Today I had the privilege to run up to the D.C. area and back to give a quick talk on "Restorative Justice: Revisiting Punitive Interpretations of the Bible" at a conference called "Student Learning and Global Justice" co-sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the International Justice Mission (IJM). I shared a session with Dr. Ken Turner, a professor of the Bible at Bryan College, a Southern Baptist-affiliated school in Tennessee. Given that and the crowd was largely American Evangelical college students, it was a nice change of pace from the Anabaptist crowds I run in.
It was also fun to present the paper, because it's essentially making the case that the "creation story" of the restorative justice movement, which you can find in the paper embedded below, has some distinctly Mennonite-Anabaptist qualities to it. But I'm also careful not to say that restorative justice is "a Mennonite thing." The paper is a quick weaving of storytelling and history for restorative justice, the Western criminal justice system, and the Anabaptist movement as the back-story for RJ's "creation story."
The presentation followed Dr. Turner's discussion on slavery in the Bible and how we should work with it in our engagement with Scripture, as well as how we should think about issues of modern-day slavery, particularly sex trafficking. After my paper, we opened it up for another 20 minutes to discussion and Ken and I had a great time fielding questions together. Also, to the doctoral student with whom I talked afterward, I hope you check out some of the materials in my footnotes and bibliography!
"Yes" and "No" to Restorative Justice as a "Mennonite Thing"