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Living Restoratively

It is one thing to embrace the idea of restorative justice and another to live it. The following articles explore this problem and suggest ways to do both.

Biblical view of justice
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the single greatest hurdle in the path of true justice as detailed in the Bible, [...]
Restorative justice: A biblical view of justice
from the entry by TM Moore at We are obligated to live justly toward our neighbors, and, in part, that requires that we take appropriate preventive steps to guard his wellbeing and property. The statute cited in our text above reflects the third facet of the Biblical teaching on justice, which we may refer to as restorative justice. According to the Law of God, when injustice has occurred, whoever is responsible for it must take steps to set things right again.
FaithCARE: Creating restorative congregations
from the article by Joshua Wachtel on the IIRP website: ....FaithCARE—Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences — grew from a two-day retreat in 2007 that explored the possibilities for employing restorative practices in a faith-community context. Following the retreat, the group, including restorative justice pioneers Mark Yantzi and the late Rev. Stu Schroeder, as well as others still involved in the project, formed a steering committee to develop operational concepts for resolving conflict in churches and find ways to use restorative processes for decision making and relationship building in faith communities.
Should DUI mug shots be on Facebook?
from Johnathan Kana's entry on Shame has its proper place, of course. Until we experience shame, deep remorse for our deeds is impossible and enduring reform is unlikely. But shame as a noun is quite a different thing from shame as a verb. The former is not induced by the latter. Good shame is advanced through acts of love, not acts of retribution. I am therefore highly skeptical of whether publicly shaming DUI offenders will actually save many lives. Even supposing such a measure might prove effective, though, I fear the collateral damage done to offenders’ friends and family may be too high a price to pay. And from the sounds of it, a “party city” like Huntington Beach would not be able to maintain a shame culture for very long. Within months there would be dozens or more photos posted, and it is difficult to publicly shame someone when his face becomes lost in an ever-widening crowd.
By No Means Easy: Responding to Conflict in Personal Life
“I’m glad we went through that process before he died,” I recently told my pastor. Jay had been speaking of the death of a long-time member who had participated in a number of church conflicts over the years. The process I referred to was a series of meetings with the individual to discuss the impact of letters he had sent during the past two years to the entire congregation on several contentious issues. These letters created various harms to individual church members as well as to the church family in general. In reflecting on the loss of Mr. M., I couldn’t help but feel that the meetings provided an avenue for church leadership to both express care for him and be open to listening to his positions and the concerns behind them.
Servant leadership, restorative justice and forgiveness
from Shere McClamb's blog The Webmaster's Corner: The terms of servant-leadership, restorative justice, and forgiveness depend on one another, they are all interdependent but not interchangeable. To be a Servant Leader one must believe that justice must be restorative, and must have the capacity to forgive those who trespass against others. Being a servant to those you serve is paramount to evolving into a servant leader. Restorative justice requires the capacity for forgiveness on levels only those who choose to serve their fellow man can embrace.
Johnston, Bradley M. Justice that Heals: The Ten Words and Restorative Justice: Towards a Strategy for Compassionate Absolutes
As Bradley Johnston writes, the ancient Hebrew Scriptures record that, around the mid thirteenth century B.C., at Mount Sinai God gave Moses and the Hebrew people the "Ten Words",that is, the Ten Commandments. In an earlier paper written for a seminary class, Johnston had also noted the trend in Biblical history and much Christian thought toward the perspective that the civil magistrate should govern society according to the Ten Commandments. This raises a significant question, claims Johnston. Namely, the question has to do with enforcement. If law establishes what justice is, as is commonly understood in Western societies, then the enforcement of law establishes justice in society. But what is the relationship between law as spoken at Mount Sinai (verbal law) and reality as experienced by human beings (created or moral law) in the modern world? Are the Ten Commandments just a creed for one religious group, or are they the fabric of social harmony as envisioned and designed by the Creator himself? Johnston argues for the latter. He does so by exploring the Ten Commandments and criminal justice theory, restorative justice theory in relation to the love-law vision of a gracious God, and specific issues pertaining to the use of restorative justice to heal harm.
Willimon, William H. Mr. Ives’ Christmas
In this book, William Willimon reflects on issues of faith through interactions with works of literature. Here, Willimon looks at Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos. The novel deals with a man’s memories of Christmas and his wrestling with faith in God. In particular, the novel concerns themes of suffering, vengeance, forgiveness, trust in God, redemption, and spiritual disciplines in the wake of the murder of one of Mr. Ives’ close friends at Christmas time, when both were older teenagers. Through consideration of the novel, Willimon also explores these themes and applies them to our lives.
Classis B.C. North-West. Overture 1: Adopt a Study Report on Restorative Justice.
This overture to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America seeks adoption of the British Columbia North-West classis' study report on restorative justice, included as the appendix. The report gives a background to the study, and goes on to cover the following topics: III. Restorative justice: what it is. A. Biblical-theological concepts and their relationship to justice. B. The central significance of restorative justice and crime, forgiveness, and grace. C. Societal values and crime. D. Justice, crime, and our Christian responsibility. E. What restorative justice does. IV. Why the church should be involved in the discussion and facilitation of restorative justice V. Practical matters and benefits of the restorative justice approach
Consedine, Jim. Restorative justice- the Christian option.
In this message delivered at a church in New Zealand, Father Jim Consedine, prison chaplain and coordinator of Restorative Justice Network in New Zealand, asserts that prisons fail on nearly every count. Indeed, the pursuit of a retributive model of criminal justice based largely on punishment and vengeance in the last two centuries is appalling and pernicious in a number of ways. In the face of crime and the failure of retributive criminal justice, Consedine declares that the Church must proclaim the good news of Jesus – the good news of freedom, justice, healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation for both victims and offenders. This, argues Consedine, is Biblical justice, and Biblical justice supports restorative justice.
Scott, James V.. Justice As If People Mattered
The Reverend James V. Scott gave this address on November 16, 2003, at Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church (Ottawa, Canada) during Restorative Justice Week. He has spent almost two decades working in the criminal justice field to promote and demonstrate a restorative justice approach to justice, an approach he believes to be consistent with the values of the Christian faith. At the beginning of Restorative Justice Week 2003, he explains his own views and faith experience, as well as what he believes the Christian faith teaches about God’s justice. He discusses the nature of crime, Biblical justice, the criminal justice system, and the application of all of this in terms of restorative justice.
Beckman, Sharon L. Can Criminal Punishment Survive Christian Scrutiny?: A Comment on Jeffrie Murphy's "Christianity and Criminal Punishment"
The central themes of Christianity -- love, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption -- seem opposed to the harsh, condemnatory, and stigmatizing nature of criminal punishment. Murphy concedes that some forms of punishment, such as torture or mutilation, are incompatible with Christian love, but not the death penalty. He assumes that Christians believe love is the primary value in all things and assumes that Christian support for criminal punishment is based on a "hard and demanding" understanding of Christian love. In response to this, it is doubted that the practice of punishment is consistent with Christian love. Saying otherwise gives criminal punishment a legitimacy it does not deserve. This does not mean that Christian love forbids governmental efforts to teach right from wrong or to protect the public from harm; just that those efforts would have to be part of an approach to promote justice and the common good differently from criminal punishment. Supporters of the restorative justice movement hope their vision of justice will one day replace what they call the "retributive" system of criminal punishment. Others say that this paradigm is unrealistic because this country’s harsh penological practices are the product of serious social problems and institutional arrangements that will not change. The articulation that Christians should take seriously the subject of criminal punishment offers hope of something in between, which is a faith-based critical approach to criminal punishment that inspires reform. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Marshall, Christopher D.. Prison, Prisoners, and the Bible
Christopher Marshall discusses the use of prison seen in scripture and draws lessons for Christian responses to the use of incarceration today.
Mitchell, Billy. Biblical model of peace building
Billy Mitchell declares that peace building is an imperative for those who profess to serve Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Peace building is not a technique, but a process of moving from violent responses to conflict through nonviolent activism to a position of peace and reconciliation. With all of this in mind, Mitchell goes on to describe a biblical view of peace, to locate restorative justice at the heart of Christian peace building, and to contrast restorative justice with a retributive model of justice. Also published in Autumn 1998 as Doing Justice...A Biblical Model for Peacebuilding, Lion & Lamb, Issue 18,
Greenwood, Jean. Restorative Responses: From Vision to Action.
In this article, Jean Greenwood – a Presbyterian minister in Minnesota, mediator for the State of Minnesota, and community faculty member in social work at the University of Minnesota – explores the opportunity in restorative justice to enliven church congregations and to invigorate the faith experience of church members, even as victims, offenders, and communities are benefited by restorative justice. With this in mind, she discusses several steps to engage churches in restorative justice: shifting churches and church members to a restorative paradigm; making a commitment to be a restorative justice congregation; preparing a church for action; and specific ways churches and church members can act restoratively.
Miller, Darcie. Renewed Hearts: The Transforming Power of Restorative Justice
A Methodist pastor in Minnesota, Darcie Miller is committed to teaching and practicing restorative justice. Here she recounts a personal story of the significance of a restorative approach to crime. The crime consisted of vandalism of the Millers’ home when they were on vacation. The vandalism was committed by youth from their neighborhood – youth who were friends of the Millers’ daughter and who had been specifically asked to care for the Millers’ house and pets during the vacation. Darcie Miller tells of her family’s reaction to the crime, the police response, and eventual mediation between her family and one of the young offenders – and the positive personal and relational outcome of the mediation.
Enns, Elaine and Myers, Ched. Ambassadors of reconciliation volume 2: Diverse Christian practices of restorative justice and peacemaking.
This is the second of two volumes exploring a theology and practice of faith-rooted restorative justice and peacemaking. Volume 1 looks at four key New Testament texts that together represent a theological foundation for this work. Our interpretations there are conducted in conversation with the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr., our greatest North American apostle of nonviolence. Volume 2, in turn, analyses the contemporary terrain of restorative justice and peacemaking in North America (part 1), and profiles the exemplary work of nine practitioners who are incarnating the scriptural vision in real life contexts of profound violence and injustice (part 2). (excerpt)
Northey, Wayne. Transformative Justice Vision and Spirituality.
The defining religious ethos of Western spirituality historically has been Christianity. Christianity has also being the reigning ideology in the West until into the nineteenth century. While it is salutary to discuss other world spiritualities with reference to Western penal law, no other religion or spirituality has remotely impacted the formation of the Western Legal tradition like Christianity. Harold's Berman's magisterial Law and Revolution (1983/1997) describes this interaction of law and Christianity as centrally formative to the Western Legal system. The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice (Hadley, 2001) points towards a vision of penal abolition and transformative justice. It presents a religious pluralistic vision and is highly recommended. But given the unmatched dominance of Christianity in influencing the development of the Western penal law tradition. I shall concentrate my attention on Christian spirituality and penal abolition. Not to mention that this is a church Sunday School class. While one cannot wish away past, can it be too much to hope that the twenty-first century for Christian spirituality world-wide will be marked but a profound renewed impulse towards peacemaking? Such a world-transforming spirituality has never been more needed. It is the contention of this paper that the Christian story offers a dramatically alternative narrative to that of resort to violence, seen unfortunately so predominantly in Christianity's long history. The story the Christian faith tells is eternal wellspring for the spirituality of nonviolence and penal abolition, however massively unfaithful Christian adherents have been to the plot-line down through the ages.
Church Council on Justice and Corrections. Justice for the Soul.
For people of faith, the subject of crime brings up other related, and quite profund , matters. Crime, and our responses to crime , can get us thinking about suffering, sin, evil, punishement, healing, forgiveness, and so on. Our ideas and experiences of God and church will probably greatly influence our views on criminal justice. (excerpt)
Consedine, Jim. Christian Morality, Restorative Justice and the Law.
In dealing with issues of crime and law and order, the Church has to proclaim the age old message that Jesus came to bring the world: 'Good news to the poor, liberty to captives, new sight to the blind, healing for the sick, freedom for the oppressed.' That is our mandate. The teachings of Jesus can bring new light to bear on the difficult issues of conflict and crime in the community. They offers grounding principles to deal with them. These will involve promoting processes based on justice, equity, fairness and accountability. But such an approach must always be guided by wisdom, tempered by mercy, and allow for the possibility of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation for both victims and offenders. (excerpt)

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