Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

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The grace of stoning

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4 minutes to read Contrary to hypocritical modern sensibilities, God’s penalty for certain sins is not brutish or draconian, but gracious and loving. By confusing softness and niceness with grace and love, we have produced a society in which mothers freely murder their children, and men shamelessly commit indecent acts with other men.

There are those who do not believe that there is grace in the law—as if the help God gives us with restraining evil and promoting peace is not undeserved.

But it is undeserved—and so, in fact, it is all of grace that God has given us a perfect and wise law to disciplenate the nations (Ps 19:7; Dt 4:6-8; Mt 28:17-20).

Because the law is grace, every part of it is grace also. The commands are grace. The judgments are grace. The sentences are grace.

So it is grace that God forbids murder and sodomy. It is grace that he demands death for those who practice them. And it is grace that he requires this death by communal stoning.

Stoning is grace. Can you fathom that? Can you believe it? Modern mores assure us that we are wrong. Stoning is barbaric. Even modern Christians believe that the law of the Lord was perfect back then, but not now. Today we have better ways. Modern laws have improved on God’s.

This is a neo-Marcionism—related to the popular notion that the God of Abraham and David was much angrier and judgier than were Jesus and his Father. But “Abraham rejoiced to see my day,” and “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in covenant love” (Jn 8:56; Ps 103:8).

How can stoning be grace? In at least four ways:

  1. By giving us opportunity to uphold God’s image. In stoning a criminal, we mutually confess in corporate embodiment that no one can deface an image of God without forfeiting the right to image him themselves—and being made forthwith to give account to him for it.
  2. By giving us opportunity to exercise God’s image. When we act in God’s behalf, restoring order and upholding justice, we become more like him. It is grace that God permits us such feeble representation of his perfection, rather than destroying the offender directly, and it is grace that he uses the occasion to sanctify us and conform us more closely to himself.
  3. By giving us opportunity to preserve God’s image in our community. Man is not an island; God is represented in society as well as in the individual. When we uphold God’s law, we repent of the evil done, and appeal to him for peace among our people instead of judgment.
  4. By giving us the opportunity to sincerely confess the grim severity of failing to image God. Together we take up, as it were, pieces of the law tablets and the altar, so as to remove the criminal from among us, returning him to the dust by pulverizing him with the very commandments and worship of God. We physically image in our bodies the invisible spiritual truths that sustain us, and we learn to fear the Lord.

Stoning is grace. We cannot be more gracious or loving than God. It is impossible; absurd. Yet because of our hardness of heart, we earnestly produce counterfeits of the real things in order to accommodate our sin.

It is not real grace to mothers who abort their babies when we do not punish them as God requires. It is not real love to men who befoul themselves with other men when we give them a lighter penalty than they deserve.

Neither is it grace to the victims of these crimes, and the many more that follow when we do not punish them as we ought. And more crimes must follow, because our fake grace replaces one other that ties together those listed above: the grace of command. The law is a schoolmaster that instructs us in God’s ways—and in not straying from them, when we see those who do punished. It teaches us a command of the law, and it commands us by the fear of the law (Rom 13:3; 1 Tim 1:8–11). Thus it restrains further evil, not only by removing the lawless from among us, but by guarding others who learn its lesson from the same judgment for disobedience. In this, of course, it also drives us to the cross of the Lord Jesus by reminding us that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31).

So when we refuse to purge the evil from among ourselves, it is not grace to us. In our refusal, we tacitly align ourselves with evildoers—against God.

A people that so rejects the grace of God’s law cannot expect the grace of his mercy. They will, rather, inevitably suffer the destruction of their children, of their men, and of their women. It cannot be otherwise, for God gives us over to these things so as to destroy us. When we make ourselves a spoiled and useless image, we become suitable only for the fire.


Jim Parkin


How many sinners have you stoned thus far? What were the circumstance? Who were the witnesses?


Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Jim, you don’t read well. You should slow down. Firstly, it’s Bnonn, not Bonn. Secondly, could you show your working in getting from “Bnonn thinks God’s law is gracious” to “Bnonn wants to become a vigilante to enforce God’s gracious law, even though that would violate it”?

Jim Parkin

Hi Bonn,

Thank you for response to my reply.

I am trying to follow up on the basics of your argument, as since we cannot be more gracious than God, we ought to stone those who are in defiant (perhaps “unrepentant,” given new covenant language?) sin against the Creator. I can track that well enough. I have an across-the-street neighbor who is a sodomite, and two female relatives who are serial abortionists. They all claim to be in the community of faith, so I am trying to leverage what you describe here to determine how and when I should stone them, and at which point I ought to get the officers of the church involved.

You mention vigilante justice, which is odd to me, since your argument never mentioned that God is the one who stones the befouled member of the community–clearly it is the believer who does so. “So when we refuse to purge the evil from among ourselves, it is not grace to us. In our refusal, we tacitly align ourselves with evildoers—against God.”

So my original question stands, as I am reading to learn what you intend to pass along to the covenant community… whom have you stoned, so that we can better appreciate who we also ought to stone and thus purge evil from the sight of the Lord?

Thank you,


Jim Parkin


The power of the sword rightly belongs to the civil magistrate, which is why your article leaves me confused. This is a clarion call to stoning, which in its Biblical context, was carried out under theocracy and done so by not only magistrates but average, if zealous, covenant members. You do not discuss general execution in a prosecutory setting, but stoning.

So who, then, are you writing this to convince? Who should stone the unrepentant sinners as legal criminals? Whose authority, according to the Lord’s providence in common grace, should move us back to public stoning for moral sins, otherwise not punished by courts of law in most of modern society?


Jim Parkin

As you noted, I don’t read well.

That said, I cannot locate how you “open the article by clearly indicating it is for.”

I have gone back and read the first paragraph several times, and the first half, and the full article. You talk about many subjects: hypocritical moderns, those who do not believe that there is grace in the law, modern Christians who believe that the law of the Lord was perfect back then, neo-Marcionites, mothers who abort their babies, men who befoul themselves with other men, victims of these crimes, the law as a schoolmaster, and a people that so rejects the grace of God’s law as to not expect the grace of His mercy. Which of these parties is the intended audience?

Your argument is hard to parse because while you present it, in these comments, to be very straightforward, I am still at a loss. This could be user error. In each of my questions to you, however, you have given short quips and not addressed multiple concerns with the topic of stoning unrepentant/heinous sinners in modern society. God’s law is written on every heart, and we do look forward to redemption past the law by way of Christ’s fulfillment of it, even as we look to the usefulness of the law today in temporal situations. Your article, however, does not provide a satisfying conclusion to the many points of friction which surround this topic, and I am trying to flesh them out for you, as the authority on the topic. It seems as though you are more defensive than clarifying, so please let me know how I can better craft my questions for your possibility of answer.

Jim Parkin


I am seriously trying to interact with your article. This is not a Kafka-trap or any such nonsense.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant

OK Jim, you seem strangely invested. It’s simply an article for the many people I encounter who don’t believe (or are told not to believe) that there is grace in the Torah, and that the Torah would be good for our own society.

Jim Parkin

Hi Bnonn,

Thank you for clarifying. I find that advocating for stoning, even in a retrospective sense, implies many assumptions about group justice from an Old Testament context that would be very confusing for simple-minded believers like me. Capital punishment is a phrase more familiar to a modern reader, which could be any sort of executive justice, but “stoning” conjures up Aachen, being judicially executed by the community of faith. My point is that the community of faith being the adjudicator of capital punishment is not how the modern West functions.

It seems to me like would prefer if it does, and I say that without criticism, only looking for further clarity.