Christianity and Slavery
In response to my blog last week, The U.S. Constitution: A Light About to be Extinguished, an online follower posted the following on our Facebook page:
If I have misread what’s posted on this site, I apologize, but these are my thoughts: Blogs on this site paint a rosy picture of the USA in general, and Christianity, in particular– as if they have historically stood for the right, for morality and justice, and for the oppressed instead of the oppressor.
Didn’t Christians, including the Catholic hierarchy and the Seventh-day Adventist hierarchy, support Hitler? — After all, he was a “Christian” and a vegetarian, to boot. One common myth about the relationship between religion and slavery is that faith leaders spoke early and often about the evils of enslavement.
Actually, Christians who spoke against slavery, such as the Quakers, were few and far between.
Instead, Christians, by and large, used the Bible to justify the institution of slavery and its perpetuation. The use of religion to defend slavery grew when denominations were successful recruiting in the South.
The relationship between religion and slavery is not as flattering as many contemporary Christians assume.
Thank you for your post. I believe your concerns are so important and helpful that I wanted to highlight them here and address them.
Your point is excellent and poignant, and something our entire website is focused on exposing – the difference between religion and the kingdom of God.
God is the Creator, and His laws (gravity, health, and moral) are design protocols for life – how life actually operates. Thus, God’s kingdom is based upon love, truth, and liberty.
As created beings, sinful humans cannot create. We cannot build reality – space, time, matter, energy, life – and thus our laws are not the laws of God that reality operates upon. What we do is make up rules, which we call laws, and then enforce those rules with threats of punishments. This is the human-law model or method and stands in sharp contrast to the Creator’s design laws and methods.
Religions embrace the human-law model – the false idea that God’s law functions like human law and that justice is inflicting punishment upon lawbreakers. Thus, religions have taught and continue to teach that it is righteous to inflict punishment on others and use power over others to enforce one’s way. This false belief system naturally leads to the very abuses you have referenced, including slavery and the use of the Bible to support it.
The history of what I documented in my blog is still true, however. There is a battle within Christianity (as well as the world at large) over these two views of law and, thus, over two views of God and two views of justice. Jesus Himself battled against this same issue when He opposed the religious leaders of His day. He consistently taught that God’s kingdom is the kingdom of love built upon design law; He rejected the imposed-law view of humans. In my blog, Parables of Jesus – The Overarching Theme, I reveal how every one (100%) of Jesus’ parables teaches design law and exposes the fallacy that God’s government operates like human governments – upon imposed law.
This battle is between the true principles of God’s kingdom (love, truth, freedom) and the principles that drive the systems of this world (selfishness, lies, coercion).
When the Bible was translated into the language of the people, it brought God’s truths to the masses, and it was the Christians who embraced God’s principles of liberty and equality that formed the abolitionist movements in Europe and America. But those Christians who rejected God’s principles and embraced imperial law (just like the Jewish leaders in Christ’s day) used the Bible to justify their continued biases, prejudices, and exploitation of others, including slavery.
The founding documents of the United States were designed to restrict or limit the power of the few (government itself, the aristocracy, and religious organizations) over the masses and create a government that protected liberty – but such documents could not change hearts; only Jesus can do that. It is by restricting the power of the few to coerce and control the many that an atmosphere of freedom is created in which truths can advance and, thus, change hearts.
So, I love your point and want to affirm it as long as we differentiate those Christians who embrace what Jesus actually taught from those who embrace the imperial/human-law model of religion.
We must also recognize that Revelation teaches that before Christ returns, those Christians who have rejected design law and embraced imposed law will join with state powers to form a beastly system that will coerce others and once again take away liberty. The freedoms written into the U.S. Constitution will be removed – and you are right, they will be removed by those who call themselves Christian. But understand, these are the ones that Jesus describes here:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21–23 NIV84).
Come and Reason’s goal is to present the truth about God’s kingdom – His design laws and methods – effectively so that people can reject the beastly system of force and coercion, which is based entirely upon imposed law, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit to be just like Jesus in character.