The somewhat mysterious* C Miller of Mustard Seed Kingdom has written an interesting and provocative post (or perhaps it’s just the subject matter which is provocative) summarising what Kevin Giles has written about the biblical argument for slavery, as put forward by many 19th century evangelicals, and how we should respond to it.
To summarise even more briefly, Giles wonders whether the evangelicals who supported slavery “were mistaken in their interpretation of the Scriptures”, or “were right”, or
were basically correct in their exegesis of the passages to which they referred but wrong in their doctrine of the Bible, in viewing it as a timeless set of oracles without historical conditioning.
If we presuppose that they were not right in supporting slavery, we have to conclude that either their exegesis was wrong or their doctrine of the Bible was. Giles writes about them:
These men appeared to the Bible as if it were a set of timeless oracles or propositions not recognising that in fact it reflected the culture of its authors and their presuppositions at least to some degree…failed to note that on most issues addressed by the Bible various answers are given to complex questions.
And he goes on to draw the lessons from this for the biblical argument for the subordination of women:
The biblical case for slavery is the counterpart of the case for the subordination of women, the only difference being that the case for slavery has far more weighty biblical support. …the internal biblical critique of slavery is less profound than that against the subordination of women.
And he concludes by suggesting that within a century the biblical argument for subordination of women will be rejected just as clearly as today the argument for slavery is rejected.
* Actually I have discovered that she is called Clare and lives in or near Durham, for which her blog header photo is in fact a dead giveaway for those who can recognise a cathedral. And I think I have even found her brief resume with a picture. So much for Internet privacy!