Monday, October 15, 2007

Bring it on "God of the Bible"

I often come across letters to the editor in the Jamaica Gleaner that reference the Bible in response to any number of issues from gambling, to abortion, to child-raising, and elections. But this letter in response to the death penalty struck me as particularly odd:

Associate Pastor Daren S. Larmond, in a Gleaner letter, argued, "Death is not a
penalty. Death is an easy way out" and asking, "why should we kill a man for
killing a man?" He added the perennial adage that, "no evidence exists that capital punishment is a deterrent to murderers".

From whence the idea of life for life came into human societies? Well, blame the God of the Bible. Because, He did tell Noah, "I will demand an accounting for (taking) the life of his fellowman. "Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed" (Gen 9: 5-6) He later delivered to Moses his command to His people, "Thou shall not murder" (Deut 5:17) Jesus, the victim of capital punishment, made it clear
that "anyone who murders will be subject to the judgement" (of both the Sanhedrin and God's final punishment) (Matt 5:22).

As the God of the Bible, beginning with His experimental nation Israel, shaped the type of earthly Kingdom to come, He prescribed civil laws to rid His people of by death or banishment, gross delinquents, including murderers. God is not squeamish and He is certainly no bleeding heart, He sets up earthly authorities, and yes, some are corrupt and unjust, but He "demands an accounting for taking the life of a fellowman".

I have read through this letter over and over again trying to understand the position of this writer. Is the author responding critically to Father Larmond with a "don't complain about the death penalty; it is the God you preach about that commanded it!"? Or is the author saying, "like it or not, the death penalty is God's will"? The use of the phrase "God of the Bible" has me thinking the former but there is a note of satisfaction in the author's last paragraph that reveals something of the cowboy ethic we have become accustom to in the US.

Isn't it odd that I cannot tell the difference between an apologist and a cheeky critic? Perhaps the author, Claude Wilson, will respond?

UPDATE: Claude Wilson responded to my post and with his permission, here is his response:
Without getting into Philosphical debate. Noticed I did not played my hand pro or anti Capital Punishment. Those against told me off, called me name in their e-mails this morning. some commended me becausr they are pro CP. The letter answered a pastor of a Christain church who asked where did man's idea of taking a life for a life came from. A pastor of the Bible, should not have phrased the question that way. So, I merely pointed to the Scriptures in the bible, and in a small way, outline the bible's justification. That was the point of the latter.
When I wrote for the same Gleaner they had requested a story from me about Capital Punishment in the Bible. I outlined them but alas the same Bible shows that despite the penalty it was difficult to be executed. The witnesses had to tell the exact story and if the evidence cannot stand up it would be imprisonment for that witness. So in most cases Capital Punishment was not carried out. But, the law was on hte books as the penalty.
Light reading of the bible is given to erronous ideas, one responded took me on, not about CP, but it was absurd to say Jesus died via CP, so what was it?
A part of the letter was editted out as the Pastor beleived that the murderers should be tried, condemned ant out to work with our National Solid Waste company.That is absurbed.

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