Hey GOP,

        I understand the desire to prevent a morality that is in opposition to your own from spreading. You clearly feel that the United States is better off with a morality defined without intervention from religious books. However, you mentioned that the United States is a Democracy (or more aptly, a Democratic Republic). This means that it is the will of the people who determine who will represent us/who will determine/create legislation. If the will of the people is to promote a certain morality, then you should accept that as a part of the system we have in place. Even if you do not agree with the morals of others, you should allow them to vote in people who will promote their own morality.

        Most Atheists on this site advocate for a moral relativism, but at the same time, discount the Christian morality as somehow inferior.

        Unless you want a purely secular republic where there is a law written apart from any religion and put in place without any means to change it, you have to accept that those with different beliefs than you are going to vot efor people to represent their beliefs.

        I don't think that that is "unacceptable" in any sense.

        May 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          "Even if you do not agree with the morals of others, you should allow them to vote in people who will promote their own morality."

          Let me reject this notion in the following sense: some things should not be put up to a vote. Human liberty "had to be spread at the point of a bayonet throughout the Confederate South", to borrow the words of Sam Harris. A vote then would have kept blacks enslaved.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I meant to add that in conclusion: yes, it most certainly IS unacceptable that basic civil liberties can be denied on the basis of a majority vote. One man, one vote is not the be-all and end-all to democracy.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Simply because the majority of US citizens happen to be Christian, does not mean that the laws of this country come from the bible according to some imaginary transitive property of majority rule.

        The United States is a secular country. It is not in any way founded on God. Our laws need to (and often do) respect this.

        The moral values of a society are always relative and change over time. The law reflects the moral values of the society, though sometimes it takes a while to catch up.

        May 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      God wants our hearts. For some of us it takes awhile to get that through our hard heads. We who self-describe as logical and reasonable are usually the toughest nuts to crack.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      "Maybe, you guys are missing something in your own hearts or minds that is causing you to find fault in a thing that may have more truth in it than you give it credit for. Maybe there is something in your beliefs that is preventing you from accepting something that might be true."

      I could say the same thing back to you with respect to evolution.

      "... one third of the world believing in something is definitely evidence that there is at least SOMETHING true in their beliefs."

      It is nothing of the kind. There was a time when everyone believed the sun orbited the Earth instead of the other way around. Truth is not determined by the number of those professing a given belief.

      Besides, look at it the other way. Two thirds of the world disagree with you, more even, given the number of different denominations. Perhaps you have it wrong.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
      • justpro86

        Evolution is a false belief and proof goes out from Darwin the father of evolution... Many scientists proven Darwins false teachings or theories and than they have to switch up the theory... Sorry the Bible may be misinterpreted from time to time but the wordings of the Bible remain the same and no one has proven the bible wrong...

        May 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          On the first page of comments, you implied that evolution says humans come from monkeys, which is not true. You should educate yourself on what evolution actually is. Only then can you be informed enough to accept or reject it.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • justpro86

          You clearly did not read or understood Darwins book which is the starting point of Evolution which clearly states that humans evolved over time from a single cell organism which is totally stupid

          May 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Humans did not evolve from monkeys, as you stated. Humans evolved from an ape like ancestor. Humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees.

          So you have you read "On the Origin of Species"?

          May 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • justpro86

          Still ridiculous

          May 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I will take that as a no. That's okay, I haven't either, but I have read numerous other books on the topic. Again, my point is that you first have to educate yourself about a subject before you can comment on it. Otherwise, to reject it out of hand is intellectually dishonest and lazy, particularly about such an important subject as evolution.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • justpro86

          Evolution is not important cause it has many holes and wrong answers

          May 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • SeaVik

          No one has proven the bible wrong? Uh, yes...yes they have. I'm pretty sure we've proven the fact that it's impossible to die and then come back to life days later. Oh, and the rest of the bible has also been proven wrong, remember? If you don't think the bible has been proven wrong, then you don't understand what the word "prove" means.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
        • justpro86

          Once again nope

          May 2, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          justpro86,

          You say evolution has many holes and wrong answers. What is your basis for such a claim? I will take you seriously if you can demonstrate that you know something about evolution. Once more, I encourage you to first learn (independently) about a subject before rendering a personal judgment.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      "You could do the same thing with a dictionary. If you are searching for something to be true, then you are going to be able to find evidence to support your beliefs, regardless of what they are."

      Wrong. When you look in the dictionary the word "Moron" will never mean a person of great intellect, no matter how much you wish that word would mean something different. Most Christians read the bible in such a way that they translate anything negative into a possitive because they want to believe and to take the bible at face value you would have to be a moron to believe.

      I myself studied it for nearly three decades all with the intent of strengthening my faith, but the more I read, the more questions were raised. I ignored the inconsitancies for years and years just deciding to go with it like all my fmily and peers but eventually the flaws were just to great and the hypocrasy of those believers around me was too much to bear and I had to leave. It was the earnest study of the bible that put me on the path to my atheism. I only wish it hadn't taken so long for me to get here becasue I have never been happier.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
      • justpro86

        The more you read the bible the more intelligence you gain... Sorry pal if reading the bible drew you away from it than I surely believe you are making up BS about it... No you have not studied the bible your just saying this to sway people to your side... Sorry your wrong about the bible....

        May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          yes..very true justpro..when I read hispost, it seems to me that when he saw supposed inconstancies...he threw up his arms and says "I give up" without looking in to see if they truly are inconsistencies..or if it was due to his misunderstanding of the text

          May 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • justpro86

          People misunderstand the text all the time because no matter what its not written in a way of the "perfect english" Proves my point on how people who speak anything other than english feel that our language is broken and makes no sense. The Bible has never been proven to have inconsistencies to those who actually reads the bible to understand it rather than read the bible to just find errors...

          May 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • joey3467

          Yeah I mean how could someone read the bible and come to a different conclusion than you did?

          May 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • justpro86

          I Explained it people misinterpret the bible and the meanings all the time...Its called study closely read the bible to understand not to find errors.... Read it for errors you will take the context wrong

          May 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          I know more about your bible than either of you. I could give you a Genesis to Revelation synopsis if I wanted to. The both of you have shown your ignorance of scripture many many times so I can say this with confidence. I was a pastor for over a decade and studied it earnestly for nearly 30 years, I know what it contains from the first prophecy of the seed being bruised in the heel by the serpent in Genesis to the tent of God residing with mankind in Revelation 22. All either of you have done is make claims you cannot back up using cut and paste ideology from other zealots websites. If you want to imagine I don't know what i'm talking about, thats fine, your imagination is all youve got.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • justpro86

          You think you do but you don;t you do not understand the context

          May 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          youmay know content..but you know hat the content actually says? so far I seen a lot of things taken out of context (yes IM yelling context again...but it is VITAL to understanding communication)

          May 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          I have actually written a post with the cliff notes of the entire bible off the top of my head that Topher had to admit was quite accurate. I have read the Hebrew and Greek scriptures cover to cover more than three times in my life while many sections like the gospels I've read in the several dozens of times through the years. You are just unwilling to accept that someone who has done even more study than either of you have likely done has found the bible lacking. Any reasonable person will eventually see the inconsistancies and realize the book is wholey of man wrapped up in the faux trappings of the divine which were indistinguishable from reality for people of that time.

          May 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • justpro86

          No your wrong what inconsistances? If there were proven inconsistencies than why is the nation of China finally realizing the Biblical truth over their age old Buddhism... I mean come on there is no proven inconsistancies get real... Apparently you overlooked things and did not know the true meaning...

          May 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Number 1 inconsistancy in the bible for me: The two different personalities for God. In the Hebrew scriptures you have an angry jealous God who demands fealty on pain of death, there shall be no other Gods before him, while in the Greek scriptures you have the Son who says if you have seen me you have seen the father also as the meek teacher who turns the other cheek when struck and spat upon. If God is unchanging, what happened? Where did the fire and brimstone God go?

          This inconsistancy works well if you understand that the concept of the Hebrew God evolved over time and changed with the needs of the people worshiping it, much like the Churches of today. As the people changed, so did their God. This however means that their God is not a God at all but a theology of a specific people for a specific time. Churches just 60 years ago here in America were preaching how the dark skinned "sons of Cain" should be kept away from the clean pure white daughters of Gods people. Now we have Churches who look back at that and claim "well they weren't true Christians!" and so now they allow interracial marriage, but not that unholy same gender marriage! Until their Church evolves and realizes that gay people are just people.

          I have many many more factual inconsistancies such as the Genesis account of Adam and Eve and how our DNA proves that never happened. The global flood account that geology has proven never happened. The fosil record that shows millions and millions of years of life on earth and the tree of life we are all a part of that includes our cousins the neanderthals and denisovians. We interbred with neanderthals over 20,000 years ago as proven by ancient burials, DNA along with cave art going back nearly 60,000 years.

          When taken as a whole, anyone who tries to justify the bible account with the actual evidence has to invent completely bogus theories like "Historical science" that have zero evidence backing them up. All they have is a person of faith saying "well how do I know if the universe worked the same 10,000 years ago...". You can know just like any educated scientist can, by doing the research and accepting the actual data found instead of struggling to invent new words to explain how you might still be right.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          and that inconsistenciy is due to your ignorance...God is a JUST HOLY and RIGHTEOUS God....as for Jesus..He clearly stated his MISSION on earth was NOT to condemn..but to save.....it does not say he is not a Judge....it is merely his job at the moment while here on earth

          May 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Akira

          He was a PASTOR, Kermit! He studied the Bible for 30 YEARS! What is it going to take to convince you that YOU might possibly be the ignorant one?
          It's all interpretation!</I

          May 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          LOLakira...NAMEs mean NOTHING! being called a PASTR does NOT automatically make one a preofessional and know what they are doing! we have Already shown him thathis studies were poorly done....even for 30 years

          May 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          yes..its all interpretation..but what type? interpretation byputting ones own thing and adding to it..or intrpretoing within context as to what AUTHOrRS intended?

          May 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • justpro86

          No he was not

          May 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    I guess somebody didn't like The Beautiful People

    May 2, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  16. myweightinwords

    I think that attempting to use religion to justify the death penalty is a cop out.

    And before I go too far, let me say that I support the death penalty in specific situations. Of course, it's complicated and I think our justice system needs an overhaul before we can even begin to start applying it properly....but that's not what this conversation is about.

    As a society, we use the death penalty for a number of reasons, some we realize now are false, such as the whole idea that it's a deterrent. It isn't. The only person it deters from killing is the person we put to death.

    That doesn't negate the fact that in some situations putting a person to death is the only answer that makes sense to our society.

    May 2, 2014 at 11:24 am |
    • Theo Phileo

      Just my personal opinion here, but I wonder if it would be a better deterrant to crimes of blood if executions were made public again...

      May 2, 2014 at 11:30 am |
      • SeaVik

        I hessitate to take anything you say seriously, but what the heck.

        If executions were made public, the level of violent crime would very likely increase.

        May 2, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          Well, since this society is so Godless, you're probably right.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • SeaVik

          I'm also quite certain that god believers have a much higher rate of crime than atheists, but I haven't seen a study on that to back it up. You don't find many atheists who are immoral, but you sure find a lot of religious-based crime.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
        • Akira

          SeaVik, that makes a certain amount of sense, because of how greatly the believers outnumber the atheists.
          The same can be said of prison.
          Most death row inmates are Chtistian.
          Doesn't really prove anything, except the "Godless" ones aren't the ones committing all the crimes.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          SeaVik: Prisoner population definitely consists largely of believers with Christians having the highest rates but that also has a bit to do with the generalized population of Christians being greater as a whole in the country.
          This article gives better details: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/29/what-percentage-of-prisoners-are-atheists-pew-forum-offers-an-answer/

          May 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Guys, I said higher RATE. More crime per person. The fact that there are more Christians than atheists doesn't mean they should have a higher RATE of crime, but they do.

          May 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
      • Akira

        It's been shown that during public executions, crime went up.

        May 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • sam stone

        personal opinion? aren't all opinions personal?

        May 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Two questions ensue:

      1. What specific situations are worthy of the death penalty
      2. How can we be 100% certain that someone who did not commit the crime does not get executed.

      We have a horrible track record on the latter today. One innocent person executed is one too many.

      May 2, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  17. new-man

    Bostontola: "Why Christians Should Support the Flat Earth Theory:
    Luke 4:5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
    Matthew 4:8 the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor"

    1. Scripture is highly coded. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.
    # Only you can determine if you're the son of a wise and Ancient King or just a carnal mind wrapped up in clay.

    2. Do you know what a high place or a mountain represents in Scripture?
    # Only you can determine if you're governed by the Spiritual or you're just pure clay having no knowledge of the spirit realm, nor discernment of the spirit.

    3. A kingdom as defined in the Bible (Bible interprets Bible) is that "which shall bear rule over all the earth"
    # So a kingdom is not just one single nation. The Bible tells us clearly in the Book of Daniel there would be 4 Kingdoms that would govern this earth. 2 have already reigned, 1 is currently reigning, and the 4th is to come. The reign of this 4th kingdom will be a very short one.

    4. If your question was, how was the devil able to show Him all the kingdoms of the earth in an instant, then I would have congratulated you for wisdom-inspired (Godly Spiritual Binah Wisdom) critical thinking.

    Anyway, keep asking the questions, they force the believer to seek God for the answers.

    May 2, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • SeaVik

      "1. Scripture is highly coded."

      What a pathetic explanation for why the bible is factually false. It's not highly coded, it's highly wrong.

      May 2, 2014 at 11:16 am |
      • new-man

        The fact that YOU do not understand Scripture, speaks about your condition, and not the Scripture themselves.
        The Word of God is unchangeable, and infallible. For the scripture to be wrong on even one 1 single point, this whole universe would have to be rolled up like a scroll or implode upon itself or just vanish into nothingness. You get the Point!

        Because it is the WORD of God that sustains this universe. His Word is that Potent! It's His Word that brought all things from the Spiritual into the visible Physical realm.

        You meditate on this:
        In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
        In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

        May 2, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • Reality

          And new-man you should mediate on the following:

          John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

          To wit:

          From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

          "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

          From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

          "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

          "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

          And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

          "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

          See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

          May 2, 2014 at 11:37 am |
        • SeaVik

          In reality, the fact that you think you understand a book of fiction as if it's reality shows that you're delusional. I know you don't realize this, which is sad, but that's part of what it means to be delusional.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          ""Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "
          ----------–
          BWA HA HAHAHAHAHA
          PULL THE OTHER ONE!!!! HAHAHHAA

          May 2, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • new-man

          Mr. Reality and SeaVic,
          isn't it nice when godless people choose to tell a believer where they're going awry.

          SV- a man who can only perceive with his 5 senses, who is spiritually dead seeks to call someone delusional. Interesting. Friend, your so-called logic can only take you so far, and trust me, that's not saying much.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • SeaVik

          I'm sorry new-man, but you ARE delusional. I'm not saying that to be rude, it's just a fact. You believe in blatantly untrue things. That's the definition of delusion. I'm sorry if you find that offensive, but you have the choice to be truthful with yourself if you find being delusional a bad thing.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • new-man

          the reality is, I don't feel slighted at all. initially, I thought you were just trying to be insulting – which is usually the approach of most non-believers.
          now that I know you actually believe what you're saying then I can only reject your pronouncement. See, I KNOW what I speak of... I can't say the same for you.
          When you can demonstrate the power of God in your life and in the lives of those around you, then you can speak to me about truth.
          until then, you have absolutely no foundation for an argument against my belief in Yahweh Elohim, my God.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
    • Reality

      Luke 4: 5 as copied from Matt 4:8 fails rigorous historic testing and is therefore historically nil. See for example, http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb139.html. Also, note how the passage compares to passages said by Buddha centuries before Jesus lived.

      May 2, 2014 at 11:33 am |
      • Theo Phileo

        So, because Bhudda happened to stumble upon some nuggets of truth, you think that Jesus copied him? Even a broken clock is right twice a day...

        May 2, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          Ugh... OK, I can't spell.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • SeaVik

          So the bible isn't even right as often as a broken clock. I wonder if there is anything in the bible that is factually correct.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Reality

          Jesus was illiterate and therefore did not copy anything. It was P, M, M, L and J who borrowed much from the available literature to include making the NT jive with the prophecies of the OT. And considering not much is known about M, M, L, and J who is to say they did not have access to the writings of the Buddha and his monks. Professor Marcus Borg has written a book showing the many parallel sayings of Buddha to those found in the NT. (Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings (Seastone) ).

          May 2, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "So the bible isn't even right as often as a broken clock. I wonder if there is anything in the bible that is factually correct."
          ---------------
          Yup, like the prediction and explanation of Israel's captivity to Babylon, then there's the prediction of the conquest of Tyre down to the detail that the rubble of the mainland would be thrown into the sea, which, of course, Alexander the great would do, then there's the prediction of Edom (Petra) would be destroyed and uninhabited, and it was.... There's the story of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and on, and on, and on....

          So you haven't read the Bible then?

          May 2, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Jesus was illiterate "
          ------------
          So you haven't read the Bible then. That explains everything.

          Luke 4:16-17 – "...He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read..."

          May 2, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • SeaVik

          Theo, I was being serious. Is there anything in the bible that is factually correct? All the things you mentioned are far-fetched interpretations. I'm not talking about things that happen that loosely resemble predictions made in the bible, I'm talking about actual facts. Everything I have heard about the bible is untrue, so I'm just wondering if ANY of it is true. True as in, something that we would all agree on, not your interpretation.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "All the things you mentioned are far-fetched interpretations"
          ---------
          Since you haven't read the Bible, how would you know? I didn't even quote the specific addresses of those Biblical facts. As a matter of fact, they are very specific in scripture, no interpretation needed.

          Here's just one. Between 590-570BC, the prophet Ezekiel predicted in Ezekiel 26:26:12 that the debris of Tyre would be thrown into the sea. In 332BC, Alexander the Great did just that so that he might build a causeway out to the island fortress.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
        • Reality

          Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

          See also Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, pp 99-101- An excerpt:

          "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate mamzer in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

          The question of Jesus's literacy has also been much discussed by the Jesus Seminar and others and they note that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may well be fictions.

          The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

          Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

          It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

          Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read and write.

          May 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
  18. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    Basically God wants that the sinner repents and lives. Therefore a Christian should not call for the punishment of any sinner too fast. It may be justified, if there is extreme hardness of heart (for example Bonhoeffer said that Hitler was impenitent, and therefore Bonhoeffer had supported his execution or as-sas-sination).

    Together with Jesus two evildoers were crucified. One of them became penitent in the last moments of his earthly life, and Jesus forgave him. Even extreme crimes can get forgiven.

    St. Paul had been a Jewish extremist who persecuted the Christian Church. Saul repented, God forgave him, and he became St. Paul, the apostle of the Lord.

    David murdered the husband of his later wife Bathsheba. Even this extreme wicked crime was forgiven when David repented.

    Moses was no murderer. The Egyptian he killed was himself an evildoer. As an Egyptian prince Mose had the right to execute the evildoer. There was noting to repent, and nothing to forgive.

    The Church is slow to judge, nevertheless Genesis 9: 6 is valid. Certainly, the authority can act according to this verse.

    Yet, a Christian or the Church doesn't consider only Genesis 9: 6 but also John 8: 1-11

    Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This 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. 7 So 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. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And 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. 10 When 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? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

    and Luke 23: 39-43

    And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

    There are few people on earth never having harboured thoughts of revenge, after they had been treated unfairly by somebody. Everybody has got the potential to become a murderer. Let us thank God when he preserves us from doing evil. Let us be patient with the people having stumbled.

    Before the war criminals of the Third Reich were executed, they got opportunity to talk with a pastor. It is good when people who are sentenced to death get an opportunity to repent in the last moments of there life. The authoriy cannot be too patient, it isn't even her task, but the Church always seeks the salvation of the sinner.

    The beastly job of death penalty is accomplished by the authority. The supreme work of salvation is done by God himself and his Church. The Church should not talk about the issue of death penalty, but how she can save people.

    The work of the authority will mostly be done, but who leads people to salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    May 2, 2014 at 10:58 am |
    • sam stone

      Rainy Fuhrersucker preaching again......

      Rainy....time to find you way into that bunker

      May 2, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
  19. iowasundevil

    Separation of church and state means OUR laws are NOT decided by YOUR religious beliefs. Leave the buybull out of it when discussing American laws. It doesn't belong in the debate.

    May 2, 2014 at 10:45 am |
  20. Robin Garr

    Jesus wept. Al Mohler brings Genesis and Paul to the pro-death penalty party, but forgets to check in with the Sermon on the Mount.

    I certainly respect Al's right to his own beliefs and scriptural interpretation, but it troubles me that he brings this kind of profoundly un-Christian theology to the formation of a generation of Southern Baptist pastors.

    That great theologian Will Shakespeare wrote "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose," but modern scholarship suggests that it's best to try to read it in the context of the cultural setting in which it was written, and to avoid "proof-texting," lifting lines out of their original context and trying to force them into modern settings.

    Most important, though, Al somehow forgot the midrash from Rabbi Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also ..."

    May 2, 2014 at 10:34 am |
    • aniharvest

      Exactly. Thank you.

      May 2, 2014 at 10:47 am |
    • Theo Phileo

      Matthew 26:52 – Jesus told Peter: “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword”

      Jesus was reminding Peter that the penalty for killing one of His enemies would be to perish himself through execution, which the Lord here acknowledges would be justified.

      Although God alone has the power and the right to either pardon sins or to deliver ultimate justice, man, through government, is given the responsibility under the sun to restrain evil and to protect its citizens from it (Romans 13). As a part of that, although we see that it is not given as a punishment in every instance if the one guilty of the crime will repent (such as with King David), where capital punishment is deemed necessary to the unregenerate and unrepentant, it should never be taken lightly as it is a severe, graphic, and sober means to deter evil.

      May 2, 2014 at 10:56 am |
      • Robin Garr

        Fair enough, but again, scholarly exegesis cautions against proof-texting, or against reading specific verses without considering cultural and historical context. In the Romans verse, Paul was addressing a community subject to persecution (and its Jewish members only then returning from exile), and it made sense to reassure the world that the Roman Christians weren't there to make trouble.

        If we must proof-text, though, then we simply can't get around what Rabbi Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5): ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also ... "

        May 2, 2014 at 11:02 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "If we must proof-text, though, then we simply can't get around what Rabbi Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5): ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also ... "
          --------------–
          I agree that we must not proof text, but in the format of a blog, we only have space to quote a verse or two, and it's hard to avoid the appearance of proof-texting.

          As to Jesus command to "turn the other cheek" it was in context of abuse... Not murder. A dead man can't turn the other cheek, and it is to this "crime of blood" (Ezekiel 7:23-24) that God gave directions for capital punishment (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12, Numbers 35:30-34).

          Paul further recognized the government's right to bear the sword (execution) when he was before Festus in Acts 25:11 – "If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die..."

          We are to forgive sinners, sure, and God takes care of final judgement, obviously, but it is the duty of government to restrain evil, and one of those means given to it by God is capital punishment. Forgiveness of sins does not remove the temporal consequences of sins. Look at King David, and how God dealt with him. Although God withheld capital punishment for his sins because he repented, he nontheless was severely punished.

          We have a law of love, but we also have a duty to our fellow man, and in the example of capital punishment of a rightly convicted criminal who is guilty of a crime of blood and refuses to repent, it acts as a deterrant against further crimes of blood.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:13 am |
      • SeaVik

        Theo, it has been clearly shown that the death penalty doesn't deter crime. So...even if your argument wasn't already irrelevant given you based it on the bible, it is also flat out wrong.

        May 2, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          The problem with capital punishment not being a better deterrant to wicked men is not with the punishment, but rather with the delays and loopholes that prevent it from being properly administered. As Solomon said, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

          May 2, 2014 at 11:18 am |
        • SeaVik

          Why do you base your views on a work of fiction? It has led you down a highly immoral path. Your response to the fact that the death penalty doesn't deter crime is, "kill them faster!". Can you not see how inhumane you are?

          May 2, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • sam stone

          he has spent 30 years studying that book of fiction. he likely defines himself as a follower of god, and it undoubtedly gives him comfort (as well as a feeling of superiority). do you experct him to give it up and just be another billy bob from bumflip?

          May 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • Reality

        A lot of wasted text as the historical Jesus did not utter Matt 26:52. See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb269.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's studies in his book Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 99-100 (Matthew copied from Mark 14: 43-52).

        May 2, 2014 at 11:23 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          Why would anyone take seriously the word of a historical revisionist?

          May 2, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • SeaVik

          Makes no more sense than someone taking seriously the word of an ancient work of fiction.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          Seavik,
          You haven't seriously studied the Bible, so it's apparent why you would have that view that you do.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • sam stone

          nonsense, corn pone. there are those who have studied the bible seriously who have come up with the same conclusion

          May 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      If the devil can cite scripture then who do you know if any scriptue citation isn't from the devil?

      May 2, 2014 at 10:56 am |
      • MidwestKen

        How, not who. Sorry

        May 2, 2014 at 10:58 am |
      • Theo Phileo

        Because Satan weilds scripture like a kid that's just found his dad's gun. He knows it has power, but he always uses it unwisely. Look at Jesus' temptation, when satan quoted scripture, it was always out of context.

        May 2, 2014 at 11:03 am |
        • MidwestKen

          And who decides which arguments are childish?

          May 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
      • Robin Garr

        Well, assuming that Shakespeare was divinely inspired, then that's a fair question. In my opinion, theology is best interpreted in community, bringing scripture, tradition and reason to the table. It's helpful, too, if the conversation includes some modern biblical scholarship that includes historical and cultural exegesis, seeking to discern what the original writers might have been trying to say, and only then entering into thoughtful discussion about what this looks like in 21st century life.

        In short, as the famous Facebook status indicator goes, "It's complicated."

        May 2, 2014 at 11:05 am |
      • otoh2

        Robin,
        "...seeking to discern what the original writers might have been trying to say,..."

        What makes you think that anything they (primitive Middle Eastern Hebrew men) had to say means anything or is evidence for some supernatural being? They were going on their fantasies and superst.itions, with a good measure of ethnocentric superiority claims, attempting to give gravitas to their quest for power and control of that area of the Middle East at the time.

        May 2, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • Robin Garr

          Let's restate this: As a mainline Christian, I understand scripture to be the fascinating, often inspiring account of humanity's ongoing effort to understand the mystery of life, and ultimately, the divine. I would not so easily dismiss the Deuteronomistic editors and redactors who pulled together the ancient ancestral stories, the teachings, prophecies and writings into the Tanakh as mere ignorant desert nomads, though. They were highly sophisticated scholars in the context of their times. Much of what they, and the New Testament writers, set down, remains meaningful to us today, but as above, I'd prefer to reflect on them in community, in the context of scripture, tradition AND reason. We're not required to park our brains when we open the bible, but it is a good idea to take advantage of modern scholarship rather than re-inventing things for ourselves.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:45 am |
        • otoh2

          Robin,

          Yes, there were some heavy thinkers (philosophers) in the day, and they did serve to bring some law and civilization to their society, but they were way off base in many things.

          Have you ever read Moses's 600+ "laws" allegedly **spoken** directly to him by this "Lord God" character?

          A tiny sampling:

          – You cure leprosy by having a dove killed, dipping a live one in its blood and having it fly around. Also, you have to anoint the toes of the suffer with the blood.–Leviticus 14

          – You discover unfaithful wives when their bellies swell and their thighs rot after they are made to drink some magical water. – Numbers 5

          – Prized striped goats are bred by having the mating parents stare at striped objects. –Genesis 30

          – You may buy, own, sell, and will slaves to your descendants (only foreigners for slaves, though, no Israelis) –Leviticus 25

          - “If two men are fighting, and the wife of one man tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the other man’s private parts, you must cut off her hand. Don’t have any mercy." Deuteronomy 25

          There are several other similar instances of absolute rubbish that this "God" purportedly "spoke", along with a bunch of other rules and laws and rituals that are obviously only from the minds of primitive men. How anyone can believe that this stuff came from a real smart divine being is ludicrous.

          May 2, 2014 at 11:57 am |
        • Robin Garr

          >> How anyone can believe that this stuff came from a real smart divine being is ludicrous.<<

          Your argument here is not with me. I've already expressed a personal belief that these ancient writings simply offer us fascinating, and sometimes inspiring, insight into the quest for meaning by the people who were grappling with trying to understand the divine, and the meaning of life, in their historical and cultural context. Taking all this stuff literally is a very bad idea. But trying to see the world through the lens of these writings that helped shape Western thought has a lot to teach us, if we use it thoughtfully and with care. It would be stupid to take the codes of Leviticus as advice for daily life in the 21st century, but I don't believe even the most brain-dead fundamentalist does that; they only cherry-pick the lines that they want to yank into modern life to beat people over the head with. All I ask is that we don't lump all Christians into that ignorant mix.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • otoh2

          Robin,

          The Christian "God" is the one that those ancients proffered. Moses (and the other philosophers of the day) laid out this "God's" characteristics. Moses averred/declared/proclaimed the this "God" **spoke** to him as proof of 'his' existence and of 'his' commands/demands. Do you believe that a god, your "God", spoke that nonsense to Moses? The Christian sequel (New Testament) makes a few tweaks on that god's attributes, but the god is based on desert sand.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
        • Robin Garr

          A further thought: No mainline biblical scholar regards Moses as a historic figure or that the Exodus was a historical event. It is quite clear that the Deuteronomic editors – the rabbis who pulled together the old stories into a canon (not really a book – ancient scrolls didn't make handy books) – themselves understood these stories as "ancestral legends," myths that offered greater truth through story. If you want to argue whether Moses existed, much less conversed one-on-one with the deity, you'll have to ask someone else.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • otoh2

          Robin,

          You said: "theology is best interpreted in community, bringing scripture, tradition and reason to the table."

          Then you must dismiss "scripture" as a firm basis for your belief... and "tradition" is simply based on "scripture". So, you are left with "reason" - so what is the testable, repeatable, verifiable evidence for the god ("God") that you believe in?

          May 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "No mainline biblical scholar regards Moses as a historic figure or that the Exodus was a historical event"
          ----------
          Whom do you deem "mainline?"
          These do:
          Steve Lawson
          John Piper
          John MacArthur
          Ravi Zacharius
          Paul Washer
          R.C. Sproul
          Sinclair Ferguson
          Allistair Begg
          Albert Mohler

          Here's some dead folks who were mainline in their day:
          John Gerstner
          Adrian Rogers
          A.W. Pink
          Jonathan Edwards
          John Flavel
          John Owen
          Charles Spurgeon

          And I could list dozens more... These are just off the top of my head.

          May 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      Romans 13:1-4, read it please. God has many perfect attributes. His perfect love in no way diminishes His other attributes such as His holiness and righteousness. God has decreed this and you really need to take it to a higher authority (God) if you have a problem with it. Pray.

      May 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.