Dr. James Spencer of D.L. Moody Center tackles the pro-life dichotomy of the death penalty

‘Government is given the authority to take life in the course of restraining evil and maintaining order. Individuals are not given the authority to take life due to private, personal considerations’

August 22, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Many pro-abortion activists argue that Christians can’t be both pro-life and pro-capital punishment. The right to life should encompass life at any age, no matter the background. But does that apply to those who have committed heinous crimes against society?

D. L. Moody Center (moodycenter.org) President James Spencer answers many of the pro-life community’s most pressing questions about the right to life in his recent guide, “20 Questions: Christians, Abortion, and the United States.” The groundbreaking guide tackles tough topics about the right to life and walks Christians through 20 key questions, including whether Christians hold inconsistent views about life regarding abortion and the death penalty.

Spencer commented, “The issues of abortion and the death penalty are separate yet interrelated. Each has some connection to the sanctity of life.

“Whereas abortion has been framed as more of a private, medical choice in which a life is intentionally ended, the death penalty is a state-authorized act that lies within the scope of the state’s authority as given by God (cf. Rom 13:1-7).”

Spencer continued, “Just because Christians may affirm that the death penalty is within the scope of authority given to government, Christians are not required to be pro-death penalty. Other factors may need to be considered, such as one’s confidence in the state’s ability to determine guilt or innocence. The biblical and theological claim does not need to be correlated with a practical position. We affirm the role given to government by God but may hold a separate position depending on the competence and character of political leaders and our confidence in governmental structures and processes.

“The primary difference between abortion and the death penalty is related to the circumstances associated with the decision to take a life (e.g., an unwanted pregnancy versus a capital crime) and the authority of the realm in which the action is taken (e.g., a voluntary medical procedure versus the state). Government is given the authority to take life in the course of restraining evil and maintaining order. Individuals are not given the authority to take life due to private, personal considerations.”

20 Questions: Christians, Abortion, and the United States”is offered at no cost from D. L. Moody Center as part of its “Shine Bright 365” initiative. “Shine Bright 365” is a year-long comprehensive campaign designed to encourage believers to shine bright for Christ in a dark world.

Spencer concluded, “As Dwight Moody once said, ‘In the place God has put us, he expects us to shine, to be living witnesses, to be a bright and shining light. While we are here, our work is to shine for him.’ We have recently been placed in a post-Roe v. Wade world. Our task now is to shine brightly for Christ in this new world.”

The D. L. Moody Center is also pleased to announce the launch of its new eight-day Bible plan, Useful to God, on the YouVersion app. Drawing on Spencer’s book titled “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” this Bible plan examines eight characteristics evident in the Scriptures and in the life of D. L. Moody (e.g., surrendered, prayerful, humbled, undistracted, and studious). Thousands have already completed the plan, with hundreds more subscribing daily.

The D.L. Moody Center is an independent non-profit organization located in Northfield, Massachusetts. Dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Dwight Moody, the D. L. Moody Center is a catalyst for spiritual formation in New England and beyond through evangelism and discipleship.   

As a destination for spiritual renewal, the D. L. Moody Center is not a school. Nevertheless, there is much to learn by studying D. L. Moody and what God accomplished through his life which began in New England, at the Northfield, Massachusetts campus, the heart of Moody’s ministry as well as his childhood home.   

Learn more about D. L. Moody Center by visiting moodycenter.org or follow the ministry on Facebook or Twitter

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