Update: "Over at creation.com beneath a great article by Dr. Sarfati, CMI has posted Bob Enyart's argument that to impose capital punishment, the Bible does not require three eyewitnesses, but only three witnesses (which can include physical and circustantial evidence). See there and below for details. Thank you CMI for your mighty work!" -RSR
* Shocking Eels and Atheist Heels: While paging through the ever-fabulous Creation magazine, Bob Enyart and Fred Williams discuss the unsolvable dilemma Darwinism has in trying to evolve electric eels. And then the guys turn to the article, What about bad things done by the Church? Jonathan Sarfati hits back at atheists, hard, with solid rebuttals to their attempt to portray Christianity as bad for the human race. Caution though. If you're a big-time Sarfati fan, like we are, watch out, because the guys think they've found two errors that Jonathan made, regarding criminal justice, in an otherwise tremendous article.
* Eyewitnesses Not Necessary for Conviction & Execution: Some Christians have been taught that the Bible requires two or three eyewitnesses who testify that they saw a murder being committed in order for a convicted criminal to be executed justly. The Bible does not teach this however. God even describes a capitol case where there were not two or three eyewitnesses, yet He commanded the death penalty upon the conviction of the criminal (Deut. 22:25-27). The confusion comes in because the term "witness" is confused for "eyewitness". Our western mindset causes us to read text hyper-literally, as though we were lawyers, whereas the eastern mindset of Scripture expects more of the reader. The Bible emphasizes the need for multiple "witnesses", so while the criminal court is making careful inquiry (Deut. 19:18) into the specifics of the crime, the crime scene, motive, circumstances, the fingerprint of the accused in the victim's blood, etc., the court is to decide what evidence rises to the weight of a "witness" to the crime. Testimony does not only come from eyewitnesses (which is part of what the "Ark of the Testimony" was all about, with the physical evidence within it including a quart of manna and Aaron's walking stick that blossomed.)
* Multiple Witnesses Required for Any Criminal Proceeding: The requirement for "two or three witnesses" is not just for executing criminals, as it is often presented, but the Biblical standard of multiple "witnesses" applies to any court's hearing of any charge against the accussed, and certainly therefore, it is a requirement for rendering a guilty verdict for any kind of a crime, capital or otherwise. "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter [any conviction] shall be established" (Deuteronomy 19:15). So this requirement of multiple witnesses, whether physical evidence, circumstantial evidence, or eyewitnesses, applies across the board, even regarding the hearing of an accusation against an elder in the church (1 Timothy 5:19). Of course, otherwise, someone with a vendetta could cause great harm by simply making an unfounded accusation. Whereas criminals, and especially murderers, typically do not commit their crimes before eyewitnesses.
* Biblical Command for a One Eyewitness Execution: Oftentimes, eyewitnesses have been unreliable whereas forensic evidence has provided far greater certainty. (See rsr.org/forensics for a reconsideration of the creationist argument regarding "historical" and "obsevational" science.) In the illustration provided in Deuteronomy, while physical evidence could testify as additional witnesses, the only eyewitness available was the victim, and yet God specifically commands the death penalty for the culprit upon conviction:
"But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her [rape], then only the man who lay with her shall die [execution]. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death [presumption of innocence], for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her." Deut. 22:25-27
In ancient cities, economics and security concerns led to extremely close quarters. A woman attacked in the city would be expected to cry out for help. For the sin of fornication committed by an unmarried couple, the strong recommendation in the Bible was that they get married. However, if it were learned that a married woman had been with another man, to escape prosecution there was the possibility that she might claim to have been raped. This suggests that if she were being assaulted, her neighbors may hear her cry out. (The Bible rejects the victim mentality promoted by our culture and even in such a horrific instance teaches women to resist an aggressor). One way that this crime scenario could have unfolded is that the accused may claim, "I have never seen this woman in my life." And he may deny ever having been out in the field where she was assaulted. But the judges inspecting the crime scene may notice a torn strand of fabric that matches a tear in his garment. And the woman may describe a scratch that she put on his shoulder. That fabric becomes a witness. The scratch is a witness. And the woman is an eyewitness. Thus, by the testimony of two or three witnesses the matter is established and the accused is convicted and executed.
Today's Resource: Creation Science is just one of the long-running themes of the Bob Enyart Live radio show. Others include:
- the personhood fight to protect unborn children
- criminal justice (burning O.J.'s stuff; Court TV Bible study, etc.)
- economics, hermeneutics, and theology.
We have put decades of study into the study of biblical principles regarding criminal justice. Since the 1990s, many have used Google to find out what God might say about the death penalty, by googling: God death penalty, or some version of that, like: God and the death penalty.
- Our article at TOL subtitled, New Testament Support for Capital Punishment, is ranked by Google #1 out of millions.
- We’ve presented our seminar, available on CD, God’s Criminal Justice System, in cities from Honolulu to Pittsburgh.
- We’ve argued our biblical case for the death penalty on Court TV.
If you would like a review of the criminal justice principles that God revealed in the Scriptures, you'll probably love listening to our God's Criminal Justic System seminar (downloadable or on MP3 CD)! Also, have you seen the Department of Government at our KGOV Store? We are featuring Bruce Shortt's vitally-important book, The Harsh Truth about Public Schools. And also, check out our classic God and the Death Penalty, Live from Las Vegas, and Bob on Drugs DVDs, and our powerhouse Focus on the Strategy resources!
* It's Not Better to Acquit Ten Murderers than to Convict One Innocent Man: Convicting the innocent and acquiting the guilty are equally horrifying injustices. As the Bible puts it, "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 17:15). The claim that it is better to acquit ten murderers than to convict a single innocent man implies that the one is a greater evil than the other. In reality, they are alike. Whenever we hear a claim about right and wrong that involves a mathematical equation, it typically comes from a humanist, utilitarian mindset (as with John Stuart Mills). We should train oursevelves to automatically question any mathematical claim that attempts to quantify morality. Mankind must not attempt to fine tune a justice system so that it is more likely to let murderers go than to convict the innocent. Why not? First, such a goal ignores God's sentiments on the matter. Secondly, when murderers are more likely to avoid conviction, a murder epidemic may result. Many churches systematically avoid teaching the criminal justice principles that God included throughout the Bible. When Christians offer suggestions for how a criminal justice system should function, at a minimum they owe God the courtesy of knowing what He has said about perjury, admissibility of evidence, incarceration, due process, presumption of innocence, the appeals process, and so on. If a biblically-informed criminal justice system operated for a century, if it turned out that one hundred cases had been wrongly decided (which, with human fallibility, is certainly possible), then fifty or so would have been wrongly decided against the guilty (that is, the guilty man went free, which of course is a ruling against the guilty, since what even he needed most was justice), and fifty verdicts would have been wrongly decided against the innocent (that is, the innocent was wrongly convicted). If the system had been run with the humanist goal of acquitting ten murderers rather than convicting one innocent man, instead of there being a hundred cases of injustice, there would have been thousands, with injustice everywhere. (See more at kgov.com/crime.)
Consider also these biblical passages:
"...the word spoken through angels proved steadfast... God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles..." Hebrews 2:1, 4
"If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not [credible]. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me." John 5:31-39
* See also:
- Regarding "historical" science often being as reliable as, or even more reliable than, "observational" science, see our important article, rsr.org/forensics.
- Regarding the overarching biblical theme of the requirement of two or three witnesses, see our Christian Answer to Euthyphro's Dilemma.