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In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty. The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty. The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for convicted prisoners? In this thought-provoking work, Shane Claiborne explores the issue of the death penalty and the contrast between punitive justice and restorative justice, questioning our notions of fairness, revenge, and absolution. Using an historical lens to frame his argument, Claiborne draws on testimonials and examples from Scripture to show how the death penalty is not the ideal of justice that many believe. Not only is a life lost, so too, is the possibility of mercy and grace. In Executing Grace, he reminds us of the divine power of forgiveness, and evokes the fundamental truth of the Gospel—that no one, even a criminal, is beyond redemption.


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In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty. The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty. The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for convicted prisoners? In this thought-provoking work, Shane Claiborne explores the issue of the death penalty and the contrast between punitive justice and restorative justice, questioning our notions of fairness, revenge, and absolution. Using an historical lens to frame his argument, Claiborne draws on testimonials and examples from Scripture to show how the death penalty is not the ideal of justice that many believe. Not only is a life lost, so too, is the possibility of mercy and grace. In Executing Grace, he reminds us of the divine power of forgiveness, and evokes the fundamental truth of the Gospel—that no one, even a criminal, is beyond redemption.

30 review for Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It's Killing Us

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    BOOM! Shane Claiborne just dropped the mic. I already agreed with his views on the death penalty, but I learned a lot from this book. Claiborne supports his statements not only with the Bible but also a great deal of historical and legal research, so Christians and non-Christians alike will get a lot out of it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is one of those books I wish I could make everyone read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hallie Carl

    This book on the death penalty was excellent. Shane Claiborne always reads like you are talking with a friend. He lovingly presents his point and helps support it not just with facts and scripture but personal testimonies. I would recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily Dehmer

    PLEASE read this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon Seward

    Second book in a row I’ve read about the death penalty and it completely cements my opposition to it. Fantastic book and the facts and stories Shane uses evoked a ton of emotions in me. We as a culture truly need to rethink the death penalty. Anyone and everyone should read this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Fike

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Shane Claiborne does a masterful job dismantling the pervasive default death penalty advocacy so prominent among many evangelicals and fundamentalists. The outline of the book made his argument very persuasive. Starting with the perspectives of the victims (surviving family members of those murdered), proceeding to pertinent biblical material (rooted in grace throughout), Jesus' execution, early Christian leaders unambiguous stance against the death penalty, the decline in support for state spon Shane Claiborne does a masterful job dismantling the pervasive default death penalty advocacy so prominent among many evangelicals and fundamentalists. The outline of the book made his argument very persuasive. Starting with the perspectives of the victims (surviving family members of those murdered), proceeding to pertinent biblical material (rooted in grace throughout), Jesus' execution, early Christian leaders unambiguous stance against the death penalty, the decline in support for state sponsored execution, the inequalities of execution by race, as well as, the history of lynching in the US, the "Death Penalty's Hall of Shame" (which include botched executions, wrongful executions, as well as, mental illness and execution), putting a face on the issue and the innocent, and the awful toll executions take on those administering it. The concluding chapter is a vision of justice and the dream of the death of execution. Before reading this book I was ambivalent concerning the death penalty. No longer! Claiborne's new vision of justice is one the should be explored and enacted if the administration of justice is to ever recover it's redemptive value and move beyond further violence, retribution, and vengeance.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin Beall

    Absolutely fantastic. Filled to bursting with grace, tempered with realism, breathing hope. Do yourself a favor and, as you read it, take a moment on every new page to read aloud the names of the executed that scroll along the bottom. Look them up when a name catches your attention. Pray for them, their families, and the victims of the crimes they were executed for. Pray for the end of the death penalty in America.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    This was not my style. I am grateful authors are writing about these topics for Christian conservatives in a way that Christian conservatives can hear and understand, but I'm just not able to read this type of book anymore as an exvangelical. I was halfway through before Claiborne mentioned race, which is honestly horrific for a book on the criminal justice system and the death penalty. Yet there were so many chapters on the Bible and Jesus, and I just no longer understand why that's more compel This was not my style. I am grateful authors are writing about these topics for Christian conservatives in a way that Christian conservatives can hear and understand, but I'm just not able to read this type of book anymore as an exvangelical. I was halfway through before Claiborne mentioned race, which is honestly horrific for a book on the criminal justice system and the death penalty. Yet there were so many chapters on the Bible and Jesus, and I just no longer understand why that's more compelling than just valuing humanity because it's the right thing to do. That said, he DID talk about race. I was afraid he wasn't going to even address it. The second chapter Claiborne tells like 800 stories about victims and victims' families who did not want the perpetrator executed. I of course think what victims want is essential to finding justice, but I don't feel like random anecdotes is the right way to get to that. There were too many stories, too many of the same stories ("we forgive you" .... reinforcing the Christian narrative more than anything else), and almost no statistics about restorative justice and victims' rights/opinions. In chapter 3, Claiborne goes over the list of people in the Bible who were murderers and says that we wouldn't have half our Bible without grace. But I don't really feel like grace is why those folks are included....to me, it feels a lot more like patriarchy, more like an allowance for men to do whatever they want without consequences. God wasn't the one who compiled our Bible as it is today; it was a group of people. People allowed the books in because they felt there was evidence enough to believe these are the divinely inspired books, so it was human's choice to include these books despite the writers' actions and characters (like David, who the author calls a womanizer, but who actually was a murderer and rapist), not God's issuance of grace. And I just felt a lot of this was super cheesy. "At first I thought that I was obsessed with death, but then I realized that I am obsessed with grace." Major eyerolls. All that said... even though this is not at all my style, there were some things I strongly disagreed with, I didn't learn what I hoped to learn about the inhumanity of the death penalty, and I didn't learn a new way to engage with criminal punishment... IF this is an avenue for conservative Christians to begin questioning what they believe about the death penalty, then I'm glad this book exists.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Carter

    I’ll tell you right off the bat, the only thing that I disliked about this book was the fact that it had to end. That’s saying something. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, and so when I read a book about the death penalty or the criminal justice system, the bar to impress me is pretty darn high. Not to mention, I’ve done a lot of reading and investigation about the death penalty over the years. It’s always had kind of a macabre fascination with it. I remember when I was younger I’d read about I’ll tell you right off the bat, the only thing that I disliked about this book was the fact that it had to end. That’s saying something. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, and so when I read a book about the death penalty or the criminal justice system, the bar to impress me is pretty darn high. Not to mention, I’ve done a lot of reading and investigation about the death penalty over the years. It’s always had kind of a macabre fascination with it. I remember when I was younger I’d read about it from the college textbooks that my dad would bring home. I’ve also written two position papers on it, one in high school, and one in college at Weber State. In high school I was for it, but by the time I hit college, especially the second time around, I was done with it. If you’ve read blogs of mine on this issue, you’ll know why I loved this book. If you’re not familiar with Shane Claiborne, he’s a Christian activist/author, the Director of “Red Letter Christians,”and the founding member of “The Simple Way,” a radical faith community in inner-city Philadelphia. Shane is one of those people who thinks that all those things that Jesus said about loving your neighbor and loving your enemies weren’t just suggestions, and that we ought to try to live those words. He and others like Craig Greenfield really inspire me. Part of the premise of this book is to evaluate why Christians in America seem to love the death penalty. As he says, “the death penalty has not survived in spite of Christians, but because of us.” That’s really kind of sad. Why would we support the legalized murder of another human being? After all, our Lord and Savior was executed by the state, so why should we be in favor of that? To answer this, Claiborne dives head first into the Bible to explore the scripture and theology, from the Old Testament and the New, that is used to justify the Death Penalty. Of course anyone with a passing familiarity with the Bible knows about the death penalty in the Old Testament, which touts “An eye for an eye,” and all of those things in the Law of Moses that can get you executed. However, when you really start to dig into it, the Old Testament, as bloody and violent as it often is, doesn’t record all that many executions. After all, why didn’t God execute Cain after he murdered Abel? In fact God actually protected Cain from those who would take vengeance on him (Genesis 4: 15-16). Moses murdered a man and wasn’t executed. Same thing with King David. If God was really all about the death penalty, why weren’t these men killed for their high crimes? Claiborne gets into this and also discusses the history and theology of “An eye for an eye,” as well as Romans 13 which is often used as a justification for the death penalty in the New Testament. (Spoiler Alert: both Claiborne and the early church fathers read that passage very differently). Claiborne then moves onto some of the theology behind the Atonement of Christ on the Cross, and a discussion about how the Crucified Christ became a symbol of solidarity and hope with the African American community that suffered through the lynch mobs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s one of the most powerful parts of the book, and really helps to strengthen his case for Christians to be against the death penalty. With his theological underpinnings discussed and his case made, he switches gears to the death penalty in the modern United States and how we administer it. The facts he presents are damning. There are around 3,000 inmates awaiting execution in the USA. Meanwhile, 156 death row inmates have been exonerated and found innocent since 1973. Of course, it would be dumb to think that our courts have caught all the errors, and it’s a certainty that we have executed innocent people in the United States. The United States is 5th in the world in executions performed every year behind only China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Hardly the kind of company we want to keep. Meanwhile, since 1976, 92.8 percent of executions have taken place in just 15 of the 50 states, largely in the “Bible Belt.” Also, 85% of US counties have not executed anyone in the last 45 years, and 80% of counties in America have no one on their state’s death row. In fact if we took out Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, then we’d be left with very few executions in the USA every year. Meanwhile polls are starting to show that when presented with an alternative like life in prison, a majority of Americans are now against the death penalty. Could the death penalty be dying? Claiborne hopes so, and so do I. Throughout the book he recounts the horrors of botched executions, cases where people who were almost certainly innocent have been executed, stories of former wardens and prison officials who are forever haunted by their participation in the machinery of death, and of many, MANY people who are working to defeat this sentence and save people from state-approved homicide. Of course, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking, “but what about the victims and their families? Shouldn’t they have a say somewhere in here?” Yes, Claiborne says, they should. However, he spends a whole chapter talking about how actually quite a few families of victims are against the death penalty, and about how some of them have even been threatened by the state for daring to speak out against it. It’s not as black and white as it looks. Life isn’t usually that way, and death almost never is. However, perhaps the most moving parts of the book are the personal stories that Claiborne shares throughout it. These are real stories of grace, radical grace. There are stories of murderers finding forgiveness and grace, of victims moving beyond pain and violence to reach out and extend that grace to criminals, and about men and women who have still gone to their deaths after receiving that grace for themselves. I have to give this book 5 stars. I really think that every Christian, every person of faith, should read it. I think if you do, you’ll be hard pressed to come away from it without at least having your opinions and thoughts on the death penalty truly challenged.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jake Buller-Young

    I’d give this book four stars if I were solely evaluating Claiborne’s work on theological depth and rhetorical style—his chapters on Scripture and the death penalty left something to be desired, and I’m not the target audience for his breezy, informal prose. But Shane Claiborne’s remarkable ability is not theological or stylistic; Claiborne has written a book that feels simultaneously like an insurmountable Christian case against the death penalty (which persuasively draws on human stories of su I’d give this book four stars if I were solely evaluating Claiborne’s work on theological depth and rhetorical style—his chapters on Scripture and the death penalty left something to be desired, and I’m not the target audience for his breezy, informal prose. But Shane Claiborne’s remarkable ability is not theological or stylistic; Claiborne has written a book that feels simultaneously like an insurmountable Christian case against the death penalty (which persuasively draws on human stories of suffering) and a call to arms. At the end of the day, Claiborne is an activist. While this may not persuade the Christians still inexplicably gung-ho about death, Claiborne is preaching to the choir very effectively, seeking to make abolitionists of Christian evangelicals. If you are already unsure whether killing is the answer to killing, Claiborne will make an activist out of you—and that’s a very good thing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Lampa

    I want to read this ten more times to really digest it all. He says chapter 9 is R-rated, but I think the entire book is. I was sick to my stomach, then I had chills, I cried and laughed and screamed. This book is so necessary to any conversation on revenge, redemption, forgiveness, justice, and even atonement. I am so thankful to Shane Claiborne for the work and research and hard conversations it took to make this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    If you support the death penalty, I recommend you read this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    A must-read for any Christian concerned with the death penalty, whether staunchly for it or staunchly against it. Heavy, but deeply important.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This should be a required reading for everyone!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna Fink

    Definitely one of the harder books I’ve read this year. It’s hard mainly bc everything in this book is still happening to people. I’ve read a lot of books that have convinced me our justice system doesn’t work a lot of the time, but this one definitely takes the cake. I loved all the stories of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation that he shared. He was honest in saying that these were the stories that changed his mind about the death penalty, and I can see why. There is such a better way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    William Horne

    This is a must read for everyone -period. The death penalty is one of the greatest evils in our world and the fact we continue to let it live should haunt us -especially Christians. Shane Claiborne does an excellent job laying out all the different angles of the death penalty and why we should say it's time to let death die. This is a must read for everyone -period. The death penalty is one of the greatest evils in our world and the fact we continue to let it live should haunt us -especially Christians. Shane Claiborne does an excellent job laying out all the different angles of the death penalty and why we should say it's time to let death die.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I have often wondered about the genesis of evangelical support for the death penalty, and Shane Claiborne gives a comprehensive history of the change from an abhorrence of the death penalty to ardent support. This book appalled me and it uplifted me--horrified at what we do in the name of justice, and likewise inspired by the work of devout abolitionists. May we somehow remember the truth of the gospel: we are created in the image of God and life is sacred. This book will stay with me for a very I have often wondered about the genesis of evangelical support for the death penalty, and Shane Claiborne gives a comprehensive history of the change from an abhorrence of the death penalty to ardent support. This book appalled me and it uplifted me--horrified at what we do in the name of justice, and likewise inspired by the work of devout abolitionists. May we somehow remember the truth of the gospel: we are created in the image of God and life is sacred. This book will stay with me for a very long time, and I pray I am faithful in any action God calls me to undertake. Thank you, Shane. A beautiful work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Lawson

    This is such an important book to educate and inspire people about the injustice of the death penalty and our urgent need to abolish it forever. Shane's perspective is Christ-centered and overflowing with grace and compassion. No matter what your position on this issue, you will benefit from reading this book. This is such an important book to educate and inspire people about the injustice of the death penalty and our urgent need to abolish it forever. Shane's perspective is Christ-centered and overflowing with grace and compassion. No matter what your position on this issue, you will benefit from reading this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Carter

    Executing Grace will provoke you to change your ideas about the death penalty, regardless if you are a Christian or not. Claiborne backs up his claims with evidence, scripture, testimony and first hand accounts that will have you weeping from the injustice. I recommend to anyone that wants to see a change in how we treat criminals in America.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Julian

    Very well written and timely read. We live in a time of revenge when Christ calls his followers to grace and forgiveness. Fascinating accounts of true testimonies and interviews with families. Not a political argument but biblical perspective.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    A very important, well-written and thought provoking essential read for all who are seriously concerned about justice.A must-read for all people of faith. It should be in every church,schooland personal library. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Great Premise, Fatally Flawed Execution. This is the hardest review I've had to write this year, because I completely concur with the premise of this book, and on an emotional level the case presented is appealing. But I have no doubt that this book will only appeal to those who are either already in favor of abolishing the death penalty or are at minimum leaning over the fence. Anyone who is on the fence leaning the other direction will be a tough sell with the arguments presented here, and the Great Premise, Fatally Flawed Execution. This is the hardest review I've had to write this year, because I completely concur with the premise of this book, and on an emotional level the case presented is appealing. But I have no doubt that this book will only appeal to those who are either already in favor of abolishing the death penalty or are at minimum leaning over the fence. Anyone who is on the fence leaning the other direction will be a tough sell with the arguments presented here, and these arguments stand no chance against someone ardently in favor of capital punishment - an environment both Claiborne and I grew up in and know very well. (Note: I have no connection to the author at all, simply grew up around the same time around the same general region of the globe.) The Fatal Flaws: First, as I said, this is a book grounded on emotional appeal and indeed the author even outright says in later chapters that he himself was convinced not by the facts, but by the emotional appeals of talking to the people involved on every side of this issue. Secondly, on page 71 Claiborne specifically decries "proof texting", or citing a Bible verse out of context to support one's arguments. Yet he does this very thing repeatedly, even as soon as just a couple of pages away from decrying the practice! He even goes so far as to use a version of the Bible other than the one he uses predominantly throughout the book when he wants to use a particular verse which in some translations allows inferences which Claiborne is clearly uncomfortable with. (It is never clear which is Claiborne's predominant translation in this book.) Thirdly, Claiborne routinely cites "societal" violence, particularly in the chapter dealing with the Early Church, even though the very quotes he cites are more often predominantly concerned with opposing the entire Government, not just its capital punishment systems. It becomes quite clear that Claiborne finds State violence outside of the explicit capital punishment system to be perfectly acceptable, particularly since he never once mentions "street executions", where cops administer capital punishment without so much as a trial or in many cases even a warrant. There are exactly two redeeming factors about this book that warrant a 1 star rating (rather than noting that I wish I could give it zero stars): First, that the book is conversationally written in a manner that is very easy to read. You're not sitting through dry academic prose here, and that at least helps make the read enjoyable. Second, at the end of the book he lists quite a few suggested readings and organizations that are active in this cause, and the organizations in particular are good to at least be aware of. So while the initial premise of the book is amazing, the book is simply too flawed to recommend to anyone who doesn't already agree with the premise, unfortunately.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Brill

    I started this book knowing Shane Claiborne to be a person of integrity - he walks the walk as a Christian in an intentional inner-city faith community. I've heard him speak, and I could hear his voice as I read the pages of this book which is both an impassioned and well-researched appeal for an end to the death penalty. I don't agree with every aspect of his theology, in particular his theology of the cross, but I learned a lot from his book. I especially appreciated his chapter on the early C I started this book knowing Shane Claiborne to be a person of integrity - he walks the walk as a Christian in an intentional inner-city faith community. I've heard him speak, and I could hear his voice as I read the pages of this book which is both an impassioned and well-researched appeal for an end to the death penalty. I don't agree with every aspect of his theology, in particular his theology of the cross, but I learned a lot from his book. I especially appreciated his chapter on the early Christian opposition to the death penalty: "I have yet to learn of a single Christian leader in the first three centuries of Christianity who argued for capital punishment (or killing in general, for that matter.)" A few more quotes from that chapter: "It is in that world of imperial crosses, gladiatorial games, and Roman military conquests that the early Christians developed their own consciousness - and their witness was a remarkable ethic committed to life and to denouncing death in all its ugly forms." "Moving from death to life, both symbolically and also socially, was one of the visible signs of the kingdom of God, one of the recognizable marks of the Christian witness...Followers of Jesus were a contrast culture, a holy counterculture; they stood on the side of life. Christians were to bear witness to love and grace. While all people love their friends, Christians were also called to love their enemies. In a culture of death, they were champions of life. In a culture of hatred, they were people of love. In a culture of fear, they were fearless. And that's why people paid attention to these renegade Jews." Claiborne peppers the book with inspiring anecdotes of victims (and families of victims) who have become anti death penalty advocates, who have forged amazing friendships with those who have hurt them (murdered their loved ones!). Having recently read Bryan Stephenson's Just Mercy, the chapters on the outrages of our criminal justice system, and its inherent racism, were a bit repetitive to me. But I'm glad Claiborne includes them; those stories need as wide an audience as possible. At the bottom of each page are names of people who have been killed by capital punishment in the United States. A powerful important book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    I'm glad I read this book. Claiborne digs into all kinds of aspects of the death penalty -- its connections to lynchings in the U.S., the racial bias it often elicits, the theological implications it has, the early Church's response to it, and more. It was hard to read at times, because so many of the stories are horrifying. People who were executed and then found innocent many years later. Victims' families barred from speaking out against the death penalty because it undermined the prosecution I'm glad I read this book. Claiborne digs into all kinds of aspects of the death penalty -- its connections to lynchings in the U.S., the racial bias it often elicits, the theological implications it has, the early Church's response to it, and more. It was hard to read at times, because so many of the stories are horrifying. People who were executed and then found innocent many years later. Victims' families barred from speaking out against the death penalty because it undermined the prosecution. "Death watch" programs during the weeks before execution for prisoners to ensure they don't commit suicide before the state executes them. However, it's an easy book to get through because of a promise he makes at the beginning: just about every chapter ends with a story of Grace with a "capital G." Often these stories still end with someone hurt or even killed, but still show God's grace through it all. Families of victims and perpetrators coming together after tragedy (especially stories like Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy), perpetrators seeking out their victim's families to make amends, victims' families seeking out perpetrators to show them forgiveness. I thought it was a pretty compelling case for Christians to oppose the death penalty. Claiborne said he used to be pro-death penalty but over many years had a change of heart, particularly as a result of actually talking with people on death row. Near the end, after trying every possible way to argue why Christians should be against the death penalty, he proposes an alternative: restorative justice. The super quick version is treating crimes as not being "against the law" but "against the community." Instead of simple punishments, the community leans in -- determining who the victims are, how they are hurting, what they need, what the offender can do, what the community can do, etc.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    Claiborne's missive against the death penalty is wide-ranging, well-researched and persuasive. Readers should note that it's a very conversational tone throughout, which will be good for some and a turn-off to others. There are also personal, deeply moving, stories threaded throughout the book. Some might argue that his argument relies too much on "emotional persuasion," but his stated intention is to make the issue more "personal," and to avoid simply running through stats (though there are ple Claiborne's missive against the death penalty is wide-ranging, well-researched and persuasive. Readers should note that it's a very conversational tone throughout, which will be good for some and a turn-off to others. There are also personal, deeply moving, stories threaded throughout the book. Some might argue that his argument relies too much on "emotional persuasion," but his stated intention is to make the issue more "personal," and to avoid simply running through stats (though there are plenty of statistics to be found). I'm also impressed by the sheer number of topics Claiborne breezes through - there are chapters on scripture, on atonement theories, and the early church. He also writes about the impact of the death penalty on all people involved, including victims, perpetrators, politicians, and even the "bystanders" who are responsible for carrying out the orders. The scope of his argument is strong, but at the same time, very wide. One almost wishes for more depth in parts, but that would also hinder the approachable, conversational prose. It's a difficult balance, and he generally does a good job. Overall, this is not a so-called "balanced" case. Claiborne doesn't give much (if any) room for "pro-death-penalty" arguments, so don't look for that here. Rather, he makes his intentions abundantly clear, and then spills pages of ink to back them up. So, if you are entrenched in a pro-capital-punishment mindset, this will probably be unsettling for you. But it deserves to be heard. As a final note, any interested readers should ABSOLUTELY read Bryan Stevenson's masterpiece, "Just Mercy," as a companion piece.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marty Solomon

    I've always been an attentive follower to the writings and work of Shane Claiborne. Some of his publications have shaped me forever. I used to see Shane as a very broad voice speaking for all forms of domestic poverty and social injustice. His life was an example as an "ordinary radical." And then in the last few years, I saw his personal attention shift in focus to abolishing the death penalty. As I too have grown older, I have appreciated his maturing focus and desire to make a difference. This I've always been an attentive follower to the writings and work of Shane Claiborne. Some of his publications have shaped me forever. I used to see Shane as a very broad voice speaking for all forms of domestic poverty and social injustice. His life was an example as an "ordinary radical." And then in the last few years, I saw his personal attention shift in focus to abolishing the death penalty. As I too have grown older, I have appreciated his maturing focus and desire to make a difference. This book is a great treatment on an issue that I never would have considered "front and center" to the work that needs to be done today. I can say that I enjoyed the book, agreed with Claiborne throughout, and am more passionate about a topic that I usually dont consider. I know there are many who dont have the luxury to discount the issue. This is a great book about that. But it's also a book built upon a foundation of what the application of grace looks like in our world — in the form of true restorative justice. While the book is about the death penalty, it's also about our parenting and our posture with others, it's about forgiveness in all kinds of forms, and it's about justice. I think I was encouraged, because sometimes seeing what justice looks like in one area — very specifically applied — helps us see (or dream about) what it looks like in so many other areas.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Logan Judy

    The second half of the book is excellent, but the first half is hard to get through. With the exception of his approach to Romans 13, which swayed me to his interpretation, Claiborne's exegesis is pretty bad. He's not wrong that lex talionis is a limit and not a license, but to come to the wholesale view on violence that he does, you have to ignore swaths of other passages that he either ignores, explains badly, or doesn't deal with. Another weakness is that he never addresses whether capital pu The second half of the book is excellent, but the first half is hard to get through. With the exception of his approach to Romans 13, which swayed me to his interpretation, Claiborne's exegesis is pretty bad. He's not wrong that lex talionis is a limit and not a license, but to come to the wholesale view on violence that he does, you have to ignore swaths of other passages that he either ignores, explains badly, or doesn't deal with. Another weakness is that he never addresses whether capital punishment is a deterrent for violent crime, which was the chief reason for its being reinstated by the Supreme Court. But, there's a lot of good here too. His argument about the beliefs of the early Christians is a really good point, and the stories he shares of death row inmates proves that not all of them are Jack the Ripper. When the book is at its best, it argues that whether the death penalty is permissible in principle is irrelevant, because it's being executed unjustly (and just about always has). In the end, I left with the conviction that American cultural Christianity needs a revival of grace surrounding this issue. And despite its weaknesses, that made it a book worth my time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Justice

    I really love Shane Claiborne's books and him as a person completely. I admire him and agree with him pretty much always and forever (he inspired change in my heart and mindset several years ago). Therefore, I love this book. My only issue with this book is that he used direct quotes from his other books in this, because he brought up things in those books that are more specific to this book. It was a little weird, but also nice because I said in my head, "Hey, I remember that!" In case you are c I really love Shane Claiborne's books and him as a person completely. I admire him and agree with him pretty much always and forever (he inspired change in my heart and mindset several years ago). Therefore, I love this book. My only issue with this book is that he used direct quotes from his other books in this, because he brought up things in those books that are more specific to this book. It was a little weird, but also nice because I said in my head, "Hey, I remember that!" In case you are curious, this book explores stories of those who have been on death row, those who have worked as those who have put criminals to death through the system, those who have had loved ones killed and harmed by those who were put on the death penalty, what the Bible says about putting people to death who have harmed others, what the opinions of believers and non-believers feel on the issue, and ultimately the grace of God to forgive your enemy and love those who hate you, etc. Every person is made in the image of God. Should we be wanting others to die, even if they have hurt us and those we love? This book is quite thorough!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Shame Claiborne never disappoints. This book, like all of his writings, is heartfelt, theologically supported, and filled with wisdom from the historical perspective as well as contemporary thinking on capital punishment. Although I was not a proponent of the death penalty before I read it, this book gave substance to the feelings and thoughts that I had in the past. As a Christian, these chapters make it increasingly difficult to support state sanctioned killings. Not only seen from the perspec Shame Claiborne never disappoints. This book, like all of his writings, is heartfelt, theologically supported, and filled with wisdom from the historical perspective as well as contemporary thinking on capital punishment. Although I was not a proponent of the death penalty before I read it, this book gave substance to the feelings and thoughts that I had in the past. As a Christian, these chapters make it increasingly difficult to support state sanctioned killings. Not only seen from the perspective of the perpetrators families, and of society in general, this book takes on the harm that capital punishment does to those who are part of the process of execution. And it tackles the difficult subjects and conversations of forgiveness, grace, victims rights, and what this system of punishment leads to for our society, with the theme of restorative justice throughout. I think every person who claims to be Christian, whether you endorse capital punishment or not, could benefit from reading this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Nikola-Wren

    My favorite Claiborne book. It's works like this that make me proud to be a Christian--even amidst all the current nonsense. I was raised in a heavily pro-death penalty household, and this is EXACTLY the sort of book I think I can actually get people on that side of the issue to read. It's such a well-rounded exploration of the subject, uncompromising without being condescending. This book doesn't sugar coat, or lean too far into idealism without suggestions/plans for practical solutions, and a m My favorite Claiborne book. It's works like this that make me proud to be a Christian--even amidst all the current nonsense. I was raised in a heavily pro-death penalty household, and this is EXACTLY the sort of book I think I can actually get people on that side of the issue to read. It's such a well-rounded exploration of the subject, uncompromising without being condescending. This book doesn't sugar coat, or lean too far into idealism without suggestions/plans for practical solutions, and a more thorough definition of what "justice" means. Even for people like me, who were already opposed to capital punishment, this book really challenges our culture's infatuation with revenge and how we enable this to continue by the way we live and the beliefs to which we subscribe. Also, it's filled with real life accounts, historical tidbits, and theological nuggets, so it's a Ravenclaw's dream. NOTE: I will give a warning here and say that the subject matter gets extremely upsetting, so you may want to pace yourself. It's a necessary read, but a brutal one.

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