Justice and Biblical Clarity in Hindsight

slavery memorial

 Murky1 via Compfight

Rachel Held Evans posted a challenging look at our history of using the Bible to uphold things like slavery and to condemn people like Galileo for his scientific findings. You really need to check out the specific quotes she cites to experience the full horror of the ways the Bible was used to justify some pretty horrible things. It’s easy for us to see from our vantage point the mistakes and prejudices of these people, but it may be that we have our own blind spots in how we view Scripture. Hindsight is 20/20.

From Rachel’s post:

It’s easy to look down our noses at the Christians who have come before us and discount them as unenlightened and uninformed. But to accept Galileo’s thesis, our 17th century forbearers would have had to reject 1600 years of traditional Christian interpretations of passages like Psalm 93:1, Ecclesiastes 1:5, and Joshua 10:12-14. And to accept the arguments of the abolitionist, our great-great-grandparents had to see beyond the “plain meaning” of proof texts like Ephesians 6:1-5, Colossians 3:18-25; 4:1, and I Timothy 6:1-2 and instead be compelled by the general sweep of Scripture toward justice and freedom . (I wrote more about this in my post, “Is abolition biblical?”)

We like to characterize the people in the quotes above as having used Scripture to their own advantage. But I find it both frightening and humbling to note that, often, the way we make the distinction between those who loved Scripture and those who used Scripture is hindsight. 

 

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