Scot McKnight on the Death Penalty

The issue of the death penalty has returned to the forefront of most American’s minds with the execution of Tookie Williams last night…. This isn’t double-talk, but the recognition that although our legal system may be just, Jesus deconstructs legal systems based singularly on justice.

Advertisements

The issue of the death penalty has returned to the forefront of most American’s minds with the execution of Tookie Williams last night. Scot McKnight offers a well-thought post on the death penalty. Here’s a piece of what he says:

“My view is that the death penalty is just, especially in American jurisprudence, but Christians should oppose the death penalty.”

This isn’t double-talk, but the recognition that although our legal system may be just, Jesus deconstructs legal systems based singularly on justice. Rather, God’s kingdom mingles justice and redemption. And that is what God’s people must embody upon the earth.

4 thoughts on “Scot McKnight on the Death Penalty

  1. I really enjoyed Scot’s post on the death penalty. I don’t know that I follow his line of reasoning and I’m not sure where I fall on this issue. I resonate deeply with Brian Hodge’s response to Scot’s post. To follow Scot’s line of reasoning I don’t see how Christians could support life imprisonment either (or any punishment). I don’t think that anyone is saying that as Christians we should be opposed to the criminal justice system in general, so I have a hard time following the “we should extend grace” argument. I believe that I know what my responsibility is as a Christian in a situation like this but I’m not sure how this extends to government. In other words I am called to “embody” God’s kingdom but it seems that this calling would lead me to be silent about this issue rather than speak out against it. This calling shapes who I am in the world but I’m not sure how this applies to the “justice” of the government.

    I like this quote by C.S. Lewis: “To be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better,’ is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.”

    Lewis makes a good case against an anti-capital punishment position and pacifism as a rule.

  2. Cool, David. I like the quote by C.S. Lewis. I think the tension you mention regarding embodying God’s kingdom is always inherent in this task. Embodying requires incredible discernment, wisdom and nuance. Capital punishment may be a necessary evil in our society, but as a follower of Christ I don’t have to approve it. And I can pray for, hope for, vote for and even speak for a better reality than what government offers.

  3. Thanks Jason. I wanted to clarify one thing. When I said: “it seems that this calling would lead me to be silent about this issue rather than speak out against it”, I was speaking to Scot’s point about the death penalty being just (as it is applied by our government). Saying that something is just is saying that something is true and right. If it is just, then I am not sure that I am called to ask the government to extend a grace that I, personally should extend. I want a government that is just.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s