to be consistent, a bible christian from today living in old testament times, should stone folks
Debate Rounds (3)
ive asked, and almost no one says if they were living as a jew in old testament times, that they would stone people. here or there a person might say they would.
how if you believe the bible and all that jazz, and claim to be christian, could you disagree and not stone people?
First we must understand the nature of Old Testament Law. The Law was a covenant between YHWH (God) and His chosen people, Israel. God was to be their King. This is supported by God's words to the prophet Samuel when Israel asked for a human king: "And the LORD told him: 'Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.'" (1 Samuel 8:7) Now, there was nothing special about the Israelites that they were chosen by God. They were sinners too, just like us. In order for God to live among them and not destroy them, they must have a covenant with God and follow it. This covenant is the Law. This Law covers moral behavior (such as the Ten Commandments), as well as civil ordinances (what is the punishment for stealing, murder, rape, etc.). The punishment for immoral behavior was often death. One method of death was stoning. Why was stoning prescribed? It was prescribed to be both a punishment and a preventative measure. One example was contempt in the court, or in Israel's case, contempt of the judgment of God. The punishment was death. "The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again." (Deut. 17:12-13).
However, God knew that we humans are sinful and cannot keep his covenant. Thus, he made a new one. This new covenant sets aside the old one as obsolete.
Hebrews explains this way: (Heb. 8:6-13) "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs [the priests of the OT covenant] as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: 'The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.' By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."
Comparing the old and new covenants, the writer of Hebrews says: "The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blo0d of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." (Heb. 9:13-15)
Hebrews is a wonderful book to understand why Christians (those under the New Covenant) do not need to follow the provisions and stipulations of the Old Covenant. I encourage you to read it if you have more questions on this topic. Galatians is also another helpful book on this topic. The message of Galatians is basically "nothing but the gospel." Nothing is needed but faith in the blood of Christ. Paul actually heavily reprimanded the Galatians for following a "Jesus and..." gospel. "Jesus and... the Law." "Jesus and... circumcision." Paul quite clearly says "Jesus and Nothing Else!"
Paul certainly does not hold the Law as bad or meaningless. But hear now what Paul does say of the Law.
"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Gal. 2:21-3:3)
"Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party, but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. ... If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:15-27, 29)
I know, a rather long read there. But Galatians clearly shows that Christians are under grace, not law: "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (Gal. 3:24-25)
Not being bound by law, Christians are not required to stone people in order to remain Biblically consistent. In fact, just the opposite, we are to obey the commands "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44) and "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing." (1 Peter 3:9) In my opinion, that makes a much harder standard for us. :)
To say that a Christian must stone people to be Biblically consistent is comparable to saying that a Christian must sacrifice sheep and bulls to cover for his sins. Christians are free under the covenant of grace established by the precious blood of Christ. Stoning is a governmental (not individual) action prescribed under the Old Covenant; Christians are reconciled to God under the New Covenant. The Biblical view of the issue is this: The Old has been made obsolete, and we are no longer bound by it, nor are under its prescriptions.
It is important to understand that stoning was a governmental function, much as lethal injection is in modern-day America. If I were to inject somebody with a lethal chemical, I would be sentenced to life in prison (at least) for murder. It was the same in ancient Israel. Intentionally throwing a stone at somebody in cold blood would be murder. Deut. 19:11-12 (dealing with intentional murder) "But if a man hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him, assaults and kills him, and then flees to one of these cities [of refuge], the elders of his town shall send for him, bring him back from the city, and hand him over to the avenger of blood to die." So if I decided as an ancient Israelite that I didn't like somebody because he had done something to me, stoning him was NOT an option. Stoning would be murder in that case.
So what about the OT stoning? This was the government's method of putting somebody to death. The death penalty is mandated for crimes like rape and murder. Lesser sentences, such as proportional reparation, were allocated for offenses like stealing. But for crimes that defamed the image of God in humanity, death was the requirement.
Now this function of government is perfectly legitimate. Romans 13 says this of the government: "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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (vs. 1-4)
God has delegated authority to our human rulers. They are given the power of the sword to punish wrong. Thus the human governor of Israel (the prophets/judges and later the king) was given the power to carry out God's sentence on the wrongdoer. With murderers and the like, this punishment was death, often by stoning. Stoning in the OT was a government function. The "avenger of blood" mentioned in Deuteronomy was also a government agent. Stoning was not the only method of carrying out the death penalty, but it was one of the most severe ways.
So why did the community stone the people? Because they were the executioners prescribed by the government. For example, look at Achan in Joshua 7. God commanded that Achan be put to death for direct disobedience regarding the things of Jericho. The whole community stoned him and then burned his body and the devoted things. This was the prescribed justice that God had laid out. In effect, the community was the appointed executioner of God's government in this case. It is to note though, that if, say, Achan's wife had seen what he did and stoned him for it, this would be murder, since she was not the government.
Stoning was a government function and action. When the community was appointed executioner, the community carried out the sentence in obedience to God. Perhaps not every individual cast a stone, but every individual was present and involved. In any case, stoning was not an individual action. So no, if I lived in ancient Israel, I could not stone people personally, individually. But the government under God's law certainly could, and could dictate that the community take that part of executioner.
It is also something to note that "Biblical Christians" did not exist in ancient Israel; followers of God certainly, but Christians did not come about save as a function of the new covenant. So my arguments above still apply to that part of the argument. The New Covenant had not been instated at the time of the Old. So a question of "under your principles today, would you have operated as such-and-such in the past" is not valid, considering that the New Covenant was not an option back then. On this side of the cross, we have a different way to live.
Note: I am not saying by any means that God changed his mind about things. He merely operated in different ways throughout history. The Old Covenant was the covenant with God's chosen people as a theocracy; the New Covenant is not concerned with earthly kingdoms but with a heavenly kingdom. The Old pointed the way to the New and made the way for the New, but it is fundamentally different in nature from the New. We must take this into account when comparing any part of the two Covenants.
In conclusion, though, we cannot ignore the differences between the Old and New Covenants. I believe I covered that pretty thoroughly in my previous speeches, so I will not repeat myself needlessly. But this point still stands (being unaddressed by Pro) and thus exposes the fundamental flaw of the question itself.
My thanks to Pro for a fun debate and a chance to brush up on the topic myself. :) It's been a little while since I considered this sort of thing, and it was a real pleasure to debate you.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by mendel 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The position of pro that a bible christian living in the old testament times should stone people was never argued with by con, on the contrary he conceded completely. Leaving me with no choice but to vote pro. (The reason why i don't agree with pro after the debate, is because a bible christian is probably not Jewish, and stoning is not prescribed in the bible for non Jews).
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