Sunday, June 12, 2011
In Defense of Faith - day 3
Just as the Constitution had within it the seeds of it's own perfection, despite early culturally-constrained language and compromises, David Brog states that the Bible must be subjected to interpretation and viewed in the light of its most dedicated adherents resultant behavior. Too often the harshest criticism of the Bible comes from those without a proper understanding of the text. Whether it's the alleged advocating of genocide or slavery Brog makes a convincing case that those who understand the Bible best, interpret it in the most humanitarian manner.
He begins with the command to wipe out the tribes living in Canaan when the Israelites arrived there. He shows how both Jewish and Christian scholars believe this applies to a one-time event and in no way calls for current annihilation of a people group. While Brog does not make this point, many scholars point out the excessive evil committed by these groups and the 400 years they were given to repent. The Amalakites were particularly evil towards the Israelites in picking off their weakest members as they journeyed toward the promised land. Today these scriptures are used to urge the faithful to destroy the internal Amalakite - our own inherent evil predisposition.
Next, he discusses the topic of the Biblical acceptance of and seeming encouragement of slavery. First he makes a distinction in the wording. "Slavery" in the Bible in no way represented "Slavery" as understood in America. Biblical "slavery" was in fact more like indentured servanthood. People willing sold themselves into slavery when in crippling situations. In addition, they were to be treated extremely well, with the same living conditions as the master. Finally, if a slave was injured, he would be freed immediately. In face, "man-stealing" was a capital crime! But people with ulterior motives ignored these Biblical facts and in order to preserve their own economic well-being, claimed the Bible supported their "peculiar institution." But just as their brothers in the faith were the only ones to defend the American Natives, Christians were the only ones who stood up to a hostile society, risking everything to end slavery. "Given the enormous price that would have to be paid to end slavery, it is easy to understand why so many Christians were willing to accept the pro-slavery narrative. The only surprise is that so many other Christians nevertheless saw the truth, answered the call, and stood up against the great evil of their day. It is a testament to the power of the Judeo-Christian idea that it - and it alone - was able to inspire and sustain a mass abolition movement in so hostile an environment."
It is the record of noble activism that should be the gauge of the Bible's true meaning. Time and again, it is the true believers that stood up to the evils of this world. Yet the cynics ignore this and point instead to their own twisted understanding of a book many of them have never read, much less studied.