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Probably more significant was the contribution of men of a darker hue to the doctrine of the early church. Yes, Africans helped develop some of the orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith. Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Tertullian, and Augustine are all significant figures in the early Church. And they are all Africans.

Atlantic slave trade and abolition

These men defended the Christian faith from heresies that threatened the message of the gospel. What about the Bible, though? It talks about slaves. And he writes those words on more than one occasion. Why do they seem so insensitive? Who would tell slaves to obey their masters? That just seems wrong on so many levels.

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You need to read them with the system in place in the first century. So, even conceding historical evidence of African influence in the Church, it would seem right that many anti-Christian Blacks are vehemently opposed to all things Christian. Not so fast. You have to first read passages in the Bible through the lens of those who they are written to.

Never start with your own lens your own personal experience.

Paul is writing to slaves in the first century. Read them with the system in place in the first century. What kind of system is that? For starters, it was nothing like the American system. It was a system of voluntary servanthood. In that culture, slaves were allowed to own property, save money, start businesses, and live like other citizens.


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The system was in place to work off debts. Slaves could eventually buy their freedom. Even the Jews had laws—many found in the Old Testament—that protected slaves and gave them certain rights. In fact, Jews celebrated Jubilee every 50 years; slaves were released to commemorate their own release from Egyptian bondage. So Paul and Peter spoke to people living in that culture. We must remember also that Paul does encourage slaves to gain their freedom if they can.

But what about American slaveowners? They abused these passages to keep slaves subservient, right? I agree.


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  • The hermeneutical a fancy word for interpreting a text faithlessness of slave masters created a culture of fear, pain, and death that no race of people should ever experience. In the same way, you cannot condemn the faithful remnant of Christians who genuinely engage in counter-cultural, moral, and ethical practices.

    How else could you explain white Christians who actively participated in the abolitionist movement? They were Christians too. One group—between slaveholders and abolitionists—was right about what the bible meant of slavery. And I think we all know which group that was. And the passages on slavery were the pick of the litter.

    Somehow, God used that experience in a redemptive way to shape a people whose faith outpaces many other racial groups. John calls himself a recovering lawyer and has a seminary degree from Fuller Seminary. Thank you. While some might truly be misled in to believing this, as I once was there is another population that uses it as an excuse to be their own God or to protect themselves from the pain of rejection. The Gospel is simple not easy to mentally accept but simple: Believe and Receive. The transformation that takes place in the heart of a person that does just that, is undeniable.

    Thank you so much for addressing this often ignored topic.

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    I guess we are just gonna ignore that the Bible does indeed speak about slavery in a permanent sense much like American slavery. Nice try though. You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.

    Leviticus Keep it real bro. For indigenous peoples, accepting the Bible was synonymous with losing their land. Jesus is real, but Christianity is suspect. As I was reading the account of Solomon building the temple designed by his father, David 1 King 4—9 , I did a double-take. An odd sentence caused me to jolt to a stop and read again.

    This seems like a paradox.

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    Religion in Black America

    The Jewish God filled the temple when it was complete 1 King —11 and consecrated it 1 King From that, we could infer that the temple was pleasing to to the Jewish God. By extension, is slavery, too? Does the end justify the means? I reread it several times, and looked up the Hebrew word to make sure I had it right. A masculine noun designating forced labor or service, tribute. Black Americans are more likely than overall public to be Christian, Protestant. Black men are less religious than black women, but more religious than white women and men.

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    It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Home U. Main More. Attendees at the annual session of the National Baptist Convention in Read the other posts in this series: Black Millennials are more religious than other Millennials Blacks more likely than others in U.

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