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4.0 out of 5 stars Restorative not Retributive, 11 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment (Studies in Peace and Scripture) (Paperback)
Restorative Justice is a concept much in vogue among penologists but has not as yet been much crystallised in legislation. It is just not in keeping with our punitive - our `get tough on crime' - society. In the wake of the World Trade centre attack, revenge as the basis for international law enforcement is paramount, and there is likely to be an even more punitive response to domestic criminals as a result. All in all this fine book is very welcome, but is unlikely to have much practical impact. As the author observes, `when we are confronted [by serious crime] ... anger, resentment and loathing rise up, and whatever we may believe about love and forgiveness, what we really want is swift retribution.' That is a shame because Christian thought on this subject should be more influential than it is, and this book is a good way informing that thought. It provides the best discussion I know of the biblical basis for punishment. In successive chapters the author discusses: the problems of biblical interpretation; the justice of God as defined by Jesus and Paul; the different theories of punishment: rehabilitative, deterrent, retributive, restorative; human and divine punishment in the New Testament; and capital punishment. In relation to the last, it still sends a chill down the spine of a European to read the many American pronouncements on the divine sanction of the death penalty. It is perhaps a limitation of the work that so many of these are cited with so little from wider non-American sources - it gives too much respectability to what in a world sense are marginal and even freakish arguments. But nowadays from what other source do secular or Christian pro-capital punishment arguments come?
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