Humanitarian moralists, who hesitate to believe in the retributive theory of punishment because, as they think, its aim is not the criminal's future well-being but merely the vindication through pain of an outrage upon the moral law which the criminal need never have committed, might welcome a theory which urges that the sole aim of punishment should be the exercise of an influence determining the criminal's future conduct for his own or the social good.
He was a man of peace, hating war not less than he did slavery; but he warned his countrymen that if they refused to abolish slavery by moral power a retributive war must sooner or later ensue.
Clement of Alexandria taught that justice is not merely retributive, that punishment is remedial, that probation continues after death till the final judgment, that Christ and the apostles preached the Gospel in Hades to those who lacked knowledge, but whose heart was right, that a spiritual body will be raised.
It may also be thought of as retributive, as a reversal of present conditions so that the miserable are comforted, and the prosperous laid low, or as a reward or punishment for good or evil desert here.
Rejecting the retributive view of punishment, he describes the sufferings of Christ as those of the perfect "Penitent," and finds their expiatory value to lie in the Person of the Sufferer, the God-Man.