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April 20, 2014

Easter wrestlings

Filed under: Books, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 10:21 pm

Can you believe I finally had the wherewithal to post about Halloween and it is apparently another holiday that I’m supposed to have candy and baskets for? Who can keep up?

Although we didn’t manage anything resembling egg dying or Easter baskets — unless you count the fact that Neal put a couple of pieces of candy in some of her bath toys and buried them in the backyard for her to dig up — I have been thinking about the meaning of Easter. Perhaps it’s largely a reflection of my state of mind right now (which has been a bit depressed as of late), but I’ve been a little troubled about it.

Rather than go into detail on all that, I want your opinion on something, mostly context-free of my own thoughts. It is this:

Derek Flood model

(A table from this book chapter by evangelical theologian Derek Flood) 

If you have any exposure to Christianity or the New Testament, regardless of your religious status now, I’d love to hear what you think about this. Does one of these more closely represent your concept of justice and mercy? What do you think your own religion or the New Testament teaches on this subject? (As you may be able to gather, Flood, in his book Healing the Gospel, contends that most people see Christianity through the lens of the Criminal Model when in fact he believes the New Testament presents it another way.)

Feel free to hit me up with a private email if you’re not comfortable posting a public comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts or relevant experiences!



  1. I have been dealing with some inner conflict and difficulties and have been contemplating this very issue. While I think the scriptures make it very clear the Lord will not tolerate the unrepentant heart, he is loving and patient and gives us many opportunities, every chance to return to him and ask for mercy, which he desires more than anything else to give us. When dealing with others, I definitely follow the New Testament Model, but when it’s personal, I follow the Criminal Model. I think this is true for many people and can lead to the whole nature versus nurture debate (although I think there is a growing trend of people victimizing themselves- if you can say that, and not accepting responsibility, but that’s a whole other topic).

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and sorry for tending to other topics. I feel like everything is so closely linked together it’s hard to not mention them.

    Comment by Ish — April 21, 2014 @ 1:55 am

    • I wish I could share my thoughts at this point. I’m reading Derek Flood’s book right now, but it’s slow-going because there’s just a lot that I’m grappling with right now. I wish you lived next door and we had hours and hours to talk and grapple together! But it’s interesting what you bring up about others vs. yourself; I have sometimes heard people say that people want “mercy for me; justice for them” but I think I know a lot of people who extend mercy far more easily to others than they do to themselves.

      Comment by llcall — April 27, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

  2. I definitely agreed with the criminal model for a lot of my youth (and let’s be honest, even up until recently!). But as I’ve gotten older and read more about other people experiences, I have really started to love and embrace the New Testament’s teachings. Or as I call it, the Jean Valjean method. I get that it might seem idealistic and paradoxical to treat criminals with mercy and I TOTALLY have never been in a real place where a criminal has hurt my family or loved ones but I look at some of the European models of treating criminals and I can’t help but think their methods are both humane and get better results.

    I also have a lot of ignorance on how the justice system treats those who aren’t in their right minds (e.g. mental disorders or drug addictions which you could argue is usu based in a mental disorder) vs. those who have committed crimes due to poverty/circumstances. And vs. those who are truly psychopathic. I think the recent steps towards banning solitary confinements is a good one, regardless of the kind of criminal, but again, I feel very ignorant on how it “really” all works out. Do you have recommended readings for those of us who want a more layman’s and objective approach to the US’s justice system?

    Comment by kei02003 — April 21, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

    • I wish I had suggestions for more accessible reading on the justice system. I really should have a good list to refer people to, but I admit that my perceptions of what is interesting reading can be so skewed (especially when it comes to this topic) that sometimes I’ve referred people to books that they found totally uninteresting. Doing Time on the Outside by Braman is very accessible since it’s largely based on qualitative data, but it is more about the community impacts of the justice system, which is probably not exactly what you’re looking for. I’ll have to think on this some more…

      Comment by llcall — April 28, 2014 @ 12:00 am

  3. I loved this- it blew my mind a little because I think a lot of people at church believe in the criminal model. They treat justice and mercy as conflicting things, and maybe that’s so that it’s explained in a mode our society identifies with. God is just and doles out punishments/placements, while Christ is merciful and fights/suffers for us. But how refreshing to consider it in a new way. Anyway, I need to think about it some more.

    Comment by Jessica — April 25, 2014 @ 4:40 am

    • I am definitely still mulling over the implications of all this, but I think you’re right; in our church, we often talk in terms of this criminal model. In fact, one of the things that spurred all these ideas was a talk I gave in church last year that was well-received by some but not at all by others, in part because some people thought I overemphasized mercy instead of justice — as if they are eternally at odds. Interesting stuff…

      Comment by llcall — April 28, 2014 @ 12:06 am

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