Can you call yourself a political community, i.e., "a people," if you disagree with one another over what justice is. Both Aristotle and Augustine would say no.
That is the subject of my recent WORLDmag column, "Cheering Justice." Even Evangelicals (the Evangelical political left notwithstanding) seem ambivalent about the government's role in retributive justice.
In the end, the problem comes down to theology, not political theory. People do not believe that God has revealed Himself in the Bible as “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, justice, and truth” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 4). I find this squeamishness, even among some of my evangelical Christian students, about God’s retributive justice—about the effective execution of divine wrath by God’s appointed, sword-bearing agents—a cause for cultural and political concern.
If divine authority does not stand behind political office, then police power and the power of war become simply means of control, not instruments of justice. If there is no divine justice, no transcendent standard of good and evil, then politics is just as Thrasymachus told Socrates in The Republic, “the advantage of the stronger.”
Look at that! Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine all in the same post on current politics! How do people function in life without knowing these authors?