The ABP’s recent article on the mock trial of Jesus staged at First Baptist Church, Austin has sparked an angry response. Dudley Sharp insists that the New Testament endorses the death penalty. Moreover, he appears to argue that we should rejoice and be glad that Jesus was murdered by the Romans because, had he been acquitted, we would all be headed straight for hell.
It should be noted that the mock trial of Jesus does not primarily concern the death penalty. However, as the ABP article notes, “audiences must vote for or against death for Jesus using their own states’ laws on capital punishment” and, as law professor Mark Osler observes, “that often leads to a conflict between deeply held religious beliefs and support for capital punishment.”
Here’s Mr. Sharp’s letter:
To: Dr. Alan Bean Executive Director, Friends of Justice
Dr. Roger Paynter, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church
Dr. William Underwood, President, Mercer College
Re: Jesus faces mock trial in Texas, Associated Baptist Press, March 27, 2013,
Mr. Underwood “said he, too, had never thought about his faith being grounded in the execution of an innocent person.”
The whole of Christianity is based upon this: Jesus is God, made man, who will take upon Himself the sins of the world, to provide the perfect sacrifice, the perfect, innocent Man/God, whose sacrifice through the Passion will provide eternal salvation for all, should they accept it, because He has died, an innocent, for our sins.
Dr. Roger Paynter, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church
“Paynter emphasized that the church isn’t taking a position on capital punishment . . . “. But is intended ” . . .to push participants to ask themselves if they could vote for death for Christ or anyone else, and how that squares with their core Christian beliefs.”
My guess is that if one could not vote for death for Jesus, that He would, strongly, ask you to reconsider, that your salvation should matter as much to ourselves, as it does to He and His Father — a vote for Jesus’ execution is a vote for the will of God and our salvation and a vote against that execution would most serve evil, which works against our salvation and God’s will. Such is true, unless I got the foundation of Christianity wrong, in reply to Underwood, above
Bean said Osler’s presentation at First Baptist, Austin, is timely and appropriate, because it exposes the tension between belief in capital punishment and belief in Jesus Christ.
I cannot say there is no such tension. However, that tension appears to be based upon a misunderstanding, which can be corrected.
Death penalty support, as expressed by Christian denominational writings, was near universal, prior to about the mid 20th century. In fact, it was overwhelming. One might ask, did the bible change that much when the calendar stuck 1960?There is a 2000 year record of Popes, Doctors of the Church, religious leaders, biblical scholars, Saints and theologians speaking in favor of the death penalty, a record of scholarship, in breadth and depth, which overwhelms any position to the contrary.
The New Testament death penalty support is overwhelming.
God/Jesus: ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Matthew 15:4
This is a New Testament command, which references several of the same commands from God, in the same circumstance, from the OT.Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Jesus) replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43It is not the nature of our deaths, but the state of salvation at the time of death which is most important.
Jesus: “So Pilate said to (Jesus), “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:10-11
The power to execute comes directly from God.
Jesus: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22.
Fiery hell is a considerable more severe sanction than any earthly death.
The Holy Spirit, God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.
For murder, there is no mitigation from a death sentence.
God: Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.
5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.
6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.
Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal – Murder requires execution of the murderer. It is a command. The Noahic covenant if for all persons and all times.
“All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987 Saint (& Pope) Pius V, “The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder.” “The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent” (1566)Pope Pius XII: “When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live.” 9/14/52.