Chapter 341 – In which Giles Fraser tries to get as many things wrong as possible in as short a space as possible

Sometimes I think Giles Fraser deliberately doesn’t bother to do exegesis because he knows that it might damage his case. Take for example this latest piece of wonderment:

Slavery was given foundational justification in the book of Genesis, the curse of Ham condemning Ham’s descendants to perpetual captivity. It would have been seen as what contemporary Evangelicals call “a creation ordinance”.

Er, no Giles it wouldn’t. You see, I’m sure that you spotted that the bit of the Bible that you were referring to was Genesis 9:24-26. My Bible reading might be a bit sloppy, but I’m sure that Genesis 9 comes AFTER the Flood which is way after the Creation. In case you forgot Giles, a Creation Ordinance is something that establishes itself from the Creation Narrative (Genesis 1-2 in case you needed reminding Giles), things like the complementarity of the sexes, the Sabbath, the sanctity of life, stewardship of Creation. Slavery doesn’t appear in Genesis 1-2 (but I have the feeling that you knew that Giles). But let’s not let that stop Giles getting in another dig at those Evangelicals. Now he claims that:

The New Testament enthusiastically takes up this theme [pro-slavery], for example in Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “Let as many slaves as are under the yoke count their own master worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, but rather do them service.”

Makes it sound as though Paul (remember – he’s the bloke who said all those nasty things about gays) sound like a bit of a Neanderthal doesn’t it? Problem is, what Giles has done is take one Bible verse and forgotten to reference what else Paul says about slavery. For example, writing to Philemon he says:

I am sending him [Onesimus]—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

Yup, that sounds as though Paul is in favour of putting Onesimus right back into bondage.

Giles chooses to ignore what Paul’s theology of slavery actually is. Paul, simply put, opposes slavery. He sends Onesimus back to Philemon basically telling Philemon that if he enslaves Onesimus again then he really isn’t recognising him as a brother in Christ. The right thing to do with slaves is to free them. BUT, Paul also recognises that some slaves won’t be as lucky, so if you’re a Christian who is a slave you need to understand that we are all slaves, either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness, and that our lives whether bonded or free can speak about Christ in our actions towards those who do evil to us.

But then, I think Giles wasn’t really writing about slavery was he?

No: the spirit of “I was blind, but now I see” has a new challenge. And there are arguments within the life of the church today where we need to apply it.

“All you evil evangelical homophobic bigots are blind I tell you, BLIND!!!!”

Not half as blind says 2 Cor 4:3-5 as a man who can’t even read the Bible properly and who degrades the godly opportunity of being a slave of Christ.

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