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 Capital Punishment & War

The topic of war and capital punishment has come up lately on campus and I thought I would share my quick thoughts on it.

We must make a proper distinction between [u][b]individual relations[/b][/u] and [u][b]governmental relations[/b][/u]. This is vital to a proper understanding of the issue. Failure to make a distinction between individual relations and governmental relations would result in total anarchy and chaos.

[u][b]Individual relations:[/b][/u]

Mt 5:39 - But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Mt 6:14-15 - For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

[u][b]Governmental Relations:[/b][/u]

Romans 13:1-6 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves d**nation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. [u][b]But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil[/b][/u]. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

As individuals, we must overcome all vindictiveness, bitterness, hatred, revenge, etc.

But the government has a God ordained ministry to execute the wrath of the sword upon evildoers. The government is responsible for the protection of the community and so it passes good laws. And it is responsible for upholding those good laws. The purpose of punishment is to declare the value of those laws; thus the punishment must fit the crime. The punishment of law breakers is to uphold the laws that they broke. And those laws serve the purpose of protecting the community.

So on an individual level, we absolutely must forgive everyone. We will not be forgiven by God if we ourselves do not forgive others.

But the government has a God ordained ministry to protect the community, which includes passing laws and then upholding laws through punishment.

And so protecting the community requires sending criminals to prison as well as capital punishment for more serious offenses. A serious offense requires a serious punishment as a public declaration of the value of the law that was violated.

And since the government has the God ordained ministry of protecting the community and executing the sword, that includes going to war when absolutely necessary for the public good.

The community would not be save if the government did not pass laws and uphold laws through punishment; and the community would not be save if the government did not protect the community through war from foreign threats.

 2007/9/6 11:53









 Re: Capital Punishment & War

This is very well thought out, and I believe you have the proper balance here. Very good.

The only thing I would like to mention is that some will confuse self defense with [i]"As individuals, we must overcome all vindictiveness, bitterness, hatred, revenge, etc."[/i] God never forbids self defense, or the protection of ones family. In fact, it is very much allowed in the OT Law, and never revoked in the NT.

Krispy

 2007/9/6 12:13
PreachParsly
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Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
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 Re:

If our relational responsibility as individuals are at odds with the governments' relational responsibility, can a Christian be involved in the Government?


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Josh Parsley

 2007/9/6 13:06Profile
iansmith
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Joined: 2006/3/22
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 Re:

But what do you think about wars fought in the name of justice or vengence that prevent Christians from their primary duty of preaching the Gospel?


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Ian Smith

 2007/9/6 13:11Profile
hmmhmm
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 Re:

Quote:

can a Christian be involved in the Government?



of course, through the entire bible there are men in " government ". It may have been a different sort back then, but many of the people God selected to be his man for the hour was in what we would consider in a government. Take Nehemiah, he was the kings cup bearer.

and there are many many more. So i think we can be say yes


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/9/6 13:13Profile
PreachParsly
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Posts: 2164
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 Re:

Quote:
of course, through the entire bible there are men in " government ". It may have been a different sort back then, but many of the people God selected to be his man for the hour was in what we would consider in a government. Take Nehemiah, he was the kings cup bearer.

and there are many many more. So i think we can be say yes



I'll throw out a few more questions. Could you resist evil "at your job" and then not resist it when you are off work? In other words, how could one resist evil when being recognized as a government offical and when recongized as a Christian not resist it? Can we be "secular" while at work and "religious" while not?

Also, is there any difference between "the kingdom" in the OT and in the NT or are they the same? In other words, was Israel a "worldly" kingdom and the kingdom that Christians are now apart of "not of this world?"

Not being dogmatic, just asking questions. :-D


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Josh Parsley

 2007/9/6 13:24Profile
myfirstLove
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 Re:


Quote:
Also, is there any difference between "the kingdom" in the OT and in the NT or are they the same? In other words, was Israel a "worldly" kingdom and the kingdom that Christians are now apart of "not of this world?"



Yes, in New Tesatament we (Christians) are told to arm ourselves IN Christ, not guns. The weapons we use are not carnal like old testament, but spiritual weapons that pulls down demonic powers and exposes the darkness. We do not get involved in government. We are told to live at peace with them and obey their God given authority unless any of their laws causes us to stumble with the Lord.


2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Colossians 2:8
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

We are told to love our enemies, bless them when we are persecuted.....God is the one who takes vengeance for us. Unlike the old testament who were told to stoned them and kill their enemies. We new teastament people are told to love and pray for them, not kill them. That is God's job, not ours.

It does seem that many Christians are living like the old testament. Building the church like the old and wanting a king like the old and fighting battles like the old.

Just like Jesse said, God uses Government to deal with evil. He also uses government, wars...to humble and purify His saints. if you look in the old testament God would raise up an army agaist Isreal when they rebel. In New Tastament Paul and Peter saw every trial wether physical or spiritual coming from the Lord to humble and purify them, to cause them to depend on Him and not man.

God is not concern about evil men. He does use them to get His will accomplish. His concern is for the saints, to prune and bear much fruit giving Him glory. Such trials are brought upon us to seperate the wheat from the tares and make us genuine in Him. Read revelations.


2 Corinthians 1:9-10
9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

1 Peter 4:12-13

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

God uses satan to purge and purify saints, becoming more genuine in Him!

So let us not freak out about all the evil that is brought upon us. They are their to test and purge us. And know God's vengeance will come and has come upon evil men! Be patience and do not be weary in doing good. The word tells us to overcome evil with good that our light may shine among the dark.


Luke 12:32
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.


P.S.

I hope this make sense. Like I have said before I am not a gifted teacher so have patience with me.


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Lisa

 2007/9/6 14:45Profile
HomeFree89
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Joined: 2007/1/21
Posts: 797
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 Re:

Quote:

hmmhmm wrote:
Quote:

can a Christian be involved in the Government?



of course, through the entire bible there are men in " government ". It may have been a different sort back then, but many of the people God selected to be his man for the hour was in what we would consider in a government. Take Nehemiah, he was the kings cup bearer.

and there are many many more. So i think we can be say yes




The difference however between the "politicians" of the Bible and the modern politicians is that people like Daniel didn't go looking to get into places of power. He was set there by God, how many people in modern politics could say they were told by God to be there?

And how many modern politicians could say they have 100% stayed away from compromise?

Jordan


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Jordan

 2007/9/6 16:00Profile









 Re:

Quote:
If our relational responsibility as individuals are at odds with the governments' relational responsibility, can a Christian be involved in the Government?



That is a great question Josh.

As loving Christians, we of all people should support the government which is responsible for the welfare and well-being of the community. As Christians we are not lovers of anarchy and chaos, but lovers of peace and order.

[b]The government is a God ordained ministry, and as Romans 13 says, to resist the government is to resist God Himself![/b] But we are in favor of God and therefore in favor of everything that God is in favor of!

That does not men that all the laws that a government passes are good (abortion, homosexual marriage) But rather, that we must uphold and support all the good laws that the government passes. (don't rob and steal, don't murder, don't sell drugs, etc)

I believe that the more Christians we have in government the better. None but the godly are ultimate fit to make proper judgments when it comes to passing laws and prison sentences, etc.

But the point is that the execution of punishment is not personal but governmental. For example Josh, suppose someone robs your house. They get caught and face a judge. They do not face the judge as someone who has sinned against Josh. Rather, they face the judge as someone who has violated the governmental law. The prosecution is governmental and not personal.

And so when that person goes to prison, it is not out of personal vindictiveness or as personal revenge, but it is solely governmental. They are put in prison because they cannot be trusted in the community, not because they have individually sinned against one individual.

So we as Christians must support good government, good judges, good laws, etc. But our support is not out of personal delight in punishment or out of personal vindictiveness. But out of love for peace and order, out of love for the community.

(This could also help us to understand how even God's wrath is governmental, being a governmental necessity and not merely a personal vindictiveness or a personal unwillingness to forgive on the part of God.)

Quote:
Wow, a thought just came to mind.

Was it illegal to be a heretic in Calvin's day? If so, you just justified his actions did you not?



I think that this applies to that situation:

"That does not men that all the laws that a government passes are good (abortion, homosexual marriage) But rather, that we must uphold and support all the good laws that the government passes. (don't rob and steal, don't murder, don't sell drugs, etc)"

So we are suppose to support good laws and are suppose to be against bad laws. A good law is that which protects the community, a bad law is that which is harmful to the community.

Quote:
Josh said: Well, this is my delima. If we use the Bible to dictate what are good laws vs bad, the Bible says that we must love our enemies. Would any law that violates that be "bad?" This would involve all wars, right?



Again, we must distinguish between the personal and the governmental. We are to personally love our enemies. But personal love for enemies does not exclude the necessity of government.

But do you want your enemies to live in a society where it's ok for others to steal from them, rape them, and murder them? Does not love for everyone require personal support of government?

If we love everyone, we wouldn't want anyone to live in a lawless society where anarchy and chaos reigns, where crimes against humanity can be committed without punishment.

When we establish laws like don't steal, rape, and murder, we are subjecting EVERYONE to these laws, including ourselves, and not just our enemies. Everyone is subjected to the law, including judges and police officers, including those who issued the law.

But if we love our enemies, we wouldn't want them to live in a society that had no government, where people could steal from them, rape them, and murder them without any fear of punishment.

 2007/9/6 16:05
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Hi y'all

Quote:
Yes, in New Tesatament we (Christians) are told to arm ourselves IN Christ, not guns....We do not get involved in government. We are told to live at peace with them and obey their God given authority unless any of their laws causes us to stumble with the Lord.



I noticed this statement carefully sandwiched one self-expressed idea between two scriptural"we are told's". I appreciate the sensitivity shown there. The bottom line is that we are not told to stay out of government--- an ambiguity that might provide some discomfort for those who want to establish a hard fixed wall of seperation between the Christian and government.

The conviction to abstain from civil and military service is quite understandable based on the themes of heavenly citizenship and spiritual seperation from the world presented so emphatically in the New Testament. However, being zealous to obey the spirit of the law we often add to the letter.

We are alot like Forrest Gump in that scene where he was playing college football. Once he figured which direction to run, he just kept on running long after he reached the end zone. Likewise, we figure which direction we are suppose to run doctrinally, but long after we have reached the goal set for us, in our zeal we continue running right out of the stadium.

Many confidently talk of a spiritual Bablyon today, but unwittingly convert this concept into a physical Bablylon as well. Once we come to understand that anytime we are working in the flesh we are building Babylon, we then add legal boundaries to this theme by declaring certain structures (Government, Church buildings) are Babylon and certain structures (home churches, this forum) are Jerusalem. I believe in doing so we have confused and mixed the biblical themes of spiritual Babylon with mere physical form. As with all legalism, this opens the door to superficial judgement of others by those who are failing themselves to actually live according to the Spirit.

Unlike Forrest Gump, we cannot keep running right out of the stadiums of this world with some gnostic or spiritualist concept of no participation in earthly government. Niether our Lord or the Apostles issued this prohibition. Rather their doctrines were given for conformity to Christ's character, not mere legal conformity. If we reach this end zone of Godliness in our obedience, characters and conduct, any further exertion beyond adds no additional points on the scoreboard of God's judgement of us.

Of course it would be easier to simply state that none of us can ever be involved in earthly government or serve in the miliatry. Certainly most of the teachings of the New Testament seem harder if not impossible for those in public and military service. However, this incongruity between Godliness and the seedier aspects of public service, is not the same as a de facto prohibition, just as ambiguity is not a license or endorsement.

Now I want to add here that I personally don't even see how I can vote with a clear conscience for any of the current presidential candidates. Having said that, I must be careful not to place my own disqualifiers on our brethren who do vote or serve; disqualifiers that the Lord never set in place. Imagine how long slavery might have continued in England had not William Wilberforce demonstrated that he could leave Babylon while still in public service. And there is Pauls' small but warm mention of Erastus the city's director of public works," in Romans 16:23, who apparently was in the Church.

Just some thoughts,

MC


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Mike Compton

 2007/9/6 19:02Profile





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