Book Review: Communities of Restoration: Ecclesial Ethics and Restorative Justice. By Thomas Noakes-Duncan

Armand Leon Van Ommen* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Review of : Noakes-Duncan, Thomas. Communities of Restoration: Ecclesial Ethics and Restorative Justice. (T&T Clark Enquiries in Theological Ethics.) London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017.

Thomas Noakes-Duncan identifies two problematic issues with regard to ecclesial ethics and the restorative justice movement. First, restorative justice as it is known today was originally motivated by Christian faith and rooted primarily in the Anabaptist–Mennonite tradition. However, when this alternative to retributive justice started to resonate beyond the boundaries of local initiatives, at first in North America, its advocates increasingly de-emphasized the Christian origins of restorative justice. While certain values were and are being upheld, the principle’s foundations in the Christian tradition have been lost, making restorative justice less of an alternative to the criminal justice system and increasingly more part of it. As one option among others, restorative justice has lost its initial power. The second problem Noakes-Duncan identifies regards the ecclesial ethics tradition. The ecclesial ethics movement, strongly influenced by Stanley Hauerwas, seeks to create alternative communities where the gospel is embodied. One of the hallmarks of this branch of ethics is its emphasis on peace and reconciliation. Noakes-Duncan claims that despite this emphasis, sustained treatments of the concept of justice are rare within this tradition. Restorative justice, as an approach to justice that has strong biblical foundations, has the potential to fill this gap, in line with the ecclesial ethics’ characteristic of being rooted in Scripture. By offering a sustained reflection on and treatment of the restorative justice movement and its theological underpinnings, Noakes-Duncan addresses these two problematic issues in his book.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)954-957
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Issue number2
Early online date29 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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