Archive for theology

Nov
14

The Death Penalty Red Herring

Posted by: | Comments (4)

During debate, red herring statements are designed to distract hearers from better made arguments. Although irrelevant, red herrings appear so nearly germane to a topic that they are frequently accepted as evidence by all but the most discerning listener.

When discussing the death penalty, two “conservative” red herrings are frequently offered. If asked whether the death penalty should remain a sentencing option, individuals often assert that some crimes deserve the harshest penalty imaginable. Additionally, there are criminals who cannot be rehabilitated – prison will not instigate the behavior change for which it is designed. These statements can be accepted as true.

Furthermore, Christians acknowledge that God – the Creator of life – includes provisions for the death penalty in his revealed word. The Pentateuch commands the death penalty for murder (Numbers 35: 16), adultery (Leviticus 20: 10), blasphemy (Leviticus 24: 14) and numerous other crimes. Again, this assertion can be accepted as true.

Although these statements are factual, they remain red herrings. The capital punishment debate asks whether the state should be permitted to intentionally end life as a means of punishment. Responses which affirm that some crimes deserve death, that some criminals cannot be rehabilitated, and that the death penalty is included in the Bible appear compelling, but they evade the question. Read More→

Categories : Articles
Comments (4)

English Baptist minister Robert Hall (1764-1831) was the namesake and youngest child of fourteen born to a Baptist minister. One website recounts his life thusly:

He was an accomplished theologian at the tender age of nine, having then mastered (among other works) “Edwards on the Will” and Butler’s “Analogy.” Notwithstanding such precocity, he did not prove to be a fool, but was one of the few “remarkable children” who turn out really remarkable men. In his fifteenth year he began his series of studies for the ministry at Bristol College, where his progress in learning was rapid; but as a preacher he seemed likely to be a failure. On his first public trial he repeatedly broke down, through an excessive sensibility that made public speech an agony to him, almost an impossibility. He mastered this weakness, however, and thenceforth steadily increased in power as an orator. Four years spent at King’s College, Aberdeen, where he was first in all his classes, brought him to his majority. His pastorates were at Cambridge, Leicester, and Bristol, and in each city his ministry was greatly successful. Many of his sermons were printed and had a wide circulation. No preacher of his time was more highly esteemed by the leaders of thought in Great Britain. Hall was master of an ornate and stately kind of eloquence long extinct in the pulpit, much esteemed in its day and perhaps too little esteemed now. To the present generation his sentences seem cumbrous, his style is pronounced affected and stilted, his tropes frigid. Indeed, the reader of today is at a loss to understand how his sermons could ever have won such encomiums as they received. Yet at his death, in 1831, it was universally agreed that one of the greatest lights of the pulpit had been extinguished.

Hall’s legacy as a popular preacher and cultural celebrity is now largely unknown. His Works, which were widely read in the nineteenth-century, are now rarely cited. Those who today walk by the statue of Hall in the middle of De Monfort Square in Leicester, England, certainly have no idea who he was. Hall was a defender of religious liberty, freedom of the press, and peace. The occasion of his sermon on war was the Day of Thanksgiving throughout England that was proclaimed for June 1, 1802, after the signing of the Treaty of Amiens in March that temporarily ended hostilities between France and Great Britain during the French Revolutionary Wars. I have transcribed the sermon from The Works of Robert Hall, A.M. (Vol. I, 4th ed., London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1834, pp. 81-121). – Laurence M. Vance

Read More→

Categories : Articles
Comments (0)

This is a video review of the book "If You Are the Son of God" by Jacques Ellul, French theologian and professor of law. (Published by Wipf and Stock.)

Ellul’s purpose in this short volume is to reflect upon the sufferings and temptations of Jesus. If we are to take the incarnation of God in Christ seriously, we must accept that Jesus was deeply and constantly tempted, and that he suffered in all the same ways that we do.

You can buy the book on Amazon here. You can support LCC by making an Amazon purchase through any LCC link to Amazon; we very much appreciate it!

Categories : Book Reviews, Media
Comments (2)

This guest post is by Joel Poindexter.

Christians who identify with a Left political ideology frequently appeal to state intervention in the market as a means of promoting the common good. This is especially true as it relates to many Christians who place an emphasis on promoting social justice. Having attended a Jesuit University where progressive politics were dominant and social justice was held in very high esteem, I can readily attest to this. For examples beyond my personal anecdotes, see the anti-libertarian conference Erroneous Autonomy at The Catholic University of America, and note some recent trends among protestant Christians.

I assume that proponents of such government action often have the best of intentions. I believe they act in good faith, both as Christians and as individuals dedicated to caring for the less fortunate. I also happen to agree that social justice can even be a worthy goal for Christians, provided it is confined to voluntary arrangements. However, a state-based approach to caring for those in poverty is especially problematic for the Christian.

Among favored government regulations of such social justice advocates are minimum wage laws and welfare programs intended to reduce poverty, including food stamps and medical subsidies. These aid programs are widely viewed as benevolent merely because of the surface results. After all, we can see the poor child who is fed and clothed through welfare payments.

However, the libertarian cannot help but see that what undergirds this regime is coercion. The state, by definition, applies force to achieve compliance. Hence, individuals in society face threats of imprisonment or financial penalties should they fail to abide by the law. This utilitarian approach has a host of negative consequences. Read More→

Categories : Articles
Comments (0)
This entry is part 42 of 42 in the series Christian Theology of Public Policy Course

cobin_christian_theologyI have long respected the work of Dr. John Cobin in the field of Christian libertarianism. His two books Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government have influenced my own exposition of Romans 13 and have affected many others in the Christian libertarian movement. You can read LCC author Doug Stuart’s review of Bible and Government here.

I occasionally receive emails from people trying to find his books for sale. Ordering one from Amazon.com or your local bookstore is rarely easy. However, I am very pleased to extend an offer from John Cobin himself to order these two incredible books at his main website. Right now, you can get a copy of Christian Theology of Public Policy (hardback) for $14.99, and a copy of Bible and Government (paperback) for $6.99 – and those prices include shipping to the continental United States. Plus, LCC readers can get a discount on any of his other materials as well.

Cobin’s works I consider nearly essential to a Christian libertarian’s education, as I have stated in various book lists. You can also read some of Cobin’s essays here at LCC in the Christian Theology of Public Policy short course. The article series covers some of the material in the book with less detail. The full book, as you might imagine, is even better.

Christian libertarians do not have quite as vast a literature to draw upon than the general libertarian movement. Add these books to your library and you will not regret it.

Click here to go to John Cobin’s website and order Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government.

Comments (4)

Who is behind LCC?

Norman Horn is the creator and primary writer for LCC. Learn a little bit about him in the About Page. You can write him a note or ask a question at the Contact Page. Follow him on Twitter.