The biggest problem with argumentation about capital punishment is that policies are made and changed on the basis of mere argumentation while the issue impresses serious people as so grave, involving as it does the taking of human life, that if there is any room for reasonable dispute not only the presumption, but also the conclusion as well, must fall on the side of abolition.
The problem is compounded because there are no New Testament prescriptions of the death penalty, assumed as just under the Old Testament Law, but militated against by the mercy of God in Christ—e.g., in the pericope adulterae in John 8 (whether or not it is a part of the original gospel). There are perfectly cogent and decidedly Christian arguments for both sides. Nor does tradition help us much, for the tradit . . .
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