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The Role of Punitive Justice in Reconciling: Is this a Christian Concept?

Lapsley, Michael
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Speech, September. Cape Town: Institute for Healing of Memories. Downloaded 12 August 2005.

The other thing I wanted to say, that I’ve been very struck in this conference by the amount of pain and
anger that is here in this community. As the Christian community, we do not often allow ourselves
sufficient space to acknowledge the feelings that we have. We’re too quick to say ‘That’s not appropriate
as a Christian.’ Too, too, too quick. And when I hear pastors saying, “How can I preach reconciliation
when I have this kind of anger?” my response is to say, “Stop preaching. Stop preaching. Do some more
listening, to others and to yourself. Work through some of that pain, anger and frustration and desire for
revenge. Wrestle with it long enough that it can begin to be transformed and redeemed. And maybe visit
it again and again, maybe visit it in a while, maybe in six months, in a year, in another year.” But
particularly we who are ministers of the gospel are not going to be of any use to others unless we wrestle
with the depths of our own messed-upness, and our own wounds. Because then we cannot be the truth if
we preach a gospel that sounds sweet, and people see we are burning with anger. (And I just want to say
also that I don’t think anger is a sin. What we do with it might be sinful, but anger is anger. It is what we
feel). (excerpt)


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