Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ken's Guide To The Bible: Slavery And Judeo-Christian Sources For Violent Religious War

As I alluded to in this earlier post, the ancient Israelites certainly participated in a lot of bloodshed and massacre (according to the Bible). Representative of this, I posted this quote from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah: "A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord's work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!" -Jeremiah 48:10. So if you want a precedent for the Muslims- and no one else- being ultra-religious barbarians, the Bible isn't it. I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad about their Jewish or Christian heritage/history by pointing out all of this crazy or silly stuff in the Bible, by the way. I think that when you look to the Bible as a source of the history of your people to be proud of, you just have to be discriminating to sort out the wheat from the chaff. And if you think being aggressive in warfare is praiseworthy or that it's quaint or something like that when ancient barbarians are doing it, I'm not criticizing that point of view. But I would like to make people aware that a lot of the war and the violence found in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, fits in the "wouldn't be considered acceptable among non-barbarians in modern times" category, or would fit right in among the Al Qaeda set if it was encouraged or practiced today.

Similarly, according to Ken's Guide To The Bible, Jesus never condemned the institution of slavery- at least not that the Bible recorded. And, Paul and Peter encouraged slaves to be obedient to their masters. Ephesians 6:5-7; I Peter 2:18. It seems like if Jesus and the Apostles were really concerned with human's well-being, they would have thought to condemn the institution of slavery- it's enough to make one wonder whether Jesus condemned slavery during his life at all, or if his Apostles neglected to mention it in their writings, so as not to offend potential (slave holding) converts. Surely, Jesus doesn't have to condemn every kind of evil people commit in order to "not be for it," but it's still an outstanding omission, especially in light of his apostles' acceptance of slavery.

As I mentioned in my first post on Ken's Guide To The Bible, Christianity did (at least over time) establish a new norm of humanitarianism and respect for human dignity in the Western world. Christianity and arguments based on Christianity had a hell of a lot to do with mustering and solidifying opposition to slavery in the Western world, prior tp slavery's eventual legal abolition. A great example of this (maybe the earliest example) is St. Patrick's influence on the Irish. The pagan Irish practiced white slavery, similar to how Native Americans or aboriginal Africans kept enemies captured in war as slaves. Mostly, the Irish were taking other Irish people as slaves. They also captured foreigners, but it's unlikely the pagan Irish ever owned any African slaves, unless they captured them in attacks on Roman colonies in Britain. Contemporaneous with his conversion of the Irish to Christianity, the Irish abandoned slavery (Indeed, although Irish Americans have come to have, among some, a little reputation as racists in America, before the Irish came to America in large numbers and were indoctrinated into the American culture of African slavery and racism, the Irish in Ireland were organizing opposition to American slavery!! A source for this is the book How The Irish Became White, a history of discrimination against Irish people.). It's a little-known fact that St. Patrick was actually not ethnically Irish, but was a prisoner the Irish captured in a raid on a Roman colony when Patrick was a little boy. But Patrick eventually escaped, became a priest, and then returned to Ireland in an amazing act of courage to convert his former captors. Patrick has been revered in Ireland for ages, and I think the Irish opposition to slavery, and the protests against Bush when he visited Ireland, are better representatives of the Irish national character than Irish slaveholding and racism in America. I digressed to mention all this to give credit where credit is due to Christian efforts against slavery, but, though those efforts might be considered the logical outgrowth of Jesus' humanitarian teachings, there is nothing recorded of Jesus or his Apostles' words that is against slavery.

One more similar fact: the phrase "God is love" doesn't appear in the Bible until very near the end of the Old Testament (I John 4:8). This is in an epistle (letters from an apostle to his gentile followers included as chapters of the New Testament are commonly called "epistles"- which is just an antiquated word for a letter) written by the apostle John- as far as is recorded, Jesus never said "God is love"!!

Consider this your dose of how Christianity and Judaism are not that different from so-called "Islamo-fascism."