11/27/08

Positive Atheism - Cliff Walker : Weak Bible Week Poster, part 5 of 7

This is part five of a seven part essay which is a critique of Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker’s attempts to criticize the Bible in the form of his “National Bible Week Poster.”[1]
To read/Or not to read


Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Quotes to Note
Part 3: Women: Property, Silence, Rape and Booty
Part 4: Children: Beatings, Stubbornness, Mockers and Sacrifice
Part 5: Slavery: Spurns and Property
Part 6: Uncut & Unsubtle: Bikinis, Sweetness, Magic and No Comment
Part 7: Jesus Christ: Peace and Stupidity and In Conclusion

Slavery: Spurns and Property:
The next section is entitled “Slavery Endorsed” and subtitled “Those who disagree spurned” (1st Timothy 6:1-5). Cliff Walker does not take into consideration that slavery in the Old and New Testament sense does not refer to Alex Haley’s “Roots” style Kunta Kinte abusing masters. Much of the “slavery” of those times may be better termed “servitude.” If one where to argue that this form of “slavery” was to be denounced outright it would be tantamount to arguing thusly in our day and age, “People should be free of the debt which they incurred. You lent to them but they should not pay you back.” In Greek this slavery/servitude is referred to as “doulos.”
The details of this issue are well drawn out and discussed in various fine essays such as:
“Defending the Bible’s Position on Slavery”
As well as, “...Does God condone slavery in the Bible?” in two parts:
“Intro and OT discussion”
“The issue of ‘slavery’ in the NT/Apostolic world (esp. Paul)”


Moreover, the apostles refer to themselves as slaves/servants. They too were doulos, which denotes willingness, by their own choice:
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion, greeting” (James 1:1).
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of our God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2nd Peter 1:1).
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to the ones called in God the Father, having been set apart, and having been kept by Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1).

Paul elucidated the matter thusly,
“For though I am free from all, yet I have made myself servant to all, so that I might gain the more” (1st Corinthians 9:19).

We further learn the ultimate example of willing servitude, doulos slavery:
“For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant [doulos], and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Next we consider “How to mark your property” (Deuteronomy 15:17), “…thou shalt take an [awl], and thrust it through his ear..., and he shall be thy servant for ever.” Fascinating, when we consider that nowadays people thrust awls through their ears just for fun, or fashion. This was simply a historical/cultural norm which signified the servant’s choice to remain a servant because he was that pleased with his “master.”
Deuteronomy 15:12-17 states:
“If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the LORD your God has blessed you with, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today. And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.”

In fact, if a “slave owner” so much as knocked one single tooth from his “slave’s” mouth they were to free them immediately with provisions with which to begin a new life (Exodus 21:27).

It is extremely difficult to remove ourselves from our modern, first-world country, a Starbucks on every corner, world and even attempt to imagine life in ancient times. This is particularly difficult for those who do not even make themselves aware that such an exercise in determining historical/cultural context is necessary but merely seek to read ancient documents as if they are hot off the modern press.

[1] ©1999 by Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker, National Bible Week Poster

1 comment:

  1. I thought the "awl" reference was particularly absurd. If you want to complain about slavery and the Bible, that's a pretty stupid way to do it.

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