God and Slavery (Part two)

I am working on a research paper about Pro-Slavery arguments used from the Bible in pre-Civil War America. 

One of the more interesting arguments came from a guy named Frederick Ross.  Ross was a Presbyterian preacher who in 1857 made a speech about abolitionists and what they were preaching.

Ross said that Abolitionists could not be finding their justification in the Bible.  He said people who see slavery “in harmony with the Bible” can cling to it more confidently because they were right.  He said that according to them “Paul [was] moved by the Holy ghost to sanction the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.” 

He said that abolitionists couldn’t “torture” the words out that they wanted so they went elsewhere to learn what they could read back into the Bible. 

Now, I think that slavery is evil.  I am glad it is over, but on some points I have to agree with him.  I think in the Bible, due to the cultural context, you have slaves implored to obey their masters.  You have Paul sending Onesimus back to his owner after he ran away. 

That is not to say that abolitionists didn’t have Biblical points as well, but I find this ping pong f religious conversation very interesting.  More to come!


About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: coleyoakum@gmail.com Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/

2 responses to “God and Slavery (Part two)”

  1. rey says :

    There’s a reason why Paul says “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Ironically, this refers to his own letters more than any others in Scripture. If we follow the Spirit of Christ who gave himself as our ransom (i.e. price to set a slave free) then we will oppose slavery. But if we follow the letter of Paul’s letters, we will die.

  2. coleyoakum says :

    There is a line of thinking out there called the Evolution of Scripture.

    At the time of Paul’s writings it would have been unreasonable and absurd for Paul to openly oppose slavery. But over time as we “evolved” morally the bible did as well, and we can look at scripture and say, “Slavery is evil and there is argument for that in the Bible.”

    A couple other issues that people believe that about is women’s rights as well as acceptance of homosexuality.

    In one breath Paul says, “There is no slave or free, male nor female.” Then says, “Women are to be silent.” But, as we evolved out of the first century mindset of women’s roles, we can also start to focus on other verses in the same book.

    I would disagree with this theory as it relates to homosexuality. I think as we read 1 & 2 Corinthians we see that homosexuality was a pretty common thing that was openly accepted, even part of worship. So to say it was something that would change over-time would suggest there has to be a change from then to now.

    But it is an interesting idea in regard to slavery.

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