Dialogue on the Death Penalty
An Illustration of the Exegetical Impotence
of the Modernist Movement
A dialogue between the present author (TF), and a fictious writer named Ms. Antijur (AJ for short), sadly based on an actual dialogue.
AJ: I don't agree with the death penalty on any grounds for anything.
TF: Your view is not valid, because it passes judgment on the Pentateuch.
AJ: I believe that the death penalty was valid then but I do not believe it is valid under the new covenant.
TF: That would seem to be like some form of agreement with the death penalty. Nevertheless, your view raises some interesting questions. What penalties from criminal acts are permitted, in your view, under the new covenant? Bonds, prison, hard labor, scourging, stocks, torture, maiming, branding, tagging, publishing names in the newspaper, or what? I mean, we all think that felony crimes should be punished pretty severely. If the death penalty (in your view) is out, what is the maximum amount of punishment we can inflict? I know the laws of lots of countries don't allow certain kinds of punishments, but just suppose that we can change the laws in order to best punish those who deserve it. What can we do?
AJ: What is the maximum punishment? Loss of priveledge, loss of freedom, to be provided with only those things necissary for health hygeine and nourishment, solitary confinement, counselling if needed, and labor of a useful variety maybe.
AJ (cont'd): I don't have all the answers but "Bonds, prison, hard labor, scourging, stocks, torture, maiming, branding," why do you want to hurt people? Why are people clinging to an eye for an eye? Don't we trust god to punish the wicked? When that adultress woman was pulled before Jesus did Jesus say, "Yeah, she's a wrongun', stone her"?
TF: Your response is logically and exegetically invalid. You claim that we can take away privilege and freedom, and yet you also claim "Don't we trust god to punish the wicked?" (appealling to Jesus' failure to condemn the woman)
TF (cont'd): If you don't think we should punish those who commit felonies at all, I think you're on an island by yourself. If you grant that they should be punished, you have no basis in relying on Jesus' dealing with the woman, because she was not just not stoned, but not punished at all. Also, if you grant that they should be punished, and you refuse to accept the Old Testament's just punishment for their offense, you have no basis for deciding from Scripture what that punishment should and shouldn't be.
May the God of Justice, who has provided the power of the sword, not in vain to the King, but so that the King may be a terror to evil, provide our nation with mercy for failing to mete out justice as we ought,