Theology for Restorative Justice

I am working on a book with the tentative title, Healing Justice (and Theology): An Agenda for Restoring Wholeness.  This small book is meant to be both an introduction to the emerging practices of restorative justice that seek to provide an alternative to the spiral of violence characteristic of our current criminal justice system and an analysis of theological resources that might undergird a Christian approach to restorative justice.

I start with an summary of some of the current dynamics in North America that are placing us in an ever-deepening crisis. At the heart of this crisis, I suggest, is a problematic commitment to what I call the “logic of retribution” that rather than leading to healing of the alienation caused by crime instead mainly heightens the alienation. This logic of retribution has theological roots and hence needs to be challenged on a theological level.

The bases for an alternative approach to justice, one that focuses on restorative rather than retributive dynamics, may be found in the Bible. I look at the big storyline of the Bible and then more closely at the portrayal of justice in the book of Amos, the life and teaching of Jesus, and the early Christian writings of Romans and Revelation.

The concludes with a summary of present-day efforts to embody restorative justice practices and to provide alternatives to the spiral of vengeance.

These are links to the book’s nine chapters:

1. Introduction: An Agenda for Restoring Wholeness

2. Our Current Crisis

3. The Logic of Retribution and Its Consequences

4. Healing Theology: A Biblical Overview

5. Old Testament Justice (Amos)

6. Jesus and Justice

7. Justice in Romans and Revelation

8. Putting Restorative Justice into Practice

9. Restoring Wholeness: The Alternative to Vengeance


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