The Sword of Justice
J. Daryl Charles on Revenge & Retribution
The recent terrorist bombings, unprecedented in their magnitude, radically altered the way most Americans communicate. In the weeks since the attacks, even people of no particular religious conviction have tended to speak of mass murder in terms of “evil.” Before September 11, the term “evil” was not a part of the vocabulary of most Americans.
This shift is noteworthy, given the moral evasiveness that characterizes contemporary American culture. When we have not denied that evil exists, we have typically minimized it, whitewashed it, medicalized it, or defined it downward. At the same time, we have grown accustomed to accusing people of “judgmentalism” who insist on fixed standards of right and wrong.
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J. Daryl Charles is the Acton Institute Affiliated Scholar in Theology & Ethics. He is the author or editor of twenty books, including Retrieving the Natural Law (2008), Natural Law and Religious Freedom (2018), and, most recently, Just War and Christian Traditions (forthcoming). He is also co-editor of Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace: God's Gifts for a Fallen World, Volume 3 (2020). He is a contributing editor to Touchstone.
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