Skip to comments.Reflection On The Execution of Tookie Williams, The Coming Excommunication of the Episcopal...
Posted on 12/13/2005 12:48:16 PM PST by sionnsar
[Please read through before commenting. --sionnsar]
Early today, Stanley Tookie Williams was executed by the State of California. Seeing his picture on television and on the internet, I see the faces of hundreds of men to whom I have ministered over the years in prisons in Louisiana. I remain convinced that, because God could redeem me, through his Son, Jesus Christ, that Tookie and men like him can also be redeemed. It is why I oppose the death penalty - Jesus paid that price for us all.
Hollywood and the liberal Christian left have decried this execution, but not for the same reasons I do. Tookie Williams has written books, including childrens books, advocating for peace. As the founder of the Crips street gang, he has spoken out against violence. Certainly his good works outweigh his crimes, Nobel Peace Prize nominations and all! The liberal left and Jesse Jackson had saved this man or so they thought.
Tookie had a chance to live. He requested clemency from the Governor. The Governor looked very hard at clemency for Tookie, and is taking a great deal of heat for not commuting his sentence to life inprisonment. Governor Schwarzenegger had this to say in response to Tookies request for clemency:
Is Williams redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Schwarzenegger wrote. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption.
He added: In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.
One word stands between life and death, between sin and redemption - REPENTANCE. Not just for Tookie, but for all of us.
That is what the Governor was saying. He reviewed the evidence against Williams; it was rock solid. There is no question of his guilt. Further, Williams actions led to the death of hundreds - victims and members of the Crips. Yet he could not repent of his crimes.
Perhaps he just wasnt taught. Hollywood wasnt going to teach him that. The liberal Christian left wouldnt teach him that. Jesse Jackson couldnt teach him that. Perhaps only real Christians could have taught him that. No, that is wrong. Only Jesus Christ can teach him that. Will we learn from the master how to repent?
This one word, repentance, is what separates the Episcopal Church from the rest of the Anglican Communion. It is what the Primates have called for, it is what the Windsor Report implicitly requests. It is the one thing liberal Christianity cannot and will not do.
This one word, repentance, is what separates the Diocese of Newark of the Episcopal Church from renewal and growth rather than ultimate death. They recently tried to make some sort of confession of their shortcomings but left out on most important thing. The Diocese of Newark is the touchstone of liberal Christianity, its bishops having denied Christs divinity and gutted the Christian message. That was the one sin for which they would not repent in their recent reflection as they search for a bishop.
Without repentance, there can be no redemption. That is true for all of us, in our lives. Jesus cannot redeem us unless we repent. This basic Christian teaching is the hardest for us to understand. It is the hardest for us to do. But it is the one thing we must do. It is the message of John the Baptist during this season of Advent. For Tookie, the Episcopal Church, and the Diocese of Newark, no amount of good works can substitute for a lack of repentance. There is no question of guilt; the only question is of repentance. It is too late for Tookie to learn this; reports say he was defiant until the end. It is not too late for the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Newark, but I truly sense they will be defiant, until the end.
We have seen this before - defiance vs. forgiveness, in the context of three men who were given the death penalty by the Roman state, Dismas, Gestas, and Jesus, the Lord of us all, in Luke 23:
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. 42 And he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 43 And he said to him, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
I found this at a website:
According to tradition, Dismas, on Christs right, repents and eventually joins Christ in Heaven, while Gestas blasphemes and ends up in Hell. At the moment of Christs passing, he writhes in agony and his feet jerk, pulling the lowest crossbar askew. On the traditional Russian Orthodox cross, the lowest crossbar is at an angle, with the right side up (Dismas went to Heaven) and the left side down (Gestas went to Hell).
St. James asked to sit a Jesus right hand; interestingly, it was Dismas who was at Jesus right hand at his death. Remember us, Lord Jesus, when you come into your kingdom.
So what do these liberal churches preach, if they don't preach the Gospel?
Good article. He rightly points out that one Christian reason against the death penalty is that it removes from the most needy soul the further opportunity for repentance. Against that, one has to weigh the justice due the victims of crime, the cause of order in society, and the duty to prevent the person from committing additional crimes.
It's a tough issue ... although in the case of Mr. Williams, I'm inclined to think that the 24 years since his conviction was quite a good opportunity to repent, if he was ever going to.
I agree that there are fair arguments on both sides, and with your conclusion that the right thing was done in this case. I wonder what the argument is in the case of a just war. Clearly, when killed the enemy would be deprived of later repentance. How is it different?
Tookie never apologized or atoned for what he did.
Instead he spent 20 plus years trying to game the system.
Here is the history of a mass murderer who actually repented of his crimes, and chose to atone for them.
His name was Steven Renfro.
Steven's parents separated shortly after he was born and his father lost touch with both the mother and son for about 35 years. Steven's grandmother located Steven and reconciled him with with his father.
Steven was raised by his aunt, Rose Rutledge, near Marshall, Texas. He went to high school with Rick Berry, a Harrison County district attorney who later prosecuted Steven.
On August 25, 1996, after taking what he later told authorities were 70 doses of the tranquilizer Valium along with liquor, Steven put on camouflage clothing, blackened his face and armed himself with four guns including a military assault rifle and some 500 rounds of ammunition.
He shot and killed his live-in girlfriend, Rhena Fultner, 36, then Aunt Rose Rutledge, 63, who lived with them. Then he went to a nearby trailer home of an acquaintance, George Counts, 40, against whom he had a grudge, and fatally shot him, firing more than 150 rounds into Counts' mobile home.
When police arrived, he opened fire again, wounding Marshall police officer Dominic Pondant in the shoulder and turning his patrol car "into Swiss cheese," as authorities described it. Police were out gunned by Steven's .45 and .50 caliber handguns and an AR-15 rifle, but one of his weapons malfunctioned and officer Pondant was able to hit Steven.
He was convicted the following April and ended his trail by telling jurors he should be put to death. They agreed.
He asked that no appeals be pursued. At his execution, he apologized to the family members of the victims and said a prayer.
He was executed on February 9, 1998, after spending the second shortest time on Texas' death row.
The media and Hollywood celebrities were conspicuous by their absence.
Of course, any one who's died, from any cause, no longer has the opportunity to repent. However, one difference in the case of war would be that a soldier doing his duty, even if his government stinks, is not necessarily more in need of repentance than the average person on the street.
On the other hand, a person guilty of multiple premeditated murders is very likely in a state of mortal sin, and must repent to save his soul from damnation.
True, but I don't understand its relevance. I doubt any war has ever been fought in which a person in a state of mortal sin hasn't been killed. In fact, I'll bet millions have died in war in the same state of separation from God that Tookie was likely in.
I remember that case. I admired the stance he took, and felt that it did represent a true conversion: "I've sinned, and I deserve the punishment. I've repented, and I expect to be with the Lord."
You're probably right. Ideally, no one would die by violence ... but they do. And of course, although we can identify gravely sinful actions, no human being can know the state of another's soul. Only God can.
So we (as societies) have to make decisions the best we can. Do we not fight a war because we might kill someone, who will then go to Hell? Or if we don't fight a war, will a bunch of different people, our own citizens, be killed, and some of them go to Hell? Do we not execute an impenitent murderer, or do we give him the opportunity to kill others?
This is a very strong concern for me, as we both know it does happen. I agree with your post that those are tough decisions for a society to make, which is why my support for the death penalty is only half as strong as my opposition to abortion.
You raise an interesting notion above. What would you say about a penitent murderer sentenced to die? The best example I can think of is Karla Faye Tucker in Texas. She "convinced" me that her faith was legitimate. I remember struggling with what I would do in then Gov. Bush's place.
Hi Forest Keeper,
About a week ago we were discussing some issues about salvation on another thread. Some things came up at school and I wasn't able to FReep for a few days and I'm afraid I left you hanging there. Was someone else able to answer your questions for you?
With regard to . . .'Tookie; can only say. . .
. . .'as above. . .so below'. Choices do have consequences. . .
They vary somewhat in what they preach, but the core belief is that the Bible is not the Word of God, and that it does not contain absolute truths. Many, but not all, deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. Some deny the divinity of Christ. Many teach that there is salvation apart from Christ. They teach that sin is not sin.
Then we also have to consider the ramifications for social order. Do we not punish people for their crimes, if they're sorry? How much of a break is being sorry worth, versus the damage caused by the crime? Forgiveness is from God, and from the people harmed, but it is a spiritual freedom, not the elimination of legal judgment.
Very hard decisions, I find, and your phrasing, which is why my support for the death penalty is only half as strong as my opposition to abortion, is very apropos.
Thank you very much for following up. I think we were last talking on this thread about the Catholic belief concerning the permanency of salvation. I gathered from you that Catholics believe that salvation, once truly gained, is subject to being lost depending on a person's status in forgiveness/repentance.
I still do have a couple of questions. One is that since the Holy Spirit indwells us at initial salvation (or baptism?), what happens to the Spirit when a person later becomes unsaved? Wouldn't the Spirit have to leave during that time? Are you aware of any verses concerning this? Also, (if the Spirit stays) what happens to the Spirit when a previously saved person dies who is not contrite and who is not in a state of forgiveness or repentance? It just seems odd to me that the Spirit could be "defeated" that way.
Second, you mentioned the idea that a person in need of confession, but who dies nevertheless before access to a priest, can still be saved if he was contrite. You noted the thief beside Jesus as an example. I was wondering about the many people who suffer tremendous tragedy, and may turn away from God for a time out of grief. They may commit mortal sin but because of their altered and temporary mental state are not contrite and do not ask forgiveness. Some of these die before recovering. What is their status and is there any scripture on this point?
Finally, I half-jokingly said that it would seem impossible for a non-Catholic to live up to the conditions for permanent salvation that you had listed (keeping the Commandments, Catholic baptism, forgiveness of sins by a priest [plus a contrite heart at death absent a priest], taking Catholic communion, etc.). With a smile, I asked "What chance does little ole' me have for eternal life?"
Thanks again for checking back and I really hope you ACED all your exams. :)
I couldn't agree more. And, your true statement is perfectly consistent with what I consider to be the most misappropriated verse in the whole Bible: "Judge not lest ye be judged."
I agree with you wholeheartedly about that!
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