This is part 2 of our discussion of whether the Bible advocates slavery. You can listen to part one here.

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Main Points Covered:

  • Recap of the Women in Apologetics Conference from January 2020 at Biola University
    • LiveStream recording is still available to purchase here.
  • Review of our previous podcast on this topic. We are going back to Dr. John Ferrer’s talk at the Bible and Beer Consortium titled, “Does the Bible Advocate Slavery?”
    • Dawkins begins and ends Chapter Six of his book, Outgrowing God, with the topic of slavery. Even though this issue may not come up in conversation all that often, as Christians, we should still be able to talk about it and have some understanding of it.
    • History in context is king.
    • The word slavery has a lot of baggage connected to it.
  • Continuation of John’s discussion. [Hillary and Amy will interject.]
    • Christian case for slavery
      • Christian teachers have advocated for slavery in the past
      • Christians have practiced slavery
      • Christianity has coexisted in slaving societies
      • Several biblical passages presume slavery
      • Robert Spencer, “Slavery, Christianity, and Islam,” February 4, 2008, First Things
    • General Negative case Against Slavery
      • Christians have an orthodoxy, and if things fall out of that, then we can claim that is not ours to claim. Not a true Scotsman because he’s not from Scotland.
      • “Christ, not Christians, define Christianity.”
      • Christianity makes no claims that its members are perfect.
    • Difference between Christians doing something evil versus them doing something evil that was legitimately justified by the Christian worldview
    • Not everything in Scripture is promoted
    • Scripture has negative examples
      • Look at it in context
    • Not everything for them (in their theocratic state) is for us.
    • Biblical interpretation demands application only along comparable lines.
    • Last challenge in the negative case is “Let’s see you do better.”
      • Examples of pro-slavery text in Scripture
      • What would you do to help people in that context overcome slavery and accomplish abolition
      • Remember, this is a first-century context. They don’t have abolition within reach when you read about examples of slavery in Scripture. Rome would have to be overthrown before there would be wavering as to whether slavery would be a cultural institution.
        • Volunteer slavery was a person selling the rights to themselves in a negotiated contract to pay off something.
        • Liberation occurred in three ways:
          • Redemption
          • Manumission
          • Cancellation of debt (e.g. Year of Jubilee)
          • (Potential #4) Escape/revolt (not typically an option)
    • If we are talking with our kids about this, what should we say?
      • Recognize that there is a difference in language
      • Look at context and history.
    • Closing Prayer

The Takeaways:

  • The question is, “Does the Bible advocate for the type of slavery that we choose in our heads?”
  • We should present both sides to give a fair and balanced assessment.
  • Slavery was often a voluntary act.
  • Teach your kids about language, context, and history, so that they can read the Bible according to its proper terms.

Unfamiliar Vocab:

  • No True Scotsman Fallacy
  • Casuistic law
  • Apodictic law
  • Objectivist
  • Relativist
  • Conventional ethics
  • Anachronistic fallacy
  • Manumission

Quotable Quotes:

History in context is king. Click To Tweet If you really want to interact with an idea, you need to see what evidence the other side is presenting, understand their argument, and present it the way they would. Click To Tweet Christ, not Christians, defines Christianity. Click To Tweet If the Bible was put in song form, it would not sound like Christian radio. Click To Tweet

Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins, Amazon

Does the Bible Advocate Slavery? John Ferrer, YouTube

Robert Spencer, “Slavery, Christianity, and Islam,” February 4, 2008, First Things

Mama Bear Apologetics, “Can Atheists be Good Without God?” podcasts

Dr. John Ferrer – “Nature is a Jerk: a Critique of Naturalist Ethics,” YouTube

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies, Amazon

Raymond Westbrook, “Slave and Master in Ancient Near Eastern Law,” June 1995, Chicago-Kent Law Review, vol. 70, issue 4, article 12.

Roman Diary by Richard Platt

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture

Bible Passages Mentioned:

  • Ephesians 6:5
  • 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Leviticus 22 and 25
  • Titus 2:9-10
  • 2 Samuel 11:2-4
  • Matthew 26:15

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