Bible Ethics Newspaper Letters St Peters The Free Church

Believe in the Bible or Believe in Yourself – answering heretics in the secular press!

Some of the biggest enemies we face as Christians are those who profess to be Christians, especially Christian teachers and clergy, but spend their time denying Christian teaching and the Bible.  One such frequent correspondent in the press in Scotland is Rev. Dr John Cameron, a Church of Scotland minister.  In one of his latest diatribes he played the usual atheist cards – the church used to support slavery (equating slavery with gay rights) and he cited the Free Church as an example – he also sought to undermine the Bible claiming that if you believe it is true it becomes a paper pope.

Once again The Courier has permitted me to respond and once again they made it their headline letter and put this headline and photo above it.  Thankful…!

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  1. Excellent letter. Well done to the Courier too. Keep up the good work. Always enjoy your blog.

  2. Timely.
    Dr Peter J Williams, Tyndale House, Cambridge Has been giving talks all week, “Answering Moral Objections to Scripture”. Today’s talk was “Slavery, Polygamy, And Other Weird Stuff: Can we really take the Bible as A moral guide?”
    He, at length, answers. Atheist Sam Harris and Rev Dr Cameron.
    I think the talks are recorded. There were hand outs.
    Last week there were talks on God’s Word Alone” – the Authority of Scripture.
    I think Dr Cameron ought to get out more from under slavery to current cultural thinking.

  3. Ah now. Dont be so dismissive of the allegation regarding the support the Free Church of Scotland sought from the slave owning rich of the south in the US.

    It was that desire for support that prompted Frederick Douglass, a former slave, to come to Scotland and speak against what some parts of the Free Church of Scotland were doing. True, he found a ready and supportive audience in Dundee, but he draw hisses from the crowd in Dundee when he censored a local Free Church minister.

    I find it interesting that whilst the principle of slavery was accepted as wrong, the moral debate about whether or not to accept money that was only accumulated on the whipped and scarred backs of slaves was far less clear. Given that the Free Church of Scotland had to even have that debate, that a former slave needed to come to Scotland to take a side, does call into question the sand upon which the Free Church of Scotland many missives on a variety of social, ethical and moral issues is built.

    Frederick Douglass’ speech was very good. The Free Church of Scotland issue gets a section of its own in the archives of his papers –

    1. My point still stands. The Free Church never endorsed slavery and in fact specifically condemned it. the question of whether you take money from people who themselves had been involved with slaves is a different matter. Many of the institutions in Scotland, including the universities and the city of Glasgow either directly or indirectly benefited from the slave trade. When the secular society at the time was largely in favour of slavery, and saw the abolition of it in the same way that many today see the economic harm coming from Brexit, it was mostly the church who opposed it and urged the state to pay the price. The secular French Revolution did not for example abolish slavery in the French empire.

  4. David

    As always, the incoherence of Christian theology shines through. Your omnibenevolent God must by your definition of him condemn slavery, yet the Pentateuch is chock full of precise instructions on how to administer the whole sordid business of slave ownership.

    Even that reprehensible Pauline forgery, 1 Timothy, is happy for Christians to be slaves as long as they respect God.

    1. Christian theology is only incoherent to those who don’t listen or think. You clearly have no understanding of slavery in the old or new Testament world! nor do you understand the Marxist concept of wage slavery – which is actually relevant to this discussion. 1 Timothy was written by Paul ( although you of course with your omniscient atheist knowledge and degree in biblical studies – know that it wasn’t!). Christianity overturns slavery, and deals with its root cause. It is no coincidence that with the decline of Christianity in the United Kingdom, slavery has returned – with there being an estimated 20,000 slaves now in the UK. go figure!

      1. The fact that many willingly entered into, or accepted and rose to free status, in no way eclipses the fact that tens of thousands lived lives of abject misery and suffering as slaves in antiquity. God clearly was quite content with the plight of slaves during his OT impetuous youth period but of course, reflected on his Mosaic lasting ordinance and made everything right with his new commandment ruse. You have a jolly strange definition of omnipotence. However, during the interim, was it still OK to murder unruly children etc.?

        Please enlighten me (and the majority of scholars who do have degrees in Biblical studies) as to why you support Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy? Please don’t start with “because he says so”!

      2. Again – in your atttempt to be smart you are refusing to think and you are showing your historical ignorance. Think about this – millions of people got sick, millions died, there was violence war etc. So the question is – what could an omnipotent God do about it? One thing he could not do – is create a free world where people had choice and then overrule that choice so that he turned them into robots. What he did do was provide regulation for his people in the midst of a fallen world. As for 1 Timothy – what makes you think Paul didn’t write it? And please don’t start with ‘because I say so’. The evidence for 1 Timothy being written by Paul is very strong…..but you are not really interested in it are you?

      3. Can you not see how grotesque your theology is? Your omnipotent God is the one who permits disease and famine in the first place. Spare me your nonsense about creation groaning, creation is God’s will. If there is disease or natural disaster “creation” is not a sentient being, it’s Gods process that he affects.

        Equally, he can easily limits mankind’s free choices without making them robots. If he chose to suppress the desire to rape and murder children, would our ability to know and follow his commands be diminished? Regulation in a fallen world, he could simply eradicate the concept.

        As for Timothy, start with linguistic style and vocabulary (no I don’t speak Greek but we both know that textural scholars have made the case since the 1800s). Most importantly, it refers to church structures and hierarchy that didn’t exist in Paul’s times.

        He seems to say the law is conditional upon human obedience unlike his views in Romans. His approach to those opposed to the law is less strident and his attitude towards false teaching more conciliatory.

        The oath he makes endeavours to replicate those in Galatians and Romans but it is to Timothy himself, a close companion who would have no reason to doubt Paul in any way.

        The instructions to women need no further comment really. They have done more harm than almost any single verse in scripture and in no way reflect the position of women in Paul’s other churches. The idea that bearing children can bring salvation is far removed from Paul’s clearly expressed understanding of this central doctrine.

        That Polycarp thought they were Pauline, and this was Church teaching for
        nearly two centuries in no way undermines the collective weight of arguments against this and the Pastorals in general.

      4. You seem a very angry person! Unlike all angry people your emotions seem to dominate your reason.

        I’m intrigued that you think it would be easy for God to limit mans choices without making them robots – given that robots are those who have no choice it is difficult to follow the logic of your position. Yes – God could eradicate evil in people but that would involve eradicating the people! The way he chooses to eradicate the evil is to both punish it (through Christ) and create in us a new nature which freely loves him. Not the robotic control you talk about.

        Your knowledge of the pastoral epistles is, as I expected, somewhat outdated and limited – its the kind of ‘cut ‘n’ paste’ theology that one gets from atheists who rehash old arguments thinking they know something! Yes it was in the 18th Century that liberal scholars seeking to debunk the bible used questions of language, style etc to try and debunk the issue of Paul’s authorship of the pastorals. The fact is that they have proven nothing and certainly not enough to overcome the evidence of the early church (much more than Polycarp). The internal and external evidence for Pauline authorship is strong. Your comments about ‘Pauls other churches’ and women – only demonstrate the depth of your ignorance. You could not give one single example of a church founded by Paul that followed a different practice from that outlined in the pastorals. But of course that doesn’t stop you making the most ridiculous assertions. It would be amusing if it were not so pathetic.

      5. David, don’t be so foolish. Your theodicies are so weak, there’s nothing to be angry at. I am only angry when theological dogma brings oppression or discrimination in society. Fortunately, religion has reached a state where the natural reaction is almost to lampoon its ineptitude, let alone allow it to actually affect how we live our lives.

        We both know that no recent exegesis has in any way changed the debate on the nature of the pseudo-epigraphical epistles. Greater scholars than you will even aspire to be, have wrestled with the issue and nothing is suddenly going to alter the debate. It may in the eyes of an obdurate Calvinist, but thankfully, there are fewer and fewer of them.

      6. Yet anger does seem to be more modus operandi – there is little rationality or truth in your comments. Just mocking sneering superiority. Your treatment of the pastoral epistles is a classic example. You know virtually nothing about them and just repeat what ever confirmation bias you can find on the Internet. You are of course correct that ‘no recent exegesis’ (although I note in passing that you don’t seem to be aware of what that word actually means – I presume you really mean historical scholarship rather than exegesis?) has changed the debate – in the context of 2000 years the recent attempt by some 19th Century sceptics to debunk the Pauline authorship has largely failed and its not really a matter of serious dispute in the 21st Century…you really do need to try and keep up!

  5. Slavery and the Bible and Sex Gender

    Some (one) may find the notes of value from the talk by Peter Williams, Principal, Tyndale House They are mostly from the hand-out, with some of my scribbled notes. It is realised that this doesn’t fit into the category of comments, and is lengthy.

    1 The problem formally laid out
    Intro: The contention is that just as the Bible got it wrong about slavery and Christians and the Bible are getting it wrong today about sex(uality) and gender. Atheist Sam Harris and many in the church use this argument to support cultural sexual and gender mores of today. Harris quotes Leviticus 26 from the RSV, which uses words, buy, property, slaves, possession. That is, he sets up the bible as against morality.
    Bible translations talk of slaves
    In the OT no objection is made to having slaves
    In the NT Christians are not commanded to free their slaves and slaves are told to submit
    Therefore biblical texts approve of slavery
    We know that slavery is wrong
    Therefore biblical texts approve of something that is wrong
    The use of the word “slave” has increased in translations:
    KJV used x2
    NKJV used x46
    NIV used x130
    German Luther Bibel used x 0; revised Luther Bibel 1984 used x70
    Spanish 1909 used x4; 1960 used x25; 1995 used x65

    After World War 2 society became less hierarchical and terms Master and Servant became archaic so the word slave was substituted (Comment in my study of a law degree the law relating to employment was known as law of Master and Servant)

    The Hebrew word “eved” can be translated “servant” or “slave”. It is not inherently negative. It is related to work, subservient.

    Israelites are “servants of the King. Everyone is a servant of the King. There is no class of “free” people.
    Importantly, all of this was before the North Atlantic Slave Trade

    OT culture, institutions based on debt servitude/slavery. Person B pledged future work to person C for food now and food in the future , or sell themselves, a future leasing of work.
    Similar to indenture (my dad was indentured)

    BUT this was a system of sub- ownership where EVERYTHING and EVERYONE BELONGED TO GOD. So the “Sub-Owner” was accountable to God and to treat as God would.

    JOB 31 Pre – Mosaic LAW appeals to a unity of the human race UNDER GOD.

    In the OT patriarchal system:
    work as herdsmen, domestic servants
    However servants. could inherit (Genesis 15:3 – Eliezer of Damascus) children of Bilhah and Zilpah
    Were trusted to travel with valuables (Genesis 24) and weapons Genesis 14:14
    No approved “selling” of people
    have to look after runaways (Deuteronomy 23:15-16
    The LAW given to Moses was because of the HARDNESS Of HEART of the people, to regulate (Matthew 19:8.) Some things were allowed but not approved.
    Have to go back to the beginning for the ideal . There was no servitude until Genesis 9. The Law of Moses is to be read in that light.
    The whole OT system is in contrast to all other empire systems throughout that period.

    2 New Testament does not endorse slavery
    2.1 Christians could not change the legal systems
    2.2 Slaves who rebelled would be executed under those systems
    2,3 Under Rome, there were limits emancipation of slaves and could rarely become a citizen
    2.4the command to love others as Christ loved us
    2.5 brotherhood, the family of all believers. Kissing, holy kiss – you only kiss family, Jew and Gentile, master with servant and no hierarchy of believers (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1; Philemon15
    2.6 Jesus is LORD, Master, we are His servants, slaves, with all gospel freedom and inheritance from and in Him.

    There IS only ONE worthy to own you.

    All of this is set against the backdrop, the underlying truth that GOD OWNS EVERYBODY, is Sovereign.

    There are 2 main classes of humanity
    1 Those who gladly come under God’s ownership
    2 Those who contest, rebel, ignore God’s ownership

  6. Hello Jon,

    Welcome back, though little seems to have changed with you, as always looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The whole of scripture, including what is commonly known as the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ. If you want to know what God is like, look to Jesus, but you don’t, really. We were created for fellowship with Him, the triune God, we in Him and He in us, Christ, to share with us all His inheritence.

    If you don’t want that, don’t want Him, you can’t complain if He gives you what you want, an eternity without Him.

    You seem to be unaware of the full sweep of biblical theology, of historical redemptive theology as fulfilled by, in and through, Christ: through, types, anti-types, comparisons and contrast, patterns, prophets, priests and kings, covenants, (conditional and unconditional) theophanies, belief, unbelief, remnant, rebellion, faith, faithfulness, promise and promise keeping, exodus, decreation, redemption, sacrifice and more.

    You might enjoy the book, Hebrews. It’s all about Jesus. You can argue till the cows come home over who wrote it. It’s the contents that count.

    “6 herefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

    8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsa of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Collosians 2

    Do you want Jesus? Do you want to want Him?

    1. Thats a neat 21st century post modern trick…but its not true….I read the church fathers and church history and most Christians took the bible as the written word of God…without error.

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