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Posts Tagged ‘Civil War

Philemon: A Case of Christianity and Its Power Upon Lives

American slavery ended the wrong way.  It ended with bloodshed and with violence.  It ended with whites in both the North and South turning on African-Americans.  The end of the Civil War saw the rise of racist groups such as the KKK and in turn the NAACP.  The terrible end to the slavery question in the United States gave rise to the Jim Crow era laws and would keep African-Americans in “chains” for another 100 years after the end of the Civil War.  The abolitionist movement was successful in getting both Abraham Lincoln elected and in turn passing the 14th Amendment which abolished slavery (with the Emancipation Proclamation before it) but they fueled racism for another 100 years and it is still with us to this day.

Philemon, however, shows how Christianity, when it is truly preached, changes relationships completely.  Tonight we studied Philemon with our boys in Royal Rangers.  Philemon, of course, was written by Paul the Apostle to his friend Philemon who was a dear brother in the Lord (vv. 4-7).  Philemon had a church meeting in his home (v. 2).  Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had run away from his master.  At some point Onesimus heard the gospel and was saved under Paul (v. 10).  Under Roman law a runaway slave must be returned to his master or face the possibility of getting caught and possibly killed.  Until AD 20 in the Roman Empire, slaves had no rights but the Roman Senate passed a law that gave slaves the chance to purchase their freedom.  Onesimus had bypassed this and fled to Rome where Paul was in prison (v. 9).  Paul knew the law and was sending Onesimus back to his master but Paul pointed to the fact that Onesimus was now a brother in the Lord (vv. 15-16).  Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus (vv.17-20).

Surely also Philemon would have heard of Paul’s teaching from Ephesians 6:5-9 which reads:

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Notice the transformation of the relationships between saved masters and saved slaves.  Now we must also bear in mind that slavery in the Roman Empire was not based on race as it was in Europe and the United States.  Slavery was often good for many slaves in the Roman Empire but could equally be cruel as well.  The New Testament does not seek to abolish slavery by the power of men but rather through transformed relationships.  I would think that Onesimus’ relationship with his master, Philemon, was transformed by the gospel and would have been a happy situation for him.  Often slavery provided slaves with food, water, protection, shelter, and medicine.

I do think that slavery is best gone but true Christianity can break the chains of slavery unlike anything else.  The American Civil War is a case in point.  Sadly, the Civil War saw the rise of the State becoming the factor in moral issues.  Take abortion for example.  The Church too often looks to the State to end abortion.  It should learn from the abolitionist movement of the 19th century and see that the gospel is what will end abortion.  If abortion doctors and nurses get saved or if women in our culture hear the gospel and get saved, this transforms the culture.  The gospel can transform the world!  Jesus makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The cultural ills we see in our culture from the sin of abortion to the sin of homosexuality will only end with the gospel being preached and people repenting of their sins.  The gospel can change our world.

The gospel changed both Philemon and Onesimus.  The gospel can change our world as well.  May we be faithful to preach the gospel and see the power of sin broken over people’s lives.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/22/2013 at 10:30 AM

Review of Douglas Wilson’s Black and Tan

The American Civil War produced many different things.  The war itself would become the map for Generals to study during World War I and II.  Over 650,000 men would lose their lives in the conflict between the United States and the Confederates States.  But the war itself was over complex issues.  It wasn’t just slavery that was the heart of the Civil War.  That often takes people by surprise.  Had you told Union soldiers in 1862 that they were fighting to free the African slaves, they would have protested.  After all, even President Lincoln had said the issue of the War was the Union and to bring the states in rebellion back under Federal control.  Further, Lincoln was a loyal Whig and he wanted to see the Federal Government increase its role in American life.  The South wanted nothing of the Feds in their business.  The South wanted to live free.

This takes us to the heart of this book, written by Douglas Wilson.  Wilson looks at race relations in the United States and he shows how much of our failures in regard to race stem from the Civil War itself.  Wilson points out that the South argued for slavery based on the Bible.  The North argued against slavery based on their emotions.  Both the North and the South were racists and even Lincoln himself believed in the superiority of the white race (as did Europeans).  What both Europe and America failed to see was that Christianity is what makes nations great and not race.  As Asia is embracing the gospel and Europe is rejecting the gospel, the gospel will produce incredible results for Asians.  This was true of “Christian” Europe and “Christian” America before they both began to reject the gospel and now both Europe and the United States are falling apart.  The Civil War, writes Wilson, was the wrath of God against sin.  The South was right to argue for biblical slavery (not based on racism) but upon biblical masters and biblical slaves.  Where the gospel is preached, slavery dies.  Yet the abolitionist movement argued that slavery itself was wrong.  Southern slavery was not wrong itself (though it was practiced wrong and was evil in some cases) but what was wrong was racism.  Since the Civil War did not address the sin of racism, we are still facing the problems from the Civil War to this day.

Furthermore, the modern anti-abortion movement must preach the Word of God to see transformation.  To merely oppose abortion while not calling for the salvation of the abortion doctors or the women involved in abortions will not result in a transformed culture.  The gospel must be the focus and not merely ending abortion.  The abolitionists wanted to end slavery but they had to set aside the gospel to do so since the Bible didn’t forbid slavery but it did forbid racism.

Contrary to some reports, Wilson is not a Neo-Confederate.  He believes that slavery (while very evil in some cases) was not the issue.  Racism was.  Further, Reconstruction of the South caused the racism of the Jim Crow era.  He points out two main facts often ignored by modern historians regarding the South.  First, over 40,000 African-Americans served the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Some died alongside their Southern rebels in war.  Even abolitionist Frederick Douglas acknowledged that African-Americans were fighting for the South during the Civil War.  Why?  Some blacks were plantation owners themselves and knew that a Northern victory would end their plantations (and it did).  Some fought to preserve their lives.  They enjoyed their situations.  Very few were forced to fight.  Secondly, Wilson points out that whites reacted to blacks taking over their lands following the Civil War (forced by the Feds) with racism.  The rise of the KKK comes from the Reconstruction era.  Even men such as General Sherman acknowledged the failure of Reconstruction in the South and viewed it as a failure.

So what is the point of this book?  Is it to defend the South?  Is it to promote slavery as a good thing?  Not at all.  Wilson is simply pointing out that racism is the heart of the issue.  The gospel alone deals with the heart of racism, our sinful hearts.  The cure for racism is not forced integration or even a Civil War in which millions were affected.  The cure for racism is the blood of Jesus that unites the saints of God (Ephesians 2:14-15).  The gospel makes us one (Galatians 3:26-29).  The gospel can cleanse our hearts from sin and make us new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The gospel, and not the Civil War, is what will transform race relations both in the United States and around the world.  In Christ, whites can appreciate blacks and blacks can appreciate Hispanics and Hispanics can appreciate Japanese.  Jesus makes us one (John 17:20-23).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/21/2013 at 9:46 PM

The Unfortunate Results of the American Civil War

I love history books.  I enjoy reading of many different time periods and biographies.  I am currently reading several different history books all at once.  One is on an escape from a POW camp during the Vietnam War.  The second is on World War II from the eastern front between the Germans and the Soviets.  The third is a book on the Civil War and reconstruction.  Having grown up in South Carolina, I have always heard much about the Civil War (or the second war of independence here in the South).  We Southerners have been told since 1865 that we were wrong, the North was right, and the South suffered for her transgressions of slavery.  To this day, many believe that the entire Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery alone.  Popular media casts the North as the valiant warriors who have come to set the African slaves free. Abraham Lincoln is portrayed as the great emancipator of the slaves and the issue of slavery takes the cake when it comes to the Civil War.

There is no doubt that slavery was an issue with regard to the South.  I would also agree that the institution of slavery is best gone.  I do think that the North’s presentation of slavery is at times a bit harsh.  In comparison to the way slaves in Cuba and Brazil were treated, the South was hardly as evil.  There was wicked abuse of slaves but there was also wicked abuse of freed slaves in the North.  The Bible itself does not even ban slavery but sets guidelines for it.  And further, if you reject slavery outright then you must reject the entire epistle of Philemon.  While slavery was not based on race in the Bible, slavery was there.  Jews were even slaves of Jews.  The most common term Paul the Apostle uses for himself is “a slave of Christ Jesus” (see Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10).  Most English translations avoid translating the Greek term as “slave” because of the practice of racial slavery in the South.  Only the Holman Standard Version translates the Greek term properly though the ESV puts the correct term as a footnote.

In every major nation where slavery existed such as in Great Britain, the practice ended peacefully.  William Wilberforce, for example, used the Bible to preach against the practice of slavery.  He preached correctly against racism.  Had the American abolitionist movement in the United States preached against racism, they would have done more good.  Racism existed in both the North and the South both before the Civil War and long after.  The Civil War ended slavery but it only created more hatred of Africans by the whites.  It did not end the harsh reality of racism which has still done more harm than slavery has ever done.  The liberal churches in the North preached against slavery.  The conservative churches in the South preached that slavery was allowed by Scripture (Ephesians 6:5-9) though the South failed to correct the harsh treatment by masters over their slaves.  The North rejected the Bible’s teaching on slavery altogether.  The South embraced it only in part.  Both compromised the Word of God and both were judged for it.  The great Presbyterian theologian of the era, R.L. Dabney, now often accused of being a racist for his support of the Confederacy until his death, believed that God was judging both the North for her sins and the South for her sins.  Dabney wrote that the South was being judged by God for not following completely through on what He has said in His Word regarding master’s treatment of their slaves.  Dabney believed that slaves should be treated with respect, with honor, and should be allowed to be given their freedom if possible just as in the Bible.

The unfortunate results of the Civil War in the United States are still with us today.  Living in the South, I know first hand the results.  I live just a few miles from where General Sherman and his troops camped out during their campaign through the South.  Sherman looted, his men raped women, and they indulged on every form of sin you can imagine for men running wild through the South.  The city of Savannah, Georgia was saved only when the mayor “wisely” brought out prostitutes for Sherman’s men.  Many other cities such as Atlanta and Columbia were burned and destroyed.  Many of the homes had no men in them at all.  Only women and children remained but Sherman (and Lincoln behind him) believed that the South needed to pay for her crimes against the Union.  Especially South Carolina.

The results of the Civil War that are unfortunate are:

  • A destructive end to slavery rather than peaceful resulting in the deaths of over 650,000 people.
  • Millions of dollars in destruction mainly to the South.
  • The deep resentment from Southerners toward the North, the Union, and former slaves resulting in the Jim Crow era laws of segregation.
  • The liberal move of the Northern churches both before the Civil War and after only led to a demise of the gospel.  The North remains the most liberal area of the United States and the South remains the most conservative.  This was a gospel issue before the Civil War and after as well.
  • The failure to preach against racism in both the North and South led to segregation in both areas long into the 20th century and remains intact in many ways today.
  • The failure to preach against racism and looking to the federal government for answers resulted in the horror of reconstruction in the South with whites forced to give their land to blacks and resulted in groups such as the KKK rising to power.  To this day, we have racist groups such as the KKK, the NAACP, and others who fail to preach the true problem of racism as a sin against God.
  • The failure to see that sin was rampant in the North as well as the South.  Both the USA and the CSA were guilty before God.  Neither was in the right.  Neither settled the issues of slavery correctly though the South tried by ending the sale of slaves from other nations in their Constitution.
  • The Civil War resulted in a transformation in the United States that began in 1861 and especially when the War ended in 1865 with the massive increase in Federal Government and its powers.  Before 1861, the American government was controlled by the people for the people.  After the Civil War, the Government became the moral judge and begin to impose her will on the people of the Union especially in the South.  The massive expansion of government that we see today in 2013  can be directly linked to 1861.
  • The segregation of the churches continues in many ways to this day.  The failure to address the issue of racism in regard to slavery was ignored by the North and South and to this day, white churches and black churches remain separated in many ways.  Sadly, many black churches even preach “black liberation theology” or a social gospel instead of preaching the true gospel as a result of the Civil War.
  • The Civil War produced the equally discriminations of forced minority hirings.  Companies continue to receive government money who employ racial minorities which leads to companies hiring people for their color and not their qualifications.  This reverse discrimination does not help but only creates more racism.

My post is not to say that the South was right.  I don’t believe this to be true.  Even Dabney saw the North’s victory as a sign from God that the South was being harshly punished by God.  He didn’t believe the North was right or innocent but rather that the hand of God was against the South more.  He saw the sovereignty of God involved with the Civil War.  The South’s racial slavery was wrong.  The practice of slavery was not.  If we argue that slavery itself is wrong, we must argue against the Bible and this places the liberals in an upper hand for they can point to slavery and ask whether we are for or against it.  I had a black pastor point-blank tell me that he rejected the epistles because of Paul’s endorsement of slavery.  I don’t see Paul endorsing slavery but he sets guidelines for it.  The South should have abided by those guidelines and I believe the practice of slavery would have ended peacefully and not violently with 650,000 dead and countless battles to be fought by blacks for years to come.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest place on earth to demonstrate the end of racism.  Can you imagine what the early church looked like with both slaves and masters serving Christ together?  This is the case with the epistle of Philemon in which the slave Onesimus had run away from his master and had become a disciple of Jesus along the way.  Paul wrote Philemon to tell him this and to return his runaway slave.  Paul tells Philemon these powerful words in verses 15-16 (NKJV):

15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

What if Southern masters had loved their slaves like this?  What if both masters and slaves had been regenerated by the Spirit of God?  This was Dabney’s view.  The South was wrong to preach slavery as biblical while basing it on color.  The Bible does not condemn slavery but it does condemn racism and the Southern church did not preach enough on this subject.  The Civil War did not end this unbiblical practice of racism and no war ever will.  It takes the gospel to break the chains of racism.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/18/2013 at 1:14 PM

How Far Should Government Go?

I am currently reading an excellent book on the Civil War.  The book is entitled, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction.  I first heard of the book on Dr. Al Mohler’s excellent podcast where he featured the author in an interview.

One aspect of the Civil War that I believe we still see ramifications from today is the issue of how far should government go in intervening in our lives.  One of the primary motives for the Southern States seceding from the Union was the election of Abraham Lincoln and the battle for the West.  In this book, Mr. Guelzo argues that the fight between the North and the South was over western expansion in the United States.  The seeds were planted for the war at the founding but the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and then the Dred Scott case in 1846-57 led to the war.  The South feared that the North would allow the South to be slave states but with western expansion would not allow slavery in those states.  Thus the South knew that it was a matter of time before slavery would be banned in the entire United States as the other free states would continue to elect anti-slavery Presidents.  In those days, the President appointed nearly all officials in the States from cabinets to law officials.  Typically, the South had enjoyed freedom because of the lack of an anti-slavery President.  Lincoln, however, was viewed as an abolitionist.  Despite Lincoln’s letters to Alexander Stephens and other Southern leaders affirming his belief that the South should be allowed to practice slavery and despite Lincoln saying over and over again in speeches that he did not wish to end slavery but merely contain it in the South, the South knew that Lincoln would have power to appoint Republican leaders who would oppose slavery.

So the South opted out.  First with South Carolina on December 21, 1820 and other States begin to follow.  The South saw no other way to allow them to be slave holders and still be free from government oppression.

Lincoln ordered all federal troops out of the South but Fort Sumter.  His gamble was that the South would attack the Fort and then he would have the cause he needed to fight the South.  At this time, the North wanted to just let the South go without a fight.  They believed, in time, the States would come back into the Union.  Lincoln wanted war.  His gamble paid off as the South attacked the Fort and the Civil War came.  Lincoln would later claim that the South started the War of Rebellion but the South believed they were attacked by the Federal Government.  The debate rages to this day.  I am of the belief that the South was attacked by the Union.  While a war likely would have come, the fact is that I believe the Union attacked the South.

The question remains with us about the powers of the Federal Government.  Lincoln believed in an expansion of the Federal Government’s powers.  He believed that the Federal Government and not the States or local governments should be in power.  He believed the office of the President should be the most powerful office in the United States.  Many, even among the North, called him “King Lincoln” or “Emperor Lincoln.”  Some have suggested that Lincoln might would have sought to remain in power had he not been killed.  We can only speculate.  The facts do show that Lincoln disliked the idea that the States, and not the Feds, controlled their states.

The Bible does not give us much into these issues on the power of the Federal Government.  Romans 13:1-7 tells us to submit to our governing authorities.  1 Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to pray for those in authority and in the context (vv.1-6), we should pray for our leaders to be saved.  1 Peter 2:13-17 tells us, much like Romans 13:1-7, to submit to our leaders.  I believe we should do this unless the government violates the Word of God and conscience.  I believe in freedom.  I believe in justice.  But I believe that our highest duty is not to our government but unto Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/24/2013 at 10:00 AM

Confederate States Army Memorial Inscription

The following inscription is on the Monument to the Dead of the Confederate States Army in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Not for fame or reward,
Not for place or for rank,
Not lured by ambition,
Or goaded by necessity,
But in simple
Obedience to Duty
As they understood it,
These men suffered all,
Sacrificed all,
Dared all – and died.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/18/2013 at 10:54 AM

Posted in Lessons from History

Tagged with ,

Abortion is Doomed by a Higher Law

It was William Seward, the United States secretary of state under Abraham Lincoln, who said that slavery was doomed by a “higher law than the Constitution, the law of God.”  Seward understood that slavery would fail because of the law of God opposing slavery based on race.  Clearly racism was a sin and God would end the awful, destructive practice of slavery of the African race.

We modern abolitionists of abortion believe the same.  Our war is not a war against a law.  Our war is not a war against our culture.  Our war is against murder.  God will dispose abortion because abortion violates not the laws of the United States of America or the laws of New Zealand or the laws of China but the law of God.  Murder is not just and abortion is nothing more than murder (Exodus 20:13).

Let it be known that we modern abolitionists of abortion desire to fight abortion with the same passion the abolitionists fought against slavery before the American Civil War.  We believe that all people: black, red, white, yellow, etc. deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We believe that every person including the handicapped are made in the image of God and are precious in His sight.  We believe that abortion is nothing more than the murder of unborn people and should be completely abolished in all forms.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/15/2013 at 9:17 PM

Posted in Abortion

Tagged with ,

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