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Why would a benevolent god condone slavery?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Brother Billy, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Oh yes -- it's definitely the case that it's possible for churches to omit clear meanings from scripture, and see only what they want to see. See post #83 about this same thing. How well are we able to hear Christ when He says to us Matthew 7:12? The answer is -- only if we truly believe, meaning at some point also we've truly experienced 'fear God', fear to have unrepentance. Otherwise, it's more akin to a social club, or for appearances. Of course, in any church anywhere there is always a mix, and people trying to work in the situation where they are, some, to help others move incrementally in the right direction. So those slavery endorsing churches would have always some few pushing incrementally in the right direction, such as to treat the slaves better, a small step the right way, while others would be pushing for larger steps (and perhaps get rejected sometimes from those churches). This is the way it's always been, and will be until the new comes.
     
  2. durangodawood

    durangodawood Dis Member

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    Just for perspective, lets bear in mind that this is the sort of conversation people normally have about how to keep their animals.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  3. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Catechumen

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    That people use the Bible to justify their own actions doesn't mean that God approved of American slavery.
     
  4. durangodawood

    durangodawood Dis Member

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    The legacy of God's word didnt help, tho. I mean you can look back to older books in the Bible and see divine sanction for slave practices we consider horrific today.

    I realize that moral demands on humans evolved over the course of Hebrew history. But thats difficult for many thinking people to square with popular theology of God being perfect, unchanging, etc.
     
  5. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Catechumen

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    God is perfect and unchangeable, that he has to deal with others in different ways does not change that. You are still thinking in an anachronistic way by comparing those times with capitalistic modern day society.
     
  6. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    You completely missed my point. Mathew 7:12 was not a pronouncement against slavery. Jesus never invented the Golden Rule. It was already in the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) which explicitly allowed slavery. Unless you think that one book of the Pentateuch contradicts another, it’s hard to see how the Golden Rule in Leviticus overrides the slavery passages.

    It is a myth that Christianity was responsible for ending slavery in America. The established Christian religions, both Catholic and Protestant, sanctioned the institution. Many Christian leaders quoted the Bible for their justification of slavery. But when abolitionists tried to quote the Bible, they were forced to present a reinterpretation of it rather than the literal and original biblical meaning. The Abolishment Movement ended slavery in spite of Christianity not because of it.

    If you disagree, show me the verses in the bible that say that slavery is evil and should be abolished! You can't because there are none!
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  7. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Indeed, but we remember more than 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War.

    Though politically Lincoln could not say early it was about slavery (instead it was politically smarter to talk about the real desire to preserve the Union early on), it was essentially over slavery the South seceded, fearing being outvoted in the future, no matter rhetorical language that used points like States Rights, this was the essential division. Many were willing to risk war on both sides. People understood slavery was the dividing issue to begin with. (side note: though I tested out of American history as a entering freshman in college with a test which was a 1 question essay test: describe the lead up to the Civil War in an essay, and answered emphasizing the inflammatory journalism of both North and South, the vicious circle of that day's media that led to not being able to peacefully change

    ....and that is...somewhat like our inflammatory journalism right now, today in 2018 isn't it? !....

    I'm always delighted to learn more if someone can contribute factual things to add, because none of us really know everything about anything, :), but one great source that helps us get the flavor better and is very compelling is Ken Burn's amazingly good series on PBS though, The Civil War. Somehow having the visualizations and specific statements of the day presented in a video really does work, though I normally prefer reading.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  8. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    I can only rely on reality, facts, about this. Christians were very active in abolition according to historical fact.

    Just facts.

    Why use rhetoric about 'myth', when we can look at fact instead?

    For instance the very famous and very active Charles Spurgeon, who traveled, preaching to large crowds.

    Not exactly a subtle or quiet influence, but rather the kind of influence that converts people apparently.

    By fact.

    English preacher Charles Spurgeon had some of his sermons burned in America [obviously not by those who agree with him] due to his censure of slavery, calling it "the foulest blot" and which "may have to be washed out in blood."[4] Methodist founder John Wesley denounced human bondage as "the sum of all villainies," and detailed its abuses.[5] In Georgia, primitive Methodists united with brethren elsewhere in condemning slavery. Many evangelical leaders in the United States such as Presbyterian Charles Finney and Theodore Weld, and women such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (daughter of abolitionist Lyman Beecher) and Sojourner Truth motivated hearers to support abolition.
    Christian Abolitionism - Wikipedia

    You could try to repaint them out.

    But that wouldn't be objective.
     
  9. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    Yes I agree. My point is that they did so because they recognised that slavery was immoral, and not because the Bible was against it.

    I will retract the word myth if you can show that the Bible considers slavery evil.

    There were many Christians who sincerely believed that slavery was evil and who were desperate to use the Bible to justify this view.
     
  10. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Please try to look at this a 2nd time, to notice another aspect:

    New International Version
    "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."


    Notice the wording "in everything" there?

    Now, consider whether this list of Do-Nots below from Leviticus is "everything" --

    11“ ‘Do not steal.
    “ ‘Do not lie.
    “ ‘Do not deceive one another.

    12“ ‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

    13“ ‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
    “ ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

    14“ ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

    15“ ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

    16“ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
    “ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.

    17“ ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

    18“ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord."

    -------

    It's a great list!

    Very broad.

    But is it "everything" this way -- "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you"

    ?

    If I refrain from killing someone, from robbing, and this whole list...

    Would I then be compelled to offer food and water to complete strangers sometimes? How about helping an old lady you've never met before, a complete stranger, in a grocery store? Is that in Leviticus or any of the Pentateuch in your viewpoint? If so, it would be interesting to look at further of course.

    What if the stranger isn't in your nation or religion, but some group you think is fundamentally wrong?

    Like a Samaritan compared to normal Judaism.

    For me, "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you" means that I am compelled to take a positive action at times.

    That isn't solely Do-Nots for me.

    I'm asking you, to better understand your viewpoint. Do you really see a list of Do-Nots as being the same as a rule that includes by its wording both do-nots, and additionally to-do actions?

    For me to refrain from harming someone isn't identical (an equal total set of things) to Matthew 7:12.

    Because Matthew 7:12 additionally means I also have to take positive action to benefit them.

    Put another way, not doing a harmful action is not precisely equal to doing a charitable action in a lot of instances, just for example.

    If you merely don't kill, rob, defraud, that doesn't mean you've already then done acts of charity. (one could, but doing an act of charity isn't the same as not doing an attack on someone)
     
  11. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    See post #95, and additionally ask questions if you like about post #86.

    A key concept I tried to get at in the response to your OP was that in the OT the slavery laws were incremental, and constricted slavery with regulations (and therefore became in certain ways very unlike that 3500 years later in the Southern U.S., for instance, as we'd see it depicted normally).

    Why incremental laws that gradually reduce slavery, instead of an outright ban right off, at the very start? There's a reason. My first paragraph to you was about that reason, when I generalized your question into it's full form --

    "If God desired the end of evil actions, [why didn't he ] just end evil actions...."

    It's a good question, and there's a reason.
     
  12. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    dp...
     
  13. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    In my experience, you can find support for almost any position somewhere in the Bible ... even if other verses elsewhere in the same Bible might speak in contradiction.
     
  14. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    As a Christian, I can now, after enough progress in change, recognize that the Golden Rule in its positive form, the to-do -- Matthew 7:12 is the how-to "love your neighbor as yourself", and "love your neighbor" is in Leviticus chapter 19, so in this roundabout way, one could try to argue (from an perspective of being Christian, much later in time, and under the New Covenant) that Matthew 7:12 being the how-to, the expansion to make clear, now, after Christ and the New Covenant, that "love your neighbor as yourself" means not only to refrain from harming them, but also to take actions for their benefit also. From our perspective now, having Matthew chapter 5, which they did not have in the OT times....

    We now have additionally the much more radical, and new (from Christ), instruction to even love enemies(!), the last of which is not in the OT that I know of, but is a New Covenant instruction.

    Matthew 7:12 really does mean "love your enemies" also! That's new compared to the OT times.

    That's the amazing and shocking reality of the last part of Matthew chapter 5. This is how Matthew 7:12 goes past anything in the OT that I know about, though I'd be delighted to consider further parts of course. The OT is full of unexpected jewels, and I'm not all the way through it yet, so there are some sections I've not read recently, but only once very long ago.
     
  15. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    If someone isolates verse(s) away from the meaning given by the rest of the book the verse is in, then they can definitely recast/paint a variety of meanings onto it.

    In the modern quotation style -- to first give people a claimed meaning, and then quote an isolated verse or several, relying on the reader to not know the remainder of that same book, and be fooled (fall under the same illusion).

    Of course, any person, including believers, can be so determined to maintain an ideological view that they read selectively, skim and ignore verses that contradict a preferred notion (that may not survive reading in full context of the entire book).

    This is why I so often have encouraged people to lay aside the concepts/ideas/doctrines/ideologies, and instead truly listen and read through fully.

    Which is humble.

    But then they get the jewels.

    Without doing this true listening they don't get so much, but instead miss so much.
     
  16. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    That's the fallibility with words - different people can read the same verse, chapter, book, etc. and find different meanings from the same reading.

    Not just words either: two individuals can look at a gray, cloudy sky and interpret it differently - one celebrates the potential for life-giving water for his dry, parched crops, the other bemoans the fact that her wedding photos will not be as beautiful as she had envisioned for years.
     
  17. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    It could be interesting to look much more precisely and extensively at this idea that old testament rules for slaves were 'horrific', because of how the mind naturally tends to assume the worst from a modern movie and think that's slavery, and then what if instead of some single verses or a couple, we looked more extensively in the OT? What do you think? Worth finding out if your expectation (even just from some specific single verse or 2), is adequate to have the full picture? I found out it was not what I expected.
     
  18. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    We agree partly, in that your 2nd paragraph is 100% the case.

    But full reading in the Bible isn't the same as that cloudy day perception example.

    Reading fully a story sympathetically (that is, truly listening), causes a lot more understanding, as you already know.

    Next, crucially, often explanations for some things are not anywhere nearby where the events occur (!)...

    Did you get that? The reasons for one event often are far away in some other chapter, or even another book (!)....

    It can be far away even. Like this:

    In Genesis chapter 19 Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed, seemingly because all the men, young and old, wanted to rape (brutally) the 2 visitors.... Because they practiced violent sodomy rape (and from other Jewish texts we can learn additional horrific acts done in Sodom, such as the murders of those doing charity, and more)....

    Ok....

    But....

    The actual reasons given from no less than God Himself(!)... are radically different in large part from what we see in Genesis, not anywhere nearby in the text.

    We can't even learn those reasons in the first 5 books together in total.

    You'd have to read Ezekiel to learn why Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. And even then, you might not believe the unexpected list of the actual reasons unless you have faith!

    See the problem people will have then?

    It's truly hopeless for the typical person without faith to be able to find these without help. They'd have to have the smarts to trust others who can tell them, or do the unexpected of truly trying to learn what they don't know or expect, by very full reading in the OT. How many will do that who don't believe? See? They can't get from A to B. So, it's even like a lock-and-key system.
     
  19. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    Yes, if someone reads Genesis 19, they'll come to their own interpretative conclusion.

    However, even if someone reads Ezekiel 16 to interpret Genesis 19, the same problem remains: which interpretation is chosen to understand וְשַׁלְוַת הַשְׁקֵט in Ezekiel 16:49? E.g. Was Sodom guilty of being unconcerned (NIV), idleness (KJV), prosperous ease (RSV), comfortable security (CSB), or something else?
     
  20. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    That's when to rely on the big picture -- the rest of the Bible. That's how you avoid the missing the forest for the trees in various possible meanings of whatever individual hebrew word, or whatever else! You need to full scripture together as a whole, and then the intended meanings are really clear, over and over, in so many cases (though there are still some subtle and deep things yet).

    In Ezekiel 16 we can recognize from other parts of the Bible how serious arrogance is for example, and understand instantly because we've read elsewhere. (Such as that arrogant pride even makes the list of the 7 worst sins of all, special worst of all wrongs.)

    The same with a question about meaning regarding hunger vs being well fed -- that the well fed did not care about those going hungry other parts of the Bible can help us recognize -- reading from other parts of the Bible aids us, and we get it what is meant by the total of all the words together (instead of one in isolation).

    Now, you might argue about whether the bark on a tree is greenish grey, or more just pale grey, and I don't worry, cause I'm seeing the forest instead of the individual tree, because I'm focused on the overall listening. See? I don't need to even know if something was green gray or instead pale grey, because I got the overall meaning. They were arrogant, and did not care about those starving right next to them in their city.
     
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