Capital Punishment: Should Christians support the Death Penalty? - BR XI

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BR Round 5a

BR Round 5a

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your patience and participation during this debate. I sincerely enjoyed this debate and found iron-sharpening-iron. I thank Knight for putting this on, Turbo for being a worthy opponent, and you, TOL, for your eyes and hearts.

The Grand Finale:

I have saved my final question for last:

Should Christians support the DP?

I will answer this after a few concluding remarks:

The Problem with Turbo’s view:

Never answered the question at hand

In Turbo’s opening post, he never introduced the topic at hand, nor laid out a plan of action, nor did he even answer the question for this debate: “Should Christians Support the DP?” He has, however, worked real hard answering questions like “Should the Government have a role in the DP?” and “Are fines and prisons mentioned in the Bible?” This has nothing to do with our task for this debate. Even if governments are given the authority by to execute others, it does not mandate that God desires for us to support their death, especially since there is overwhelming NT support for Christians not to support the DP. Should Christians go out and hunt down their neighbor and have the government put them to death? Or should Christians preach the gospel message to them? By default, unless Turbo turns it around in his next post, he loses for not even answering the question in a clear fashion!!!! In his first post, he fails to even mention it!

This debate, however, is not about technicalities. This debate is not about if I win or Turbo wins, or who gets the most votes, it is about whether or not Christians should support the DP. Which they certainly should not support!

Turbo’s Idealism

His view was idealistic. Turbo wants the DP to be administered quickly, painfully and all the time. This whole view on the DP is not realistic. Instead of proper trials and appeals process Turbo calls for bringing to death as soon as possible. Way to care about innocence! Instead of caring about the guilty party’s life at all, Turbo wants it to be painfully as possible (which could essentially have no limits). Instead of accounting for the mercy that God has shown on actual sinners deserving the DP (Cain, Lamech, Ninevah, Moses, David, Adulteress women, and Paul) Turbo advocates that we kill them all, ignoring the NT command to forgive (Col 3:13) and to be merciful (Luke 6:36).

Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Ignoring Hebrews 8

Had I not made it clear in the fourth round that the gigantic list of OT laws that condemn us all is obsolete in Christ? Let me repost the verse that indicates so:

Heb 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."
Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Forgiveness ignored

God commanded us to forgive as he does. God commanded us to be merciful. This is the NT ethic of love. This is what the Apostle Paul received even though he brutally persecuted and imprisoned the early church. He even oversaw and gave approval of Stephen’s death but that did not stop the early church to welcome in a new believer, forgiven and transformed by God’s grace.
Question for Turbo: Was Paul deserving death for his participation and involvement in the false death of Stephen and the persecution of the early church leading certainly to the death of many early Christians?

Revisiting Karla Faye Tucker

Karla Faye Tucker was no different. She, like Paul, received the Lord’s grace but unlike Paul, she was not shown mercy and was executed. Karla Faye Tucker was a Christian, a Christian that when executed, a crowd of other “Christians” cheered on, waving indecent posters and banisters.

Did the early church do this to Paul? Shouldn’t they have done the right thing and turned Paul in, having Paul willingly give up his own life? Shouldn’t they have at least tried to avenge Stephen’s martyrdom?

Read this passage:

Acts 9:23-24 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him [Paul], (24) but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.

Saul, now a Christian preaching Christ, knew they were trying to kill him. Did Paul not realize what he had done to the saints? Shouldn’t he have turned himself in and died?

What did the early church do? They accepted him after testing him. And shouldn’t Jesus have picked up the largest stone he could find and cast it upon the woman caught in adultery? Did Jesus sin when he forgot to follow the absolute DP?

I think Turbo, you should address this fully and come up with some explanation for why the early church didn’t turn in Paul or why Jesus didn’t cast the largest stone! Why did Karla Faye Tucker have to die if Paul and the woman didn’t?!? Was she not forgiven by God? How do we know either way?

See here, it is NOT the Kill them all philosophy at work but the Forgive them all philosophy.

Where was Jesus’ stone? Where was it? Was Jesus chicken? A liberal sissy?

Taking James 2 Seriously

James 2 tells us something remarkable. Someone in the Battle Royale challenged me to tell me where God puts an end to the DP. If you need a clearer passage than this, then you have problems:

James 2:10-13 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (11) For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"[2] also said, "Do not murder."[3] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (12) Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, (13) because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

We are all lawbreakers. We all deserve the DP. When we break one point of the Law, we are as guilty as Hitler, Stalin, Osama, and any other list of bad guys. We are to speak and act as those who are going to be shown mercy. How is giving the DP a merciful act?

When someone commits adultery, we are to show mercy and not put them to death as Turbo wants. When someone murders we are to show mercy and not put them to death as Turbo desires. Don’t crave any blood but the blood of Christ that has been shed for our sins.

Taking Joseph’s example

We have talked a lot about man’s judgment in relation to God’s. We have witnessed that at the fall man judged for himself for the first time and has continued to do so up until today. Let’s, however, consider Joseph’s example of forgiveness in the book of Genesis:

Joseph was tormented, brutalized, and left for dead by his brothers for no good reason. When Joseph had not died, his brothers forced him into slavery(37:27). Joseph was then wrongly put into prison in Egypt(39:20). Joseph, being faithful to the Lord, became Pharaoh’s right hand man and gained an abundant amount of authority (45:9). During a particular drought that came over the land, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt in order to get food. After Joseph saw his brothers beg for food, Joseph decided to confront them about what happened:

Genesis 50:15-21 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" (16) So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: (17) 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (18) His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. (19) But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? (20) You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (21) So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

I know what you are thinking: What a wicked man Joseph is for not killing them when he had the chance!?! Oh, wait. You weren’t thinking that. You were thinking, how great and merciful for Joseph to forgive them. Joseph denies his place as God (even though Pharaoh was considered divine and Joseph was his right hand man, making him closer in Egyptian authority to God then anyone else). Joseph forgives his debtors.

In a state of democracy where we the people run the government, why not forgive as Joseph has?! Why not show mercy as we are commanded in the NT?

Let’s take the example of the early church, Jesus, and Joseph, whom all forgave.

Should Christians Support the DP?

The answer is obviously no. It is very easy to see that the NT teaches us to forgive and to have mercy. How can we support something that is contrary to forgiveness and mercy?

We shouldn’t support the DP because:

It does not deter crime
It does not justify the crime (only Christ’s death can fully do this)
It does not allow the murderer to come to repentance (especially if we do this swiftly)
Man will never judge without error (the DP cannot be overturned once carried out)
There may be a sociological bias
We are all guilty and deserving of the Death Penalty (everyone one of us!)
God has fulfilled and made the OT obsolete in Christ
God has commanded us not to judge hypocritically
God has commanded us not to condemn anyone
God commands us to be forgiving
God commands us to be merciful
God commands us to act and speak as those being judged under mercy and freedom
God died on the cross for our sins so we do not have to
God is to be Judge
God did not always exercise the DP
God is love

It is that clear. Axiomatic!

Responding to Turbo:

Deterrence!?! Revisited for the millionth time

We have already visited this portion of the debate a few times. Let’s review the AV’s position:

Statistics indicate that states with the DP have an average homicide rater per 100,000 people higher then states that do not.

In fact, despite Turbo’s fitting together graphs, he failed to properly interpret and account for all of the facts about deterrence. While it is true that one does not run a high risk to receive the DP, it is obvious, however, that the DP does not deter crime.

In 2003, the South had the highest murder rate in the country, and that continued in 2004 even as the South carried out 85% of the nation's executions. The Northeast, which had no executions in 2004, had the lowest murder rate in 2003 and that position remained the same in 2004. (See FBI Press Release, "Preliminary Crime Statistics for 2004," June 6, 2005. Execution data from DPIC).

As we can draw from this, not every state executes and the ones that do, have a higher murder rate.

What Turbo’s analysis fails to inform you is that after 1976, when the DP was reinstated, not all States had the DP. In fact, homicides increased in the South, which was producing the most executions. Furthermore, taking the United States as a whole in homicide rates does not tell the whole story.

Take a 1995 study on California for instance:

The average annual increase in homicides was twice as high during years in which the DP was carried out than in years during which no one was executed. The study compared the homicide rates during 1952-1967, when an execution occurred on an average of every two months, with the homicides rates between 1968-1991, a period where no executions occurred. The study found that homicide rates where annually increasing by 10% when California was executing criminals consistently. This declined to an increase of 4.8% when California rescinded the DP. (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, How have Homicide Rates Been Affected By California’s Death Penalty, April 1995, p. 2-3)

Even America’s weak DP does not deter as well as countries without the DP:

Data released by the British Home Office reveals that the United States, which retains the death penalty, has a murder rate that is more than three times that of many of its European allies that have banned capital punishment. (New York Times, May 11, 2002).

Of the countries listed from 1997-1999:

US: 6.8 per 100,000
Sweeden: 1.94
Netherlands: 1.66
France: 1.63
Italy: 1.56
Britain: 1.45
Germany: 1.28

Where is this deterrent? Certainly if Turbo is correct these governments over a two year period should see murder rates sky rocket because they do not have the DP!!!!

The Bottom Line

The Flood did not deter crime. Sodom and Gomorrah did not deter sin. The exile of God’s people to Assyria did not deter crime nor sin. God’s exile of the Israelites to the Babylonians did not deter sin. Christ’s death did not deter sin (but sure gave us victory over it). When has death deterred sin? Man will always sin until the last days when God completely obliterates the Law, Satan, and those who do his work. Then God will sanctify us and sin will be revoked. The DP does not deter crime.

Romans 13

You are skirting the issue. Bearing the sword is a metaphor (a very common one in fact). Paul is saying the Romans have the right to authority.

Your assertion that Paul was talking about paying taxes from the beginning of Romans 13 is downright silly! Paul didn't even mention taxes until verse 6, and note the word "also" in that verse.

Calling it silly does not make my argument false. I have one question for you, is Paul not capable of a complete thought? Historically, contextually, grammatically, all of this argumentation for obedience out of love.

No, a plain reading of this passage makes clear what Paul is saying: Don't avenge yourselves, God will avenge. The government is God's minister to avenge. Therefore you should willingly pay taxes to support the government, God's minister to you for good.

So Paul’s argument about love at the end of chapter 13 was tacked on for sentimental value or something!?!?!!!! C’mon, we know that fear is contrary to love and Paul is arguing for love and obedience from good conscience.

Paul: Authorities do not bear the sword in vain.

Theo: Yes they do!

Where are you getting that? Clearly not from my posts!

A thousand years prior to the two examples you gave, God forgave David for committing murder and adultery. Yet in doing so, you acknowledge that God did not negate his commandments that murderers and adulterers be put to death. The same is true of the two New Testament example you cited.

But now God has negated his commands (Hebrews 8 and James 2) because of his son. I have to ask you this, Why did King David, an instrument of God’s wrath, not have himself be executed? Or was forgiveness an alternative?

During Christ's earthly ministry, Israel was being occupied by Rome (one of many wicked nations in the Bible that used imprisonment as punishment that I alluded to in Round 1). The threat of imprisonment after being sued in court was a reality of the day. It would be like me saying, Don't drive drunk unless you want to end up in prison. Now, I don't believe imprisonment is a suitable punishment for driving drunk (or any other crime), but the reality is, that's the punishment drunk drivers often receive in our society. My acknowledgment of that fact is not an endorsement of imprisonment as punishment.

Ok.. if you can make weak arguments like this than surely this similar argument should fly as well:

During Paul’s earthly ministry, Rome owned the world (one of many wicked nations in the Bible that used the Death Penalty as condemnation). The threat of the Death Penalty was a reality of the day. It would be like me saying, Don’t commit adultery unless you want to end up executed. Now, I don’t believe the DP is a suitable punishment for adultery, but the reality is, that’s the punishment adulterers should receive. My acknowledgement of that fact is not an endorsement of the DP as condemnation.

Anybody else struggle to find anything logical at all with this argument. It is unintelligible to me. In all sincerity, I think you might have been sleepy or something or switched your train of thought because this is all a bunch of scrambled thoughts not relating to one another.

This doesn’t refute Christ’s speaking about prisons. Notice Christ does more speaking about prisons then giving people the DP for their sins (in fact, he stopped someone from receiving the deserved DP).

Fine, We Can Debate Fines Here

This was irrelevant. But, I think it was sorta interesting. I agree with your point that fines should not necessarily benefit the government the way the US is doing so. However, like I said, nothing to do with the debate.

You are like the dim-witted lab rat who just never catches on that when he presses that lever, he gets shocked every time.

You know what? These ad hominems are really unnecessary. Why do this? Immature…grow up.

TurboQ49: Theo, you advocate imprisonment as punishment for murder. Do you therefore, based on Christ's words, advocate imprisonment for becoming angry at someone without cause?

We cannot judge whether or not someone was angry without cause. I do not know the hearts of men. But I would advocate forgiveness and mercy before condemnation and judgment for someone who was guilty of this.

What is this? I cannot see how this makes you look like an intelligent debater. Whatever! :baby:

Christ was not talking about criminal justice, but about sin. Spiritually, wanting to commit murder or adultery is just as wicked as fully acting upon those desires and indeed such sinful thoughts condemn an unbeliever to hell as easily as any other. For the would-be victims and society as a whole, it is much better when a sure, swift and painful death penalty is in place to better deter people from acting upon such sinful desires.

So… apparently if one plots a murder or adultery, or really anything horrific, we cannot bring justice until they have committed the crime? That is at least, your logic played out.

I don’t think you understand what Christ is saying. You are guilty of murder (not spiritual murder or something else you might make up)!!!! MURDER! If you are unjustly angry in your own heart, it is just as bad as murder. Is murder a sin Turbo? Of course it is. So, is it only then a spiritual debt that condemns us to hell? NO! We deserve the DP if we are angry without cause with our brother JUST AS MUCH as someone who actually murders.

TurboQ50: Do you therefore completely forgive him as God has forgiven him and set him free?

If so, suppose that the next day he is back in your courtroom. The previous afternoon, just hours after you released him, he kidnapped another little girl, raped her, and murdered her. But he still confesses Christ. He explains that God is still working with him, and that he's very sorry for what he did. He explains that he recommitted his life to the Lord that very morning, and he reminds you that Christ's death has paid for all of his sins.

TurboQ51: Do you forgive him and release him a second time?

He is back a third time. And a fourth. And a fifth. And a sixth.

TurboQ52: How many times do you forgive him and release him?

Christ said that we should forgive our brother "seventy times seven" times (Matthew 18:22). That would make for quite a body count at the hand of your "forgiving" judicial system:

I am going to answer these questions all together. I have stated plainly before that we should show forgiveness and mercy. That is a correct assertion. However, this is exactly why I have been advocating corrective, disciplinary imprisonments that help restore a criminal back into society. I recall stating this:

“Now, if we know for certain that a person has repented and confessed to God, then we should not have to do anything idealistically.”

Note the word “idealistically.” I then went on to explain:

“I advocate that if someone truly repents of their sin, we do not need to even imprison them. Let them go. The issue is, what if they do not repent. As Christians we certainly do not condemn them to death, we try our best to rehabilitate them to become functioning repentant members of society. Of course, an injustice is created by sending someone to prison that is innocent but you cannot compare that with taking the life of someone who is innocent.”

Now that you clearly see that this situation has already been handled, I merely ask, why are you asking these hypothetical questions?

TurboQ50: Do you therefore completely forgive him as God has forgiven him and set him free?

Theo-A-TQ50: See, this depends on the crime. An adulterer is not necessarily going to kill everyone they know when we let them go. Either is a disobedient, rebellious child. We forgive and correct, mend, restore. Just as the early church did so with Paul, the tested to see if he was legit. Acts 9:26-31. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to indicate whether a believer is true. We cannot let loose cannons who are going to kill back into society but we can try our best to reform them. This is not punishment. Who can call giving them mercy by not killing them unforgiving? We need to help people. If they like Paul prove to be pure, then let them go. Becoming a Christian means you are a new creation, a radical transformation occurs and Christians generally should not repeat murders. If someone is a psyscho path murderer or a repeat adulterer, we offer the man with psychological issues psychological help.

You are taking what I said way out of context. You bashed my understanding of imprisonment, then try to force me to use something I already beleive in. What logic is this? You have yet to prove that prisons are ungodly. Especially since my model of imprisonment does not equal what our prisons look like today.

Take a good look at that image, theo. That is the end result of your position. That should also be the end of your position. The only way for you to come out of this debate a winner is by conceding in Round 5, and by repenting of your opposition to God's wise commands regarding criminal justice.

Emotional appeal. Puh-lease.

You should really post an image showing 7 billion graves because all of humanity deserves the DP.

I wonder: Do you take Christ's "seventy times seven" maximum literally, or do you consider it a figure of speech meaning there is no limit to how many times you should forgive and release a serial child rapist/murderer?

Figure of speech.


I presented the three arguments, sociological, judicial and theological, asked and answered four important questions, and responded to Turbo. I beleive to the fullest of my knowledge that I have answered everyone of Turbo's questions. I have demonstrated that supporting the DP is against NT Christian ethics and God's NT commands. Christians should not support the DP.

Questions for Turbo:

Theo-Q-31: Was Paul deserving death for his participation and involvement in the false death of Stephen and the persecution of the early church leading certainly to the death of many early Christians?

Theo-Q-32: Will you refrain from name calling? It does not help this debate! I apologize if I did any myself.

Theo-Q-33: Does prisons and other alternate punishments really have anything to do with whether Christians should support the DP?

Nathon Detroit

Turbo is on the clock, he has until Thursday October 5th 9:34AM (MDT) to make his fifth and final post.


Caped Crusader
Hall of Fame
BRXI Round 5B

BRXI Round 5B

Answering Theo's final questions

Theo-Q-31: Was Paul deserving death for his participation and involvement in the false death of Stephen and the persecution of the early church leading certainly to the death of many early Christians?

Turbo A-TheoQ31: Yes, but God pardoned him, just as He did for David a thousand years earlier.

In forgiving David and allowing him to live, God did not repeal the death penalty, nor did He grant governing rulers the authority to pardon criminals. (Even you agree that God's forgiving David did not mark the end of God's command to execute capital criminals.)

God's forgiveness of Paul was no different, as evidenced by Paul's own support of the death penalty (Acts 25:11, Romans 13:1-4)

God alone has the authority to pardon capital criminals. He has not delegated that authority to men.

Theo-Q-32: Will you refrain from name calling?

Turbo A-TheoQ32: No. There are times when name-calling is appropriate. Even Jesus engaged in name-calling. We can discuss this elsewhere sometime if you like.

I apologize if I did any myself.
Unless you like your apologies to come across as insincere, avoid using the word if in them. Did you call me names or didn't you?

Theo-Q-33: Does prisons and other alternate punishments really have anything to do with whether Christians should support the DP?

Turbo A-TheoQ33: Absolutely! You base your opposition to the death penalty on an appeal to "forgive them all and let God sort them out" and a call to "remember... no more" the sins of criminals. Yet you do not truly advocate forgiving and forgetting; you want murderers and other criminals to be imprisoned (a form of punishment that God never authorized).

This is but one of many examples of arguments you have used against the death penalty that could just as easily be used against imprisonment or any other form of punishment. I have been using your support of imprisonment to highlight the inconsistencies and double-mindedness within your view.

What about Joseph?

This wasn't so much an argument against the death penalty as a whole, but it was an argument that governing authorities have a God-given prerogative to pardon criminals. Theo, I believe this was your best argument in all of Battle Royale XI, and it is one that I had never heard. :thumb:

The most important thing to realize is that at the time the story of Joseph took place, the only crime for which God had authorized the death penalty was murder (Genesis 9:6). And while Joseph's brothers had plotted to murder him, they decided instead to sell their kidnapped brother to the Ishmaelites. But God had not commanded execution for kidnappers until the time of Moses (Exodus 21:16).

Also, in this particular case, the judge happened to be the crime victim. But that is a highly unusual circumstance. Normally a judge is not the person who the crime was committed against, and therefore the judge does not have the authority to forgive the criminal (If your brother sins against you... Luke 17:3).

But even when the victim does forgive the criminal on a personal level, that does not mean the criminal shouldn't be prosecuted. If for instance a rape victim forgives her attacker, the rapist should still be put to death because he sinned against his whole community, making it a more dangerous place to live.

But in this case, Joseph's authority was over Egypt. The crime did not take place in Egypt, the victim was not Egyptian, the perpetrators were not Egyptian, and Joseph was not sold to Egyptians. The crime did not impact Egypt in any way; it occurred outside of Joseph's jurisdiction.

(Note that Joseph did not forgive his brothers and then imprison them.)

Battle Royale XI Highlights

Theo presented the case of Karla Faye Tucker, a murderer who claimed to be forgiven by God and pled to be spared the death penalty. I pointed out that a repentant capital criminal should willingly accept the death penalty, and I pointed to the repentant criminal executed alongside Christ, who called his execution just (Luke 23:41). Also, while on trial Paul stated, "if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying" (Acts 25:11). Paul also instructed fellow Christians that the government is "God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath" on evildoers, who should "be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain" (Romans 13:4).

Things really fell apart for theo when he answered my Round 1 question:
TurboQ4: Should governing authorities punish criminals at all?

Theo-A-TurbosQ4: Of course!
That answer was the beginning of the end for theo, for it undermined nearly every argument theo made against the death penalty. Theo immediately went on to say, "Forgiveness, however, is a serious concept not to be ignored." Indeed! Theo argues that we should not execute criminals, but rather forgive them and "remember... no more" their sins, this is incompatible with his recommendation to imprison criminals.

Theo offered many statistics in which a region with no death penalty at all had a slightly lower murder rate than another region which painlessly executes murderers many years after their conviction about 1% of the time. He hoped this would prove that the death penalty does not deter crime. Conspicuously missing from theo's stats is Singapore, which is known to consistently execute capital criminals such as murderers, and is also known to have one of the lowest murder rates of any major city (see table 2). Though Singapore has a population density comparable to major US cities, its murder rate is less that 10% of that of Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, or Philadelphia.

From Round 1 I had been stating that the death penalty as we know it in America has no teeth, being neither sure, swift, or painful. But in Round 4 I presented historical data from the past half century in the U.S. showing that despite our weakened death penalty, the murder rate increases when executions decrease, and vice versa. I also presented many Scriptural passages in which God assures that a swift, painful, and certain death to a criminal will deter those who remain from committing a similar crime.

Summary of Refutations to Theo's arguments

It does not deter crime

I pointed out in Round 1 that America's death penalty is a weak deterrent because it is not carried out swiftly, painfully, or consistently. America's murderers have a less-than-1% percent chance of eventually being put to death, painlessly. However in spite of this, statistics from the past half-century show that when the number of executions decreases, the murder rate increases and vice versa.

It does not justify the crime (only Christ’s death can fully do this)

No argument here. I never claimed that being executed justifies a capital crime. I said that capital crimes, execution is just.

It does not allow the murderer to come to repentance (especially if we do this swiftly)

Actually, when someone knows he is about to die he is more likely to consider the condition of his soul than at any other time. A criminal dying of natural causes after being locked in a cage for 50 years had often just become increasingly hardened toward God and his fellow man in that time. I do not discount that some criminals become saved in prison. But a capital criminal who has just been found guilty and knows he will soon be executed may spend more time in that day considering the condition of his soul than the average "lifer" spends in his lifetime. Remember that one of the two criminals executed with Christ repented.

Man will never judge without error (the DP cannot be overturned once carried out)

God knew this, yet He commanded that capital criminals be put to death based on two or three strong pieces of evidence.

The time an innocent person spends in prison cannot be given back either, and you agreed that some innocent people spend the remainder of their lives in prison based on wrongful convictions.

There may be a sociological bias

The bias in our ungodly system is irrelevant to whether Christians should support that every capital criminal be put to death swiftly and painfully.

Theo's statistics revealed that blacks who murder blacks are less likely to be executed than whites who murder whites. I pointed out that blacks are extremely over-represented as murderers and murder victims. This is all the more reason to execute every murderer, as God commanded. Eliminating the death penalty is not the answer, it is a move farther away from God's will.

We are all guilty and deserving of the Death Penalty (everyone one of us!)

Theo blurs the distinction between spiritual and physical death. God has not commanded the death penalty for every crime, let alone every sin. Christ's death will not prevent any of us from dying physically.

I explained the distinction between physical and spiritual death in my Round 2 post under the heading There's Death, and Then There's Death. I pointed out that in 1 John 5:16-17, John mentioned that "there is sin leading to death" and "there is sin not leading to death." Theo promised to give an example of each in Round 5, as well as clarify his position regarding physical and spiritual death, but he did neither.

TurboQ30: Can you give an example of a sin not leading to death?

TurboQ31: Can you give an example of a sin leading to death?

Theo non-answer I am saving this for my final round.

TurboQ41: Do you recognize a distinction between spiritual death and physical death? If so, please explain the distinction or simply acknowledge that you agree with mine, if that's the case. (You may refer to my section entitled, There's Death, and Then There's Death from round 2)

Theo non-answer I will address this in my last post.

God has fulfilled and made the OT obsolete in Christ

Yet theo still thinks that criminals should be punished by the government and that what is considered criminal should be based on the Bible.

God has commanded us not to judge hypocritically

This means that we should not judge others for the same sins that we ourselves commit (unless we've repented of thos sins). Of course a murderer is unqualified to be a judge.

Theo thinks it means that if we are guilty of any sin whatsoever that we are not qualified to judge another of any sin. This renders meaningless Christ's commands to judge.

What's more, theo still wants governing judges to find criminals guilty and punish them.

God has commanded us not to condemn anyone

Theo confuses condemning to hell with "condemning to death." In the Battle Talk thread, I pointed out that people also commonly use the phrase, "condemn to life in prison," which theo eventually conceded.

The context of Luke 6:37 is the same as that of Matthew 7:1. Christ is speaking out against hypocrisy. Those who reject Christ are condemned (to hell) already (John 3:18)

God commands us to be forgiving

…to those who sin against us and are repentant (Luke 17:3). This is not applicable to criminal justice; a judge cannot forgive a criminal who has sinned against another directly and against all of society indirectly. Although God has pardoned a handful of criminals throughout history, God never authorized governments to forgive criminals.

Even theo agrees that while God forgave David, the death penalty was not done away with at that time.

Theo says that we should forgive and "remember... no more" the sins of criminals, yet he wants criminals to be imprisoned. His is a funny sort of forgiveness.

God commands us to be merciful

Your brand of mercy profanes God.
And will you profane Me... killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live...? Ezekiel 13:19​

Regarding criminals deserving of death, God commands, "Your eye shall not pity..." (Deuteronomy 13:8, 19:13, 19:21.)

The reality is, for our fallen world the death penalty is actually merciful! It is merciful to the victims both living and dead who will not have to watch criminals escape justice (and even pay for their care). Others in society are spared from even becoming victims, and the wicked are restrained from becoming criminals. The death penalty is even merciful to capital criminals, who will not be given the opportunity to compound their sin. And repentant criminals who turn to the Lord and are forgiven will be united with Him rather than first spending decades in a man-made hell.

God commands us to act and speak as those being judged under mercy and freedom

Yet you do not advocate that we should generally grant freedom to murderers, do you?

This statement of yours does not have any bearing on whether or not God wants certain criminals to be executed.

God died on the cross for our sins so we do not have to

That is about spiritual death, not physical death. We are all going to die a physical death whether we are saved by Christ's blood or not. You are distorting the Gospel; Christ did not die to lighten capital criminals' sentences to imprisonment. He died to provide a way for sinners to be saved from being eternally separated from God.

God is to be Judge

God has appointed humans to judge criminals and generally commands Christians to "judge rightly" as well.

You likewise want governing rulers to judge and punish criminals.

God did not always exercise the DP

So what? God alone has the authority to pardon a criminal; He has never delegated that authority to governing rulers.

God is love

God commanded that Israel execute certain types of criminals. Even theo agrees with that. Was God was unloving when He commanded Israel to execute certain criminals?

No, it is out of love that God commanded that certain criminals be put to death surely, swiftly, and painfully. For doing so prevents epidemic crime (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Theo's Inconsistencies

Theo says we should forgive all criminals and "remember their sins no more," yet he wants criminals to be imprisoned. How can you punish someone for something you've not only forgiven, but forgotten?

He claims that we should forgive unconditionally because we cannot know for certain whether someone has repented, that we ought to assume everyone is repentant (despite Christ's instructions in Luke 17:3 and Matthew 18:15-17).

theo_victis in Round 3 said:
We forgive people through Christ and because of Christ. That's why we can forgive people because the Lord has taken their penalty for their sins already. They need to repent to receive it. But we can never know if someone has repented, therefore forgiveness is our only option, otherwise we might kill (condemn) an innocent man.

But this universal forgiveness and assumed repentance does not spare criminals (or wrongly convicted innocents) from prison. He wants criminals to be released only if we are really, really sure they are truly repentant:

theo_victis in Round 5 said:
We cannot let loose cannons who are going to kill back into society but we can try our best to reform them. This is not punishment. Who can call giving them mercy by not killing them unforgiving? We need to help people. If they like Paul prove to be pure, then let them go. Becoming a Christian means you are a new creation, a radical transformation occurs and Christians generally should not repeat murders. If someone is a psyscho path murderer or a repeat adulterer, we offer the man with psychological issues psychological help.

So much for forgiving criminals "seventy times seven" times.

Throughout this debate, theo has said that we should "punish" criminals by imprisoning them. But in the above quote, suddenly imprisonment is no longer punishment. Then, just a few paragraphs later, theo goes back to calling imprisonment punishment:

Theo-Q-33: Does prisons and other alternate punishments really have anything to do with whether Christians should support the DP?

Theo says he rejects the death penalty because the Old Testament laws are obsolete, yet he agrees that our laws should be based on Old Testament laws. (Though he utterly refused to outline any principles as to which laws should be enforced today and which should not, which I had done in Round 2.)

TurboQ20: Does any of the OT law still apply today? (If so, please briefly explain what applies.)

Theo A-Turbo20: We are theologically condemned by the law. But, it is obsolete, replaced by the new commandment. So, essentially none of it.

TurboQ43: On what basis then do you advocate that murderers, rapists, and kidnappers be punished then? Does it have nothing to do with God's commandments against these crimes?

Theo-A-Turbo-Q43: First question:The Bible.
Second question: Of course it has to do with God's commands. But I remind you once again that the Law is obsolete.

TurboQ44: Is the Old Testament of any value in determining what should be criminal and punishable by the government today?

Theo-A-Turbo-Q44: Yes.

So if theo thinks murder, rape, and kidnapping should be criminal based on God's commandments, why would he reject the penalty that God prescribed for those crimes? Why would you say that none of the OT laws should apply today, yet cite these very laws as the basis for what should be considered criminal?

Theo, these are just a few of the many glaring contradictions found in your posts. You often accused me of twisting your arguments throughout this debate. But in reality you twisted his own arguments; all I did was bring that to light. You contradicted yourself at nearly every turn. If I could sum up your argumentation in this debate pictorially, it would look like this:


More Unanswered Questions.

I believe to the fullest of my knowledge that I have answered everyone of Turbo's questions.

Oh really? In addition to those I've already mentioned (TurboQ30, 31, and 41), these questions went unanswered in this debate:

TurboQ16 Should the government punish people who mow their lawns on Saturday?

Theo non-answer: Government?!?! What you should be really asking is should Christians be supporting death for those who break the Sabbath based on the OT law?

TurboQ18: Should the government imprison all unbelievers (who are all rebellious against God)?

Theo non-answer: Wha?!?! This has nothing to do with this debate.​

I explained:
Yes it does.

You suggested that I should support the death penalty for those who are rebellious against God since I advocate the death penalty for murder.

I'm therefore asking if you support imprisonment for those who are rebellious against God since you advocate imprisonment for murder. In other words, I testing your argument against your own beliefs regarding the punishment of criminals.

It was a simple yes-or-no question. Why would you not simply answer?​
And theo still refused to answer:
Theo non-answer: First of all, unbelievers and those who are rebellious against God cannot be linked together in the manner you are doing. Christians are rebellious against God as well. We all sin! The commandment concerning putting to death those who are rebellious against God does not mean just unbelievers.

Your question is flawed, skewed, illogical. I refuse to answer it based on these grounds.​

Does theo really think that this Old Testament law he referred to, which God gave to Israel to actually enforce, calls for the death penalty for all sinners?

The point of these questions was to demonstrate theo's double standard. He argued that since I believe some Old Testament laws that were punishable by death should be enforced today, that I should advocate that all of them should, including working on Saturday. I outlined why some laws are applicable today and some aren't. Then I turned the tables on theo. He supports imprisonment as punishment for murder and rape, so according to his argument he should likewise support imprisonment for breaking the Sabbath.

He opposes the death penalty, but he still thinks that certain OT crimes should be enforced today while others should not. However he was utterly unwilling (or unable) to outline any sort of principles guiding which Biblical laws should be enforced today:

TurboQ19: How do you determine which actions should be criminal, and what are the things that should mandate punishment from the government?

Theo non-answer: You are getting off the subject. I believe we are supposed to talk about whether Christians should support the DP. This question cannot be answered here. Please either clarify how this fits into the debate or drop the question. I guess I just don't see its relevancy.

TurboQ42 (19 reprised): How do you determine which actions should be criminal, and what are the things that should mandate punishment from the government?

Theo non-answer: Yawn. We have already been over this. Some countries laws will differ, such as speed limits, or whatever. The Bible is silent on issues such as these. I would generally say laws should find a biblical basis. This is such a huge question that it cannot be properly answered in this debate. Think about it Turbo:

You are asking me to basically instruct you on EVERY manner of criminal justice. This is absurd and irrelevant to the debate.​

He claimed that it was "such a huge question that it cannot be properly answered in this debate," but I answered it in Round 2 in the section Rightly Dividing.

But there were hints that theo does not know how to rightly divide. He admitted that he goes "back and forth" on whether it is "sinful for people living today to mow their lawns on Saturday" (see TurboQ17). I wonder if theo faced a moral dilemma when he was on the clock the past two Saturdays. "Should I start working on my response now, or should I wait until sundown?" :think:

TurboQ36: Are unbelievers under grace?

Theo non-answer: This question needs further definition.​

Does theo not know what it means to be under grace? This is a very basic concept.

Of course unbelievers are not under grace, but theo builds much of his arguments as though they are. "Forgive them all" whether God forgives them or not.

TurboQ45: So why do you support imprisonment for some sins, and not others?

Theo non-answer: I support sacrifice for all sins (the OT law) but since we have Christ it is not necessary. Be patient. You have not even allowed me to explain my rationale for imprisonment. Jeesh!​

Note that this was in Round 4, and I had been asking theo to provide a Biblical defense for imprisonment since Round 1 (see TurboQ5). And note that Theo never got around to answering TurboQ45 despite his request that I "be patient."

TurboQ46 Is the Gospel a deterrent to those who reject it?

Theo non-answer: Paul calls it a stumbling block.​

That is not what I asked.

The obvious answer to this question is "No." The Gospel and love for God does not deter those who reject the Gospel and despise God from committing crimes.

I asked this question because theo argued that the Gospel is a superior deterrent to the death penalty, and that therefore the death penalty should be done away with.

In my follow-up question (TurboQ47) I asked whether most people accept or reject the Gospel.

Theo asked in response, "How should I know?"

He should know from reading the Bible:

[jesus]Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.[/jesus] Matthew 7:13-14​

It is true that Christians ought to be motivated by love to do what is right. But the reality is, most people are not Christians.

And even Christians struggle with their flesh. Paul warned Christians in Romans 13:1-4 that if they commit crimes they should fear the sword of God's avenger, His minister to execute wrath. But Paul also said that those who do good need not be afraid.

We need not choose between the Gospel and the death penalty. They are synergetic.

I wonder why theo doesn't draw such a dichotomy between the Gospel and prison. :think:

Murder Victims to God: We Long For Vengeance

TurboQ30 Do you think murder victims in heaven have a desire for vengeance or an attitude of forgiveness toward their unrepentant killers?

Theo-A-Turbo-Q30 Attitude of forgiveness and hope for them to repent. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7

But as I pointed out in Round 2's Crash Course on Forgiveness, Christ instructs us to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant. Indeed, Scripture tells us that murder victims in heaven cry out for vengeance upon their unrepentant murderers:

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Revelation 6:9-11​

Apparently those in heaven, who no longer struggle against the flesh, do not share theo's "forgive them all" philosophy.

In conclusion,

Theo failed to identify any new passage that explicitly bars the death penalty, nor was he able to show where God has ever authorized imprisonment as a punishment for criminals. His arguments against the death penalty were unbiblical and self-contradictory in light of his support of imprisonment.

This debate really starts and ends with Romans 13:1-4. Paul so clearly stated that governing rulers are God's minister to execute wrath upon evildoers, who should be afraid because these rulers do not bear their deadly swords in vain.

Should Christians therefore support the death penalty? Of course. Through Israel God outlined what sorts of criminals should be put to death. Christians should therefore "give place to [God's] wrath" (Romans 12:19) and encourage governing officials to carry out their God-given duty as His ministers to execute that wrath. When a government allows a capital criminal to live, it profanes God.

And will you profane Me... killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live...? Ezekiel 13:19​

Thanks to Knight for arranging this debate. It's been a blast!

And thanks to theo! Theo, I am encouraged by your concession in round 5 that our government's profiting from crimes through fining is corrupt and unbiblical. As your brother in Christ, I truly hope you come around on the weightier matters of this debate as well, not just on the death penalty, but on even more fundamental issues such as forgiveness and judging. We'll probably continue to scrap in the grandstands and elsewhere for quite some time, but please know that even when I come off as harsh I do so out of love.

Thank you to everyone who has been following and commenting on this debate.

And a special thank you to Becky for inspiring Round 4's Executions vs. Murder Rate graph.

Nathon Detroit

DING DING DING, that's it for Battle Royale XI.

TOL would like to thank BOTH Theo Victis and Turbo for all the effort in Battle Royale XI.

- You can discuss the Battle in the Battle Talk thread.

- Vote on who you think won the battle here.
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