Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Death to the Death Penalty...

I read something in the papers today that disturbed me. After Philippine Congress had OK'd the repeal of the death penalty law, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) issued a statement regarding its continued espousal of the death penalty. The PCEC's Bishop Efraim Tendero was mentioned as pointing out that their stand had biblical justification. The article mentions that the PCEC believes that the Bible authorizes capital punishment as stated in Genesis 9:6 (New American Standard Bible) -

"Whoever sheds man's blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God

He made man."It resonates lex talionis. What's bothersome about the statement is that it hints at a fundamental failure to grasp Christ's message and mission of redemption. It also betrays a potentially dangerous, immature interpretation of the Bible. The Old Testament is a portrait of a disciplinarian, jealous, and wrathful God. In almost every instance, New Testament verse supersedes the Old Testament. As per Hebrews 8:13 (NASB) -

"When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete
But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."

It bothers me that the PCEC quotes Old Testament to justify a stand on modern law when the New Testament provides a more current reference.

In the article, Senator Aquilino Pimentel describes the death penalty as "the cruelest punishment that could be imposed by the state because it takes away life." What isn't overt in the statement is the manner by which capital punishment is cruel. To end the life of a convicted felon is to take away all hope of redemption. That, more than the mere cessation of physical existence, is the more cruel aspect of the death penalty. It is in this manner that capital punishment is fundamentally against Christian beliefs. A truly Christian approach to modern penology should focus on redemptive rehabilitation rather than punitive, retributive measures. Had the statement come from an individual, it wouldn't have bothered me so much. However, this was an official statement from the PCEC, a Christian organization, and their statement reflected what is, in my opinion, a flawed interpretation of Christ's teachings. In their Vision/Mission, the PCEC states:

"We envision PCEC as the Christian evangelical movement that unifies churches toward the discipling of our nation where Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord."

Salvation is embraced by, never forced unto, a person. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is an act of will, a decision made with conscious thought. There are two key points that Christian proponents of the death penalty must understand. One, if a convicted felon is put to death, this removes all known avenues for the acceptance of Christ. The person can no longer, at any point in time, decide or try to reform, feel remorse, or experience the joy of Salvation.
The person is dead. Two, if such a convicted criminal does reform and even, for the sake of pushing the Christian argument, embraces Christ as Lord and Savior, is it then right to put that person to death? There simply is no logical or theological basis for supporting the death penalty if you are a Christian.


Blogger Vin said...

Hi Zach!

Welcome to the blogging world! Interesting first post. I hope you update about your upcoming projects too.

8:04 PM  
Blogger storm said...

Most definitely. Thanks for dropping by, bed-man.

7:53 PM  

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