Can the Death Penalty save souls?

Dear fellow members,

Can the death penalty save souls? Do you not think it possible that someone faced with death as the consequence of a freely chosen act of evil might turn his heart to repentance and beg for God’s mercy? Might it be more likely that the soul of the impenitent sinner would simply rot away if that person was merely thrown into prison for life?

(Of course, by ‘save souls’ I mean ‘by way of the Cross’.)

God may use things to save souls. The death penalty itself does not save souls, though God can use it for someone’s salvation. :slight_smile:

Years ago I read an essay by C. S. Lewis supporting your view. He noted that one is much more likely to repent in the holding cell the night before execution than in the prison geriatric ward years later when half way to dementia.

Do you know what the essay was called?

I doubt that blind terror of death is any more conducive to repentance than is dementia…

I don’t think people face death with blind terror. Some might. However, I suspect that the death penalty is rather sobering. In fact, the sheer gravity of the offence committed might actually visit the wrongdoer’s conscience. I suspect that being locked in a box til you go mad or senile would be far less conducive than the execution of someone with a healthy, if wicked, mind.

Why not? When you are certain of your death, you might be more reflective of your life and your deeds and misdeeds, and this could convince you to repent.

I have always thought the same thing. Besides dementia, those who are in prison for life have more opportunities to sin and to deny their guilt. How many in prison admit to what they did? Especially murder and rape. So telling them, hey, the gigs up. Tell it to God just might make them do that!

You know that anti death penalty movie Dead Man Walking? H denied his guilt right up to the point of his execution. Then he admitted what he did and begged God for mercy. Kind of proved the point it was trying to disprove, in my opinion.

Good thief, The DP, its not for us to martyr these souls for Christ, comes to mind, nor is it for man to assume Gods role, on-going issue with man. I heard a Priest last summer talk about a fellow who found Christ after 50-years in prison. There was another man here, Ross, who insisted on the DP, took it to court a few times. he finally won and they killed him. Finally stopped it, now they’re determining if they kill the remainder on death row or allow them to live. Little bit much for my blood.

The vicious Connecticut Supreme Court will most certainly declare any attempt to execute the Cheshire murderers as unconstitutional. Everyone knows it will happen. That’s what happened in California.

You know the man is a devote Christian. He is holding on to so much anger. I feel for him but I disagree with him. That was a horror show though.

I mean that the Death Penalty should be real and effectual - that is, it is in routine and predictable use. The so called “Death Penalty” in use in the US is pretty much a legal fiction in many states.

I think that crimes like in Cheshire are so horrible, so deranged, so disgusting, that the only possible punishment is execution. Allowing them to live is essentially stating that their lives are worth more than the Petits’. It is a valid punishment for a heinous crime.

I think he’s looking for closure. True justice. But instead he’ll pay for their free meals and housing for the rest of his life. It’s sickening.

I agree, it’s a joke. Especially here in Connecticut (before it was abolished here, anyway).
A man gets sentenced to death, and he fights legal battles for decades before the penalty is put into practice. Performing the death penalty on a man decades after his conviction is not how it’s supposed to be.

I know, but the only closure is forgiveness. That well may be some form of satisfaction by revenge, but that will not make peace with those ghosts.

It doesn’t matter what we think “might” be a better “general” situation that would turn someone to repentance. It is wrong to take a life that is not posing a threat to someone anymore. Conversion is in the hands of the Father, and so is death. If you think you are doing God’s will by executing someone, you should be careful to discern His will.

That being said, I don’t think legal capitol punishment is nearly the same as murder.


This is where I think we diverge. You sustain that by bestowing forgiveness, there should be no proper punishment. I disagree. Petit should certainly pray for the salvation of their souls. But they should still receive the death penalty as the proper punishment for their crime. Think of the movie Martin Guerre. Arnaud du Tilh repents of what he does, but is still executed.

That would make us no different than the Romans and the Three Cross’s, We should lock them up to protect others.

Don’t remember. Will try to find it, but I have an awful lot ofhis writings to dig through.

St. Thomas Aquinas:

The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.

They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil.”

(Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146)

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