God's Politics

God's Politics


Brian McLaren: How Does Saddam’s Execution Make You Feel?

posted by God's Politics

I see little or no value to weighing in on the subject of capital punishment. People have their opinions and relatively few seem interested in changing them. But I would like to express in personal terms how I felt after the news coverage of Saddam Hussein’s hanging. I’d like to share it especially for those who support executions, not to change their opinion necessarily, but simply to make a request of them.

The best word to describe my feeling: dirty.

I felt the same way when the “Shock and Awe” campaign was launched on Baghdad. I thought of all the little children cowering in closets and under beds, feeling (I imagine) that the whole world was coming to an end. I imagined them tearfully asking their moms and dads why this was happening and who was doing this to them, and them answering, “The United States.” I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and polluted to be party to frightening innocent people, much less killing them as collateral damage. I thought of how similar “shock and awe” are to “terror,” and because I don’t want to terrorize anybody, those bombs didn’t speak for me. And yet, against my will they did, and I felt dirty.

I know that Saddam was in no way innocent. I know he deserved to be held accountable for his disregard for human rights, for human life. But even if I supported capital punishment, I think I would still have felt dirty. Perhaps I’m too morally thin-skinned, but taking the human life of a person in the name of human life brings no sense of justice or satisfaction to me. Rather, it brings the opposite.

Others see it differently, I know. Some might use Bible verses to justify “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life” (although Jesus seemed to put a rather authoritative spin on those verses, preceding them with “You have heard it said,” and following them up with “But I say to you…”). Whether executions are justified or ot, I feel dirty and ashamed whenever I hear of an execution, and Saddam’s was no different. I hope I don’t ever stop feeling that way.

I have friends who have become sexual addicts. They tell me the first time they cheated on their spouses, they felt terrible. But somehow they survived, and the next time, they still felt bad, but a little less so. By the twentieth time or the fiftieth time, they felt the tiniest pang of guilt, nothing much, really. Cheating became easy. The same thing happens with liars and spouse abusers and other addicts.

We’ve all seen similar patterns in our own lives. We become desensitized to things we shouldn’t, and as that happens, we are in such great danger of becoming worse people than we ever imagined being, ever wanted to be.

So, if you felt as I did after the execution of Saddam Hussein, dirty, I wouldn’t dismiss the feeling. I would say that it might be a redemptive dirtiness, and without it, I am afraid of what we could become.

Brian McLaren
Brian McLaren (brianmclaren.net) has written several books, including A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and most recently, The Secret Message of Jesus. He is a Red Letter Christian and serves as board chair for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 8:53 pm


“Others see it differently, I know. Some might use Bible verses to justify “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life” (although Jesus seemed to put a rather authoritative spin on those verses, preceding them with “You have heard it said,” and following them up with “But I say to you…”). ” So you are not going to engage the argument, but rather simply mischaracterize it and dismiss it out of hand. You then go on to compare his execution to adultery. And you lead a movement?>



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Daniel

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:05 pm


Brian, When viewed as a retributive action, I feel dirty as well. About the worst of sinners we could say ‘cast the first stone. At the end of one of Bishop Spong’s appearances at Grace Cathedral’s Dean Forum with Alan Jones the Bishop was asked to go on at length against the moral atrocity of capital punishment. He shocked the room by saying that in order to protect others (a.k.a. to love them) it may be necessary to eliminate some people from the face of the earth. I think he has a point. So is the world safer with Saddam dead? Or would we be safer if he were locked away in a forgotten dungeon doing hard labor (the alternative Jim advances in God’s Politics)? I believe nothing was gained in our safety, righteousness, or humanity. Hanging the bad guy doesn’t function as a scapegoating catharsis in a post-Easter world, does it? Especially with our enemies and allies casting lots over the metaphorical garment. “Dirty” is as good a description of such seedy goings on as any I could conjure….>



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Rachel

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm


Kevin, I have some questions for you. And I am speaking sincerely as a sister in Christ; I do not mean it as an attack. Why do you do this? Why do you check the “God’s Politics” blog each day when it so clearly angers and upsets you? Why do you make it a priority in your day, so much so that you are often the very first person to comment? How does that affect the rest of your day and your relationships with others? Do you really feel that is pleasing to Jesus to come onto this blog and insult people? Kevin, it really makes me sad to see this each day. You are clearly an intelligent person who is engaged in the world around you. I think it is great that you know what you believe and why. But why do you want to engage in angry attacks on others on a regular basis? Do you really think that Jesus approves of this? Maybe I am totally off base here but just pray about it, OK? And Kevin, I do love you as brother in Christ.>



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Daniel

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:13 pm


Kevin, Your response is a little baffling. Brian asked how we felt about it. Perhaps you felt safer? Vindicated? Righteous? Exhilerated? Remorseful? Regretful? Sad? Happy? Mad? Grateful? Nostalgic?>



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CRP

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:25 pm


I hope we all can agree that the one of the main evils of this execution (and quite frankly this war), is that it is likely to perpetuate as much or more unnecessary suffering and violence than it was intended to prevent.>



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splinterlog

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm


Immediately – I was disgusted by the voyeurism. Retrospectively – I’m disgusted at the way the star witness of a possible future trial seeking to identify who was responsible for (and complicit with) the Kurdish and Shi’ite massacres was killed before these crimes were even brought up. It was capricious (and highly suspicious) to kill off Saddam before he (and those who supported him) answered for these crimes.>



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Daniel

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:36 pm


But shouldn’t that make Islamic fundamentalists happy?>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:42 pm


Rachel, I appreciate your concern. I am involved here because, at this stage, the Sojourners movement has the loudest microphone of any Christian organization. I feel they are using this microphone to trumpet a very specific set of political values that have co-opted a Biblical message (they have been accurately described as the Pat Robertson of the left). Is it important for me to engage this debate? That’s, well, debatable. However, I do not come here to hurl insults, though a goodly number are hurled at me. Incidentally, there are a lot of people who agree with the viewpoints of this blog who visit everyday and spout real insults (calling people idiots, trolls and so forth). Are you at all concerned about them?>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:50 pm


“Your response is a little baffling. Brian asked how we felt about it. ” I elaborated on my blog about my thoughts on this. Essentially, there is a part of me that if glad he is dead. I think this is normal, and not an example of sin. We are programmed to see the justice in the death of such a tyrant. That said, for myriad reasons I am opposed to the death penalty in the U.S. If McLaren had ruminated about the voyeurism inherent in the whole situation, or even just said the whole thing felt ghoulish, that is fine. But the effect of his post is to judge those who agree that Saddam should be executed, not to ask for our responses (there are no question marks in the piece).>



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sholmgren

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:53 pm


But Kevin, you did not “engage the debate”. You simply attacked the author. So if that were all I had read of you, I would have no idea of your position on the issue, but a negative view of your methods, specifically attack on the person instead of the subject.>



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Wolverine

posted January 3, 2007 at 9:56 pm


Brian, The short answer is: I don’t feel anything in particular. I don’t feel safer, I don’t feel more threatened. I don’t feel relieved, I don’t feel guilty. I felt sad when we put the family dog to sleep. I felt a mixture of feelings — sorrow softened by a bit of relief — when my grandmother passed away a few years ago. She was old but in a lot of pain. I felt shock and sadness when my brother in law passed away. He was still in his thirties and my sister was devastated. I felt a bit of sorrow when Bo Schembechler and Gerald Ford passed away. I never knew either of them, but they were both men I respected and admired. These were all people (well, creatures) that I knew and cared about or at least admired from a distance. Saddam was someone I never knew and — I think you can understand this — didn’t care to know. And does anyone at Sojourners claim that Hussein was a good example to follow? Certainly not in any matter of statecraft. I don’t have any feelings, but I do have a thought, and I apologize if it seems a bit cold but it’s all I can muster: Let his family mourn him. For the rest of mankind his passing constitutes No Great Loss. Wolverine>



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jurisnaturalist

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:08 pm


I feel afraid. There’s a precedent that’s been set here that may have frightening consequences. I was called for jury duty some time ago. I prepared for the questions I was going to be asked by the lawyers and judge. It was a murder trial. I planned on saying, “I would be glad to sit on this jury and give the defendant a fair trial if I knew that the laws he was to be tried under were laws derrived only from the common law and not influenced by arbitrary legislation.” The common law attempts to discover the natural law, which is God’s law. Legislated law is arbitrary and human. Which law was Saddam tried by?>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:09 pm


“But Kevin, you did not “engage the debate”. You simply attacked the author.” In this case, I assailed the method by which McLaren dismisses those who disagree with him. He presented his feelings in such a manner so as to pre-empt any material discussion of the issues at hand. Once I have been compared to an adulterer (albeit obliquely) and my position has been mischaracterized as a trifle, then there is nothing much left to say about the matter.>



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Anonymous

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:10 pm


Kevin, spare us the martyr routine. Everyone knows why you’re here.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Kevin S- yes he does lead a movement, there was nothing wrong with his editorial and you are wasting our time. I am involved here because, at this stage, the Sojourners movement has the loudest microphone of any Christian organization. I feel they are using this microphone to trumpet a very specific set of political values that have co-opted a Biblical message (they have been accurately described as the Pat Robertson of the left). So are you on any “Robertson” websites doing the same thing? I doubt it. My assessment of you is that you’ve earned all the guile you get around here. That of course doesn’t mean that everyone who dishes it back to you should do so, but it is just to point out that you probably are in the wrong palce because you clearly don’t understand our values. For the record: Jesus condemmed both retribution and adultery. Sorry if we don’t have the sophisticated exegetical filter others might posses to try and differentiate betwen the two, but we are trying to follow Christ, not differentiate. The very act of differentiation itself may be suspect, if I am to understand Matt 23:1-12 and Luke 22:24 – 30 correctly.>



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Christ's child

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:24 pm


Greetings Brian McLaren, How do I feel concerning Saddam Hussein’s excution. Saddam Hussein was excuted for murdering 148 of his people and had murdered thousands more. As a christian I must let God’s word and his will be done, beyond what I may think or feel.Romans Chapter 13,has something to say about those that do evil,which includes the act of murder. God ,in his word,the bible,states that government is impowered by God. Government has the responsibility to punish and excute those who do evil and the “sword” is mentioned in Romans,Chapter 13, for the purpose of excution. What sin did you comit to feel dirty because God’s word was being carried out in the excution of Saddam Hussein.Individuals are confusing what the individual is responsible for and what the government is responsible for.The individual cannot take revenge now as in the old testament.In the present time the individual must leave such things to the government.It is popular today for “guilt” to be assumed falsely for any and everything.God says, in his word, that the son is no longer held responsible for the sins of the father and the father for the sins of the son. There is movement to lay guilt on the white’s living today for slavery that happened in others life time and the same thing applies. As a christian I do the very best that I can to treat others as I want to be treated and that is what I am responsible for. I cannot be held accountable and I will not be, for someone elses wrong doings or sins. Concerning Saddam’s excution, I do not feel happy, sad or remorseful for Saddam but that it was necessary because of what Saddam did.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:26 pm


Once I have been compared to an adulterer (albeit obliquely) and my position has been mischaracterized as a trifle, then there is nothing much left to say about the matter. Can he get any more obtuse? If you agree capital punishment is wrong, than you aren’t part of the “comparison.” OTOH, noting the fallout that’s come about from Saddam’s execution and how it was carried out, I’d say adutlery isn’t too bad a comparison. We’re all sinners, last I checked.>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:28 pm


“Kevin, spare us the martyr routine. Everyone knows why you’re here.” No martyr routine whatsoever. My feelings aren’t hurt. Everyone know why I am here? Why is that? “So are you on any “Robertson” websites doing the same thing? I doubt it.” I don’t think Robertson has a comparable site with comments, as has been noted here. But enough of the “troll” discussion. It’s playground stuff. “For the record: Jesus condemmed both retribution and adultery. ” But he did not condemn governmental execution (no pun intended) of justice as it is articulated in Romans. “Sorry if we don’t have the sophisticated exegetical filter others might posses to try and differentiate betwen the two, but we are trying to follow Christ, not differentiate.” The exegetical filters are important. If you do not have them, don’t pretend that they do not exist.>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:30 pm


“Can he get any more obtuse? If you agree capital punishment is wrong, than you aren’t part of the “comparison.”” Now it is you who is being obtuse. I am not an advocate for the death penalty here, but I am not in any way saddened by Saddam’s hanging (I am hardly in the minority on this point). McLaren compares this view to that of a repeated philanderer.>



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Anonymous

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:32 pm


“But enough of the “troll” discussion. It’s playground stuff.” That’s right, Kevin, rise above us.>



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Anonymous

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:34 pm


Brian’s point was that much like a philanderer eventually can become desensitized to the impacts of adultery, we as a nation can become desensitized to the violence that is carried out in our name (and agree with it or not, it is violence). Stop creating arguments that aren’t there.>



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Will

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:34 pm


Thank you Brian for putting into words what has been so very difficult and sad. I feel dirty and sick about the execution and about this horrific war. This past Sunday at my church we prayed for Saddam along with others who had died. May we continue to pray and seek to love our enemies as Jesus taught us. May we never forget that Jesus was a victim of execution and a different Empire’s “shock and awe” torture tactics.>



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PamBG

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm


I just want to say “thank you” for the original article which expresses my own feelings and theology much better than I could have ever done. I am so tired of being told I’m not a real Christian because I believe that capital punishment is wrong.>



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jurisnaturalist

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm


We can also become desensitized to the patronization of a nanny state that makes up rules for its charges it does not place upon itself. We can become desensitized to not having to repond to need personally because we have a “I gave at the office” mentality about poverty and justice. We can become desensitized to the difference between good law and bad law because there are just too many laws to try and sort them out.>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:42 pm


“Brian’s point was that much like a philanderer eventually can become desensitized to the impacts of adultery, we as a nation can become desensitized to the violence that is carried out in our name (and agree with it or not, it is violence).” Which establishes an analogy between us and adulterers, which was entirely my point.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:44 pm


I don’t think Robertson has a comparable site with comments, as has been noted here. Would you please go find one? I might note, none of us are on any comparible website posting comments & being an annoyance. But enough of the “troll” discussion. It’s playground stuff. So is your blatant attempt to pick a fight, where none was intended on McLaren’s part. But he did not condemn governmental execution (no pun intended) of justice as it is articulated in Romans. Actually, he did, read the two verses I just cited you. AND… read the Romans 13:1-3 passage IN CONTEXT… begginning with the end of Romans 12. The exegetical filters are important. If you do not have them, don’t pretend that they do not exist. Oh, they exist. And they are responsible for plunging the church into The Crusades, the Inquistion, and electing George Bush. Now it is you who is being obtuse. I am not an advocate for the death penalty here, but I am not in any way saddened by Saddam’s hanging (I am hardly in the minority on this point). McLaren compares this view to that of a repeated philanderer. Yep. As soon as you justify retribution in one aspect, you will justify it in all.>



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Dawn

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:49 pm


Two wrongs don’t make a right. We are not to take the life of someone just because they did it first. And to insult our Brother and Sisters ( GOD’S CHILDREN ) by hanging on a Muslim holiday… or within hours of it, was completely uncivilized. I know it was an Iraqi court. I know it was an Iraqi sentence, but I feel certain our government had its influence on the manner of this event. Love thy enemy as thyself… What’s so hard to understand?>



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Butch

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:55 pm


Read Kevin’s post as a Republi-Nazi interuption, excuse making, apoligist like Russ Limbal might make and it will make sense. I’m convinved that he is either paid to do it or is proud of getting in the way of real discussion. Dodge, change the focus or subject picking out small pieces of a whole question to debate or take the discussion away from our (the nation) behavior. This is not Kevin’s site or blog.>



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kevin s.

posted January 3, 2007 at 10:57 pm


“Would you please go find one?” Why? What difference does it make to you? “Oh, they exist. And they are responsible for plunging the church into The Crusades, the Inquistion, and electing George Bush.” Not really, unless you believe that government must be stripped of any authority. “Actually, he did, read the two verses I just cited you. AND… read the Romans 13:1-3 passage IN CONTEXT… begginning with the end of Romans 12.” Are you referring to the passages from Matthew and Luke? How do those constitute calls for governmental opposition to the death penalty? Also, reading Romans 13 in context does not render it null. If you read Romans 12 to forbid any sort of retribution, then certainly prison ought to be forbidden as well.>



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Butch

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:01 pm


Notice the reference to forbiding prison another shift away from Saddam where we have a huge hand in what is going on and has happened.>



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jurisnaturalist

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:04 pm


(had to drag this over here from Kevin s.’s blog – my comments) I oppose the death penalty because the laws are impure, as stated elsewhere… I oppose it also because it removes the possibility for retribution to be paid to the victims. Of course, I agree that mass murder has a different color to it, and the Old Testament precedents apply. So, do I think Saddam should have died? Yes. Do I think the way it was done was best? No. Do I believe that a satisfactory method exists? No. Were those who executed him justified? No.>



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Anonymous

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:30 pm


Why? What difference does it make to you? Because I speak for several here, I think who find you unwelcome. And, we’re not being trolls elsewhere. The Matthew passage eliminates Christians sitting in the “Seat of Moses”- which I take to mean no using the OT laws of retribution as a call for modern public policy. Otherwise, how would you “not sit in the seat of Moses?” The Luke passage in similar fashion, calls for a differentiation between the government “lording it over others,” and how our interpersonal relationships are to be different. In like fashion, Romans 12-13 makes a differentiation between the government and our behavior. In fact, pretty much everywhere the New Testament that the Authority of the State is brought up, this distinction is made. And so we who choose to take those passages literally (and seriously), do not involve ourselves in questions like “what does this do to governmental power?” We are more concerned with “how do we live this out?” The only other alternative has been to pretty much ignore those passages, or relegate them to the old “well they refer to individual persons, not larger communities” argument. The problem with that is simple, where do you draw the line- is it OK to retributive after two people are involved? Three? Ten? The result has been the awful parts of Church history I mentioned. Because I believe The Church is the true “Israel” of God, in continuity with the OT Israel – I see us therefor as ambassadors of a New Order that was enacted at The Cross. And when that New Order is completed, there WILL be a stripping of all the earthly powers of their authority. Bet on it. Therefore I can’t be concerned with the details of retribution and punishment because that’s not God’s call. Our call is to show the systems of the world for their inability to correctly apply the justice of God.>



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Christ's child

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:30 pm


Greetings jurisnationalist, In reading your many post’s,I agree with you on many points that you have made.The common law should be the law in effect dealing with man, but it is not. The Murderer is paying the retribution required and that is with his life. To murder requires the life of the murderer, this is what God is stating in Romans 13. This is not based on my feelings but rather on God’s word.Individuals are taking responsibility for things not given to them. Again, the individual and the government are totally two different concepts and functions.Confusion and/or denial of God’s word places the christian on his own and that is not where a christian should be.A christian doesn’t have the freedom to choose and pick what they want to follow in God’s word. God’s word has to be rightly divided and in context.If God says ,in his word, that the government is given a sword to execute then can I say no, thats not how it is going to be? If I do that then I am frustrating the Word of God, am I not?>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:33 pm


Whoops- I’m the anonymous in that last long response to Kevin S.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:36 pm


Christ’s Child To murder requires the life of the murderer, this is what God is stating in Romans 13. This is not based on my feelings but rather on God’s word. That is not found anywhere in Romans 13.>



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anonymouse

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:43 pm


Kevin is off his meds again.>



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Nancy

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:43 pm


Saddam is dead, a very good thing, finally justice for all those he heinously murdered ! This is a calling by God as “a time to kill” Ecclesiastes 3:3. When Jesus stated Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: The word “kill” is 5408 Strong’s Concordance fonoV phonos fon’-os from an obsolete primary pheno (to slay); murder:–murder, + be slain with, slaughter. Murder is what Christ taught against and is what the Law is against. Not self defence or killing during times of war or for war crimes . Saddam reaped what he sowed ! And many Iraqi’s received justice even his son-in-laws !>



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mingus

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:43 pm


putting aside kevin’s “adulterer” nitpicking… i think people need to ask themselves if God loved saddam hussein? was he outside of the realm of God’s love? if you think he was, then i can understand that you would be happy about his execution. personally, i believe that when God loves the world, he loves the world. every single flawed, sinning human being. and saddam was a human being. he didn’t have horns or a pitchfork. he was a screwed up human being who caused immeasurable pain to countless people. but we’ve all caused pain. does God put a limit on the amount of pain one can cause, the amount of evil one can carry out, and once we’re past that limit cease to love us? cease to desire to change us? it’s a tough thing to balance my revulsion for the actions that saddam carried out with my belief that God loves us all and that Jesus’ love can reach anyone at any time.>



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anonymouse

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:44 pm


Kevin S that is.>



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Anonymous

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:50 pm


I wonder how many of you who rejoice at Saddam’s execution would support the death penalty for the Marines who killed innocent Iraqis at Haditha? It has to work both ways.>



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jurisnaturalist

posted January 3, 2007 at 11:55 pm


Kevin Wayne, “The Matthew passage eliminates Christians sitting in the “Seat of Moses”- which I take to mean no using the OT laws of retribution as a call for modern public policy.” I believe Christ would have us hold to His ethic regardless of policy, but His ethic is peculiar to Christians and there is no reason to impose it on others either. So He is saying not to seek retribution as Christians, but He is not saying retribution should not be a part of public policy. “I see us therefor as ambassadors of a New Order that was enacted at The Cross. And when that New Order is completed, there WILL be a stripping of all the earthly powers of their authority.” I disagree, I don’t see how Christ calls us to foist upon others an ethic He declared peculiar. Christ’s Child, I agree that the government is to perform the execution of the law. But it is not also the source of that law. Is the case we are currently discussing man’s law was used to judge a man. This draws the justice of the execution into question. If a person killed an innocent, was convicted according to just laws, and sentenced to death as the only opportunity for retribution, it should not matter the particulars.>



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MB

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:01 am


It would be nice to say that in some way that I felt relieved that Saddam was executed. An evil, evil, man who deserved death, but I can’t. The whole thing just really made me uneasy. Dirty is a good word, so is uncomfortable, and sad. I wish that in his execution we had truly accomplished something, but what really has been accomplished, anything? The two waring factions have more reason to continue to shed innocent blood. We will find it necessary to stay to help in the civil unrest which is just continuing to escalate. How many secrets died with his death? And yet who could have believed a nut like him in the first place. For me, it does in fact bring a whole new dawn. How many more leaders can now be executed for atrocities against their people or others. And should all leaders who have innocent blood on their hands be executed. If the government condones it apparently so, right? What if the UN condones it? How many others in leadership around the world have innocent blood on their hands? It would just be so neat and tidy if Saddam was the only one, but he is just on a long list of evil men in power. For me as a Christian I am to love my enemy. So much so that my early brothers and sisters in Christ refused to pick up a sword and it is the same today in many parts of the world, they did and are going against the government and were/are executed. I will continue to stand with them.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:01 am


I just found this on the Beleifnet rules of conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp#disruption Disruptive behavior: You agree not to disrupt or interfere with discussions, forums, or other community functions. Disruptive behavior may include creating a disproportionate number of posts or discussions to disrupt conversation; creating off-topic posts; making statements that are deliberately inflammatory; manipulating topic lists to disrupt conversation; posting in a language other than English without providing an accurate English translation; expanding a disagreement from one discussion to another; or any behavior that interferes with conversations or inhibits the ability of others to use and enjoy this website for its intended purposes. I wonder if any of us here feel that this policy has been violated?>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:04 am


Kevin S- you don’t think When Christ returns, he’s going to ask all the Earthly Kigdoms to hand over the keys to him?>



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justintime

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:06 am


Please note everyone: Kevin s gave us another excellent example of ‘be the victim’. Kevin s imagines Brian is calling him a sex addict and then uses this imaginary injury to justify striking out against Brian. Last year Robster was using ‘be the victim’, but he’s doing pretty well since he made his New Years resolution not to be one. Has anyone seen donny lately? Maybe donny isn’t a victim anymore. I hope so. All my best wishes go out to donny for a wonderful New Year. Unfortunately, I think we will have to get used to ‘be the victim’ being used more frequently by Republicans, now that the Dems are taking over Congress. I enjoyed kevin s more when he was baffling us with BS. .>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:09 am


“How many secrets died with his death? And yet who could have believed a nut like him in the first place.” How many secrets did someone want to die?>



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Christ's child

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:27 am


Greetings Kevin Wayne, I enjoy reading your Posts as well. Kevin,I assume that you know what a sword is for. In Romans 13:4, For he is the minister of God to you for good.But if you do what is evil,be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain:for he is the minister of God,a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.- Murder would be just one of the crimes that this would fit but we were talking about murder . The sword is not for spanking but to execute with. Revenge is mentioned as well and revenge also means retribution (or a life for a life).>



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robstur

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:28 am


I don’t need the Bible to support my opinion on capital punishment. Not sure that I could make the leap between execution and adultry. I believe that it was better that he was executed and they can believe that he is ‘where-ever’ with his 70 whatevers. Had he remained alive – how many planes – ships etc. would be hi-jacked demanding his release. I think we are saver with him gone. have a great day ->



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 12:55 am


Christ’s Child, Here are two possible alternative renderings of Romans 13:4 from the CEV translation & The Message, respectively: “After all, they are God’s servants, and it is their duty to help you. If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God’s servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is.” (Part of verse 3 included)”Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.” I don’t see anywhere where “the sword” that the magistrate bears is necessarily the retributive punishment described in the OT. It looks more like a general keeping of order. Your statement was: “To murder requires the life of the murderer, this is what God is stating in Romans 13. This is not based on my feelings but rather on God’s word.” I offer a Bible study here written by a Mennonite Pastor on the topic, please note where he discusses the use of the Greek for “sword.” http://peace.mennolink.org/articles/paulpatriot.html Also please take a look at the following: “>http://www.intervarsity.org/news/the-just-war>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:14 am


Maybe an “eye for an eye” in the absence of an alterative. We’re not bothered about prisons, we have more in prison than any other country.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:16 am


Sorry for the bad formatting in the last post. One more reference here seesm good, in understnading how one group, The Mennonites, developed their theology of how we participate in the world in light of the prescence of evil: A Mouse Among Elephants: The Mennonite Central Committee Office at the United Nations by John Rempel, MCC liaison to the United Nations “>http://peace.mennolink.org/articles/mousewhisp.html>



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Joey

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:28 am


I admit that I have not read through all of the above posts, so if someone’s already made this point, sorry. I think one important point about Saddam’s execution that, unlike the United States—where putting someone in jail basically means they can no longer hurt anybody—Saddam served as a figurehead for many of the Sunni militias in Iraq, and a figure of terror for others even after he was out of power. With that in mind, he was still, in a way, dangerous, and even if (as I believe) capital punishment is not right, it is possible these circumstances made it necessary for Saddam’s execution—I can’t say if it will help to stabilize Iraq, but if it does than I think it will be worth it. What I don’t understand is why people seem to be acting as though Saddam’s death were so bad; honestly, any other person in the world would make a better cause celebre. God bless, and may He have mercy on that evil man’s soul and the people of Iraq.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:44 am


Saddam has nothing to do with how I feel about capital punishment or anyone’s death at the hand of others. I think he will be a martyr for some and in prison he would have been less and less an influence every day.>



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Philippe

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:44 am


I am French, but have work with American Christian as a musician and I loved it a lot (working with American musicians :). This was around the time of the Jesus People movement, with musicians like Karen Lafferty, Keith Green, The Talbot Brothers, Resurrection Band and so many others… Today, I can t understand what happen to the Church in America. I really can t . How can a nation whose president calls himself a Christian justify any kind of killing with any kind of Scriptures in or out of context… ? How did the Prince of Peace become the Lord of war… Kevin is quoting Roman 13. But he knows, and we all know that the situation in Paul s time was fundamentally different from ours today in the West . At the time of Jesus and the Apostles, ONE man had ALL the power in his hand and was using it (among other things) to murder Christians (and pagans) and had to answer to anyone… for the atrocity committed by Caesar and his “friends”. Today we would called that a dictatorship, wouldn t we ? Very much, actually like Iraq before the US led Iraq invasion-destruction… ? Kevin, are you willing to say that Saddam Hussein s dictatorship (authority) was ordained by God? If you do, what are the US and other troops doing fighting the will of God for the people of Iraq… in Iraq ? In a democracy, the government is chosen by the citizen of the country. So WE, as citizens are responsible for the actions made by the government in our names. Not God. Unless God is manipulating the elections of course … Is He ? The greek word Authority is translated differently in different places in the King James. power, authority, right, liberty, strength, the ability or strength with which one is endue, which he eather possess or exercises, the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted by other and obeyed.) Does this definition fit our concept of democracy? All of these definitions are concepts who define authority not democracy. The president has no power what so ever to force us to submit and obey. Unless he become a dictator… God designed the CONCEPT of authority, in the family, in the church, at school, at work, on the roads, in business… And we are called to respect His will this area. But in real (democracy) life, there s always someone in authority over us, even for the president. Everyone in authority has to answer to God for the way he used the authority that was given to him for a task, and a time. This is obvious when it comes to parenthood for example. I have authority over my daughter because she is under my responsibility as being my child. And I will have answer for the way I ve used our misused my authority over her childhood. But as soon as she becomes an adult and leave father and mother for entering her own life, her and I are equal as far as it comes to authority even if she remind my daughter. But she will be under other authorities in her life, her boss at work, the elders of the church, the police patrol on the road, the tax man… Just like I am myself, actually. Did God put Bush at the White House ? Or was Bush elected by the citizens of USA ? Is God playing a game with us, letting us believe that we have the power to elect the people who will lead our country, and then fixing HIMSELF the results as it suit Him ? Do we loose our free will when we are called to elect a president or a congress ? If Christians cannot be held responsible for their actions and decisions, how can we expect that from non-Christians ? Paul has said something about authority, but what he said can t contradict what Jesus said, or am I wrong ? Mat 6:15 “If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”… If we don t forgive Saddam Hussein sins, God will not forgive our sins. At least, this is what Jesus said. This is how I feel about Sadam’s execution… And the Irac invasion… I know it sound stupid to accept this concept in our world today , but this sounded already pretty stupid in the time of Jesus and for the first Christians, even for Peter and for Paul before his meeting with Jesus ! But this what they ALL did, and they turned the World upside down… For the Kingdom of God ! Today, it is Satan, the murderer from the beginning, who is turning the world upside down, and sometimes he even gets the help of the Christians … Sincerely,>



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Rachel

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:45 am


“Incidentally, there are a lot of people who agree with the viewpoints of this blog who visit everyday and spout real insults (calling people idiots, trolls and so forth). Are you at all concerned about them?” Definitely! I think that it is dishonoring to Christ for any of us to come here and speak to others in an insulting and disrespectful way. Several years ago, I posted regularly on another Christian forum. Much of the debate was angry and contentious. I found myself being more and more arrogant and unkind in my posts and the frustration I felt continued even after I walked away from the computer. Somehow we all thought it was OK to be as nasty as we wanted to be as long as we were RIGHT (or thought we were). I had to stop posting on that forum because it was tearing me down spiritually and I had to face the fact that that type of interaction was sinful. I was a bad testimony to others and it was just plain wrong! Here are a couple of the verses that really spoke to me: Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster. Proverbs 17:19 In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. Philippians 2:14-15 I had the privilege of hearing Brian McLaren speak at a conference a few months ago. I have had the chance to hear him and speak to him in person twice now and I can say that he is one of the most gracious and humble people I’ve ever met. At the beginning of the conference, a quote was posted on the screen that said, “It is more important to be kind than to be right.” When Brian took the podium a few moments later he said, “I’m not sure that is MORE important to be kind than to be right. But I can say this… if you’re not kind, you’re not right.”>



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timks

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:51 am


Kevin Wayne said, I wonder if any of us here feel that this policy has been violated? To all: I see it violated all the time. I’d be careful about enforcing this policy too strictly, though, because you will end up banning many of the progressives on this site as well as your intended target. What’s wrong with letting those with whom you disagree express their opinions here? Isn’t that consistent with Christian principles? Proverbs says, “Iron sharpens iron.” If you only want to read opinions with which you agree, why bother having comments on this blog? If one has no intention of ever changing one’s views, why bother looking here?>



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Christ's child

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:52 am


Greetings Kevin Wayne, The Intervarsity site agrees with the use of the words,to execute and revenge or revenger and seperates The three,individual,government and making war.The Minnolink does not agree and eliminates the words revenge and execute altogether.The Mennolink mixes governmemt and the individual, and what is war and what is civil. The words , revenge,revenger and execute together have a specfic meaning to the whole of the verse.This is not talking about a police action but the government as a whole. The word, sword in use together with wrath, execute,revenger and revenge cannot be explained away in total by using the term “sword” as a symbol of the government or authority of the police.The Mennonite faith is against being involved in war,against capital punishment and has a somewhat different view(not that I am for war).>



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justintime

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:10 am


Acting out of anger and a desire for revenge almost guarantees failure. Success requires seeking a goal higher than mere revenge. .>



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Rachel

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:13 am


“Proverbs says, “Iron sharpens iron.” If you only want to read opinions with which you agree, why bother having comments on this blog? If one has no intention of ever changing one’s views, why bother looking here?” I agree, timks. But we MUST be able to have this discussion without being disrespectful and insulting. We simply can’t be hateful to each other; it is dishonoring Christ. In Galatians 5, we are told that “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions and factions” are all sinful and opposed to the Spirit of God. Then the passage goes on to say, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are the traits that should characterize our interactions here. I’m asking you guys as my Christian brothers and sisters: How can we say that the power of Christ in our lives is not enough for us speak to one another in kindness?>



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Rubinowits

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:32 am


Capital punishment is for those who deserve it. Can’t do the crime…. I’m hardly surprised Mclaren is against it. It makes me think of those who support abortion but are against capital punishment. Here’s the deal with those chumps- the babies are innocent, the death row people are not.>



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jesse

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:33 am


While moral feelings are definitely important, they cannot be our only guide to making moral judgments. I think most parents feel bad when they discipline their child, for example. Also, if McLaren is trying to convince Christians who support capital punishment to change their position, comparing them to sex addicts is not the best way of doing this! I’m not really in favor of capital punishment, but I find most of the arguments against it to be unconvincing. The truth is God’s justice IS retributive, and there are passages supporting capital punishment PRIOR TO Israelite law. So, throwing out these laws along with those on, say, menstruation is a little disingenuous. Also, saying that the government should “turn the other cheek” would make all forms of punishment invalid (including prison). I assume that none of you support doing this. I used to be very much opposed to capital punishment before I read this famous essay by CS Lewis on the Humanitarian Theory of Punishment: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/lewiscs/humanitarian.html It gives a good defense of the retributive theory of punishment. Very good stuff.>



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Christ's child

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:39 am


Greetings justintime, Some days ago I made comments involving you and was attempting to use a allogory with what is reality. I apologize because I think my intentions were not very clear and I did not mean to come across in a negative or hurtful manner I enjoy your comments and style of posting.>



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justintime

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:53 am


I remember that. No offense taken, Christ’s child. After considering your allegory, I concluded that I’m really real. .>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:56 am


There is a great danger with people like CS Lewis who I’ve read and admire but they can craft a bad argument so well that they seem to be right. No one can write words that will justify capital punishment.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 3:11 am


I feel that Bush led us into war with words that played on our fear, anger over 9/11, national pride, etc. This is not partisan. From my point of view simply accurate. Be very cautious of words that appeal to emotions rather than reason.>



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robstur

posted January 4, 2007 at 4:04 am


“Oh, they exist. And they are responsible for plunging the church into The Crusades, the Inquistion, and electing George Bush.” The quantum leaps of logic astound me. I am amased at the creativity but do not agree with the connection. But isn’t it great that we live in a country that allows you the freedom to express yourself this way. How did we get and maintain our freedom – surely not from backing down from every tyrant in the world over the past 150+ years. Just pondering – have a great day. ->



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BJH

posted January 4, 2007 at 4:55 am


To feel “dirty” because a tyrant is executed seems more than odd, and to then compare the death of Saddam to “shock and awe” and adultery even more so. I’m wondering if anytime man takes the life of another, the author would feel dirty. He states that Saddam deserved to be held accountable, but then turns to state that “taking the human life of a person in the name of human life brings no sense of justice….” So far, all I can determine from the article is that it is wrong in the author’s mind to wage war, and wrong to kill a man guilty of grievous crimes against humanity. But where is the line? If a policeman kills a criminal in a gunfight does he get that dirty feeling? How about Bonhoeffer’s attempt to assinate Hitler — dirty? Certainly there are times where taking life in preservation of life is just. The body of Christ should be saddened by the death of any man because it is a reminder of the depravity from which we all once suffered and the penalties and consequences of sin. Indeed, even if deemed a just death, it should still sadden. But plainly, death at the hands of another is justified, and the State’s authority for the same is discussed, as others have stated well above, in Rom. 13. The Body needs to think seriously about these matters before we jump whole-heartedly on board a certain philosophy and buy into emotional appeals couched in vague rhetoric and language rather than firmly supported by Scripture.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:12 am


Rob, no one on this site mentioned the crusades except Kevin who was quoting from another site.>



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kevin s.

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:25 am


Rachel, I’m glad that you see it both ways. I guess, for me, that I don’t see these political issues from an emotional perspective. Therefore, if you disagree with my opinion, I will explain why I disagree with you. No harm, no foul. However, I don’t take kindly to the misrepresentation that I see here. McLaren’s earlier works were reflexive of the humility you describe. He was willing to say he didn’t know it all, and made no effort to vilify those with whom he disagreed. He was one of my favorite authors for this reason. Sadly, over the years McLaren has seen himself as a political leader. He has, seemingly, answered his own questions, and has become arrogant. Surely, you are aware of the implications of this post. At any rate, you raise valuable points about what is accomplished by posting here. There are those (on both sides of the “aisle”) who come here simply to level insults at people with whom they disagree, and I would be absurd if I did not pretend that their invective did not taint the timbre and content of my posts here.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:33 am


“The Body needs to think seriously about these matters before we jump whole-heartedly on board a certain philosophy and buy into emotional appeals couched in vague rhetoric and language rather than firmly supported by Scripture.” I jump on board at the 10 Commandments.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:46 am


Somehow the 10 Commandments don’t seem to me to be “vague rhetoric” or “emotional appeals”. Never seemed that God was hoping if he made an “emotional appeal” that we would follow them. Think I will go back and re-read scripture, must have missed something or do I take them out of context?>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:50 am


I went back and I’ve figured it out, if God had been more firm about the 10 Commandments they would carry more weight.>



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Johnny Brooks

posted January 4, 2007 at 6:48 am


I also felt dirty not just about the execution but about the whole Iraq thing. May God forgive us. By the way your site uses pop ups, bad idea. I hope you remove them because if you do not I will stop visiting.>



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timks

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:10 am


Rachel said, I’m asking you guys as my Christian brothers and sisters: How can we say that the power of Christ in our lives is not enough for us speak to one another in kindness? Amen, Rachel. The policy doesn’t just refer to unkind posts. But kindness is a great first principle.>



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timks

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:14 am


Butch said, There is a great danger with people like CS Lewis who I’ve read and admire but they can craft a bad argument so well that they seem to be right. How do you know their argument is wrong, then? No one can write words that will justify capital punishment. Not even St. Paul?>



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Amazon Creek

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:40 am


I didn’t find Mr. MacLaren’s comments contradictory or non-committal. Hmmmm….let me grope for a word to describe what he is trying to say… Multidimensional. Yeah, that’s a good word. The execution of Saddam has many different angles you can look at it from….and each angle evokes a different emotion. And it can result in several quite-conflicting emotions. But…some people have the “ability” (?) to recognize that they can feel several conflicting emotions at once. And other people don’t. They see the world in a one-dimensional “either/or” way. And those kind of people get frustrated with comments such as Mr. MacLaren made – and accuse him of contradicting himself – or else of avoiding a decision on how he feels about it. And so? Shrug….all I can say is that God chose to create a world with different kinds of people. We probably won’t solve this problem here on this board. Meanwhile…back at the ranch…. I feel as Mr. MacLaren does. But I’m sure I won’t succeed in explaining it either to people who don’t understand that. What do I feel about it? “Voyeurism” – someone up above used that word. Great term! I like it! “Gawking” also springs to mind. I never watch these things. I turn off the TV. Gawkers seem to revel in these things. Someone up above already said…to be able to watch these things and feel glee is to deny our own sin natures. Amen! There but for the grace of God…. Romans 3…”For all have sinned…” The execution of Saddam makes me feel…hmmmm…. Relief for the people of Iraq who were tormented by him. Sadness….that anyone could waste their life in such cruel actions and thoughts. Time is precious! We each only have 1 life. And each day is a blank page teeming with unexplored possibilities! The people we could bless, the work of God we could do, the joy we could share. And to spend an entire lifetime in such cruelty…. Hmmm…RELIEF!!!! That God’s grace allowed the Holy Spirit to work in my heart so that He set me free – to NOT spend my life that way. To serve Him – to be His hands and feet. I feel horror for Saddam in what he may experience next (unless somewhere in those final moments he realized what he’d done and was genuinely sorry. I don’t know…God can grant that kind of repentance. And I can’t see inside a person’s thoughts. I don’t know what Saddam was thinking as he died.). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Do we think for 1 minute that God wasn’t watching what the Iraqis endured – and wasn’t counting it all up? God is also a Judge. And an awesome God. Thankfulness for God’s mercy and grace towards me. I am only different from Saddam Hussein because of God’s work in me. Because Jesus was executed for ME. How’s that for a Whitman’s Sampler?>



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lions_and_lambs

posted January 4, 2007 at 8:58 am


First post here… love sojo, thanks for all your hard work! I’ve been waiting for sojo’s reaction to the execution. I think Brian McLaren hit the nail on the head with “dirty” — that definitely characterizes what I felt. Thanks for your insight Brian! Anyway, there’s much that can be said, but I would like to pick up the Romans 13 thread that has been discussed. Romans 13:1 (NIV) reads: 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Arguments along the lines of “Paul tells us to respect governing authorities, and these authorities are allowed to use the sword, so the hanging was alright.” have been used. But looking at Romans 13:1, I think it’s necessary to keep in mind that in making these arguments we are implicitly affirming that the authorities in question (the Iraqi govt. and, to whatever extent, the US govt.) are established by God. In fact, Paul doesn’t appear to give us much wiggle room on this point — 13:1 seems to say that _all_ governing authorities are established by God. There are two things I would like to point out: 1. It doesn’t seem to me that this understanding of 13:1 is applied consistently. If _all_ governing authorities are established by God then was not Saddam’s regime somehow God-ordained-and-ratified? If so, then how do we legitimate “rebelling against what God has instituted” (13:2)? Or is it OK for governing authorities to attack/critique other governing authorities but not for individuals to do so? Perhaps this is a naive point to make… but lets expand on it: how do we pick and choose which governing authority is OK and which one is “in need of bombardment”? And if there _are_ governing authorities (like Hussein’s) that are _not_ OK why are we so quick to assume that _our_ governing authorities are OK? What is the underlying moral framework that is helping us answer these questions, and does 13:1 even allow us to ask these questions?! 2. Um… Paul ended up in prison. I’m assuming he was placed there by a governing authority, and that he was placed in prison for, in some way, “rebelling.” I would like to give St. Paul the benefit of the doubt and assume that he practiced what he preached. What then do we do with Romans 13? These two points seem, at first, to muddy the discussion quite a bit. What now? How do we reconcile Paul’s life with his teaching, and how do we reconcile the myriad examples of broken governments both today (e.g. Saddam’s regime, the Taliban, and — for humility’s sake! — the very palpable line between good and evil that runs through the hearts of our very own western governments) and in the bibilical narrative that Paul lived and breathed (see the story of Israel, also Amos comes to mind as particularly insightful in this regard) with 13:1? My two cents: I don’t think Romans 13 is a blank check to all governing authorities, but rather the beginnings of a criteria for what constitutes a good government. “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” (13:3) and “For [they are] God’s servant[s] to do you good.” (13:4) — this is the ideal to which Paul is striving to hold governments accountable to, this is what Kingdom oriented governments look like. And yes, Paul does affirm that the role of a government in this broken age between the cross and new creation does include punishment… but the Christian story has a trajectory towards new creation and redemption — and I believe that Paul is implicitly pointing us in that direction, particularly if Romans 13 is read in light of Paul’s entire body of work and life. Surely Paul has more to say about law, more to say about mercy, about grace, and about love. And how does the Gospel resonate with all of this? Let’s broaden the discussion and try to read Paul more holistically and coherently… for example, can we read Romans 13 in light of Ephesians 6:9 or even on the heels of 12:9-21? Too often Romans 13 begins to sound like: governing authorities have God on their side, so let there be no form of activism, disagreement, or “rebellion,” but Paul cannot possibly mean that! Of course, Paul would say, the governing authorities are ultimately under the authority of God, and Paul stands in line with a long tradition of Jewish prophets and modern-day Christian prophets (MLK, Bonhoeffer (who, I believe was quite conflicted, some would say “felt dirty” about the decision he had to make regarding Hitler…)…) striving to remind all peoples (individuals, authorities, jews, gentiles, men, women) that they are under the lordship of Christ!>



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Anonymous

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:25 pm


Kevin, you just don’t get it – can you not see how your original post, ending in “And you lead a movement?” is argumentative and antagonistic? Can you not see how the sarcasm is going to get people riled up? Yes, a few people here hurl insults at you. But please, take a moment before posting to look at your words and consider how people are going to read them, and whether they are the best words to use if you really want a dialogue. Sarcasm isn’t a great way to get a discussion going.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:36 pm


Christchild, I stand on my interpretation on the grounds of the following, which i think are beyond personal opinion: 1) Romans 13 doesn’t specificially describe the type of punishment to be metted out. You clearly were reading capital punishmment into the text with no proof from the context. 2) The context, which is the end of Romans 12, is a call for Christians to engage in suffering love. 3) The Greek for “sword” is specific, and cannot be dissmissed out of hand. Those are 3 definite facts of the case your argument cant’ change. Unless you can offer proof to the converse of those things, which we’ve not seen so far.>



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Wolverine

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm


Butch wrote: There is a great danger with people like CS Lewis who I’ve read and admire but they can craft a bad argument so well that they seem to be right. With all due respect Butch, it’s not enough to say that someone has the skill to make a bad argument sound convincing. You have to point out why the argument is wrong. It’s no good saying “CS Lewis is eloquent, therefore I don’t trust him.” Maybe he only seems eloquent because the facts really are on his side. Wolverine>



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Sheih

posted January 4, 2007 at 1:49 pm


Dear Brian, My name is Sheih from Malaysia. I’ve read what you have written and I share your view point by point. Wise man Gandhi once said, an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. Having said that, i would like to stress, I strongly against the idea of a man taking the life of another. Neither Saddam has the right to take other’s life, nor do we. As a muslim, I am very sad of all the current development. Sir, let me share with you, It is not the American, neither the jews that kill most number of muslim, but it is the muslim themself. If the world think that the muslim has been terrorising the world, well please look at how they been terrorising their on motherland. The death of Saddam will definitely ignite more hatred among the Sunni and shiiete, yet we all pray to the same god. Islam, like other religions, teach us to live in harmony and to love each other. The relationship between human must be honoured before we can build the relationship between us and god. Sadly, this is not what our learned friends are preaching. Sad to say. But it’s the reality. Regards, Sheih Kuala Lumpur>



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robstur

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:05 pm


Sheih Kuala Lumpur wrote – but it is the muslim themself. If the world think that the muslim has been terrorising the world, well please look at how they been terrorising their on motherland. – I understand this and it saddens me how muslim on muslim killing has been going on over the years. So – from your perspective, is it right for an outside entity to come to the aid of a group of people with the opjective of ending the rule of the tyrant and helping them to establish their own goverment and self rule? – praying for peace .>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:06 pm


To critics of Kevin S: As a brother in Christ and, further, someone who shares your core convictions and spirit, I think you have seriously mistreated this man. Even if he were as obstinate and obtuse as you make him out to be (he isn’t) I would still ask you whether that justifies treating him as anything other than a brother, a neighbor? On this particular post, Kevin did not answer with his feelings and his internal responses because he did not feel invited to do so, and probably a little afraid this whole post was justa trojan horse for which to draw out conservatives and then throw verbal rocks at them. Perhaps he was right about that? Additionally, it is imperative that we engage those who think differently on some level that allows safe spaces for understanding, empathy, and gradual changes. Look at the quotation from Brandeis from yesterday and then look at all the comments telling Kevin to leave. How in the heck can we hold those two ideas together and not feel some sort of dissonance? Trust me, we do not want this to be a rallying point where we come and puff each other up every day and get to demonize THEM. It is far better that we have several people of the fundamentalist, conservative, and athiest/humanist persuasions who are willing to participate. Even if we disagree with their ideas and the way they present them it is still a conversation that needs having. If not hear, then where?>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:19 pm


To Kevin S: That post above havng been registered, I can safely say that I think Brian was genuinely seeking to engage in some soul searching with people who disagree. Sometimes the only way to do so is to drop rational argumentation and say, “But this doesn’t feel right to me. Does it to you? Either way, what does that mean?” So, I think Brian was sincerely trying to leave some space for those who disagree to show up and express their reactions without judgment. For you, his attempt clearly failed. I’m hearing you say that his post presents not just his feelings but a default value position without rational supports so that you can’t really engage or connect – it smells like a trap of sorts. It seems to you, I think, that what Brian really wants is to say shame on you and throw some stones, maybe that he’d like you to poke your head up so we cronies can get a clean cheap shot and then walk around like we’re really tough. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood. Since you did express your reaction above, there’s not much I can do to reconcile this except to say that I am sad that this space did not feel safe or inviting to you and to hope that there will be better opportunities on other posts here. Also, I’d like to ask, if you are willing, that you look at the raw place from which Brian came, the sincere intentions behind doing so, and the risk taken in presenting an irrational discussion. He may not have succeeded for you, but I think there is something valuable and admirable here, something we don’t see a lot in these kinds of 2D electronic meeting places….>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:21 pm


Sorry, that should be, “If not here, then where?”>



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Wolverine

posted January 4, 2007 at 2:27 pm


Shieh, Thanks for posting. I appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts. Anyway, you wrote: As a muslim, I am very sad of all the current development. Sir, let me share with you, It is not the American, neither the jews that kill most number of muslim, but it is the muslim themself. If the world think that the muslim has been terrorising the world, well please look at how they been terrorising their on motherland. If you don’t mind me asking, why do you think that has happened? Wolverine>



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splinterlog

posted January 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm


Islam, like other religions, teach us to live in harmony and to love each other. The relationship between human must be honoured before we can build the relationship between us and god. Well said brother Sheih!>



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Deryll

posted January 4, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Daniel wrote: [Additionally, it is imperative that we engage those who think differently on some level that allows safe spaces for understanding, empathy, and gradual changes. Look at the quotation from Brandeis from yesterday and then look at all the comments telling Kevin to leave. How in the heck can we hold those two ideas together and not feel some sort of dissonance?] I’ve not asked kevins to leave; though I’ve been frustrated when he refuses to acknowledge simple facts. We have differing opinions and this is a place to discuss them. Brian used the desensitizing which, I believe, most would agree happens when one repeatedly engages in adultry; to say that repeated use of violence also desensitizes. The “gospel”, I believe, sees winning as transformation rather than the destruction of the “enemy”. To those of us who believe that: one aspect of being created in the image of God; is the capicity, when following Jesus, to have more than the fight or flight options. When “controled” by fear or hate we humans don’t look for other ways. Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, go a second mile; seem irrational to us if we don’t have our minds renewed. Romans, and the entire “gospel” is not a guide book for the state; but rather a guide for the “follower” of Jesus. We are not here to establish or overthrow earthly types of “kingdoms”. Tradition says that Paul was executed by the authority which he warned us not to use violence against.>



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Deryll

posted January 4, 2007 at 3:46 pm


[If you don't mind me asking, why do you think that has happened?] Wolverine, Legitimate question, I thought; but then I also thought. Can we Christians also ask ourselves: why the past violence in Northern Ireland? Why all the other times when Christians see violence as legitimate? Thinking of Jesus parable of the splinter and log; do we even have the right, until we reject violence, to ask the question?>



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Wolverine

posted January 4, 2007 at 4:13 pm


Deryll wrote: Thinking of Jesus parable of the splinter and log; do we even have the right, until we reject violence, to ask the question? I didn’t mean this to be an accusation. I certainly have no reason to believe that Shieh has done anything particularly violent. Religious violence is a problem that is not unique to either Islam and Christianity. I don’t see how there can be any harm done in comparing notes, and in the process we may all learn something interesting. Wolverine>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 4:18 pm


Deryll, Have you read Gil Bailie’s Violence Unveiled? (It is an English presentation of the ideas of Ren Girard for those of us who don’t spend our time picking through contemporary French theology.) The idea you’ve expressed will find solid footing in that book. I think you would really, really get a lot from it. That book is quickly becoming a staple for Christian reading and its language has inspired a new frame for talking about war and violence altogether. For example, in the post following this one, Shane Claiborne refers to “the myth of redemptive violence.” That’s right from Bailie/Girard and when Shane says it evokes a whole frame of ideas about mimesis, scapegoating violence, demonization, otherizing the shadow, the meaning of The Passion, the power of the cross, etc. If you have the time, it’s worth reading at least the first half of that one. It will give your natural thoughts an immediate shape.>



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squirrel-o

posted January 4, 2007 at 4:42 pm


I feel just the same. I feel sick to my stomach that this and the whole war happened. Justice does not mean death to our “enemies”. I feel by giving Saddam to this kangaroo court we fed him to the lions. I know the United States is guilty of so much and I am very ashamed of my leaders. I totally agree with the idea that we become numb to the pain we cause others and in fact, to ourselves. Our guilt/feelings are telling us something and when we ignore them, it’s like ignoring cancer. Thank you for sharing this and I feel as though I’m not the only one who feels sick about this.>



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Jack Walker

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:02 pm


I was writing to simply state, I too feel dirty and cried throughout Brian’s article, but was stunned by the many negative responses by so many. Have we truly lost touch with rality? How is the execution of Saddam going to make us any safer? Who do we serve? God or the poor leadership of our great nation. We need to look deep into our souls for the answer. I think personally Jesus would be appalled at our behavior…Jack Walker>



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Derek

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:07 pm


I agree that this is not the time or place to debate the question of capital punishment. It is, however, appropriate to debate THIS punishment. Right or wrong, capital punishment is legal in Iraq and it is up to the Iraqi people to determine if and how it is carried out. The question at hand is “was this punishment just”? I am reminded of the statement that it is important not only that justice be done, but that it be seen to be done. It would be hard to argue that Hussein was anything but guilty of some horrific abuses. However, justice requires due process. It is hard to understand how due process could occur when key members of his legal team kept getting murdered. This alone invalidated the process and justice was not served, irrespective of the “rightness” of the verdict. If it was our intent to instill a sense of justice and democracy in Iraq, we failed miserably. What we witnessed was not justice, but just another in a seemingly endless series of government killings. The government changed, but that’s about all. Instead of there being a sense of justice to the punishment meted out to Mr. Hussein, we have instead cleverly created a martyr who himself became victim to the exact same injustice he created.>



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kevin s.

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Thank you Daniel… I understand Brian is coming from a visceral place, and have no qualms about that. I fully understand the nuances of his argument. You are correct that I felt like this post was a cheap shot. That’s all I will say on this. To the question of Romans. “Arguments along the lines of “Paul tells us to respect governing authorities, and these authorities are allowed to use the sword, so the hanging was alright.” have been used.” I would nuance this by saying it does not mean that ALL hangings are alright, but that the punishment falls within the pale of governmental discretion. This is important as we move forward. “If _all_ governing authorities are established by God then was not Saddam’s regime somehow God-ordained-and-ratified?” Here, I think the Bible is largely silent on the specific question of whether governments have the right to go to war with other governments. The question then becomes whether the Bible, by way of omissions, sees no room for war. I think the Old Testament is instructive here, in that God clearly acknowledges that countries will engage other countries in battle. For me Romans places a qualifier that government are to be tools of justice. To add a wrinkle to what you said, wouldn’t the new Iraqi government be similarly appointed by God? If we interpret this passage to mean that whatever is, is from God, then we get a chicken/egg type scenario. “My two cents: I don’t think Romans 13 is a blank check to all governing authorities, but rather the beginnings of a criteria for what constitutes a good government” I’m inclined to agree. This is where we must understand the passage not to condone every governmental behavior, but rather to allow for a government to use its authority. Let’s use an example that is friendlier here. The United States will undoubtedly have a major role in the Sudan. Invariably, this will require violence of some sort. If we read Romans 13 with the wrinkles you suggest, we are left with an endless discussion of whether God has appointed the oppressors, and whether we have a right to stop the oppression. I simply can’t read this passage that way. That is much different from saying that every action we might take is sanctioned by Romans 13, of course.>



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Diana Wright

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:26 pm


Dirty will do it. Soiled. But sometimes I think of my father’s solution to the Eichmann trial, which left us feeling equally soiled — turn him loose in Jerusalem for lack of evidence. And sometimes I think of what Hell means & think that Saddam Hussein got there in those last 2 minutes before he finished dying.>



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Matt Channing

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm


Like Brian I felt dirty, then I remembered that Saddam was our government’s number one man in the region until the late ’80s. We gave him the money, the templates, the resources and the training to do what he did. Upon remembering this, I felt not only dirty, but hypocritical.>



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Butch

posted January 4, 2007 at 6:16 pm


Wolverine, Re; CS Lewis, it is not necessary to prove that a thing is dangerous to point out that it is. Hitler made good arguments, to some, but clearly listening mindlessly to well crafted words is dangerous. You went further than I did which mutes the point. I argue that Kevin has an agenda, to disrupt thoughtful discussion yet, he writes very well.>



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Anonymous

posted January 4, 2007 at 6:26 pm


["My two cents: I don't think Romans 13 is a blank check to all governing authorities, but rather the beginnings of a criteria for what constitutes a good government"] Here is where I disagree. I believe Paul is writing to followers of Jesus. He includes the statement about government but the directive is to followers and not to government. Jesus repeatedly told the twelve that they were to be different from the world. I believe Jesus said that the world (including governments) operates in self serving ways. His instructions were to serve others, just as he served. Daniel I have not read Gil Bailie. The term “the myth of redemptive violence” is not new to me though. Tom Boomershine sees Jesus, the entire new testament, and the first 300 years of Christianity as a refutation of that myth.>



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Deryll

posted January 4, 2007 at 6:28 pm


Anonymous | 01.04.07 – 1:31 pm Sorry! That’s me! Deryll>



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Christ's child

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:07 pm


Greetings Kevin Wayne, You mentioned in Romans 13, The sword meaning the power of the government rather than a physical sword, which doesn’t change the total meaning of the verse (4). What then do you do with the words, revenger, revenge and wrath. In verse 5 it mentions wrath again. The government has the authority to take revenge on the wrong doer and has done so through out history. The word revenge is accepted as meaning retribution for an act done, equal to the act. In the old testament an eye for an eye was equal retribution.An eye for an eye was to be carried out by the individual or family upon the guilty.Stoning was one of the methods for execution.God gave these laws and methods to man and it was not man’s invention. Would you say that God was wrong to give man these methods of governmeent? In the new testament, God,has taken the law and placed it under the organized government(s) to carry out and this is for all of mankind to obey. Revenge(retribution) is an authorized action of government,not of the individual.To do otherwise is to mis-apply and to take out of context. Every government on this earth has this responsibilty and will be held accountable for their mis-use of power.The word “Revenge” has been abused and if the bible and its writers were inspired, then Paul’s writings cannot be easily dismissed.Paul was willing to answer, even unto death, for his actions under the law, if guilty of breaking the laws of Rome. Israel and Rome wasn’t guilty because they carried out the law,including the death penalty, but was guilty because they convicted the innocent.God is a God of love but God is also a God of justice.God has given government the authority to carry out his justice on this earth. Man cannot take justice in his own hands but must submit to government for justice.It seems that this discussion is maybe a matter of heart and not necessarly of scripture. Why is it that most individuals that are against the death penalty for the guilty, such as Saddam Hussein, will relegate the unborn to a non-human status and allow their death in the millions.God says,in his word, that he knew individuals in the womb and knitted their bones together, and gave them a personality while in the womb. Would God know only a few individuals in the womb, as not only human, but with certain attributes,and not others? This blog was for feelings on Saddam Hussein’s execution but the feelings are related to all areas of life and death and how that occurs.>



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David K

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:08 pm


Brian wrote “I’d like to share it especially for those who support executions, not to change their opinion necessarily, but simply to make a request of them. The best word to describe my feeling: dirty.” After repeated readings of his post I must admit his “request” eludes me. He does write at the end “So, if you felt as I did after the execution of Saddam Hussein, dirty, I wouldn’t dismiss the feeling.” Perhaps that is his request. If so, it seems aimed at people already sharing his viewpoint. Correct me if I am wrong, it appears to me Brian primarily wants to share his feelings. God bless him for that. It is good to recognize our feelings. I felt relief and gratitude when my wife said Saddam had been executed. But at the end of the day, our feelings and two bucks will buy us a cup of coffee. It is important to recognize that our feelings are not the polestar by which we are to navigate. They are currents and reefs that must be dealt with. Jesus wept and sorrowed and asked God to spare him. At the end of the day he was not ruled by his feelings but by doing the will of his Father. Many comments here reflect a variety of feelings. Some gracious. Some not. Others,judging by their comments, wrestle with the Word. That is a blessed thing. Which brings me to my prayer. If the spirit has quickened your soul, God strengthen and sustain you in your growth. If not, I pray that glorious occurrence for you. Prayerfully, David>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:15 pm


Daryll, Please tell me more about Tom Boomershine, he sounds like someone I’d like to read or hear more from!>



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Robert

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:18 pm


I found this site by accident and read the question and the post. The answer: Vindication, Gratification and sorrow. Not dirty at all. I think I would have felt dirty if I was the one pulling the floor out from under him. (Smiling but dirty)and maybe not dirty, dusty? This guy single handedly caused the deaths of many, and his death; while GREAT in IMO. does not bring any of the people he killed back. However, if they let him live, what does that tell the next one like him? He got out easy. Brutal? yep. I applaud the Iraqi’s for handling business in their society. We need a deterrent in our society. We are so careful about “Cruel and Unusual punishment, we have forgot the crime and punishment deterrent factor. The Iraqi’s allowed that video. There was no hiding of the camera phone, The folks in charge knew it was being filmed. WHY? because if it was not filmed and if it was not 100% accurate, the conspiracy theorists would have been out in force…. the media, the bloggers everyone would have doubts. No Doubt now. Good Job Iraqi’s.>



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Bill Samuel

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:32 pm


Amen, Brian. I felt that way too. The scenes struck me as barbaric. The question that arose for me is Can’t we rise above this level? It also struck me as ironic that Saddam was sentenced to death for signing death warrants against persons charged of plotting assassination against him. It all seems rather circular. And it strikes me as ironic that the person who is responsible more than anyone for this coming about, George W. Bush, signed dozens of death warrants himself. I think every killing diminishes us. Killing in response to killing just makes us spiral downward. Christ calls us to be transformed to where we live life on a totally different level. Rachel MacNair has studied what she labels Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS). Those who engage in violence suffer from it. This is true of soldiers in war, executioners, abortionists, etc. They all show the same symptoms. Harder to measure, but it is not only the individual perpetrator who is brought down by committing violence, but it is societies who countenance violence – war, abortion, executions, the taking of the lives of the severely handicapped, etc. “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” Another comment. When we just read someone’s words, it is easy to see them in a context that may not be the true one. Those of us who actually know Brian can not accept the more malevolent views of his words because they just don’t fit who we know he is. Those who don’t know him don’t have this context.>



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CRP

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:46 pm


A policy: Violence breeds violence. Keep it to a minumum.>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:47 pm


Robert, Thank you for sharing how you felt. Given your further thoughts I wonder if you see that ‘execution is good because it deters crime’ is one of those means/ends things that skips over the moral question. I take it you are conservative, so I hope I can simply refer to William Bennett’s argument that killing all the black people would decrease crime. Accepted as a deterrent the death penalty is the same on a moral level, isn’t it?>



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CRP

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:47 pm


Sorry about the “minumum” above. Does this blog have spell check?>



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Daniel

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:49 pm


And peacemaking breeds peacemaking. Keep it maximized!>



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Politickal Animal

posted January 4, 2007 at 7:53 pm


Brian, You said at the conclusion of your thoughts on Saddam’s execution that “If you felt…dirty, I wouldn’t dismiss the feeling. I would say that it might be a redemptive dirtiness, and without it, I am afraid of what we could become.” I wouldn’t dismiss it either. Interestingly I was reading the January 1 entry in a C.S. Lewis devotional, “The Business of Heaven.” In it he speaks of our being like “very muddy and tattered children.” He concludes with this very telling statement: “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.” When Saddam was executed, I felt troubled, I felt great sadness for our nation, his nation and for even him, the sinner put to death among his worst enemies. I am not a pacifist, and do not totally disagree with the President on why we are in Iraq. But I am not a voyeur about executions. You gave me a great word to apply to how I feel anytime something like this takes place — “dirty.” I too felt dirty. We can only hope and trust that this is indeed evidence of the presence of God.>



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Diana Wright

posted January 4, 2007 at 8:05 pm


Thank you for that, PA.>



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Anonymous

posted January 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm

Kevin Wayne

posted January 4, 2007 at 11:01 pm


Phillippe- thanks for the point about the fact that Saddam Hussein could also claim that he was in place by the ordination of God according to Romans 13, I was going to include that, but forgot. Btw, you mentioned Resurrection Band. I was just in Chicago stating at Jesus People USA & saw Glenn Kaiser. lions_and_lambs, thanks for elaborating on the same point regarding Saddam being ordained, also. In regards to Kevin S. response: “If we read Romans 13 with the wrinkles you suggest, we are left with an endless discussion of whether God has appointed the oppression ors, and whether we have a right to stop the oppression. I simply can’t read this passage that way.” I would say that the converse is an endless and self-deceptive rabbit trail of who God has appointed to do his works. I recall that in the Old Testament, Cyrus the Pagan King was God’s “messiah” to liberate Israel. But that said nothing about whether the Israelites were to engage in pro-death penalty movements on behalf of Cyrus. It’s more Biblical to see all these institutions as what they are: fallen. Robstur- how is my including the electing of George Bush with the Crusades a “quantum Leap in logic?” If you were on the wrong side of the sword in either the Crusades or this wrongly conceived Iraqi war, you wouldn’t be differentiating. The inclusion of the link from Intervarsity was a mistake on my part. You got “the other side” from me for free, there. ;-) Daniel, I don’t think McLaren had any in intention of drawing conservatives into a conflict for them to be potshot at. I think his post was just a sincere attempt at self-examination. I think Kevin S’s opener was an attempt at nit-picking out an obscure point to try and railroad the discussion. It sure looks that way, and it sure looks like a violation of the policy I posted. At the very least, the part about behaving in a way that makes it less enjoyable for others was violated. I seriously doubt he spends his time on websites of other political stripes doing the same thing. Christ’schild: One can easily “avenge” a crime by putting someone in prison, it’s not always necessary that they be killed. But my point is this: ________________ Rom 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rom 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rom 12:20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. _____________ These are the verses that precede Romans 13:1-7. You say: “we cannot choose which parts of God’s word to follow”, but it’s pretty clear from the text that the choices have been made for us. And if you believe Saddam Hussein was ordained by God, also… there doesn’t seem to be any room for a Christian to advocate pro-war or pro-death penalty policy.>



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Judith Bowers

posted January 4, 2007 at 11:27 pm


I was surprised by what I saw in my mind’s eye upon hearing of his death. I saw him as a young child before he became the person he was. And I was saddened. All of us start out as babies, as young children with potential for good, for evil, for so many things. How painful it is that so many of us grow into persons capable of inflicting so much pain, evil, and violence.>



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Steve K

posted January 4, 2007 at 11:31 pm


How many people does it take to agree to murder for it to be justified? If one man does it, it is murder. If two conspire, it is murder. Is several get together and call themselves a “congress” it is execution. There is no logic to this. Romans 13 doesn’t give governments authority, it tells the Christian how to respond to government – yes, even oppressive, violent, even democidal governments like that of Caesar Nero.>



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Carrie C.

posted January 5, 2007 at 12:44 am


Brian- Thank you for this reflection. I was watching ABC when the show was interrupted for a Special News Report. In a second I realized I had been carrying the knowledge of what-was-to-come within since earlier in the afternoon. I was tense and sad. Nothing done to Saddam will ever bring back life taken. There are never simple solutions. There are people unknown touched by his life and his death. My prayers are with them. Carrie>



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Diane

posted January 5, 2007 at 12:56 am


Contrast Saddam’s execution with the most compelling image of punishment I can think of: Rudolph[?]Hess as an old, old man walking all alone in Spandau Prison. Saddam knew too many secrets, secrets that many in his country and most probably in our own as well are happy to see taken to the grave with him. I think that’s why he was executed so summarily. Of course, the manner was brutal, vengeful and barbaric. However sanitized, all executions are exactly the same. Saddam showed grace and courage in the ultimate stress situation. Ironically, that image is what many of us will remember.>



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Gordon

posted January 5, 2007 at 2:08 am


My first thought was, “This seems to be one thing the Muslims get right – it took a month or so, not 20 years.” Subsequent revelations leave me a bit quesy. Apparently the execution wasn’t carried out by the dul constituted authorities. That makes it murder, in my view.>



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Paul

posted January 5, 2007 at 2:31 am


How do I feel? Absolutely relieved. Having been a supervisor in a Maximum security Gaol, I have a sense of what things would have been like for those who would have been responsible for his custody. The willingness of some people here to force others (I am assuming NONE of the people putting forth here as willing do do the work themselves) to live with the consequences of their cowardice, is astounding. I’m sorry that probably comes across harsh, but trust me that is the real polite form of what I think of the moral hand wringing I see here. Just because some aspects of the execution were badly done in no way demonstrates that it should not have happened at all. People can do the right thing for the wrong reasons, but that does not make the act wrong. Had I been responsible for the detail things certainly would have happened differently, and any misconduct by my staff would have been disciplined. Any yes, I would have gladly pulled the lever myself. cheers, Paul>



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Liesl

posted January 5, 2007 at 2:39 am


It made me sad, because what I was seeing was the end of a person who had never known God. Never felt His healing, His love, His forgiveness, His freedom. I felt sad for how this human life was lived and ended. I felt that Saddam’s life was wasted instead of lived abundantly as Jesus promised our lives could be. I knew that God was sad, too, because He made Saddam just as He made me and you. He loved Saddam just as He loves me and you. And He wanted Saddam to know Him and love Him. But sadly, that was not the case. I know Saddam was full of hatred and anger and lonliness and fear and all the other things that come from being separated from God, and he took those out on the people of his own country, his own family. I could not watch and be happy that someone as loved by God as you and I missed his chance to be reconciled to God. I had prayed for him, that somehow God would work a miracle and open his heart. But that did not happen. And another of God’s children was forever separated from Him. No, it did not make me happy at all. It made me profoundly sad.>



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Don Costello

posted January 5, 2007 at 4:42 am


Great post Paul! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’d rather read you that Brian McLaren any day. Thanks.>



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Ian Jarvis

posted January 5, 2007 at 4:46 am


Seeing the US didn’t try or execute SH, what is the point of Wallis’ bleat? Do you prefer that mass murderers get off free? Where was Sojourners when SH was engaging in mass murder? Silent! Are you now exposing the murder and oppression of Christians in Islamic countires? No! Are you lobbying against the oppression inherent in Islam? No! Are you working hard for the Christians in Indonesia and Sudan who are persecuted night and day? No!>



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kevin s.

posted January 5, 2007 at 5:21 am


“I think Kevin S’s opener was an attempt at nit-picking out an obscure point” Obscure point? The points I addressed constituted the majority of the piece. They were the point. I wasn’t derailing anything. There was nothing to derail. I am in violation of no policy. “These are the verses that precede Romans 13:1-7. ” I am aware. I do not see a call to abolish the death penalty in those verses any more than I see call to abolish any other form of punishment. You see the death penalty as inherently evil, which is necessary for your interpretation. I do not.>



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Steve R

posted January 5, 2007 at 5:33 am


jurisnaturalist said : So, do I think Saddam should have died? Yes. Do I think the way it was done was best? No. Do I believe that a satisfactory method exists? No. Were those who executed him justified? No. To same questions I’d have to answer : So, do I think Saddam should have died? Yes. Do I think the way it was done was best? No – Because of the taunting, the lack of reespect shown and the fact they cut Saddam off mid-prayer rather than allow him to finish praying before pulling the lever. Do I believe that a satisfactory method exists? Yes. Indeed, my view is that many methods of capital punishment that are quick and relatively painless exist. (For the morbidly curious, decapitation and firing squad at close range seem quickest and least painful to the victim but there are other methods too.) Were those who executed him justified? Yes – Saddam was pretty much indisputably an evil dictator responsible for killing thousands of others and invading other nations. While there was no doubt of his guilt I sure hope they were certain they hanged the real Saddam not a double. Plus I do have some cynicism about his trial, the fairness and what evidence potentially harming the Bush administration was NOT heard. How do Ifeel about hanging Saddam? Thesame way I feel about shootinga rabid dog – An unpleasant task that it had to be done for others safety and was the most merciful course of action which ended suffering for Saddam and for the relatives of his victims. It didn’t make me feel great exactly, but I do feel it was the right thing to do although mocking him as he died was wrong. Ialso think itopens a path to healing for the Iraqi people he victimised. In general, – with the very important proviso that there be absolutely no doubt of guilt – I strongly support the death penalty for murderers, rapists and others. Capital punishment should be used carefully, never abused and it should be carrid out humanely, quickly and I think publicly – So that justice is seen to be done and victims know their oppresor really has gone. I truly believe there really _are_ some cases where removing a criminal from life is the kindest, most just, mostnecessary and best preventative course. Anexecuted criminal nevre re-offends. One even or esopecially imprisoned for life always hasthepossibilty of committingmore crimes. There is one otheraspect though – Bush Jr, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Blairand Howard should have beenon thesame gallows for mucxh thesame crimes as Saddam. So, do I think Bushand theothers neo-cons responsible for the invasionof Iraq should be executed? Yes. Do I think the way Saddam was executed should be done unto them? No – they should be allowed to finish their prayers and not be taunted before being hung. Do I believe that a satisfactory method for executing them exists? Yes. Are those who would execute George Bush, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, John Howard etc .. justified? Yes. Maybe one day, that might even happen … After all, like Saddam, the conspirators in charge of the American invasion of Iraq ordered mass murder, conspired to create mass-murder and are responsible for the deaths of thousands (if not 100’s of 1000’s) of innocent lives and threaten to do so again.>



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robstur

posted January 5, 2007 at 5:55 am


Kevin Wayne wrote – Robstur- how is my including the electing of George Bush with the Crusades a “quantum Leap in logic?” If you were on the wrong side of the sword in either the Crusades or this wrongly conceived Iraqi war, you wouldn’t be differentiating. – but your original posting said – responsible for plunging the church into The Crusades, the Inquistion, and electing George Bush.” – had nothing to do with the Iraq war. But I digress… – The Crusades – what would cause a group of Europians to trek across half the known world to fight the crusades – there has to be a cause. Could it be that after centuries of Jerusalem having 3 religions worshipping within the walls of the city and one of them becoming the ‘dominate’ religious group and then kicking out the other two and claiming the city as their own might have been the cause? Just a thought… – the Inquistion – yes this was wrong and the Pope and almost everyone else has appologised for it. It was an over-reaction to the moors (islamists) that had basically pushed the Spanish people out of their own country and their attempt to take it back. In their desire to make sure that another group of people or religion was not going to do that to them again they decided to convert the Jews. It was wrong. – Now with the Crusades and the Inquistion – you are still going to put the election of Bush into the discussion – hmmm? – I even think that the comparison of the Crusades and the Inquistion are vastly different and have their own set of circumstances that their comparison is a little off the mark. But it is a free country.>



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Steve R

posted January 5, 2007 at 6:13 am


Sorry about the typos. Anonymous | 01.03.07 – 6:55 pm | # “I wonder how many of you who rejoice at Saddam’s execution would support the death penalty for the Marines who killed innocent Iraqis at Haditha? It has to work both ways.” Absolutely. I feel the death penalty must be fair. It must apply to us every bit as much as them. I also feel those that order murder are as responsible for those that commit it. Rumsfeld may not have been Abu Ghraib but he ordered the torture and is as guilty – if not even more so – than that woman scapegoat they jailed for what took place there. She was rightly imprisoned because she comitted the act. Following orders or being in war does not absolve you from moral responsibilty or the choice to obey illegal orders. It is unethical – even when in context it may be understandable. Yet giving illegal and unethical orders also makes one guilty of the crime. Saddam ordered many innocent deaths. For that – and for the potential of doing it again (or being used as an excuse hostage takers & Sunni insurgents), for the symbolism and for the people of Iraq being able to feel secure that he has gone forever, his execution was right. Not nice, not clean, not great but justified, fair and right. I don’t exult in it or feel glee but I agree with it. For the same reasons the murdering Marines of Haditha & the Neo-cons who plotted for, lied for and “led” the invasion of Iraq deserve to (and should) be executed. I would agree with that if it ever happens. I hope it does. And, yes, I’d pull the levers, fire the shots or whatever myself. There were, I’ve heard literally thousands of Iraqi’s who volunteered to be SH’s executioner. That says something and their views to deserve to be considered. Would Christ feel sad. Yes. But would Christ agree? Honest answer, I really don’t know.>



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anon

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:08 am


Dirty? Good thing the world does not depend upon you. Too much weak kneed – left wing navel gazing. Saddam is dead. Good riddance. Anything less is rubbish. Too bad he was not done in public – as is common in that part of the world. Be glad you have the freedom to continue gazing. That freedom came at the point of the weapon. And that freedom came from men not afraid to use the weapon.>



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Tim

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:10 am


What a pointless article. How to make the WRONG people feel guilty in one step, by the a person described in TIME magazine’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America. God help the Evangelicals!! Please American people grow up. How one can construed in the mind the LINK between Saddam, Dirty and Redemptive without making one comment about Mohammadism is beyond me! Saddam was a Muslim, in a Muslim country; executed by Muslims, even allowed to be buried in his hometown, where if the rumours are correct an Islamic school and Mosque will be build in his honour. Now if I was a Muslim that would make me feel dirty, very dirty, to think that such a man as Saddam has any place in a school or a place of Worship or even heaven makes the mind boggle. But then, thank God, I am NOT a follower of Mohammad.>



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lions_and_lambs

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:40 am


Thank you Kevin S. for your thoughtful comments. Allow me to respond to some of the issues you’ve raised and insights you’ve contributed “I think the Old Testament is instructive here, in that God clearly acknowledges that countries will engage other countries in battle. For me Romans places a qualifier that government are to be tools of justice. ” I like the way you’ve phrased that. God clearly “acknowledges” that countries will engage other countries in battle. Such acknowledgment need not imply that God condones such acts. Yes, at the time God demanded that the Israelites kill (we have probably all struggled through such passages, McLaren does a great job discussing this, I feel, in A Generous Orthodoxy) ruthlessly, but the overwhelming trajectory of the old testament towards the shalom of God and the beautiful heaven-on-earth visions in Micah 4:3 and Isaiah 11:6 (and, of course, the many teachings of Christ) hint at what God’s ultimate plan for humanity is. I don’t see it leaving much room for war: how to put this… it isn’t God that’s changed his mind, it’s us (humanity) who are somehow growing up… I mean, the resurrected Christ and the Spirit are at work in the world, guiding us towards New Creation and the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan! What role governing authorities will play in that plan is nuanced and complex… which is why i love things like this blog, we’re all here to think imaginatively about what governments (and other large-scale sociopolitical entities) might look like (should they still need to exist) as New Creations. “To add a wrinkle to what you said, wouldn’t the new Iraqi government be similarly appointed by God? If we interpret this passage to mean that whatever is, is from God, then we get a chicken/egg type scenario.” I agree, and that was my point. I don’t want to read the passage as whatever is, is from God, but rather to read the passage as: if a governing authority is to want to truly fulfill the role it was created to fulfill, then _this_ is the fruit it must bear (and the fact that 13 follows 12 so closely leads me to want to pull the beautiful vision of love and shalom discussed in 12 and have it at least inform 13). “I’m inclined to agree. This is where we must understand the passage not to condone every governmental behavior, but rather to allow for a government to use its authority. ” I’m glad we are in agreement. That was part of the central thesis… But before we lose sight of context (in response to anonymous), Paul is primarily writing to Christians telling them how to live under the rule of a government. I think encoded in his letter (and most certainly in a large part of his body of work, see the excellent “Collosians Remixed”) is a powerful critique of the prevailing philosophies and social structures of the time, and so I too am inclined to let Romans 13 tell us about what governments are allowed/not allowed to do. With that in mind, I would add a wrinkle to what you said, Kevin: Romans 13 allows for a government to use its authority, but may seek to hold government accountable to be the kind of social entity that God is calling it to be. Only in that context is its authority legitimate. “Let’s use an example that is friendlier here. The United States will undoubtedly have a major role in the Sudan. Invariably, this will require violence of some sort. If we read Romans 13 with the wrinkles you suggest, we are left with an endless discussion of whether God has appointed the oppressors, and whether we have a right to stop the oppression. I simply can’t read this passage that way.” Here is, I guess where we disagree. Yes the US will undoubtedly have a major role in the Sudan (hopefully, though there will be a more balanced global response — the US is already spread quite thin both in resources and credibility). I do not, however, agree that “Invariably, this will require violence of some sort.” Yes, it probably will — but we have a Hope in Christ that should make us hesitate before we call violence inevitable. This is the bizarre logic of nonviolence permeating the New Testament that seems to go against almost all our intuition but that, again and again, bears fruit: it bore fruit on the cross, it bore fruit with MLK, with Ghandi, and with Tutu… it works which is more than can be said for much of the violence that has taken place in the latter half of the 20th century. I agree that reading Romans 13 the way I suggest brings up all these questions. I believe these questions lead us directly to a humility that may help us seek alternative ways to deal with social justice issues like Sudan. I don’t think the discussion would be endlessly paralyzed, a spade is a spade and the tyranny in Sudan is ominous and disgusting. Allow me to be so bold: did God appoint those oppressors? No! Do we have a “right” to stop the oppression? I would phrase that question this way: Do we have a “right” as Christians to NOT do *something* about the oppression? Again, NO! We are called to pick up that cross. But the oppressors employ child soldiers — should we just carpet bomb them? Is there no redemption or hope for them in sight? And the oppressed are starving — can we simply fly our planes in and liberate them by killing their oppressors, their own sons and daughters? That a discussion of Romans 13 might lead to raising these questions is a GREAT thing. I think the discussion should center not on whether we should help, but on how we should help. And the discussion should be broadened beyond the scope of violence, which is neither inevitable nor productive nor holy. To quote Romans 13 again regarding the defacto superpower/world police of the day (a role of governing authority — may it be redeemed or dismantled if it is not a Kingdom authority!) “For he is God’s servant to do you good.” –sorry for the long posts… I’ll get the hang of shortening things soon enough, thanks for the dialog Kevin S!>



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Gary

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:48 am


I just can not believe that so many who claim to be Christians could be so utterly morally confused, emotionally frail, and weak-willed. Apparently the author believes that we should never do anything substantive, because some children might be frightened. If you felt ‘dirty’ when hearing of a mass murderer being executed, it is because your sense of justice is buried in filth! Did Saddam’s death make us safer? No, it was justice! Did it make us more righteous? No, it was justice! What did his death really accomplish? JUSTICE! Couldn’t we just lock him away? No, that would be UNJUST! Didn’t God love Saddam? Yes, and he loved those who Saddam murdered! IF GOD’S LOVE OVERRIDES JUSTICE, THEN CHRIST DIED FOR NO REASON. IT WAS FOR OUR SIN THAT HE HAD TO ENDURE DEATH. AGAIN, JUSTICE. What right do we have to take another human’s life? The right that he himself gave us when he himself established capital punishment. “An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.” No, an eye for an eye makes people who gouge eyes blind. Justice! How can a christian justify killing of any kind? Because the bible makes it incredibly clear that life is God’s to give and take, and he is willing to take it by the thousand. That’s right, don’t just read the parts you like. God also makes it very clear in scripture that he fully expects good people to fight evil people, to the death if necessary. So much useless whimpering about “I feel” this or “I don’t feel” that. Every bit of it null and void because it isn’t about feelings. It’s about justice. One post is actually so confused as to say “two wrongs don’t make a right”. There was only one wrong (the act of mass murder), and the just punishment for it (death). Another post says that the execution eliminates the possibility of retribution for the victims. Retribution for the victims? They are dead! It’s about justice! God, please, I’m begging you to wake your people!>



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Steve R

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:56 am


From the comments and my reading of the Bible it seems there’s no clear Biblical ruling either for or againt execution. There’s only debatable Scriptural support via interpretation and inference for both sides. In general, I strongly support the death penalty for murderers, rapists and the very worst, least rehabilitateable (?) criminals – with the very important proviso that there be absolutely no doubt of guilt.Where there is any doubt, the death penalty should not be applied. But where none exists, execution serves as the final, most serious sanction that lawful governments and societies can apply. I truly believe there really _are_ some cases where executing the worst criminal is the right course. It enables absolute certainty. An executed criminal can NEVER re-offend. Never again threaten harm to others even in jail or escape to terrorise their victims & society at large again. Sadly but undeniably some criminals, the very sickest and worst offenders will, if _ever_ given the faintest hint of an opportunity repeat unspeakable acts of evil. Paedophiles, for instance, or mass murderers. Individuals like McVeigh or Martin Bryant or Osama bin Laden. Keeping that sort of criminal alive means there is always the possibilty of them reoffending. In such cases, imprisonment even for life, makes as as much sense as keeping a rabid dog alive. It does us and even them no favours whatsoever. Putting them to death, removing their threat like shooting rabid dogs is, arguably, merciful to them as well as everyone else. There is a case that imprisonment for all life is actually more cruel than swift execution. This is why – when there is no doubt of guilt and the crime merits the ultimate penalty the death penalty should be an option. It is final. It is safe. It is peventative. It reassures victims and deters potential offenders. It is Just and reflects our society’s values and majority judgement. Now, of course, capital punishment is a serious thing. It must be used carefully and never abused. It must be done the right way. Quick and painless methods should be used. The quickest and most certain are those that create immediate fatal damage, destroying in seconds or less the brain, heart or spinal cord. Thus probably firing squad or beheading are the best options. Hanging which severs the spine is okay, but hanging that kills by suffocation isn’t. Slower means like electric chair,gas chamber and lethal injection are less acceptable. Having ‘death row’ prisoners die of old age awaiting execution is cruel to everyone. There should be, perhaps, one and only one appeal allowed. Then after the failure of that appeal, the sentence should be carried out with merciful speed – preferably the next day. I also think the executions should be carried out publicly. This is so that justice is seen to be done and so victims know their oppressor really has gone. It makes things open, straightforward and indisputable. Once the criminal is dead, their soul is a matter for God, that is for Him alone. If a criminal who was executed was truly repentant, maybe God will forgive her and take her to Him. Or not. It is between that individual and God. It is beyond the realm of Humanity, our society, our judges. Execution, to me, means Caesar has had his share, his say, given unto him – as have the victims and Society. All will know there is no way that criminal will harm again and all can reflect on justice, crime and punishment. By these criteria, Saddam Hussein’s execution was reasonable. There was a bit of unfortunate cruelty with the mocking, a bit of concern about the courts fairness but generally; he deserved to die, the punishment was justified and was seen to be done. Thus I don’t have any major problem with it. I don’t cheer about it, it gives me little if any pleasure – but I feel sure it was right. Do I feel dirty or sinful over it? No. Do I feel pity for Saddam. Not a great deal but some. I do pity Iraq and its people. Mostly, though I hope Saddam’s execution brings some closure and healing to his victims.>



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lions_and_lambs

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:49 am


Um… Gary… Is there any way to work the words redemption, mercy, and grace into your discussion? Yes Saddam was in many ways the worse of the worse. Evil? Undeniably… wholly unredeemably evil? um.. I hope not. Also, a question about the mechanics of justice… how does it actually work? How do you extract justice out of a mass murderer? How does his death cover over the deaths of thousands (an eye-for-a-thousand-eyes)? Wouldn’t it be a far more just action to have let him live in some sort of solitary isolation to think over what he had done? Perhaps then he may have actually repented… …isn’t that part of the good news?? That even Saul could become Paul? Finally… yes life is God’s to give and take. We are not God. And as for good people fighting evil people… i question the ease with which you seem to lay down that dividing line: ‘”Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.”‘ (Mark 10:18) I’m not advocating inaction… I’m advocating humility, a pause for reflection and prayer. What are we really all about? Are there really just two sides, and is this really just one big football game for God? Can we honestly read the gospels and conclude that violence is an integral part of the way, the truth, and the life? Such dehumanizing actions (be they carried out by Saddam or by the current Iraqi government or by the US) are a sad part of living in a fallen world — a world in the pains of childbirth and in the process of a marvelous miraculous rebirth. Let’s look beyond eye-for-an-eye justice and seek the “justice [that] rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” — the redemption, renewal, and affirmation of all that is good in this world. It’s already at work! Yes, the ancient Israelites were called to kill quite brutally, but they finally grew, by the Spirit, beyond that (see, for example, Luke 22:51 — “no more of this!” (NIV)) — let us, whenever possible, move forward along the trajectory the Spirit has set us on… not backwards. You also said: ‘”An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.” No, an eye for an eye makes people who gouge eyes blind. Justice!’ Cute, and a very valid point. But in response: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:12) The point is this. It’s not that an-eye-for-an-eye is bad because it makes everyone blind. And it’s not that an-eye-for-an-eye is good because it somehow brings about justice. It’s that an-eye-for-an-eye is wrong: Because Christ said so! (Matt 5:38) Let’s let that be the starting point for that particular discussion!>



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KG

posted January 5, 2007 at 12:01 pm


Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on Gen. 9:6 which tells us that “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed;…”. How does this play into our thoughts about God? It seems to me at least that God at least at some point in time did consider it just to take life for life. Wondering what others think about this verse and it’s part in the whole discussion.>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 2:30 pm


Paul, Thank you for sharing your feelings, but I’d like to hash through some of the rationales you presented. You said that execution is morally justified because: (1) Saddam’s guards and other handlers and caretakers would have a rough time; (2) Wrong intentions behind an action do not make the action wrong. The first is very obviously not a moral argument but a utilitarian one. The fact that it is hard to do something doesn’t make the easier path the right one. In fact, Christianity in general teaches the opposite. I have a sneaking suspicion that a liberal who said, “We should abort this baby because it will be such a burden” would receive swift (and justified) chastisement from you. I think intentions do matter, as in the stories about Pharisees who do all the right things but have twisted, self-righteous motives. Doesn’t matter for the purpose at hand – the second argument above does not even address whether the action itself is moral. You’ve characterized opposition to execution as cowardice. That may be. For many people it may be weakness that leads to the inability to kill another person. But the distinction between brave and cowardly or strong and weak has nothing to do with moral correctness. This does, though: Blessed are the meek. We are instructed to love our neighbors as ourselves. I’m not sure what the circumstances are in which killing another person is loving them, but let’s assume they exist. One criteria for that situation, I think, would have to be proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the convicted is a threat to people in the future (and therefore a threat to themselves). Maybe Saddam was still a threat. I don’t really know. But seeking not to commit murder is hardly “moral handwringing.” It is an ethics of everyday life, exactly the kind of thing that Christianity is concerned with most. We should not be nonchalant about matters of life and death.>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm


Robstur: Thank-you for making my point. The Crusades actually had a reason to go to war, or at least was an attempt at a “just war”, however failed it may have been. There was an actual threat, not a trumped-up one that people who showed up there found out later was a hoax, as with Bush’s WMD charade. His words were I believe, that the evidence “leaves no doubt” about the existance of WMD, only to later be admitted as wrong by Condi… after the USA was knee-deep in the hoopla. So yes.. by comparison, the Crusades were at least well intentioned. BUT WAIT! “The Crusades had far-reaching political, economic, and social impacts, some of which have lasted into contemporary times. Due to internal conflicts among Christian kingdoms and political powers, some of the crusade expeditions, e. g., the fourth crusade, were diverted from their original aim and resulted in the sack of Christian cities, including the the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. Internal conflicts between Muslim kingdoms and political powers also meant alliances with one faction against the other such as the one with the Sultanate of Rum during the Fifth Crusade. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades#Historical_perspectives_on_the_Crusades “In November of 1095, Pope Urban II initiated the first European attempt at colonizing the Muslim world – known in the West as the Crusades – by drawing this fateful picture: For you must hasten to carry aid to your brethren dwelling in the East, who need your help, which they have often asked. For the Turks, a Persian people, have attacked them I exhort you with earnest prayer – not I, but God – that, as heralds of Christ, you urge men by frequent exhortation, men of all ranks, knights as well as foot soldiers, rich as well as poor, to hasten to exterminate this vile race from the lands of your brethren Christ commands it. And if those who set out thither should lose their lives on the way by land, or in crossing the sea, or in fighting the pagans, their sins shall be remitted. Oh what a disgrace, if a race so despised, base, and the instrument of demons, should so overcome a people endowed with faith in the all-powerful God, and resplendent with the name of Christ. Let those who have been accustomed to make private war against the faithful carry on to a successful issue a war against the infidels. Let those who for a long time have been robbers now become soldiers of Christ. Let those who fought against brothers and relatives now fight against these barbarians. Let them zealously undertake the journey under the guidance of the Lord. “The Pope’s words lay out many of the themes that would characterize this mass colonial movement East for the next two centuries. In one reading of the Crusading venture, restless knights and small-tune princes are enticed by their lords with tales of land and wealth, fuel the hopes of turning their swords away from the increasingly nervous feudal establishment, or what the Pope calls the faihful brethren. Landless folks and the poor -euphemized by the Pope as criminals – can also be turned Eastward with enticements of land and Divine forgiveness. But what is most interestinghere is that the Pope conceptualizes his Oriental Other in racial terms. The enemy, for now, is the debased races of Turks and Persians, and Islam is not yet a part of the Western conceptual matrix.” Source: http://www.crusades.org/popecall.htm What’s my point to all of this? Bush used the term “crusade” when he launched this war. (See- http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0919/p12s2-woeu.html) People were led to believe it was for a cause that existed. The President invoked God in launching this war. The so-called “Religous Right” backed him up in this endeavor. “Good intentions” were at the start of the Crusades, but it didn’t end up that way. “Good intentions” supposedly were what we went to Iraq for.. except it was based on LIES! “Good intentions” as it has been often said, are what the road to hell is paved with. Meaning that our good intentions, when carried out in the flesh and not the Spirit, lead to catastrophe. Catastrophe is what we have in Iraq. And the comparison between electing Bush and the Crusades is just, fair and accurate.>



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Anonymous

posted January 5, 2007 at 5:03 pm


How did I feel? Sick to my stomach. I think your article is eloquent. Thank you Cat>



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cupera1

posted January 5, 2007 at 5:37 pm


The Islamists have begun a war and the choice that the west has to get on our knees to Mecca or on our knees with the neck stretched out. To try and fight this war in a politically correct way is to make sure we lose. This sounds so much like the drivel that was printed about Hitler when he had a pact with the USSR.>



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Gary

posted January 5, 2007 at 6:07 pm


lions_and_lambs, Yes, there was room for grace and redemption for Saddam, right up until the point of his execution. Forgiveness does not do away with justice, or, again, Christ could have just said “I forgive you all”, and no crucifiction would have been necessary. How do you extract justice from a mass murderer? By taking his life. Not difficult to understand at all, and it makes NO difference whether we forgive him or not! His debt is not to us, and he did not ask for any forgiveness! Can we honestly read the gospels and conclude that violence is an integral part of the way, the truth, and the life? Is it a sad part of living in a fallen world? The answers are a resounding YES, and YES. Please stop distorting scripture, taking verses out of context, and applying them where they don’t belong. I have no idea why you refer to Matt. 5:3, but if you seriously think that Jesus contradicted the very words of God, I suggest you examine the validity of your faith. How many times does Jesus have to say “I and the father are one” before it means something to you? God can not disagree with himself. Again, we could not forgive Saddam even if we wanted to. Those who could are dead. Even if he repented, justice would not be served until he died, and he himself would say so. By the way, the difference between Saddam and Paul is clear: Either one could have recieved forgiveness and redemption if they asked. The difference is that Saddam committed crimes that required punishment here on earth. Paul committed no illegal act in persecuting christians. It was legal and he was in charge. Therefore his debt was to God, paid by Christ when Paul repented. If this seems to come easy to me, it is because it does come easily. It’s clarity of thought. Now, I don’t frequent this site and don’t know if I’ll be back, I hope I’ve helped someone, anyone.>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 6:34 pm


cupera1, *scratch head* If we can’t afford to be moral and good then what would we be fighting for?>



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Barbara

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:09 pm


Oh my. What interesting reading on this site. Here are a few axioms that make sense to life regardless of culture. Universal truths whether we like them or not. What goes around comes around. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it–like so much power and control you feel justified to murder hundreds, thousands of innocent people. God gave Saddam life and God ended his life. Please read the old testament and see how God affected justice to the unjust. Read the story of Haman, hung on his own gallows. God used who he would to affect this execution. As a man sows thus shall he reap…in Saddam’s case it was destruction. He built his own gallows…literally was hung on the same gallows he used to hang the innocent. Nothing different could have been expected. It was God’s death sentence that hung him. He was left to his own ways and died according to his own ways. If you don’t think God did it, think again. Barbara>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:44 pm


Hey Gary- what Bible are you reading? Yes, there was room for grace and redemption for Saddam, right up until the point of his execution. Forgiveness does not do away with justice, or, again, Christ could have just said “I forgive you all”, and no crucifiction would have been necessary. Excuse me? Then what do you do with Matt 18, where the King forgave ot of his benevolance? The difference is that Saddam committed crimes that required punishment here on earth. Paul committed no illegal act in persecuting christians. It was legal and he was in charge. Therefore his debt was to God, paid by Christ when Paul repented. That’s absurd… so then the killing of the Prophets was also “legal?” And if you don’t think there’s a connection, read Acts 7. Can we honestly read the gospels and conclude that violence is an integral part of the way, the truth, and the life? Is it a sad part of living in a fallen world? The answers are a resounding YES, and YES. You are one warped cookie. Please stop distorting scripture, taking verses out of context, and applying them where they don’t belong. Please take your own advice.>



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LJS

posted January 5, 2007 at 7:52 pm


What a wishy-washy load of pig slop! I guess it doesn’t really matter where the Bible truly weighs in on any subject, you Mr. McLaren, have certainly become proficient at making it up according to your own “wisdom” as you go along. Perhaps if you actually understood the Bible you keep pretending to represent and teach, you might have something more intelligent and of real value to say–and perhaps even something Biblical!!! Wouldn’t that be refreshing!>



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Anonymous in Atlanta

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:20 pm


Actually, I felt sad, but relieved it was over. What would Mr. McLaren suggest we do with Hussein, then?>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:21 pm


Barbara, I’d like to offer my own perspective on the specific points you raised. To my mind, what you’ve described is Karma. If you stop reading your Bible after Proverbs and pick up again in Acts you will get a very Karmic view. But the books of Job and Ecclesiastes and the Gospel explicitly say that time and chance happeneth to us all, God send rain upon good and bad alike, etc. What goes around does not necessarily come around, in this life anyhow. Maybe it needs saying that everything that happens is not God’s will. For example, Jesus tells us that God does not will that any child should perish and yet children die by the thousands every day. Sometimes humans act against God’s will. So the question is whether this particular instance was God’s will. There are an awful lot of verses about the least of these, forgiving seventy times seven, mercy, vengeance is God’s, loving our neighbors, judging not lest we be judged, casting first stones, all deserving death, and such that prevent us from ever thinking we dispense God’s justice on earth. We dispensed human justice. Was it the same as God’s will in this case? Clearly you felt vindicated, renewed in the faith that there is a rhyme and reason to the world, we don’t suffer in vain, the bad guys don’t get away forever, good guys get rewarded. I do not wish to inflict fear or pain on you, but I also don’t want anyone’s sense of security in faith to rest on something that can be shaken by the OJ decision….>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:30 pm


LJS, McLaren is supremely concerned with where the Bible weighs in on the subject. Even a fundamentalist would have to agree that the storming of Jericho in today’s world would be considered a heinous action. Fundamentalists invented dispensations to account for this seeming change in God (God relates to people differently now than in the past) where McLaren chooses to read the rest of teh Bible in terms of Jesus’ words, which he takes to be the most exlpicit revelation of God’s will for us. If Jesus is the standard the death penalty is off the table (cast the first stone, judge not, he that lives by the sword will die by the sword, resist not he that does evil, love thy neighbor). But I’m sure you already knew that since you’re apparently a [self-proclaimed] Biblical master.>



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Paul

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:42 pm


Hi Daniel, Thanks for the reply. Must confess to being a little confused. On the one hand you critique my comments for being “utilitarian” and hence not “moral”, yet later you say “One criteria for that situation, I think, would have to be proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the convicted is a threat to people in the future (and therefore a threat to themselves).” What is that if not utilitarian??? To put it another way, if our morals have no utility, what good are they??? Your allusion to abortion is an interesting polemical technique, but fails because I am not talking about Sadam being a “burden” but being dangerous, and his execution is justified on other grounds. If you are interested a short summary can be found here: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~cfehr/230%20Shaw%20Haag.htm My quarrel is with those who blythly point to life inprisonment without appreciating the impact their posturing has on other people. Those who claim the moral high ground and then hide behind the protection provided by those whose actions they despise deserve scorn. As screwed up as Ghandi was he recognized that pacifism is not an excuse for cowardise. You show me someone who is an abolitionist but says I am willing to do what it takes to keep Sadam secure for the rest of his life, and I will say welcome. I haven’t seen one here yet… Certainly motives matter, and the guards who misbehaved will no doubt be judged either in this world or the next, but that does not mean that the execution itself was wrong. And who is being “nonchalant about matters of life and death?”, certainly not I. Thanks for your time. cheers, Paul>



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Shelly

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:51 pm


At one time, I supported the death penalty. In debates and arguments, I had many reasons why I believed that it was the appropriate punishment for the stated crime. Oh, I used the “Eye for an eye” argument and any other scriptural argument to back up my point of view. I no longer support the death penalty today. What changed me was something profound and unexpected. I was called upon by my state to serve as a juror in a Capital Murder case. “Sure, ” I answered when asked if I could impose the death penalty upon the accused, were he found guilty. And, I really believed that I could. I heard the testimony of the experts, saw the photographs showing the heinousness of the crime, and listened intently to the testimony from the family and loved ones of both the victim and the victimizer. I took a huge number of notes and took my job quite seriously, as did the other 11 members of that panel. Although I have lost both a father and a sister to early deaths, being called upon to determine the fate of another human being brought about an enormous anguish that was so unlike the loss of loved ones to natural deaths. Today, it still stands as one of the more stressful periods of my life and has profoundly changed they way that I view capital punishment. In the end, all twelve jurors sent a 22 year old man of Muslim faith to prison for the rest of his life. I continue to pray for him today, as I pray for his family and the family of the beautiful young lady he so brutally murdered. So, I guess what I’m saying is that supporting capital punishment from afar is an entirely different matter than being called upon to render judgment for the same. For me, having stood at the brink of that chasm, I now feel deep sadness when any man takes the life of another, whether it be through the brutal crimes of a dictator, through unnecessary wars and the resulting victims on both sides, and yes, even through the taking of a life through legal means. I had never discussed my experience with my young children and they didn’t know my point of view on this matter. Yet, when I told my eleven year old son (who had studied in school, the Middle East and the issues surrounding Saddam) that Saddam had been executed, there was a long moment of silence. Quietly, he finally spoke, “Mom, that’s really sad. I know he did a lot of bad things, but why did WE have to kill him for that? That just doesn’t seem right.” Out of the mouth of babes. . .>



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Paul

posted January 5, 2007 at 8:56 pm


Hi Shelly, Thanks very much for sharing that. cheers, Paul>



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LJS

posted January 5, 2007 at 9:12 pm


“Even a fundamentalist would have to agree that the storming of Jericho in today’s world would be considered a heinous action. ” Daniel, obviously you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about any more than McLaren does. If God specifically ordered your allegorical “Jericho” to be “stormed” in “today’s world”, would it only be a “fundamentalist” who would OBEY? Probably…… With teachers, and followers, such as we’re seeing in this pragmatic, emerging mess, I wouldn’t doubt for one second that God would be disobeyed, even if He wrote specific instructions to “storm Jericho” on a hillside in flames. Not many of you seem to be listening–or even care, for that matter–to much of what He says, anyway. God, and Truth, never change. Why is it that you all are so fired up to present another God–and another Gospel–to this sick and dying world? Isn’t the Truth as it is clearly presented good enough for y’all? Apparently not!>



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lions_and_lambs

posted January 5, 2007 at 9:21 pm


Gary, I sincerely hope you do return to this blog and continue this discussion. I like the debate and would like to see it go on… I have no idea why you refer to Matt. 5:3, but if you seriously think that Jesus contradicted the very words of God, I suggest you examine the validity of your faith. How many times does Jesus have to say “I and the father are one” before it means something to you? God can not disagree with himself. I did not mean to reference Matt 5:3, a typo in the HTML renderer turned Matt 5:38 into Matt 5:38)… Matt 5:38 starts: “You have heard it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth’…” I very strongly believe that when Jesus said “I and the Father are one” he meant it: he said “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” [John 14:9] If we want to know what the Father thinks about eye-for-an-eye we look at what Jesus said [Matt 5:38]. If we want to know what the Father said regarding forgiving those who have not personally wronged us (in response to your comment that it makes NO difference whether we forgive him or not), we look at what Jesus said regarding the adultress in [John 7:53-8:11]. If we want to know what the Father said regarding forgiving those who HAVE wronged us we look at what the Incarnation said in [Luke 23:34] and then in [Matthew 6:44-48]. Please do not question the “validity” of my faith on the basis of one blog interaction. I do not question yours. I have spent much time with and have many friends who consider themselves part of the religious right. We disagree vigorously but rely on our mutual love of Christ to help us “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” [Ephesians 4:3] I do not question the validity of their faith, but rather seek to understand the underlying axioms, worldviews, and categories that lead us to such divergent conclusions about similar biblical texts and life experiences. Again, we could not forgive Saddam even if we wanted to. Those who could are dead. Even if he repented, justice would not be served until he died, and he himself would say so. I said nothing about us forgiving Saddam. Though a lot can be said about giving the families of those who were persecuted by him an opportunity to forgive Saddam. Christ seems to imply that there is something deeply and mysteriously important and healing about that kind of inner struggle. The difference is that Saddam committed crimes that required punishment here on earth. Paul committed no illegal act in persecuting christians. It was legal and he was in charge. Therefore his debt was to God, paid by Christ when Paul repented. I think Kevin Wayne has responded to this quite well. I would add that what you have said proposes a distinction between that which is legal on Earth and that which is legal before God that seems to ignore the hope that our broken notions of earthly-legality will ultimately come in line with God’s just notions of legality. Yes, there was room for grace and redemption for Saddam, right up until the point of his execution. Forgiveness does not do away with justice, or, again, Christ could have just said “I forgive you all”, and no crucifiction would have been necessary. How do you extract justice from a mass murderer? By taking his life. Not difficult to understand at all, and it makes NO difference whether we forgive him or not! His debt is not to us, and he did not ask for any forgiveness! I am not saying that forgiveness does away with justice. I do believe, however, that the cross and the life of Christ teach us something very important about redemption. A form of punishment that makes an individual’s redemption impossible does not make gospel sense to me. This is something that colors our entire justice system, which seems bent on punishment and weak on reform, healing, and redemption. Let me ask you this Gary, if a mass murderer is put in jail for life, and is somehow healed and redeemed by the living Spirit of the living God, so much so that he accepts Christ fully, repents of his sin, and yearns to live a full, whole, repentant, human life again is it “just” to keep him in prison?! If we Christians truly do believe that the Christ is alive and at work, redeeming even the most broken of lives, then should we not be willing to affirm the possibility of such miraculous healings? Should we not rejoice at the great grace and the real and palpable healing that our Lord can provide? Should we not strive to help those who are the _most_ fallen and the _most_ depraved find some chance to hear, feel, and see the Spirit that we so love? Christ came for the sick! Isn’t this what it’s all about?! Isn’t that what the cross is all about?! I think that’s what the Archbishop of Canterbury was hinting at when he said ” I believe the death penalty effectively says ‘there is no room for change or repentance’.” I think we both have “clarity of thought”. We disagree, however, and that worries and bothers me. Can we go deeper and try to find the underlying reasons behind our disagreement? I believe I have responded to all your points in both of my posts. Please respond to mine… and if I take verses out of context and apply them where they don’t belong please tell me precisely where I am doing that. And if I am distorting scripture when I quote it, please reference the quoted passage. I think that’ll help make for a more productive and focused discussion. In Christ, lions_and_lambs>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 9:27 pm


Paul, Yes, that standard seems utilitarian because it compares which option is more moral than the other. If life were a categorical imperative AND we needed to kill Saddam to save other people’s lives then we’d be paralyzed but our paralysis itself would be our choice. But I don’t think it actually is utilitarian because the claim is not that the threat makes the difference but that reasonable doubt makes the difference. That is an ontological claim but not a utilitarian one in any material sense. Which is a complete abstraction…. …pacifism is not an excuse for cowardise. You show me someone who is an abolitionist but says I am willing to do what it takes to keep Sadam secure for the rest of his life, and I will say welcome. I haven’t seen one here yet… I am not a pacifist and neither is Jim Wallis – we are advocates of nonviolence. Nor could Jim be called a coward, having spent time in jail on at least two continents and under repressive regimes in order to stick to his convictions. Your “abolitionist” comment can be read two ways – either that we need to be willing to be the prison guards ourselves or that we have to green light whatever it takes to make the world safe from Saddam Hussein. As far as I can guess, neither Jim Wallis nor I would be willing to do the job ourselves. Such an idea is abstract only, like asking a politician to say in theory that he would fight in Iraq if it came down to it; it’s always safe to say because we all already know it won’t come to that. Jim has said, in his book God’s Politics, that he believes we need to do what is necessary to make the world safe from Saddam Hussein. That does not mean we should do any old thing we like without concern for our own moral integrity just by deeming it necessary before it actually is.>



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Daniel

posted January 5, 2007 at 9:36 pm


LJS, If you receive a word, you bring it before the church for testing. If you told 99.8% of the churches in the world that God told you to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee and slaughter all the men, women, and children and take the land for your own I seriously doubt anyone would waste any time letting you know that’s not from God. Mistakes like that are why fundamentalists fly planes into buildings and bomb office buildings with abortion clinics in them. I have a different understanding of God, it’s true. When I see that Leviticus Proverbs says the good will be rewarded on earth and Ecclesiastes and Job says rewards and goodness are unrelated I just instinctively know it can’t be both ways and there has to be a way to adjudicate. For me that way has been the other three parts of the Wesleyan quadrilateral – tradition, reason, and experience. If we throw those out and read the Bible like a newspaper we can’t help but choose Proverbs and ignore Ecclesiastes or Job and ignore Leviticus. Picking and choosing isn’t a liberal invention. At least I will tell you my standard for interpretation and discernment – God is Love as revealed in Jesus Christ through scripture and the Holy Spirit ministering through time and in my life. By what standard do you choose Proverbs over Ecclesiastes and Job?>



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Paul

posted January 5, 2007 at 10:45 pm


Hi Daniel, Having been arrested in Red Square protesting for human rights in the early 70’s, and having worked in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal where we risked prison and worse every day, you will pardon me if I am not too impressed. I agree, much of the talk I see around here, is just that, simply an abstraction by people not really willing to deal fully with the consequences of the standards they would impose. Having had to deal with many of these issues first hand, it is not an abstraction for me. I also never said “we should do any old thing we like without concern for our own moral integrity just by deeming it necessary before it actually is.” That is a cheap shot unworthy of you. cheers, Paul>



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Ken

posted January 6, 2007 at 4:22 am


As my wife amd I watched the murderous bastard drop to his death, we both broke out (independently) into the country tune of a few years back “I’m Just’a Swingin'” A great end to another Hitler.>



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Christ's child

posted January 6, 2007 at 5:58 am


Greetings, After spending time and reading every comment on this blog the constant theme is; not dividing the word and keeping it in the proper context.Romans 12 was speaking specifically to the christian and how a christian should behave towards others,to please God. Romans 13, changes the subject and directs it to the christian in his realtionship to Government,and the governments authorty over man. Paul said that he was willing to face death (Roman Law)if he had done anything worthy of the death sentence under Roman law. Paul was living under the laws of God as well as the Roman law.What Paul is saying in Romans 13 is concerning the governments role as an enforcer of the law.Romans 13 speaks of being subject to the government and its laws. Paul says that the government is also a revenger to excute wrath on the law breaker. Revenge and punishment is a part of the Governments power and authority. The comments that support the application of love, forgiveness ,taking care of the saint’s needs,bless them that curse you, avenge not yourselves,but rather give peace in the place of wrath,is for the christian is writen in Romans 12. To then force this on the clear meaning(s)of Romans 13 is not correct.The Roman government was in no manner a “Christian” government and was corrupt in many ways but Paul is saying to be subject to and obey government, nonetheless. Another thing of concern is the confusion of what constitutes murder from killing, and there is a difference.Taking a life by accident, is that murder? Taking a life (by a soldier) in war,is that murder? Taking a life in protecting another life, is that murder? Taking a life (in the duty of a police officer) by a police action,is that murder?When the government (courts) convicts a person of murder and that persons’s life is taken, is that murder? Some on this site are mixing God’s word and mis-appyling, out of context, in order to prove a point or belief. Another area of concern; is where guilt is applied where no guilt in appropriate.Man is given his life and in that amount of time the individual has to choose or reject Christ and repent, before his life is ended.Sadddam had his whole life to make the choices he made and according to the reports,Saddam ,thought he was justified in the murdering of thousands of his people and the rape and the torture of thousands more, (along with involement of Saddam’s two son’s) and He didn’t say that he changed his mind about this even when the rope was being placed around his neck.Repentance cannot be forced nor redemption. To say that no matter what a man has done or committed, he has to be allowed (by government) to have more time so that he might repent is not a part of governments role in society. It is not a government function to love those in their charge. This is a mis-application of what the government is, and what the christian is, and how the two are not the same in fuction or actions. It is different to feel sorry for someone when they may have been treated but to then carry that one step futher and say that you have to have a group or individual feelings of guilt doesn’t apply.There are hundreds of millions of religious people that believe in the basics or the fundamentals of their religion that don’t believe in hurting or killing anyone or forcing their beliefs on others.The word “Fundamentlist” is being mis-used and another christian should never use this word to slap at or put down another christian,or anyone for that matter and that goes the same for the word “Liberal” in the religious sense of the word.>



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Amazon Creek

posted January 7, 2007 at 8:37 am


Someone up above mentioned how awful it was that people were standing around at the hanging taunting Saddam. I don’t know if that really happened because I didn’t watch clips of the hanging and don’t plan on watching any. I just never watch those kinds of things. Feels too much like rejoicing in someone else’s tragedy and denying my own guilt before God apart from the forgiveness which comes from Christ’s death on the cross. But…I would have to say I am not offended by the Iraqis taunting Saddam. Now if I were to participate in such taunting, THEN I would be offended. But not the Iraqis. Do I think it was right and moral of them to taunt Saddam as he was on the gallows and having the noose slipped around his neck? No. But….it’s more a matter of trading sandals with the Iraqis. And trying to walk a mile in their shoes. I don’t pretend to be able to understand what they must have felt like. I can only imagine…what it must have been like all those years. To live in fear. To see innocent, dearly-loved family members disappear inside one of Saddam’s prisons, knowing the torture that awaited them and slow, agonizing death. And…how can I condemn those people? How could I ever know what the Iraqis must have felt? See? I would have no right. It would be completely arrogant of me. Let me live there all those years…and see if I’d understand any better. I have to take it within the context of the situation. Those people were pushed way past their limit. And I honestly believe it was right to execute Saddam. Those people had simply had ENOUGH! Someone up above mentioned justice. Yep – enough is enough is enough is enough. I do find it revolting to think of anyone hanging and people taunting. But…that’s just one of those things I frequently find myself wandering around the kitchen at night while fixing my dinner or finishing up the supper dishes….talking to God about because my human mind and heart will never comprehend such things. I guess I’m just so eternally grateful for God saving me, forgiving me, and placing His Holy Spirit inside of me, and walking beside me each day when I struggle….that I wish all people could know Jesus Christ and could find the love and freedom He offers. And don’t worry about me. I have no illusions that all – or even most – people ever will. :) And yeah, that’s just life in the big city. But…that doesn’t mean I comprehend it and am not horrified by it. And I think God understands my lack of understanding about this. Hey, Jesus stood outside of Jerusalem, knowing He was about to be kangaroo-courted, tortured, and killed. And He cried for them. He wanted so much to reach out to them – even yet. And so…me-thinks God understands my uncomprehending-ness. Me-thinks that if I cried, He would cry with me.>



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aloke mukerjee

posted January 7, 2007 at 11:19 am


Brian, You have mirrored the thoughts of many on this. No human being/s have a right, morally or ethically to take another’s life, whatever the pretext. For in doing so, we become like the accused. It is between God and him, who will judge him. As for the innocent killed in the ongoing war the term ‘collateral damage’ has been used as a cover-up a genocide of sorts Thank you. aloke mukerjee india>



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haron ervin

posted January 7, 2007 at 7:26 pm


I felt ashamed because the U.S.A. was directly responsible for this act. There was never any weapons of mass destruction. The political decision was made to invade that country because of a threat on Bush Sr. life at one time. I believe this. Saddam was not a threat to the U.S. & his country was not a haven for terroist. By hanging this man we are now a target for a terroist attack.I wrestled with my feeling because we know Saddam had committed cruel attacks on his people. But answer this: you who have been in the milatary what did you see while in service to your country? were you encouraged to commit acts which were against your judgement? My husband was in the war in “66-69. I have prayed & ask God why should it bother me? How can you give a people something they know nothing about? also they believe in God not in Jesus. The bible says, no one comes to me, except by the Son. Will all these people be lost & separated from from Christ forever? will there not be any Salvation for them. Then I feel the same as I felt when I saw Saddam hang, dirty, ashamed & pain. Thank you for listening. May God direct their paths.>



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Anonymous

posted January 8, 2007 at 11:13 pm


OK Christschild, you’ve give your thoughtful reply and now it’s time for an answer: Greetings, After spending time and reading every comment on this blog the constant theme is; not dividing the word and keeping it in the proper context. Yes, I agree… but that’s been more so on the pro-war, pro retribution side than anything else. Romans 12 was speaking specifically to the christian and how a christian should behave towards others,to please God. Agreed so far… Romans 13, changes the subject No it doesn’t and directs it to the christian in his relationship to Government,and the governments authority over man. Ummm… no, that’s not a “change of subject”, that’s a further elaboration of the same theme. Paul said that he was willing to face death (Roman Law)if he had done anything worthy of the death sentence under Roman law. Reference, please? Paul was living under the laws of God as well as the Roman law.What Paul is saying in Romans 13 is concerning the governments role as an enforcer of the law.Romans 13 speaks of being subject to the government and its laws. Paul says that the government is also a revenger to excute wrath on the law breaker. Revenge and punishment is a part of the Governments power and authority. Granted, however it doesn’t give a “blank check” as having been noted. Have you ever read the book of Revelation? That was written to Christians suffering under persecution from Roman authorities. What happened to “a minister of God to your good” there? The point is, trying to press Romans 13 into the be-all for every situations doesn’t work. The comments that support the application of love, forgiveness ,taking care of the saint’s needs,bless them that curse you, avenge not yourselves,but rather give peace in the place of wrath,is for the christian is writen in Romans 12. Of course… who else would it be for? To then force this on the clear meaning(s)of Romans 13 is not correct. Do you understand anything about reading a verse in context? The Roman government was in no manner a “Christian” government and was corrupt in many ways but Paul is saying to be subject to and obey government, nonetheless. CORRECT! And even when the Government PERSECUTES you, you are to response with the same humility!! Soooo… what’s your point? I think you are saying that you’ve showed us something that changes the general tenure of what we’ve been trying to say but it doesn’t. What we are still left with is… how does a Christian follow Christ in all situations? The answer to that doesn’t change just because we’re dealing with the government. Romans 13 is not saying anything that Romans 12 isn’t saying. Both are telling the Christian to walk in humidity. To be continued…>



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Paul

posted January 9, 2007 at 3:50 am


Anonymous wrote: “Paul said that he was willing to face death (Roman Law)if he had done anything worthy of the death sentence under Roman law. Reference, please?” Acts 25:11>



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Benno

posted January 9, 2007 at 7:55 am


Hi there, Tonight was my first time visiting this site. I’ve done a fair bit of reading, specifically through this conversation and the conversation regarding the US support of Iraq in the early 80’s. I have to say first that I am very happy that such a website exists! I find it quite difficult to find people who want to discuss Politics, in particular from a Godly persepctive. I most likely come from a slightly different perspective on this for 3 reasons: 1) I’m Canadian (although my father’s side of the family is American) 2) I’m 24 years old (and therefore I imagine a fair bit younger than most of those commenting in these discussions) 3) I’m really not all that educated (And am therefore not too qualified to speak at the level of the conversation here). At this point though I really only have one comment/question; And it is in regards to the tactics and style of arguement taking place. While much of the conversation seems to be quite constructive, some of it seems quite combative. And it seems to be combative to an end that is quite lacking in any discernable value. My understanding of constructive Christian debate is one in which, as one body under Christ, we seek His conclusion and will on the matter at hand. But we can’t afford to get waylaid in personal attacks and self-service. I would hope that these comments aren’t seen as abrasive or arrogant, but rather as a call to us, as God’s people, to puruse unity and God’s perspective above all else. And to also believe that none of us have the market cornered on God’s will. We would be unwise to have our feelings hurt simply becuase we have been disagreed with. The goal of Christianity is not just to be “right” in a scientific and imperical way. We will always expand our circle of influence, for His kingdom, if we appraoch those we disagree with in humility and with an open heart and mind. As someone who took quite a long break from the Christian Church because of such actions, I urge you to consider personal reconciliation, as well as Denominational and ideological reconciliation, so that the Kingdom may progress as oppossed to ending up stuck and ineffectual. Thank you once again for such an outstanding forum! -Benno G.>



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Barbara

posted January 9, 2007 at 7:35 pm


Hi Daniel. Thanks for your thoughtful response. My faith will not be shaken or determined based on the outcome of a trial. I work in a prison on death row. I’m a nurse. I care for those who have executed by gunshot the truly innocent, who have boiled their infants to death, who have tortured and murdered innocent adults, children and babies in ways so heinous I would not write them on this forum. I chat with them and visit with them and try to make their days as meaningful as I can. It sounds odd, but they benefit by their incarceration. They are cared for medically and spiritually, are treated humanely and given every chance for appeal and legal recourse. They are physically comfortable. I walked out the other night and waved goodbye to one wearing an ipod, walking on a treadmill while watching TV, waiting to take clothes out of the dryer before using the ironing board for street clothes–no prison garb required–hoping there was enough time left to type a letter before lockdown. I wouldn’t want to be on death row, but in case anyone thinks these people are mistreated I want to tell you that would be a myth. They are not spoken to with any disrespect nor physically treated disrespectfully. They are treated courteously and kindly with sincerity. That’s how it is on my watch anyway. They are criminals by virtue of their crime and their incarceration. Otherwise they have a very comfortable existance. It’s not all volleyball and therapy, however. No one would want to live in a prison. On the other hand there are many murderers not found or convicted who also face death…many kinds of death…of living with themselves in agony, of never being truly free plus a myriad of other emotional, spiritual and psychological woes. Although your statement regarding OJ made for good writing at the end of your letter, his verdict doesn’t shake my tree nor determine where, why, or in what I base my faith. He will never have peace in this life. I may meet him in heaven, but in the mean time he lives with consequences and justice as long as he is on this earth. My work is not a career, it’s a ministry and a calling. The inmate’s crimes are as heinous as Saddam’s, just not on the mass scale. I tell each person I care for that I know they have gone to court and have already been judged. I am not there to judge them. I’m there to take care of them, help in any way I can, to listen if they want to talk and to encourage them and remind them of God’s love and care for them regardless of their sins. He can’t love them any more or less regardless of their behavior. If I couldn’t say those things from my heart I wouldn’t be able to care about these people. In the meantime they, and we, live within a government established by God. They have broken the laws of the government and they are under the penalty of the government and we go from there. They, we, are all aware of the law and of consequences should we break it. We are without excuse. That’s not to say we cannot be better, do better, change the justice system for the better. We can. The system God put in place dispensed justice for the “condemned.” He knew the system would be flawed…it is run by humanity and could be nothing but flawed. Yet he set it in place. Many in the current church age focus on the “God is love aspect” of the Creator, either choosing to ignore or disbelieving that he is also just and will avenge the innocent. Yes, vengeance is his, and he will affect it any way he chooses. If you think God is not the force behind what happens to people who have murdered, that they are not reaping what they’ve sown, then there may be a misunderstanding of who God is. Why some go “free” and others are executed we cannot say, but there is divine justice on earth for some who are guilty that we cannot take apart and examine or put together and explain piece by piece. There is justice that we will never be able to quanitfy or define. Why for some and not for others we will never be able to explain. It is divine decision and we are left outside it. The Proverbs state you can tell a fool by the number of lumps inflicted on his head. And what you cast on the waters comes back on every wave, shaken down, pressed together…and in ways you may not want or expect. I know, I know…I know the context of the verse. I have simply found it true in both the positive and the negative. There are forces set in motion by acts that will not be stopped…living by and then perhaps dying by the sword are part of that reality. We can abolish the death penalty and many of those who murder will still be murdered themselves. God does establish our governments but he doesn’t need government to avenge. And he is an avenger as well as a lover, a father, a shepherd, a life giver. He is all. I carry the key to death row in my pocket and the key to life in my heart every morning. I pray the life I carry within will somehow be used to bring peace and healing into my unit. I am sad for their choices and sad they are condemned. I also know they are reaping the consequences of their actions–and each one of them knows it; believe me they know it. Many are now believers in Jesus and in the God who established the government that will punish their crimes. They accept it. There is another aspect of those who have murdered and are imprisoned. I also work with those who have killed others but were not sentenced to death. My unit has the highest risk of suicide in the prison. I am a first responder to hangings and cuttings. I give CPR to murderers, those who want to execute themselves for what they have done. It’s not always the stir crazy inmate who wants out; it’s the guilty who want to end living with the memories of what they have done. Would I be more compassionate to let them go? To not respond to their attempt and let them die and be out of their misery? Which is right? Their choice or mine? I would make the same choice if I were on the street rather than inside the walls. I choose life and hope and a chance to know the Savior and find peace before the day they do face their creator, and they are often angry for being “forced” to live. “Why did you cut me down?” They will attempt again because they prefer death and God to life and memories. Do I have a solution? Should we abolish the death penalty? All I know is that I should seek God and ask him to fill my heart with love, with himself and his wisdom and pray others will do the same. And when our hearts are filled with him and changed by him it will be reflected in our society and in our laws–both for the innocent and for the guilty. In the mean time we live out our lives understanding there are consequences for our actions and choices, that we live in a soiled and flawed world, that our best offerings, our most noble discourse, our most thoughtful essays are to him as filthy rags. Hussein was not repentant that anyone has ever heard of. He was proud of his tortures and power and control. He was brought to justice on this earth by the penalty of law. He should have learned a lesson from Haman.>



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Paul

posted January 9, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Barbara, Bless you!!!>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 9, 2007 at 10:37 pm


I’m the Anonymous that started the reply to Christ’schild, & then the forum wouldn’t allow me to post a follow-up to finsish, so hopefull it will go thru today. First let’s deal with Acts 25:11- “If I am a wrongdoer, if I have done something for which I deserve to die, then I am ready to die. But if there is nothing to these charges which they are bringing against me, no one can give me to them just to grant a favor! I appeal to the Emperor!” (Complete Jewish Bible translation, also see The MEssage) I’d be careful about trying to make this a left-handed endorsement of Retribution. Different translations seem to differ as to whether Paul is saying death is something he “should” get for his crimes, or simply that he’s willing to die because he knows it would be inevitable under Roman law. And now on to the rest of the response: Another thing of concern is the confusion of what constitutes murder from killing, and there is a difference.Taking a life by accident, is that murder? Taking a life (by a soldier) in war,is that murder? Taking a life in protecting another life, is that murder? Taking a life (in the duty of a police officer) by a police action,is that murder?When the government (courts) convicts a person of murder and that persons’s life is taken, is that murder? Have you ever done a study on the Hebrew words involving this? There’s no distinction between “negligent homicide” and other forms of killing, as is in our terminology. Same Hebrew word is used for both. Some on this site are mixing God’s word and mis-appyling, out of context, in order to prove a point or belief. Hoooo boy, I agree there! Can’t post alt of this… to be continued (hopefully!)>



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Kevin Wayne

posted January 9, 2007 at 10:38 pm


One last time, to finish th eresponse to Christ’schild: Another area of concern; is where guilt is applied where no guilt in appropriate.Man is given his life and in that amount of time the individual has to choose or reject Christ and repent, before his life is ended. Agreed… Sadddam had his whole life to make the choices he made and according to the reports,Saddam ,thought he was justified in the murdering of thousands of his people and the rape and the torture of thousands more, (along with involement of Saddam’s two son’s) and He didn’t say that he changed his mind about this even when the rope was being placed around his neck. True so far… Repentance cannot be forced nor redemption. Who said it could? To say that no matter what a man has done or committed, he has to be allowed (by government) to have more time so that he might repent is not a part of governments role in society. It is not a government function to love those in their charge. But since we live in a participatory Democracy, then when I go in an pull the lever to vote, say on a ballot measure that may put capital punishment in place, then I BETTER, be loving others as Christ loved me. And that would mean remembering how many patient, longsuffering chances I got. So I would vote no. And I would encourage abolition of the Dealt Penalty for the same reasons. This is a mis-application of what the government is, and what the christian is, and how the two are not the same in fuction or actions. Absolutely not. It is different to feel sorry for someone when they may have been treated but to then carry that one step futher and say that you have to have a group or individual feelings of guilt doesn’t apply. I have no idea what you are trying to say here. There are hundreds of millions of religious people that believe in the basics or the fundamentals of their religion that don’t believe in hurting or killing anyone or forcing their beliefs on others.The word “Fundamentlist” is being mis-used and another christian should never use this word to slap at or put down another christian,or anyone for that matter and that goes the same for the word “Liberal” in the religious sense of the word. Ummm… ok and your point is? Christ’schild, I seriously think you need to take some tine out and re-read scripture again and let the Spirit do some serious re-ordering on what you believe. You are confusing the things you’ve been taught at the secular level with what you’ve been taught on a Christian level. I think you need to ask yourself, if Jesus wanted you to face persecution, terror and death without arms, would you? If he asked you to love your enemies in all situations, would you? If he asked you to go and witness to a tyrant like Saddam, so he could be saved and go to heaven when he got executed, would you? And …if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll summarize my arguments and jut tell it to you straight up: The Christian is called to love God and love others as them selves. The fact that the government enters the picture changes nothing. Absolutely nothing! And that, dear friend, is the essence of the message Paul is telling us in Romans 12 & 13.>



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Anonymous

posted January 9, 2007 at 11:00 pm


A Big P.S. Daniel…I need to speak to the last paragraph in your letter…where you put a lot of words in my mouth. People do often suffer seemingly in vain, good guys often do not get rewarded in ways we can observe, there is often no rhyme or reason to what happens in life–that we can see on this side of things anyhow. The one truth you wrote is that the bad guys do not get away forever. Scripture tells us we may not see the recompense of the wicked, but that they will be dealt with by a just God. I know that if we all got what we deserved we’d be slain except for Christ and the grace of God. God still remains just. I want to comment on your remark that you don’t want to instill pain or fear in me…that you wouldn’t want anyone else’s faith to be shaken in light of a court case…such as OJ’s. You’re just a tad condescending Daniel, and I’m right there with you and I own it, but I’m mostly amused that you think your rhetoric about your ideas and opinions could instill intellectual fear or pain in me. OJ’s court decision is nothing. He got away with zilch, zero, nada. If you need to feel powerful, however, I’ll shake in my boots a little to give you a buzz. You can pontificate about philosophy all day from your cozy computer room. Make a little change. I work where the rubber meets the road. Come walk with me for a day among murderers who could snap our necks like twigs if they chose or gig us 50 times with a shank before a correctional officer could help us. Tend to their seizures, hangings, cuttings, do their CPR and hope someone’s got your back. Maybe you’re a vet and you know some fear and you’ve inflicted some pain, but don’t trust your phrasing to send me running for cover. I’ve been at the wrong end of a gun, been beaten, have lost a child, had cancer. Forgive me if I’m not shaken and questioning my faith at your arrogance. Here’s what you’d do if you faced one of these people I deal with every day. How about meeting one alone in your bedroom or office while you’re writing your opinions? First of all your fear would go off the scale–terror would be a better word. The next thing you would do is scream and try to fight, or probably run. When the weapons came out and intruder(s) got their hands on you you would cry and sob and beg for your life. If you could hit a button on the phone fast enough you’d call 911 and pray that the police would get there in a hurry with lots and lots of guns. Pacifists become weapons dealers when duty calls. When the intruder(s)beat the condescenion out of you and threw you aside and approached your wife or mother or child to have their way before they murdered them you’d become a believer in execution…the sooner the better. If you could get your hands on a weapon–a bat or a fireplace poker you’d do it yourself…otherwise you’d pray the police would get there in time to kill the intruder before he killed you or your family. And if you think that scenario is fake talk to a few attempted murder lifers and hear their stories of the ones that didn’t make it…their buds who were shot by the homeowner or father or brother or police. Anyway, when duty calls–your wife or daughter’s life, your life or the intruder’s life…you’ll make the choice to execute. After you clean your diarrhea you’ll go to the station and give a statement while the dead body is removed and the blood is cleaned away. You’ll thank God for the strength and energy to protect your precious family–the ones that survived–and for the momentary belief in execution that saved you to write another pious letter on another day. If the intruder is not shot and killed before he kills you and your innocent family he’ll eventually come to me. I’ll take care of all the boo boos so you can feel safe and your family can recover. The grace you won’t be able to give until you recover emotionally and spiritually will be given, Christ shared, and hopefully a life will be changed forever. And that would be good news before the execution that may come as a result of your intruder’s choice to live by killing innocent people. Poor Saddam…inflicting all that terror on women and children, his sons raping and torturing women with his approval. How barbaric that he should be executed. Oh, Daniel. You’re so scary!>



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Barbara

posted January 9, 2007 at 11:14 pm


Paul…thanks for the blessing. I can use it. I’m not entitled to be a cranky pants, but I live and work in a world where there’s not a lot pretense. I’m attacked every day for what I believe. If, like Christ, I remained silent before my accusers I might be better off. So far no dice. Please add prayer to your blessing.>



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Paul

posted January 10, 2007 at 5:28 am


Hi Barbara, Having recently retired as a supervisor/first responder in a maximum security gaol, I can appreciate what you are going through. Will be thinking of, and praying for you. Also, may I quote your previous comments. I am thinking of doing some work on peace officers reactions to some of the issues raised here, and your thoughts are really appreciated. I don’t have your full name but will make sure proper credit is given, if I use it.>



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Barbara

posted January 10, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Paul, I sent you a note previously but it has not shown up here yet. If you’d like please create an extra screen name that you can post here then delete later. I will write to you at that address and share many prison experiences and points of view from Christians in the joint if you’d care to read it. Blessings.>



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Paul

posted January 10, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Hi Barbara, I’m not sure how to do that. I wonder if it would be better for you to email me direct? If you add and “e” to the end of my screen name @ “sfu.ca” that might be easiest. I look forward to hearing from you.>



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Barbara

posted January 10, 2007 at 6:55 pm


Paul…we may have violated rules of conduct of this board, specifically #11 and perhaps more from my POV in my long P.S. I did not intend to commit a crime here, but ignorance of the law is no excuse. I may be executed right off the board. But first I will say I’m sorry for my crimes, but not my opinions. Perhaps I’ll be spared. Then again…swoosh! Barbara>



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Paul

posted January 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm


My apologies also I have no idea what rules I may have broken, but that was not my intention.>



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Barbara

posted January 10, 2007 at 9:40 pm


Thank you, Paul. I have tried as you suggested for email, perhaps it was sent to your spam folder. Please check. Comments can be made and offered to your work outside comments made at this site. B.>



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Paul

posted January 10, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Barbara Got it you should have a reply.>



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Samy

posted January 11, 2007 at 6:15 am


Watch the most recent post execution video “>http://www.aajkatv.com/pplayer.php?id=162>



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online dating

posted January 18, 2007 at 12:19 am

Health Insurance

posted January 18, 2007 at 12:20 am

Movies Point

posted January 18, 2007 at 12:21 am


http://www.moviespoint.org Many terms exist for an individual motion picture, including picture, picture show, photoplay, flick, and most commonly, movie. Additional terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the cinema, and the movies>



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