Here is an article where I refute an objection from an unbeliever who asserts that the bible was used to justify and perpetuate slavery as well as to controll masses, Initially I intended to refute this implied objection in his question together with other objections from unbelievers in a single post when it occured to me that they was so much to deal with within this objection, so I decided that it would better if I created a single post specifically to deal with this very common objection. Of course in the phrasing of the question the objection is not even stated, the unbeliever as is in many other cases has merely asserted, however obviously the objection is implied.
So here is the question from the unbeliever in brackets below:
[[ Have you read it? [ the bible ] Its a horrible boring book that was only used to control the masses. The slave masters and traders used the bible and the bible condones slavery and you follow it? ]]
Immidiately upon reading this question my reaction was: if some slave traders and slave owners made use of the bible to justify and perpetuate slavery does that make the bible horrible, boring and false, Does that make the Triune God non existent? Of course the unbeliever in this question does not explicitly assert that His assertion implies that the bible is false, but its clear as is always the case that when believers bring these kinds of questions, they do so because they want to use these statements to redicule and dismiss Christianity as false.
The unbeliever claims the bible is boring and horrible!
How does the unbeliever know that the bible is horrible, and what’s His definition of Horrible and what reason do I or any believer have to accept that definition as not merely based on opinion and not on fact. What rule and whose rule says that if a book is used to control the masses it becomes horrible? What does it even mean to control the masses?
The unbeliever asserts that the bible was only used for the sole purpose of controlling the masses.
By making the above assertion the unbeliever further implies that: he is transcendent and therefore knows that the bible has without exception everytime always been used for mass control. Of course the unbeliever is not transcendent, nor is any other human being, that being the case the unbeliever’s assertion is invalid.
And then the unbeliever asks ” and you follow it” I follow the Transcendent and Triune God who has revealed Himself in the bible, who is Himself the creator of the universe, originator of all propositions of scripture, the laws of logic, morality and the order in the universe. This Transcendent and Triune God is the originator of His word and all propositions therein by which when I read He uses the occassion to directly communicates His truth to me. So yes I follow the God of the bible.
Now the unbeliever brings up two issues pertaining slavery which we deal with in the rest of this article;
1. That the slave traders and Slave owners used the bible to justify and perpetuate slavery and 2. that the bible condones slavery. Now lets assess the first claim.
The Slave Masters & traders, He claims used the bible and he does not explain specifically how they made use of the bible, could it be they used its contents to justify slave trade and slave ownership or did they make use of the bible to subjugate the the slaves.
Either way the claim that the bible was used by slave masters is common and keeps coming up. Its almost always emotionally charged and rarely is it followed by a detailed explanation of what “to use the bible in slave trade” even means. The unbeliever’s approach in not explaining the phrase “The slave masters used the bible” may rest in the assumption on his part that everyone is aware of how exactly the TransAtlantic slave treaders and American slave owners used the bible.
Now the first question is, on what moral basis does the unbeliever consider slavery to be evil? He may argue that humans have built in kindness and goodness thus are surely aware of right and wrong torwads each other. How does the unbeliever know this? Can he know for sure that he has an incorporeal and nonmaterial mind in which goodness is inherent? How does he know?
If a believer said all men have an inbuilt knowledge of what is right and wrong, I would not have a problem with his statement for He could easily explain according to Romans 2:15 that God has written the law in the hearts of men. Of course the unbeliever having realised He cannot explain the source of the goodness and kindness within, will argue that it doesn’t matter how one knows slavery is wrong, well I could as well argue and say Slavery is right, why would that be wrong? He may say that Slavery is wrong because its illegal.
I could argue that Once upon a time slavery was actually legal in the United States of America and in many other places, but does the legality of something make it right? We can go back and forth and its clear the unbeliever cites his human nature, the law of the particular nation in which he resides in as a source of morals, but as we have already seen the laws of nations do change as citizens and rulers thereof may decide over time, some even believe to this day that slave trade and ownership of slaves in the context of the TransAtlantic slave and consequense thereof is a good thing. Why would those who support slavery be considerd to be immoral and wrong? and by whose standard can their view be considerd to be wrong? The unbeliever might again claim that those who support slavery are wrong are going the human nature, but he has no way of proving this yet as a believer I can easily understand that I must love my neigbour as I love myself because the bible says so. its clear that humans are not the utimate reference point, for by human standards apart from God, what maybe right today maybe wrong tomorow.
Prostitution was once considerd a crime in many countries accross the world however nowadays many have decriminalized prostitution.
The question is, why is prostitution wrong to some and right to some, Why are prostitutes in Country A arrested and jailed while Country B does not arrest prostitutes? Why is polygamy illegal in the United States, Israel but legal in Zimbabwe and Kenya?
Why is homosexuality considerd a crime in Russia and legal in Australia? Isnt it apparent the laws of the nations themselves cannot come up with an objective standard, for objective in human terms is subjective not objective.
Therefore its clear that the unbeliever has no objective moral basis for claiming that anything is wrong. Anything objective must come from that which transcends humanity itself, since finite minds cannot even formulate a uniform legal system and justify it as objective. That which transcends humanity is God and its God who is the creator and Law Giver! Thats not to say that the unbeliever will not disagree with the law written on His heart, of course living in rebellion the unbeliever will disagree that the source of the law is beyond him and many times will go against this law.
The unbeliever cannot even claim that slavery, abortion, adultery, prostitution, theft, fraud and lying are objectively wrong! because the myriad of human wordviews will soon contradict each other, Some worldviews justify lying and even murder under certain circumstances. Some justify adultery and prostitution.
Yet only the Biblical worldview is self evidently true and consistent, The bible is the revelation of a Trancendent Triune God who is Creator of all including morality and Its on the basis of the Bible that a coherent worldview can be formulated and its on this basis that I can objectively declare biblical slavery was right while American slavery and the TransAtlantic slave trade where very evil.
Unbelievers reject the fact that God created the world and most usually accept evolution as a correct explanation for the origin of human life.
However evolution cannot explain the origin of morals. The unbeliever by rejecting God must accept an explanation for the source of morals from the theory of evolution, humanism, naturalism or from all three or more, that nevertheless cannot explain the source of morals other than simply saying “humans are naturally kind”. If the unbeliever accepts evolution then the question is, If humans evolved out of tiny pieces of matter, the matter which had also come out from nothing, then humans are just heaps of matter.
As the theory of evolution asserts the animals best suited to the conditions of nature survive, how are good morals even necessary to help humans survive? I mean having slaves must mean more food can be produced for the slave owner in order to help Him survive, Therefore slavery has nothing or should having nothing to do with morality if the unbeliever accepts evolution since evolution must justify slavery on the basis that the enslavers are merely trying to survive and thus have enslaved other humans to accomplish this goal.
Evolution would not even account for the reason why its bad to enslave fellow humans. In fact slavery was largely out of racial predijuce based on the theory that Africans where less human and therefore found proper use as slaves.
The Unbeliever will assert that even if racism was key in the slave trader’s philosophy the bible too was used as basis for slavery because according to the believer the bible condones slavery.
This is despite the fact that while American slavery was way different from biblical slavery, Among othe differences are, In the bible the slave owner who murderd a slave was to be killed in turn, The slave was to enjoy sabbath rest, In the bible the slave was not to be chained and mistreated, This, the unbeliever will not even bother to look at, yet clearly this is way opposed to the brutual slavery of the U.S where the slave was by law mere property of the owner, property that the slave owner could treat and dispose of as he willed.
When the unbeliever asserts “but the bible condones slavery” we dont even have to open the bible to respond to his implied objection for two reasons. First of all the unbeliever has no moral grounds to assert that slavery is wrong, none at all in fact its the evolutionary worldview that has everything in common with slavery since by its survival of the fittest narrative slavery cannot be possibly wrong.
Even if He does not believe evolution is the correct explanation, there is no other worldview that he can turn to in order to expplain morality.
Secondly the unbeliever does not accept what the bible says anywhere, to Him we can not be possibly right, to him the bible is false and of course the unbeliever’s arguement that the bible is false refutes his claims that the bible condones slavery, here is why: If the bible is false then slavery actually never existed in the ancient Israel contrary to what the bible explains. In fact, it means Israel actually never existed contrary to what bible says, also it also means that the accounts pertaining slavery in the new testament are false.
Thus the unbeliever has no right to point to the bible and say “look they is slavery therein”, because having already asserted that the bible is false it follows that the false bible is unreliable and cannot be used as basis for extracting truth claims since its a false document. One might actually think that its impolite not to explain to the unbeliver what the bible has to say about slavery. This is not at all impolite, in fact its the correct way to deal with the beleiver.
Unbelievers no matter how corteous are pretentious at best, they live and speak in rebellion and are just as much in spite of your careful explanation bent on concluding that the bible is a lie. Unbelievers commonly say the bible is a lie and never accept any of what it says for instance about the age of the earth, the creation of humans by God, why would anyone think contary to what the bible says that unbelievers all of a sudden will accept that the bible is true and hence slavery accounts in the bible are true? See! You cannot have unbelievers accepting what they want out of the bible and rejecting what they dont want just so as to further their own rebellion and disbelief.
To accept certain parts of God’s revelation and reject other parts is illogical, The pressuposition of a Christian is that the Bible as a whole is the word of God and its true.
The Bible cannot be possibly true and false at the same time to us Christians, Rather its true in its entirety.
Since the bible is not true and false at the same time then the bible does not contradict the Law of Non Contradiction, which says that Something cannot be both true and false at the same time.
Yet since God Himself is Logic and Truth it follows that God’s word is TRUE and always TRUE. Well unbelievers and even some false believers may disagree about God aand and Logic but here is an explanation from W. Gary Crompton on the subject of God and Logic
“This is what the Bible teaches. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is a rational being, the “LORD God of truth” (Psalm 31:5). So much does the Bible speak of God as the God of logic, that in John 1:1 Jesus Christ is called the “Logic” of God: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God” (the English word “logic” is derived from the Greek word Logos used in this verse). John 1:1 emphasizes the rationality of God the Son. Logic is as eternal as God himself because “the Logos is God.” Christ, then, we are told in the Bible, is the logic (Logos) of God (John 1:1); He is Reason, Wisdom, and Truth incarnate (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:3; John 14:6). The laws of logic are not created by God or man; they are the way God thinks. And since the Scriptures are a part of the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:16), they are God‟s logical thoughts. The Bible expresses the mind of God in a logically coherent fashion to mankind. Hence, God and logic cannot be separated, because logic is the characteristic of God‟s thinking. Gordon Clark taught that God and logic are one and the same first principle in this sense, for John wrote that Logic was God.” – W. Gary Crampton, The Trinity Review no. 298, 4
However to the unbeliever who is illogical and abitrary, The word of God is not a wholesome unit, therefore its true only when He sees it fit and false when he sees it fit. Thus to the unbeliever the bible is true and false at the same time, and like we already said this is a logical impossibility, and since its a logical imposibility the unbeliever must be shown His folly and must not be fed with precious scripture on the issue of slavery.
[ PROVERBS 26:4-5 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit KJV ]
The unbeliever must never be answerd on the basis of His otherwise false pressupositions for instance when the unbeliever asserts that the bible is bad because someone misused and misinterpreted [ of course the unbeliever wont say the bible was misnterpreted, or wont even accept this fact ] to perpetuate slave trade, I am to respond to the believer in a way that proves His worldview as faulty,For its His worldview that helps shape a false assertion. I am not to even open the bible to prove to him that his assertion is unfortunate, I am to show Him that His worldview that gave birth to the assertion is faulty and carries no basis for even dismissing scripture as faulty on the basis of its misuse such as in the case of slave owners and traders.
N O T E S
1. Vincent Cheung, Ultimate Questions, 20
2. W. Gary Crampton, The Trinity Review no. 298, 4