Wolterstorff’s latest book, Justice in love, is written in his usual philosophically logical style. This book follows his recent book, Justice: Rights and Wrongs; he now explores and philosophically parses the concept of agapic love as it relates to justice. At times I thought he was splitting hairs of moral philosophy, but then I would have an “aha” moment and discover a significant insight. The book is certainly worth the time of reading and pondering over. He is challenging at times, and quite courageous in critiquing lex talionis, and the popular use of Anselm’s view of atonement influenced by that code of reciprocity (especially the negative, the lex, side of returning evil for evil), rejecting also the attendant necessity of retribution and its conclusions about justice and forgiveness. As if that Challenge is not enough, he reframes the orthodox Calvinist doctrine of election, and makes helpful distinctions upon a thorough discussion of the meaning of justification as found in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. He, like me, comes from the reformed (CRC) tradition, and I recommend this book for wide reading and dialogue to enrich and broaden dialogue on justice. Justice talk in Christian circles is common, but is often partially informed and parochially understood; and, we need to develop capacities to think outside the box in our dialogue regarding justice and love issues in our churches, society, and our personal lives to be congruent in our calling as Christ followers. In public, pluralist, settings, there are many opportunities to act as salt and light that can help to build a better world rather than add to its burden of judgment, exclusion, and violence.
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