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The Justice and Mercy of Capital Punishment

iStock-155075914 Capital punishment-man behind bars_edited.jpg

The maxim of the ancient master Hermes Trismegistus, revered for thousands of years on Atlantis and Egypt, is “As above, so below.” It means, in part, that the kingdom of man on earth should reflect the kingdom of God in heaven, especially in the area of laws and governance. This being the case, the laws we enact on earth should reflect as much as possible the laws and directives given to us by heaven’s representatives such as the avatars and enlightened teachers.

The following excerpt develops this line of thinking and is taken from a lecture given by Elizabeth Clare Prophet on October 11, 1991 at the The Summit Lighthouse® conference "Class of the Golden Cycle."

So, we begin with Genesis and the flood of Noah. After that flood and the sinking of that continent, God enjoined Noah and his sons. He said: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6)

Some Bible commentators, including Scofield, say that this statement shows the beginning of the institution of human government for the protection of human life. It also states the law of karma. Jesus said the same: “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

So according to scripture, the taking of life requires capital punishment. Many of us today are against capital punishment. I will tell you what the Ascended Masters say. First, they teach us that for the crime of premeditated murder it is better for the soul to learn the lesson quickly through capital punishment than to rot in jail for fifty or sixty years.

When the murderer passes from the screen of life through the electric chair, he is free from the embodiment in which he committed that murder. He passes before the Lords of Karma. He reviews what he has done. And where there is remorse and absolute determination to atone, he may be given a new embodiment within a period of a year, perhaps ten years, and an opportunity to balance that karma after having studied and learned the lessons of divine vs. human justice in schools of Light.

The soul could come back, balance the karma for that murder, go on, pay debts to society–serving the particular individuals he has harmed as well as society in general–and live a full life. But if he had remained in jail, he could still be in jail instead of having been born again with the opportunity to make things right.

The second reason why capital punishment is so important is because it gives the soul the instantaneous awareness “If you kill, life will be taken from you.” That message to the soul is deep and it is learned. The soul carries that memory and the next time the situation comes along where he is tempted to solve a problem by committing murder, the memory of the law–“kill and be killed”–will be a lever of restraint: “This time I will resolve this peaceably. This time I will not commit murder and incur the karma of having to go to the electric chair all over again and be born again, etc., etc.”


Adding to the evidence for capital punishment in Mrs. Prophet’s teaching is the fact that the Almighty has created the penalty of the second death. The second death results in the cancellation of a soul and has been created, as one ascended master puts it, to deal with “souls that are absolutely incorrigible, who will not glorify God, who have spent all of their energy on darkness.” The existence and use of this penalty reveals that even God does not forgive all.

We are souls evolving in time and space and are accountable for our actions. The finality of the death penalty for a person that commits the grievous crime of murder is designed to quickly turn that soul around in the next life and hopefully forever. The Book of Revelation specifically states that in the day of the final judgment unrepentant murderers shall have their identity cancelled out in the second death. So, it makes sense that if the final end of an unrepentant murderer is the second death, the penalty for murder committed in a given life should also be loss of further opportunity in that life through death by execution. (See Revelation 20:14 and 21:8 regarding the second death).

The following arguments support the use of capital punishment in a just society based on logic and practicality.

  • Some persons say that the death penalty should be eliminated because it has no value as a deterrent. But they overlook the fact that the death penalty carried out on a specific criminal is a 100% effective deterrent to that person killing again. Neither is that person able to remain involved in gang operations or to continue to operate as a “king pin” of a drug and crime ring even after being convicted. Execution ends a murderer’s ability to plan and arrange through others a revenge killings of witnesses or rivals .

And regarding deterrence, no penalty for committing a crime, whether it be drunk driving, theft, or murder, is guaranteed to stop a person from committing a crime in the first place. Penalties like the threat of time in jail likely stop a multitude of crimes that would otherwise happen, but free will is still paramount and the determining factor. So, the argument to do away with the death penalty because it is an imperfect deterrent is worthless and misleading. If we were going to do away with the death penalty for the most serious crime of murder because it is not a perfect deterrent, why wouldn’t we do away with penalties for all crimes because they are also imperfect deterrents? Clearly there is no logic there.

  • Recently, some representatives In the Montana legislature proposed a bill to end the death penalty in their state. Their justification was based on specific Christian scripture that seems to recommend against the death penalty, such as Jesus’ commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and the admonition to “Forgive everyman their trespasses.”

These representatives may earn kudos for proposing state law based on scripture, but they unfortunately forget the bigger picture regarding God’s approach to justice and sanctity of life that leads to a different conclusion. For example, God’s admonition to Noah and his sons, and Jesus’ statement regarding the drawing of the sword, both mentioned in the lecture excerpt above, establish a baseline directive that the taking of life by murder is a serious crime worthy of punishment.

  • To “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and to “Forgive everyman their trespasses” are intended to be applied to the “brethren:” persons in your spiritual community that share the same values of righteousness and godliness, strangers that also live in love and respect of God’s laws, the poor and disenfranchised, and anyone that can receive love and forgiveness in the same spirit as it is given. However, the approach must change when dealing with persons that have enmeshed their lives with darkness and crime. Such persons, by rebellion against God’s ordinances have put themselves outside of the circle of God’s embrace and unless and until they surrender and reject violence and self-destructive behavior, they cannot expect to receive unlimited love and forgiveness from others. Justice must be their teacher.

  • The Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is a clear statement of God’s law regarding murder and cannot be turned back upon itself, such as in the argument that a murderer cannot be given the death penalty because this would also be killing. Murder is not simply a trespass or a sin, it is a violation of God’s law. For example, Jesus did not forgive Herod who was responsible for the execution of John the Baptist. God has given man dominion over the earth and knowing that divine justice occurs when a soul that has murdered can be turned around when the death penalty is swiftly implemented makes it the right thing to do.

  • Proponents of abolishing the death penalty sometimes claim that a government should not be “playing God” in administering the death penalty to a convicted felon. The challenge to a government is to honorably reflect God’s laws and if this needs to be done by implementing the death penalty in a given case, it is not “playing God” but rather being “obedient to God’s laws.”

  • Judicial procedures to handle capital crime must be accelerated in state and federal courts. Having a person hang around on death row for 15-20 years or more while they run through a series of appeals is unjust to the victim and society. In recent years, several persons that have killed others with a gun have also taken their own lives with the same gun. These are tragic and horrendous events and it is as if the person doing the killing recognized that they deserved to lose their own life as a result of their action and were unwilling to face the justice that would follow.

  • Here is an extreme example of what can happen when the death penalty does not exist. Charles Manson was alive in prison for 48 years after his group murdered Sharon Tate and her guests in California. The death penalty had been suspended during the period of his trial. This allowed him to live and appear on two nationally broadcast Diane Sawyer interviews and his story became a made-for-TV series that gave him additional hours of “fame.” If he had been swiftly put to death for the Satanic murders he directed, the book would have long ago been closed on this individual and there likely would have been no more perverse screen-time for him and his followers. Without the death penalty, in this case, this crazed murderer was allowed to continue to live a prolonged period of time and thereby broadcast his evil consciousness every day through his thoughts and feelings, which without question has a negative effect upon others and acts as a point of darkness in the world.

  • The ascended masters do not agree with blocking the death penalty using the insanity plea. The masters explain that insanity has its onset when a soul rejects obedience to God’s laws and does not love God on any meaningful level. Neither should the claim that a person on drugs was “not in their right mind” absolve them of a crime or be considered as a basis for clemency. This world is a world of accountability and the law of karma clearly holds a person responsible for his or her deeds. If a person decides to subject their body to dangerous and illegal drugs that can have unpredictable effects, the person is totally responsible for all possible outcomes. There is no escape clause if they commit a grievous crime while on drugs, and this includes alcohol.

  • It is true that there are instances where a person has been convicted for a capital crime they did not commit and some of these persons have been freed on appeal in recent years. Prosecuting a person for a capital crime is a serious undertaking and all aspects of such a case must be scrutinized to ensure that justice is done and no innocent person is convicted. Because of abuses in the past due to prejudice or the rush to judgment, today there is a higher level of attention than ever on capital crimes and this can help ensure that only guilty individuals are convicted. Advancements in genetic testing also help identify the guilty and free the innocent so that the death penalty is applied justly and lawfully. Past errors in the application of capital punishment do not justify ending its use.

Justice must always be tempered with mercy and heaven knows how to do this perfectly. Laws, judges, and juries in our domain, to the best of our abilities, need to reflect what we know of the divine approach. And the divine approach sometimes includes ending by execution a “life-gone-wrong” for a capital criminal committed so that the soul may learn the painful lesson and be given the opportunity of a fresh start. Following the divine model found in cosmic law will give us the best outcomes.



1 Elizabeth Clare Prophet, "Karma, Reincarnation, and Christianity," Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 35, no. 12, March

   22, 1992.

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