procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, September 25, 2006

slaves and free

reading through Colossians, and thinking about the up-coming 1 Peter series, i got to thinking:
the Apostles Paul and Peter both address slaves and teach the subversive message of Christ; that this world is passing away, along with its distinctions of slave and free.
at no point do they encourage dissent against human authorities, so long as this does not contravene their master who is in heaven.
how did william wilberforce*, and how do we, justify the abolition of slavery?
* a late 18th/early 19th century (Christian) leader of the campaign to abolish slavery

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Blogger byron said...

I wonder whether Paul's teaching that the slave is to be treated as a sister or brother (see e.g. Philemon) has had a long term subversive effect on our consciousness of human dignity. If God pours out his Spirit on even the slave, then who are we to mistreat them?

As for never encouraging dissent: what do you make of this?

9:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There those who argue that modern democracies are partly the outworking of Christian thinking, particularly with respect to the individual's rights etc.

In a democracy, (orderly) dissent is a required part of functioning well. And so, from 'if you can gain your freedom, do so' (1 Cor 7:21), You could say that Wilberforce was justified in doing so, just because he could.

9:17 am  
Blogger Elsie said...

I wonder if the master/slave relationship and how it functioned in society was different in Paul's time to Wilberforce's time?

4:30 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

BYRON: yep, i agree, that's what Paul & Pete are saying in the relationship. as to whether they were saying it with a view to subverting the system is a really good question - one that deserves an answer (if not only further thought)
DREW: that's nice for those who are able. it seems like a random thing to say in the context of living as called, as i would imagine those able to gain their freedom are in the minority, and it would make sense (i would imagine) to seek it. that there are some more dimwitted who would need encouragement to seek their freedom boggles the mind!
ELSIE: that's a good point. we can know some relationship basics, especially as we look at people like Philemon and Onesimus, the centurion and his servant in Matt8. they seem quite different to the picture in my head of slave ships from africa. i am guessing there were both types of relationships.
those in good relationships, from drew's comment, it would seem, are the ones more likely to be able to leave, and are exhorted to do so.
the ones in much worse conditions are the ones who wouldn't be able to leave, but rather should consider it joy to suffer in Christ's name! furthermore, they should consider themselves as free (1pet2) - which is easy to say for us!

i'm still trying to think through what a democratic system has to do with Christianity. perhaps you could shed some light drew?

11:05 pm  
Blogger Hayley said...

I, Hayley Neal, am a democrat [believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they're not true. . . . I find that they're not true without looking further than myself. I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

3:40 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

thanks hayley. i think the reason i've always identified as a lefty commie is flawed. there is, and never will be, utopia on this earth.
communism, and this is a gross generalisation, maintains that when we get rid of greed, communism will be what will work.

my economist friend agrees with Churchill, who said, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried before."

i think i'm slowly coming around. (don't tell anyone!)

5:14 pm  
Blogger Hayley said...

PS Uncle CS Lewis had words in my ear as I wrote that first comment...

6:14 pm  
Blogger Georgina said...

Hi Doug,
I found your blog through Elsie.

I think what you're arguing here is a different argument to staying in the position to which we were when Christ called us. For the slaves already under slavery in the US, then they are called as Christians, to gain their freedom if possible, and if not to remain as they were, under slavery.

The argument of whether slavery was appropriate or not I believe can be argued from other Christian principles: how can one person basically kidnap another? Certainly Joseph's brothers were not commended for doing so. To take advantage of another is fundamentally against such principles as Titus 3: to be peaceable, considerate and do good to others. How could locking someone up for months on end in a hull of a ship and transporting them to the other side of the world and then enslaving them for your greed (greed is not good) and profit be biblical and Christian? Of course, I know you agree with me, but just this is a "different" argument.

PS I have a blog!

11:47 am  
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