Judgment and Forgiveness: Restorative Justice Practice and the Recovery of Theological Memory
Regehr, Keith Allen
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This study explores the connections between justice understood biblically, and restorative justice. Restorative justice theory has argued that its foundational principles and its forms of practice draw directly from the taproot of biblical justice. This study argues that biblical justice as conceived by restorative justice is incomplete. More, the primary theological and biblical work in the field has not drawn the connections to the way restorative justice is practiced. This study argues that judgment and forgiveness are essential components of biblical justice that are missing from discussions of restorative justice. It concludes by drawing some of the implications of incorporating judgment and forgiveness for restorative justice practice by suggesting language that can be used by mediators. Chapter 1 outlines the main principles of restorative justice and describes the ways in which these principles were initially grounded on a description of biblical justice. The ways in which recent writing about restorative justice has identified an apparent loss of vision are explored, a loss that flows from a theological grounding that has failed to adequately reflect the fulness of biblical justice. Chapter 2 explores the main themes of biblical justice. Drawing connections between biblical understandings of peace, covenant, and justice, it discusses the ways in which restitution, vindication, vengeance, retribution, punishment, mercy, judgment, and forgiveness are all constitutive of a full understanding of biblical justice. Finally this understanding of justice is described as central to repentance and reconciliation. Chapter 3 draws the connections between biblical justice and restorative justice. Arguing that biblical justice is a justice for the nations, that it is what justice ought to be, the role that judgment and forgiveness can play within restorative justice is described. Chapter 4 connects the discussion to the work that mediators do in restorative justice. Offering potential language for restorative justice practitioners, it seeks to find ways for the biblical and theological discussion to influence their work with victims and offenders. Chapter 5 draws the argument together, and identifies the necessity of restorative justice programmes remaining rooted in the church so as to retain the courage and creativity to continually experiment with new forms of practice.