William D. Bontrager
1710 C.R. 121, Hesperus, CO. 81326
In Search of Justice (124
pages) contains those parts of my life which are intimately related
to many of the thoughts on law, justice, and conflict resolution set
forth in all three books and the numerous pamphlets.
The Lawyer as Minister
(49 pages) is an effort to discuss different aspects of the lawyer's
work in terms of being a Minister of Reconciliation.
Restorative Justice: A Primer (120 pages)
is an effort to explain how the Anglo-American legal philosophies, principles
and system developed in contrast to what the Bible teaches. In doing
so, I take a look at all of the major components of the law –
Criminal, Tort, Property, Contract, Uniform Commercial Code, Remedies,
and Civil and Criminal Procedure – again drawing contrast with
what the Bible has to say.
A Flow Chart showing the way in
which an act of sin can lead, through repentance, to fruit. The details
are then contained in many of the following writings.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR JUSTICE? -- People in
prisons, and those awaiting their day in court, are often crying for
justice. Some tracked me down after I left the bench, and this expresses
what I tried to tell them about how to find justice.
THE CHURCH IN MATT. 18:17 -- The word "church"
was not put in the Bible until the 1600's when the Bible was translated
into English in 1611. Before that, the Greek/Latin word was "eklesia".
This has had, I believe, a major negative impact on how we, as Christians,
deal with conflict. We need to understand what the church truly is in
order to take the third step in conflict resolution. Also
available in Russian language
COMMENTS ON ABORTION PROTESTS -- Here are some
thoughts about confronting a specific evil while not dividing the Body.
COMMUNION AND DENOMINATIONALISM -- Jesus
prayed that we should all be one as He and the Father are one so the
world would know (John 17). Yet we now have hundreds of denominations
acting substantially independently of one another. This short writing
looks at Paul's admonition to "rightly judge the Body" in I Cor. 11:29
and its implications for our acting as a Body.
COMPARING GOVERNANCE/LAW OF STATE AND CHURCH
-- We are to be "not of this world" yet "in the world". But do we, in
our various religious structures, emulate man or God?
CONCERNING FRUIT INSPECTION -- Inspecting for
fruit of the person with whom we have a conflict often leads to judgment
of lack of salvation, inhibiting our properly dealing with conflict
(or giving us an excuse to not even start). What does the Bible say
CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS: KEYS TO RECONCILIATION
-- Unless we can confess to those we hurt, and/or forgive those who
hurt us, we will never experience God's peace or justice. This attempts
to define and demonstrate the way of doing both.
CONFLICT PREVENTING AND LIMITING COVENANTS --
Not only do I believe the Bible answers how we are to deal with conflict
when it arises, but I believe that the principles can be put into play
before the conflict starts and thus lessen the conflict and increase
the likelihood of quick resolution of the conflict to the glory of God.
This is particularly true of business ventures, and I have here a number
of possible documents which if adopted by business (or other organization
including churches and ministries), might accomplish those goals. And
pre-appointing the "one or two witnesses" can also be utilized in the
CONFRONTING CHURCH LEADERS -- What do you do
when, as a member of a congregation, you believe the pastor, or elder
or deacon, or other church official, has sinned? Also
available in Russian language .
CONFRONTING EVIL -- The Christian community has
always had a tension between removing oneself from society (the Amish,
for example), and attempting to "Christianize" society (post-millenialists,
for example). We are called to be "in the world" but not "of the world";
we are to be vessels for God; and we certainly can be a witness for
reformation of society. That means we can enter the governmental section
of society, and serve therein. This writing explores some of what I
see as the ground-rules for such involvement, having spent time in that
segment of society.
CONFUSION IN COUNSELING -- Once again, God
has a way and we have a way when it comes to counseling. Our's is: one-on-one,
wrapped in confidentiality, using a professional. What is God's way
for counseling? Also available in Russian language
DEALING WITH GOSSIP takes a look at one of
the most common sins we practice when we are in conflict, and how it
gets in the way of reconciliation and restoration. Also
available in Russian language .
DEALING WITH SPOUSAL ABUSE -- Once again, the
law tells us to run to the Court. But what about running to the Church
first? What might that look like?
FORSAKE NOT ASSEMBLING -- Far too often,
the institutional church makes us feel as though if we are not in that
church at the appointed times we have backslid and are in great danger.
This comes from Heb. 10:25; but what does that passage really mean?
Can God divert us from the established time and place for His use elsewhere?
FREEDOM OF BELIEF AS AN INDICATOR OF DEMOCRATIC
RIGHTS IN SOCIETY -- These remarks were delivered at a conference
on Christian thought in secular society in the Ukraine in 1998.
HELPING INMATES DEAL WITH CONFLICT -- Many
people go into prisons for reasons other than incarceration. They go
there to work, and they go there to serve those confined. While there,
they come into contact with people in conflict. Here I try to look at
how these visitors can function as ministers of reconciliation between
the inmate and the outside world.
HOW THEN DO WE RESPOND? -- The Church is often
attacked "at law" today. How should we respond when that happens?
IF I WERE A PASTOR -- What pastors do and do
not do can have very positive or negative influences on our conflicts.
Also available in Russian language.
IF JONAH CAME WALKING TODAY -- This was prepared
for a church in Belarus, but you may find it has application for you,
in the United States, today. Jonah said they were going to be destroyed,
and the people repented -- of what, we do not know. But the nation was
saved. What does this have to say to us?
IN DEFENSE OF THE DEATH PENALTY -- The death
penalty is a divisive issue for the Body of Christ. I think we do not
understand all that God sees in this matter, and so I have tried to
set forth the biblical view.
THE ISSUE OF CRIMINALIZATION OF BEHAVIOR
asks the question, "Why should this particular set of actions be criminalized
as opposed to handled through civil law concepts and system."
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR INTER-CONFESSIONAL CONFLICT
RESOLUTION -- In Russia, denominations were known as "confessions".
I was once asked when one confession might use the power of the state
to protect itself from another confession (or sect, or cult, etc). While
that is not an issue in the U.S., what with our religious pluralism,
our individual religious entities do seem to spend a lot of time in
Court, sometimes being sued, sometimes suing. So maybe these words to
my Russian friends will have some value here. Also
available in Russian language .
LOOKING AT ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT -- There
are certain "norms" when it comes to conflict within an organization.
Knowing the source of these, and the key components, helps resolve conflict.
Also available in Russian Language .
MAN'S LEGAL CONCEPTS COMPARED TO BIBLICAL CONCEPTS
continues analysis of the differences between our Western legal tradition
with its focus on punishment, and God's process for dealing with conflict
where reconciliation is the goal.
MAY WE SUE? SHALL WE SUE? WHOM MAY WE SUE? --
Christians seem to use the Courts as readily as non-believers. Is this
right? Does Scripture limit our use? Also available
in Russian language .
JUSTICE IN THE COMMUNITY: THE NEW ZEALAND EXPERIENCE
-- Many people tell me that the things I propose for changing our criminal
justice system will not work. Here is yet another example of a program
which has shown it will work. While this program was aimed at the youthful
offender, and generally the non-violent offense, I still say that it
is, like THE STORY OF PHILIP, an example which can be instituted within
our existing systems, and to a broader degree than the non-violent youth.
THE NIGERIAN COVENANT -- Christian believers
in Nigeria, concerned about some of their historic behaviors, developed
a covenant for future behavior to honor God's word. Revival resulted.
ON BEING A PEACEMAKER -- There is a difference
between a peacemaker and a witness, although they often look similar.
This attempts to give us direction in inserting ourselves into the life
of a friend whom we see in conflict. Also
available in Russian language .
ON RESTORING THE FALLEN -- Too often, Christians
-- leaders and laity alike -- fall in sin and/or drop out of the Body.
Should we try to restore them? If so, how?
THE PATH TO RECONCILIATION takes the words
of Jesus from the New Testament to show the restorative nature of God's
conflict resolution process so that the Old Testament case-law may be
PEACEMAKING -- A MISNOMER -- The Bible speaks
of Christians being "peacemakers". But is that the best translation
of the Greek? Would "peace-doers" be a better rendition?
A PROPOSAL FOR COLLEGES AND SEMINARIES
RECONSIDERING and REDEFINING, JUSTICE
is an opening overview of how the purpose for law determines the method
which in turn produces consequences, all within the question of what
is justice and how is it appropriated.
THE ROLE OF LEADERS IN CONFLICT -- No, not
in creating conflict but rather how leaders should act before and after
conflict arises within the Body. Also available
in Russian language .
SETTING CAPTIVES FREE -- This is another look
at the area of prison ministry, similar but longer than HELPING
INMATES DEAL WITH CONFLICT .
SOME BASIC THOUGHTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS -- What
are, or are not, "human rights" from a biblical perspective?
SOME THOUGHTS ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES -- Many
Christians are approaching the legal and governmental structures, here
and abroad, demanding their religious liberties. What does the Bible
say? Also available in Russian language
SOME THOUGHTS ON SMALL GROUP CONFLICTS --
Why cannot the Body of Christ be one? What things impede us? How can
we overcome the impediments?
THE STORY OF PHILIP uses the words of a Canadian
Judge, describing a tribal conflict resolution process in which he participated,
shows more clearly than anything I have ever read not merely what can
be done, but why it must be done.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST -- Several places
in my writings you will find me expressing a distinction between the
institutions we, as believers, create, and the Body of Christ which
He created for His service. This writing sets forth the basis for that
distinction, and fleshes it out more fully than found in the various
writings where the ideas are referred to.
A THEORY ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE ATONEMENT OF
St. ANSELM takes a look at an 11th Century church lawyer's
explanation of why Christ died on the cross which theory, I believe,
helped turn us from an understanding of the restorative nature of God's
law and conflict resolution process.
THOUGHTS ON CHURCH AND STATE RELATIONSHIPS
-- We hear a lot of crying today about what the state is or is not doing
to the church. But what does the Bible have to say on the subject?
THOUGHTS ON LEGISLATION STATING MORALITY v LEGISLATION
PENALIZING IMMORALITY -- To what extent should/could we attempt
to "Christianize" the laws of our land?
TO PEOPLE IN LEGAL DISPUTES -- This is substantially
repetitious of some of my other writings, but may be something you could
give a fiend to start them on the path to reconciliation more easily
than some of the other writings.
TO PEOPLE IN MARITAL DISTRESS -- The world
tells us when we are in marital strife to stand up for our rights, protect
our property, and protect our children using the force of the Courts.
But what does God say?
TREAT HIM AS AN UNBELIEVER -- A look at
Matt. 18:17(b) to see how it fits within the totality of Scripture and
the restorative aspects of God's law and conflict resolution processes.
WHAT IS/IS NOT, GODLY INVESTIGATION takes the
issue of gossip and looks at it from the standpoint of how we receive
and make decision based upon gossip when we try to find out things about
another person who is, for example, a potential employee.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE IS NO LAW? -- Many
portions of the globe have no law, and often Christians are persecuted.
But having no law results in certain behavior choices. This tries to
address some of the issues of how to live in such an environment.
THE WHO, WHAT AND HOW OF MATT. 18:16 -- When
our communication, confession and/or forgiveness produces nothing in
the other person, what is the role of those referred to in Matt. 18:16
as witnesses? Also available in Russian language
WHY A LEARNING TO LIVE AT PEACE SEMINAR
WHY THE RESURRECTION IS IMPORTANT --
I visited the city of Gomel in Belarus to meet with some students interested
in matters of law, justice, conflict, and the Lord. While there, it
was Eastern Easter, and I was asked to bring a message at a local church.
In Eastern Orthodoxy, the Redeeming Christ is a very significant figure,
and so as I thought about Easter, I was struck by the invitation for
redemptive impact which He offered to Mary at the side of the tomb.
He offered Himself as the answer to the greatest questions of life.