|or as the Westminster Larger Catechism calls it:
1. "Public Justice"
Does a Theonomic follower of Jesus Christ have a right to kill someone in the name of "public justice?"
For a consistent pacifist (opponent of violence), there is no such thing as "public justice."
Many will claim that "capital punishment" can only be meted out by a "civil magistrate."
But God never commanded the creation or maintenance of "civil magistrates."
Many will object to a stateless society based on Romans 13, contending that Romans 13 commands the creation and continued maintenance of a "civil government" or "State," which is authorized by God to kill people and behave in a notably un-pacifist manner. In fact, Romans 13 commands pacifism, not patriotism. It does not condone the organized violence which we call "the State," it simply commands us to "be subject" to it. Romans 12:9ff is a pacifist passage. Romans 13 is a continuation of the pacifist argument which began in Romans 12. For an anarchist analysis of Romans 13, see www.Romans13.com.
There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits "private justice." There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits a man from "executing" his brother if his brother commits a "capital crime" -- solely because he is the criminal's nearest relative.
When a murder takes place in our day, politicians and police can often be heard saying things like, "We are working hard to bring the killer to justice." That is, to kill him.
The Bible, taken as a whole, is against "capital punishment."
"Capital punishment" in western civilization is historically derived from Biblical passages which demanded that the blood of capital criminals be shed:
Smaller sins could be atoned for through the temple sacrifices: lambs, turtledoves, etc., but some crimes were so serious that atonement could not be made in any other way than by the shedding of the blood of the criminal himself:
That God does not require the shedding of blood after Christ's work on Calvary is seen in the case of an unsolved homicide; Deuteronomy 21:1-9 required the tribal elders to shed the blood of a heifer in order to atone for the shedding of innocent blood, following the directions of the priests:
Nobody advocates the literal application of Deuteronomy 21 after the Cross. Christian theologians for 2000 years have rightly concluded that in our day only the blood of Christ can provide such atonement in cases of an unsolved homicide. Yet they persist in requiring the shedding of the criminal's blood when the homicide is solved.
What politicians call "capital punishment" is actually part of the "ceremonial law," overseen by the Levitical priests.
This has foreign policy implications. "Holy war" in the Old Testament was "capital punishment" on a national scale. The Promised Land was being cleansed of heinous sins committed by the pagans who inhabited the land promised to Abraham. Anyone using Old Testament texts to justify U.S. invasion of a non-Christian land is denying the efficacy of Christ's blood as the only means of atonement, and abusing the Bible.