Brandon Cleaver writes a fantastic article at RZIM on slavery in the Old Testament and New Testament in contrast with American antebellum slavery. Properly understood, the Bible not only does not condone the brutal slavery of the antebellum South, but strongly prohibits such treatment of human beings made in the image of God.
2 thoughts on “How Can I Trust the Bible When it Was Used to Justify Slavery?”
I just wrote a few Ops about Jeremiah 34. Slavery is the reason Jesus came. It was Slavery that got God mad and put Israel into Babylon and Its my belief Israel was cut down both Judah and Israel and it was because of the basic golden rule. God was so hot about it and such that while he had a remnant he toyed with destroying the earth but instead brought Jesus Christ. From Isaiah 4 and many others like Jeremiah 34 the ground was laid for the kingdom of God to be handed over from Israel to new Tenants of the vineyard.
To Suggest God doesn’t have a problem with Slavery is nonsense. It would be like saying Ice is warm.
I wrote about this as well. I think it is important to understand some of the difference of the slavery in OT and how it was different from slavery in the USA before the civil war. Btu I think it is more important to understand how Jesus and the new testament radically transformed our thinking.
The author does note that Paul tells masters to treat their slaves “the same way” as he tells his slaves to treat their masters. But I think it is good to actually spell out what Paul is saying there. I do that in a post I wrote on Christianity and slavery:
“But, he says “And masters treat your slaves in the same way” right after he describes how a slave should treat their master. What?!? This is often overlooked by people when they are trying to be critical of Paul and Christianity. So how should a master treat his slave “the same way” Paul wants a slave to treat his master? Well let’s fill that in:
‘Obey your earthly [slaves] with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.’
Whoa, that’s pretty crazy stuff for his time. But, of course, it naturally follows from the view that “the first will be last and the last will be first” Mathew 20:16 and “I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Mathew 25:40. I mean if this is really what that God wanted us to believe you would expect him who has power over us to come and do something like wash the feet of his own creation. John 13.”
I think it is clear that Jesus and Christianity planted the seeds that lead to the abolition of slavery. Of course, the seed was there since Genisis saying we are all made in the image of God as the first known abolitionist speech makes clear. (not surprisingly written by a Christian) But Jesus really nurtured that seed of truth and it has lead to the moral progress we are now experiencing.
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