Rachelle wrote in to say that “history, like any academic discipline, is nuanced and complex.” Judging from the local response to the first hint of nuance or complexity, you could have fooled me. She goes on to say that “ownership of another human being, regardless of the quality of living conditions provided, is loathsome and inhumane.”
By way of contrast, the apostle Paul said: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Eph. 6:5-9).
In another place, St. Paul anticipated the problems that could arise when Christian slaves were serving Christian masters. “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:1-5).
So then, put all this together. The necessary conclusion is that, according to Rachelle, the apostle Paul’s method of subverting an unrighteous institution (for that is what he was doing) is loathsome and inhumane — because of what Paul tolerates in the short run. It was apparently a crime against humanity because the apostle didn’t advocate killing 600,000 people in an unnecessary war. And this reveals what my interest in this is. It is not to defend (or exalt) or reintroduce slavery. It is to defend the Bible’s authority in all areas of life. That is my sole interest in this issue. Scriptural authority is challenged by moderns because of the Bible’s method of dealing with certain sins is not bloodthirsty enough for them.
So here is a little NUANCE. It may even rise to the level of a COMPLEXITY. The institution of slavery, as it existed in the ante-bellum South, was an institution that every biblical Christian had a obligation to subvert (as in, seek the overthrow of). The best way to do this (as always) was to cultivate the demeanor required in the New Testament, and to do it God’s way. God gave very specific instructions in the Bible on how to deal with a problem such as slavery. Those instructions did not amount to, “Kill them all, let God sort it out.” Prior to the War, the majority of anti-slavery societies existent were in the South. So here is yet another NUANCE. Had I been there, I would have belonged to one. But also — had I been there — I would not have advocated certain other remedies, such as the one articulated by that mountebank John Brown. “Let’s go over to Kansas and cut a few throats of people who have nothing to do with any of this.”
More men died in one battle, at the battle of Antitem, than in the entire Vietnam war. The overwhelming majority of those men, on both sides, would never be slave owners. Tens of thousands of them would never be anything.
And where did Margaret Sanger go in this discussion? I miss her already.
Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.