I was reading an article on Kuperian (neocavlinist) political principals by Joe Carter and his discussion of ontological personhood struck a chord which I think is significant when you approach areas like capital punishment. Joe stated that “we belong not to others or even to ourselves but to God Himself.” That fundamental principal is the root argument that God makes in His covenant with Noah when He demands capital punishment for the shedding of human blood.
As a result, for the Christian, the question should not be whether, but under what circumstances should capital punishment be applied and with what burden of proof. I specifically bring up burden of proof because in watching a discussion last night about the current trial of Scott Peterson, a lawyer and a district attorney both argued that most evidence in murder trials is circumstantial. I found it surprising that you could convict a person of first degree murder and impose sentence of death based solely on circumstantial evidence.
It seems to me that the real question for Christians is does circumstantial evidence meet the burden of proof for condemnation (two witnesses) required under Jewish law for capital punishment, from which we should derive our requirements? On first glance it doesn’t appear so to me. You may be able to convict on a lesser charge, but not on a capital offense.
I believe there are two ways to dishonor the covenant that God made with Noah, a covenant that I believe applies to all nations in all places and times:
- deny capital punishment
- implement it without a Biblical burden of proof.
I believe both of these approaches break God’s covenant and bring judgment on the nation doing so. After even a short time thinking about this it appears that as a nation, we are guilty on both counts. In some places we deny capital punishment and in other places the burden of proof does not appear to meet the Biblical test. I am not sure what I can do about this. Thoughts?