Friday, June 08, 2012

Read Along: 11—Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves?

Today we continue with Chapter Eleven in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Eleven, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You're also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] - Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 11 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Eleven: Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves?
(pages 148-157)

Chapter 11 looks at the issue of slavery in the Bible. Does the Bible condone slavery? The authors explain that slavery predates Christianity and that the Bible does not condone it, only regulates it. They further describe the proper cultural context of slavery in Old Testament times, which is not to be equated with more modern understandings of slavery. Christianity, the authors argue, tolerated slavery until it could be abolished. Finally, the Christian worldview provides a foundation for equality and human dignity, whereas atheism does not.

Philosopher Paul Copan contributes a short essay reflecting on scripture and slavery. He offers three mains points for helping us understand slavery properly and where Christianity fits into the picture.

Notable quotes:
Before we can proceed any further, we must understand a critical principle of interpretation: Israel as described in the Old Testament is not God's ideal society. (pp. 150-151)

God's unfolding plan of redemption works through free moral agents who can either conform to his design or rebel against it. It becomes clear how God can't just eradicate slavery all at once and still retain human freedom(p. 152)

Therefore, when the Bible is properly interpreted and applied, we see that, far from enthusiastically endorsing slavery, the truth is that God's people tolerated it with unheard of compassion and humanity until it could finally be abolished. (p. 153)
  1. How is Old Testament slavery different than modern slavery?
  2. How does being made in God's image inform our view of humanity and equality?
  3. What was Paul's view of slaves and masters on a spiritual and moral level?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 12—Is Hell a Divine Torture Chamber?


LittleGoose said...

Just out of curiosity, what are some names of people who did a lot to end slavery? Christians seem to have been a major influence, but I was wondering about people specifically? Other than William Wilberforce

Hausdorff said...

I have a comment about things being taken out of context. Obviously, taking things out of context is bad, which the author mentions early on in the chapter, but then near the end of the chapter in the section "Christianity Tolerated Slavery Until it Could be Abolished", he takes a few verses out of context (at least by my reading).

he first cites "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female". It doesn't really read to me like it is advocating freeing of the slaves as much as it is not locking them out of the religion.

Then he cites a verse that Onesimus should be viewed "no longer as a slave, but better than a slave...". But as I read it, this is a specific person that Paul has gotten to know and he is advocating for him being freed. To claim that this is advocating removal of all slavery seems like quite a leap to me.

Don't get me wrong, these verses are good, but they seem like they are taken out of context if they are being used to show that the bible is not pro-slavery.

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