Communities of Restoration : Ecclesial Ethics and Restorative Justice
Author(s): Thomas Noakes-Duncan
By bringing together the insights of ecclesial ethics, an approach that emphasizes the distinctive nature of the church as the community that forms its mind and character after its reading of Scripture, with the theory and practice of restorative justice, a way of conceiving justice-making that emerged from the Mennonite-Anabaptist tradition, this book shows why a theological account of the theory and practice of restorative justice is fruitful for articulating and clarifying the witness of the church, especially when faced with conflict or wrongdoing. This can help extend the church's imagination as to how it might better become God's community of restoration as it reflects on the ways in which the justice of God is taking shape in its own community.
“How does an ecclesial context shape the theological apprehension and praxis of justice?” This question orientates the book. In particular, it asks how, in view of its members having been admitted into God's restoring justice in Christ, the church might embody in the world this same justice of restoring right relationships. While Christian reflection on the nature of justice has tended to favour a judicial and retributive conception of justice, it will be argued that the biblical understanding of the justice of God is best understood as a saving, liberating, and restorative justice. It is this restorative conception that ought to guide the community that reads Scripture so that it might be embodied in life.
“Despite its origins in the peace church tradition, restorative justice has yet to receive the attention it deserves from theological scholarship as a brilliant framework for elucidating the character of God's justice in Scripture. It also has the potential, as Thomas Noakes-Duncan demonstrates in this original and far-reaching study, to cast fresh light on the meaning and mission of the church. After establishing that the justice of God disclosed in Christ is fundamentally a restorative rather than a retributive justice, Noakes-Duncan shows how the church is created to embody and perform that same justice in its own distinctive life, worship and witness. This is an excellent contribution to the field of ecclesial ethics. It also provides a template for contemporary congregations to use as they work out what it means to be caught up in God's great work of restoring the world to wholeness.” —Christopher Marshall, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
“In this timely, acute and wise study, Thomas Noakes-Duncan rightly identifies justice as a power that heals, restores, and reconciles rather than hurts, punishes, and kills. He gives us an excellent work of ecclesial ethics, because he is never satisfied not only until the church performs Jesus' story, but also until that story both learns from and profoundly enriches the world's story. How justice and the church ever got separated in imagination or practice is a tragedy: for how they should be correctly practised as the same thing, Noakes-Duncan here offers an articulate, vigorous and compelling account.” —Sam Wells, St Martin-in-the-Fields, United Kingdom