Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Church Universal: Condemn Saddam’s Execution; Plead for Mercy for the Merciless

Over at The Fire and the Rose (see link below), D.W. Congdon gives a passionate and very theologically well argued plea for the Church to condemn the upcoming execution of Saddam Hussein. I’ll be briefer: We worship One executed by a brutal tyranny on false charges. That One was executed along with two who were guilty of terrorist acts. Thus, Christians must oppose the death penalty at all times precisely as part of our defense of the value of human life. Every life, even one as brutal and guilty as Saddam Hussein’s. I made the same argument against executing Timothy McVeigh.
The world may operate with judicial revenge (although more and more nations are abolishing the death penalty)–a revenge that creates false martyrs and more imitators. We who follow the Crucified and Risen One are supposed to be free from this spiral of violence, this dance of death. We are free to choose life. We do not value life, as some pro-lifers say, because of innocence. Christ died, as Romans 8 reminds us, for the justification of the godless.
Hussein is not the type of person who would ever show mercy to us. That is all the more reason we who are Christians should show mercy to him. Let’s lift our voices.
The Fire and the Rose: A plea to the church: Denounce the execution of Saddam Hussein

November 25, 2006 - Posted by | death penalty, human rights.


  1. Thank you for the support! In your eloquent brevity, you said all that needs to be said. Let us hope and pray that more of those who identify themselves with the Crucified One will carry the message.

    Comment by D.W. Congdon | November 26, 2006

  2. I have to be honest: part of me wants to see Hussein dead for the atrocities he has plagued the Iraqi people with. The troubles and pain and fear those people have experienced is heart-wrenching to say the least. However, as I continue to grow in my faith – reading the words of Jesus without pretext, involving myself in ministry, studying the faith in seminary, etc. – I grow more and more opposed to the death penalty. Regardless of the mercilessness Hussein demonstrated, we as Christians must rise above the primal, vengeful instincts and show mercy to the merciless as you and D.W. Congdon have so wonderfully stated.

    I pray that mercy will reach all of our hearts to show it to those who don’t necessarily deserve it.

    Thanks Michael!

    Comment by kyle | November 26, 2006

  3. Kyle, I share your mixed feelings as well. Indeed, by sparing the life of Saddam, we would be showing mercy to someone who most definitely does not deserve it. And yet, we do not deserve God’s mercy either. Clemency follows our own humility in the face of God’s incomprehensible grace toward God’s enemies.

    Seeking mercy for Saddam is sort of a test of our Christian character. If we can seek life for him, our perspective on others will be appropriately relativized.

    Comment by D.W. Congdon | November 26, 2006

  4. Amen.

    Comment by Marty | November 26, 2006

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