by Ellen Paulley
What does the Bible teach about justice? How can these teachings be applied in the church and wider society today? Can a compassionate and restorative justice serve the world?
These are some of the topics discussed in the 2015 Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) class, Justice of God:Questions of Justice in the Bible and the World, taught by Professor Chris Marshall, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Canadian Mennonite University alumnus Michael Wiebe was one of the participants in this CSOP course. A Communications and Media major, Wiebe noted the importance of communication and conversation in restoring right relationships.
“Storytelling is one of the biggest assets in making right relationships,” he says. “Everything I’ve learned at CMU has been about storytelling—being in the communications industry, I can be a steward of the earth through storytelling.”
Restoring relationships is a very communicative process and hearing from both parties involved is an important aspect of restorative justice. Additionally, gaining “an understanding of someone’s speech community and the conversation they were raised with, needs to be taken into account in the restorative justice process,” he says.
Wiebe has had opportunities to mediate conflicts in the past and has sought ways to build people up and figure out how to work well with people in conflict.
Taking the course, Justice of God, has helped him discover ways of facilitating what can be difficult conversations and explore how his faith informs the way he does so.
“What does justice mean biblically and to the wider Christian community? Justice means that God is involved in very actively bringing justice about in relationships,” he reflects.
For those who are interested in CSOP, Wiebe’s encouragement is to be prepared to be inspired about something new.
“The course topics that CSOP covers are innately the things that humans want, which are resolving conflict, making relationships right, living in harmony,” he says. “Once you get into the course, you can’t really help but to feel some sort of urge to think harder about these questions and to even make changes in your own life about peace and justice and how to live well in a very broken world.”