ERLC Contributor Implores Christians to Oppose the Death Penalty Hijacking Pro-Life Movement

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There’s “woke,” and there is completely given over to progressive godless ideology. Well, to be fair, the two aren’t really that far apart. But those who spend their lives advancing social justice while touting the need to fight for “justice” for the most part have completely abandoned biblical justice in all its forms.

Woke social justice warriors are now coming out against one of the most foundational tenets of civil government ordained by God — to wield the sword of justice against those who commit evil. The argument goes something like this: Jesus preached against the concept of “an eye for an eye” in his Sermon on the Mount. Therefore, Christians should not support the death penalty.

This is exactly where Samuel Rodriguez — a New Apostolic Reformation “apostle,” a pro-illegal immigration proponent, and a contributor to the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission headed by Russell Moore — stands. In an article titled The Gospel calls us to speak out against upcoming federal executions, Rodriguez calls on Christians to oppose the death penalty. He writes,

Followers of Christ should give great thought and consideration to issues of life and death. We ought to pause, pray, and earnestly search our hearts. I have come to the conclusion that the death penalty is wrong, and it is my Evangelical faith that compels me to stand up and speak out against the taking of human life in all forms. I believe in the sanctity of life, and I’ve been encouraged to see a growing number of Evangelical leaders call for a more consistent ethic of life. 

Of course, he hijacks the pro-life movement — just like any good social justice warrior does — to advance this ridiculous notion. To say that the death penalty is wrong is to oppose God’s law. God’s law, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” is a reflection of God’s character. Jesus is not commanding the civil government to turn a blind eye to wickedness — he is commanding Christians to, personally, put on display the mercy and grace that was shown to them at the cross. He is commanding Christians to, in fact, be willing to lay down their own lives for their enemies just like he would do at the cross.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the civil government. In fact, if anything, what would be a more biblical display of that would be to step in and bear the death penalty for someone else who committed a crime against you. Let’s see if Rodriguez is willing to do that.

The Gospel calls on us as Evangelicals to be more like Christ, and it directs us to love all people, even people who have committed great harm. That requires us to go well beyond explicit deficiencies of the criminal justice system and consider the foundation of our Evangelical belief system. A steadfast belief in God’s gift of redemption is central to that calling. We believe in the power of grace, and we must believe in providing the help that is needed for sinners who seek it. If we truly believe in redemption, then we must not stand in the way of God’s ability to deliver grace. We must support people who want to pursue restoration and renewal, not treat them as hopeless.

Again, the Church is not the civil government and we have no business standing in the way of what the civil government does with criminals. Nor does the civil government have the power — even if they wanted to — to “stand in the way of God’s ability to deliver grace.” That notion is completely absurd and exposes Rodriguez’s total theological ineptness.

If we want to think more like Christ, we should follow the biblical outline for supporting our civil government. What Rodriguez is ultimately promoting here is complete and total anarchy. Why stop at abolishing the death penalty? Why not abolish the prison system too? Then, just completely abolish any form of civil justice. If there is no enforcement of the civil law, why have a civil law?

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The civil government was instituted by God and the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of God, completely rejected what Rodriguez proposes here.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:1-7

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