Miroslav Volf on Justice and Embrace

In his book, Exclusion & Embrace, Miroslav Volf includes a chapter on “Oppression and Justice.”  Here are a few excerpts which I find helpful to reflect on in light of the Zimmerman–Martin conflict.
[Note:  Since my current theme always puts all blockquotes in italics, I have used CAPS to render Volf’s italicized words.]

We seem to be trapped in the iron logic of a syllogism of despair. Premise one: conceptions of justice depend on particular cultures and traditions. Premise two: peace depends on justice BETWEEN cultures and traditions. Conclusion: violence between cultures will never stop. Must we, however, concede the disturbing thought that the justice backed by the most able and best equipped generals or propounded by the most effective propaganda will reign? (p.196)

[A]greement on justice depends on the will to embrace the other and that justice itself will be unjust as long as it does not become a mutual embrace. (p.197)

God is all-knowing; God is perfectly just; God is not a tribal deity. All three accepted, it follows that what God holds to be just must be just for every person and every culture, apart from how any person construes justice. If God is the God of all peoples, the justice of God must be the justice for all peoples…. To be a follower of Jesus Christ means both to affirm that God’s justice transcends all cultural construals of justice and to strive for that justice (Matthew 6:33). But does the pursuit of divine justice make an end to the struggle? Does it not rather intensify the struggle?…. The question is not whether from a Christian perspective God’s justice is universal, whether God can infallibly judge between cultures irrespective of their differences. The question is whether CHRISTIANS who want to uphold God’s universal justice can judge between cultures with divine infallibility. The answer is that they cannot…. We must therefore distinguish between OUR IDEA OF GOD’S JUSTICE and GOD’S JUSTICE ITSELF. (pp.197-9)

[W]e enlarge our thinking by letting the voices and perspectives of others, especially those with whom we may be in conflict, resonate within ourselves, by allowing them to help us see them, as well as ourselves, from THEIR perspective, and if needed, readjust our perspective as we take into account their perspectives. Nothing can guarantee in advance that the perspectives will merge and agreement be reached. We may find that we must reject the perspective of the other. Yet we should seek to see things from their perspective in the hope that competing justices may become converging justices and eventually issue in agreement. (p.213)

To agree on justice in conflict situations you must want more than justice; you must want embrace. There can be NO JUSTICE WITHOUT THE WILL TO EMBRACE. It is, however, equally true that there can be NO GENUINE EMBRACE WITHOUT JUSTICE. (p.216)

If you want justice and nothing but justice, you will get injustice. If you want justice without injustice, you must want love. A world of perfect justice is a world of love. (p.223)

[S]ince “justice” is impotent in the face of past injustice, reconciliation is ultimately possible only through injustice being forgiven and, finally, forgotten. (p.224)

[O]nly in our mutual embrace within the embrace of the triune God can we find redemption and experience perfect justice. (pp.224-5)

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