Reformed Baptist theologian Wayne Grudem speaks on the Bible and capital punishment.
About Wayne Grudem:
Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.
Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.
what does it mean that man is made in the image of God?
is CP just about taking revenge?
what does CP say about the value of human life?
does CP apply to animals, too?
could the statements supporting CP be understood as symbolic?
one purpose of CP is to protecting the public
another purpose of CP is to deter further wrongdoing
but the Biblical purpose of CP is to achieve justice by retribution
does the Pope make a good argument against CP?
what is the role of civil government in achieving retribution?
do people in Heaven who are sinless desire God to judge sinners?
should crimes involving property alone be subject to CP?
is the Mosaic law relevant for deciding which crimes are capital today?
should violent crimes where no one dies be subject to CP?
is CP widespread in the world? why or why not?
what are some objections to CP from the Bible?
how do you respond to those objections to CP?
should civil government also turn the other cheek for all crimes?
what is the “whole life ethic” and is it Biblical?
what do academic studies show about the deterrence effect of CP?
how often have innocent people been executed in the USA?
should there be a higher burden of proof for CP convictions?
The Bible is awesome because it gives us knowledge about God’s character. How are we supposed to act in a way that is pleasing to God if we don’t know what he thinks of the issues of the day? We won’t know how we are supposed to act unless we know who God is first. And that’s why when we read the Bible we should be looking to find out the truth about who God is.
I got an essay from a Christian man who lives in Canada who served with the armed forces, but was banned from re-enlistment for expressing orthodox Christian views online about Islam. On this blog, I have urged Christians not to entrust a secular government with too many responsibilities, because it results in diminished liberty. I hope my readers will learn something from his story.
The remained of this post is written by the Canadian writer.
I was in the Canadian army several years ago, and while during this brief period of my life I was somewhat eager to get out. It just wasn’t a good time and I had chosen a less than ideal trade. I also had a difficult time telling myself I did the right thing. My 3 year engagement was valuable in some ways, I made some of my best friends there, and it made me into somewhat of a disciplined civilian, one might say. After my release from the army, I went to school and studied Christian apologetics and philosophy, which gave me an excellent outlet to share ideas. I had taken a course on Islam through Veritas evangelical seminary, which was very informative. I had learned that Islam shares many core ideas of Christianity, but there was also something about it which undoubtedly drives much of the terrorist activity in the world. I decided I could no longer evaluate Islam through what the media was telling me, or some of the attitudes towards Islam I may have picked up in the army. Given the time in which I was in the army (2005-2008), during the Afghanistan conflict, no doubt there was a great deal of vilification of our enemy in order to dehumanize them. This seems to be how war works, as it makes it easier to kill who you believe to be sub-human.
No doubt, Islam has been heavily politicized since then. It has become the preferred religion of the Liberal party in Canada; the object of tolerance, and the line of demarcation, which if you do not tolerate you are a racist, even if you so much as raise concern with regards to its violent roots, and current activity. Either way, I had to understand it for myself.
Is this a misappropriated religion, used by those who would be violent anyway as a pretext to carry out their actions? Is there room for reform within Islam, can a believer move away from the violent passages in the Quran, and adopt a more peaceful form of Islam without compromising essential beliefs?
Without getting into the details of my piece, I answered these questions in the negative, while leaving open the very real possibility that a genuinely peaceful person might be a Muslim, that we might hold two, or more, conflicting ideas at once. I published my ideas on my former blog.
Since then, I had reapplied with the army, I even did my aptitude test again, bringing up my score, in order to open up a more desirable occupation than before. My chosen occupation was intelligence, and I was almost in. I suppose it was appropriate that the recruiter gathered their intelligence on me, and found my apologetics blog.
During the recruiting process, one form which all candidates must sign is “Operation Honour,” instantiated by General Jonathan Vance, an initiative not in place during my previous engagement. This outlines an understanding that members must not sexually harass, or discriminate against other CF members, and such can be grounds for dismissal, which seems reasonable.
I was called into the recruiting centre, and my reapplication to the military was closed due to this post, this post which expressed views criticizing a set of ideas, Islam, as a private citizen.
I had argued, with the recruiters, how no specific person was accused of violence, and how the piece was only intended to draw out the problems I saw contained within. They would have none of it, and were set on a year long deferral. It became clear to me that our freedoms of speech were under attack, and in order to hold jobs in government one cannot hold views contrary to the current cultural milieu. I have since had the opportunity to reapply, but with such a wax nose initiative in place, where any disagreement one might voice against a particular worldview, I am unsure how one’s career could survive in an atmosphere of whistleblowers, and where people’s feelings are a metric for one’s worthiness in the forces. Literally anything which rubs another the wrong way, any concern or disagreement, can become a nightmare for a member.
Would not the mere presence of me, a Christian, be an affront to Islam, or even a homosexual/LGBTQ member? The simple affirmation of Jesus being the Son of God is blasphemy to Islam, which only affirms Him as a prophet. How is anyone to function in such an environment as both a private citizen and a state employee, one which professes inclusivity, but has their own ideas of exclusivity in mind? In the name of tolerance, it does seem that our government, and its agencies, have become some of the most intolerant and divisive amongst us. They seem more interested in catering to special interest groups, rather than evaluating ideas, which is ironic considering my intended trade—intelligence, which examines sociopolitical influences on a region, ideas that might be useful for command decisions.
If Islam were the peaceful religion our politicians claim it to be, wouldn’t this be a valuable thing for a person in a command position to know? One could use this knowledge to reform violent practitioners away from their erroneous ways. Yet, they have chosen to protect it by brute political force, rather than allowing open discussion.
Sure, I was initially bitter about this, but it was a valuable lesson, and it has shown me how under the brief influence of a very pseudo-liberal government, how our basic freedoms of thought and speech become attacked, freedoms which I thought our military was interested in preserving, at home and abroad. I suppose it was a valuable awakening to no longer see the state as the preservers of morality, let alone our basic freedoms. For this, we need to look elsewhere.
Can you be pro-life and vote Democrat? Well, as we saw in the Democrat debates, all the Democrat candidates were in favor of open borders. And illegal immigrants tend to vote for higher taxes and more government, in order to get benefits from government provided by high-producing taxpayers. The net result of importing millions of big government voters is unrestricted abortion.
Here’s a nice article from Catholic journalist John Zmirak, who is so conservative that I could swear he’s a evangelical Protestant.
I wrote this a long time ago: “Immigration decides whether America will be saved. Abortion determines whether it deserves to be.”
That sums up most of my politics. Not because I don’t care about other issues. Of course I do. But these two are what you might call “existential.” And they are also connected.
You see, the immigration issue decides a lot of others. In fact, it’s the tipping point for most of the topics conservatives care about. This for a simple and bluntly practical reason: Most immigrants vote Democrat.
[…]In many states that last year elected a pro-life, pro-family member of the Senate or the House, the vote margins were relatively close, and Hispanics voted two-to-one in favor of the pro-abortion Democrats. Had the voting rolls been padded with recently legalized immigrants … how many of these seats would still be in the hands of liberal Democrats who favor abortion on demand for all nine months (if need be, paid for by the taxpayer), gay “marriage,” explicit sex education and countless other measures that violate the most fundamental premises of the natural law?
[…][Let’s say we] grant amnesty — the full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, collect government benefits and use affirmative action at the expense of (for instance) impoverished white male war veterans — to the estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants in America. We would be adding at the very least 6.3-8 million liberal, pro-abortion voters. No, these recent illegals need not, by the laws of physics, vote for liberal, pro-abortion Democrats. But that is how they will vote, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
[…][N]ew arrivals overwhelmingly tend to vote liberal and pro-choice. … Don’t believe us? Ask the Pew Research Center, which found in 2012:
“Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say they would rather have a bigger government which provides more services than a smaller government which provides fewer services.
“Some 75% of Hispanics hold this view; just 19% say they prefer a smaller government. By contrast, just 41% of the public at large voice support for a bigger government.
“Support for a larger government is highest among immigrant Latinos, with 81% holding this view.”
What’s really interesting to me in what he wrote is how he talked about how Roman Catholics, who are supposed to be pro-life, are actually in favor of abortion, because of their support for illegal immigration.
Hold on to your hats, this is very strong medicine, especially for Catholics:
The U.S. Catholic bishops, who beckon these immigrants into the country and profit from their arrival, could help. They could make it a priority to evangelize such new Americans on their duty to vote for just laws that preserve innocent life. Instead of voting for their own perceived tribal and economic interests (i.e. more free money from the government). No sign of the bishops attempting that, alas.
[…]As I’ve pointed out here before, the bishops collected 40% of their budget last year from federal contracts for non-profits. Most of those contracts were for serving immigrants. So their bottom line is at stake. Likewise filling the pews, since 40% of U.S.-born Catholics leave the Church and never come back. Immigrants briefly warm their empty seats, before leaving too. So immigration is a bottom line, life-or-death issue for these bishops. Abortion’s only a life and death issue to the babies. And the bishops don’t get a check from the feds for each baby saved.
Maybe if we could figure out some kind of bounty like that, we’d see the bishops fighting as hard for unborn babies as most do for de facto open borders.
What I found most interesting is how rank-and-file Catholics are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. And that’s especially true of Catholic women.
According to America’s nationally representative survey of Catholic women, 55 percent of Catholic women who intend to vote in 2018 plan to vote for Democrats, while 37 percent plan to vote for Republicans. Three-quarters of all Catholic women intend to vote in 2018.
[…]Overall, the survey found that 59 percent of Catholic women are Democrats or lean Democratic, whereas 38 percent are Republican or lean Republican. (Those numbers decrease to 41 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican without “leaners.”)
I’m not sure if these Democrat-voting Catholic women realize the long-term consequences of their voting on issues like abortion, but they should. At least, they should if they hope to get married, because marriage-minded men probably aren’t interested in marrying a woman who favors murdering innocent people as an “antidote” to reckless, premarital sex. No marriage-minded man would put a woman who supports abortion with her voting in charge of his children.
During the past week, news stories reported that Pope Francis actually knew about the epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes by homosexual priests in the Catholic church. His response leaves a lot to be desired.
In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.
Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the Register and other media, (see full text below) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor.” Viganò said that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.
Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign.
Speaking as a Protestant, I thought that Benedict was the best Pope the Roman Catholic church ever had. I used to call him “The Protestant Pope”, because he had so few of the problems that Protestants like me dislike about Roman Catholic doctrines. It doesn’t surprise me that he did the right thing when the crisis was brought to his attention. But his successor has not done the right thing. He has different priorities.
As he flew near Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma on his way back to the Vatican from Colombia on Sunday, Pope Francis said that political leaders and others who denied climate change reminded him of a passage from the psalms about man’s stubbornness.
[…]On the flight, the pope nevertheless appealed again to Mr. Trump, this time on his decision to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Children Program, known as DACA.
[…]In contrast to his negative appraisal of Mr. Trump’s approach to immigration, the pope praised Italy’s efforts to welcome large numbers of migrants even as it sought to stem the tide of immigrants coming from Libya.
In fact, the defenders of the Pope made clear that his priorities are global warming and open borders, not following what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage.
Catholic journalist Emily Zanotti explains, in the Daily Wire:
In a bizarre interview with a Chicago NBC affiliate, Cardinal Blaise Cupich, head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, suggested recent claims made by a former apostolic nuncio — the Vatican’s envoy to the United States — that Pope Francis not only disregarded sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but promoted McCarrick and sought his counsel, were going down a “rabbit hole.”
The Pope, Cupich told NBC, has more important things to attend to than sex abuse scandals, like climate change and immigration.
“The Pope has a bigger agenda,” Cardinal Cupich said. “He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
Clearly, this is the focus of Catholic church leadership. Global warming and open borders both help to destroy free market capitalism, and increase the size of the secular government. (Global warming alarmism allows the government to tax and regulate energy production and consumption, and open borders brings in a lot of low-skilled immigrants who tend to vote for higher taxes and more welfare spending). That’s the Pope’s priority. And since it’s also the mainstream media’s priority, they are defending him from his critics.
Ben Shapiro, writing in the far-left Newsweek, explains:
So, did the press leap to investigate Vigano’s claims? Did they demand answers from Pope Francis? Did we see the same type of courageous, comprehensive coverage of Francis’ activities that we saw from the Globe team circa 2003? Of course not.
Instead, mainstream media outlets went out of their way to portray Vigano as a disgruntled conservative angry at Pope Francis’ progressive interpretation of Catholic doctrine. The New York Times headlined, “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce.” Their print headline was even worse: “Francis Takes High Road As Conservatives Pounce, Taking Criticisms Public.”
Yes, according to the Times, the story wasn’t the sitting Pope being credibly accused of a sexual abuse cover-up—it was conservatives attacking him for it. The problem of child molestation and sexual abuse of clergy took a back seat to Francis’ leftist politics, as the Times piece made clear in its first paragraph: “Since the start of his papacy, Francis has infuriated Catholic traditionalists as he tries to nurture a more welcoming church and shift it away from culture war issues, whether abortion or homosexuality. ‘Who am I to judge?’ the pope famously said, when asked about gay priests. Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend…”
It wasn’t just the Times. On Wednesday, Reuters headlined, “Defenders rally around pope, fear conservatives escalating war.” On Thursday, Reuters doubled down with this headline: “Conservative media move to front line of battle to undermine Pope Francis.” The Telegraph (U.K.) reported, “Vatican analysts say the attack appears to be part of a concerted effort by conservatives to oust Pope Francis, who they dislike for his relatively liberal views…
[…]The media’s disgraceful attempts to cover for Francis because of their love for his politics merely exposes the actual malign motivations of many in the media: they were happy to expose misconduct and evil inside the Catholic Church when the pope was a conservative; they’re happy to facilitate a cover-up when the pope is a liberal.
As an evangelical conservative Christian, the Bible means more to me than the opinions of any man. The Bible is God speaking to his creatures about what their priorities ought to be. So, as a Bible-believing Christian, I’m primarily concerned about chastity, fidelity, protecting the unborn and promoting natural marriage. I wish we could all agree that these things should be our priorities. People should not be having sex outside of marriage, or cheating on their spouses. Unborn children should not be killed. Young children should grow up in stable homes with their biological mother and father present.
And I also believe in small government and low taxes, because parents need to keep the money they earn, in order to run their families properly. Parents should not be taxed to pay for high energy costs (global warming alarmism causes higher energy costs, for example Germany and Canada) and unskilled immigrants (higher police, education and health care costs, as seen in places like France and the UK). I want strong families where children grow up loved and protected. And I think Catholics should agree with me on this.
At the risk of alienating my Catholic readers, I feel that I have to say something about the recent news story about the Catholic Church leaders abusing children of both sexes, and then covering it up. Let’s start with a news article, then a reaction from a Catholic person I respect, then I’ll give my thoughts about it.
Sexual assault survivors shared their stories after a Pennsylvania grand jury report accused hundreds of Roman Catholic priests of assaulting children.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, several of them detailed heart-wrenching accounts of alleged sexual abuse against 301 priests across six of the state’s eight dioceses.
[…]Pennsylvania’s attorney general released the scathing report that revealed the results of a two-year investigation into hundreds of sexual abuse allegations. The probe found that at least 1,000 children had been abused at the hands of Catholic clergy members, dating back to the 1940s.
“Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday. “Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all. For decades.”
[…]The investigation was based on official documents and secret archives from the church, according to the report. High-level church leaders allegedly covered up the abuse for years, fostering a “circle of secrecy,” Shapiro said.
“The cover up was sophisticated and, all the while, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up,” Shapiro said Tuesday. “They sought to do the same things that senior church leaders and the diocese we investigated have done for decades: bury the sexual abuse by priests upon children and cover it up forever. Shamefully.”
The key concern about this is the cover-up. The Roman Catholic church was more concerned with covering up for the abuse and rapes. That was their priority. They were concerned about defending the reputation of the corrupt child abusers. They were not concerned about the victims. And they were not concerned about what the Bible teaches about sexual immorality. Or what the Bible teaches about anything, really.
Matt Walsh, a conservative Catholic, had this to say in a post from June 2018, at the Daily Wire:
I’m taking some heat on Twitter today because I said that the real problem in the Catholic Church isn’t pedophilia but gay priests. As the statistics clearly show, the vast majority of predators in the clergy were homosexual and the vast majority were not pedophiles. The same study that reported those figures did try to absolve gay priests by claiming that their homosexuality had nothing to do with anything. But this is an assumption — I think a plainly absurd and unprovable assumption — that is not born out by their own statistics.
And the problem goes beyond sex abuse of minors. As Rod Dreher has been reporting, and liberal publications agree, homosexuality runs rampant in the modern priesthood. Sexual activity between priests, and between priests and seminarians, is not uncommon. I think it is rather difficult to separate these facts from the fact that teen boys were so often sexually victimized. Is it just a coincidence that gay priests exist in such large numbers, protected by gay cabals within the Church, and at the same time there happen to be a bunch of priests molesting pubescent boys? Are these two realities entirely separate from one another?
Take the case of the scummy Cardinal McCarrick. He has been accused of preying upon young boys. But most of the stories that have come out about him revolve around his sexual exploits with seminarians. Grown men, in other words. Yet we are told that the fact of his homosexuality is irrelevant. How could it be? If he were not a homosexual, he would not have molested boys. Who could dispute this? I’m not claiming that all homosexuals molest boys. I am claiming that only homosexuals molest boys. A non-homosexual, by definition, is not attracted to males.
Just to be clear, the Bible’s teaching on sexual activity is that no one is allowed to engage in sexual activity outside of natural marriage. Period.
I don’t feel comfortable listing the details of what the Catholic leaders did, but you can read about it on the Pennsylvania attorney general’s web site. The important thing here is that none of the men who did these things, or covered it up after, really expect to meet God face-to-face on the Day of Judgment. Everything they did to those children and young people was for their own pleasure and gratification. They certainly were not working for God, or advancing his interests. On the contrary, they put themselves first, and pushed young people away from God.
If I could summarize God’s agenda for his human creations, it would be that we all not do anything that would push anyone away from a two-way relationship with God. That goes for everybody including atheists, by the way. Nobody, regardless of religion, should do anything that pushes anyone away from God. So do these Roman Catholics work for God? To work for God, minimally, is to put your own desires on hold, and perform actions that advance God’s agenda. God’s agenda, minimally, is that people come to have accurate beliefs about his existence and character. It’s OK to be offensive to others by telling them the truth gently and respectfully. But it’s not OK to harm them in a way that pushes them away from God, just because you want to gratify your own selfish desires.
Here’s a thought about the search for truth and meaning. If you want to have a comprehensive worldview that answers the big questions, like cosmic origins, objective moral obligations, life after death, etc. then it’s probably not a good idea to look to people in an organization to tell you what is true or not. Especially when the organization relies on feelings, mysticism, rituals, etc. An organization is interested in protecting the organization. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses get caught lying about their failed end-of-the-world predictions, they cover it up. When the Mormons get caught lying about cosmology and archaeology, they cover it up. Organizations protect the organization. A much better plan, it seems to me, is to develop your own worldview, starting with the evidence from science and history. That’s what I did, and I’m an evangelical Protestant Christian.