Archive for January, 2008

Capital Punishment

Biblical basis for believing in capital punishment is based on the following.
It is first spoken of in Scripture in Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, (murder) by man shall his blood be shed (the state exercising capital punishment.) [Parentheses added as an interpretation.].
Thereafter in the Mosaic Code of 613 laws found in the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, it is expanded on.
The commandment rendered “Thou shall not kill” in the Hebrew text is literally, “Thou shall not murder.”
In John 19:10 Pilate said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to crucify you (capital punishment) and power to release you. [Parentheses added.]
Jesus said to him “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above ,” (that is by God.) John 19:11 [Parentheses added.]
Thus Jesus was saying capital punishment is authorized by God.
Upon facing the death penalty enforced by Roman Law Paul said, “If I have committed any thing worthy of death, (capital punishment) I refuse not to die….” Acts 25: 11. He was aware that capital punishment was legitimate. [Parentheses added.]

Peter affirmed government as an instrument of God given authority “for the punishment of evildoers” (I Peter 2:14ff; Titus 3:1).
The civil government is shown to be ordained by God to maintain law and order in Romans 13:1. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God….”
Revelation 13:10 “he who kills by the sword (an individual who commits murder) must be killed with the sword (action by government in punishing murder). [Parentheses added.]

Israel Part 3

This is not to say who is right and who is wrong in Israel. It is to say what is.
There are three regions governed by three separate codes of law. Along the Costal Plane and Gaza Egyptian law prevails. Around Bethlehem, Jericho, and suburban Jerusalem Jordanian law is applied, and in Israel and the part known by many since the Six Day War as the West Bank Israeli Law, which is primary British, is in force. Confusing isn’t it. Why is this important?
The region called the West Bank by Israel was conquered in 1967 and has since been called the West Bank by Israel. The Arab world calls it “the occupied territory.” Who is right? By ,Israel appears to imply the Arabs, even though they contend it is not occupied territory.
The reason some consider some regions occupied territory is that International Law says that if a country occupies another, those conquered must be governed by their own laws. The fact the people in those territories are governed by their own laws implies they are occupied territories.
To compound the issue is the question of what law prevails on the Temple Mount, site of the Mosque of Omar, better known as the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest place in the Arab world.
Israel is a mosaic of diverse cultures. In addition to the complexity of law, there is the compounding matrix of religion. There are many faiths that propagate in this cradle, though there are three principle ones. Israel is the home of Judaism and Christianity. It is a primary fountainhead of Islam. The faiths of two of these are embraced by various states, Judaism by Israel and Islam by the Arab countries. Christianity has no national base of support. The other two often form a vice putting pressure on the Christian community.
This is observable in Bethlehem which was once 95% Christian. Today it is about 28% Christian. There have long been seven quarters to the city. Six were long Christian and one Muslim. Now four are Muslim and two about equal. Every time a piece of property comes up for sale it is purchased by a Muslim, rather for a Muslim. The money comes primarily from Saudi Arabia. Cost does not matter. One business man told me that if he put his business up for sale for $5,000,000 they would pay $10,000,000 rather than a non-Muslim obtain it. In the heart of old Bethlehem, all the property around Nativity Square and the Church of the Nativity is being purchased by Muslims.
A sub confusion comes from the fact some Christians are Arabs and some Israelis. These are often in conflict with the faith of their heritage and those who espouse it.
Another layer of confusion is the pluralism of the population. Immigrants from all over the world have moved into the country. Israel has a very liberal immigration policy for Jews wanting to “come home.” Assimilation of the many diverse customs into one is difficult. Many youth grow up not knowing who they are. The Israeli government has a good program to help acclimate young Jews to their new society but children of other cultures have no roots. This causes emotional problems.
Don’t try to solve all this. Do comply with the ancient admonition: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Israel Part 2

If you get a chance to visit Israel, the land of the Bible, go. Don’t let the following discourage you.
On this our thirty-third trip to Israel my wife and I ventured out of the tourist sphere several times. I pruned olive trees and grape vines in a friend’s garden and visited deep into two regions of the off beat desert. I am writing about the Bible character Nicodemus and lucked up on finding his grave on the Costal Plain at Beit Gemal near where David fought Goliath in the valley of Elah.
Just my wife and I were on this trip. Walking in the Old City of Jerusalem by ourselves we ventured into the Arab section. Each quarter of the city has its own enjoyable atmosphere. We knew our way around and enjoyed leisurely visiting places of interest. However, there was one difference this time. Small groups of admirably brown boys with moosed curly hair enjoy walking in packs and engaging tall white men in combat walking. They took delight in taunting me verbally in a language I don’t know, tugged at my shirt and often bumped me.
Later in telling an adult about it I said I understand their frustration and don’t hold it against them.
He said, “You can forgive them but they won’t forgive you.”
I asked what he meant. He asked if I knew why they hated me simply because I am an American. He explained every week in the mosques of the land, including the mosque on the Holy Mount, they hear the same hate message. He explained the Arabs have a term used for “raiding the well.” In the old Arab culture if the well of a tribe wasn’t producing they would raid the well of a neighboring tribe and get their valued water. He said they are taught Americans are raiding the wells of the Arab people in Iraq. Because of this, they are taught to hate Americans.
The person telling me this is well educated. He said Americans are not the ones raiding the Iraqi wells-it is the British who have been doing it for years as the British Petroleum Company. However, it is to the advantage of the religious leaders in that part of the world to preach such a message of hate.
To maintain calm in this pluralistic society, extremists must be dealt with. A police officer represented himself to me as being in investigation. I presumed that meant investigating crimes after the fact. It meant investigating potential happenings in order to prevent them. He said it isn’t always democratic but it is essential for the welfare of both sides to infiltrate and deal with potential problems in order to prevent them. Surveillance is a constant necessity.
That is a delicate essential in our own country. Constant vigilance in investigating what might happen in order to prevent it is basic to safety. Doing so in our democratic society is all the more difficult. That is what some of our recent investigative legislation is all about. Like it or not it is necessary.
Don’t let my recent experience deter you from going to Israel. Stay with your group and there is no problem. Arabs and Israelis alike assured me the terrorist know the tourists are good for the economy and not one has been a target.
The spiritual benefits are worth the efforts.

Israel Part 1

Having just returned from my thirty-third trip to Israel I found the situation as complicated as ever. This is not an attempt to take sides-just to report an experience.
I said to an Arab-Christian friend in Bethlehem, “I  understand some of the extremist holdouts from the stand-off at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem are trying to get back in the country.”
Calmly but confidently he said, “Those were not extremists.” I wanted to interrupt and assure him they were because I heard it on the news in America. He went on to say he was supposed to be one of them. Just before the most recent invasion of Bethlehem that precipitated the stand-off word got out there was going to be a raid by Israeli Security forces to arrest a few known extremists and in the process a number of other innocent persons in order to intimidate them to keep the terrorists from gaining popularity.
My friend’s influential father in America, knowing of the pending arrests, called his son and told him to go to the church as a sanctuary against arrest as an innocent person. As he was leaving to go to the church a nun from a convent called and told him to come there for safety. He elected to do so and therefore wasn’t in the Church of the Nativity.
As the siege continued and interest in his whereabout waned, he returned home. His wife picked up the story at this point saying that during the shelling of their neighborhood she kept the children in a basement room. There she played loud music and played games with them to try to prevent them from understanding the gravity of what was going on as debris from exploding shells crashed through their home.
Against that background he shared that the people with all differences can get along with each other. It is the political leaders who cause the problems. He related how Israeli friends called their home several times during the bombing to enquire about their welfare, asked if they had food, and offered to bring them food.
After the conflict ended, business in Bethlehem was very bad. He owed several Jewish business men elsewhere in Israel significant money. Each called and urged him not to worry about the debt, that they knew things would get better and when they did he would repay them. Things have improved significantly and he has repaid them.
Several things about that conversation stand out. Our news represented those in the church as all being extreme terrorists. They were not. A few were but others were simply seeking sanctuary against being made an example of. That slant was never in the news.
Next, the citizens with different religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can co-exist and in general do.
The courage of the populace is amazing. Israelis live with the threat of terrorist bombings and Arabs of further incursions into their neighborhoods.

Shorter College: A Synergy of Scholarship and Faith

Crowning one of the seven hills of Rome (Georgia) is a small college committed to excellence in education. Confirming this is being listed in the “Princeton Review” among “America’s Best Value Colleges,” in “U.S. News” among “America’s Best Colleges,” and is listed in the “2007 Colleges of Distinction Guidebook.”
It’s academic excellence is further attested to by the fact that out of all the college and university professors in Georgia one member of the faculty, Dr. Carmen Acevedo Butcher, was chosen “Georgia Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation.
The new band director is a five-time Fulbright Scholar and founder of the Bucharest Pops Orchestra and the Romanian National Jazz Ensemble.
The percent of pre-med students admitted to various medical schools is among the highest in the nation.
Renovated dorms and a newly constructed dorm await students. A student friendly, redesigned and expanded plaza in the center of the campus adds charm.
New Athletic Director, Bill Peterson, son of famed former Florida State football coach, has raised the standard for academic/athletic excellence.
The divers sports program excels in several fields. The city of Rome is excited in that the school’s bid to host the National NAIA Football Championship makes Rome one of the three finalists. The football team is expected to contend for the Mid-South Conference football championship this year.
A former University of Georgia basketball player has just come as the new basketball coach. His experience at Hampton Sidney and The College of William and Mary has heightened hopes for the hoops program.
In addition to the Rome campus, even more students are enrolled in the off campus programs in Atlanta. The school of business and the newly expanded education majors are increasingly popular.
A bright future for the school is suggested by a record enrollment and financial stability. An air of optimism exists among faculty and staff. These disciplines share a commitment in aiding each student to achieve his or her optimum potential. The faculty-student ratio enables there to be a healthy exchange between the two disciplines.
All of this is enhanced by an environment summarized in a statement on banners on all lamppost along the scenic winding entrance drive: “A Christian College Committed to Excellence in Education.”
It has been my good fortune to serve as Chairman of the Shorter Board of Trustees. This board and the Board of Advisors are jointly committed to perpetuating the school’s outstanding academic record and providing an atmosphere conducive to the development of students academically, physically, socially, and spiritually. Even the students adhering to no religious faith are inspired by such an environment.
Students still undecided about where to go to college would do well to check it out on the web ( and consider visiting the campus.