In a culture obsessed with law, judgment, and violence, this book challenges Christians to remember that Jesus urged his followers to judge no one, bring harm upon no one, and follow no law save the law of altruistic love. It traces Christian history first to show that Christians of an earlier age took very seriously the gospel injunctions against punitive legal judgment and then how the advent of formal legal codes and philosophical dualism undermined that perspective to create a division between a private Christian spirituality and a public morality of order and legally sanctioned violence. This historical approach is accompanied by an argument that the recovery of a Christian ethic based upon unconditional love and forgiveness cannot be accomplished without the renewal of a Christian spirituality that mirrors the contemplative spirituality of Jesus.
'There is much to praise in the book’s historical approach, which rightly avers that our ethical categories emerge as we reflect on concrete events in our shared past. Because the narrative arc of this work draws from particular incidents in Western Christianity, its sound conclusions carry the weight of the examples on which the authors draws.' Theological Studies ’This is a useful book that I shall recommend to students. In addition to historical overview, its strength is the challenge to Christian ethicists to think from the gospel of Christ and revelation of God in the scriptures to the everyday practice of criminal justice. …The historical framework of The Last Judgment provides a very useful backdrop against which the educator or other interested parties could develop such lines of inquiry.’ Modern Believing
Contents: Prologue; Introduction: crime, harm, and the cultural landscape; Law and judgment in the Hebrew scriptures; Law and judgment in the New Testament; Law and judgment in the early Christian community; Law and judgment prior to the Enlightenment; Twilight of the Gods: rights, reason, and disenchantment; Law and judgment in modern society; Bibliography; Index.