According to a press release issued by the Associated Baptist Press, Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that capital punishment is an affirmation of the sanctity of human life.
Below is an excerpt from the press release:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) – A Southern Baptist seminary president says that according to the Bible, capital punishment is pro-life.
“The death penalty is not about retribution,” Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a podcast Sept. 22. “It is first of all about underlining the importance of every single human life.”
Mohler, who has a Ph.D. in theology, said in Genesis 9, where capital punishment is mandated for murder, “it is precisely because the taking of one human life by another means that the murderer has effectively, morally and theologically, forfeited his own right to live.”
“The death penalty is intended to affirm the value [and] sanctity of every single human life, and thus by the extremity of the penalty to make that visible and apparent to all,” Mohler said.
Mohler said the differing reactions to two executions carried out a day earlier illustrated “how fickle we are in terms of our understanding of justice.” Thousands of people protested Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis, a black man convicted of murdering a white police officer on evidence his supporters said was shaky. At the same time, an execution in Texas of a white supremacist for the infamous dragging death of an African-American 13 years ago received far less attention.
“It seems that even those who oppose the death penalty outright believe there are some cases that ought to be opposed more than others,” Mohler said. “And even those who support the death penalty almost always support the death penalty within certain, very clear, parameters. Even if those parameters are not defined by policy, they are defined by moral intuition. There is something within us that cries out for the fact that murder must be punished and that the lives of the innocent, in terms of being the victims of these crimes, must indeed be vindicated.”
Mohler predicted the death penalty will become more and more controversial in the years ahead because the “general trend of secularization and moral confusion has undermined the kind of moral and cultural consensus that makes the death penalty make sense.”
He said societal attitudes about issues such as abortion and euthanasia indicate “we really do not now have the bedrock shared consensus that every single human life is a life made in the image of God and that every single human life at every stage of development is to be honored and protected and preserved.”
Read the news release in its entirety here.
In a previous post, A Case for the Death Penalty, I presented my views on the death penalty. Let me quote a portion of that post:
As a Christian, I have my own views about the death penalty. Christians are divided on this issue and they cannot agree whether the state has the right to impose the death penalty upon those who take a life.
The fact is, that notwithstanding the different ways Christians interpret the Bible’s teaching on the death penalty, the state has the right to enact laws imposing the death penalty upon those who commit murder.
As a Christian I may oppose the death penalty because I believe that the power of God in Christ can transform any person, including hardened criminals. But I also believe that the state has the right and the authority to demand justice on behalf of victims by requiring the death penalty for murderers.
Any discussion of the death penalty must begin with the most important biblical passage on this issue: “Murder is forbidden. Any person who murders must be put to death. You must execute anyone who murders another person, for to kill a person is to kill a living being made in God’s image” (Genesis 9:5-6).
Whether or not you agree with Mohler, capital punishment will be an issue of debate among Christians for years to come.
First, thank you for this post. I’m grateful for your tone and thoughtfulness. And, second, you are right that Christians are not of one mind on this. I too have posted on capital punishment and Jesus’ understanding of forgiveness from Matthew 6. I believe that capital punishment is untenable from a Christian standpoint.
Again. Thank you for this. Bless you in your work. Let’s keep the conversation rolling.
As Christians we believe in the power of God to transform individuals through Jesus Christ. Christians may differ on this issue of capital punishment, however, we all appreciate the value of human life.