Monday, 23 November 2015

Does God Allow Us To Keep Slaves? (New Testament)

The slavery debate has been settled in our society for a good while now. We know it's wrong to take a person and keep them as property that we can do whatever we want with. Thankfully slavery is now illegal after a lot of hard fighting by people including Christians like Abraham Lincoln and William Wilberforce.

But some people think that the Bible allows or even commands us to keep slaves. If that's the case that seems to mean that God of the Bible is less than perfect morally. Fortunately for us, God, Jesus, and the Bible do not allow keeping slaves. So there's your short answer.

How about a slightly longer answer? Try these:
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
In Jesus' ideal world, all people are equally important. If everyone is meant to be equal, then slaves are a complete no-no.
"For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." 1 Corinthians 12:13
Just to reiterate a point...
And finally, in case so far it sounds like the New Testament is OK with slavery because one day slaves won't exist any more, here's an Old Testament verse to put it all in perspective:
"Anyone who kidnaps and sells another person must be put to death. If they still have the person with them when they are caught, they must be put to death." Exodus 21:16
The trouble I think most people have with seeing passages in the Bible about slavery is that they read them through 21st century eyes. For most of us, our understanding of slavery is completely based on the image of black people being taken from their homes in Africa and forced into hard labour by rich white people. They were seen as property, no better than livestock, and had no respect or rights. They were considered sub-human. When we hear the word 'slave', we think of the worst type of slavery, because that's what we're familiar with. We can call this kind of slavery 'chattel slavery'. Sounds a bit like cattle, if it helps you remember. (The word 'chattel' is derived from 'cattle' anyway).
But the above verse from Exodus clearly says that taking someone and holding them as property to be sold is wrong. If that doesn't describe slavery as we know it, I don't know what does.

Monday, 16 November 2015

A Rough Guide To God's Plan

I would never suggest that I know the mind of God, and I'm wary that there could be mistakes in what I'm putting here, but I find that when discussing various issues, as a Christian I'm coming from a certain understanding that someone else might not have. I might be taking for granted some thing or another that they haven't even thought about. So while I think I'm talking about something obvious, the other person might not have a clue how I can square what I'm saying with anything. Like, I might be talking about the way Jesus suffered for us, while their image of God is the benevolent comfort blanket who makes sure everyone is happy all of the time. The two things don't make sense.

Things like the 'Problem of Evil' and 'Divine Hiddenness' are massive issues for sceptics, but for Christians, they are nothing. They are expected! Somehow, even though these things are necessary in Christianity, some people think they are reasons that Christianity isn't true. It's clearly a lack of understanding about who God is, what we wants, and his ultimate plan.

So, here I want to attempt an outline of what God is trying to do according to Christianity.
It will be an attempt, and I don't for one second pretend to know every detail. The old phrase "God works in mysterious ways" is not helpful to anyone, but he has revealed to us what we need to know on a need-to-know basis. We don't have all of the information but that should be enough.

Anyway Lesson 1: God is not a comfort blanket who answers every prayer with the goal of making everyone on Earth as happy as possible.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Can't God Just Rearrange The Stars And Write His Name To Prove He Exists?

It's often heard from sceptics that they would change their minds and believe that God exists if he does something big and grand like that. He won't do it...
"The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side" -- Mark 8:11–13 
God doesn't just want you to know he exists. He wants a relationship. Showing off his power while demanding your obedience isn't the way to go about that and he knows it.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Is Christianity Based On Blind Faith?

Some people seem to have the impression that religious belief is always the same as 'belief without evidence'. They even seem to think that questioning a religious belief is supposed to be a sin, and the reason that so many people have faith is because they are scared that doing some research might send them to Hell.

It might be like that for some faiths... I don't know, I haven't checked them all... but Christianity is on very safe ground.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

What proof or evidence is there for the claim: 'God does not exist?' Round 2

Sometimes, just for fun, I will see what the atheists of the internet have to offer the discussion about the existence of God.

It's a simple challenge. I ask atheists to present any evidence or argument that supports the claim 'there is no god'.
It started out as a simple request, but over time I've had to add little notes to the question to try and stop heaps of irrelevant comments. Many still ignore the notes but that just goes to show me that they're not really engaging the simple question, and probably rarely do.

Here's a link to some previous responses.

Anyway, after a recent attempt, here are some of the lame answers I received.

This was the original post:

Notice how I make a point of saying this isn't about the definition of 'atheism' because I know that's a stumbling block for many. I make it clear that I'm asking about the statement 'there is no god'.

And here come the responses!

Zero evidence for a deity is there? Then what's all this stuff about cosmological arguments, indisputable facts about the life of Jesus, objective morality, and signs of design? Off to a bad start there with your completely wrong statement. They do say start every speech with a joke...