Apr 6, 2011

The Death Penalty and the Noahide Covenant

Over at First Thoughts, Joe Carter evaluates a recent discussion on the death penalty, and lays out some principles that my readers will be familiar with.

He begins by quoting Roman Catholic philosopher Ed Feser:
"[T]the legitimacy in principle of capital punishment is grounded in natural law and in the infallible moral teaching of scripture, and is the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church from her foundation down to the present day.”

I not only agree with my Catholic brother that it is legitimate in principle, but would go further by claiming that the Bible requires the death penalty to be applied for certain crimes.
Unless we deal with the Noahide Covenant-- in particular, Genesis 9:6-- we cannot claim that the death penalty as 'unbiblical' or 'unchristian.' (Go here for my earlier discussions on this). Human dignity-- the imago Dei-- humans' image-bearing nature, carried both in the innocent victim and the civil ruler is, according to God, the basis for the death penalty, not a rationale against it.
"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
If capital punishment is unwisely or unjustly administered, we must hasten to repair the injustice and reform the system, even to abandon the practice, if needed. But in our discussions, we ought to take the words and teaching of the Word seriously.

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