Did Christ die on the cross or is he alive?
Apparently, Hamilton’s Harris Himes, a pastor in the California-based Calvary Chapel Church, believes he died. In his testimony before the Montana Senate on Senate Bill 185, Himes said, “If Jesus was alive today, he would support the death penalty.”
How did a longtime pastor in a sect professing faith in the literal truth of the Bible miss the central message of the New Testament? He lives is the good news! Harris’ certainty about where Christ might stand on the death penalty is matched by his ignorance of scripture.
The Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery in John 8:1–11 is only one example. Christ challenges the Pharisees’ decision to stone a woman for adultery by asking, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” This is one of the roots of “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that trespass against us” in the Lord’s Prayer.
Given Harris’s long collaboration with Dallas Erickson, the Bitterroot’s leading crusader for decency through law, this example may be particularly appropriate. Under Talmudic Law, adultery qualifies as a capital crime only if two or more persons witnessed it at the same time. Biblical scholars believe one or more of the Pharisees engaged the services of the woman as prostitute, and two or more of the rest watched. The goal of this plot by the Pharisees was to make Christ vulnerable to arrest and execution by the Romans. Maybe all of the Pharisees did not die either.
Good-natured joking aside, there is always the possibility that the media misquoted Himes or that he simply made a grammatical mistake. If it was grammatical error, someone ought to be checking to see if he has a green card.
Seriously, we welcome a response from Himes.
While we are waiting, we invite you to urge your state representative to vote for SB 185 to abolish the death penalty.
Helen Ann Bibler and Jim Parker