Responses to the assertion that the Bible condones slavery
Frequently, atheists and agnostics point to the Bibles support of slavery as a reason not to believe in God. In this article, we’re offered “Quick Shot” responses to the objection, Quick Shot: “The Bible condones slavery.”
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
Response #1: “What do you mean by ‘slavery’? Are you referring to the kind of ‘new world’ slavery that is part of our history as Americans? That form of slavery was very different than the ‘ancient near-eastern’ servitude described in the Bible. Slaves in America were taken so that their masters would benefit economically, but biblical ‘slavery’ was often focused on the economic relief of the servant. American slaves were taken into captivity against their will, but in biblical times, the path into ‘slavery’ was varied and, in many cases, voluntary. American slaves were often treated as property, but biblical ‘slaves’ were treated as humans and protected by biblical law. American slaves had little recourse if they wanted to be free of their master, but biblical ‘slaves’ were offered severalpaths to freedom. Have you considered the fact that the servitude described in the Bible is nothing like the slavery you might have in mind?”
Response #2: “The slavery described in the Bible is nothing like the kind of slavery known to the modern world. In most cases it was far closer to ‘indentured servitude,’ and involved people who were either accused of a crime or were working to pay off a debt. Despite this reality, many modern-era Christians misinterpreted biblical descriptions of ‘slavery’ to advance their own selfish subjugation of American and European slaves. This doesn’t mean they were properly interpreting what the Bible says about slaves, however. In fact, the abolition movement in America and abroad was formed (and eventually implemented) by Christians like William Wilberforce, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley and the entire Quaker movement. They cited the authority of the Bible when arguing against American and European slavery. How could such a movement refer to the Bible to make its case if the Bible condones slavery?”
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