Despite the mind-numbing connotations one may, justly, associate with a day full of revision, I actually enjoyed today. I read Chuck Colson’s book ‘Justice that Restores’ in prep for my ‘Theology & Ethics’ paper tomorrow morning, and it was a really encouraging read. Colson used to be an advisor in the White House, before facing a spell in prison after the Watergate scandal. Since then he’s been part of a ground-breaking ministry in prisons, as well as being an ambassador across the world for principles of restorative justice.
Restorative justice is basically a method of justice that focuses on repairing harm caused by crime and reducing the likelihood of future harm. His book is based on the understanding that only with a Biblical worldview can we produce true justice, and that truth is evidenced with a lifetime of examples. Only a biblical worldview:
i) holds individuals responsible for their actions…
ii) …under an objective rule of law (rooted in revelation)…
iii) …in the context of community
iv) …and with the chance of transformation of the individual…
v) …and healing of fractured relationshops and of the moral order.
Colson writes that when justice is not realized, then one of the above has been neglected or thrown out of balance. It’s not a dreamy utopianism, for crime and sin will never be eliminated on this earth, but we should work for true justice. He dismisses a whole host of theories that have been thrust about in justice legislation and theory. He calls for the church to be the church: a community of the redeemed, living and practising Christian teachings.
It was exciting to read of Colson’s experiences of the transforming power of the gospel in prisons across the world, but it was really powerful to benefit from his ability to see the world around him through gospel-goggles. Naturally, for the gospel always is, it was challenging too.
We must take the lead and present the gospel, transforming individuals and one-by-one reanimating the culture. We must bring Christian truth to bear in all aspects of our common lives. We must stress the importance of the family. We must encourages cultures that teach and expect virtue. We must teach responsibility for actions, and thus affirm human dignity. We must be real about who we are, and through Christ who we can be. We must love our neighbour with biblical love. We must trust what the Bible says about God, us, and God’s world.