Source: (2007) Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. 27,2: 3-30.
During the past thirty years, a growing conversation about the “restorative” dimensions of justice in contrast to its “retributive” dimensions in addressing crime, wrongdoing, and cultural conflict has emerged around the world. In New Zealand, an initiative known as Family Group Conferencing has virtually replaced the conventional juvenile justice that preceded it. This initiative has inspired many people around the world to adapt that restorative approach in many different settings. The topic of this essay is restorative justice in the New Testament and in the New Zealand experience. I was asked to investigate the possibility of a senior Maori figure from New Zealand accompanying me to the Society of Christian Ethics conference where this essay was first presented so that he or she could speak on restorative justice from an indigenous perspective. Despite my best efforts, that was not possibleâ€”which is a shame, really, because the New Testament text on which I here reflect includes features that I suspect indigenous readers are far better equipped to appreciate than are Western biblical scholars, who instinctively bring with them a set of individualistic assumptions that are often ill suited to the cultural horizons of the text itself.
What, then, is “restorative justice”? What place does it occupy in the New Zealand justice system? And what has the New Testament got to do with it? (Excerpt).
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