The death penalty - Chiesa Evangelica Luterana in Italia

The death penalty

The ELCI Synod against the death penalty
Approved by the ELCI Synod in Nicolosi (CT) in 2001 with resolution 2001/XXI


Just as every victim of a crime is entitled to justice, that is the right to see the offender punished, so every offender has the right to his own punishment.

But every punishment must be the earthly reflection of God’s righteousness, which means it should – as far as possible – help the victim be compensated for the wrong suffered and offer the offender forgiveness in the “promise of a new life” (social rehabilitation).


The death penalty denies the possible positive sense of punishment and denies the possibility of change to the offender, making him a “desperate case”. But society should never give up the hope of salvation and liberation.

A society that punishes with death has the prejudice that social rehabilitation is excluded, thus discharging its responsibility towards the offender as a member of the same legally constituted society.


The last word about a human being’s life must be left to God. With the death penalty man arrogates to himself this right. He puts himself above God’s sovereignty and elects himself as the ultimate judge. This is contrary to the Gospel.

With the crucifixion of Jesus, God pronounced his final judgment: the atonement for human sin has occurred, the death penalty has been enforced for the last time.

The death penalty on Golgotha means resurrection. This is because the judge is also the saviour.