Does Christ support the death penalty?
In Norway at the moment a trial is underway for Anders Behring Breivik. He stands accused, and freely admits to, the shooting and bombing deaths of 77, mainly youthful, Norwegians. And what is the potential penalty for this outrage? 21 years imprisonment – tops. Seventy-seven individuals murdered – potential average jail sentence for each killing? Three (3) months per victim.
The Norwegian Court hearing the case is made up of five (5) members. Two trained judges and three lay members. One of those lay members was quickly dismissed from the panel when he was discovered to have placed the following on his Facebook page. “The death penalty is the only fair outcome in this case!!!!!!!!!!”
At least one Norwegian is shown to have twigged that the criminal justice system in that country is utterly inadequate in dealing with the crime of murder. Murder per se and mass murder in particular.
But what is the surprise? The English-speaking world, with the exception of certain states of the United States of America did away with the death penalty decades ago. And the average jail sentence for murder in most western countries is generally no more than 20 years. The average sentence for homicide in Australia is 14.8 years according to a 2011 report from the Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics. And then, often with a non-parole period of two-thirds of the head sentence, time served can be as little as 8 to 15 years for murder for pity sake – followed by a lengthy parole period, but the murderer has their freedom. That is certainly the case in Australia. For the most heinous murders in Australia there is the possibility of “life” imprisonment. But life rarely means life. There is always a minimum attached.
Anders Breivik is 33 years old. 21 years would see him out at age 54 with still a bit of life in him at that age and the potential for him to cause more carnage with almost no justice for the dead and their families.
Here’s the question. What would Jesus Christ do? That is. to some one who was utterly unrepentant of this heinous crime or of any murder? Would Christ pat them on their pointy-head and send them on their way, jail them for 10, 20 or 30 years or for life? Or would Christ put such an offender out of their misery and exact the death penalty – the exact penalty Breivik in the Norwegian case has claimed was the only just sentence if he was guilty. “There are only two legitimate outcomes of this case,” he told the court it was reported, “Acquittal or the death penalty”. But, alas there is no death penalty in Norway, or anywhere else in the “civilized “ world (except as noted above some USA jurisdictions and in those jurisdictions the carrying out of the penalty can take a decade and more. Is that justice?).
Now back to the question. Would Christ exact the death penalty? For the unrepentant – absolutely he would. To understand how this could be it needs to be understood who Christ was before His human birth. It also needs to be understood who Christ became after His resurrection and who Christ is now.
Garner Ted Armstrong covered this topic in a sermon titled “Is Capital Punishment Christian?” available to view on this website.
The following extract fro Mr. Armstrong’s article, “ Violent Crime Can Be Stopped – Here’s How” tells of how the modern “justice” system has become so perverse in the way we deal with heinous crime. Not just mass murders – all heinous crime.
“The Thin Veneer of Civilisation”
“It is, no wonder Godless atheists believe human beings evolved from animals, for, all too often, men act like ravening beasts! No, worse. Even a marauding lion only kills to eat.
God says “… the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). The fleshly mind, apart from God’s Spirit, is a lawless mind; a mind of ego, vanity, greed, selfishness, pride, resentment, jealousy, spite, vindictiveness, and racist hatred.
God’s Word describes perfectly the times in which we live, the attitudes of people: “This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves [selfish, utterly unconcerned for others], covetous [lusting after things, like VCRs, TV sets, radios, which the looters carried off with expressions of glee], boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents [most of the rioters and looters were young people], unthankful, unholy, without natural affection [brutish, calloused, pitiless toward victims], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; Traitors, heady [self-willed, head-strong], highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” (2 Timothy 3:14).
How utterly ironic that, as man has accumulated technical knowledge, he has retrogressed in behavior. For all our vaunted scientific and technological development; for all our boastful vanity and pride about our military power, our probes into space, our walk on the moon, and our attempts to “save our planet,” we have not yet learned to live together in peace!
Notice how Isaiah characterizes all of society; education, government, science, criminal justice—all of it!
God says: “Behold the Eternal’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities [lawbreaking] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; and your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity” (Isaiah 59:1-4).
This entire chapter is given over to a powerful indictment against the incredible Godlessness, immorality, and cynical, criminal mentality of God’s people! Notice how God begins to describe murderers, liars, and an all-pervasive attitude of deliberate avoidance of truth and justice!
Some other excerpts: “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
“Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness … And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity [fairness] cannot enter.
“Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Eternal saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment” (Isaiah 59:7-15).
You and I live in a Godless, law-breaking, immoral, nihilistic society of pleasure-seeking rebels who utterly refuse to keep the Ten Commandments of God! Not only is racism the so-called “justification” for crime, so is joblessness, lack of education, poverty, or simple envy!
Search through thousands of law books, investigate the laws protecting violent criminals, and study the entire process called “criminal justice,” and see if you can find any reference to God, the laws and Ten Commandments of God, the justice and judgment of God, or even the acknowledgment that God exists!
Society sees criminal justice as a function of the judiciary branch of government and sees all government as utterly separate from anything having to do with God, or the Bible!
Since all man-made laws are based upon the concept that justice is relative—that the changing mores of society, the tiresome swinging of the pendulum of libertine people from one extreme to another, the gradual erosion of a former “Judeo-Christian ethic” into an era of permissiveness and licentiousness—forms the underpinnings of all legislation, there is no acknowledgment of God, no appeals to His Word, and therefore “…is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us…” (Isaiah 59:9).”
So Who was Christ before His human birth? He was none other than the member of the God Family, the Word (or Logos)(John 1, Hbrews 1), a member of Elohim (more than one) who said “Let us make man in our image”. (Genesis 1:26)
He was the One Who did the creating, He spoke and it was created. He was the One who dealt with the Patriarchs, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with Moses and all the Prophets. And He is the One who is returning in power. And when He comes what will be His first act?
Revelation 19:11 -21
11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh”.
Yes, Christ at His coming is going to exact the death penalty on the man called the beast and upon the man called the false prophet. They will richly deserve it. And Anders Breivik also richly deserves the death penalty. That’s about the only thing that Breivik and sensible people could agree on about him.