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The Protestant ethic and the spirit of punishment

Snyder, T. Richard
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

In this book, T. Richard Snyder, a seminary dean and professor, investigates the connection between Christianity and the spirit of punishment that he believes characterizes American society and, consequently, American criminal justice. While other factors also contribute to this spirit, he contends that Christian theology and ethics – a distortion of grace in Protestant theology and ethics in particular – have played a significant role in the development and continuing force of this punitive ethos. The elements of this distortion involve an absence of creation grace; and an interpretation of grace in individualistic, interior, and non-historical ways. On this basis, Snyder searches for a truer understanding of grace and alternatives to the ethos of punishment. He points to restorative justice alternatives (e.g., the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, New Zealand’s juvenile justice, Native American sentencing circles, and victim offender reconciliation), to spiritual foundations for restorative justice, and to the responsibility of Christians to be involved restoratively in criminal justice.


AbstractLiving Restoratively
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