Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

Right on Memory Lane, Left on Electric Avenue

with 5 comments

‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.’  ~ Leviticus 25:44  

‘It is wanton and violent that they do not want to be bondmen. They are citing Scripture, that Christ has freed them. This pertains to spiritual freedom: that we are assured that through Him our sins have been forgiven without our own doing, and that henceforth we may look to God’s blessings, that we may beseech Him and be hopeful; that Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on those who believe in Him so that they may oppose Satan and not fall under his power like the godless whose hearts he has in his power. He forces them to commit murder, adultery, etc. Therefore, Christian freedom is of the heart, it cannot be seen with the eye. Outwardly a Christian submits joyfully and patiently to all worldly and social order and makes personal use of it. He can be a bondman or a subject, he can avail himself of the Saxon or Roman law regarding the division of goods. These things do not, however, influence the faith, indeed, the Gospel demands that such worldly order be maintained for the sake of peace. Paulus writes in his letter to the Ephesians 6:5,6,7: ‘You slaves, obey your masters with fear and trembling, with a willing heart, as serving Christ, not merely with outward show of service to curry favor with men, but as slaves of Christ, do wholeheartedly the will of God.’ And in Colossians 3:22, he writes:’Slaves, give entire obedience to your earthly masters. . . Whoever does wrong, will receive what he has done wrong.’ Joseph too was a slave in Egypt for a long time, as well as many other saints. Therefore, the farmer’s demands have no basis, indeed, it seems necessary that these wild, insolent people as the Germans are, should have less freedom than they have now.’  ~ Philip Melanchthon 

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A few people have approached me regarding a few comments I posted over at Heather Ferguson’s blog regarding her discussion of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so I felt I should take the opportunity to clarify my comments and better explain my position. 

First, I want to state emphatically that I was not and am not angry with Heather; however, it appeared so to several folks, so I apologise to Heather and any others who I may have unnerved or offended.  I love all of you and it certainly wasn’t my intention to do so, but those of you who know me realise my propensity for doing such things.  (Bull, meet china shoppe.) 

I also would like to clarify my position regarding the discussion of Slavery so that I am not misunderstood and so that others may (if they wish) consider my position and, if they so desire, show me where they disagree.  (Disclaimer: I am not speaking here about Heather or others who posted on her blog; I am speaking generally regarding the debate at large.)

I am, as most know, an unabashed Confederophile and defender of my people .  My great-g-g-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Lee, was a trooper in the Arkansas Cavalry, fighting under General Sterling Price in his Missouri Campaign during the War for Southern Independence.  I feel that I owe it to his memory to defend him in his stead because, obviously, he is not here to defend himself.  (I pray that I live so that my descendents will feel that my reputation is worthy of such a defense, as well.)  He fought hard and endured great hardships during the War while fighting to protect home and hearth against the Yankee Hoard.  For this defense of my people, I have borne—and will continue to bear, I suspect—many attacks.  Therefore, though it is no excuse, you can imagine my hair trigger and instances of overreaction in this regard.  (Still, I pray that you will suffer me in that regard.)

That being said, the centrality of my argument is not whether Southerners (and Yankees, for that matter) practised Biblical slavery, per se.  The Reverend R. L. Dabney addressed that subject ably in what I consider the first and last word on the subject, ‘A Defence of Virginia and, Through Her, the South.’  Rather, my issue is with the reflexive reaction of folks—including Christians—who label slavery as an institution as immoral and sinful, absent any such evidence from Scripture to buttress such an argument.  Whether it be from cultural influences, a surrender to the Politically Correct Zeitgeist, or an appeal to the conscience of fallen men, if we as Christians continue to call evil what God does not, we are in danger of blemishing His reputation with the world and provide an opening for scoffers to accuse us—quite accurately—of being embarrassed by God’s Word and unwilling to stand or fall on its infallibility when it runs counter to worldly consensus or internal sensibilities.  What will be our standard for determining Right and Wrong—the World or the Word? 

I haven’t the time, space, nor inclination to rehash the particulars regarding Levitical Law and slavery.  Feel free to peruse the Decalogue to gain a broad picture of God’s institution of slavery and how He prescribed that it should be carried out by and among His people.  I am reluctant to do so, not only due to a lack of time, but also because the inevitable reaction to the argument is that it is ‘under the Old Covenant’ and we are now not under the Civil Law.  Fair enough.  But how then are we to understand the Gibeonites?  They were taken as slaves by Joshua to serve in the Temple of the Lord!  In fact, we find their descendants still in temple service more than 3 centuries later.  Would God, who was extremely discriminatory regarding who could enter (much less serve in) the inner parts of the Temple, allow slaves to handle the holy utensils, etc., if their service, yea their very presence, was sinful and immoral? 

And how are we to deal with the New Testament passages in which slavery is discussed? 

Paul writes the lion’s share on the topic in his epistles.  For example, he writes to Philemon regarding Onesimus, the former’s runaway slave, who Paul is sending back to him because he is Philemon’s rightful property.  In addition, Paul addresses the Christians at Ephesus and Colossus with the admonition that the slaves should obey their masters and that the masters treat their slaves well.  It is important to point out that he does not urge the slaves to escape their slavery (unless they can do so lawfully) nor does he command the masters to release their slaves.  (Peter demands the same as Paul regarding the slave/ master relationship.) 

The argument is often made that slavery was the custom in the Roman Empire at the time and, therefore, Paul had ‘no choice’ in the matter.  However, we are instructed to honour the king only as much as his laws do not conflict with those of God.  If slavery as an institution is sinful or immoral—according to God—then Paul is commanding slaves and masters to continue in a state of sin—would that not make him a liar?  It would be the same as commanding homosexuals—another prevalent and permissible act in the Roman Empire—to continue in their relationships so as not to upset the customs of the culture at large rather than to turn from a state of sin and repent unto life!  I am not an expert, but my understanding of the Apostle is that he was not timid nor afraid to stand up against sinful activity, regardless of the person(s) involved or the cost to himself for doing so. 

Suffice it to say, it is my love for the Word of God and His truth that I take a stand regarding this subject.  I am not seeking to be argumentative or combative; rather, I seek to defend God’s Word as I understand it (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.7).  To be sure, if I can be shown the error of my interpretation, I will be more than happy to turn about and admit my mistake.  Yet, my challenge requires that another point me to the Scripture passage(s) which clearly tell us that slavery writ large is inherently sinful.  Please know that I am not being defiant nor flippant; I encourage debate on the topic and would be glad to continue to discuss the subject with others.  However, I would add the caveat that I will not accept arguments based upon ‘I feel’ or ‘I think’, etc.  I must be shown my error from Scripture.  What the world thinks is irrelevant to me; I can only form a proper understanding by God’s statements on the issue.  Still, should I be proven wrong, rest assured I will post my mea culpa in this space. 

I hope this clarifies my position.  Again, I apologise for tossing such a rhetorical hand grenade into the friendly confines of La Vida de la Gringa.  Instead, here is the place to do so.   

Here I stand.

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To-day’s 1980’s Moment is brought to you via special request by the Gringa Loca herself, Heather Ferguson:  

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Ron Paul WINS ANOTHER straw poll!!

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I have found myself listening nearly incessantly at work to Disc 4 of the Crosby, Stills, & Nash (with the occasional Young thrown in) boxed set I got for Christ-mas a few years ago.  I reckon I am just in a phase, for it wasn’t but a couple of weeks ago that I was in a Merle Haggard spiral.  Anyway, I thought I would share.  Enjoy:

——————-

Who is to blame in one country?
Never can get to the one
Dealin’ in multiplication
And they still can’t feed everyone, oh no!
 
~ Eddie Grant, Electric Avenue  

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To-day’s social commentary brought to you by: War Made Easy.  

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Ending the war is easier than she thinks.     

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‘In general, the American churches have lacked the political independence, the discernment, and the courage even to understand and name what has gone wrong, let alone to resist it. A domesticated church has been employable as a servant of the state, even to the point of defending torture.’  

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And now the sequence of events in no particular order.’  ~ Dan Rather, former CBS television news anchor 

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Thanks, Corporate News   

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Written by ninepoundhammer

October 1, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. I’m having another one of those, “I can’t believe I used to like that song” moments. Whew!
    And so you got your self in trouble with a few people over Uncle Tom, eh? For the record, I never thought you were mad at me – I knew who you were mad at (Lincoln, Harriet,et al) and was amused that your button had been pushed on this issue, yet again. 🙂 I don’t accept your apology because none is necessary – so there. 🙂
    Thanks for the bast from the past. It’s out of my system. Now I’m off to link this post.

    Fergies

    October 2, 2007 at 7:41 am

  2. Matt,

    I am going to play devils advocate here.

    This problem touches on more our understanding of scripture then the particular issue (slavery). How do we reconcile commands given under the law with understanding given in the New Testament with our modern mindsets, all while committing to an inerrancy in Scripture?

    I don’t know if you are familiar with the concept of redemptive trajectory but it lays groundwork for a practical understanding of the ethics of Scripture. It specifically follows the issue of slavery so it seems applicable to the discussion. Its basic premise is that God has a very high ethical standard and is gradually pulling His people up to it. He starts with good and fair treatment of slaves under Levitical Law. The New Testament steps it up with asserting further respect for slaves and specific commands to slaves (they are no longer outsiders). RT connects these dots and sees an upward trend that is eventually abolition, the highest ethic in God’s eyes.

    Though I am still skeptical of RT, I respect it for trying to tackle the difficult issues. You raise a very good (hard) point here Matt. One that is normally brushed aside because we are too afraid of the implications. Biblically there is nothing wrong with the institution of slavery, just with people. My own position is one of not counting myself to be worthy to be a master. Also the position that American slavery has little in common with Old Testament slavery and even less in common with the ideal state of slavery.

    I also commend you on standing up for your ancestors. Though standing up for them doesn’t mean you have to dogmatically hold to their positions. I find the nature of family to be fighting for your brother even though you yourself know he was in the wrong (see Hector and Paris).

    Jacob

    October 2, 2007 at 12:58 pm

  3. Jacob, I certainly agree with you inasmuch as I would not want to have a slave nor be a slave. (And I am not calling for a reinstitution of it.) My overarching argument is that there is (or at least there was) an IDEAL slave/ master relationship established by God. It no more loses its validity and/ or authority because of abuses than does parenthood because a mother beats her child.

    Likewise, because man is fallen, we must have others (in varying degrees and offices) to restrain our passions and our sinful behaviour–governments, police, church discipline, parents, etc. Slavery at least had a purpose; whether that purpose is still required in certain times and places to-day is debatable. The MORALITY of the institution is more to what I speak, not the utility nor desirability of it to-day.

    Again, consensus and/ or the prevalence of opinion has no bearing on whether something is right or wrong. The arguments I hear most against slavery–as an institution, not as it may or may not have been practised–are emotionally based on cultural mores and pressures rather than God’s Word.

    The important issue is whether we are going to be embarrassed by God’s Word when it comes to what the World thinks of us. This goes for the submission of women to men, the obedience of children to parents, subjection of the Christian to the Session, etc.

    With all of that said (and it’s a mouthful!), I would not want disagreement on this particular topic to cause a rift between me and my Christian brothers and sisters. Though I think it has great implications, it is not an essential piece of doctrine that should cause division.

    As usual, Jacob, your thoughts are insightful and appreciated.

    ninepoundhammer

    October 2, 2007 at 1:14 pm

  4. so here is my take on slavery, i kind of agree with you, but I also skew off a bit.

    I do think that slavery is “ok”, but I don’t think it is best. It is one of those things that both parties have an obligation to each other in. As a master, they are duties and responsibilities to those under you. As a slave, there is a due to service and your master. Because above all, God is sovereign and to rebel against that situation, is to rebel against Him.

    That being said, just because it is allowed, does not mean that it is the best of all situations. Abuse is not acceptable, and the last vestiges we saw here in the US were that. there were some good owners, but over all the system was flawed. But with industrialization we saw the displacement of the slave force.

    I would also argue that modern employment is also a form of slavery. you have some mobility, but in essence you are bound to an employer because you can not fend for yourself. so for that security of a pay check, you owe your master respect and hard work.

    but to take it further, since the whole issue is really the sovereignty of God, I would argue that as Christians we have no cause to rebel. that means from our employers as well as our government. I would go so far as to say that a christian had no right to support the American Revolution, or the Southern Succession, both were revolts against God appointed rulers.

    Jackasic

    October 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm

  5. Brandon, I agree with you pretty much up until you mention the War for Southern Independence. Unlike during the Revolution–during which the Americans were under the authority of the King/ Parliament and were basically waging a war against taxation–the Confederate States were perfectly within their rights to leave the Union. The compact of States (the U.S. Constitution) was VOLUNTARY (see ratification documents and the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions). The States had the political–and moral–right to leave that voluntary compact at any time–and for any reason.

    Secession had never before been questioned as a right. In fact, the New England States threated THREE separate times to secede from the Union: over the purchase of the Mississippi, the annexation of Texas, and the War of 1812. Whether they were within their rights to do so was never in question; the Federal Government merely tried to persuade them not to do so (and not with force, unlike in 1861).

    The Yankees drew first blood; the Confederates were merely defending themselves–as they had every right to do.

    ninepoundhammer

    October 4, 2007 at 7:22 am


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