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The Bible And Social Justice


GeorgeW
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I would like to share a recent experience and hypothesis with those interested.

 

Whenever we visit Atlanta and are able, we attend a Sunday service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King’s home church. We attended most recently the day after Christmas. First, I would highly recommend this to anyone who visits Atlanta and enjoys great music and sermons with substance and style.

 

The sermons always revolve around a Bible reading and every time we have been there, the pastor found in it a message of liberation and social justice. Sometimes the interpretation is subtle, but never strained. The Christmas sermon focused on the person of Mary. In Mary, he found a “poor girl from projects.” He talked about how God had selected this poor, uneducated girl – not a member of the Jewish elite – for that important mission. This is an insight that this old white man had never noticed.

 

The fact that the pastor always seems capable of finding a message of social justice and liberation in any given passage without reaching suggests to me that this must be the overriding theme of the Bible. This is a message that we in the dominant racial group can easily overlook.

 

As to my hypothesis: From time to time I have wondered why African-Americans had embraced Christianity, the religion of their oppressor. Maybe the answer is that the dominant theme of the Bible is one of social justice and liberation and this message would be embraced by those who have been denied justice. Anytime I encounter Amos 5:24, I hear the voice of Pastor M.L. King.

 

George

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(snip)

 

As to my hypothesis: From time to time I have wondered why African-Americans had embraced Christianity, the religion of their oppressor. Maybe the answer is that the dominant theme of the Bible is one of social justice and liberation and this message would be embraced by those who have been denied justice. Anytime I encounter Amos 5:24, I hear the voice of Pastor M.L. King.

 

George

 

George,

 

Caveat: I have no authority. I am a scientist. My interest in religion runs deep. My religiosity runs shallow. However, I read extensively and it may be my reading content forming my bias.

 

My readings indicate the oppressed had nothing to look forward to. The slaves (rarely mentioned during these times, but, were quite numerous) and the poor grasped the salvation preached by Jesus. Bart Ehrman writes Jesus and his disciples literally believed a new kingdom was on the horizon. He or we and others could argue forever if Jesus believed in a coming spiritual or physical kingdom. The New Testament has contradictions. No doubt Paul captured (I like the word hijacked) this coming kingdom idea to convert the oppressed. He gave up on the Hebrews and had to go to the gentiles. You and I can probably agree about his first contacts. They were probably the rich, at least thats what Acts indicates. My theory is he went for the rich, Aquila and Priscilla (?). After developing his base they then sold it to those who had nothing to look forward to. Martyrdom fits into the idea in that death (or anything) could be better than life they endured. And the idea of Heaven being the ultimate release, objective, motive became a dominant idea.

 

Then the hierarchy developed with the base being the have-nots (a Bush term)( :>) ). The base developed so fast and so powerful even Roman Emporers couldn't contain it and eventually Constantine and Theodosius cowed to Christianity for political reasons. Constantine's mother, Josephine, may have truly been a believer. No writings indicate anything other. However, I would be interested in the motives of building Churches, spreading pieces of the "True Cross." Somewhere I read not to question the motives but look to the results. I question the motives of the mother of an Emporer from reading about relatives of most Roman Emporers. ~smile~

 

Understand, as you know, I am not critical of the striving for Heaven, salvation, a more perfect union ~smile~ and a wonderful life. We all have to have faith things will be better, we will be more powerful, we will have more money, or whatever. Our motives are what define us. We have to strive for something. In my estimation this is what sold Christianity. It gave the "project people" hope. They had no hope of having anything other than a better life after death. If I'm correct Christianity is one of the few other than some early Egyptian pieties that gives a good life after death. And again, was it Jesus' idea, or was it developed right prior to the fall of the Temple? Didn't Paul do his epistles some time in the 40-50s? Weren't the Gospels written anywhere from 65-120 depending on authority or Gospel?

 

 

Constantine's Sword, AD 381, Jesus Dynasty, When Jesus Became Christ, James, Brother of Jeuss and many other books are good sources. James Tabor has one coming soon called The Two Christianities. It is on pre-order at this time.

 

I am aware there are a couple things you and I can discuss and as you know we have in the past. I am interested if we can further this discussion with our "new friends." So far most what I've read on this forum is much over my head into the spirituality area. The history, I love.

 

Much respect,

Ron

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Ron, Wow! A nice historical summary. (Note to others: Ron and I are interested in religious history and I hope some of the older members of this forum are as well.)

 

Yes, the promise of a better life (after death) would likely have been a contributing factor to African slaves adopting Christianity.

 

However, at this stage of the game, Christianity was not the only game in town offering this incentive. This idea had been part of Judaism since the second-temple period. And, Islam -- with the prospect as well -- was around at this time. I have read that some slaves brought Islam with them. But, I think it was quite limited. So, the major monotheistic religion presented to the African slaves would have been Christianity. However, there is no reason that they could not have incorporated that particular idea into whatever religious ideas they brought with them.

 

George

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(snip)

However, at this stage of the game, Christianity was not the only game in town offering this incentive. This idea had been part of Judaism since the second-temple period. And, Islam -- with the prospect as well -- was around at this time. I have read that some slaves brought Islam with them. But, I think it was quite limited. So, the major monotheistic religion presented to the African slaves would have been Christianity. However, there is no reason that they could not have incorporated that particular idea into whatever religious ideas they brought with them.

 

George

 

George,

 

Good point. After previewing my previous post I saw your question was why African-Americans accepted Christianity predominately. But, I thought what the hey, I put effort in, I'll post it.

 

Back on topic. How wide spread was Islam in the 16th to 19th century? Was it as fast growing as Christianity? At the time of Colonization and slave trade Islam was approximately 900 to 1000 years old. Were there Islamic masters at the time? Were the slaves forced to practice Christianity? Christianity was 1500 to 1600 years old. Christianity had matured at this time and was the religion brought here by the colonizers. Had Islam matured and were there Islamic masters and land owners?

 

Back off topic. The Black Gospel music has an identity of its own, right? If so, is it a conflation of something they brought (a more basic theology)and Christianity of the masters? Or did they just adapt their rhythm and music to Christianity?

 

Great topic. Hopefully it can generate some interest.

 

Respectfully,

Ron

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Ron,

 

"How wide spread was Islam in the 16th to 19th century? Was it as fast growing as Christianity?"

 

It was not widespread in the American colonies. It was fast growing, probably faster than Christianity at that time in other parts of the world. So, maybe it was not a good candidate for adoption among slaves of West-African origin (the vast majority).

 

 

Were the slaves forced to practice Christianity?

 

Good question. I don't know. I read a good book on the history of slavery in America several years ago and I don't recall this particular topic being addressed. However, if "forced" by the slave masters, I am not sure it would have stuck when it later became voluntary.

 

 

The Black Gospel music has an identity of its own, right? If so, is it a conflation of something they brought (a more basic theology)and Christianity of the masters?

 

Even though I enjoy music, I know next to nothing about it. So, I will refrain from commenting.

 

Shalom,

 

George

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On Christianity and social justice, take a look at The Faith that Does Justice, John C. Haughey, ed., New York: Paulist Press, 1977. Also consider the work of the Levellers and Diggers in mid-17th century England, and the Quakers from about that time on. Then there are the Christian Socialists of mid 19th century England and the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the US. More recently there is Liberation Theology in Latin America as praxis and Germany and the US as theological investigation.

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<snip>

 

Were the slaves forced to practice Christianity?

 

Good question. I don't know. I read a good book on the history of slavery in America several years ago and I don't recall this particular topic being addressed. However, if "forced" by the slave masters, I am not sure it would have stuck when it later became voluntary.

 

<snip>

 

Shalom,

 

George

George,

 

The following doesn't get us any closer to why Christianity is the dominant religion of African-Americans, but, I thought it might be interesting and further the conversation.

 

"Beginning in the 1740s, evangelical *revivals attracted increasing numbers of Blacks to Christianity, perhaps largely because they were permitted to assume active roles as preachers and leaders. The *Baptist and *Methodist Churches that resulted from the revivals licensed Black men to preach. By the 1770s Black Baptists were acting as pastors of separate Black congregations of slave and free members. In the South, Black Churches were restricted and sometimes suppressed because Whites suspected they might foment slave rebellion. In the 19th cent. slaves became familiar with at least the rudiments of Christianity. Some attended church with Whites or met separately under White supervision, but the majority had no access to formal church services. Slaves regularly held their own religious meetings, with or without their owners’ consent. In sermon and song they recounted biblical stories and identified themselves as a chosen people whom God would free as He had done Israel of old. The slaves generated a distinct religious culture, best expressed in the *spirituals (q.v.).

In the North, the abolition of slavery after the Revolution (1776–83) enabled Blacks to exercise religious freedom. Alienated by White discrimination, Blacks in Philadelphia founded two influential churches, Bethel African Methodist and St Thomas African Episcopal, both in 1794. Over the next decade, separate Black Churches of various denominations sprang up across the North. In 1816 the first major Black denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed and Richard Allen (1760–1831), a former slave, elected as its bishop. As the one institution under Black control, the Church served to organize the socio-political, as well as the religious, life of free Black communities. It became the primary forum for promoting the causes of education, self-help, and anti-slavery. When, for example, delegates to the first National Negro Convention gathered in 1830 to try to improve conditions for Blacks, they met in Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia, with Bp. Allen presiding. Black leaders in abolition, temperance, and moral reform movements were mainly ministers."

 

Cross, F. L. ; Livingstone, Elizabeth A.: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. rev. Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005, S. 212

 

Elsewhere in the Bible, frequent and fervent references to the Exodus occur (e.g. Ps. 78:43–53, Is. 51:10, Mic. 6:4–5, Heb. 11:27–9). Indeed the deliverance has throughout Jewish history been regarded as the outstanding instance of God’s favour to His chosen people. Christian writers from NT times have used the imagery of the Passover in ch. 12 with reference to the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and mediately to the Christian sacrifice of the *Eucharist. In modern times, the Exodus has become an important symbol of liberation for many groups, from Black Christians in the United States of America to socalled *Liberation theologians of Latin America.

Cross, F. L. ; Livingstone, Elizabeth A.: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. rev. Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005, S. 591

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Ron,

 

Thanks for the information, it is interesting.

 

“Slaves regularly held their own religious meetings, with or without their owners’ consent. In sermon and song they recounted biblical stories and identified themselves as a chosen people whom God would free as He had done Israel of old.”

 

“. . . the Exodus has become an important symbol of liberation for many groups, from Black Christians in the United States of America . . .”

 

It seems that the ‘liberation theology’ was easily found in the biblical texts. I think there must also be an underlying theme of social justice that resonates with the oppressed.

 

“Black control, the Church served to organize the socio-political, as well as the religious, life of free Black communities. It became the primary forum for promoting the causes of education, self-help, and anti-slavery.”

 

This is still a role that African-American churches play today. In this case, a strict separation of church and state would have been counterproductive. African-American civil rights leaders are often preachers (see MLK) and the church is the center political organization. Without the leadership and centrality of the church in the movement, civil rights would have, I think, been eventually obtained. However, it undoubtedly would have been much slower.

 

Shalom,

 

George

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Borg and Crossen would tell you that Jesus's message was one of social justice and very little else. Read "Heart of Christianity" by Markus Borg

 

steve

 

It is Liberation Theology that has lifted the lid on social issues employing Marxist ideas. Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino, Juan Luis Segundo are all examples of applying the theology is a Latin American social setting.

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I would like to share a recent experience and hypothesis with those interested.

 

Whenever we visit Atlanta and are able, we attend a Sunday service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King’s home church. We attended most recently the day after Christmas. First, I would highly recommend this to anyone who visits Atlanta and enjoys great music and sermons with substance and style.

 

The sermons always revolve around a Bible reading and every time we have been there, the pastor found in it a message of liberation and social justice. Sometimes the interpretation is subtle, but never strained. The Christmas sermon focused on the person of Mary. In Mary, he found a “poor girl from projects.” He talked about how God had selected this poor, uneducated girl – not a member of the Jewish elite – for that important mission. This is an insight that this old white man had never noticed.

 

The fact that the pastor always seems capable of finding a message of social justice and liberation in any given passage without reaching suggests to me that this must be the overriding theme of the Bible. This is a message that we in the dominant racial group can easily overlook.

 

As to my hypothesis: From time to time I have wondered why African-Americans had embraced Christianity, the religion of their oppressor. Maybe the answer is that the dominant theme of the Bible is one of social justice and liberation and this message would be embraced by those who have been denied justice. Anytime I encounter Amos 5:24, I hear the voice of Pastor M.L. King.

 

George

 

Hi George W,

You wondered why a people would capitulate to the demands and desires of their oppressors. IMO; To survive would be the most logical answer. Blacks in America weren't the first to use this ploy to survive, Native Americans and Whites did also.

If you can get your hands on them, there's a coupla books, I'd love to have you read; A History for the American People by Howard Zinn and Emmigrants In Chains by Peter Wilson Coldham. They will give you a different perspective than what you've been led to believe, as an example;the surpression any of information of the 1st Civil War that took place in 1774-79 or who the combatants were. Yes, Religion played a great role in that one too.

 

In regards to the State of Georgia, It would be beneficial if you could check why the Colony was established and who it was originally established for. Wikipedia will give you some of the history found in in the bios of Lord Oglethorp, who established the colony.

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Hi George W,

You wondered why a people would capitulate to the demands and desires of their oppressors. IMO; To survive would be the most logical answer. Blacks in America weren't the first to use this ploy to survive, Native Americans and Whites did also.

If you can get your hands on them, there's a coupla books, I'd love to have you read; A History for the American People by Howard Zinn and Emmigrants In Chains by Peter Wilson Coldham. They will give you a different perspective than what you've been led to believe, as an example;the surpression any of information of the 1st Civil War that took place in 1774-79 or who the combatants were. Yes, Religion played a great role in that one too.

 

In regards to the State of Georgia, It would be beneficial if you could check why the Colony was established and who it was originally established for. Wikipedia will give you some of the history found in in the bios of Lord Oglethorp, who established the colony.

 

Geo,

I forgot to mention that I gotr both of these books at Amazon.com. On Line is another reference that will expose you to the mindset of the Founders of the Christian Belief System embedded in the Papal Bull of Pope Nicolas the 5th, which morphed into the "Doctrine of Discovery", which I also think you'll find very interesting, in regards to the question you asked.

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Juanster,

 

Are you claiming that even after emancipation that African-Americans were compelled to embrace Christianity? After the civil-rights revolution? Today? Even those who might have been compelled to practice Christianity during the time of slavery would not, IMO, have embraced the message unless there was something appealing and relevant in it.

 

FWIW, Smedley, in her excellent book “Race in North America,” says (p. 212, 3rd Ed.), “There was considerable debate over the issue of converting and baptizing slaves [. . .] The strongest negative reactions to exposing slaves to religious teachings were found primarily in those states where the largest numbers of slaves were concentrated.”

 

Further, Smedley indicates (p. 212-3) that proselytizing activities were carried out by anti-slavery, Christian activists. Of course, this was the beginning of the abolitionist movement begun by Quakers.

 

So, Christianity was introduced to slaves primarily by anti-slavery Christians, not slave owning/advocating Christians.

 

George

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Juanster,

 

Are you claiming that even after emancipation that African-Americans were compelled to embrace Christianity? After the civil-rights revolution? Today? Even those who might have been compelled to practice Christianity during the time of slavery would not, IMO, have embraced the message unless there was something appealing and relevant in it.

 

FWIW, Smedley, in her excellent book “Race in North America,” says (p. 212, 3rd Ed.), “There was considerable debate over the issue of converting and baptizing slaves [. . .] The strongest negative reactions to exposing slaves to religious teachings were found primarily in those states where the largest numbers of slaves were concentrated.”

 

Further, Smedley indicates (p. 212-3) that proselytizing activities were carried out by anti-slavery, Christian activists. Of course, this was the beginning of the abolitionist movement begun by Quakers.

 

So, Christianity was introduced to slaves primarily by anti-slavery Christians, not slave owning/advocating Christians.

 

George

 

Hi George,

All that claim to be a practisioner of Christianity, accept that the Bible is the authentic Word of God.Jn.1:1. With that said, Christianity has embedded in it's doctrines specifics regarding slavery; who is to be enslaved, how they're to be treated, the length of time a person's enslavement is to last, ect, ect,etc. The conflict I see in what Smedley writes, is the labling of Abolisionists and Pro-Slavery owners as both being Bible believing Christians. If the Bible is believed to be the word of God by these two groups, can you recognize the conflict in what Smedley is writing? 1Tim.6:1-2, 1Pete.2:18,Ephe.6:5, are all N.T. instructional references regarding the biblical views about slavery Christians are to adhere to and obey.

 

You mention the Emancipation, but the seeds of Christianity were planted in the minds of the Enslaved at least 250 years prior to Lincoln's edict and what is witnessed after the Emancipation are the effects of Proselytization on the Progeny of the original Chattel Black's attempts at assimulation into a majority White society. It was either this, or suffer needlessly and possibly Die. Remember the lynching episodes for any Black suspected of not having their minds Right?

 

It appears that you're ignoring the history of the Whites who were enslaved and what they suffered. It's why I suggested Coldham's books. They explain why there was such a dire need for Free Labor in the Colonies and the method arrived at, to supply those Human Resources. The British Transpotation Act was devised for the sole purpose of ridding British Society of the dregs of it's populas by offer the option of indenture rather than hanging for the least infraction of British Parlementary Law. Oliver Cromwell, a most devout and religious person, had over 50,000 Irish,Scots, British convicted felons, Destitute Children, Political and Religious non-conformists, Vagabonds, Beggars and other undiserables from 1607 to 1776 as the source of the required Free Labor to exploit the resources of this New Land.

I mentioned Lord Oglethorp in my previous post; vHe was only one of many of the British elite to receive Royal Land Grants from the Crown, with the understanding that The King was to receive a portion of all minerals,gold and other resources discovered. Thus, you have now the reason for the vast amount of Human resources these Land Grant receiving Royal Elites required. None of which were equipped or trained to accomplish the scope of the endevour they'd envision.

 

Undergirding these ideas of Expansionism and visions of Grandure at the least cost, is the Papal Bull of Nicolas the5th and the "Doctrine of Discovery" the Bulls initiated.

As I said , Smedley didn't delve deep enough into this question of why The U.S. was in such a dire need for Free Labour. Who was to be the recipients of all that was produced?

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Juanster,

 

With that said, Christianity has embedded in it's doctrines specifics regarding slavery; who is to be enslaved, how they're to be treated, the length of time a person's enslavement is to last, ect, ect,etc."[/i]

 

Modern Christianity does not accept slavery as “its doctrines.”

 

Also, FWIW, Biblical slavery was qualitatively different from American slavery, not that either form should be condoned. But, they were very different.

 

 

“It appears that you're ignoring the history of the Whites who were enslaved and what they suffered

 

I assume you mean ‘enslaved’ metaphorically. There has not been systemic white slavery, in the literal sense of the word, for a long time. To mix in metaphors with the real slavery of Africans in the Americans, IMO, distorts the picture.

 

 

“Smedley didn't delve deep enough into this question of why The U.S. was in such a dire need for Free Labour.”

 

How can you make such a statement when it is obvious that you have not read the book? My one citation from her book does not represent the sum total of what she wrote. She wrote a history of racism and slavery in America.

 

But yes, she does delve deeply into the economic factors underlying slavery in America.

 

George

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Hi George,

All that claim to be a practisioner of Christianity, accept that the Bible is the authentic Word of God.Jn.1:1. With that said, Christianity has embedded in it's doctrines specifics regarding slavery; who is to be enslaved, how they're to be treated, the length of time a person's enslavement is to last, ect, ect,etc. The conflict I see in what Smedley writes, is the labling of Abolisionists and Pro-Slavery owners as both being Bible believing Christians. If the Bible is believed to be the word of God by these two groups, can you recognize the conflict in what Smedley is writing? 1Tim.6:1-2, 1Pete.2:18,Ephe.6:5, are all N.T. instructional references regarding the biblical views about slavery Christians are to adhere to and obey.

(snip)

 

 

Hi Juanster,

 

Just to offer my own precautionary view here.... Though you quote John, in my view it may certainly not be true especially among progressive Christians that "all that claim to be practitioners of Christianity, accept that the Bible is the authentic Word of God" It seems to me that there were practicing Christians long before the present Bible was ever adopted by the church system. IMO, the The book of Acts even bears this out) It may be a requirement to accept it as authentic by some established church systems but seems to me it is indeed not a requirement of TCPC or this forum as one can discern from the 8 points to be called a practicing Christian. (also note guidelines in debate section)

 

In my opinion it is best not to even debate such a point as this. In the past this has proven to be an inflamatory issue where all are allowed their opinions but to state that someone that has a different view of the point you make, makes them a "non practicing Christian" typically leads to personal attacks. It seems to me, this is a view or opinion probably best kept to oneself.

 

Respectfully,

Joseph

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Hi Juanster,

 

In my opinion it is best not to even debate such a point as this. In the past this has proven to be an inflamatory issue where all are allowed their opinions but to state that someone that has a different view of the point you make, makes them a "non practicing Christian" typically leads to personal attacks. It seems to me, this is a view or opinion probably best kept to oneself.

 

Respectfully,

Joseph

 

Joseph,

 

Juanster's reply was directed to me and I did not take it personal or insulting in any way.

 

George

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Joseph,

 

Juanster's reply was directed to me and I did not take it personal or insulting in any way.

 

George

Thanks George, I realized that but it is a public post read by all and statements such as that are best kept to oneself or at least stated specifically as an opinion rather than a statement of fact. Note debate guidelines are specific concerning words about what beliefs constitutes a Christian or not. It neither seems to edify others who may see things differently nor does it seem to provide a positive atmosphere where others can make a determination for them-self. We have no spokesman here or dogma or creed other than the 8 points in principle for Christianity per se, only members speaking for themselves and sharing their personal views, stories and opinions. Enough said on my part.

Joseph

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Fundamentalism - it is not a choice; they are born that way. :o

 

Political views 'hard-wired' into your brain Tories may be born not made, claims a study that suggests people with right wing views ... have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

 

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent

5:00PM GMT 28 Dec 2010

 

 

as is liberalism - :lol:

 

Researchers have determined that genetics could matter when it comes to some adults' political leanings. According to scientists at UC San Diego and Harvard University, "ideology is affected not just by social factors, but also by a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4." That and how many friends you had during high school.

 

Scientists Find 'Liberal Gene' Study conducted by researchers at UCSD, Harvard By ERIC S. PAGE

Updated 6:28 AM PST, Thu, Oct 28, 2010

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Juanster,

 

With that said, Christianity has embedded in it's doctrines specifics regarding slavery; who is to be enslaved, how they're to be treated, the length of time a person's enslavement is to last, ect, ect,etc."[/i]

 

Modern Christianity does not accept slavery as “its doctrines.”

 

Also, FWIW, Biblical slavery was qualitatively different from American slavery, not that either form should be condoned. But, they were very different.

 

 

“It appears that you're ignoring the history of the Whites who were enslaved and what they suffered

 

"I assume you mean ‘enslaved’ metaphorically. There has not been systemic white slavery, in the literal sense of the word, for a long time. To mix in metaphors with the real slavery of Africans in the Americans, IMO, distorts the picture."

“Smedley didn't delve deep enough into this question of why The U.S. was in such a dire need for Free Labour.”

 

How can you make such a statement when it is obvious that you have not read the book? My one citation from her book does not represent the sum total of what she wrote. She wrote a history of racism and slavery in America.

 

But yes, she does delve deeply into the economic factors underlying slavery in America.

 

George

 

No Geo.

I did not mean metophorically but literally, and this is why I can make such a statement; Whites were enslaved, long before Blacks were and suffered far worse, to wit: "Original data: Coldham, Peter Wilson. Bonded Passengers to America. Volume I: History of Transportation 1615-1775. Volume II: Middlesex: 1617-1775. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983.

 

 

About Bonded Passengers to America (Volumes I and II) 1615-1775 & 1617-1775

Volume I: History of Transportation

 

"The transportation of convicted felson to remote and inhospital frontier areas to expiate their offences by unremitting hard labour is a practice at least as old as the Roman Empire. Few colonizing powers, however, can have relied as heavilyi and consistently on the wholesale deportation of their prison population as did England throughout two and a half centuries of imperial expansion. By the time America made her Declaration of Independence in 1776, the prisons of England had disgorged over 40,000 of their inmates to her colonies, there, most of them to survive and populate the land of their exile. Often, within the space of their own lifetime, they achieved freedom and respectability, though many remained tied to a form of serfdom which made them little different from bonded slaves. The standard history books have little or nothing to tell us about this great wave of dispossessed human kind or of their significant part in the development of colonial America. Those who were transported for their petty economic crimes were largely illiterate and have left us few records of their sufferings and later achievements; while those who transported them chose to ply their trade well away from the public stage, where few questions were asked of them. The transportation agents performed a useful service. How, and with what results in terms of human misery and degradation, were matters of small public interest. When William Wilberforce and the reformers go to work to bring to notice the atrocities of the traffic in black slaves, the almost equally appalling activiites of the white slave traders were fading from memory - and the more closely regulated transportation schemes to Australia had yet to begin.Taken from: Peter Wilson Coldham, Introduction to Volume I: History of Transportation, 1615-1775, (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983), 3-4.

 

Volume II: Middlesex

 

The County of Middlesex, which enclosed the City of London to the north of the Thames River, was one of the smallest in England, having an area of barely 200 square miles, but for centuries it was the most densley populated county in the Kingdom. over the space of 150 years, Middlesex provided some 15,000 labourers for the American colonies by "due process of law" in the shape of convicted felons who were bonded by the Courts as plantation servants for periods ranging from seven years to life. An official estimate made inthe late 18th century was that one in three of all felons in England was convicted in Middlesex. The English Courts between them may safely be reckoned as having been responsible from 1615 to 1775 for the provision of some 50,000 plantation servants who thus formed by far the largest identifiable class of colonial settlers throughout the period of British rule in the Americas. No other reason is necessary to justify an attempt to identify these pioneers, beginning with this comprehensive listing of Middlesex prisoners sentenced to transportation throughout the period in which this odious traffic was conducted.

 

The list of which this volume is made up is arranged and intended as a key to sources from which further information may be obtained: it is not in itself a comprehensive statement.

 

Taken from: Peter Wilson Coldham, Introduction to Volume II: Middlesex: 1617-1775, (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983), xi.

 

 

This my friend, is the documented history of the human resources aka Chattel Class, mentioned and counted in the Constitution as 3/5 of a human, and their reason for being here in America as Free Labour. The Diggers, The Irish, The Scots, and any other undesireables viewed as the dregs of British society were Transported to the Colonies at the behest of British Courts and in many cases worked to death, because members this Class could be replaced so cheaply.

A Caveat supporting the Denial of this history is found in the Gettysburg Address: Of the People, For the People, By the People. The Chattel Classes were not included, nor were they ever considered as the Posterity of the Founders and authors of The Law of The Land. Yet, how many today exist under the assumption that WE THE PEOPLE in the Constitution are the Posterity the Founders were devising the Constitution to protect?

 

I believe you named this discussion "The Bible and Social Justice"? I ask Social Justice for who? Certainly not for the Chattel Classes or the Huddle Masses.

The latest news is that a governor of one of the So. States made the proclaimation that "If you Don't Believe as I do , You are not My Brother or Sister! This the mindset needed to perpetuate the Doctrine of Discovery. I suggest that you read that document before accepting any thesis on Slavery as practised in the Empire the Sun never sets on, that We've inherited.

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Juanster,

 

You make no distinction between indentured servants and slaves. But, there was a huge difference: White indentured servants were not property owned by another person. White indentured servants were considered fully human, not subhuman like black slaves (3/5 according to the Constitution). American slavery was supported by a worldview that considered black people to be less than fully human.

 

You ask, "I believe you named this discussion "The Bible and Social Justice"? I ask Social Justice for who?"

 

In reading the Prophets and the New Testament, I can't think of any distinction that was made. Yes, slavery was practiced in those times. But, it was significantly different from the race-based slavery of America. Among other things, Old-world were generally captives from war (in which the alternative was to kill or enslave). American slaves were strictly or African origin and captured or procured exclusively for the purpose of perpetual servitude.

 

FWIW, I did a word count of the word 'justice' in the Bible (RVS) and found 160 hits. Whenever I think of justice, I think of Amos 5:24, "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." And, when I think of it, I can hear Martin Luther King's voice. This message resonated with him.

 

George

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I remember those articles :)

 

How do you see them relating to the thread at hand?

 

I make odd associations. And if one's life style is a result of birth and not choice :) then perhaps a little humility is appropriate.

 

Many who are not Conservative or Fundamentalist are being painted with a broad, pejorative, and categorical brush.

 

All that claim to be a practisioner of Christianity, accept that the Bible is the authentic Word of God.Jn.1:1. With that said, Christianity has embedded in it's doctrines specifics regarding slavery; who is to be enslaved, how they're to be treated, the length of time a person's enslavement is to last, ect, ect,etc. The conflict I see in what Smedley writes, is the labling of Abolisionists and Pro-Slavery owners as both being Bible believing Christians. If the Bible is believed to be the word of God by these two groups, can you recognize the conflict in what Smedley is writing? 1Tim.6:1-2, 1Pete.2:18,Ephe.6:5, are all N.T. instructional references regarding the biblical views about slavery Christians are to adhere to and obey.

 

and

 

A Caveat supporting the Denial of this history is found in the Gettysburg Address: Of the People, For the People, By the People. The Chattel Classes were not included, nor were they ever considered as the Posterity of the Founders and authors of The Law of The Land. Yet, how many today exist under the assumption that WE THE PEOPLE in the Constitution are the Posterity the Founders were devising the Constitution to protect?

 

This seems to me, to be a brittle literal interpretation which does not recognize continuing revelation of both the Constitution and the Bible, for which there is evidence within the Bible itself. In Leviticus 21 eunuchs are considered defective but in Isaiah 56 eunuchs are welcomed by God as equal replacements for those Hebrews who have fallen away from the faith. Just because the word "chattel" it is not in the Gettysburg address, does not mean it was not in Lincoln's intent; his anti-slavery views had become deeply held. The source for "Of the People, For the People, By the People" is an abolitionist minister, Theodore Parker. A secretary of Lincoln's wrote:

 

I brought with me additional sermons and lectures of Theodore Parker, [abolitionist minister] who was warm in his commendation of Lincoln. One of these was a lecture on 'The Effect of Slavery on the American People'...which I gave to Lincoln, who read and returned it. He liked especially the following expression, which he marked with a pencil, and which he in substance afterwards used in his Gettysburg Address: 'Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people.'[35]Wikepedia

 

A further indication Lincoln's intent is found in his 2nd inaugural speech

 

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came

 

Lincoln felt that the Civil War punishment by God to BOTH sides because they could not work out the problem of eliminating slavery any other way.

 

 

Maybe that is the way it is

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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