Blood Revenge

“There is no “open space” for the legal fiction to occupy, no gap for faith to leak out of. There’s no “real inherent guilt” that is cancelled or ignored in favor of an “imputed righteousness.”  I am either guilty or not by virtue of God’s assignment of responsibility, guilt, or innocence. His assignment of guilt or innocent simply is my guilt or innocence, rather than something added to the “inherent” guilt or innocence of my action.

In my mind, this snaps and locks the lid on justification. If God’s imputation of righteousness smacks of legal fiction, then I’m uncertain about my standing. When God says “you’re righteous,” I object “that’s nuts! I’m the furthest thing from righteous.” But if my guilty or innocence is His decision, then when He says I’m righteous, then it’s over.  There’s no “real guilt” underlying His decision. If He says that He’s taking responsibility for my sin, it’s over. If Jesus says “his blood on My head,” that’s where the blood goes. If He says, “I shall bear His guilt,” then the only guilt there is has been taken from me.” – Peter Leithart (see full article here)

This is an important thought, but may require a more thorough reading of the article to articulate clearly. The main point is that guilt is not inherent in any action. It is always an imputation of guilt.

What I draw from this is that when a man kills, on behalf of the state, another man (both of whom are made in the image of God), God has declared that the person who executes must have his blood shed. This would lead to an infinite cycle of killing, the lament of every pacifist. God does not, in the Noahic Covenantal stipulations, differentiate explicitly between deserved execution and murder. It bases the law of reciprocity (“he who sheds man’s blood, shall, by man, his blood be shed”) in the fact that killing is the slaying of one that is made in the image of God (Gen 9:6). It seems that Leviticus clarifies why it is okay for another man to kill a murderer: because the guilt for slaying a person made in the image of God is born by the murderer who is executed! God is completely just in imputing the guilt of the slaying to the murderer who is slain for his crime. More on this later…

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