Among other things, it is a place that the LiberalMind
thinks should not exist, because they think it is wrong to execute people -- people like confessed serial rapists/killers. Yet, the LiberalMind
sees nothing wrong with killing the unborn child. Just one of the paradoxes of the LiberalMind
. -- BrucePennington
- It is a place JesusChrist did not ask you to believe in, or support in any way shape or form. As for the caricature of your fellow humans in LiberalMind, this only betrays hate and prejudice, other very undesirable things for a Christian to pursue. True Christianity is not the faith of negation but that of affirmation.
- By the way, do you think, Bruce, that you are any better than the "confessed serial rapist" ?
- Certainly not. Jesus teaches that we are all condemned already, unless we believe in Him and follow Him. I will take an honest look at whether He repealed the death penalty established by YHWH in the OldTestament days. I know the story you are probably thinking of ("you without sin cast the first stone") and will study it. I will say that as I have studied it, it is clear we in the USA have become too loose in how it is used. When God established it with the Israelites, He required 2 eye witnesses for a death penalty verdict. Today we allow circumstantial evidence without witnesses at all. It clearly needs a morritorium while it is debated nationally. -- BrucePennington
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."
- Therefore regardless of one or two or seven witnesses, this saying of Paul tells you that you ought to be concerned solely with your sins. The sin establishes a personal relation between you and god, so there's no total order relation that can compare the sin X with sin Y, and so on, so forth. This saying (Tim I, 1-15) is part of the prayer before communion, established from the most ancient times (I hope your congregation partakes commnunion and is not just a bible study club), and every Christian should assume it personally. That means, to me I am the chief of sinners, and so it should be to you.
- Because all fell short of the glory of God. And to pick up examples for the greater sins or lesser sins or worst sins (be it serial rapists or the LiberalMind or whatever) is a grievous mistake. It is like saying "I am not like that tax collector", when you ought to be saying "of whom I am chief". Therefore no Christian has any moral standing to advocate death penalty because Life's a gift from God, it is God's to take, and every one of us, individually cannot despise even the worst of criminals, because we are no better. Life in prison is justified by practical considerations, such as the safety of others, but not the death penalty. Furthermore the Old Testament/Old? Covenant, why do you think it is called "old". Because it is fulfilled in Christ, and if you want to recourse to it, you should know that you are condemned by it. So Christ fulfilled the old and give you a new one. And you are to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Now tell me, to how many execution was Christ a partaker ? How many times has He advocated the death penalty ? There is no need for national debate. Christ has not commended you to debate, but to follow Him. If the "religious right" comes back to the true essence of Christianity then the problem is solved, no more debate on death penalty cause there are no more people to vote for it, and US would get to be in this respect amongst the civilized nations. So be thankful to LiberalMinds, for even as they do not believe, they are still bearers of His image, and have the law written in their hearts. So at least they got this subject right (the death penalty), and their ideological pressure has at least the redeeming purpose of keeping the religious right more honest, and this is no small feat.
- Ok, I hear your heart on this. I think we are mixing two issues, though. Jesus often took human/social issues to highlight spiritual issues. Telling the Pharisees they are all sinners deserving death, like the adultress, exposed their condemned spiritual state that deserved hell equally. The problem I have with no DeathRow comes from verses where we are taught to respect/obey our rulers such as Romans 13:1-7 where we are told "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." I've taken some time to study this issue. You can read my thoughts at A Study on Death Row -- BrucePennington
- Your argumentation is not exactly honest and exposes more your prejudices then a sound reading of the Bible. You can read the Bible to actually find out what it is trying to say (in which case you'd be reluctant to provide your personal "interpretations" on the scripture -- you are not called to do that, you do not have nearly enough qualifications to understand the context and the subtleties of the original, you would be searching for proper interpretationof the text from reliable sources of authority like Biblical scholars active within the Church); or you can read the Bible (particularly in the poor English translations available to you) to support your own prejudices. And because the Bible is so subtle, everybody can find support for their own prejudices, that's how you have thousands and thousands of protestant denominations, and it looks like you've had your own little denomination on the web as well. The clearest example of this happening is your using of the story of Ananias and Saphira, to quote: "Both were killed by God for putting Him to the test and attempting to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). So, even in this near perfect Christian community, the death sentence was being used.". Well, even to you it should be obvious that if the death sentence was used by God, that doesn't mean that what is the proper role of God is properly attributable to human or human agencies (like governments, etc). So no, the death sentence was not being used by Christians in the very early Church. Even as late as in the fourth century, St.John Chrysostom wrote "to condemn a heretic to death is to commit a sin beyond redemption". The support for death penalty by Christiants is a recent heresy, that even the Roman Catholic Church has recanted.
- I appreciate the time you spent reading my A Study on Death Row. First, some technical aspects you questioned. Of course, one of the biggest dangers of reading Scripture is searching to find something to justify one's personal desires, one's personal bias. If you've read any of my history, you must know that this is a serious concern of mine. Growing up, I learned that my trusted leaders had been lying to me about the Bible and God. Certainly you must recognize that just because a church is big, has a long history, and has popular leaders -- doesn't mean they are right? I spent years researching the Truth. I don't claim to have it all figured out; but when I research something, I do my best to seek the facts, gather all the information I can. I have not gone to church leadership on this question, yet. I always start at God's word first. Very wise and learned men throughout history have been diametrically oposed on this issue and many others. Concerning the "poor English translations" you mention -- I speak English, it is my only choice. In their defense, they are much better than older English versions, and the differences would not cause any difference on the topics. -- BrucePennington
- No, you do not do your best. All you do is to infatuate with your perceived analytical abilities, forgo the humility and prayer that is needed to receive the message of God from the Bible, forgo what was understood always by the Church, forgo the words of men wisest than you who have access to both old Greek, old Hebrew and the understanding of the cultural context in whcih the Bible was written. yes, the message is God's, the word you read belongs to a translator, and the mis-interpretation belongs to you alone. I'm glad at least that you corrected the previously erroneous argumentation about Ananias and Sapphira.
- Technical questions first: 1)How do you know what my "best" is? 2) How do you know how much tiime I've spent in prayer? -- BrucePennington
- In the Ananias and Saphira case, you started to quote me well, but finished poorly. If you'll reread the article, I clearly said that it was God executing the death penalty, and pointed out that if we were able, as a society, to follow Christ's example, we would soon find ourselves not needing earthly governments. God would be our ruler and the death penalty would no longer be needed. -- BrucePennington
- Again, how do you say that you follow in the footsteps of Christ ? What did he command you ? Did he command you to support death penalty ? Did he command you to read the English translations and philosophize on it - did he command you to "study" the Bible at all, for that matter? Did he command you to find exceptions, excuses and roundabout arguments or did he tell you to love your enemy and forgive your brother 70 times 7 ?
- This question is answered in the article A Study on Death Row. -- BrucePennington
- No, you have not answered anything. You only found convenient excuses for your prejudices.
- I'm curious, how do you view my question: Consider this: if it is wrong to kill our fellow man using the death penalty, wouldn't it be wrong to kill in self-defense? If we decided that it is wrong for man to kill man, is it wrong for our nation to have armed police? What would become of national defense in the form of a military? If you say there is justification for any of these, then there is justification for them all.? -- BrucePennington
- I'll answer to several questions in this one. I do not know how much time you spend in prayer, I hope that you do spend more and that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you on the path to understanding, but the outward signs (meaning the style of exposition, the language , the hubris in your arguments) strongly suggest that the ratio between philosophical musings and prayer could improve in the favor of the latter. If you spend more time in prayer maybe you'll learn the humility that will make you realize that a claim like "I spent years researching (sic!) the truth" is irrelevant and communicates nothing but a certain attitude (the opposite of humility). If you did spend useful years researching the truth, you'd know that the answer to your questions is know, and it has been made public for anyone willing to learn to find out some 17 centuries ago. You can study a detailed exposition of this subject here: http://incommunion.org/articles/previous-issues/issue-40/st-basil-on-war-and-repentance
- My wife is just as bothered when I speak factually about something. I am often just trying to relate what I've learned, but instead come across as being haughty, self-righteous, and the like. Thank you for pointing this out. I clearly need to spend some time on the issue. CsLewis once said that humility comes not from comparing one's self to others, but in comparing one's self to God. -- BrucePennington
- And before you take the time to study the traditional Christian teachings on the "just war" and related problems, please recognize the elementary observation that death penalty cannot be linked to self-defense killing and "just war" theories in any plausible way. And tis observation is valid in any kind of moral system (not only from a Christian point of view). If the defender has to face two less then desirable possibilities ((a.) not defend -> innocent victims might get killed (b.) defend and save inocent victims -> he may have to kill the perpetrator), the proponents of death penalty face no such moral dilema. If you do not kill by death penalty and, for example, chose life in prison for the perpetrator then, essentially, nothing bad will happen, so you have a safe, unproblematic choice. Therefore linking the two issues is flawed and a non-argument. Showing clemency with regards to the life of convicted criminal is also what is asked of you when you are commanded to forgive 70 times 7. Probably none of those convicted to death would not ask that his life be spared if they knew such a pardon was available to them, that's why supporting the death penalty is incompatible with Christian Faith, and those who are both Christian and supporters of death penalty are in error. There are too many examples in the Gospel where you are commanded to forgive (see also the parable of the servant who's debts are forgiven but he does not forgive at his turn). Killing somebody is in clear violation of Christian teachings.
- How do you view the difference between Old and New Testament veiws of God's approach to war, DeathRow, and killing? -- BrucePennington
- As far as I have learnt there's no such thing as "God's approach to war", neither in the Old nor in the New Testament. You are the first person advancing this concept.
- Have you read the Old Testament at all? It seems you are basing your beliefs on this issue on the writings of early church fathers rather than on Scripture. In Genesis 15:12-16 God promises Abraham that He would bring Abraham's people into the land of the Amorites, but that He was waiting to do so because the "sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." God used the nation of Israel to carry out His wrath upon the Caananite peoples and planned it in advance. This came true as God led Israel into the Promised Land. The entire book of Joshua shows God commanding Israel to destroy the peoples of Caanan for they had been burning their babies in the fire to the false god of Molech. God told Israel to "destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses."
- Well, at least the early Church Fathers are a much more reliable source than your interpretation. In any case, there's no such thing as "God's approach to war", nor is such an example and the wild inferences you draw from it a good enopugh excuse for you to break what Christ has asked explicitly of you and advocate war, death penalty, and so on. Are you without sin to cast the first stone ? No, I didn't think so.
- And Scripture, which include the Old Testament, is more reliable than the Church Fathers. Try it - you'll like it! We could start a new page on the case of the WomanCaughtInAdultry?. For now, what do you do with: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:3-4 (NIV) A) Who is God's servant? B) What is his sword for? -- BrucePennington
- Still waiting for your thoughts on the above question. -- BrucePennington
- My thoughts are obvious: your knowledge of the scripture is much less reliable than that of the Church Fathers. Of course the above cannot be clarified in a limited space and the questions are more complex than at first sight. What is clear though, for the purpose of this page that you cannot stretch the above [paragraphs that referred to a pagan state and pagan rulers, to justify that a professed "christian" government and a the "christian right" behind it are "God's agents of wrath and punishment". Rather than waste time with interpreting this paragraph, think better if you can be the first to throw the stone.
- While I would love to continue this train of thought on Scipture's applicability to our nation's government vs your characteization of the governments of Paul's day as "pagan governments," instead I would truly like to dig deeply into your question about "throwing the first stone." This page is already getting huge, and for my sake, when I am on dial-up internet, I would like to split this off to TheRoadToLifeOrDeath. I am writing it on my laptop, and will post it when finished. It is a good question that deserves an honest answer. -- BrucePennington
- How do you feel about King David of the Old Testament? -- BrucePennington
- I don't feel anything at all. Actually I feel that I am not qualified to comment. The acute awareness of the strictly limited size of my own skull tells me my comments would be more confused then enlightening. I could recommend you though Paul Tarazi "Introduction to the Old Testament".
- I read the link on St Basil. I will study it more. First glance - The article tries to justify the idea that one can willfully violate the cannon of Scripture, just so you truthfully are penitent about it. It's like saying that I'm sitting in my house, about to go to war, but knowing it's Ok because when I get back I can be really sorry for it -- and that's Ok with the Church. That's saying that the church condones willful sin. God never condones sin. Yes, He always forgives, but He never condones the sin. In fact, Scripture warns those who willfully continue in sin. --BrucePennington
No, there's no such thing in the article, only in your reading of it. First of all you seem to be unaware of the old saying that there's no man who lives and does not sin. So it's not there a question of the wilful sin, but an acknowledgement that living in a corrupted world, people may be faced with less than perfect choices in matters of moral dilemma. In the times of St. Basil men (especially those living at the borders of the empires) would have the choice between picking up the sword and fight and letting the barbarians kill women and children. Now you'd prefer to solve this moral dilemma by theorizing that it is virtuous to kill the barbarians. This is lacking the humility to say, God I am sorry that because of my failings I could not do any better. It's a form of exalting oneself and placing one self in the seat of judgement who only belongs to God. Can you say that there's no acceptable alternative, and therefore your choice to kill the barabarian is the moral, virtuaous choice ? No, the most you can say is that you don't know. Actually you do know:
He said to them, "Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you,
if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain,
'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you
So if you faced such a dilemma you might be in the position to do nothing better than kill the barbarian. But that is not because killing the barbarian is a virtuous act, whereas you'll be able to exalt
in your action like the pharisee by declaring it "moral" through your own philosophical musing that only for a lack of humility you can believe in them, see Paul Tarazi exegesis of the parable of the publican and the pharisee http://www.ocabs.org/exegetical/05-02-20-Lk18.9-14.htm
. But the wise thing to do (which is what St. Basil and the whole Church has always been teaching) is to go back with humility and repent
, because it was not for your virtue that you killed the barbarian, but it was for your and our collective unbelief (see "faithless generation"). Only from that humility you can say like the father of the child "I believe; help my unbelief!". You are not able to move mountains, you have to face it, as long as you live in this world you are exposed to sin and you'll sin whether willingly or unwillingly, whether consicously or unconsciosuly, for lack of care, lack of understanding, weakness and for many other reasons. You have to be humble and ask for forgiveness. Having to go to war is such a moral dilemma. Executing criminals is hardly a moral dilemma.
And what is the difference for the believer between those who make unjust war on him and a criminal? Does geography really matter? Why is one a moral dilemma and the other not?
- The difference is quite obvious. If you don't kill the barbarian he might kill you and then go kill the women and children in your village that you had the moral obligation to protect. There may be no practical alternative. The criminal facing the death row is already safely behind bars -- by definition, therefore killing such "criminals" is strictly unnecessary. As a matter of principle, why should there be a distinction (as far as Christian theology is concerned ) for "crime"/"criminal" as distinct categories. The scriptures and the teachings of the Church talk in terms of sin/sinner. That's why advocating the "death penalty" for "criminals" can only make sense from a purely secular perspective. However the glaring paradox in USA is that the majority those protesting the secularization of state and society are also strong advocates of death penalty and professed advocates of Christian values, while in reverse those advocating for secularization are also against the death penalty.
This is a beautifully constructed arguement. The concept is very appealing. It allows us to have our cake and eat it too! I'm sorry, though, if it is a sin to kill other human beings, then it is a sin. If there are exeptions, then the exceptions are not sin. I find the stand of the total pacifist, like the Christian PeaceMakers, more credible than that of St. Basil. They use the verses "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.... Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matthew 5:38, 44) to justify their stand that one should never take up arms, even to stop an invading army. I cannot agree with their stand, mainly because of verses about government/rulers like Romans 13:3-4, but I find their stand easier to see in Scripture than that of Basil. -- BrucePennington
The difference is that St. Basil was infinitely more competent than you at reading the scripture. This is not about "constructing arguments" this is simply about living the life in the spirit, in prayer fasting, humility and obedience to God (you shall know them by their fruits). And if you read aboiut the life and the works of St. Basil you'd be doubly reluctant before boasting your competence in reading the scripture.
As for philosophical debates on the scripture this has nothing to do with Christianity. As a matter of fact, Christ himself has left many commandments, but none was that "though shalt read the poor translation of the scripture and appoint yourself chief intepreter of it".
Cynic. If any innocent person is executed God could easily resurrect them (if they so desired). The fact that He hasn't proves they are much happier in heaven. -- EricHodges
I thought they were going to hell? Now I'm confused. Should we be executing good people so they'll go to heaven sooner and be happy quicker?
They only go to hell if they haven't accepted our lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior, silly. If we accidentally execute an innocent person who hasn't accepted Jesus as his or her personal savior then we're denying them the opportunity to do so, which is sad. The optimal approach is to give non-believers life imprisonment and execute believers ASAP. -- EH
Bruce, when did you turn into a troll? LiberalMind is a nice caricature, as is the alleged paradox at the top of this page. How disappointing. -- DanMuller
Nevermind that,Dan, it's RushLimbaughMind? in action. Trying to convince him of anything is futile because you do not speak the same language. I could try an exercise in evangelization, trying to convert a "christian right" into a "right christian" (from "Orthodox" -- right believer), but I am having doubts in the utility of the exercise, even as I can speak the same language. I don't know, maybe he could convert after all, and start or join an Orthodox Church ? --CostinCozianu
RushLimbaugh?Speech, maybe. I watched Limbaugh once for about 15 minutes. That's all it took for me to become completely convinced of several things. He is very intelligent. And he very deliberately and knowingly makes use of fallacious arguments and dishonest rhetorical techniques to manipulate his audience. I don't know for sure what his motivations are, but I suspect that they have less to do with ideology than with self-aggrandizement. Bruce, on the other hand, seems more likely sincere but sloppy or careless in his arguments and appeals. A modicum of audience baiting fits comfortably within this interpretation. -- DanMuller
Dan, honest question. On the LiberalMind page I put a qualifier to emphasize that I realize that generalizations about any group of people will always cause some heartache, because the human spectrum is so broad that no characterization always fits. I should have done the same here, of course. My intent with DeathRow, LiberalMind, EmbryonicStemCellResearch, etc, is to challenge caring people to think about the ideas they live by. Most humans don't question their life choices. IdeasHaveConsequences. I care about people (see ProgrammingMatters), and frankly some of today's ideas proudly espoused in the USA are anti-life and harmful to humans. Some ideas are just illogical, and thus, fun to poke at, and the more I study the LiberalMind, the more those kind of ideas keep popping up! I fully understand that some with the LiberalMind will read some of these pages and feel slighted because they don't fit all the issues discussed. My honest apologies. -- BrucePennington
Bruce, you do realize that in a world where cops beat confessions out of the first black guy they meet on the street, putting "confessed rapists" to death is just murder, yes? -- RK
Hi Richard! Good to talk with you again! I hear your concern, but think your example mixes two issues. The cops that beat the confession out of the man, could certainly be liable for murder, or at least man-slaughter -- thier intent was Evil. But the judges and juries intents were honest. I agree the USA has gotten way too loose in its use of DeathRow. Too many innocent people have been executed. God required 2 eye-witnesses before someone could be executed. There should be a MoratoriumOnTheDeathPenalty, so alternatives and improvements in the process could be nationally debated. -- BrucePennington