This book, Justice in Love, builds on Justice: Rights and Wrongs (2010, Princeton), but constitutes an entirely new trajectory for this leading philosopher's work on justice. This book should not be understood as primarily a discussion of justice or love as stand-alone concepts, but rather focuses quite precisely on the relationship between love and justice--a relationship often understood in the late modern context to be hopelessly contradictory.
"Rather than accepting tension between these two imperatives as an unalterable fact of life, I argue in the following pages that our perception of tension between them is a sign of something having gone wrong in our understanding of them. I propose and argue for a way of understanding love and a way of understanding justice such that the two imperatives are fully in harmony with each other" (p.viii).
Wolterstorff shows that justice and love are indeed perfectly compatible, and he argues that the commonly perceived tension between them reveals something faulty with how we understand the concepts, and therefore not with the abstract realities of love and justice themselves--they are both critical to human well-being and thus are complimentary. True benevolent love, he says, is always attentive to justice, and love that wreaks injustice can only ever be "malformed love."
Charitably engaging alternative views, Wolterstorff's Justice in Love is a welcome companion and follow-up volume to his other works on this timely subject and opens profound new paths of philosophical inquiry. The scope of the work commends it to several areas of study including culture, legal theory, atonement theory, social issues, and many other areas of thought and practice. Though a challenging read, all who work through this book will benefit from its analysis, lucid prose and unwavering commitment to the marriage of love and justice.
An eminent Christian philosopher's take on justice, rights, wrongs -- and what love has to do with it all
Love and justice have long been prominent themes in the moral culture of the West, yet they are often considered to be almost hopelessly at odds with one another. In this book acclaimed Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff shows that justice and love are at heart perfectly compatible, and he argues that the commonly perceived tension between them reveals something faulty in our understanding of each. True benevolent love, he says, is always attentive to justice, and love that wreaks injustice can only ever be "malformed love."
Wolterstorff's Justice in Love is a welcome companion and follow-up volume to his magnificentJustice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton, 2010). Building upon his expansive discussion of justice in that earlier work and charitably engaging alternative views, this book focuses in profound new ways on the complex yet ultimately harmonious relation between justice and love.
Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus ofPhilosophical Theology at Yale University. Before going toYale he was Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College inGrand Rapids, Michigan, for thirty years.
-Yale Divinity School
Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs is a magisterial book. In it and in its companion volume Justice in Love, Wolterstorff has gotten justice right.
John Witte Jr.
For the past three decades Nicholas Wolterstorff has crafted a devastating philosophical critique of and a bracing Christian alternative to John Rawls's Theory of Justice. In this exquisite new book of political theology, he tours the perennially contested questions of eros and agape, rule and equity, discipline and mercy, responsibility and forgiveness, justice and righteousness. Learned, judicious, strikingly innovative, and crystal clear, this book has all the marks of yet another Wolterstorff classic in the making.
Richard W. Garnett
-Notre Dame Law School
The Christian tradition proposes (at least) two fundamental challenges "Do justice" and "Love your neighbor" and few contemporary thinkers have explored the connection and tension between them with the care and wisdom of Nicholas Wolterstorff. In his previous book, Justice: Rights and Wrongs, he explained that the great worth of every person is the result of being loved by God. Now, in Justice in Love, he explores both the nature of this mysterious relationship and the implications of the call to love others justly.
Robin W. Lovin
-Southern Methodist University
The idea that justice and love are different, incompatible starting points for thinking about the moral life has led to the fragmentation of ethics among the disciplines of philosophy, theology, and law. In Justice in Love Nicholas Wolterstorff puts the pieces back together with careful argument, historical understanding, and fresh thinking about biblical texts. Anyone interested in Christian ethics will find new possibilities here, not only in relation to moral philosophy but also for pastoral care and political life.
Jean Bethke Elshtain
-Author of Sovereignty: God, State, and Self
In this brilliant work Nicholas Wolterstorff does what many thought impossible: he brings fresh insights to a debate that long ago grew stale and predictable. Justice in Love is exemplary in its clarity and balance. This beguiling new work burnishes Wolterstorff's reputation as one of our most important and original religious philosophers.
This penetrating study of agapism exposes how limited the understanding of love and justice as conflictual is. With careful rereadings of the tradition, it offers instead a fuller account of agapism that is informed by justice. Brilliant and provocative, Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice in Love is an essential contribution to ethical thought.
University of Toronto
In the view of many, Nicholas Wolterstorff is the preeminent Protestant Christian philosopher in the English-speaking world. Justice in Love is an excellent addition to his profound works that have justly earned him this title. In its philosophically astute and theologically informed argument for 'agapic love,' which the Bible and Christian (especially Reformed) tradition teach, this book very much elevates both the theological and the philosophical discussion of this key doctrine. It should be of great interest to theists, both Christian and Jewish.
John Witte Jr.
"For the past three decades Nicholas Wolterstorff has crafted a devastating philosophical critique of and a bracing Christian alternative to John Rawlss Theory of Justice. In this exquisite new book of political theology, he tours the perennially contested questions of eros and agape, rule and equity, discipline and mercy, responsibility and forgiveness, justice and righteousness. Learned, judicious, strikingly innovative, and crystal clear, this book has all the marks of yet another Wolterstorff classic in the making."
in Books and Culture
"Nicholas Wolterstorffs Justice: Rights and Wrongs is a magisterial book. In it and in its companion volume, Justice in Love, Wolterstorff has gotten justice right."
"Lucid, stirring, and provocative. . . . Offers a feast of insight, wisdom, and clarification."
"A significant and important work."
Reviews in Religion & Theology
"What has love to do with justice? In this intellectually rigorous work, one of the worlds preeminent Christian philosophers argues that a cogent view linking the two is both possible and inevitable given the claims of the Christian tradition itself. Making such an argument requires cutting through several difficult problems, a task Wolterstorff does with clarity and a respect for other views that deserves wide imitation."
Theological Book review
"A well-researched, informative, and well-argued book. . . . This book is a must read for any Christian ethicist."
"Wolterstorffs writing is lucid, his insistence on uniting philosophy, theology and biblical exegesis within a single work is exemplary, and his contribution deserves to mark the debate about justice, love and forgiveness in the twenty-first century."
"Sometimes, a book comes along that entirely reshapes consideration of a key topic in theology and philosophy. Such a book is Nicholas Wolterstorffs Justice in Love."
Sharing the Practice
"Nicholas Wolterstorff has written an important book that seeks to make explicit what is implicit in the liturgy. . . . Extremely helpful and worth reading closely."