By the time I finished the next article in the series, it was substantive enough and socially-oriented enough to warrant being posted on my webzine Reform & Revive. The previous post was on on how secular Philosophy can inform our view of ethics and contribute to the discussion of Slavery, Atheism, and the Bible. This one is about how Christian theological ethics can uniquely inform our ethics in modern times. The article covers a LOT of ground and is the longest one I’ve written yet in this series. Hopefully that’s not a turn off. This article has more of my thought concerning truth and Biblical interpretation than perhaps any one article I’ve ever written contains. Here’s the link:
It seems in light of my earlier post I’ve decided to pour more of myself into this series, rather than just quickly finishing it off. Hopefully it’s helpful.
Lastly, I keep getting private emails, texts, and messages from Christians talking about how much they’re enjoying this series, and how helpful it is to them, but hardly any Christians are publicly commenting. I’m getting tons of comments from my atheist friends, though. Discrepancy? I think so. If you have a thought, please leave it. It could be really helpful to get more input on this and diversity of thought on this.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. It means a lot.
this is real (I did it myself)
The next post is pretty much done, but I wanted to send out this quick note before moving on. The previous post revealed a lot of things that I neglected to make clear. My fault. Sorry.
First and foremost, the last post was not meant to settle the question on slavery and the Bible. I just wanted to get out what the Bible actually says about it. The most I wanted to accomplish toward addressing the issue was to let people see a clear trajectory within Scripture wherein no part is inherently contradictory to the parts before or after it, no more than a seed is contradictory in nature or form to a fully blossomed flower. I also wanted to give a sense of the complexity of the issue. In every passage that lies out even the most comprehensive sets of morality and ethics for the Israelite people, you never see slavery there. It was never an action that was consistently seen as something moral. It’s not a freedom that the Israelites are free to use whenever they desire; it’s used sporadically, meaning that there must be something else going on beyond some explicit commentary by God on the moral nature of slavery. The New Testament is clear that the crucifixion of Christ was something that was foreordained and ultimately brought about by God, but this neither expunges the moral responsibility of the people that actually did it, nor says that God is all about crucifixion and thinks it is “morally neutral” or “ethically okay”. He clearly thinks it is wrong and evil, and yet He clearly ordained it, allowed it, and used it to bring about his promised redemption to the world.
[First off, this is a long one, and only part 1 of 6, so beware before you start reading.]
On Facebook, there appeared a status by an old atheist friend of mine from undergrad named Larry (supported by another friend Christopher). Here was the thesis of the post:
Regarding moral relativism the christians are hypocritical. They say they believe in a moral objectivity given by god…but how is it then, that they believed slavery was a product of the old days, as it was applicable to the time it was practiced (and sanctioned by the bible) but now condemn it? The bible, last I checked did not change. I think this is a PRIMARY example of moral relativism exhibited by the church and christians. So how can they sit here and tell us that a proof for god is moral objectivity?
In other words, how could the ethics of Christians change over time if the book they supposedly base their ethics upon has not changed? Either the God that inspired the Bible was completely incompetent in his revelation or there was no God revealing anything at all. The note caused a discussion that resulted in almost 90 comments, and I quickly realized that if I were going to respond, it would need to be in a more lengthy manner than a Facebook comment (which is not the most helpful of mediums of debate). So here it is. I’d like to respond to the ideas that came out in the discussions. I want to disagree with them on the basis of five ideas: