Source: (2001) Presented at South Langley Mennonite Brethren Church, May 6. Downloaded 19 December 2005.
The defining religious ethos of Western spirituality historically has been Christianity.
Christianity has also being the reigning ideology in the West until into the nineteenth century. While it is salutary to discuss other world spiritualities with reference to Western penal law, no other religion or spirituality has remotely impacted the formation of the Western Legal tradition like Christianity. Harold’s Berman’s magisterial Law and Revolution (1983/1997) describes this interaction of law and Christianity as centrally formative to the Western Legal system.
The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice (Hadley, 2001) points towards a vision of penal abolition and transformative justice. It presents a religious pluralistic vision and is highly recommended. But given the unmatched dominance of Christianity in influencing the development of the Western penal law tradition. I shall concentrate my attention on Christian spirituality and penal abolition. Not to mention that this is a church Sunday School class.
While one cannot wish away past, can it be too much to hope that the twenty-first century for Christian spirituality world-wide will be marked but a profound renewed impulse towards peacemaking? Such a world-transforming spirituality has never been more needed. It is the contention of this paper that the Christian story offers a dramatically alternative narrative to that of resort to violence, seen unfortunately so predominantly in Christianity’s long history.
The story the Christian faith tells is eternal wellspring for the spirituality of nonviolence and penal abolition, however massively unfaithful Christian adherents have been to the plot-line down through the ages.
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