80 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Religious Leaders (Protestant)

We have now completed both the spiritual and the temporal government, that is, the divine and the paternal authority and obedience. But here now we go forth from our house among our neighbors to learn how we should live with one another, every one himself toward his neighbor. Therefore God and government are not included in this commandment nor is the power to kill, which they have taken away. For God has delegated His authority to punish evil-doers to the government instead of parents, who aforetime (as we read in Moses) were required to bring their own children to judgment and sentence them to death. Therefore, what is here forbidden is forbidden to the individual in his relation to any one else, and not to the government. Commentary on the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German priest and professor of theology who initiated the Protestant Reformation. Strongly disputing the claim that freedom from God's punishment of sin could be purchased with money, he confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor. Luther taught that salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with Luther's teachings are called Lutherans. His translation of the Bible into the language of the people (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, causing a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the translation into English of the King James Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - Since the days of Plato, men have conceived republics. They have invented new orders of society, new theories of socialism, and new names for things. But these are mere demonstrations of human weakness and of human scepticism. The bible has sanctioned republics and commonwealths and kingdoms without affixing any peculiar name to them. It prescribes no form of human government, because no one form of government would suit all the countries, climes and people of the earth. But the bible, in the name and by the authority of its Author, demands all persons in authority that they protect the innocent, and that they punish the guilty, and that they dispense justice to all. It also demands of the governed that they submit to "THE POWERS THAT BE," however denominated, as an ordinance of God; not through the fear of the sword, but for the sake of conscience. It inhibits them also from treason, insubordination and rebellion.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - If he have not a divine right I frankly admit that he has no human right--no warrant or authority derived from man--that will authorize such a solemn and fearful act. Though we should not, in the first instance, take into account the consequences of any decision, as having direct authority in influencing our reasonings upon the question, still it is important that we have some respect for them as arguments and incentives to a calm discreet and patient investigation of the premises from which are to be adduced conclusions so deeply involving the interests of the world.

And what, let me inquire, would be the consequences should it be decided that no man has no right to take away the life of man on any account whatsoever? Is it not the right to inflict upon him any penal /315/ pain whatever involved in this question? A single stripe may kill; nay, a single stripe inflicted by an officer of justice, and that no very violent one, has sometimes killed. A man has no right to punish at all in any way, if he may not in that punishment lawfully take away the life of him that is subjected to it. He has not even the right to imprison or confine a person in jail, workhouse or penitentiary, if he have not, in any case whatever, the right to kill. How many die in jails, workhouses and penitentiaries, from causes to which they would not have been exposed but in those places of punishment!

But, further, if a man has not the right to kill, nations have no right to go to war in any case, or for any purpose whatever. We argue that whatever power a Government has is first found in the people; that men can not innocently or rightfully do that conventionally, or in states, which they can not do in their individual capacities. True, when a government is organized, the citizens or subjects of it cannot use or exercise the powers to legislate, to judge, to punish, which, by the social compact, they have, for wise purposes, surrendered or transferred to the Government. Still, the fundamental fact must not be lost sight of- -that NATIONS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THOSE THINGS ONLY WHICH EVERY INDIVIDUAL MAN HAD A RIGHT TO DO ANTERIOR TO THE NATIONAL FORM OF SOCIETY. If, then, man had not originally a right to kill him who killed his brother, society never could, but from a special law of the creator, have such a right. And such, we may hereafter show, was originally the divine law. The natural reason of man, or a divine law, enacted that the blood of the murdered should be avenged by the blood of the murderer, and that the brother of the murdered was pre-eminently the person to whom belonged the right of avenging his blood.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - Wars are either defensive or aggressive. But, in either point of view they are originated and conducted on the assumption that man has a right, for just cause, to take away the life of a man. For it needs no argument to convince anyone, however obtuse, that man cannot rightfully kill a thousand or a million of persons, if he cannot lawfully kill one! I wonder not, then, that peace-men are generally, if not universally, in favour of the total abolition of capital punishment.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - We agree with those who affirm that punishments ought, in all cases, to be enacted and enforced with a special regard to the reformation of transgressors; but we cannot say with an EXCLUSIVE regard. Empathetic and special, but not EXCLUSIVE, regard, should be shown to the reformation of the criminal. There must also be a special and a supreme regard to the safety of the state, and the protection of the innocent and unoffending. The laws of every civilized community should unite as far as possible the reformation of the offender with the safety of the state.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - But how these two may best be secured, is a matter yet not agreed. A sentence of perpetual imprisonment is no guarantee of protection /318/ or safety to the state. The sentence, in the first place, may not be executed. It seldom is, in the case of persons holding high places in society. Governors sometimes reprieve. political demagogues, too, will not very conscientiously demur at the offer of many suffrages for a gubernatorial chair, on a private understanding that certain persons of influential connections sentenced to perpetual imprisonment shall on their election be pardoned. But, further, it is no guarantee that the monster who has been guilty of one murder may not murder his attendants or fellow-prisoners in hope of escape or that he may not fire his prison or in some way elope. He may be confined for life, and yet may again perpetuate the same foul crime. Are there not numerous instances of this kind on record? And has not the professedly reformed and pardoned criminal at times been guilty of a second, and sometimes of a theirs, murder? Such instances have been known in our own country and in our own memory. A sentence of perpetual confinement is not an adequate security against a murderer, in any view that can be taken of it Society demands a higher pledge of safety--a more satisfactory guarantee. It demands the life of a murderer.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – And strange as it might seem, we affirm the conviction that the certainty of death, is upon all premises, the most efficient means of reformation. When--I do not say the UNFORTUNATE, (a name too full of sophistry, though unfortunate he may be,) but--the MALIGNANT AND WICKED MURDERER has been tried, convicted and sentenced to die after the lapse of so many days or weeks, when all hope of pardon is forever gone, then evangelical instruction is incomparably more likely to effect a change than are the chances of a long or short life within the walls of a penitentiary. It is, therefore, I must think, more rational and humane, whether we consider the safety of the state or the happiness of the individual, to insist that the sentence of death be promptly and firmly executed.

So we reason against the assumptions of those who would abolish capital punishment, on the ground that all punishment should be for the salvation of the transgressor, and that his imprisonment for life, or till evident reformation, is an ample pledge for the safety and security of the state.

They reason as illogically against capital punishment who assume that imprisonment for life is a greater punishment than death. Satan, more than three thousand years ago, reasoned more logically than they. He then argued in the face of high authority, on the trial of a very distinguished person, that a man would give the world for his life. /319/ "Skin for skin, all that a man hath," said the devil, "will he give for his life."

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – The occasion of this act of legislation, and the positive and peremptory terms in which it is expressed, alike commend it to our consideration and regard. It is expressed in the following words: - - "AT THE HAND OF EVERY MAN'S BROTHER WILL I REQUIRE THE LIFE OF MAN. WHOSO SHEDDETH MAN'S BLOOD, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED: FOR IN THE IMAGE OF GOD MADE HE MAN." No statute was ever more free from ambiguity, or more intelligible, than this one. I never have met with one who misunderstood it. Why, then, is its Divine obligation not universally felt and acknowledged? To one unacquainted with the power of sympathy, especially when its victim is seized with a morbid philanthropy or charmed with the fascinations of a new theory, it will appear somewhat mysterious how a precept so express, so authoritative and peremptory could be disposed of or evaded. It is done by the magic of a single assumption:-- "Christianity is more mild and generous and philanthropic than the law of Moses." But that is a provision of the law of Moses, is an assumption which rests on the simple ground that Moses the lawgiver wrote the book of Genesis. One might as justly assume that Noah's ark or Melchizedek's pontificate was a part of the law of Moses, because Moses is the only person who wrote their history. Form the age of spiritual Quakerism until now, the abolitionists of capital punishment /326/ generally occupy this ground. As there is no dispute about the meaning of the precept, the only to dispose of it is to locate it amongst the Jewish rites and usages which have been abolished. but the simple fact that this precept was promulged in the year of the world 1658, and that Moses gave not the law till the year 2513--that is, full eight hundred and fifty five years after--is a fact so prominent and so indisputable as to render any other refutation of the assumption a work of the most gratuitous supererogation. I wonder why the same romantic genius that embodied with the Jewish code a precept given to the whole human family almost a thousand years before there was a Jewish nation, did not also embody with the same code, and appropriate to the same people, the right to eat animal food, then for the first time given to man--the covenant of day and night, of summer and winter, of seed-time and harvest, indicated and confirmed by the celestial arch which God erected upon the bosom of a cloud in token of his "covenant with all flesh." The constitution that guarantees the continuance of day and night and the seasons of the year also secures and protects the life of man from the violence of man, by a statute simultaneously promulged and committed to the father of the new world for the benefit of the whole human race. Why not also represent this, too, as done away, and thus place the world without the precincts of the covenanted mercies given to Noah for his family and recorded by Moses the man of God? there is not, then, the shadow of a reason for the assumption that the present human family is not obliged to enforce the statute above named. The right to eat animal food, to expect the uninterrupted succession of seasons, and the obligation to put the murderer to death, are of equal antiquity and of the same Divine authority. Every one claiming any interest in the world, because of his relation to Noah, and God's charter of privileges granted to him, must either show, by some authority equally express and incontrovertible, that God has abolished one part of it and perpetuated the remainder, or advocate capital punishment upon Divine authority.

But still more convincing and decisive is the reason assigned by the divine Author of the statute commanding capital punishment. It is in these words:-- "FOR IN THE IMAGE OF GOD MADE HE MAN." A reason, indeed, for the statute, worthy of God to propound and worthy of man to honor and regard. Why a reason so forcible and so full of eloquence and authority could be so frequently disparaged by an intelligent and Christian community, is, to my mind, indicative not merely of the want of piety, but of that of humanity and self--respect. The reason here assigned for this precept places the crime of murder in an entirely new /327/ attitude before the mind. Much, indeed has ben said of this crime--of its enormous dimensions--of its moral turpitude--its appalling guilt--its diabolical malignity; but here it is presented to us as the greatest insult which man can offer to his Creator--to the Supreme Majesty of the universe, apart from all its bearings upon human society and its unfortunate victim. On one occasion the Messiah said of Satan that he "was a liar and a murderer from the beginning." It is impossible, then that we can exaggerate the wickedness and malignancy of murder. No one has yet been able to do it justice. It desecrates in effigy, and, as far as the impotent arm of flesh gas power, destroys, the once brightest image of the invisible and eternal God that adorns any province of his vast and glorious universe. Man is still great in his ruins. Once the most exact and beautiful and impotent similitude of the Great Original of universal being, he is to be reverenced; and, when renewed in the moral image of his Maker, he is to be loved and admired not only as the noblest work of almighty power, but as the special and exclusive object of redeeming grace and mercy. But it is enough for our present purpose to know that it making it the duty of society to avenge this crime, God makes its dishonor to his own image the paramount reason why the life of the murderer should be taken from him. The Most High does not give many reasons for his precepts; but, when he gives one, it is worthy of himself and of the occasion, and claims the profound respect of every discerning and moral man.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - It is scarcely necessary to remark how often and with what clearness and authority it promulged--"The murderer shall surely be put to death;" and again, "The avenger of blood himself shall kill him when he meeteth him." No one will, I presume, after a single reading /331/ of this statute, require any other evidence that capital punishment was divinely ordained during the whole period of Old Testament history--that it was an essential part of the Jewish institution and during its continuance extended much beyond the patriarchal requisition.

But there is a reason connected with these ordinances that demands our special consideration. Like that given to Noah, it has no respect to time, place or circumstance. It belongs exclusively to no age, to no nation or people. It is a reason, too, why murder shall not be pardoned, and why the Lord so solemnly and so positively said, "You shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer"--he must not be ransomed at any price. Does anyone ask why there should be no ransom, no commutation, no pardon? The answer, the reason, is one of fearful import. It is this:--"THE LAND CAN NOT BE CLEANSED OF THE BLOOD THAT IS SHED THEREIN BUT BY THE BLOOD OF HIM THAT SHED IT." So God almighty has ordained in his infinite wisdom, justice and benevolence. It is enough. HE has said it. No tears of repentance, no contrition of heart, no agony of soul, can expiate the sin of murder. As soon could the breath of a mortal melt the polar mountains of ice, dissolve the Siberian snows and fill the dreary wastes with verdure, the beauty and fragrance of ancient Eden, as soon would the sigh of remorse quicken into life the ashes of the murdered dead, or a single penetentail tear extinguish the fires of hell, as any expiation or ablution of mortal hand, other than the blood of the murderer, atone to God's violated law, do honor to his insulted Majesty and purify the land from the dark defilement of unavenged blood.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - I cannot but tremble for our country, if this be the decision of the Governor of nations, when I reflect upon the multitude that have in single combat sacrificed each other, in purpose or in fact, at the shrine of a false and factitos honor; and upon those who, in the sullen rage and malice of the dastardly assassin, avenged their imaginary wrongs by the blood of their fellow-citizens; and upon those who sought to conceal their infamous crimes of lust and passion--of burglary, arson and rapine--with the blood of those who might have been witnesses against them; I say, when I reflect upon the hundreds and the thousands thus murdered, whose blood yet unexpiated still pollutes our soil, and through the vagueness and ambiguity of our laws, the venality, corruption or incompetency of our tribune, or the servility or self- /332/ willedness of our chief magistrates, yet cries to heaven for vengeance, not merely upon the head of those that shed it, but upon the government and the people that still suffer them to live, methinks I see a most portentous cloud, dark, swollen and lowering surcharged with the fires of divine indignation, ready to burst in accumulated vengeance upon our blood polluted-land.

But, in extenuation of our apathy or as an apology for our indifference, it is sometimes assumed that the Messiah has forever abolished the bloody code of Moses and the patriarchs, and has preached a larger benevolence and forgiveness to nations. What a baseless assumption! What an outrage upon the character of the Messiah! True, indeed, he came not to judge the world, to act the civil magistrate, the civil lawgiver, or to assume regal authority over any nation or people of this world. His kingdom was spiritual and heavenly. In it, he would not have an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or stripe for stripe. He would not have his followers go to law for any violence, fraud or wrong inflicted on them on his account. They might, indeed, sue those out of his kingdom for civil wrongs in civil courts, or they might consent to be sued for unjust demands upon them in their political and civil relations; but any wrong, violence or compulsion inflicted on them for their religion, their conscientious allegiance to him, they were to endure cheerfully, and rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer wrong, or even shame for his name's sake. But he that hence argues for the abolition of civil government, of civil penalties, or for the abrogation of the statutes given to mankind by God himself, founded on his own perfections and the immutable relations of things, not merely typical and adumbrative in their nature, but jurisprudential and for the safety of society, shocks all common sense. As well might we say that morality and the moral character of God are mutable things. It enacts no civil statutes. It does not even designate the persons between whom the institutions of marriage may be consummated. It abrogates nothing in the Old Testament that was not substantiated in Christ, or that was not peculiar to the twelve tribes. But we have shown that the precept in discussion belonged, not to any institution, Patriarchal, Jewish or Christian, but to the whole family of man.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – Does not an apostle say that "the law is good if a man use it lawfully"? Does he not say that "the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient: for murderers, man-slayers, /333/ man-stealers, thieves, liars, perjured persons," &c.? And surely for all these evil-doers it has, or ought to have its penalties. In executing these eon their proper subjects the law is used lawfully.

Again, does not Paul teach that the "powers that be are ordained of God"?--that the magistrate "is his minister," and that he rightfully wears a sword not his own, but God's? And, in the name of reason, why have a sword in the state, and worn by the civil magistrate, if it be unlawful or unchristian to put anyone to death on any account whatever? That would, indeed, be to "bear the sword in vain;" a thing which the apostles themselves would have reprobated. Christians, then, must remember that the magistrate is God's armed minister, and that he must be obeyed by every Christian man, not merely through the fear of his wrath , or of his avenging sword, but for the sake of a conscientious regard to God's authority, whose minister of justice he is. The civil magistrate is now the civil avenger of blood. Paul calls him "A MESSENGER OF WRATH upon him that doeth evil."

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – There is not, then, a word in the Old Testament or the new inhibiting capital punishment, nor a single intimation that it should be abolished. On the contrary, reasons are given as the basis of the requisition of life for life, which never can be set aside--which are as forcible at this hour as they were in the days of Cain, Noah, Moses and Jesus Christ. We reiterate the statute with clearer conviction of its obligation and utility on every consideration of the broad, deep, solid and enduring premises on which it is founded:--"Thou shalt take (no ransom) no satisfaction for the life of the murderer."--"He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man."- -"The land cannot be cleaned from blood but by the blood of him that shed it." For this purpose the magistrate is "God's minister, and avenger, to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – It has been said, not by those of old time, but by those of our time, that the sixth precept of the Decalogue, "THOU SHALT NOT KILL," inhibits all taking away of human life. A sect of extreme pietists on Long Island, it is reported, gave to the precept a broader interpretation, and forbade the killing of any living creature for food. They are as consistent as one who says the precept "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" prohibits capital punishment. It is also the precept that calls for the blood of him that violates it.

Moses did not himself so interpret this precept; for on the very day that he descended from the mount with the autograph in his hand, he commanded the sons of Levi to gird on their swords and kill the idolaters who had eaten and drank and danced to an idol-- of whom no less than three thousand fell that day.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – I introduce this case for another purpose--to repudiate an objection urged against capital punishment. It is asked, What Christian man, or what man of delicate moral sensibility, could execute such a sentence--could dispatch to the judgment-seat a criminal crimsoned with the blood of his fellow-man?

It is not the sheriff's hand--it is not the sword of the executioner. It is the hand of God--it is the sword of justice that takes away that life that which he himself gave, because the criminal has murderously taken away a life which he could not give.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? – And what shall we say of the father of the faithful, returning from the slaughter of the confederate kings?--of Moses, as the messenger of God, slaying not merely a single Egyptian, but smiting with his rod, in the depths of the Red Sea, the strength, the pride and the glory of /335/ Egypt?--of Joshua, the son of Nun, destroying seven idolatrous nations?--of Samuel, hewing to pieces with his own hand the king of Amalek?--of David and his hundred battles? time would fail me to name all the instances in which God has made the purest, the holiest and the best of men, as well as angels, the executioners of his justice. I shall mention another case--the case of Joab--one that, before I understood the statutes of the Lord on the subject of murder, often perplexed me. There lay king David, the beloved of his God, on the bed of death; and while making his last will and testament, he remembered Joab--the brave, the valorous, the mighty Joab--than whom no king could boast of a truer friend or a greater or more successful general--his own kinsman, too--his own sister's son. He names him to his son Solomon, his successor of the sceptre of Israel. And what is his will concerning Joab? What honors or rewards has he in store for him? Hearken to his words:--"Solomon, my son--thou knowest also what Joab, the son of Zeruiah, did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel: to Abner, the son of Ner, and to Amasa, the son of Jether, whom he slew and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in the shoes that were upon his feet. Do, therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hory head go down to the grave in peace." So willed the dying David. And what did Solomon his son? There was no city of refuge for Joab, but flying into the tabernacle and taking hold of the horns of the alter, Joab said, "Here I will die." And what said the king? "Go, Benaiah, do as he hath said. fall upon him and bury him, that," adds the king, "thou myest take away the innocent blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it."

But we have yet a stronger case--the case of David's son and David's Lord. His words are oracles from which there is no appeal; his example is an argument to which there is no response. Is he, or is he not, on the side of capital punishment? While on earth he was a SAVIOUR. In heaven he is now a KING. Hereafter he will appear in the character of a JUDGE and an avenger. we ask not what he will do then in finally and eternally punishing the impenitent. We ask not what he did while on earth as a Saviour; for then "he came to save men's lives, and not to destroy." But we ask, What did he do when he became king, when exalted to be the prince and the governor /336/ of the universe? He intimated the leading principles of his government before he was crowned Lord of all, to those Jews who were intent on his destruction. "I will," said he, "send you prophets, wise men and scribes. Some of them you will kill ad crucify, others you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the alter. Verily, I say to you, all these things shall come on this generation." Did he when king execute this threat? Ask Josephus, Taccitus and a hundred other witnesses. as governor of the world, he dispatched Titus with a Roman army, and laid siege to Jerusalem and other cities in Judea. In the whole of these various wars and sieges--in the destruction of the city and the temple, he killed more than one million of the rebellious Jews, and sent the remainder into exile. But this is not the only case. It is but the first one of notoriety in his reign of justice. Ever since he ascended the throne his promise is, "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword." As king of nations and governor of the world, he executes wrath by his "ministers of justice" upon wicked men and nations, in the temporal punishments which he awards. According to king David, in the second psalm, when the messiah should be placed as king on Mount Zion, he was to "rule the nations with a rod of iron, and to break them in pieces like a potter's vessel." this he has already done in more than one instance, and will yet do in many more. But he does it not in person, but by his" ministers." Still, he does it.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - It being evident, as we suppose, that capital punishment is not only countenanced by innumerable Biblical precedents, but that it is also most positively enjoined upon all persons to whom God has revealed his will, who are entrusted with the government of the world, we shall henceforth regard it as a divine precept and requisition, to which we are bound to yield our cordial assent; not because it chances to fall in with our theories of what is expedient, useful or consonant to the genius of our age and government, but because of the supreme authority that enacts it-- because it is a decree of the King of the universe, the ultimate Judge of the living and the dead, and because he himself has practiced it, and still continues to practice it, as moral governor of the world.

Though not disposed to appear paradoxical, I hesitate not to avow the conviction that the divine ordinance is as merciful as it is just--that, for example, it was most humane and merciful on the part of David to command his son Solomon to take away the life of Joab. I cite this /337/ case and avow this conviction, for the sake of those opposers of capital punishment, who, under the pretense of a more refined and enlarged philanthropy, are, nowadays, declaiming both eloquently and impassionedly against capital punishment because of its alleged cruelty and inhumanity. That those who thus inveigh against it are philanthropic in purpose and feeling, I doubt not. But that they are so in fact, is not quite so evident.

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - In seeking to abolish capital punishment, do they not divest human life of one of its main pillars of defence? In all countries, and, I believe, an all ages, murders increase and diminish in the ratio of the certainty of the exaction of life for life. It must, in the nature of things, be so, Everything is safe or unsafe as it is guarded or not guarded by education--by law--by the magnitude and certainty or uncertainty of rewards and punishments. In abolishing capital punishment, the main bulwark against the perpetration of murder falls to the ground. The broad shield of a nation's safety and defence from violence and blood is broken to pieces, and the honorable and virtuous citizen, naked and defenceless, left exposed to the murderous assaults of malice and envy. Of what avail is the bare possibility of a punishment infinitely less than the injury inflicted on the individual and the state,--enfeebled, too, as it must be, by a hundred chances of escape against one of apprehension and conviction? Who could feel himself safe under a government where there is no protection of his life against the furious passions which not unfrequently display themselves in the most appalling forms, in some of those terrific monsters with which human society more or less abounds? Exiles, confinement in prison or workhouses, are to such demons as an act of Congress to a South American tiger, or as the stubble to Job's Leviathan.

In saving a murderer from death through a morbid compassion, society acts with more indiscretion than the fabled husbandman who, in commiseration, carried home to his hearth a congealed serpent, which, when warmed to life, fatally struck the children of its benefactor. In saving from the penalty of God's law a single murderer, society sins against itself, as well as against God, and occasions, or may occasion, the destruction of one or more of its citizens. If everyone convicted of murder in any of its various forms was infallibly put to death, can any intelligent citizen imagine that crimes of this sort would not rather diminish than increase? The strong probability of escape disarms every legal punishment of its terror to evil-doers. /338/


IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - The protection and safety of human life is the first and paramount concern of every intelligent and moral community on earth. The first statute ever enacted by the heavenly father in the present world, as before observed, was a statute FOR PRESERVING LIFE. I am not singular, I hope, in judging of the civilization of every community by the care it takes of human life. May not the religious and moral character of a community be fairly estimated by the value it puts upon human life, and the care it takes of it, as indicated in its statute-books, its courts of justice, its general police, and its numerous and various means of defense against the accidents and dangers which may imperil it? And may not these be learned from its public highways, its public /339/ conveyances, its public buildings, and from the character and capacities of the officers to whose fidelity these great interests are committed, as well as from the various exactions of service, and the extent of the penalties inflicted upon them for delinquency or malfeasance in the discharge of their duties?

IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SANCTIONED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY? - I can only add my earnest prayer that a timely repentance may dissipate that dark and portentous cloud that yet lowers over our beloved country; that by a just consideration of the dignity of man as created in the image of God, the value of human life as respects the eternal citizens, the solemn requisitions of the divine law, exacting in all cases the life of the murderer--those having it in their power to form, direct and govern society may perceive that it is alike an oracle of reason, of justice and of mercy that "whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," and that, therefore, no ransom or substitute shall be taken for the life of the murderer, inasmuch as, by the eternal and immutable law of God, "the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein but by the blood of him that shed it."

Alexander Campbell (12 September 1788 – 4 March 1866) was an early leader in the Second Great Awakening of the religious movement that has been referred to as the Restoration Movement, or Stone-Campbell Movement. The Campbell wing of the movement was said to begin with his father Thomas Campbell's publication in 1809 in Washington County, Pennsylvania, of The Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington. In 1832 the group of reformers led by the Campbells merged with a similar group that began in Kentucky under the leadership of Barton W. Stone. Several American church groups trace their history to the Campbells' leadership, including the Churches of Christ, the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Alexander Campbell is also the founder of Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.

If we would investigate the histories of ancient times recorded by profane writers also, it will be established — as indeed Nature herself seems to proclaim with a loud voice — that rulers by whose authority their inferiors might be guided were elected for this reason that either the whole human race must needs perish or some intermediate class must be instituted so that by it one or more (rulers) might be able to command the others, (and) protect good men but restrain the wicked by means of punishments. And this is what not only Plato, Aristotle and the other natural philosophers — furnished with the light of human reason alone - have taught and proved, but God Himself by the utterance of St. Paul writing to the Romans (Romans 13 verse 1 to 5), the rulers of almost the entire world, confirmed this with clear words. There the origin of all States and Powers is with the best of reasoning derived from God the author of all good. Thus Homer also recognized and freely testified when he called kings "the fosterlings of Zeus" and "the shepherds of the lost". And therefore, since we are beginning a discussion concerning the power of Rulers, what shall prevent us from passing over to that prime origin from which they derived and from considering to what end they were instituted? For it is obvious that every discussion of things just or unjust must begin and end with the end (to which it exists). For we must judge that something has been rightly and duly done when it had attained that end to which it was designed. When therefore the duty of the rulers is inquired into, all will admit that it is assuredly right to remind them of their duty and also to admonish them roundly whenever they stray from it. But when a case occurs of either restraining tyrants who are such beyond a trace of doubt or of punishing them in accordance with their deserts, the majority commend patience and prayers to God so earnestly that they consider and condemn as mutineers and pseudo-Christians all those who refuse to bow their necks to torture. Here we are doubtless on dangerous ground; I would therefore once again beseech my readers to bear in mind my remarks immediately preceding lest they draw inadmissible conclusions from what must be said in the sequel. I admit that I most strongly approve of Christian patience as laudable beyond all the other virtues and never sufficiently commended; I admit that men should be zealously exhorted to it because it contributes largely to the attainment of eternal bliss: rebellions and all disorder I detest as awful abominations; in affliction especially I am of opinion that we should depend upon God alone; prayer accompanied by a serious recognition of our error I recognize as the true and necessary remedies for the overthrow of tyranny since this evil is rightly counted among the scourges sent by God for the chastisement of the people. But I deny that all these considerations deprive nations crushed by manifest tyranny of their right to safeguard themselves against it by means of prayers and repentance as well as other just remedies; and this I corroborate whilst I reply on the following powerful arguments.

Theodore Beza (Théodore de Bèze or de Besze) (June 24, 1519 – October 13, 1605) was a French Protestant Christian theologian and scholar who played an important role in the early Reformation. A member of the monarchomaque movement who opposed absolute monarchy, he was a disciple of John Calvin and lived most of his life in Switzerland.
Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life. And it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty. It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit. (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct)
John Murray (14 October 1898 – 8 May 1975) was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and then left to help found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught for many years. Murray was born in the croft of Badbea, near Bonar Bridge, in Sutherland county, Scotland. Following service in the British Army in the First World War (during which he lost an eye, serving in the famous Black Watch regiment) he studied at the University of Glasgow. Following his acceptance as a theological student of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland he pursued further studies at Princeton Seminary under J. Gresham Machen and Geerhardus Vos, but broke with the Free Presbyterian Church in 1930 over that Church's treatment of the Chesley, Ontario congregation. He taught at Princeton for a year and then lectured in systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary to generations of students from 1930 to 1966, and was an early trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust. Besides the material in the four-volume Collected Writings, his primary published works are a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (previously included in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series but now superseded by Douglas J. Moo's commentary), Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Principles of Conduct, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, Baptism, and Divorce. Murray preached at Chesley and Lochalsh from time to time until his retirement from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1968. He married Valerie Knowlton 7 December 1967 and retired to Scotland where he was connected with the Free Church of Scotland. Writing after a communion season at Lochalsh, Murray said, “I think I feel most at home here and at Chesley of all the places I visit.” There had been some consideration that upon leaving the seminary, Murray might take a pastorate in the newly-formed Presbyterian Reformed Church, but the infirmity of his aged sisters at the home place necessitated his return to Ross-shire, Scotland

John Calvin commentary on Romans 13 verse 4: For he is God’s minister for good, etc. Magistrates may hence learn what their vocation is, for they are not to rule for their own interest, but for the public good; nor are they endued with unbridled power, but what is restricted to the wellbeing of their subjects; in short, they are responsible to God and to men in the exercise of their power. For as they are deputed by God and do his business, they must give an account to him: and then the ministration which God has committed to them has a regard to the subjects, they are therefore debtors also to them. And private men are reminded, that it is through the divine goodness that they are defended by the sword of princes against injuries done by the wicked.

For they bear not the sword in vain, etc. It is another part of the office of magistrates, that they ought forcibly to repress the waywardness of evil men, who do not willingly suffer themselves to be governed by laws, and to inflict such punishment on their offenses as God’s judgment requires; for he expressly declares, that they are armed with the sword, not for an empty show, but that they may smite evil-doers.

And then he says, An avenger, to execute wrath, “a revenger to execute wrath,” Com. Ver., Doddridge; “a revenger for wrath,” Hammond. Wrath is here taken to mean punishment, by Luther, Beza, Grotius, Mede, etc. see Romans 2:5; Romans 3:5; Romans 4:15. The phrase then might be rendered, “condemning to punishment the doer of evil.” There is a contrast between “for wrath” and “for good” at the beginning of the verse. — This is the same as if it had been said, that he is an executioner of God’s wrath; and this he shows himself to be by having the sword, which the Lord has delivered into his hand. This is a remarkable passage for the purpose of proving the right of the sword; for if the Lord, by arming the magistrate, has also committed to him the use of the sword, whenever he visits the guilty with death, by executing God’s vengeance, he obeys his commands. Contend then do they with God who think it unlawful to shed the blood of wicked men.

God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.

John Calvin (Middle French: Jean Cauvin) (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where in 1536 he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Law cannot persuade, where is cannot punish.”

He that spares the bad injures the good.

Thomas Fuller (1608 – 16 August 1661) was an English churchman and historian. He is now remembered for his writings, particularly his Worthies of England, published after his death. He was a prolific author, and one of the first English writers able to live by his pen (and his many patrons).

Tuesday 2 January 2007 -  Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, said Saddam's hanging "cannot be called unjust".

In a statement, he added: "For many criminals death is in fact a greater mercy than life-long imprisonment... Anyone who deliberately murders another human being immediately forfeits his or her own right to life.

"If Saddam Hussein had a fair trial and proper opportunity to appeal, his execution cannot be called unjust."

Jonathan Gledhill A.K.A Jonathan Michael Gledhill (born 14 February 1949, Windsor, Berkshire) is the 98th Bishop of Lichfield. He was enthroned in Lichfield Cathedral on 15 November 2003.

To say, therefore, as some have said, if God is all love toward fallen man, how can he threaten or chastise sinners is no better that saying, if God is all goodness in Himself and toward man, how can He do that in and to man which is for his good? As absurd is to say, if the able physician is all love, goodness and good will toward his patients, how can he blister, purge, or scarify them, how can he order one to be trepanned and another to have a limb cut off? Nay, so absurd is this reasoning that if it could be proved that God had no chastisement for sinners, the very want of their chastisement would be the greatest of all proofs that God was not all love and goodness toward man. [A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1729)]

And, therefore, the pure, mere love of God is that alone from which sinners are justly to expect that no sin will pass unpunished, but that His love will visit them with every calamity and distress that can help to break and purify the bestial heart of man and awaken in him true repentance and conversion to God. It is love alone in the holy Deity that will allow no peace to the wicked, nor ever cease its judgments till ever sinner is forced to confess that it is good for him that he has been in trouble, and thankfully own that not the wrath but the love of God has plucked out that right eye, cut off that right band, which he ought to have done but would not do for himself and his own salvation. [A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1729)]

William Law (1686 – 9 April 1761) was an English cleric, divine and theological writer.

God will give absolute justice, which is the only good thing. He will spare nothing to bring his children back to himself, their sole well-being, whether he achieve it here—or there.

George MacDonald (10 December 1824 - 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister.

Protestant scholar and journalist Rev. G. Aiken Taylor states,”Most Christians tend to confuse the Christian personal ethic with the requirements of social order. In other words, we tend to apply what the Bible teaches us about how we - personally - should behave toward our neighbors with what the Bible teaches about how to preserve order in society. And there is a big difference. Capital punishment is specifically enjoined in the Bible. ’Who ever sheddeth man’s blood; by man shall his blood be shed’ (Genesis 9-6). This command is fully agreeable to the Sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ (Exodus 20:13), because the two appear in the same context. Exactly 25 verses after saying ‘Thou shalt not kill’, the Law says, ‘He that smiteth a man so that he may die, shall be surely put to death’ (Ex 21:12)." See also Leviticus 24:17 and Numbers 35:30-31.(TDP:OVS, pg. 84,1986) Biblical teachings regarding personal conduct, civil government and eternal judgment and relations are often taken out of context, thereby replacing one duty or instruction improperly with another.


G. Aiken Taylor (born on 22 January 1920 and died on 6 March 1984) was a Protestant scholar and president of Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
University scholar Dr. Paul Ramsey fully concurs: "abortion and capital punishment are two different questions. There is no inconsistancy between moral disapproval of unnecessarily killing the innocent and the judicial execution of the guilty." (Haven Bradford Gow, "Religious Views Support The Death Penalty", The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints, Greenhaven Press, 1986, p. 81- 82 & 84).

Paul Ramsey (1913–1988) was an American Christian ethicist of the 20th century. He was a Methodist. Paul Ramsey undertook his doctoral studies at Yale where he was mentored by H. Richard Niebuhr. He subsequently taught Christian Ethics at Princeton. He has been credited with re-introducing just war theory into Protestant ethical reflection. His popular text book Basic Christian Ethics was reviewed by a young John Rawls.

Jesus Christ and the Death Penalty

The Old Testament has numerous examples of legal capital punishment.  King Saul and the Israelite army won a great victory over King Agag and the Amalekites.  But they made the mistake of sparing King Agag, the fat sheep and cattle--the very things the Lord had commanded them to destroy (1 Sam. 15:20-21).  Samuel rebuked Saul and informed him that he would no longer serve as king of Israel because of his disobedience (1 Sam. 15:22-23).  “Then said Samuel, Bring hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.  And Agag came unto him cheerfully.  And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.  And Samuel said, As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless among women.  And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord at Gilgal” (1 Sam. 15:32-33).

Jesus Christ and the Death Penalty

Do you remember the contest between God’s great prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal?  Both Elijah and the prophets of Baal asked that fire come down from heaven to consume the animals that had been placed on altars.  Jezebel’s prophets cried and cut themselves with knives and lancets until blood gushed upon them (1 Kings 18:28).  Their god did not respond because he was no god.  Elijah taunted them: “Cry aloud: for he is god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27).  After Elijah demonstrated that his God was God, he said to the Israelite people who had watched the contest: “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.  And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” (1 Kings 18:40).

Jesus Christ and the Death Penalty

Is there any doubt in your mind that Jesus Christ knew of these Old Testament incidents?  If you believe Jesus did not approve of the death penalty, how do you explain his silence on these well-known stories from the Old Testament?  It is absolutely unthinkable that he did not know, since he was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16).  Since he did know, why did he not say, “I am aware that Samuel hewed king Agag to pieces and that Elijah killed the prophets of Baal.  Although these were God’s prophets, they sinned grievously by their violence”?  If he thought such violence was always sinful and approved of it any way, how can we say Christ was honest and sinless?  It ought to be obvious that Jesus Christ endorsed the death penalty under some circumstances.

Jesus Christ and the Death Penalty

Has it ever dawned on you that Jesus never--not even one time--criticized the teaching of the Old Testament?  He disapproved of the way some of the Jewish leaders abused and misused the scriptures, but he did not question the inspiration and authority of one word of the revelation of God in the Old Testament.  If the Son of God endorsed all of the Old Testament, how can we call ourselves Christians and doubt any of its teachings?  I am reminded of a question raised by a radical Jewish scholar.  He asked, “How can you call yourself a Christian and entertain a different view of God than Jesus Christ had?”  We must have the same attitude toward the Old Testament that the Son of God so openly expressed.

But did he endorse all of the Old Testament?  Did he not have some reservations about the flood, the prophet Daniel, Jonah and the big fish story, Lot’s wife and information about Abraham, David and other Old Testament characters?  If he had such reservations, he never expressed them--never.  The truth is: He approved of the very incidents that most liberal scholars doubt or deny.

Jesus Christ and the Death Penalty

If what Engelder and Gaussen affirm is true--and there really is no doubt about it--when Christ endorses all of the Old Testament, did he not approve of the death penalty that was extracted on a number of occasions?  Are we going to accuse our Lord of not knowing his own word or of failure to point out the mistakes of Moses or of David--if they made mistakes?  Contrary to what many liberal theologians and others say, Jesus believed all of the Old Testament to be God’s word.  If the Old Testament ordained the death penalty--and few, regardless of their theological views would deny that fact--how can anyone say that Jesus objected to the death penalty?  He loved, preached, and obeyed the Old Testament--all of it, all the time.  If he ever questioned the legitimacy of the death penalty, he was negligent in failing to tell us about it.

I close today with a question: Can we have an ordered society when we fail to punish evildoers--and that includes executing those who commit murder, rape and other vicious crimes?

Winford Claiborne is the speaker for International Gospel Hour and an evangelist for the West Fayetteville church.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
In the growing national debate, death-penalty advocates are being made to look heartless and uncompassionate. But let’s ask this fundamental question: Is the God of the Old Testament heartless and uncompassionate? The Bible says that God is a God of love (1 John 4:8). So why would a God of love allow the death penalty? How could a loving God actually command putting someone to death? As we will see, when the death penalty is understood from God’s vantage point, it is one of the greatest acts of love there can be toward society—and the condemned criminal.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
Many people believe that in the “Christian” era, the death penalty no longer should be enforced, saying that the grace of Jesus Christ does away with the need to execute criminals. That is an error! The one who became Jesus Christ is the author of the death penalty in the Old Testament.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
This is a very important point in our study of the death penalty. The one who became Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament who demanded death for murderers! Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Furthermore, that same unchanging Jesus Christ said in Matthew 26:52, “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Likewise, Jesus Christ inspired the Apostle John (Revelation 1:1) to write in Revelation 13:10, “he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.”

By the authority of God the Father, Jesus Christ is the author and originator of the death penalty. He bolsters His words in the Old Testament with clear statements of support in the New Testament.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
Old Testament authority to execute murderers is placed into the hands of men, as shown in the above-quoted scriptures. In the New Testament book of Romans, God reaffirms that authority: “Let every soul be subject unto the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist [speaking of man’s governments and courts] are appointed by God…. For he [a government or court official] is God’s minister [“servant” or “magistrate” in some translations] to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4; New King James Version).

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
The God of love tells us in such scriptures as Hebrews 12:5-6 that for our own good those who commit wrong must be corrected. Correction is the God-given means to prevent crime and other problems. Using strong correction forces change in criminals convicted of lesser offenses and eliminates entirely the threat of those convicted of violent crimes such as murder.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
Too often, we indulge the weaknesses of criminals. The liberal element in our society constantly seeks to explain away evil deeds by reason of “mitigating circumstances” that supposedly justify a lesser or softer sentence. Claims of parental abuse, mental instability and racial injustice have all been used to acquit clearly guilty individuals.

Science has even rushed to the aid of lawbreakers by trying to uncover genetic and biochemical predisposition to violent behavior. “Evidence Found for a Possible ‘Aggression’ Gene,” blared a 1993 headline in the journal Science. Some sociobiologists claim that “impulsivity,” a trait presumably caused by bad brain chemistry or bad genes, is enough to give someone the inclination to lead a life of crime.

That is the whining, indulgent nonsense that is preventing deterrence of crime today. We shouldn’t be trying to “understand” criminals, we should be harshly punishing them with retribution so severe that they never want to commit crime again!

And in the case of intentional murder, for reasons we will see later, that severe punishment should be death.

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
Mankind continually makes excuses for his wrong behavior and, in particular, has done so concerning crimes deserving the death penalty in the last 40 years. When will we learn that there are no mitigating circumstances, justifications or excuses for crime and lawlessness? There are reasons why people do things, but those reasons cannot be allowed to become excuses for which they are given leniency. History repeatedly shows that when a society indulges its criminals with leniency, that society will drift into anarchy and total collapse!

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us the importance of swift punishment when it says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” How clear and wise! When wrongdoing is not immediately punished, then all or almost all of the deterrent value to any subsequent punishment is lost!

The Merciful Death Penalty From the August 2000 Trumpet Print Edition » How could a loving God advocate capital punishment? By Joel Hilliker and J. Tim Thompson -
As for determining a person’s guilt, there is only one biblical rule: “Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty” (Numbers 35:30; nkjv). Deuteronomy 17:6 agrees: “Whoever is worthy of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (nkjv). In God’s eyes, repeated reprieves and appeals—and now, insistence upon DNA testing to verify guilt—should not be necessary for death-row inmates.