If It Weren’t for Jesus, I Might be Pro-Death Too

Shane Claiborne Death Penalty

Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler wrote a piece this week defending the death penalty. In his 1200 word argument for why Christians should support the death penalty, he does not mention Jesus a single time.

Digging deeper, as you read the official pro-death penalty statement of the Southern Baptists, there is not a single reference to Jesus or the Gospels.

There are plenty of other problems with the scriptural maneuvering used to justify the contemporary practice of the death penalty with a few verses from the Bible, in the same way that a few verses were misused to justify slavery.  For starters the Biblical death penalty was required not just for murderers, but also for folks that committed adultery, disrespected their parents, collected too much interest, had premarital sex, and disobeyed the Sabbath.  But I want to stick with the nagging problem of Jesus, the greatest obstacle for pro-death penalty Christians.

In a recent Barna Poll, less than 5% of Americans think Jesus would support capital punishment, and less than a quarter of young Christians support it.  Nonetheless some Christians find ways to sidestep Jesus, the lens through which all of us who claim to be Christians should interpret the Bible and the world around us.

Gandhi was once asked if he was a Christian and he responded by saying, “I love Jesus, I just wish the Christians took him seriously.”

Related: Missing the Point, Al Mohler & the Death Penalty

Consistently, Jesus said things like “I did not come for the healthy but for the sick, not for the righteous but for the sinners”… “blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy”… “inasmuch as you forgive you will be forgiven”…  “judge not lest you be judged” … “you’ve heard it said ‘an eye for an eye’ but I tell you there is another way.”

Setting aside other compelling arguments against the death such as the fact that the determining factor for execution is often not guilt but economics and race, and the fact that nearly all executions come from 2% of US counties, and that 144 folks have been exonerated with recent studies showing 1 in 25 folks sentenced to death are likely innocent… all that aside, I want to focus on Jesus.

There is an incident in the Gospels where Jesus is asked about the death penalty. Here’s the scene. A woman has been humiliated and dragged before the town, ready to be killed. Her execution was legal; her crime was a capital one. But just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.

Jesus interrupts the scene — with grace.

He tells all the men who are ready to kill the woman, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” And of course he reminds us all that if we have looked at someone with lust in our eyes we are adulterers. If we have called our neighbor a fool we are a murderer. You can hear the stones start to drop, as the men walk away.

The only one who is left with any right to throw a stone is Jesus — and he has absolutely no inclination to do so. We can see that the closer we are to God the less we want to throw stones at other people.

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It is this dual conviction that no one is above reproach and that no one is beyond redemption that lies at the heart of our faith. Undoubtedly it’s why the early Christians were characterized by non-violence, even in the face of brutal evil, torture and execution.

For hundreds of years, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, and other early Christians explicitly forbid other Christians from participating in or supporting capital punishment.  Other writings (such as the Apostolic Tradition) go so far as to prohibit the baptism of Christians who participate in the apparatus of killing. It was inconceivable to worship Jesus, a forgiving victim of the death penalty who died with grace on his lips, and call for the execution of others.   Of all people, we who follow the executed and risen Christ should be people who are consistently pro-life, pro-grace and anti-death.

Here’s when I realized the death penalty was a spiritual issue, not just a political one…  I was talking to a man on death row, and he told me his story.  He confessed to having done something terrible, which he will regret for the rest of his life.  But then it got even more interesting.  He told me the story of his trial.  During the course of his sentencing, the victim’s family argued that his life should be spared, that he should not be sentenced to death.  “They were Christians… so they talked a lot about mercy,” he told me matter-of-factly, as if every Christian was against the death penalty.  He went on, “They believed that Jesus came not for the healthy but for the sick.  And they argued that God may not be done with me yet.  So I was spared the death penalty because of the victim’s family.”  Finally he said, “I wasn’t a Christian then.  But you better believe that I am one now.”

Grace shines bright in the face of evil.  But grace can be a scandalous thing, as we can see Jesus forgiving those who kill him – and as we see the stunning stories of murder victim’s families who stand against execution, many of whom are fueled by their faith.

Also by Shane: TN Death Row Invites Governor to Pray with Them

We dare not forget the story – of a God who so loved the world that Jesus was sent, not to condemn the world but to save it.   We must not forget that much of the Bible was written by murderers who were given a second chance.  Moses.  David.  Paul.

The Bible would be much shorter without grace.  And our churches would be empty if we killed everyone who was deserving of death.

We cannot ignore Jesus as we discuss the death penalty.  As was the case with slavery, many Christians misused Scripture to justify injustice and ended up on the wrong side of history.  It is my hope that Southern Baptists and the National Association of Evangelicals will reconsider their statements on capital punishment in light of Jesus, and not have to apologize 100 years from now for being on the wrong side of history.




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About the Author

Shane Claiborne

Shane ClaiborneShane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way. He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world. His most recent book is Red Letter Revolution, which he co-authored with Tony Campolo.View all posts by Shane Claiborne →

  • otrotierra

    Another inspiring, Jesus-centered commentary. Many thanks to Shane Claiborne and RedLetterChristians.

  • Jack Heller

    Our culture takes its view of murderers from the movies. As I visit prisons in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan, I wish I could take more death penalty supporters to meet some men I know who have taken lives. I think I have been able to change a few people’s minds, just by letting them see that the men aren’t the monsters they expect.

    • BrambleTree

      Thank you. I know speaking positively about prisoners isn’t always a popular stance. My mom worked in prison for several years as a secretary to the drug/alcohol rehab program. She came to genuinely like many of the prisoners she worked with- some more than her co-workers. If she sees any of them out in the community after release or parole, she greets them and they her. Many of them told her that because she treated them like a person, they felt better about themselves. I know there are hardened, awful people in prisons. But my mom, who I consider an expert, said most of the men she met were there because they abused the right to be stupid.

      • Jack Heller

        One of my very good friends is on the suicide prevention team at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, the maximum security prison outside of Indianapolis. I have never asked him why he’s doing time, but it is perfect to me that he shows the despairing reasons to live.

  • John

    I went into this article thinking, “Yep, going to agree with this.” Then you whumped me with this one:

    “The only one who is left with any right to throw a stone is Jesus — and he has absolutely no inclination to do so. We can see that the closer we are to God the less we want to throw stones at other people.”

    I know that scene so well. I’ve read it so many times. It’s so simple. The Gospels are so elegant.

    Jesus SHOULD have killed her. That was the RIGHT thing to do.

    And didn’t. And THAT is the lesson. Even when we have the right, even when the law agrees, even then, we don’t. We do not kill.

    Thanks, Shane. So much.

  • Vince

    There are many secular reasons to put a stop to the death penalty that can appeal to non religious people that would scoff at the mention of an argument from the Bible. I think these should be included in our Christian opposition to it.

    • John

      Absolutely. Sometimes, things make sense from all different angles.

  • Chris

    Mark 15:3-7 says:
    He answered them,“And why do you break the commandment of
    God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your
    father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must
    surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What
    you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his
    father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the
    word of God. You hypocrites!

    Why are the Pharisees hypocrites? Because they made void the
    word of God. In this case, the commandment, the Law. Did Jesus actually believe if you don’t
    honor your father and mother you should die as the Law said? He does here in the Gospel of Mark. He rebukes them for not following it. Jesus repeated these commands without caveat or reservation.

    To say Jesus never referred to the death penalty isn’t completely accurate. He certainly never says that He disagrees with the Law and the Law commands justice. Not airtight Shane.

    • Alan Molineaux

      Pretty sure that Shane’s point was that Albert didn’t refer to Jesus when defending the death penalty.

      • Chris

        That would be a subpoint for sure, but his overall point is that the death penalty is not supported by Jesus.

    • Elsa

      Interesting how we see different things: you think Jesus was worried about not killing lawbreakers; I think Jesus was worried that elderly parents were not being supported. And even more, he constantly berated the Pharisees for twisting the law for their own gain, for requiring others to live by the law, while holding themselves exempt from it. That was the hypocrisy throughout the Gospels.

    • John Ayala

      Here are some passages of justice defined by God – Isaiah 1:16-17, Isaiah 30:18, Zech 7:9-10, Jer 21:11-12. You find justice defined in these passages and they give you a different idea of what God sees as justice. This understanding of justice seems to line up more with what Jesus modeled and talked about and what Shane I think is trying to get at.

      • Thee Bloomin Idiot

        John,

        Picking and choosing verses to prove our point of God’s view on subjects, isn’t a good idea. Doing so, we put at peril ourselves,and those seeking truth.

        Judgement is a two edged sword and the word of God…..speaks quite often about His judgement in terms of wrath…….

        Jesus shares that idea numerous times. In fact according to The Lord, the road to eternal damnation is much more crowded than that leading to eternal life.

  • psileste

    Amen.

  • Alan Molineaux

    Thank you Shane. Great work.

  • Frank2918

    I used to think that the death penalty was appropriate in certain circumstances but I have come to the realization that unless one is consistently for life they are no better than the Pharisees. Now I am against the death penalty. It’s a shame that so called RLC’s have, for the most part, refused to adopt this consistency and give their pro-life views (Anti-death penalty) legitimacy and righteousness.

    • Nick

      Do you have a blog that you write regularly?

      • Frank2918

        Yes its called the comment section of RLC. :)

        • Nick

          Ha ha nice. Thought maybe you were a writer. I am looking for more solid bloggers.

  • Adam Cantrell

    I think this article is great. My favorite part is when you discuss the attempted execution of the woman in John. My hang up with the article is the last paragraph. I am not sure that we Christians should be concerned with “being on the right side of history.” That is not a Biblical idea, but rather a worldly one. Had Hitler won the war Bonhoeffer would have been on the wrong side of history, but that does not mean that Bonhoeffer would have been a failure in the sight of God.

    • SamHamilton

      Good point Adam. I can’t stand the phrase “right side of history;” it’s basically a way of telling people to jump on whatever is trending now lest they be thought ill of by future generations. People should do what is right and just because it is right and just. They shouldn’t take a position today because the opposite position might not be popular in the future. But I liked Shane’s other comments.

  • http://www.youtube.com/silvanusslaughter Silvanus Slaughter

    Good article. Thanks for exhibiting clarity in the face of Mohler’s usual pronouncements.

  • Calufrax

    Tertullian- oh you mean the man who thought that one of the great joys in Paradise would be to look over the edge of Heaven and watch the sufferings of the damned? Nice guy, real humanitarian.

  • John Ayala

    Great article Shane!
    I was just thinking that most of our NT would never had been written, as we know it, if the early Christians dealt out the death penalty on one that deserved it based on Al Mohler’s arguments – Saul/Paul.

  • Roger Barton

    It is MY hope that fundamentalist religion of any kind, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or otherwise, will no longer exist in 100 years. It’s caused as many problems and deaths over the years as any coalition of multinational corporations.

    • Travis Hughes

      They’ll still be here in 100 years. I just hope they’ve gotten their acts together by then.

  • the dark knight

    I read every comment here as well as the whole article. For starters, I get the whole RLC thing, but cute and creative is not a citation for proof of anything. Read John 12:48 and lay it down as a foundational brick and keep in mind, the words spoken by Peter, James and Paul are no less than the continued will of our savior Jesus. I could write a novel in reply here, but I will really work to be brief. This whole article may be motivated by a deep love for Jesus and a desire to defend His teachings, but it is riddled with personal observations that do not serve as a defense for our saviors will. I will give you just one (there are many) examples. So we don’t hear Jesus say one word about the death penalty. Our “red letter” conclusion is therefore . . . Jesus was not for it? He doesn’t say one word against pedophilia also . . . so do I get to use this same logic for my sound doctrinal conclusion? C’mon Shane, I am convinced that in your writing this blog you will have a hundred defenders of whatever you write here, and especially if it makes them feel a bit better about not wanting to be on the side of history that KILLS people. If we present our Savior as the lover, the gracious one, the kindest of all, the sweetest to others that ever lived, we just cannot bring ourselves to think that he would ever want anyone, ever to be killed, under any circumstance, or for any reason. That’s not bible Shane. I want to say so much . . . I promised to be brief, I am trying so hard but I am overflowing with thoughts about why you have missed the truth on this matter. The Lord sets up our government (PS, I am not going to use anecdotal comments to prove my case here or prey on the readers emotions) for His will (Daniel chapters 4 and 5 say this no less than 5 times to be clear!) and these rulers have the freedom and the right to punish the “evildoers” of the world. Romans 13. If Christians struggle with pulling the switch or administering the drug, so be it, I understand that completely . . . but this is not about losing your soul because you believe it’s okay for a child murderer and rapist to be put to death. I have seen people against the death penalty suddenly cry “death” because of the heinousness of the crime. It serves no purpose to tell me the whole world is deserving of death. Even our Lord said that some people have committed “the greater sin”. I said all that to educate you to the truth Shane. If a government wants to execute a criminal, they are free to do so, in fact we are warned of this in Romans 1 and that’s why Paul is telling us as Christians to behave ourselves for we are in the world, and we will not be able to avoid their punishment just because we claim to be God’s children. Furthermore, when Jesus was on the cross, and the thief, who was being killed for stealing, asked to be remembered, Jesus did not take the opportunity to say, “You are being killed unjustly thief. I am so sorry. I could get you down from here but I won’t.” NO, Jesus was well aware that stealing could get you a penalty of death in this world, and so was the thief aware of it. What he did tell him was “Today, you will be with me in paradise”. I have done prison ministry off and on for over 35 years and I have had murderers confess to me that they did not feel in any way that the state owed them forgiveness, or mercy, or a pass when it cam to their penalty for their crime. They said to me, “I will die for what I did, but I will live for because of what Jesus did.” I realize that death is so final, we cannot as good hearted Christians see how God would ever want someone to die for their sins, yet under the old law, which was called good and just, God had at least 13 reasons you could be executed under that law, and most of them were NOT capital crimes. Are you now teaching that Jesus would say that His father had it all wrong? That His father meant to be graceful and forgiving but didn’t know how to until Jesus showed up? I believe that grace is the best answer for all our mistakes. I want every man to be saved form their sins and to go to heaven. I extend that gift of redemption to all people everywhere. BUT, forgiveness is conditional even when love is not. Jesus did not say, I forgive all men, don’t sweat it, don’t worry, there will not be a punishment for anyone, just keep teaching grace and they will convert. NO, he warns harshly against the never ending fires of hell. He tells men in RLC words to avoid certain mistakes or they too will likewise perish. If we want to use our “nice guy” tendencies about Jesus to stop the death penalty from being carried out, then why would we not apply this same rule to all sins committed, to all penalties handed down against men? Answer me Shane? How would you dare say no to death, but yes to life in prison? What about 50 years in a prison? Where’s the Lord’s grace in that? No we stop short of saying that because we all know, punishment is okay, it’s needed, it’s God’s way of dealing with us as sons (Hebrews 12) BUT we have so many times equated “just punishment” in the form of an execution, to “murder” and that’s an indictment on God. My father in heaven has never made a mistake or evolved into a better God. He has always allowed governments and kingdoms to execute judgment and if that meant the death penalty, so be it. Death for a crime has never been unjust . . . but when men are using the death penalty to try to test Jesus, and not to be just, as they did with the adulterous woman, they soon find out that we all are deserving of death. He said this to shame them all for their unjust plot and their insincere desire to do the right thing. He did not say, “Go and sin no more, and from now on, no one should be punished for committing adultery.” In fact you mention “grace” . . . and interject it to the discussion, but I don’t see it anywhere in red letters near this story. I get what you seem to be after Shane. I get the loving and graceful side of being a Christian. But we don’t suspend any of that for punishing someone for a crime. We remain hopeful for the criminals heart to turn to the Lord when faced with their faults, but we do not have to eliminate the death penalty because we want to be more graceful in the eyes of the world. In conclusion, let’s please stop acting like “death” on earth is a terrible thing to do to anyone, when the truth is we are all doomed to die for our sins. We all die, whether by natural causes, or because we committed a terrible crime deserving of death sooner than we wanted. Jesus said a lot about just punishment through the epistles and His sound doctrines found in black letters in every new testament. And we have no compelling right to try to convince good Christians that if we are willing to agree that someone ought to die for their crime, that we are somehow not anywhere near the heart of Jesus on this matter. I maintain that Jesus’ love for people is truly amazing, but His hatred toward evil is just as zealous and we will not escape the judgment if we have no fear of God. Romans 3:18 is the fundamental reason for the worlds rebellion and lusts, “They have no fear of God before their eyes.” You think God is going to offer grace to all men on judgment day, or will He “reward” them with an eternal death penalty to those who refuse to love His son? I think you know the answer. I leave you with a compelling question, and it may help in the long run to understand both the love and the justice of God. It will also open up a whole lot of Did you know there is no Greek word for grace? It is our invention. So when we use it . . . be sure we know what the Lord would want from its use before we throw it down as a proof for what we argue. I know that sentence will cause a stir, but really, if we are going to speak for Jesus, and actually claim that we are His teachers of His ways, let’s really be sure of what we are teaching about Him. James warns us, ‘let not many of you be teachers”. etc. Shane, consider what I say here, and even if the Baptist article sounds harsh (I have not read it) please consider it may still be true even if they make the case poorly. Keep serving Jesus, and don’t let the red letters get in the way of all the great truths found in the black ones. I am praying right now for wisdom for you my good brother.
    Love, always, the Dark Knight John 3;30

    • Travis Hughes

      “You think God is going to offer grace to all men on judgment day, or will He “reward” them with an eternal death penalty to those who refuse to love His son? I think you know the answer.”

      The answer is yes. He will offer grace to all men on judgement day, because that is what it means to All-Forgiving and All-Loving. No being of Good that can actually understand the concept of ‘eternal’ would ever punish someone eternally for mistakes they made in a life that is but a microscopic pinprick in the tapestry of infinity.

      • Vince

        Can you support this from the Bible?

        • Frank2918

          Of course not. Just another example of creating a god in his own image.

          • Vince

            Agreed. If it is just from his own mind then why would his theology be something he expects others to believe?

        • Travis Hughes

          Nope. But that’s fine, because the Bible is flawed, being written by man. And don’t bother trying to convince me that it’s perfect because it is the Word of God: Men have been writing it, translating it, interpreting it, debating it, retranslating it, and reinterpreting it through imperfect eyes and imperfect means for nearly two thousand years. Whatever divine inspiration there is for the Bible was long ago lost.

          Anyway, I have my own relationship with God, and the God I know is much, much more respectable than the one in any book.

          • Vince

            So why should I believe what you do about God. How can you say my idea of God is wrong but yours is right? If you know God so well shouldn’t you be telling others about Him? and when you do why should I believe you?

          • Frank2918

            Thanks for confirming you have created your own god. At least you have the courage to admit. I’ll follow the real God and pass on your lessor god.

      • Kevin Neil

        No Travis, that is not, actually, what it means to be “All-loving.”

      • davidlamb

        Travis, that is simply not Biblical. I strongly urge you to understand that “it is appointed for a man to die once, but after this is judgement.” [Heb 9:27]. There is no “second chance” at the judgement seat of Christ. Either you have repented and believe Jesus’ sacrifice now, or you will suffer judgement forever. I pray that you will come to understanding quickly.

        • Travis Hughes

          lol, ok, thanks. If people can give other people second chances, then I’m comfortably certain that God will give as many chances as is necessary for a person to find their way. It’s not like eternity has an expiration date.

          Also, using Biblical verses doesn’t work with me, because I don’t see the Bible as “The Truth” or as some gateway to God.

      • Thee Bloomin Idiot

        Travis,

        You forget that God is Just! He will not forgive those who don’t want to be forgiven.

        Even the Red Letters confirm this:

        15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Rev 3:15-21(ESV)

        He will not force Himself on unbelievers. Neither should He! For that would be unlocking, uncaring, and intolerant of Him, in the eyes of those who didn’t want Him.

        What makes you think they would want Heaven (to be w/God) for eternity when they didn’t want it here and now!?!

        Don’t take scripture out of the context of the whole.

        • Travis Hughes

          I never said he’d force himself on unbelievers. Just that he wouldn’t punish them for eternity in some ridiculous, man-made invention like Hell. I believe wholeheartedly that God will give every man a chance, even on Judgement Day, to believe. I think that actually being in the presence of divinity (as opposed to being left alone here to question the divine) would change anyone’s mind.

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Then how does a just God remain just? If the penalty for sin is spiritual and also physical death, then how does God ignore the unrepentant sinner, and forgive Him…..that is not just.

            You and I don’t get to decide for God. Man gets justice when he refuses God’s personal sacrifice. I didn’t make that up. That’s what God revealed through Christ and the Bible! It’s not a pretty ending for the dead still in their sin.

            He is all loving, so much so, that He provided the way, and told us about it, and said all we need do is repent and accept it! He even told us what would happen if we didn’t. ….warning us.

            Yet people refuse God’s gift…,and come up with their own ideas of how it SHOULD be. Yet, wishing it were so, doesn’t make it so

            “lol, ok, thanks. If people can give other people second chances, then I’m comfortably certain that God will give as many chances as is necessary for a person to find their way. It’s not like eternity has an expiration date.
            Also, using Biblical verses doesn’t work with me, because I don’t see the Bible as “The Truth” or as some gateway to God.”
            Travis 26 mins ago.

            Travis if that, above is so, what is it you believe in….Jesus? Well then you believe Him A liar. You can’t call yourself a Christian, sorry it doesn’t work that way.

            Christianity’s basis is Biblical truth and faith in CHrist, not whatever you wish it to be.

            I’ll pray you find God…He wants to be known and can be, but I’ll let you in on a BIG NON SECRET AMONG CHRISTIANS…..His ways are not ours!

            God bless you.

          • jordan

            How is eternal torture for a finite crime justice? Its the inconsistencies like this in the bible that prove its a beautiful piece of literature with many wisdoms encased inside, but nothing more.
            I have full 100% faith that come my death, if i find that there is a god and an afterlife, that god will judge me fairly.

            “You did the best you could, you tried to help the less fortunate, BUT, you didn’t believe my boy was me(that part of the trinity always confused me) so you will spend eternity in hell.” This is what you consider justice? Come on!
            Hitler does not deserve ETERNITY in hell. If you think he does, then I don’t think you understand the word eternity.

          • Frank2918

            Yes we’ll can be 100% confident that God will judge us based on whether we accepted Jesus or not.

          • jordan

            Really? Your narrow vision of a boxed in god is pitiful.
            Reminds me of a funny meme I saw recently. Jesus hand planting his face with the quote “omfg you guys, I said I hate FIGS” haha, the bible is written by men, and god will be offended by your worship of it. Peace.

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Sin is not finite. All sin has eternal consequences! Seprrstion from God the Creator.

            You don’t understand that God sets the rules regarding His creation. The creation has no say. As if the clay pot tells the potter what to do!

            Life is finite. Sin’s consequences are eternal. You are a loon if you think Hitler will be in Heaven.

          • jordan

            Name me a sin that lasts forever. Hitler will be unrecognisable after he is stripped of his sin while he stands in gods presence. If you think Hitler deserves eternity in hell, you are just as evil as Hitler. At least Hitlers victims had an end to their suffering. I’m not telling god what to do, I am just explaining that a moral god and a god that sends anyone to hell are incongruous concepts. Hell is not even biblical anyway.

    • jim

      Well thought out rebuttal DK, thanks.

  • jordan

    My dad is a pastor and supports the death penalty. I am atheist and oppose it. Anyone who murders is unhealthy mentally. If a tumour made a guy kill, then that guy has the tumour removed and no longer wants to kill how should he be punished? What if we can’t remove the tumour but know it causes his murderous urges? Now replace tumour with schizophrenia. There is no such thing as a mentally healthy murderer(killing can be justified in some cases, but the death penalty is murder and not justified).Therefore, killing someone as a punishment would never make sense NO MATTER HOW HEINOUS THE CRIME!

    • Frank2918

      Then you must oppose abortion as well and share that publicly right?

      • jordan

        You must oppose condoms and publicly share that?

        • Frank2918

          So you are or are not against abortion (i.e.truly pro-life?)

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Doesn’t sound like it.

          • jordan

            Of course I am not against abortion. I could even think of some very extreme cases where killing actual born living babies I could consider moral. Very extreme, but they exist nonetheless.
            So glad and proud I am Canadian. Religion blinds people by trying to make everything black and white. There are grey areas everywhere. The ten commandments are a joke because there are exceptions to everyone. Except the ones where god commands you to blindly worship him… Disobey that and you’re going to burn… I would spit in that gods face if he showed himself to me. “Burn me then, monster, I will not worship you.”

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Wow….lot’s of hurt in that reply Jordan. I’ll pray for you…sometimes that’s all we can do. God can heal whateve is eating you up inside. Lord don’t give up on Jordan like he has you, give him a Saul of Taursus moment. In Jesus name!

          • jordan

            Yup… Too bad prayer is useless. My dad and his friends pray for my “Paul” moment all the time. I’ve heard them command it to happen. Keep spending your sand grains… You only get so much time on this planet. And no not hurt. Its just an obvious fact that if Yahweh existed he would be demonstrably evil… Which is a contradiction, and evidence that he doesn’t exist.

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Well what’s so obvious to you, ….the opposite is just as obvious to me!

            I’m no theologian, and not the most knowledgeable of believers, but for 30 some odd years I ran around as if their was no God. I’d heard all the stories and sort of understood, even accepted Christ at 15, but in my early 30s all it got me was in a horrible mess, of my own doing.

            God created you and me Jordan and allows us to choose. I confess my choices have hurt people immeasurably, but God has raised me up from that, selfish person I was and given me a second chance! And yes PRAISE GOD!

            He is unmistakably good, and because He is…..he allows us to make choices, to haves it our way. My way brother, was self destruction. Truly.

            Your experience is yours, I can’t refute it. Nor would I try and diminish it. EVERYONE, has to find God on their own terms, BUT He can be found! I know I’ve found Him!

            Many see the Bible as a collection of horrors at times, but now I see it as God constantly providing 2nd chances. Giving His creation a way out of their personal destruction. He gas provided the final solution to our sin and all we need do miss accept that and we no longer walk destructively through life.

            Mind you, all who claim Christianity, are not. …..or not living as they should. We are all imperfect people, but PRAISE GOD! He won’t leave you there, He has a plan for those who love HIM!

            Just as I can’t deny your experience, you’ll never be able to deny mine. I have found THE ANSWER, but I was once where you are.

            Not wasting any sand Jordan, in fact I’m doing EXACTLY what God wants right now!

            He loves you, I don’t know you but in love, for your best I’ll still pray!

          • Frank2918

            Yup. Only hurt people would try and justify hurting innocent unborn children. So very sad.

          • jordan

            If I was not against abortion wouldn’t that make me pro-choice? You confused yourself with your own double negative…

        • Thee Bloomin Idiot

          How is that an appropriate response

      • jordan

        My point is, painting abortion with the murder brush is really stupidly ignorant. Abortion is a complex issue. I don’t think an abortion should be a simple thing to get, but I definitely think that there are reasons abortion is favourable and should be available. As well as discrete. Abortion clinic protests make me sick. West borough like garbage.

        • Frank2918

          There is nothing more simple than life/no life. Justifying taking an innocent life mostly for reasons of convenience and comfort is what is really stupidly ignorant, not to mention incredibly selfish.

          And it makes you a hypocrite if you are against the death penalty.

          So I guess you are pro-life only when its convenient for you?

          • jordan

            If its so black and white then help me draw the line. Is plan b OK or should that be outlawed? I assume you don’t like plan b as it is pretty clearly a very early abortion. So what about the birth control pill? A woman on the pill could be bleeding out potential babies every month. So I guess that’s out too. And now that we’ve taken the pill away I am not sure how you can say condoms are still OK. Sex is for procreation right? Haha but I’m the hypocrite! Also your comment about abortions being for mostly inconvenience reasons shows your ignorance. This is obviously a group of old men who don’t know what they’re talking about.

          • Frank2918

            Why don’t you stay focused and tell us how you think Jesus would support the killing of His innocent creations?

            I am happy to talk birth control once you actually take responsibility for supporting killing.

          • jordan

            Since there is no historical evidence that Jesus actually existed, I don’t think he would care any more than Romulus or Osiris would.

          • Frank2918

            Excellent.

        • Frank2918

          So abortion is favorable for certain reasons but the death penalty is not? Sounds selfishly hypocritical.

          • jordan

            Heh coming from growing up in a church makes me laugh when a Christian calls me a hypocrite.

          • Frank2918

            I am sure the Pharisees laughed a little too. Until you take it seriously no one will take you seriously. I sure don’t.

          • jordan

            Well I don’t really believe that you think the world is less than 10,000 years old. Or that you think there was a global flood. Or that you really think that there was a literal Adam and eve. Not believing those things but believing in Jesus is the most hypocritical you could possibly be. But if you do believe any of those things then your credibility flies out the window. If people I respect tell me I am being a hypocrite then I will reevaluate.
            If a mentally handicapped person told me I was wrong, I would not put much stock in what they said. If Stephen hawking tells me I am wrong, I will look at his arguments to find out why.

          • Frank2918

            Not calling you mentally handicapped but I put no stock in what you say you believe.

          • jordan

            Says the guy that believes the flood story.
            See how even if you called me mentally challenged it would just be funny to me?

          • jordan

            Actually, the death penalty could still technically be a viable option here. If a man convicted of life with no chance for parole chooses that he would rather die than be in prison, he should have the right to choose death.

  • jordan

    PS. If any atheist supports the death penalty, they are borrowing theist values to do so. No god reduces peoples actions to causal responses and muddies the deserving-ness of punishment. Reform and responsibility yes, straight up punishment, no… Unless the punishment is used to reform… But death is much too permanent.

    • Frank2918

      So why do you support punishing an innocent unborn child by denying it the ability to have the gift of life that you have?

    • Geoff Ramsay

      Sorry, I don’t mean to contribute to the pile-on, but I don’t think your statement is fair here. Globally, it’s a small percentage of churches that support capital punishment.
      There’s lots of purely economic arguments for capital punishment in China, and I’ve spoken to athiest Canadian Libertarians that support that ‘one bullet’ model – because quite apart from theism, they believe in a moral justice model.
      I think it’s actually atheism that has an issue with trying to define why another person’s life has any value outside of their potential to enrich society. Sam Harris is making some interesting attempts, but he builds it out of an assumption about suffering that is not supportable.

      I think you are borrowing from theism in assuming even the broken biological machines have an intrinsic value. And I’m glad you do! But I would be interested to see how you support that position?
      (For me it’s easy, I don’t think we are deterministic machines, and I think we are all bearers of God’s divine image)

      And just to chime in on the ‘mean God’ thing, I think the OT is a long effort to convince us that purely justice based moral systems don’t work out. Jesus / Grace is not God changing his mind, it was always the destination. Oh also hell: one can make good arguments that hell is not a place of eternal torment, it’s an eternal fire. The fire is eternal, not those cast there. In that context, he’ll is just talking about a final end for the wicked souls – no different from what I expect you currently believe happens to everyone?

      • jordan

        That sounds like a Jehovah’s witness idea of hell. If that’s the case then it doesn’t matter. You should stay out of the world and let us damned have our pre Armageddon free society.

        • Geoff Ramsay

          Hmm… No.
          I was raised Catholic (who often believe hell is seperation from God), and I’m now an Anabaptist. I heard that definition from a Baptist scholar.
          Anabaptists believe that the kingdom of God begins in this world – and that our job is to deal with address the world’s suffering and to spread the good news that existance doesn’t have to end with death.

          I don’t interpret revelations as the Pentecostal / Evangelical “armageddon” model. I think it was a prophesy about the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD.

          The world is broken, our job (everyone’s) is to contribute to healing it.

          I’m not sure what your model of / experience with Christianity is, but I feel like it’s sort of ugly. Some Christians are dicks, but Jesus wasn’t, and if Christians are meant to follow Jesus, the expectation is they shouldn’t be.

          • jordan

            I was raised in a nondenominational charismatic church. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with the concord Toronto airport movement. Same thing my dad was trying to do on the other side of Toronto. Running around with flags, tongues and prophecies, my dad loves John hagee( that’s the cornerstone guy right? End of the world garbage every Sunday.?) He at one time attempted to raise my brother from the dead.

            Intense stuff. And dangerous for an 11 year old to go through let alone a healthy adult.

          • Frank2918

            I admit Jordan that’s some scary stuff. I hope one day you can release that and discover Jesus.

          • jordan

            Ya very scary, and unfortunately all biblically accurate. Which is why I don’t look at the bible as anything more than a piece of literature. It turns into disgusting garbage when you really believe it 100%.

          • Frank2918

            I feel badly about your experience but your conclusions are fallacious. Understandable but still fallacious.

            The bible is used in many terrible ways by flawed humanity but there is absolute truth contained within. Don’t let that experience ruin your eternity as it already has done enough damage.

          • jordan

            My eternity is just fine thank you. And I really wish it was biblically fallacious to believe and practice all the things my father did and still does to a lesser degree., but it isn’t. I would argue against what he does using the bible if it was against the bible, but it isn’t. Instead I have to give secular reasons why it is dangerous and damaging, and they just go through one ear and out the other because Satan is influencing my worldly reasoning.

            He would say to you something like “you can have your dead god; my Jesus is alive and as powerful as ever!”
            He told me an angel came to his office and talked to him… If he actually believes that happened there is no chance in heaven or hell that he will be convinced otherwise.

          • Frank2918

            I would worry less about what your father is doing. He obviously still has a great amount of control over you.

          • jordan

            He is essentially my only family , and I can’t have a real conversation with him. I wish that didn’t bother me as much as it does.

            When you are on this site is their a trending banner at the top that says “why Christians need to stop trying to fix people?”?

            You’re brand of self righteous piouty makes me laugh, but the hypocrisy combined with mentioning the Pharisees makes me question your sincerity. You aren’t a troll are you?

          • Frank2918

            There is very little of value at RLC. Most of their articles are misguided at best, downright rubbish at worst.

            What a pity you think this is funny in any way. You are in worse shape then I thought.

          • jordan

            You are precisely the reason I would never call myself a Christian. Too many are judgemental pricks like you.
            You make Christianity look bad; even Dawkins characature (that looks mispelled…alwell) of atheism doesn’t compare. I really don’t believe that your being honest. Either that or you don’t want to actually convert people? Does it give you pleasure when you think about heathens burning in hell? *shudders* no wonder the number of Christians in america is plummeting.

          • Frank2918

            Christianity is growing at breakneck speed in countries where humility is shown. Sadly America is becoming more and more prideful.

          • jordan

            Maybe in countries like Kenya and Papua new guinea where they are burning people alive for witchcraft. Name me a single country whose education is not inversely related to religiosity. America is the closest, but it seems like Americans are finally waking up.

            Way to ignore the questions about wanting to save people. You must be one of those freaks that gets off watching “left behind”. Whatever helps you feel righteous, but even your ” brothers in Christ” are turning away from your weird brand of fundamentalism.

          • jordan

            Canada = humility = nonreligious is by far the fastest growing sector here. Actually one of the only ones getting bigger than mere population growth.

          • Frank2918

            Compare the numbers. God wins.

          • jordan

            This is a logically fallacious argument, but if you’d like to compare the numbers then sure. Nonreligious is pushing 20%. To get even close to that you have to combine a bunch of different sub religions. (Christians must include Jehovah’s witness, bahai, etc.)

            Religiosity is inversely related to education. Whether decreasing religion increases desire for education, or education decreases need for religion doesn’t really matter. It’s probably both.

            All over the world people are abandoning religion in droves.

          • Frank2918

            There are some who are leaving the institution but not the faith. Christianity isn’t going anywhere. Still growing at a break neck speed. 2 billion and counting.

          • jordan

            So do you think Jesus is coming back and making heaven on earth minus all the nice people that didn’t worship Jesus? And evil people not welcome either. Or are we building the kingdom now? Cause now you sound a little bahai

          • Geoff Ramsay

            I think Jesus’s discussion of “kingdom life” is not exclusive to an afterlife.
            I don’t know what a return scenario will look like, but the guy that would be doing the “judging” at that time is the same guy in the ‘throw no stones’ story – so that’s very reassuring to me.

          • jordan

            So no one will be judged then? Is that the moral? Universalism?

          • Geoff Ramsay

            I think there is a judgement, I’m just saying that the judge seems like a pretty cool guy – so I spend too much time worrying about it! Where I do worry about it, I have a confidence in a dude that told his followers that asking for forgiveness works.

            What about you? Would you describe yourself as having a specific belief set? People you want to emulate? People you turn to for guidance?

            Just a P.S., If you ever feel like giving the ‘church experience’ a second chance, you should check out “The Meeting House” in the GTA. Ping me, I could meet you there ;)

          • jordan

            I always ask for a definition of god and get something like “all knowing, all-powerful and perfectly good.” To that I say awesome, why not end there? If those things are true, then living my life to the best of my ability should be enough and any mistake I make comes from my ignorant fallibility and should automatically be forgiven. God or no god I try to be the best that I can be (now that I have shed my fathers destructive dichotomy – be Christian or be evil). But even terrible people are terrible from ignorance, not because certain souls deserve torture.

            I like to take nuggets of wisdom from wherever I find it and want to emulate no one. There are certain attributes from certain people I look up to that I wish I could have, but its not like I go “man I really want to be like ghandi”. His non violence is nice but I have also heard some racists quotes. Non violence only works in some cases too. If ghandi tried his tactics against Saddam Hussein for instance, he would have just been decimated. He knew the British wouldn’t do that.

            If I have a problem and want to turn to ” thinkers” what I do is find the best arguments for and the best arguments against and I evaluate them for myself. I don’t have a set philosophy or philosopher that I turn to.

            Hmm maybe Joe rogan? Haha.
            “Remember when you were a kid and you thought there were real grown-ups? Then one day your in line at the grocery storestore and the clerk calls you sir and you’re just like ‘holy crap! I am 25. I am an adult! How did that happen? None of us have a clue what’s going on!
            ‘ But we won’t admit that to anyone’”.

            Paraphrased, but I think that’s brilliant. No one knows what’s going on, but we have to try our best.

            I remember that when I listen to any ” thinker” ‘ he could be right, but he doesn’t even really know if he is.’ (Please don’t presupp sye ten bruggencate me on that,

          • Geoff Ramsay

            I’d add “all-loving” and “relational” to your definition, but, same idea.

            From a legal point of view, we don’t accept that ignorance of the law is an acceptable reason for breaking it. I think God’s a lot more understanding than a pure justice system (Jesus: compassion > justice), but I also think it’s hard to claim that people are purely ignorant of the impacts of their actions. We understand that as members of G7 nations, we have are likely in the top 10% of the worlds richest people – we know this, but if it doesn’t affect the way we live, we cannot claim ignorance as a defense. We use ignorance to make ourselves feel OK with not really giving a shit.

            I think God asks us for something more. I think being a part of a community that is intent on seeking better holds me to account, and doesn’t let me hide behind ignorance. So for me, it’s very helpful. And full disclosure, I think I’d otherwise be a big asshole.

            Jesus stated that his mission was for the sick (spiritually). And I think that’s me. I cannot say if that’s you, it would be horribly presumptuous of me to try! I would ask you to understand that the message of Jesus, correctly applied, certainly has a place in the world – because in theory, it helps some of us assholes be less so, and instead do something helpful.

            Ironically, the church I attend is Anabaptist, and the Anabaptists believe in stepping back from politics! So they’d agree that the church should butt out of the political discussion! ;)
            But I’m a huge news/politics junkie, so I’m not towing the line on that issue! :D

            I think your final thought is spot on:
            “No one knows what’s going on, but we have to try our best.”

            I just think I’m better when I’m supported by and ‘doing life’ with a community of folks who are wrestling with the same issues I am, and have similar goals.

          • jordan

            Your church sounds nice. I wish I was raised in something like that other than the charismatic horror show that I had to deal with. I really don’t like the “the only way to heaven is believing that Jesus was god” doctrine. Even if he was, belief in his divinity should be irrelevant. I agree with and live by most of what Jesus said, but I worship him no more than I worship ghandi or Buddha.

            Have you considered that the idea of a pastor controlling a flock in a physical church is a very anti- Jesus practice?

            I like the idea of community and all that but if Jesus is really god, then sell your possessions, give the money to the poor, and dedicate your life to spreading the word.

            If Jesus was just a smart dude with some good ideas, then by all means find community in like minded people built on an institutional foundation.

            I hate the church I was raised in, but if Jesus really is god I have to admit that they are closer then any moderates to what Jesus taught.

          • jordan

            Don’t take that as an attack, I’m just telling it like I see it. I really do think I like your churches doctrine mostly, its just not for me. We don’t allow ignorance as an excuse, but our laws are clearly written, and I know who wrote them, and if I disagree with a law I can try to change it. Also eternal separation from god is a much harsher punishment than anything we can dish out here on earth. (I am assuming god exists for the sake of argument here.)

          • Frank2918

            Jordan it’s perfectly clear you have no idea how it is.

          • jordan

            Frank, your unfounded assertations mean nothing. It is clear you are just a blind sheep following the fancy man in front of the pulpit and claiming Jesus as your authority. Have fun with that. I like thinking.

          • Frank2918

            Oh Jordan. Your experience, instead of enlightening you has blinded you. You can’t see anything clearly. You obviously are not thinking clearly. I will back off a bit. The help you need I cannot provide. But Jesus can.

          • jordan

            I don’t need help.

          • Frank2918

            It’s only the people who desperately do that say that.

          • jordan

            Are you judging me frank?

          • Frank2918

            No just observing.

          • jordan

            Observing, evaluating, and providing your opinion of me. Sounds like judging to me, hypocrite.

          • Frank2918

            Hearing the truth can be painful sometimes but its necessary.

          • jordan

            Even if it was true, you are still going against scripture by saying it. And since it isn’t true, you are also a liar. Do you cheat and steal as well, luci?

          • jordan

            Just curious, and I know you aren’t suppose to judge, but what do the Anabaptists teach about people like frank here? He seems like one of the people that repeat “oh lord, oh lord” that Jesus talked about not getting into heaven.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            I almost never agree with Frank, but I do believe that he’s earnestly seeking a relationship with God. God can forgive murderers – so I have hope for Frank yet. ;)

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Another note on community here: wrongly applied, it’ll just insulate me from differing opinions, but correctly applied, someone can point out when I’m wrong, when I’m building on my own confirmation bias.
            There’s an agnostic in my ‘home church’ group (kind of like a bible study / small group). before I moved, there was one at my previous group as well (though I’d describe her as more of a seeker). I’m not suggesting we go full United Church of Canada model (they seem to have lost a unifying direction and are fizzing out), but it’s nice to think I’m part of a community that makes room at the table for other voices. (Though perhaps not leading the conversation)

          • jordan

            I don’t really know you but you seem like one of the least prideful Christians I have talked to. I know I am just a man, but I really don’t think you have to worry about not pleasing god. Pointing to the bible is good for arguments sake but it should not trump thinking. Did you know that the word they translate to scripture in the bible really only ever meant literature? The idea that the bible is the infallible word of god is a human construct and not actually biblical at all anyway. If I am suppose to genuinely seek god, why is it wrong for me to use the brain he gave me to do it?

            And more than that, I am expected to use my brain to decide to believe the bible, and then immediately turn off my brain and just trust the bible? That just makes my head spin thinking about it, haha.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Your comment is still here. I think we’re just pushing Disqus (the comment technology platform) beyond it’s comfort level, and nesting too far.

            I appreciate your support! But to be fair, you get to see a very moderated view of me – it is certainly something I’m always working on though.

            I’ve been taught, and I really connect with the idea that the Bible is in fact not the word of God, it’s a book about the Word of God (Jesus). There are a couple of interesting points the NT where Jesus talks about the authority of the ‘Law’. And then you have some later NT letters by early church leaders (Peter, Timothy) that speak about ‘scripture’ being ‘God-breathed’ and useful for teaching, rebuking, learning, etc.

            I personally don’t see that as saying ‘infallible’, so we agree there. I’m not a biblical literalist. I take the NT more literally than the OT, because in the scheme of things, there’s good evidence to believe the Gospels could have been written within decades of the crucifixion. Of course, we have 4 accounts that don’t perfectly align, so I see evidence of human errors there too. Even 1 Corinthians begins with Paul catching himself in a mistake while dictating his letter “[Oh...] I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else[...]”

            We see Jesus teaching in parables, and I think that’s a tool God has used more than once. But I do believe there is a purpose for the stories we have. I think that leaves space for thought work. I don’t think God wants a world of puppets. I think what’s important in all of these stories are the principles laid down. It’s up to us to figure out how these principles apply in our contexts today.

            I don’t think the bible is necessary to seek God. This whole love-affair with scripture started with the protestants and the printing press, before 1600, who could have ever read scripture?!
            I think we should take advantage of it now that we have it (Text books enrich the school experience), but I think the model of ‘church’ was always meant to be about people working out life in service together.

            I think if it’s working for you now, keep at it. But if you do find you need a hand with all the meaning and purpose questions one day, or with some crazy life stuff, or you just want a space to discuss all the non-science questions (the whys, rather than the hows), just remember that if God exists, he doesn’t intend for us to have to go through anything alone. And that not all churches out there are all bad, all the time. :P

          • jordan

            This was a refreshing conversation, thank you, I appreciate that more than you know. I would like to hear your take on a few of the parables of Jesus. My questions usually get dealt with by a sort of weaseling out and making excuses, but you seem like you would actually think it through and come up with meaningful responses.

            Lazarus was a common name back in jesus ‘ day, something like our John. Yet the name is used twice in all the bible. First in a parable about Lazarus and a rich man – to me the moral of this story (or at least a part of it) is that miracles will not convert people. (Rich man says “send Lazarus to my 5 brothers for a dead man walking will surely convince them” to which Abraham replies “they have the prophets and Moses, if that’s not good enough neither will a miracle”
            Second when Jesus literally raises a Lazarus from the dead in john. This causes so many conversions that it is the very reason the Jewish priests decide to kill Jesus.
            So which is it? Miracles can convert? Or no miracles, just trust the prophets? Also John names Lazarus as witness and proof of Jesus. It is easily arguable that John,Lazarus,and the beloved disciple are all the same person. John sites himself as proof for the book he wrote?

            Mathew mark Luke and acts all focus on the human qualities of Jesus. John focuses on his divinity. Could this explain the discrepancy?

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Sorry for the delay, I did indeed have to do some thinking on this topic! (And reading!)

            I had no idea that Lazarus was sometimes suspected to be the beloved disciple! To be clear, I’m an engineer by education and trade, not a biblical scholar. ;)
            Anyway, the idea is fascinating, so I’m glad you asked this! The theory I had most aligned with is that John was written by the apostle John. I also strongly considered that in later years other editors had layered more details into the stories, presumably from other sources. (For instance, what we know of the non-cannon Gospel of the Hebrews leads me to agree with scholars that suggest that the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, may actually be lifted out of that account)

            Changing the authorship to Lazurus doesn’t change this gospels close connection to the actual events… But if we do that, we don’t need to also assume that Lazarus is in fact John. And I would tend to think the two theories stand apart from each other – because we know from other accounts that John was called as a fisherman and then traveled with Jesus.

            In any event, the Gospel of John in it’s initial form is intended as an eye-witness account. I see no reason why a man could not cite being raised from the dead as proof of the divinity of Jesus.
            Also, I’d note that John 21:24 appears to suggest that the Gospel is written based on the recorded testimony of the “Beloved Disciple”, not that he is necessarily the only author.

            What do you think? Do you believe any of these people existed historically?

            ——

            Apart for the authorship discussion, I find the story of Lazarus and the Rich man very challenging! It is the one instance where Jesus clearly paints of picture of someone suffering after death. I would note though, that it’s stated this is prior to final judgement, and that it’s a parable to relay a point that has nothing to do with ‘hell’.

            I think the idea in the rich man parable is that big, bold miracles are not God’s intended pattern for building relationships with us.
            I think it strips some of the free-choice out of the decision to enter into that relationship. Remember those ‘choose your own adventure’ books from childhood? Did you read those? If someone had written the correct answers over each choice, then am I really exercising my will to end up at the correct destination? Or am I being coerced?
            I think a certain amount of coercion is always in play here, we have the stories, we have churches, we do hear of people having these crazy ‘come to Jesus’ moments, but I think at the end of the day, the pull is soft, yet constant, and respects the freedom of choice promised to us. I think freedom is a necessary component of a truly loving relationship.

            Yikes! Fascinating topic.
            What are your thoughts?

          • jordan

            Oh I totally read those choose your own adventure books, they were awesome. I had an epic one with puzzles and things to solve in order to make the “correct” decisions. Oh man, good memories. Anyways. I think there was probably a guy named John the baptist that started everything. I think there may have been a man-jesus, but his whole story is lessons, and whether he was a real person or just an archetype for use in writing is largely irrelevant. The lessons are true either way and they are what matter. John the baptist is beheaded before Jesus is baptised in Luke, but it mark and Mathew he is baptised BY John. So I think Christianity started with John, and he was beheaded, and it was continued by Johns baptised people. I think they needed a blood sacrifice (as was stylish in the day) and instead of divinifying John, they invented a Jesus, and since the early christians were jews, they used the old testament to construct him to fulfill prophecy, which john would not have done. I think mark (the earliest gospel) is almost 100% a guide for early Christian teachers. Each story explains problems they may have to deal with. A good example is when Jesus goes to his home town, and he can’t heal anyone. The reason they give is lack of faith. This is a good story for Christians that fail at healing so they can say “not even Jesus could heal the unfaithful.” But notice in the rewrite of Mathew the part about being unable is omitted and it just says Jesus didn’t heal anyone because of their lack of faith, and doesn’t mention if he tried or not. So mark was a how to proselytise manual, and then the subsequent gospels are there to make Jesus more and more godly. When we get to the gospel of John, he completely rewrites stories and omits others. The two Lazarus stories for instance. He omits Lazarus and the poor man and is the only one to include the raising of Lazarus. I think that is because John read mark, and was unhappy with the Jesus portrayed and so made him better.

            There is little evidence that the gospels were written by people who actually knew Jesus. In fact, mark (remember, it is the earliest gospel we have) mentions the seige of Jerusalem, which happened in 70 ad, which is at least 37 years after Jesus died. It is possible that a poor Galilean might have lived until then, and then decide to write stuff down but it is unlikely that any of the earliest Christians knew how to write. Especially in greek , which is curiously the original language of the new testament. The gospels are actually brilliantly devised works of literature that use devices that were taught to rich scholars. I guess god could have inspired uneducated fishermen to write like learned scholars, but I think its more likely a thought out construction.

            Satan is very aware that there is a god and is very aware of that gods power and yet decided to reject him. I don’t think a few miracles would effect our freewill very much. And my point is that John uses a miracle to convert so many people that the Jewish priests want kill him for it. But mark is clear about miracles lack of conversion power. He even says, before he raises Lazarus “this is so they will know the power of god” or something like that.

            So in conclusion I think there were probably some Christians resembling biblical characters, but I do not think there was a literal 12 apostles walking around with a dude named Jesus, and if there were, I don’t think any of them actually wrote their own books.

            Oh, and the hell thing… The jw at my work explained that it was just a parable showing their role reversal. I don’t see it though, it clearly says they are both dead, and the “please let lazarus dip his finger in water and touch my tongue” verse is clearly Jesus saying, even the smallest mercy will be denied to the damned.

            Now that frank guy clearly believes in eternal torture for the likes of me, but the few times hell (not Gehenna) is mentioned, they don’t say eternity. Eternity is only used to describe the fires of Gehenna as forever burning. Gehenna being a fire pit they throw criminals in. (I hope they were dead when they threw them in.) And yet frank insists on only believing the bible. I really don’t like that guy, he is the epitome of the Christians from my childhood.

          • jordan

            Also if John was Lazarus, the only point is that he cites himself as proof for the book. But its still better than the unsigned and uncited other gospels, so really, that’s just a “hmm that’s interesting” more than anything.

          • jordan

            Do you have a more specific denomination? I just looked up Anabaptist. I don’t think you’re Amish or Mennonite or hutterite; does that make you brethren in Christ?

            My dad was some kind of brethren when he was being raised in pei. He wasn’t allowed to go to the ice rink or play cards and a whole bunch of stuff. My grampy didn’t even get a TV until the 90′s when he became pentacostle. This doesn’t sound like what you’re talking about…

          • Geoff Ramsay

            The Meeting House is indeed part of the BIC.

            There are a few ‘Brethren’ churches with a variety of expressions. The Anabaptist movement was heavily persecuted initially, and most of it’s leadership and thinkers were killed as it was taking root. So I think compared to the Protestant denominations it’s a little looser in terms of hierarchy.
            You have two real streams here, in my mind:
            The BIC and related ‘Brethren’ churches grew out of actual Mennonite communities in USA. In theory, these are all ‘Armenian’ churches (non-determinism, salvation available to all) One of these branches joined the Presbyterians and Methodists (Armenian and Calvinist Protestants, respectively) in becoming the United Church of Canada.

            There are also Evangelical (Protestant) ‘Brethren’ churches, which were meant to be non-denominational, but bear a lot of protestant doctrine. These guys came out of the Anglican expression, and initial membership was English / North Irish / Scottish), but they fled to Germany, and were influenced by Calvinist thought (determinism, salvation only for ‘the elect’) so I’d assume that’s what’s going on in PEI. (Where my Father is also from!)

            Pentecostals are actually Armenian though… So it could be the opposite!

            In any event, As I understand it, in the late 19th/early 20th century the BIC was still into some interesting stuff, like avoiding technology, and encouraging women to wear hats, but as a denomination in the early 20th century they ‘repented’ of a lot of that. There are women in leadership in Canada today

            I don’t think the BIC insists on a lot of top-down hierarchy, so I think there are a lot of regional flavours. Certainly, TMH, which joined the BIC 10 or so years ago, is probably the most ‘trendy’ of the Canadian churches. BIC Canada now shares office space with TMH in a warehouse in Oakville.

            Whooosh. Church history.
            Sorry, your question intrigued me – I knew there were other Brethren, and some of the history, but ended up digging into the distinctions.

          • jordan

            Interesting. I am a little confused though. I really thought my aunt went to a “meeting house” that’s in oakville; I will have to talk to her. Her pastor looks like a modern Jesus with the beard and the sandals and all that. They are “radical”. Is that BIC?
            If its the same pastor that is… Its been a long while since I was there… Probably 8 years ago.

            I did not get an email of your response to the other message although I am set up with email notifications… I guess I didn’t check my email enough? I dunno.

            Do Calvinist believe in hell?

          • jordan

            Also I wrote a long reply to the gospels question. I don’t think rlc liked it. In short, I highly doubt there was an actual Jesus, but the new testament has some wisdom in it nonetheless.

          • Geoff Ramsay

            Yeah, I responded to it…. If you have an email set, hopefully the response will still be in there.

            Silly Disqus… :(

            If it doesn’t turn up, I’ll take another stab at it over the weekend.

          • jordan

            Hope your busy and not offended(don’t know why you would be… My canadianness is just presupposing the need for apologies haha) anyway, just consider this a “poke” reminder.

            I just did 16 hours of genesis study, so if you’d like to talk about why Moses didn’t write the old testament (or exist, for that matter) we can do that too. But I find the gospels much more interesting, so focus there. All I will say is Abraham is the moon god and the stars his children. Joseph (son of Jacob) was Osiris. Read stories about Zeus flooding the world, the biblical parallels are astonishing.

            I am no scholar but I find this stuff fascinating. Greek mythology and the like…

          • jordan

            I read your replies and it is refreshing. I read franks and I am bogged down and reminded why I don’t like Christianity. I don’t think I would ever join a church for fear of having to be judged by hypocrites like him every Sunday. Ugh he is just so ugly and he doesn’t even know it.

          • jordan

            Weird. My reply was deleted. I have no idea why. It was not offensive in any way…

          • jordan

            You don’t seem prideful. I wouldn’t worry about displeasing god. The word scripture in the bible really only ever meant literature in the original context. that is the jist of it. Let’s see if I can post the shortened version…

          • Nick

            Whats wrong with Frank? He can be a little curt but the majority of the time he is pushing a Jesus agenda.

          • jordan

            Maybe what he thinks is a Jesus agenda… He has an obvious lack of understanding of the teaching of Jesus and wants to focus on judgemental self righteousness. He is why people don’t want to identify as Christian anymore. Unfortunately he is all too common in churches these days.

          • jordan

            Rlc did not like my answer. I will just say that if Christians agree with the way frank says he thinks, I and most other people will never call themselves Christians. I would be embarrassed by him. Just like more Christians need to condemn the westboro baptist people. They be making you look bad.

          • jordan

            He is a troll. Making a mockery of Christianity. I don’t think he is genuine. If he is, I would be embarrassed.

          • Nick

            I am sorry that your comments keep getting deleted. I disagree with you about Frank. He can be selfish and conceited at times (I have yet to run into someone who isn’t/I know I can be), but I think he wants people to know God.

            From what I know of your history (what you have shared at RLC) you have been hurt by the church. I am sorry that you went through that and I think God is as well.

            I wish you all the best in your future.

          • jordan

            Rlc really doesn’t want to let me answer that.

          • jordan

            And thank you for the invite, but no thanks. Does your pastor have long hair and wear sandals? I think my aunt and uncle go there. I went once… Like a rock concert? Maybe I am thinking somewhere else. Either way, church isn’t for me… Or Jesus for that matter.

          • jordan

            Church isn’t for Jesus that is… Re read that and it sounded confusing. Anyway, peace and love.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    I see no way to oppose abortion and still be for the death penalty. Many of the individual cases are so bad at judging guilt and innocence that there is virtually no difference between the child deemed unfit in the womb, and the death row prisoner.

    A consistent ethic of life is necessary.

    • davidlamb

      One (the baby) is innocent in all its dealings.
      The (properly) convicted murder is not.

      I shudder to understand why you cannot understand the difference. While you may think that you are being clever, your “ethic” is greatly flawed.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        There is a big assumption in “(properly)” that I no longer trust our government to carry out.

        This is a government I can’t even trust to use my tax money to defend life- the State Of Oregon directly uses tax money to fund 3000 abortions a year. Why the heck would I trust them to make competent decisions in the courtroom?

      • jordan

        Why does everyone ignore the mothers’ rights?

        • davidlamb

          Should it be a mother’s “right” to murder her baby? I understand there are medical reasons where the baby will never survive (ectopic pregnancies), but the platform of which 97% of abortions are carried out in the US are based on “convenience” or “choice”, not medical necessity. Therefore, the mother “chooses” to end a life. In my opinion, that is murder. I do not believe anyone should have a right to murder (killing someone who is innocent).

          • jordan

            So if a condom breaks, and a young college girl gets pregnant, she should end all of her aspirations to give birth to a baby she never wanted? I guess she could give it up for adoption, but it may dissolve her academic career and condemn her to a minimum wage job. Especially in america, lower class people need all the opportunity they can get. Everyone here thinks girls are just having sex willy- nilly and just going “oops, I’m pregnant, better get another abortion”. Even if it is possible that both mother and fetus could live, the fetus isn’t breathing , it has no notion of being alive. The mother definitely does and definitely has a right to seek the best possible existence for herself. Ya sure abortions can be convenient, but to say it like they are just getting their haircut is stupid. Most women that get abortions get councilling and other things to help them through the process.
            It reminds me a little of a movie I saw recently, a war scene, some people die, and a guy doesn’t want to leave his brother (or friend whatever I don’t remember) unburied, but a guy slaps him and says ” focus on the living”. The mother is here and alive now, the fetus is just potential. Add in overpopulation and I actually think parenthood should be restricted by the government. If you’re poor and just going to make yourself poorer and you’re children even worse, don’t have a kid! Again, especially america, or india , more than Canada, but this IS a world issue.

          • davidlamb

            That is a very cold view of what a child is. Again, you explain that murder is a “right”. So it’s OK for the mother to have a right to seek the best possible existence, but not the child?

            Sex is a choice, not murder.

            The focus should be on the actions before pregnancy. Our cultures have developed the notion that promiscuity is OK. That sex is something that we have the “right” to fulfill, regardless of inside or outside marriage. The young college girl (and the man) has a choice to have sex. To then pass off the consequences to the baby through abortion and murder is abhorrent.

            Mind you, I know many women who have had abortions (working in our inner-city church). Every one of them has a strong feeling of guilt having had an abortion. They look with dread on the calendar, knowing in their heart, that they ended the life of their babies. Yet they were convinced by others that abortions were OK — their child wasn’t going to have a good life, it was inconvenient, it’s a choice, it’s your body… etc. etc. They live with that guilt that we work (via the Holy Spirit) to heal.

            “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” Matt 18:7

          • jordan

            You keep telling them they are murderers than ya of course they are going to feel bad. Especially if they believe god agrees with you. Just another extension of the “you’re inherently evil, but I have the cure (never mind that I made you evil, just take you’re medicine, sheep)”

            My dad gave me 2 options. God, or destruction. I believed him when he told me without god life meant nothing. It turned me into a drug addict for 5 years. Stop telling people they are bad people and they will stop feeling so terrible about themselves. It took me a long time to get over my dads dichotomy, and I still resent him for doing that to a child.

            Christianity is harmful.

          • davidlamb

            Well, Jordan, I really feel bad for you. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, your father is correct. God’s Word is what tells us we are bad — but that there is hope in Christ. We can either chose to run towards destruction or abandon ourselves to Christ. “Wide is the path, and many are on it that leads to destruction.” Matt 7:14.

            I sincerely hope that you understand that the difference between religiosity (i.e., trying to live up to God’s standards — which we will fail every time — which will lead to unbridled guilt without hope) and the person of Christ (abandoning our lives to Him so that He can change us through His forgiveness) are 2 totally different things. I pray that you will be able to discover the difference. Religion is indeed harmful. Jesus is liberation.

            FYI, we don’t tell these women that they are murderers (most of them already know it — we point them towards forgiveness in Christ). I do tell those (the Pharisees of the abortion movement) that they are the murderers for encouraging women to take that path. I pray that they also will find true forgiveness in Christ.

          • Frank2918

            Keep trying to justify killing innocent life for selfish reasons. You won’t succeed. Thankfully this country is becoming more and more against this selfish, wanton killing.

        • Frank2918

          The potential mother has the choice(except in cases of rape ) of how and when she engages in activities that produce children. No one is preventing anyone’s right of choice. What’s pitiful, selfish and unconscionable is to make an innocent life pay for her mistakes.

        • Barbie Odom

          All of our “rights” have boundaries which stop when they encroach on anothers rights.

          • jordan

            That was an answer?

          • Barbie Odom

            Forgive me for using too few words. The mother’s right to do as she pleases is wide open right up and until exercising that right stops the beating heart of another – if you believe a beating heart indicates life which of course I know that many refuse to acknowledge that. But it nevertheless is the premise from which pro-lifers protest abortion, not taking rights away from the woman, but rather defending those of the unborn child.

          • jordan

            Are you okay with abortions that happen at 6 weeks or less? But then pro life laws make women wait and have to see the doctor multiple times so that 6 weeks becomes impossible. Its hard to even know your pregnant by the time its 4 weeks developed.

          • Barbie Odom

            Personally, I am not
            ok with abortion at any stage. Most women do not even realize or take a
            test to see if they are pregnant until about the same time the heart beat
            starts (6 weeks). I can understand some of the arguments for abortion, I
            disagree with 99% but I would have women who are considering abortion read some
            of the plethora of books out there written by women who “innocently”
            got and abortions and then dealt with years of pain and suffering over the
            guilt that very often accompanies the realization of what they did.

    • jordan

      Can someone show me the distinct line to draw? Plan b? Birth control? Condoms? Where’s the line?

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Protect human life from conception (and the right to be conceived) until natural death. God should be the only one to ever draw a line.

      • Thee Bloomin Idiot

        Justice is the distinct line Jordan. What is the penalty for sin? Biblically it is death. The masses choose for the most part to be merciful in this area. The government has decided that certain acts of murder are so heinous that they deserve death. There is no injustice here. They are receiving justice.

        Abortion. …. sex is a choice, and God has provided boundaries for sex, outside of those boundaries sex is sin. Now we as a society don’t kill folks for engaging in sex out of marriage, but biblically sin brings about death.

        Now, those who conceive from sex outside of marriage who make a choice to murder a child made in the likeness of God, regardless of your definition of viable…. deserve death twice over. Both are sins and biblically deserve death. you in your friendliness to the world wish to justify the unjust murder.

        The baby is the only innocent.

        God is just! The death penalty is just, abortion is unjust.. No hypocrisy.

        We can show MERCY and most often do to the murderer, and often victim’s families will cry injustice….and they would be correct.

        The aborted baby had a heart beat, thus was alive, but murdered. …what was the baby’s sin? The baby’s death is unjust.

        • jordan

          But according to the bible that baby isn’t innocent. That baby deserves separation from god just like everyone else. All because of Adam (who didn’t exist) and eve (also didn’t exist) listening to a snake that didn’t exist in a garden that doesn’t exist. Or did you forget you’re own theology? Also, how do you know the baby had a heartbeat? Lots of abortions happen while the “fetus” is just a clump of cells. No heart to beat.

          • Thee Bloomin Idiot

            Yes Original sin…… not as simple as you wish to make it. We all have sin wrapped up in our DNA. Adam and Eve, had the capability to NOT SIN. However, because of that sin, all who follow are incapable of NOT SINNING. Thus all mankind is in need of salvation!

            But what about murdered babes in the womb? Well I present….

            Exhibit A

            ” 19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done awhat is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, bhe shall surely live. 20 cThe soul who sins shall die. dThe son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. eThe righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, fand the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:19-20

            Ok, yes the aborted Child does have original sin, but has never sinned, like Adam or the child’s parents, plus the babe has had no opportunity to accept or reject God’s grace.

            Exhibit B

            “2 zHe is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
            1John 2:2

            The Bible clearly says here
            that Christ’s sacrifice paid for everyone’s (the whole world’s included) sins. John is speaking to believers but in the context of the rest of the Bible, he is obviously not talking of the unrepentant.

            Now Jordan I am not anything more than a BLOOMIN IDIOT, but could He be speaking of those unable to accept God’s grace, due to miscarriage, abortion, and not coming to an age of accountability yet?

            The age of accountability is a belief that has been debated by far smarter idiots than I. Charles Spurgeon, thought 5 yrs of age might suffice (as for me, personally 34 would have been preferable)

            I can say I don’t know the answer, and I’m not certain the answer I’m presenting is correct, some thing’s remain a mystery, But through Christ’s sacrifice, and only that, it could be possible.

            Exhibit C:
            On purely Human terms though the Baby IS innocent.

            Exhibit D:
            As to women getting abortions before a heart beat, I’d say that would be rare indeed. A baby’s heart begins beating between 18 to 21 days. The heart within 22 days is circulating blood through a closed circulation system.

            Women don’t usually know they are pregnant for a month, at least, so …………..there’s that!

            Make that Exhibit E.

            God speed!

  • Mark

    Shane, This piece is powerful. I am an attorney and have defended many people charged with capital murder in North Carolina. I currently represent a man who has been on death row since 1993 for murders committed in 1991. We have become friends since we first met in 1997 to handle his appeals. David is a troubled man, but just as human as the rest of us. Neither he, nor any of us, would ever hope to “get what society believes we deserve.” Instead we have been given the gift of grace, just like the man who hung on the cross next to Jesus. If I ever see Mr. Mohler I would ask him if he really believes that Jesus would appear in the death chamber, search for a vein in a man’s groin for 20 minutes to find a spot to inject poison and kill one of his children. Not a chance.

    • Frank2918

      Is there is a difference in murdering someone and letting someone suffer and die and refuse to help them when you could saved their life and eased their suffering?

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Suffering isn’t the problem the atheists make it out to be.

        • Frank2918

          Its funny all the talk of wrestling through difficult issues and all people do is avoid it.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            Especially when true redemption lies in comforting the suffering, not avoiding the suffering. And it isn’t the sufferer who enjoys the redemption either, but rather the comforter.

            Suffering is a very valuable commodity in the economy of salvation.

          • jordan

            This makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Suffering is not a valuable commodity. Redemption comes when you realise that you and the sufferer are one and comforting them is the only thing that makes sense. You must empathise so deeply that his comfort becomes a comfort to you. And to know about their suffering causes you to become the sufferer. Its not so you can feel good about yourself and think your “saved”. That’s not the point.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            I fail to see the difference, can you draw the distinction more closely?

          • jordan

            You made it all about the comforter in a way that suggests that the sufferer is there and sufferer for the sake of the comforter. That’s disgusting. Sorry if I misunderstood. But suffering is not a valuable commodity, it is a detestable symptom of the global human organism.

          • Widge Widge

            Suffering is a result of sin from the days of Adamn and Eve.

  • Widge Widge

    So it is right to kill people for adultery? Humanity has moved on from this evil. So have the Jews it is not right to kill under any circumstances

  • Devin Murphy

    “The impression is sometimes produced that the modern liberal substitutes for the authority of the Bible the authority of Christ. He cannot accept, he says, what he regards as the perverse moral teaching of the Old Testament or the sophistical arguments of Paul. But he regards himself as being the true Christian because, rejecting the rest of the Bible, he depends upon Jesus alone. This impression, however, is utterly false. The modern liberal does not really hold to the authority of Jesus. Even if he did so, indeed, he would still be impoverishing greatly his knowledge of God and of the way of salvation. The words of Jesus, spoken during His earthly ministry, could hardly contain all that we need to know about God and about the way of salvation; for the meaning of Jesus’ redeeming work could hardly be fully set forth before that work was done. It could be set forth indeed by way of prophecy, and as a matter of fact it was so set forth by Jesus even in the days of His flesh. But the full explanation could naturally be given only after the work was done. And such was actually the divine method. It is doing despite, not only to the Spirit of God, but also to Jesus Himself, to regard the teaching of the Holy Spirit, given through the apostles, as at all inferior in authority to the teaching of Jesus.”
    -J.G. Machen

    • Widge Widge

      So you are saying Gods anointed one did not teach all we need to know. I.e Jesus did not teach the full word of God. I wonder if the conservative evangelicals will call this person a heretic?

      • Devin Murphy

        I’m afraid you don’t know much about theologically conservative Christianity.

        • Widge Widge

          In what sense?

  • Barbie Odom

    I guess we should all be glad that God and Jesus did in fact subscribe to the death penalty for sin
    or we would all be in world of hurt (double entendre intended).

  • Widge Widge

    There is no jusitification for the death penalty as a Christian and not in the Bible unless you only believe in the Old Testament

    • Barbie Odom

      Oh, I guess somebody tore Acts 5:1-11 out of your New Testament.

      • Widge Widge

        God did that killing not man and that does not support the death penalty. Jesus said being angry is murder. Jesus stopped people stonning the adulteress he refuted the death penalty and abortion as do I

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