Eastern Meditation stripped of its religious connotations has numerous health benefits but to substitute this type of meditation for Christian meditation in regards to spiritual life is an error. For purposes of physical health, breathing and various positions void of religious intent have health benefits, but for spiritual benefits, one must turn to the classical Christian meditation that looks not for relaxation but spiritual connection with God through the Scripture and Christ.
Christian meditation is Christo-centric and finds its basis in God’s presence through the quiet of Scripture and Christ. Christ leads one to the Father and helps one reflect on one’s spiritual life with God. Deeper contemplation can lead to deeper unions with God but all leads one back to the current world and its current situation instead of attempting to escape it.
Meditation is prayer and it is important that Christians remember this and not allow secular definitions of it to water its true nature down. The purpose is not to merely refresh the mind, de-stress, or find calm, but to connect with God.
The article, “Meditation Isn’t Mere Therapy — It’s a Living Relationship With Almighty God” by Anna Abbott reminds us of the true spiritual and prayerful nature of meditation. She states,
“In the case of Christian meditation, it is an active quest to live the life of Christ, which was anything but passive. Our Lord sought baptism from his cousin to begin his life of teaching. He called the Twelve Apostles. He actively healed, preached and performed miracles. He repeatedly told Sts. Peter, James and John that the endpoint of his mission was crucifixion, death and resurrection. He endured heroically, not passively. His mission is the foundational “quest.”
Going beyond this secular definition of meditation and realizing this active quest to find God is key in Christian meditation. Christian meditation is not to escape the world but to understand it with all its suffering and distraught but to Christianize it. Meditation brings the Christian closer to God to deal with the issues of the world. In this way, Christian meditation is far more different than secular notions of meditation that find there roots in Eastern themes.
While these techniques have physical health value they cannot replace spiritual meditation. Also bear in mind as Christians, these techniques themselves need to be utilized carefully since their ultimate design is based to create mental states that are associated with Eastern theology which is far from Christian. The ultimate end of Christian meditation is union with God, not to become a god.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches one’s academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Christian Counselor.
Making disciples of all nations and fulfilling Christ’s mandate involves sometimes more than preaching but also sometimes working with others and helping develop their spirituality. Individuals in positions of authority or experience sometimes find themselves helping others perfect their trade. This is not only true of the professional world, but also within the spiritual world. Numerous pastors, elders and spiritually developed Christians help others find Christ and also to grow in Christ.
Mentorship hence is a vital role within the Church. It involves the Spiritual Works of Mercy that include instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinful, counseling the doubtful and praying for their development. Spiritual parents play large roles in this development. Whether a pastor, minister, spiritual advisor, mentor or God parent, one is thrust into a spiritual position to help their spiritual children grow in Christ. This spiritual promise is an important one that comes from God. It is a very solemn duty to to not only guide but teach by good example.
This is why it is so scandalous when Church authority is abused. When trust in authority is broken, many can be lost to the faith. Many lash out against the faith. Sexual abuse, corruption and bad example are all great sins before God and those in authority who mentor and teach the young, will answer in the most harsh ways. It is important to shower one’s spiritual children with guidance and charity of the Holy Spirit through example and teaching.
Many look to the Paul Timothy relationship. In it, St Paul guides St Timothy through the process of instruction and guidance. St Paul educates but also encourages St Timothy in his spiritual formation. Like St Paul, spiritual mentors are called to help cultivate religious vocations through example, teaching and encouragement. A spiritual mentor is a teacher, a coach, and a counselor to his spiritual child and can help cultivate vocation through these positions of authority.
In doing so, like Christ, they give to their disciples a service of servanthood, as Christ did to the twelve but also an accountability. An accountability to be spiritually present in their lives. Also in any relationship their must be boundaries. Overt dependency upon each other can cause damage to the growth of the spiritual child, as well as the spiritual parent. The spiritual parent may also fear to let their spiritual child go. So it is important to have important boundaries that are rooted firmly in Christ and faith. It is hence important to discuss spiritual expectations and moral behavior in life, and when needed, the acknowledgement to seek outside help when needed.
It is also important to follow the Jesus Model. Larry Kreider speaks about this model as a key way to help mentor and spiritually form young Christians.
Jesus just did not send out his disciples to the world without training or knowledge. He chose them intentionally and took time to know them and cultivate their talents. He taught not only by His words, but also by example. The disciples learned the power of Christ on earth through His miracles and sermons. In turn, Christ prepared them to proclaim the Gospel, but it was only until the Holy Spirit came upon them were they truly prepared.
He chose simply individuals. He did not choose the rich or powerful but simple fisherman, Peter, James and John. He chose a tax collector in Matthew, as well as numerous other outcasts. He chose Andrew, Philip, James the Less, Simon, Bartholomew, and knowing those who would doubt Him, in Thomas, and those who would deny Him, in Judas. Yet Christ, still accepted them all in their imperfections and status. He gave them His full attention and charity and took them in as His own spiritual children.
Spiritual Mentors will also follow this model of Christ. They will look to help develop the spirituality of the least of their brethren and allow their spiritual talents to become tools for the Church. Like Christ, mentors need to initiate and take the first steps to help develop their spiritual children’s gifts. They can reveal to them the good news of the Gospel and inspire in them a sense of awe regarding God. Through example and good deeds, they can inspire them.
They must also continue to build and cultivate the seed of faith within their spiritual children. They must encourage spiritual life, reading of scripture, attendance of Church, and working within it. They must cultivate that potential and push the faith into action.
Finally, eventually as Christ released the twelve, a mentor must be ready to release their spiritual children. This does not mean, he or she abandons them or no longer offers his or her ear, but it does mean they trust in the abilities and faith of their children to spread the Gospel and themselves become spiritual parents. The apostles went to the corners of the world and carried out their Master’s command even unto death.
If God is calling one to spiritual parenthood or to be a spiritual advisor, it is important to allow the Holy Spirit to guide it. Prayer and fasting and discernment are extremely important. One should not let insecurities or fear prevent one from fulfilling one’s duty to the Church. The call to spiritual mentoring dismisses fear and insecurities, as well as ignorance, or apathy, or even impatience when one does not meet one’s standards. It is a vocational call and it is a special relationship.
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification or would like to become a certified Christian Counselor to aid in your own spiritual mentorship of others, then please review the program and see if it meets your professional academic and spiritual goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.
This is a quick crash course in textual review of the Gospels and where they came from. Obviously, we all know they came from the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, who inspired human beings in the collecting various of stories and also directly inspiring the writers themselves, whether the writers were direct witnesses or collectors of the information. Despite this inspiration, there still was a massive human cooperation with God that gave us the collection of the Four Gospels. It is important as Christian Counselors, ministers, priests, and chaplains to have a good foundation in what the Gospels are and where they came from.
Preaching the Gospel is a standard phrase for those in ministry but what are the Gospels themselves? Obviously the term to preach the Gospel extends beyond just the teachings found in the Four Gospels but are expounded throughout the entire Bible, but the ideal of the Gospel, the story of Jesus Christ and what He meant for salvation is the core concept found in the Gospels. The previous books prepare the Christian for the encounter with Christ as found in the Gospels, while the Epistles explain them in greater detail.
Hence the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is both God and man and came to Earth to redeem humanity from the sin of Adam. In Christ, everything is made perfect. In Christ, is the perfect sacrifice and bridge to God. Without Christ, no salvation is possible and it is essential to accept Christ via Baptism to apply the blood of His redemption on the cross. This is why it is was so critical a command to preach this message to all corners of the world.
The Gospels hence paint a picture of who Christ is and why He came. They form the cornerstone of Christ’s teaching and set the basis for the Church. It was hence critical for the Church to enshrine them as part of the foundational structures of the faith and all Christian theology. The Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John were all formally written before the end of the 1st century. In fact, most findings dictate that the Epistles of Paul outdate the Gospels. It shows that the ideas of the Gospels had not been written yet by their namesakes, or at least collected together into one volume after the preaching of Paul. Historic and literary criticisms of the text show that Mark was the first book written of the Four Gospels and Mark’s Gospel collected data from various sources. These sources are known as the Que source which had accumulated various stories about the life of Christ handed down verbally and also in some cases documented. Unfortunately, this common source of data about Christ has never been collected but the very fact most Gospels share common stories, illustrates a common source regarding the life of Christ as handed down by the Apostles.
The Gospels were stories of Christ that were collected from eye witness accounts or contain parts written directly as witnessed by the observer. Historical authorship traditionally is applied to the namesakes of the Gospels themselves, the Apostles John and Matthew and the Disciples Mark and Luke. Some contend that these historic figures only are of the name of the book and not the actual author or redactor. Others contend that the eye witnesses themselves wrote the book. Hence in John and Matthew, we see apostles who witnessed the life of Christ. While Mark and Luke would have depended more on eye witness accounts as well as other source materials.
Despite only having only Four Gospels, the Church existed within the first three centuries under persecution and it would not be until the Fourth Century that it was able to canonize the books as inspired. Many other books were classified as uninspired and left out of the canon. Such books as the Gospel of Thomas or the Infancy Narratives were considered non canonical. Some other books were considered heretical while others were considered pious but not inspired.
Hence the Church canonized the New Testament and accepted only the four we see today. The first three are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, while the Gospel of John stands on its own as a unique Gospel that has a higher Christological value. While all the Gospels show Christ is both God and Man, the Gospel of John emphasizes the Divinity of Christ at a higher level. This differences in emphasis is important to the whole story of Christ.
The Synoptic Gospels while sharing similarities, nonetheless also differ in audience. Matthew’s audience is more towards the Jewish population. Matthew wished to show how Jesus was a good Jew and came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it, while Luke engages more with the Greek world, showing that Christ has also come to save all of humanity, not just the Jewish people. If these namesakes of these Gospels are indeed the historical individuals, then Matthew would have an indepth knowledge of Christ as well as the Jewish law. Luke who writes much on the infancy of Christ, according to tradition, also knew the Virgin Mary well and is said to have written the first icon of the Mother of God. This would tie to the indepth amount of the infancy stories found in Luke.
Regardless, the Gospels are written and inspired and share their namesakes actual hand or spirit. The accounts compliment and supplement each other. Where others look to find contradictions or minor variations, the Church sees the many stories of Christ and their diversity shared in the Gospels. In fact, as John points out, not even all the books of the world could contain the many stories of Christ. The Church is grateful to possess four accurate accounts that supplement different audiences but share the same inspired story of Christ, God and Man, and also Redeemer for all audiences.
While various criticisms exist for Scripture, they should not be seen as critiques but instead research into the history, literary aim, and textual development to better understand the individual book. These are important tools that if used reverently can be used to help us better appreciate the Word of God and message of salvation.
The stories and accounts are reliable because one can see the full story of Christ find form. While only in oral form for the longest time, they found parchment and permanency through the Holy Spirit and His divinely inspired writers. These same witnesses would later forfeit their lives for the stories found in to cement their authenticity with their own blood.
This is why we believe and this is why we share the Four Gospels.
Ignatian spirituality is an excellent way of experiencing God and prayer in one’s daily life. In essence it is very intellectual and Christo-centric. Christ is the center of all and service is essential to the church and community. Meditation within the tradition is also Christo-centric and focuses on visualization on the life of Christ. This focus on Christ helps many through various therapies, especially in grief. The steps within Ignatian review of conscience can be important in helping individuals analyze their life itself
The article, “How Ignatian spirituality enhanced my cognitive behavioral therapy” by Sue Do looks closer at the cognitive benefits of Ignatian spirituality and meditation on recovering from loss and grief. The article states,
“In the five steps of the Examen prayer of St. Ignatius, I found the “reviewing of my day” to be a crucial part of my resilience and recovery. Facing my struggles and talking about it to God through journaling is similar to confronting my distorted thoughts in cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Positive affirmations are similar to the awareness of one’s needs and asking for graces in Ignatian spirituality.”
Ignatian spirituality is a very disciplined and precise spirituality that looks to find Christ but also helps to better oneself in deeper analyzation to find weakness within the soul. His exercises and meditation all help lead to a stronger Christian life
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Christian Counselor.
Discernment is an important process in every Christian’s life. This is the case not only in calls to vocation but also decisions that affect daily life. Understanding good and evil and properly diagnosing proper choices in life help the Christian navigate the troubled waters of temporal existence.
Vocation is more than just one’s eventual role in life but also one’s daily duty and position everyday in life. It is important to continually strive to fulfill one’s daily duty and help others find their role. Discernment and guidance are key in these choices. Proper discernment is based in prayer and imitation of Christ in fulfilling God’s will. However, even with prayer, we can sometimes doubt. Learning how to discern and dissect moral decisions can be more difficult than it appears. Sometimes it takes time to finally find God’s will and answer to you.
The article, “WHAT IS IGNATIAN DISCERNMENT?” by Rev. Doug Leonhardt, S.J. looks at how St Ignatius Loyola utilized prayer, meditation and logical thinking based in philosophy and morality to come to discernment conclusions. The article states,
“Pondering and noticing interior movements of attraction and heaviness are at the heart of Ignatian discernment. Discernment involves prayer and weighing facts and feelings about the several good choices which ultimately leads to a choice about what is the best fit for an individual. In the traditional language of Christianity, good Christians try to find the will of God for their lives. They look for signs but often when no clear signs are given, they make a decision and then ask God to bless it. ”
Discernment in choice, path, endeavor and even regarding spirits and people are important parts in Christian spirituality. It is important to learn how to form a strong Christian moral compass that helps guide one’s conscience. Through wisdom granted by the Holy Spirit and an offering of all one does to God, one can be more confident that the right choice or feeling will eventually emerge.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.
The early Church faced many misconceptions about Jesus Christ. Some believed Jesus’ body was a shell to the Divine Logos without a human soul. Others thought Jesus was not true body at all but a phantasm of light. Still others thought Jesus’ human nature and divine nature were so entangled that neither retained a true liberty from each other and were in fact fused into one mixture. Others distinguished Jesus’ nature so much that there was no true unity but a loose union of two separate natures.
One of the earliest though was Arianism which denied the co-eternal nature of the Son with the Father. This heresy was perpetrated by the hesiarch Arius in the 4th century. His heresy was condemned at the Council of Nicaea at 325 AD as well again at Constantinople in 381 AD. Of course proper and orthodox theology teaches that Jesus is one person with two natures in harmony being both fully God via the Second Person and fully human through Jesus of Nazareth.
The article, “What Is Arianism and Are You Accidentally Committing This Heresy?” by Alyssa Roat gives a very detailed account of Arianism and is a good resource for those seeking to understand it better. She states,
“Many centuries ago, a man named Arius stirred major controversy in the church with his claim: Jesus Christ was created and finite, not of equal divinity with the Father. This became known as the heresy of Arianism. However, repudiation and rejection of his claim did not come easily. Even today, we may find ourselves falling into Arianism.”
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals in ministry who are seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.
Spiritual direction is key to Christian formation. Individuals no matter the age require guidance in morality, coping, spirituality, and challenges. A spiritual director is usually clergy, but some can also be lay people who become a spiritual father or mother to you. Their guidance is important in every phase of life as the Christian grows in the faith. If you do not have a spiritual director, it is wise to find one. It is not something that one randomly chooses, but something the Holy Spirit guides one to. The mentor and the learner find each other.
Usually a spiritual director has knowledge of your life and past. He or she is able to guide one through troubles because of this knowledge because of this unique knowledge. This is why randomly choosing someone and expecting them to know you will not produce the best results. It is something that is not forced but naturally found due to mutual spiritual attraction of need. If one becomes a member of a church, or one meets a new pastor, it is not prudent to choose this new person you work with as your spiritual advisor. There should be a natural divide. This is why priests or pastors do not at times have spiritual directors who are common to their work unless the bond is far older before they met professionally or in ministry. Of course, a spiritual bond may develop but if no spiritual bond is present, this person should not be one’s spiritual director.
So in essence, a spiritual director has a bond with you but also is equipped with the wisdom to help you develop in the faith and face problems. They should not be random persons you meet merely due to their position as a priest or pastor. With Christianity, this mentor can be a elder, or a trusted friend within the faith, or also a long known pastor, or in Catholicism, a priest who also hears one’s confession but also knows you and has a spiritual bond.
Merely talking to someone about your issues does not make one your spiritual director, but it is a reciprocal spiritual bond to help spiritual parent and spiritual child grow.
The article, “Spiritual direction: What is it, who needs it, and why?” by Mary Farrow looks at why Christians need a spiritual director and the importance of spiritual direction. She states,
“Spiritual direction instead focuses on a relationship with God, Cleveland said, which is “not a problem to be solved, but something to be discovered and deepened and celebrated. A lot of times people are looking for something else…so sometimes we have to really reorient someone’s thinking – are you looking to deepen your relationship with God through prayer and discernment?”
Hence spiritual direction is more than confessing sins or seeking God’s forgiveness but is a process of spiritual growth. It involves discernment and other ways to help a person progress spiritually through the world.
If you would like to learn more about Spiritual Mentorship and Spiritual Direction, please review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification. The program is online and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification is Christian Counseling.
A nice look about people of different faiths and how they manage during the pandemic to prayer together while apart. The pandemic has restricted some religious public worship and has limited other ways we can come together, but we can still pray and we can still pray for each other. With social distancing, we can also within the various religious traditions still come together in safely despite the dangers.
The article, “Staying Apart but Praying Together” by James Estrin looks at how religious groups are remaining spiritual and strong despite covid. He states,
“The sanctuary at The Jewish Center accommodates more than 500 people but only 60 are now allowed inside at a time. Attendees must preregister online, answer a coronavirus exposure survey and have their temperature taken at the door. When weather permits, shortened services are held outside on the rooftop.”
The article covers other faiths as well. To read the entire article, please click here
Despite shutdowns, or restrictions, the faith remains strong during the pandemic and people will find a way to pray to God, whether privately or in public via safe measures. God does not wish his creation to test him but to respect the safety measures for all. This does not make one’s faith less but makes one logical. God can protect us from any plague, but we cannot as his creation test him and do foolish things that promote its spread.
Lent is an excellent time for Christians to find a spiritual retreat. A retreat from the loud and noisy material world. Lent allows the Christian the time to self reflect and re prioritize things in life. Many utilize Lent as a time to give something up but learning to rediscover one’s Christian life is the primary point of Lent. Lent gives one the opportunity to rediscover one’s cross and to follow Christ to Calvary and later rise with him.
Silent prayer can play a large role in helping Christians find their spiritual nature. Silent prayer can help one hear the voice of God and help the soul find a deeper connection. Silent prayer removes one from the noise of materialism and realigns the soul properly to its primary end which is God.
The article, “Lent: Silent prayer in a noisy digital world” b y Sr Nancy Ussellmann looks at the value of silent prayer and its place during Lent. She states,
“Lent offers us a time to take stock of our lives, question our motivations, examine our relationships and pray more attentively, opening ourselves to God’s actions in our lives. The ashes on our face remind us that we are not gods, we will not live forever and this life has a purpose.”
Lent is a critical time for sacrifice but also self reflection and spiritual growth. Silent prayer and Christian meditation can play a large role in helping one grow one’s faith and re-connection with God. It allows one to rediscover their Christian vocation and refocus on what matters most in life.
The sanctify of life has always been championed by the Christianity. Stemming from the 5th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, or more properly interpreted, murder, Christianity and the Church has taught it is sinful to take a life without serious applications. There is a big difference between killing and murdering obviously. The fact that this distinction is made, in no way lessens the Church or Christianity’s teaching on the sanctify of life, but only saddens the Church when killing becomes necessary. This brings one to very complicated situations that needs addressed.
First and foremost, revenge killing, murder, abortion and euthanasia are always morally wrong. It is murder to willingly without sufficient cause to take another human life. All Christian Churches, especially the Catholic Church, has made numerous condemnations against abortion and euthanasia. Numerous documents exist that condemn these atrocities. Pope John Paul II himself referred to today’s culture as the culture of death in which the value of human life has been removed.
Human life through abortion has been commercialized and human beings have been reduced to objects. Human life through euthanasia has reduced life to a choice instead of a gift. These social movements have eroded the moral sense of right and wrong in regards to life. While society hopes to cloud the moral objectivity of murder, Christianity has stood strong in condemning these actions.
Yet, despite the Church’s condemnation of murder, Christian social teaching does not forbid necessary killing. There is a large difference between justified killing and murder. Let us first look at war itself.
The Church, especially in the West through St Thomas Aquinas, has taught Just War Theory. This theory does not praise war but laments the unfortunate necessity of it when evil forces arise. Aquinas pointed out that war can only be justified when defensive in nature. Furthermore, certain codes of conduct were necessary. These codes are reflected today in how civilized nations conduct war. Use of extraordinary weapons without sufficient cause are forbidden, as well as weapons that can cause massive death and torture. Furthermore, attacks on civilians, as well as unarmed soldiers and prisoners of war are regulated. It no longer becomes killing, but murder when the enemy is captured or disarmed and then killed. This is reflected in Aquinas but also again in modern law regarding war crimes.
Self defense of a nation justifies killing in war, but only to the extent of defense and destruction of evil. The same ideal is applied to individual self defense. One who uses deadly force because it is the only alternative in preserving one’s life does not break the 5th Commandment, but instead preserves one’s own life. Again, this is because the 5th Commandment forbids murder not killing!
Sometimes, one can look to the Old Testament and see the many sanctions of God being very warlike. These motifs are human words describing the divine in the sacred texts. It does not mean to interpret a God who has blood lust. God as the author of life and death can strike down an evil king, for God’s vengeance is justice. Yet, we see God very much involved in Israel’s history, helping Israel strike down her enemies in war. We also see in the books of laws, many codes that demanded death for certain offenses.
Interpretation of spiritual or physical death can always be argued, but it is without a doubt, that before Christ, the world was indeed more dark. God did not magically become different after the coming of Christ, transferring an eye for an eye to turn the other cheek, but God was always the same. It was the time and the interpretation that differed.
In fact, an eye for an eye mentality found in scripture was actually utilized to minimize violence not condone it. It looked to prevent excessive revenge and only justice. Yet, those before the time of Christ, during the fallen era of Satan, were more inclined to sin without the abundance of available grace through Christ’s death. This does not mean barbaric actions ceased to happen after Christ, but it does point that Satan had a greater grasp on more souls than he does now. God, before the coming of Christ, through the commandments hoped to guide fallen humanity through the prophets as best he could, but until the coming of Christ, without grace, humanity was at a greater risk of evil influence. Attempting to curb Israel’s inclinations was the best the prophets could do during these times. In fact, Christ even pointed out regarding marriage laws, that Moses permitted certain evils only because of the stubborn nature of the people. This applied to all cases in morality. It would be through Christ that the fullness of law could understood and enacted.
Hence when we review many of the old ways regarding killing in the Old Testament, it must be understood under those lights. God never sought the death of innocence, but in fact, like with Abraham and Isaac, rejected human sacrifice or death. Yet, when we see God push forward just punishment upon the wicked, as in the case of the plagues upon Egypt, we cannot associate His justice, as the author of life and death, as wrong. We cannot apply justification in war and defense towards our own actions, the way God did in the Bible.
Yet, we see many Christian extremists misuse Scripture, especially the Old Testament, to justify killing, when in reality they are committing murder. One classic example of this is the Book of Leviticus and its condemnation of homosexuality and the proposed punishment of death. These old laws are not justification for Christians to murder homosexuals, but with misuse and wrongful interpretation of ancient laws can lead to evil outcomes.
Hence, defense that is appropriate to the action is the only time the taking of another life is justified. This may appear on a larger scale such as a battlefield, or in individual self defense. These issues again are only a last resort.
The final social issue that clouds the morality of killing and murder is capital punishment. The idea as whether the state has the right to deny a person of life is debated in Christianity. While there does exist a historical tradition for the state’s right to execute, these ideas need to be understood in the context of the time period it was developed in. The largest concern in regards to capital punishment is the right of the state to defend society from harm. When this is taken into account, in the past, did sufficient prisons exist to defend individuals from dangerous criminals? Also, was the person a persistent threat? For self defense to exist, there must exist immediate threat or potential for that threat to continue.
In today’s prisons, the chance of escape is very low. The idea of an immediate threat is also almost none existent in a modern system. The only possible situation may be if the criminal is a mobster who can order hits from within prison. Yet, if the person is imprisoned, no longer a threat to society, can that person be morally executed by the state?
Whether the action was heinous or not is not the question. The question is does the person pose an immediate threat to society.
Some would contend this is not an issue and that the state has legitimate authority to execute dangerous criminals who commit the most heinous crimes. Unlike vengeance which is carried out with emotion from the party injured, the state is a legitimate authority that presents justice. Does the state hence represent God in someway in carrying out sentences? This was definitely a medieval ideal where kings and queens were ordained by God to rule. Yet, many states are far from pure and just. Communist nations murder its own citizens everyday in the name of justice.
Yet if a state has legitimate authority and is utilizing its authority in a just way for the protection of society, does it have an authority from God to execute a dangerous criminal? Is the sentence of death, even if the person can no longer hurt anyone, justified? Whether revenge or justice, is it condoned?
Ultimately it comes down to whether one believes the state has authority from God to execute criminals. This is somewhat still a debated issue, especially since in the modern era, incarcerated criminals are usually no longer a threat to society. I would contend that, while the state is a neutral and just authority void of vengeance, it still cannot in good conscience take a life within the modern ability to confine criminals. Of course culpability is lessened for those involved in the legal process than a street mob, but the ultimate price of taking a life is forbidden by anyone.
If the state cannot show proof that the execution is for the defense of society, then it truly has no grounds to execute from a Christian perspective. The only authority to execute for the sake of execution is God. God alone is the author of life and death not the state.
Again, this is taking into account, modern prisons and the ability of the state to protect the people through the prison system itself.
When the state does execute for the sake of execution, it takes the role of God. Furthermore, this removes the chance of a person to live a life of repentance while in prison.
Many Christians dismiss this type of murder by the state as not important because the individuals are criminals and evil. They would rather focus on abortion and the innocents who die. Both issues are important because both involve murder. Life must be preserved at all stages and situations. Also bear in mind, many times, innocent men and women can also be executed.
So while state execution does have a history and may be justified even in the past, it is very hard to foster a Christian defense of its application today. Still be it, the state, as a neutral voice of justice, must ensure that the execution is humane and without torture. Of course this is after the fact that it remains an immoral action regardless of circumstance surrounding it.
It is indeed difficult to defend the wicked, but the value of life must be protected for all. God is author of life alone. Only in cases of self defense is killing permitted in Christianity and that applies to everyone.
If you would like to learn more about Christian dogma or morality, please review our blog. Also, if you are interested in becoming a certified Christian Counselor, then please review The Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.