From Justin Brierley and the Unbelievable radio show, also known as the “If You Like” radio show.
Topic: “Does the Bible Condone Slavery?”
The Bible is often criticised for either supporting or not condemning the institution of slavery. So how should we treat portions of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments that relate to slavery? Why does the Old Testament contain laws regarding the treatment of slaves? Does Paul condemn or affirm the institution?
Bob Price is a former US church minister whose doubts about the Bible led him to ultimately reject evangelical Christian faith. He says that the Bible is a book that reflects the time it was written in. Slavery was acceptable and the early Christians regrettably followed suit, and did not challenge the prevailing status quo.
David Instone-Brewer is a New Testament Scholar at Tyndale House, Cambridge. He says that, in its cultural context, the Bible goes as far as it can towards an anti-slavery message and that Christians have been at the forefront of anti-slavery movements.
This debate is the greatest debate I have heard in months! This is that Robert M. Price guy who is an expert in the historical Jesus who hates evangelical Christianity and has 2 PhDs. He’s extremely radical. But in this debate he was totally awesome. He was so easy to listen to, and he made perfect sense. Everything he said was moderate and reasonable.
And the Christian guy that Justin lined up was solid and well-prepared. About two-thirds of the time, the Christian they get is some useless pastor with no training. But this time Justin got a great scholar – winsome and informed. He made our side look good.
I noticed that Brian Auten linked to this Tawapologetics review of Rodney Stark’s book on history and Christianity, and it includes a section on Christianity and the practice of slavery. In my home, we have all of Rodney Stark’s books on our bookshelf.
Here are the main points from the slavery part:
- First, slavery has been an institution in human cultures since before the Egyptian pyramids, all around the world.
- Second, while European nations did delve into widespread slavery, the Church was hardly complicit in the practice.
- Third, how monotheism provided the moral framework to condemn and outlaw slavery.
- Fourth, details on the formation of the anti-slavery movement and Christianity’s involvement in it.
- Fifth, enlightened secularism had little impact on the abolitionist cause.
I knew some of that stuff already from reading about the history of slavery and the abolition movement in Thomas Sowell books. But if you don’t know about it, you should read the book review.