The Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness, and criminal (in)justice


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Criminal justice is usually retributive – that is, justice is only apparent when an offender receives their just deserts. While Western ideas of criminal justice have historically been influenced by Christian tradition, doctrine and theology, in this article the Lord’s Prayer is used as a starting point to challenge conventional thinking. The article considers the prayer’s emphasis on God’s kingdom, and on forgiveness. Through the lens of retributivism there is little room for forgiveness, and kingdom justice would be an injustice. It is argued that the Lord’s Prayer turns notions of justice upside down. Implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424–433
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Early online date11 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2023


  • Criminal justice
  • Forgiveness
  • justice
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Punishment
  • Retribution
  • Righteousness
  • Religious studies
  • forgiveness
  • righteousness
  • punishment
  • retribution
  • criminal justice


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