Quill and writing

Greg Bahnsen – When is Punishment Criminal?

Greg Bahnsen (GB307) – When is Punishment Criminal?

      1. GB307


Bible Reading – Hebrews 2:1-4

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?


  • What according to William Penn (1644-1718) is the only alternative to being ‘governed by God’?
  • Where according to Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) is the sphere of man’s greatest affirmation of man’s autonomy & pretensions against God?
  • What is the alternative to God’s Law (Theonomy)?
  • Is crime merely an offence against the arbitrary law of the (humanistic) state?
  • If state law is the ultimate law, is there EVER any legitimate appeal against it?
  • How is the Beast of Revelation relevant to this issue?
  • Is there a separation of ‘Church’ and ‘State’? Who ultimately rules and governs each of these realms?
  • Where in Matthew’s gospel does Jesus affirm & ratify OT Law & legislation explicitly?
  • Who, according to the Great Commission, now possesses ALL authority in heaven and ON EARTH?
  • Who according St John (Rev 1:5) is the Ruler of the kings of the Earth?
  • Is it awkward, embarrassing and difficult in the context of a radically secular culture to defend the penal sanctions of the OT?
  • Should prisons be reformed or closed according to Scripture?
  • When is punishment ‘criminal’? Does the title/office of a magistrate warrant a particular sentence?
  • Does popular consent warrant a particular civil punishment?
  • Does a ‘lynch-mob’ exercise properly authorised punishment?
  • What is the moral justification for civil punishment? Is ‘reform’, ‘deterrence’ or ‘prevention’  an adequate warrant?
  • Is it EVER right to punish the innocent? Why is this consideration relevant?
  • What is the ONLY moral justification for civil punishment? (See Prov 28)
  • What does the substitutionary atonement of Christ for sinners take for granted?
  • How are the texts of Hebrews 2:2 & Romans 3:31 relevant to our enquiry?
  • What do we (unwittingly perhaps) presuppose when we affirm the propriety of eternal damnation for the impenitent sinner?
  • How does St Paul, in Acts 25:11, affirm capital sanctions?
  • How does Romans 13 reference capital sanctions?
  • How are these texts relevant to our enquiry? Mark 7:10; Rom 1:32; Matt 5:21,22; Luke 19; Heb 10:28.
  • What percentage of ‘convicted criminals’ repeat their crimes (at the time of publication)?
  • What ALONE provides for civil society a model of true ‘Justice’?