We hear a lot of Christians, as well as humanists, talking about 'peace' today, often without defining what they mean.
For Christians this can range from the 'micro' level of peace (and 'unity') between Christians through to 'peace between religions' and ultimately to the 'macro' (the big picture) of 'world peace'.
We also have people calling for the abolition of various forms of punishment - on the micro level this is usually anti-smacking laws and on the macro level it is the abolition of capital punishment.
On the other hand, we have those who believe that peace is simply not possible in this world (until Jesus returns), that 'just war' is acceptable and that the death penalty should be retained or brought back.
We cannot ignore these issues simply because they are divisive and contentious in today's society and in Christian discussion. If we are to contend earnestly for the faith [Jude 1:3] we need to know what the Bible says. This is all part of establishing a Biblical Worldview.
For this reason we need to address the 'difficult issues' - it is important that we think and talk about the hard issues.
Capital Punishment is an issue where Christians are on both sides and hold opposing views.
Augusto Zimmermann, Senior Lecturer in Law at Murdoch University in Western Australia, has prepared a brief overview in the hope that you will explore the Scriptures yourself to find the true Biblical position.
What does the Bible say about Capital Punishment?
Augusto Zimmermann PhD - Published in Salt Shakers journal, March 2008.
We have collected some other articles on the topic which cover the main arguments and address some of the arguments against capital punishment.
On Capital Punishment - Part 1
On Capital Punishment - Part 2
Bill Muehlenberg - from Culture Watch - explores the topic in more detail in the two parts of this article. He says "Thus there is some latitude here for the believer. Christians can rightly argue for either a pro or anti position on the topic". Bill looks at Old Testament law and the covenants and the question of 'turning the other cheek' and goes on to argue that capital punishment can be justified Biblically.
Kerby Anderson, Probe Ministries.
"Should Christians support the death penalty? The answer to that question is controversial. Many Christians feel that the Bible has spoken to the issue, but others believe that the New Testament ethic of love replaces the Old Testament law...."
Kerby Anderson looks at Old Testament examples, New Testament principles, the question of deterrence, discrimination and objections.
Book: Thinking Things Through
Michael Cassidy explores the issue of capital punishment in his book Thinking Things Through which covers a range of ethical issues.
Available from Koorong - click here.
The question of life and death
Some people express the view that they are surprised that Christians can be opposed to abortion but support capital punishment.
Is that a consistent position to hold?
We have posted several articles that comment on this question and conclude that these two positions are consistent:
Is it Ever Right to Kill?
Bill Muehlenberg looks at the prolife issue, just war and capital punishment.
How Can You Be Pro-Life and For the Death Penalty? Isn't That Judging?
A response to this question - by Sue Bohlin of Probe Ministries.