Does the Bible Endorse Capital Punishment?

If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image (Genesis 9:6).

Does Scripture provide our modern society with the justification for capital punishment?

As humans we were created in God’s own image. This in and of itself establishes the dignity, value, and worth of all human life. God desired from the beginning that we honor one another and life itself. God said, “Honor your father and mother…you must not murder…you must not commit adultery…you must not steal…you must not testify falsely…you must not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Deuteronomy 5:16-21). From God’s interaction with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the early church, it was understood and taught that life was sacred at every stage. Promoting social justice, taking care of the poor, and defending human rights find their basis in each of us and our governmental bodies by the fact that we are created in God’s image with value, dignity, and worth.

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Does the Bible Confirm the Standard Cosmological Model?

The vast majority of scientists affirm the Standard Cosmological Model as an accurate and reliable description of the universe’s origin. After examining the evidence, cosmologists and physicists have largely embraced the fact our universe began to exist at a point in the distant past. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, the expansion of the universe, the presence of the Radiation Echo, and the problem of Infinite Regress serve as sufficient evidence supporting the Standard Model (there are also a number of supplementary evidences affirming this conclusion). In addition, the alternative explanations offered by cosmologists fail to account for the evidence we see in the universe. As a result, “…a clear majority of the cosmological community… accept it (the Standard Model) as a good account of how the universe works.”

The authors of the Bible also affirm the Standard Cosmological Model. The Bible is replete with descriptions of a Universe that came into being from nothing at a fixed point in the distant past as the result of an uncaused, first cause. The nature and characteristics of this material universe are accurately described by the Biblical authors:

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Was the Flood Global?

“Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die” (Genesis 6:17).

Was the Flood a localized disaster or a worldwide destruction of all human and animal life?

Many geologists and Christian scholars do not believe there was a single universal flood of history, yet acknowledge that there were many devastating local floods in earth’s history. On the other hand, there are geologists and Christian scholars who contend that only a worldwide flood could account for the earth’s sedimentary layers and the fossils that have been formed. 

The Scripture states that “all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky…Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks” (Genesis 7:11,19-20). This passage can be interpreted at least two ways. One is that the Flood covered the highest mountains of Planet Earth. This interpretation comes from translating the Hebrew word erets as “earth” or “world,” meaning worldwide. However, erets can also be translated as “country” and “land,” which refer to limited land areas. So scholars have differed on the extensiveness of the Flood.

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How the Principle of Causality Points to the Existence of God

All of us, regardless of worldview, are looking for the first, uncaused cause of the universe. As an atheist (and committed philosophical naturalist), I believed science would eventually identify such a cause, and I expected the answer to be something other than “God”. Alexander Vilenkin (professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University), for example, believes this cause is an eternal, primordial, quantum vacuum from which our universe (and many, many others) popped into existence. The vacuum, according to Vilenkin, was the first, uncaused cause; making questions like, “Where did the vacuum come from?” irrelevant and meaningless. First, uncaused causes don’t need a cause, after all.

Interestingly, cosmologists have refined their thinking on this issue over the past several decades. Early researchers (like Einstein) initially rejected the idea our universe had a beginning at all. For thinkers like Einstein, our universe was the uncaused environment from which stars and planetary systems evolved. Why is everyone so obsessed with identifying an eternal entity and an uncaused, first cause? Because the nature of this first cause will determine which worldview (atheism or theism) is true. For committed atheists, like Carl Sagan, the desire to identify the eternal is deeply metaphysical:

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What Will We Experience in Heaven?

There are good reasons to believe we are more than simple material beings. If we are living souls (as described in Christian Scripture), there’s no reason to think our true immaterial nature will be limited by the fate of our physical bodies. Our expectations of justice, satisfaction and joy (given God’s holy and perfect nature) provide us with good reasons to expect a life beyond this one. If God has infinite power, it’s reasonable to believe He has the power to eliminate imperfection. God’s perfection must certainly characterize the nature of Heaven, and the Bible describes how each of us, when united with God, will be transformed and made complete, in spite of our present earthly imperfections.

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The Difference Between Believing the Gospels and Trusting the Gospel

I leaned over and said, “I think it may be true.” “What may be true?” asked Susie. “Christianity,” I responded. “The more I look at the Gospels, the more I think they look like real eyewitness accounts.” I spent months examining the claims of the Gospels, evaluating them with the template I typically apply to eyewitnesses in my criminal investigations. At the end of my examination, I was confident in their reliability. I believed the Gospels were telling me the truth about Jesus. But I wasn’t yet a Christian. I had what I often refer to as “belief that”. I examined what the Gospels had to say about Jesus, and after testing them rigorously, I came away with confidence in their accuracy, early dating, reliable transmission and lack of bias. But I still had a profoundly important question: “What is the cross all about? Why did Jesus have to die that way?” My wife, Susie, had been raised as a cultural Catholic, and although she was familiar with the language and doctrines of Catholicism, her answer was simply, “I don’t really know.” After months of investigation, I believed what the Gospels told me about Jesus, but I wasn’t yet ready to accept the Gospel of Salvation.

Yesterday, CBN posted the story of my journey from “belief that” to “belief in”. It’s really the first time I’ve told the story this completely, and I hope it will help you see the role evidence can play in moving someone from intellectual assent to volitional submission:

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Is the Problem of Evil Really a Problem for Christianity?

I just spent an amazing weekend at Green Bay Community Church, teaching adults and students about the reliability of the New Testament Gospels and the nature of truth. Troy Murphy has done a wonderful job assembling a powerful staff at the city’s largest church. GBCC’s youth pastor, Evan Gratz, opened up his youth group to me on Sunday night. As usual, the best part of the time with students was answering questions at the end of the evening. The problem of evil was raised by a teenager who described her recent conversation with an atheist friend. As an atheist myself for most of my life, I resonated with the objection and offered a brief response: If what we believe as Christians is true, evil and suffering are only a problem for atheists. The problem of evil isn’t really a problem for Christianity.

Evil and suffering are typically experienced and understood within the context of one’s life. As an atheist, I hoped for (and expected) a life of approximately ninety years. In the context of this span of time, if I had developed cancer in my forties, I would have been angered by the amount of time stolen from me as I battled the disease. In fact, if I had been diagnosed with a terminal disease at that age, I would have been outraged by the fact it was going to deprive me of fifty percent of the life I expected. When your life is only ninety years long, anything cutting the time short is evil, and any prolonged suffering along the way is unjust and intolerable.

But what if we could live more than ninety short years? What if our lives had a beginning, but no end? How would we see (and respond to) evil, pain and suffering in the context of an eternal life? How many of you who can remember the painful vaccinations you received as a child? If you’re reading this article at the age of thirty, the small period of your life occupied by the pain you experienced during those vaccinations has been long outdistanced by the years you’ve lived since then. As time stretched on from the point of that experience, you were able to place the pain within the larger context of your life. You don’t even remember it now. If you have pierced ears, ask yourself a similar question. The pain you experienced at the point of the piercing is nearly forgotten, especially if it has been years since it occurred. Evil, pain and suffering are experienced and understood within the larger context of one’s life.

If the Christian worldview is true, we are eternal beings who will live forever. We get more than ninety years, we get all of eternity. Our experience and understanding of pain and evil must be contextualized within eternity, not within our temporal lives. Whatever we experience here in our earthly life, no matter how difficult or painful it may be, must be seen through the lens of forever. As our eternal life stretches out beyond our struggles in mortality, our temporal experiences will become an ever-shrinking percentage of our consciousness. The suffering we may have experienced on earth will be long outdistanced by the eternal life we’ve lived since then. Our life with God will be a life without suffering, without pain and without evil. “God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). It will also be a life where justice is realized, “for the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints,” (Psalm 37:27-28) and He “will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work” (Ecclesiastes 3:17). As our glorious eternal life with God stretches beyond our temporal experience, whatever suffering or injustice we might have experienced here on earth will seem like it occurred in the blink of an eye.

In the context of the Christian eternal life, pain, suffering and evil can be faced and endured with strength, hope and confidence unavailable in an atheistic worldview. What used to seem so unjust to me is now less egregious. What used to seem so unbearable can now be faced with hope. The problem of evil, from my new Christian perspective, isn’t the same kind of problem it was from my old atheistic perspective, because the problem of evil isn’t really a problem for Christianity.

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Did New Testament Writers Twist the Meaning of the Old Testament?

The 39 books of the Old Testament were written to and about the children of Israel, or the Jewish nation. Some critics charge that writers of the New Testament twist Old Testament passages and take them out of context to make them fit their views of Jesus and his teachings. What are these purported distortions that critics refer to?

For example:

Matthew quotes Isaiah 7 and declares that it was prophesied Jesus was to be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel (Matthew 7:14). Critics point out that a full reading of chapter 7 of Isaiah shows it is more likely referring to the birth of Hezekiah, who became a godly king of Israel.

Hosea the prophet says when Israel was a child, God loved him and “called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). We all know that God did in fact call his people out of Egypt. Yet Matthew says this was a prophecy about Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Egypt and their later return. They did this to escape Herod’s decree to kill all the newborn Jewish males in Bethlehem.

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Historic Heresies Related to the Nature of Salvation

Christians have historically relied on the canonical Scripture as the source of all truth about the nature of God, man and salvation. There have been times throughout Christian history, however, when leaders emerged with competing ideas and motivations, coloring the way they read the New Testament. We’ve been examining historic misrepresentations of Biblical teaching related to the Nature of God the Father and the nature and role of Jesus. Today, we’ll look at a few classic heresies related to Salvation. Distortions of this kind are typically connected to misinterpretations about the nature of Jesus. Did He die for us? Can we save ourselves? Here are some historic heresies:

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Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

The Bible contains 66 books authored by over 40 different people writing on hundreds of subjects, including who God is and how he interacts with his creation. Could all these different authors, who wrote hundreds of years apart, be consistent and in harmony regarding its message? Critics claim that is impossible and assert there are thousands of errors and contradictions in the Bible. Is this true?

When conservative Christian theologians say the Bible is without error (inerrant) they mean that, when all the facts are known, the Scriptures as they were penned by the authors in the original writings and as properly interpreted will be shown to be true and not false in all they affirm. This is of course the case if God is actually the author of Scripture. It stands to reason that if he inspired certain men to reveal his words, he would be sure not to contradict himself, so that his Word would be error-free.

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