Counsel of Chalcedon
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Theonomy and the Westminster Confession: A Review and Report Part 2

The Deuteronomy 13 law does not mandate capital punishment of non-believers and members of false religions. It must be understood in terms of its biblical and historical context. First, it should be noted at the outset that the framing of the law in Deuteronomy 13 has in view solicitation and seduction to idolatry (Deut. 13:2, 6, 13). It does not have in mind personal unbelief or even personal rejection of faith in Jehovah God. Those who mistakenly assume that this law would inevitably draw the State sword into church discipline for unbelief are mistaken. In point of fact, unbelief in Israel was not punishable by death. For one to refuse to be circumcised (an expression of unbelief, cf. Lev. 26:41; Deut. 30:6; ]er. 9:25-26; Eze. 44:7) meant that he was "cut off" from the religious community (Gen. 17:14). He was excluded from the worship in Israel (Exo. 12:48; Eze. 44;7, 9); he was not capitally punished.