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Why would a benevolent god condone slavery?

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

  1. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    Then the same problem & question remains, it's just shifted: which Bible, which "full scripture"? Different individuals interpret the word "Bible" differently, for example:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    :) You'll have to find someone else to discuss that with, since my own reaction to finding about about extra books to read is to happily add them to my reading list. I was delighted to learn of the books in the Catholic Bible, and am eager to get to them, which I want to do after I finish my current read-through in the OT books in the first column there. To me, this is the-more-the-merrier. It's like you are going through some old clothes you looked through again, for the first time in a long while, and you find you have a few $100 bills you'd not realized.
     
  3. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    Or less? Some groups exclude books you include as "Bible".
     
  4. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    The word 'bible' to me merely refers to scripture. I'm not the kind that cares if there are x number of books instead of y. I just want to read through them.

    This might help -- for me, it's sorta like a treasure hunt, where I already have learned I can find amazingly wonderful things. Like that.
     
  5. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

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    You might consider "Lost Christianities" and "Lost Scriptures" by Bart Erhman. The latter is merely a collection of gnostic gospels and otherwise excluded "scriptures" without commentary. The former is about the significance of all this. (IIRC, they were intended as companion pieces.) But if you just want the texts, the latter will do. Here's a link to the latter: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Scriptu...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=B0YGBT4AVX574MKZWS83
     
  6. durangodawood

    durangodawood Dis Member

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    If you hold to a strict word of God view of the Bible, then its difficult to dismiss even a single clearly written verse, unless the context makes it obviously poetic.
     
  7. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    It seems to me that it would be tough to obtain a "full reading in the Bible" if one is unsure of what constitutes the full Bible.
     
  8. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    A group of regulations together are more than one by itself, either way. It comes to mind how in the OT adultery is one of even the 10 great laws, but in the NT Christ tells us that even to lust after another not our spouse in an ongoing way, without outward actions even, is already adultery. So, that one law says one thing isn't enough to get the full picture really.

    Let's get specific -- if the penalty for hurting a slave seems nothing in one place...but then in another place something much more than nothing happens, something very significant, then of course we need both (or all) of the relevant verses, instead of only the one. So, because of this reality, we really do need all the verses, even if one at first is less than we'd want to see (as NT Christians). We are used to Christ saying perfect things, but these laws can be very piecemeal and so I think they are incremental also.
     
  9. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    lol. I'm smiling, cause it's amusing to imagine myself silly enough to think I know everything. That's one mistake I don't make too easily -- I hope! -- but instead I point out to others over and over we don't know everything.


    If you could really get "love your neighbor as yourself" in a deeply full way, with full appreciation also, (and that's not a small thing at all), then you really would not need a great number of other verses that expand on it much. They'd just be preaching to the choir at that point. (of course, in reality, we don't get it in the deep full way at first, or even soon, usually, and do very much need the many expansions)
     
  10. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Way back in my 30s I was rooming in a woman's house who had a book of the Kabbalah, and it surprised me how delightful it is to read (see I was agnostic mostly in those days (but to my own surprise I prayed once or twice in those 20 years) and I enjoyed Joseph Campbell, and enjoyed all manner of myths just as stories). I think I have something of gnostic gospels also in a box (I've moved several times in the last 10 years). I've gotten used lately to using the internet to read so much, and ebooks. To me these alternative versions are much like the alternative versions of 9/11 -- many exist, yet there is a real version of course. What a multiplicity of versions points to is some kind of reality. Well, that's basic, but what is the reality? That's where encountering Jesus's words in the 4 gospels can be more surprising than someone that grew up in a church, or read once, ever expects.
     
  11. Samaritan Woman

    Samaritan Woman Active Member

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    This is true only if one does not take into account the rules of proper Biblical interpretation which many people discount. As a result, the Bible can easily be twisted to fit one's personal bias and agenda if the text is not respected. It is not uncommon for certain aspects of the passage to be ignored such as the author and his audience, historical setting, and original language; also, a person needs to read and interpret the verse in light of its paragraph, then the chapter and entire letter/book, and ultimately in the aggregate message of the entire Bible itself.
     
  12. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    Where are these rules of proper biblical interpretation found? I assume that if there are authoritative rules, they are found in the Bible itself? If not, what makes them authoritative?
     
  13. Par5

    Par5 Well-Known Member

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    I came across this Christian site, Revelation.co. It was presenting its view on slavery as recorded in the bible and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at its content.
    On slavery, it said, "Instead, slavery was more like a form of indentured servitude, or like a live-in maid or butler. Some compare it to a social class, and with good reason: A person who was financially broke could become a “slave” for a set period of time, and work to pay off debt, or to have guaranteed housing and care. This was actually a good thing, and it did wonders to keep the “homeless” population under control. If you were broke, no problem–just go be a servant for a while."
    Live in butler??? Your brandy and chocolate mints sir.

    As for beating slaves and the slave dying as a result of the beating, their take on this was something I had to read twice to make sure that it said what I thought it said.
    "If the slave died, the master would be put to death, but not if the slave survived (or, at least for a few days). Why? First, if the slave survived, it shows the master’s intent was not to kill or seriously harm the slave. Maybe they just got into a physical argument. Or maybe the master had to defend himself. Either way, it was a simple case of domestic violence, not pre-meditated murder. There is a big difference between those two."
    Next, the Bible clears up the meaning when it says this, “he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.” What does that mean? That slaves are cheap property and worthless? No, not at all. The Bible makes clear that we are all of tremendous value to God our Father, whether we are lowly slaves or wealthy kings:"

    In that last paragraph, they are not even denying that if a slave dies as a result of a beating the slave owner will not have to answer for the killing. How can they say that everyone is of tremendous value, slave or king when the death of a slave as a result of a beating is overlooked because he is considered to be no more than a piece of property?
    The mind boggles!
     
  14. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with your reasoning, although it does seem quite vague. What is your point though?
     
  15. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    What you stated is above refers to the situation when Hebrews were allowed to sell themselves to other Hebrews in an indentured servitude arrangement.

    However the Bible also allows the Hebrews to acquire non-Hebrews slaves either through purchasing them or taking captives during war (as I stated in the first post on this thread). Unlike indentured servants, these slaves didn't voluntarily become slaves and they were the permanent property of their master (i.e. not released after 7 years). Usually apologists won't tell you about this or they lie and tell you that this was also indentured servitude.
     
  16. Samaritan Woman

    Samaritan Woman Active Member

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    To begin with, there were, to a certain extent, different guidelines for Hebrew “indentured servants” (aka slaves) as opposed to foreign slaves captured in war. We in the 21st century west have preconceived notions and images regarding slavery based on the practice in the19th century US and its horrors, but it is inaccurate to transfer these ideas to ancient Israel.

    In a society where prison did not exist, a captive foreigner was faced with two options – execution or slavery, the latter being more humane. Why didn't God just simply outlaw slavery in this situation, aka be more “humane”? As I stated in a previous post, the various Canaanite peoples practiced wicked religious practices that were an abomination in His sight, such as child sacrifice and fertility cults involving male and female shrine prostitutes, among other things. That was a major purpose for the Israelite invasion. If the Mosaic Law had commanded to set the Canaanites free, that would have nullified God's intent for having the Hebrews engage in warfare in the first place.

    A major point of contention in this thread seems to be Exodus 21:20-21 which is being viewed as grossly inhumane and on par with American slavery. However I encourage you to keep reading ahead to Exodus 21:26-27 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 17:8-10. Any man who did kill his slave was considered to be guilty of murder and would be subsequently punished accordingly. If the slave lived, it was indicative of the master's intention as discipline, but permanent personal injury brought freedom. The master's power over foreign captives was limited which was unprecedented in the ancient world and thus differentiated the Israelite nation from its neighbors.

    If any of you want slavery discussed in light of the New Testament, I can address that as well.
     
  17. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Imagine for a minute indentured servitude done best -- like a contract of employment.

    Ok, a real employment that is fair allows the employee to leave.

    Right? (first, I'm asking if you agree that there can be a type of employment contract of get the pay at the beginning, and serve for a set time)

    Well, then how do you interpret the law in those same set of laws you are considering here about that very question of leaving that putative contract of employment, and...even for an outright slave also:

    15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him."

    e.g. -- the servant, and even an outright slave, could simply leave and go elsewhere and start a new life, and they are then protected by law from God (no less, not merely law from man).

    Surprised? What do you think of this? It's pretty much like you'd better treat your servant/slave well, or they can simply leave, and God's law says for their new neighbors to treat them like a brother, pretty much.

    As for instance we can see in action at the beginning of the very short New Testament letter to Philemon, which itself goes further and makes the escaped slave an outright social equal, regardless of any past debts or class distinctions. But Philemon is a later point in time.

    What's your own viewpoint of the Deuteronomy 23 law just above?
    (really asking)

    In your 2nd paragraph you point to a disturbing Exodus 21 law, but....that very law turns out to be only 1 of several additional laws about hurting a slave. They are given piecemeal, in more than just one chapter.

    That's very unlike the New Testament, where we become accustomed to hearing the law stated by Christ in a very general and perfected form, such as: "in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you".

    So...we can't read old testament regulations as if it is a perfected and more advanced law as we see later in time.

    Instead, they seem incremental, and micro regulations. Like little steps upward.

    The next step on that one about beating a slave though comes very soon (in the same chapter).

    Only 5 verses later. Does that mean that law was promulgated on the same day? Perhaps so.

    26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth."

    Now, does it seem there is a bit more than just verse 21 you were rightly worried about?

    But 26-27 aren't the end yet. More is added.

    It's a progression. Why?

    It could easily be that because Israel was having slaves for the first time (having themselves been slaves in Egypt), that the piecemeal laws, incremental, were necessary, since Israel proved over and over it could not simply follow a very general law -- they failed to follow even the simple 10 commandments, repeatedly -- and would therefore need micro regulation.

    Just like our own modern American law.

    Maryland sexual assault law in brief summary (think Kavanaugh):
    Maryland Rape and Sexual Assault Laws - FindLaw

    If you look at that quick summary of Maryland sexual assault laws, you find it has a variety of categories.

    Why not just say: be kind and treat others as you would like to be treated in their shoes...

    ?

    What do you think is the answer to this question?

    The answer is few people love all of their neighbors. They tend to love a select few, and do wrong to others, frankly.

    I think the answer is that many people simply won't follow any general law to simply: do what is just and right and good, but need micro regulations, because they are not yet into the state of "love your neighbor as yourself" applying to everyone they meet, but are in some much less good state.

    So...Israel got micro regulations.

    That means when you find one law, as you did in your 2nd paragraph, you cannot assume that's all there is, but you'd have to look for the rest, like in the Maryland statues -- there is more than one, more than 2, more than 3, more like Maryland, a variety (and not all in one chapter or 1 book like the convenient Maryland summary I linked).


    We all learn by experience that when anyone takes a verse or 2 (or marshalls together a group of isolated verses that seem to be pointing one way if we color them), that this kind of thesis is not reliable.

    Here's the rub -- to understand Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, you have to read entirely through them all the way (sorry!....), and that's not enough for some certain things in those books, but some pieces are expanded or added to radically later in other books, so you are stuck in the situation you need the entire Old Testament to have any confidence in a thesis about some topics of great meaning.

    Which, I'd suppose, guessing, only about 3% or less of people have read fully through in the last, say, 20 years (lately enough to have a good chance to have a clue if they see whatever thesis to consider). Ergo, not only do non-believers who read say half the books in the OT not have much of a chance to get it right on certain questions in the OT, but also plenty of Christians don't either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  18. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    That:
    "In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you"
    outlaws any kind of mistreatment of others (not just some specific wrongs, such as the lists of laws in the Old Testament), including every last instance of any kind of poor treatment of anyone.

    Such as even being merely harsh and unfair (even just that) to an indentured servant, or a circa 2018 employee, is now outlawed for Christians.

    But much earlier than this, in Israel, already, way back in the OT time we talked about, micro regulation laws from God regulated slavery:

    15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. 16 Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.
    -- Deuteronomy chapter 23.

    Yup, that means precisely what it sounds like it means.

    That law from God (no less) says any escaping slave/servant, say from a village a few miles away for example, is to be treated as a fresh new citizen, and treated well (not merely tolerated).

    So...it's instantly impractical to mistreat your slave then, for anyone obeying law from God.

    Can you see that?

    But in the New Testament, later in time, Christ gives us the perfected form of the golden rule, which says we are to treat everyone, everywhere, in all circumstances, all the time, as we would want others to treat us if we were in that situation they are in....

    Which not only expands and extends the Deuteronomy 23 law on escaping slaves, but goes much further.

    Like Paul's short, 1-page letter Philemon to a Christian about their own escaped servant -- that the escaped slave is not merely to be treated ok in their new location...
    but is now the social equal of the previous owner, fully. That's revolutionary of course.

    It would be amazing if today in the United States we lived up to that level of treating anyone as a true social equal....

    Of course only some people obey the golden rule from Christ (in it's total form), when it's harder to do. They have help though, from an invisible source (to use the wording of Joseph Campbell).
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  19. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    But in fact, actually, those captured slaves would be released (gain freedom) in any of several different situations, given in a variety of chapters in these same books, by law from God.

    (e.g. a couple are in post 117, as an instance that helps us begin to see how full reading in the OT (!) is unavoidable as the requirement to become accurate on many of the most interesting questions, such as this one.)
     
  20. ananda

    ananda Early Buddhist

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    How does Christianity handle those who find pleasure in receiving physical pain or emotional abuse, in light of this commandment from your scriptures?
     
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