Slavery – The HOV Lane to Civil War
“Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it, is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.” Abraham Lincoln -Speech at Peoria, Illinois” (October 16, 1854)
The Bible has many references to slavery, which was a common practice throughout antiquity. The Bible itself has dozens of instructions on how masters should treat their slaves in both the Old and New Testaments; such as Colossians 4:1 “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”
Fast forward to our own young country, rushing to explode a few short years after our inception, as slavery was part of its very foundation. By the 19th century, both abolitionists and defenders of slavery often invoked the Bible in defense of their positions. Abolitionists used texts from both the Old and New Testaments to argue against slavery and against kidnapping or stealing men to own or sell them as slaves. Pro-slavery preachers would argue that slaves were “happy”, well cared for and used the Bible to justify this evil. Jefferson Davis, President Confederate States of America stated that “slavery was established by decree of Almighty God … it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation … it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in the nations of the highest proficiency in the arts”.
Aren’t you glad that we have grown out of the issues of slavery in the United States… and as Kingdom men aren’t we are above these issues…? Really…?
Racism today is anchored in hatred, insecurity, fear and ignorance, and it is connected to our history of slavery. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King still resonate “I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation, where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. King would mobilize over 250,000 Americans for a broad frontal nonviolent attack on every aspect of segregation and attracted nationwide attention across America. He led unprecedented solidarity marches in support of civil rights legislation. Yet still today we see the reality of racism, brutality, segregration and discrimination in America. Our Union, our institutions, and our own experiences and actions still fall short. The Joshua Commission’s core belief is that We are ALL created by God to bear His image.
Today’s Training: The closer you dig into the leaders of the past and our own national history, you quickly realize that (most of) these leaders were brilliant thinkers, writers, and lifelong learners; and appreciate why we should take great effort to learn from their examples.
One of those leaders was a 29-year-old lawyer named Charles Finney. In 1821, he wrestled with the concepts of salvation. One day, while meeting with a client, he uttered the following, “I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead His cause, and cannot plead yours.” Charles Finney went onto become an ordained presbyterian minister and a strident abolitionist. He is also long acclaimed as the spark to America’s second revival. Writing as the President of Oberlin College in 18 Aug 1852, Finney recorded this essay on slavery https://www.gospeltruth.net/1852OE/520818_guilt_ignorance.htm
Please find time to digest this essay (including his notes). His words ring true today on our own biases, and even our labels of conservative, liberal and that of Christian.