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Justice that Heals: The Ten Words and Restorative Justice: Towards a Strategy for Compassionate Absolutes

Johnston, Bradley M
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Class paper, “Church and State”, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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.


AbstractLiving Restoratively
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