The column also elicited a response from Byron VanArsdale, who lives in Greensburg, Kentucky and has given us permission to quote from the letter he emailed Rep. Floyd.
Honorable Mr. Floyd:
Greetings, sir. Your article on legislation to repeal the death penalty which appears on the Nelson County Gazette website is both compelling and pertinent. I, too, have struggled with my position on this prominent issue for several years, especially during my seminary studies.
While opposition to the death penalty may not be as widespread among conservatives as we would like, in my opinion, by educating others regarding the church’s historical position regarding the sacredness of human life, there is persuasive hope. In David Gushee’s book, The Sacredness of Human Life, the author presents the surprising fact (to many) that early Christians did not condone involvement in government, especially war. Gushee wrote:
…the early church leaders from whom we have surviving writings did not rest easy with Christian involvement in government (with its use of violence), military service and especially warfare, and for most of early church history all three were forbidden to Christians by their pastors. (Kindle Location 2350)
Gushee then goes on to quote early church fathers up to the early 300’s A.D., including Hippolytus who wrote, “(a)…believer who wishes to become a soldier must be dismissed from the church because they have despised God.” (from The Apostolic Tradition, 16.19)
Mr. Floyd, I appreciate that we are both veterans who have served their country honorably. The appropriateness of participating in warfare is another issue for another day, but, if what we are looking for is consistency within a worldview which values human life, we have to give authors like Gushee their place in the debate. Though the early church fathers may have despised both war and capital punishment because of the injustices present in their respective contemporary governments, they abhorred the taking of any human life chiefly because of Jesus’ teaching that Christians are to love everyone without partiality, as God is without partiality.
To read the entire letter from Mr. VanArsdale, click here.Rep. Floyd also appeared as a guest on WLCR AM 1040’s The Mike Janocik show on Feb. 13 to discuss his bill to repeal the death penalty in Kentucky, House Bill 330. You can listen to what he had to say that day by clicking here.
The Record, the weekly newspaper published for the Archdiocese of Louisville, also highlighted Rep. Floyd’s recent column. In an editorial, “Death penalty’s time is over,” editor Glenn Rutherford quotes extensively from Rep. Floyd’s column and concludes with his own words:
Representative Floyd makes sense. Continuing state-sanctioned executions doesn’t, whether in Texas, in Kentucky or in any other state. It’s time to end this practice once and for all.
Photos: Floyd, Legislative Research Commission; Janocik, WLCR AM 1040 Radio.