Rick Warren Must Not Understand the Bible’s Take on Slavery April 18, 2012

Rick Warren Must Not Understand the Bible’s Take on Slavery

The PBS show Finding Your Roots gives scholar/host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. an opportunity to chat with celebrities about their ancestry.

In this week’s episode, he met with Pastor Rick Warren. As it turns out, one of Warren’s ancestors was a prominent slaveowner. That’s not particularly surprising, and it doesn’t say anything about Warren himself. The conversation surrounding it, though, is pretty interesting.

Rick Warren speaks beginning at the 32:47 mark, but the most interesting bit begins at the 33:40 mark:

Gates: Do you think there was a valid Christian justification of slavery before or during the civil war?

Warren: There is ZERO biblical justification for slavery.

Gates: (laughter)

Warren: ZERO. From the very beginning of time, God says, ‘I have created every man in my image’. And I’ve read those arguments, and they’re spurious. They are false exegesis.

Gates: Yeah.

Warren: They’re… isegesis, you’re reading INTO it instead of exegesis, reading OUT of it, what it actually says. And the Bible, like any other book, and people do it with the Constitution, make it mean what they want it to mean. I mean, the Supreme Court now finds all kinds of things in the constitution that isn’t there. But they try to create something out of it. And so everything that we look at, we read with our lenses, and if you were raised with a prejudicial lens you’re going to read Scripture wrong

Of course, Warren doesn’t have any problem opposing civil unions and marriage equality through his “lens”… and considering how many Christians don’t find opposition to love (even same-sex love) in the Bible, it’s amazing that Warren doesn’t notice his own hypocrisy in action.

By the way, there are plenty of references to slavery in the Bible. At no point in the Bible is slavery condemned. In the view of the Bible’s writers, slavery is perfectly acceptable.

On a side note, at the beginning of that segment, Gates talks (32:12) about the dark hours in our country “when we, as Americans, have failed to live up to our original Christian values of religious freedom and tolerance.”

Gates, what are you doing?! Those values aren’t strictly Christian. They’re human.

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

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  • Gwen

    In the last show, with Barbara Walters, she told Gates quite frankly that her father was an atheist, and that she’d grown up without religion (yay!!). In this latest episode, Gates is focusing on a Jewish Rabbi, Muslim, and Rick Warren, when he states, “we all worship the same god”.  Well, no, ‘we’ don’t, many of us have no belief in magical sky daddys…

  • Gwen

    Sadly, Warren’s followers are probably too biblically illiterate to challenge what he said. The only people I know who have actually READ the bible, are all atheists.

  • Marguerite

    One of my favorite quotes from Heinlein seems to apply here: ”
    The Bible is such a gargantuan collection of conflicting values that anyone can ‘prove’ anything from it.”

  • Religious freedom is a Christian value? Really?? 

  • Joe B Thornton Jr

    Pastor Rick Warren wrestles with biblical literacy issues. Slavery is endorsed in the bible in both the Old & New Testaments. Jesus spoke about good slaves and bad slaves and the self appointed psuedo apostle Paul wrote an entire letter to Philemon about it. Pastor Warren suffers from the same cognitive disorder that he diagnoses others with.

  • Lee Miller

    It’s so true, Gwen.  Christians carry bibles around, but essentially NO ONE has actually read the text (i.e., read it to see what it says, instead of reading random verses devotionally).  Reading the bible seriously caused me to experience a dramatic de-conversion.  For the vast majority of Christians the bible is simply a symbol:  “This is what I believe–even though I don’t really know what’s in it.”

  • Matto the Hun

    I think many Christians in this the US are a lot like the Seagulls in Finding Nemo. If there is any value, moral, or whatever that is considered universally “good’ they incessantly start squeaking “Mine! Mine! Mine!…Mine! Mine!… Mine!…”

  • dantresomi

    its funny i got into that debate just the other day. And when i showed those Christians those passages, they just moved the goal post yet again…! 

  • Weird…the video is only showing up for me as a 16:49 clip? Quick, somebody fix the Internet for me…I can’t watch this one video!

  • Fuzz

    I had a similar discussion with my moderate/liberal(!) Christian family member (who is a fan of Rick Warren):

    Me: The Bible is okay with slavery.Christian family: You should read the Bible before making false claims. Slavery in biblical terms = working off a debt.

    Me: No it isn’t; the Bible talks about treating slaves as pure possessions. Here are some verses: [quotes from the Bible].
    CF: You’re quoting the Old Testament; I’m talking about the New Testament.

    Me: Okay, here are quotes from the NT: [quotes from NT].
    CF: I was talking about Books X, Y, Z only from the NT.

    Me: Okay, here are quotes from Books X, Y, Z: [quotes].
    CF: I read the Bible from a scholarly perspective so you are wrong [note that he doesn’t say HOW his scholarly reading shows that I’m wrong; furthermore, he’s not a Bible scholar or involved in religion professionally — he’s 30 years old, an art major and currently a web developer].

    Me: Doesn’t change the fact that it’s pretty clear that the Bible is okay with slavery; it would have been very easy for the Bible to simply say “Slavery is wrong”. Besides, other people more scholarly than you interpret the Bible different.
    CF: You’re disrespecting my beliefs.

    Me: I don’t have to respect beliefs. I’ll respect beliefs only if they’re worthy of respect.
    CF: Agree to disagree.

    Me: Um…okay.

  • Gates pretty much sucked up to Warren; it was kind of disgusting.   Of course, I don’t get why the freed slaves chose to stay Christian.

     This was a boring episode of finding your roots.  If you can catch the one with Harry Connick Jr.  and Branford Marsalis, that’s worth watching.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Maybe someone here can point me to scriptures where marriage in the Bible is talked about in any terms other than between a man and a woman.  Maybe multiple woman as wives at some points in the Bible, but where does it say marriage is anything but between a man and a woman? Where is the homosexual lifestyle endorsed in anyway in the Bible?

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    You misunderstand. Rick Warren is able to overlook the Bible’s many endorsements of slavery using his “lens” yet he is unable to to overlook the many passages that condemn homosexuality. Why? Why is “correct” to ignore/reinterpret the passages about slavery but not the passages about homosexuality?

  • Deven_Kale

    Considering that the morals in the bible were written in a time where the ultimate goal was to have as many children as possible in order to keep their bloodlines viable, I fail to see how it’s statements concerning homosexuality apply to modern times with it’s concerns of overpopulation.

    However, if you want a passage that could be interpreted as condoning homosexuality, my own personal interpretation of Gen 32:24 does exactly that. Especially considering how the deliberate mistranslation of “put your hand under my thigh” is in there while many biblical scholars understand the oath was actually made by holding the testicles.

  • Zeggman

     Where is the professional woman lifestyle endorsed in any way in the Bible? Where is the auto mechanic lifestyle endorsed in any way in the Bible? Where are public libraries endorsed in any way in the Bible? Where is the stand-up comedian lifestyle endorsed in any way in the Bible? Where in the Bible is ice skating and skiing condoned? Where is the airline pilot lifestyle endorsed in any way in the Bible?

    We don’t base our laws on what is in the Bible because we’re not a theocracy. If we were, I guess multiple wives would be permitted, and brothers would be required to marry their childless brothers’ widows. Or maybe marriage itself would be discouraged, as it is in the New Testament. What would Jesus do? He never got married, and he never got a job.

    We base our laws, and our society, on the collective experience of humanity, not on a single collection of stories written when brutality was the norm and the epitome of social organization was the tribe. Even the Christians who predominately make our laws recognize in their hearts that fairness and decency are better guidelines for building a thriving society than the contradictory ramblings of long-dead superstitious desert dwellers.

  • Zeggman

    Gods, being imaginary, always say what their imaginers imagine, and believe what their believers believe.

  • Rwlawoffice

    This is the scripture relating Jacob’s wrestling with the “angel” (some say the preincarnate Christ) has no sexual connotations at all. I do not see a phrase which could be “put your hand under my thigh”.  There is a portion that involves touching of the hip to wound Jacob.  did you mean another verse?  

  • Rwlawoffice

    Looking at the passages that talk about slavery in the Bible an interpreting them with proper hermeneutics is not overlooking them. It is interpreting them to see what the verses mean using recognized methods. The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin in quite a few verses.  What I was asking for were references to verses that condone or endorse it as some say there are. 

  • Dan Dorfman

    Christian values of religious freedom and tolerance? What is this guy on? The bible flat-out endorses killing and mutilating nonbelievers to the scale of an entire town if a single nonbeliever lies within. He should be put in a padded cell and medicated.

  • Even if he hadn’t tried to dodge the slavery issue, the first thing he said when he heard his ancestor owned slaves was not “Oh, man, that’s horrible.” It was “He must have been rich!”

    Douche-nozzle! That comment alone tells you what is important to Rick Warren. His church is called Saddleback because he’s taking his congregation for a ride…

  • As a Christian minister, it would be unusual indeed if Rick Warren actually understood much of anything in the Bible. Bible literacy is extremely low amongst Christians, whichever side of the altar they stand on.

  • For a lawyer, you’re pretty damn ignorant.

    The Bible is also clear that slavery is accepted, condoned, and even regulated. You are allowed to beat your slaves to within an inch of their lives, but no more. Rape victims are required to marry their rapists.

    You want references? Leviticus 25:44-46, Exodus 21:2-11, Exodus 21:20-21, Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Luke 12:47-48 spring to mind.

  • Stockholm syndrome.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

     And I’ll agree with you that there aren’t any passages that endorse homosexuality. I realize that there are many Christians that do find passages and interpret them to condone homosexuality and if you are interested in how they do that, I suggest that you talk to them, not to a bunch of atheists.

    I am confused as to why you are asking atheists for Biblical support for homosexuality. I’m sure that you understand that we don’t believe that the Bible is a good source of morality. I would support gay rights no matter what the Bible says about it.

    The point is that Rick Warren, and apparently you, look at passages such as “Slaves obey your masters” (Col 3:22), “they are not to be punished… since the slave is their property” (Exod 21:20), ones where rebellious children must be stoned to death (Deut 21:18-21) and instantly know that you must “interpret them with proper hermeneutics” so that you can then say that the Bible means the opposite of what it says. Why? Whats the distinction between those passages and the one in Deut 20 that commands that gays are an abomination? (and must be put to death. Thankfully, that half has been interpreted away because of “proper hermeneutics.”)

    Also, if the Bible  so clearly does not condone slavery, why the hell did it take thousands of years for people to finally realize this? Wouldn’t it have been so much more clear if it simply said “Don’t own slaves”? What kind of book makes so many statements that can so easily be read to mean that slavery is OK (and have been read that way historically) when it really means the opposite.

    I’m sorry, but the “Oh you’re just not interpreting it properly” is an incredibly transparent game. The Bible is constantly being interpreted, and reinterpreted to mean pretty much whatever the reader wants it to read. The Christians that you are looking for that find passages that support homosexuality will tell you the same exact thing: “You are not interpreting it properly, we are.”

  • Homosexuality isn’t directly referenced in the Bible at all. There are a few passages that reference homosexual behavior (which is, of course, quite different), but these are largely in the context of defining the rules of behavior that set apart one small tribe (the Jews) from everybody else. Nothing about sin. Certainly, there are relationships in the Bible that are arguably homosexual in nature (e.g. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi) and which are treated in a positive light.

    But, as a generally poorly written document, cobbled together from the works of multiple authors, by multiple editors over hundreds of years, and containing many questionable translations, the only real error in analyzing the Bible is in not approaching every word with a good deal of skepticism.

  • Rwlawoffice

     My comment wasn’t about slavery. My comment asked for scripture in the bible that talks about marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman or that endorses homosexuality. 

    Rick Warren is being criticized here for saying that the Bible does not support slavery as some preached it did at the time of the Civil War. The criticism is that he is looking at the verses that talk about slavery through a lens that prejudices his view. Then he is called a hypocrite because he does the same thing with verses that talk about homosexuality or marriage and comes to a conclusion that the Bible is against these. So i asked for the verses that support homosexuality or same sex marriage to see what verses he was be accused of looking at through his prejudiced lens.

    That is what I asked to see.  Why you are talking about rape I have no idea. 

  • Rwlawoffice

     You do know that he has a master of divinity degree and a doctorate in ministry? So how is is that you believe he is uneducated in the Bible or how to interpret it?

  • i’m not fan of the bible, or christianity… or slavery… but it does seem important to note the difference between slavery in the bible and the old world in general, and the chattel slavery that took place in the americas, africa, and parts of europe during and after the conquest of the new world. there are marked differences between the ways slaves were viewed and treated.
    i oppose all forms of slavery, but i don’t think any reading of the bible would approve of the type of slavery we think of when we refer to slaves in the american south.

  •  Leviticus: 25:44
    Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids,
    which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy
    bondmen and bondmaids.

    Moreover of the
    children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye
    buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in
    your land: and they shall be your possession.

    And ye shall take them
    as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a
    possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your
    brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with

    How is that different from the chattel slavery of the south?

  • The main reason people talk about american slavery in relation with this issue is that the slavers themselves justified their action based on passages in the Bible. The differences between American slavery and old world helotry don’t negate the similarities.

  • There were a lot of places in that episode where I did many face palms, when he kept talking about faith but skipping the lack of faith.  He did state that we are a secular nation, but it seemed more like a way to accommodate multiple faiths, with the assumption that we’re all “Under God”.

  • Rich Warren has done his homework, and I’m sure he knows the Bible very well.  Which makes his selective interpretation all the more troubling.

  • Coyotenose

     Arguments from Authority don’t play so well among skeptics. Are you also willing to assert that what President Obama says and does is in line with the Constitution? he is after all a Constitutional scholar.

    President Bush had an M.B.A., and Clinton had a law degree, therefore Bush must have shown good business sense while in office, and Clinton never broke the law because he knows it. Right?

    There is of course another interpretation of your post. You might be suggesting that Rick Warren knows perfectly well what is in the Bible and how to interpret it, and is simply lying. Which option do you want to use to defend him, that he’s ignorant, or that he’s deceitful?

  • Rwlawoffice

    There are quite a few passages that do call homosexual behavior a sin. Some were written in the Old Testament and some in the New Testament (Romans 1:27-28 for example).

     I agree that some have recently argued that the relationship between David and Jonathan was homosexual, however, it is important to note that these interpretations are within the past 60 years or so.  For thousands of years this relationship was viewed as a friendship.  Not only because it is obvious that David was a heterosexual, but because of the Hebrew word translated as “love” used in those passages most often was used in the context of a friendship.


  • Rick Warren is being criticized here for saying that the Bible does not support slavery as some preached it did at the time of the Civil War.

    No, Rick didn’t qualify it.  Civil War slavery was the context, but the extent to which he said “ZERO support for slavery” made it seem like he was just trying to distance himself from something universally viewed as bad by our society.  I’m sure he justifies slavery-in-the-bible as you and others have on here already.

    What we’re really criticizing him for though is that he doesn’t apply his twists and turns of justification to other things.  Probably because he was raised with a prejudiced attitude that homosexuality is bad.

  • Coyotenose

    Where does it say in the Bible that Slavery should be combated? It enjoys greater support than marriage does in that text. Why don’t you support it?

     The Bible doesn’t endorse modern medicine. Therefore you should stop using it and legislate against it.

    The Bible doesn’t endorse internal combustion engines. Therefore you should legislate against car manufacturers.

    The Bible doesn’t endorse free speech. Therefore you should legislate against it.

    The Bible doesn’t endorse democracies. Therefore you should legislate against them.

    The Bible doesn’t endorse not stoning homosexuals. Therefore you should attempt to murder them.

    Did you happen to notice that Adam and Eve weren’t married? And don’t pull apologetics here, we both know it’s bullshit to claim they were automatically married by virtue of the situation.

    Did you also happen to notice that the Bible implicitly endorses marrying your siblings or otherwise having children by them, given that Adam and Eve’s kids had to do so to perpetuate the species?

    Did you happen to notice that the Bible overtly endorses wiping out entire peoples, but keeping the girl children as slaves and child brides after murdering their families in front of them? Well, at least it’s STRAIGHT marriage, right?

  • Piet Puk

     There are uncountable interpretations of the many bibles, so his degree is tantamount to a Hogwards diploma.
    The fact that he pretents to be dumb just shows the depth of his dishonesty.

  • Rwlawoffice

     The reason I am asking this question here is because of the blog post raising that issue here.  The blog post implied that the Bible supports same sex marriage and homosexuality and that when Rick Warren views it otherwise he is doing so because he is prejudiced.

    Actually, proper hermeneutics does not mean that you look at a verse and interpret it exactly the opposite of what it says. The goal is to try and find out what the author meant at the time it was written. That includes interpreting the passage of the context of the passages around it as well as the historical context of when it was written.  That way you can try to find out what the passages says and not what you would like it to say.  You try to keep your presuppositions out of the interpretations as much as possible.   That is what Rick Warren was complaining that the civil war pastors were doing.  Nothing in the Bible condones slavery as it existed in America at the time. The slavery that is mentioned in the Bible is far different and in fact was far different. They wanted racial slavery to be condoned in the Bible so they read that into the passages.

  • Coyotenose

     I love how this guy only responds to posts that he thinks he can win by playing semantics games, and hides from the others.

    Say, you’ve got a doctorate in law, right? Therefore by your logic above, you’re quite good at interpreting the law, and thus must be able to grasp why separation of church and state is vital in order for the state to not influence the church. Or does that doctorate only mean that you’re experienced at playing word games to claim that whatever you feel like being true is true and obfuscating the issues?

    I’m betting on the latter.

  • Those degrees are substantially meaningless. The doctorate is a joke in terms of understanding religious ideas; the value of the masters depends on the program. Biblical scholars don’t usually have divinity degrees (which can be had on the Internet for a few bucks). They have degrees in religious studies.

    Since he is, unarguably, not understanding the Bible in this interview, I’d say that’s pretty good evidence that his biblical literacy is low. Like most ministers, he’s chosen a worldview and now plays games with the Bible to align the two- which requires rather tortured interpretations.

  • Piet Puk

    “..  that he’s ignorant, or that he’s deceitful?!”

    He is probably both. LOL

  • Tinker

    Tolerance is a Christian value?

  • Lucilius

    Only when your personal denomination is in the minority.

  •  ” The blog post implied that the Bible supports same sex marriage and homosexuality[…]”

    No, it didn’t.  It implied that Rick Warren is hypocritical because he rejects slavery even though the Bible supports it, but rejects homosexuality because the Bible rejects it.

    In a hundred years, when marriage equality is the law of the land, Christians will be saying the same things about the Bible and homosexuality that they are currently saying about the Bible and slavery: that the Bible means the opposite of what it actually says.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    “Actually, proper hermeneutics does not mean that you look at a verse and interpret it exactly the opposite of what it says.”

    I agree, but that seems to be exactly what happens many (but not all) of the time. Especially when it comes to slavery. Like Rich Wilson said above: Warren applies his twists and turns to the passages about slavery, but not to the ones on homosexuality. That is the hypocrisy that Hemant was mentioning.

    Also, the idea that slavery was “far different” than American slavery is a myth and you can even look to the Bible to confirm it. I mentioned Exod 21:20 earlier which says you can beat a slave as much as you want as long as he doesn’t die.So it was every bit as brutal as American slavery.

    And take this passage from Lev 25:44-46 where God speaks to Moses:
    “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 
    You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and
    members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your
    property.  You can
    bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them
    slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites

    That is a clear endorsement to buy foreigners, or non-Israelites (ie people of a different race) and to keep them for life, and beyond as inheritable property. I’m gonna go out on a limb and use some “proper hermeneutics” to figure out what the intent of the author here was: I think the intent of the author was to say that God thinks its OK to by permanent slaves on the basis of their race and/or nationality. Anything else seems to be twisting it quite a bit from the words that are actually on the page.

    How do your “proper hermeneutics” interpret that?

  •  The Bible wouldn’t approve that kind of slavery for a Hebrew.  Foreign slaves were treated quite differently.

  • I’d argue that selective interpretation is prima facie evidence of not understanding the Bible. A true understanding of a subject largely precludes selective interpretation.

    Listen to a competent biblical scholar, and they’ll present multiple interpretations, along with an argument for the one they favor. That argument may strike many of us as specious, but at least there’s an intellectually honest attempt to present the position.

  • Your interpretation of Romans is far from the only one possible. I don’t read it as a condemnation of homosexuality or homosexual behavior, but of unrestrained lust and depravity.

    And lets not forget this was written by Paul, one of the most psychologically damaged and sexually confused authors of the New Testament. So we’re seeing the admonition against lust colored by his own likely homosexuality and feelings of guilt.

  • Rwlawoffice

    When somebody says that Rick Warren doesn’t understand the bible I will point out his education, not to mention that he has been preaching from the Bible for over thirty years. So I don’t think that there is any doubt that he understands it. The fact that he doesn’t understand it the same way as you doesn’t make him either a liar or ignorant.  What I would rather question is your understanding considering his level of knowledge and years of experience on the subject. So to answer your ultimate question, neither.

  • In “The Reason-Driven Life,” Robert Price makes the point that Warren often cherry-picks translations to make the Bible say what he’d rather it said.  So it’s not just a matter of whether you’ve read the Bible, but which one.

  • “Suffers from?”  I suspect it’s one of his main money-making assets.

  • Warren does that, picking and choosing interpretations, but dishonestly presents his as the ONLY interpretation.

  • Rwlawoffice

     The question that was asked of him was how he felt about the preachers of old justifying slavery by using the Bible and he said nothing in the Bible justifies slavery.  How exactly is that selective interpretation?

  • Well, Clinton WAS acquitted. 

  • Romans 1:33 trumps the rest.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Why don’t we go with what he said and not what you think he meant or other positions that were not expressed in the interview.  The context was civil war preachers justifying slavery in America by use of the Bible.

    But let’s assume that Rick Warren would be able to explain the slavery in the Bible through what you consider a twisted interpretation and let’s assume that he is against homosexuality. Again I ask for the parts of the Bible that he is torturing to reach this conclusion that homosexuality is a sin and same sex marriage is not supported in the Bible.  Or the parts of the Bible where it can be said that if he used the same so called twists he would see that homosexuality is actually supported in the Bible.

  • Because it’s factually wrong. There is no need for interpretation at all. Slavery is an accepted thing throughout the Bible. Many important biblical characters had slaves. There are many rules given for how slaves could be taken, and how they had to be treated. There’s nothing that specifically states slavery is wrong.

    How can that be taken as anything other than what it is: acceptance (even if usually passive) of slavery? And given the degree to which people use biblical positions to justify their own, it’s hardly surprising that the Bible has been used by large numbers of people to justify slavery- particularly in the U.S.

  • Rwlawoffice

    What evidence do you have that Paul was psychologically damaged and sexually confused? In this verse and in others such as 1 Corn. 9 he was instructing against engaging in homosexual behavior and lists it among other sexual sins.

    Sorry but in your last post you indicated that Ruth and Namoi was a homosexual relationship.  Their relationship was that of a mother in law and daughter in law. Ruth’s husband had died so she was clearly not homosexual.  Is there evidence that is was anything different?

  • Rwlawoffice

     Actually I can interpret the law and do understand the history of the first amendment very well.

  • Rwlawoffice

     If you really want to know then you need to understand the slavery that existed at the time this was written.  I know people don’t like it, but the reality was that slavery at that time was an economic relationship where the person placed himself in slavery to pay off a debt.  A classic example is when Jacob volunteered to work for seven years to pay for the bride price for Rachel. so the law of Moses set up here was giving instructions on how Jewish people could do the same with foreigners. There were different rules for non Jews because of the year of Jubilee at which time they would be set free. This did not apply to foreigners. The reason this is proper interpretation is in light of the language used, it is in light of the proper historical context and it is consistent with other verses which make it a crime to kidnap anyone for the purposes of slavery and which outline the rules regarding the Jubilee.  

    American slavery was based upon race and kidnapping people against their will and not as prisoners of war.

    Now again I ask- what verses is Rick Warren torturing to claim that homosexuality is wrong and he is only doing to because of his prejudices?

  • Look up his education on Wikipedia. There’s nothing that suggests it is good. The schools are poor ones, noted for producing ministers, not bible scholars. The mere possession of degrees is poor evidence of good education.

    Reading from the Bible is even poorer evidence. There are plenty of pastors who’ve memorized the whole book. That doesn’t mean they understand it. Respectable bible scholars, working in academic environments, don’t generally have the hubris to claim that they understand what is a very complex set of writings, which are poorly documented historically.

    If somebody says the understand the Bible, all your red flags should go up in warning.

  • I can’t help but notice that I state my interpretations as possibilities, and you state yours as facts.

    You clearly have the necessary skills to be a preacher. Maybe you should change careers.

  • RobMcCune

    Good point, slavery practiced by Europeans in 14th-19th century had chattel slavery for people of certain ethnicities, and indentured servitude for others. In contrast biblical slavery had indentured servitude as a right for people of a certain ethinicity, and chattel slavery for everyone else. They’re totally different, no similarities there.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Interpretation of those passages is important if you are going to attempt to use them to justify slavery as it existed in the United States.  If in the proper historical context it is referring to a voluntary economic arrangement and knowing this shows that this is the proper interpretation then it makes more sense that there would not be direct passages outlawing slavery.  There are passages outlawing  kidnapping for the purposes of slavery which cannot be ignored in this discussion. thus those that attempt to use these passages to say that the bible justified slavery as it existed here would not have Biblical justification.

  • Rwlawoffice

    I think that this is true of some parts of the Bible.  Some is confusing and some is clear.  But to say that Rick Warren doesn’t understand the Bible I think is simply not correct.  You may disagree with his understanding but I would be hard pressed to say he doesn’t understand it.

  • Rwlawoffice

     In all respect I am asking for the evidence of the possibilities that you are expressing.  If you have some I would like to explore it.  If these are just your thoughts then that is fine too. 

  • Really? Somebody who has been married to an opposite sex partner can’t be homosexual? I know quite a few lesbian couples with kids and ex-husbands. And I know a few with age differences typical of mothers-in-law/daughters-in-law.

    Many, many cultures throughout history have sought opposite sex marriages for the purposes of tying together families, producing children, and defining property lines, while still being accepting of both same sex or opposite sex relationships (of an intimate nature) outside the formal marriage.

    I don’t know what the nature of Ruth and Naomi’s relationship was (assuming they were even real people). But it is very easy to read the story and recognize a relationship that most people in today’s society would suspect might be homosexual.

  • Rwlawoffice

     I’m sorry I don’t think there is a Romans 1:33.  It stops at 1:32.  Is there another verse you were referring to?

  • Deven_Kale

    Playing semantics with me too? If you’ve read any reasonable amount of the book of Genesis, you should know the phrase “put your hand under my thigh” shows up numerous times throughout as part of making an oath, much like how we currently shake hands to show agreement.

    My point is that the wording of the “put your hand under my thigh” bit could be considered deliberately deceptive assuming the translator was homophobic and thought the real custom was too “homo.” Therefore his “wrestling” with the angel after sending everybody else away could also be considered as more than just a physical endeavor.

    I never said it was a common or accepted interpretation, I just said it was my own personal interpretation. You don’t have to accept it, it’s just an alternative which could be interpreted as condoning homosexuality, especially considering how it was done with an angel.

  • Rwlawoffice

     If you are saying that we should only support things that are expressly in the Bible then marriage between a man and a women is the only marriage that should be supported by those that follow the Bible. 

    As for Adam and Eve, they were brought together by God and he blessed their union calling them husband and wife. Sounds a lot like a marriage.   

  • OverlappingMagisteria

     Thanks for clearing that up. I didn’t realize that there was such a huge chasm between American and Biblical slavery.

    American slaves were kidnapped, while Hebrew slaves were only taken as prisoners of war, which much more ethical. Even though everything else was the same in regards to how they could be beaten and owned forever on the basis of their race, the method of procurement really makes it much more justifiable.

    You keep missing the point about Warren. He is not torturing any verses about homosexuality (well, he does avoid the the whole “they must be put to death” part of Lev 20:13 but thats another point). Neither Hemant of I ever said he was torturing any verses on homosexuality.  What we are saying is that he is torturing verses on slavery in order to say that there is “ZERO biblical justification of slavery.” And we find it ironic that he will torture those verses in order to make slavery kinder and gentler while doing nothing about the other verses on homosexuality.

    Anyway, this thread has become squished into a tiny little column which means its gone to far. Thank you for the conversation and for responding.

  • I’m not hard pressed to say that at all. He understands it in the light of his own beliefs; his understanding is not scholarly.

  • You mean about Paul? He was a woman fearing, woman hating man. Apparently a homophobe. He was full of guilt, and experienced auditory and visual hallucinations.

    All of these, by common psychological evaluation standards, suggest some combination of mental illness, dysfunctional upbringing, and suppressed sexuality, with suppressed homosexuality being most likely given his views and the culture he was born into.

  • Nox

    The bible explicitly gives its blessing to one man owning another.

    That is the only context that affects whether the bible is pro-slavery.

  • Nox

    When someone’s special understanding of the bible requires them to twist or ignore what is plainly written, they understand less about the bible than a person who simply reads it. Not more.

    Rick Warren went to school to be trained as a minister. He learned to preach, and has been preaching. That’s all.  That says nothing about his understanding of any particular subject aside from preaching. That here and elsewhere, he has made factually incorrect statements about what is in the book he claims to be using, does not make him an expert with special knowledge. It just makes him demonstrably wrong.

  • Nox

    No one has suggested that Warren is twisting the bible to make it homophobic. The obvious point of the statement you are responding to is that Warren twists the bible when it says what he doesn’t want it to say (pro-slavery), and reads literally when it says what he does want it to say (anti-gay).

    Warren is using the same hermeneutic method you are using here. Reading literally when you want it to be literal, and reading metaphorically when you want it to be metaphorical (with no thought for what the text actually says).

  • bismarket

    I don’t expect this to be popular but it’s something i truly believe, so here goes. Even the best Christians are hypocrites, they have to be. By defending the Bible & claiming it to be divinely inspired, they have to either ignore or explain away ALL the nasty stuff in it. When Christians claim that it was the Bible or Christianity that helped end slavery & quote Lincoln & John Brown using the Bible against slavery, i wonder if they stop to think that maybe the reason they used the Bible so much as a weapon for emancipation was because it was being used (not quite as) effectively by the other side in support of it? I think the success of Lincoln & Browns arguments had more to do with oratory & rhetoric than Biblical “Truth”!

  • Piet Puk

     But you don’t understand. You’re picking the wrong cherry.

  • Piet Puk

     Don’t all religious folks do that?

  • Sunny Day

    Its only in the gentle questioning of his understanding that keeps us from claiming that hes a most heinous liar.

  • Sunny Day

    No, you were saying that when you were trolling with your sentence, “Maybe someone here can point me to scriptures where ….”

    If you think the answers were stupid it was probably because they were a reflection of your original question.

  • Rwlawoffice

    To obtain a doctorate at a seminary like Dr. Warren did and to preach in a Christian church for over thirty years, he would need to know the Bible and would have knowledge of the “book he preaches from”

  • Rwlawoffice

    Actually, his understanding about how slavery is depicted in the Bible is the scholarly consensus.  if he had a different understanding, that would be an outlier interpretation. 

  • Rwlawoffice

    There is nothing metaphorical about the passages about slavery but there is a vast difference between slavery as it existed at that time and at the time of the Civil War. There is nothing about those passages which would justify using them to support slavery as it existed at the time of the civil war and thus his comment was correct and not the result of twisting anything.

  • Rwlawoffice

    But if the only evidence you have of someone’s sexual activities is that they are heterosexual, why believe that they are homosexual.  The only evidence of David having sex at all is with women.  There is no evidence in any of the writings that Ruth and Naomi was sexual at all so when you read Ruth, where is that expressed or implied? The fact that most people in today’s society would look at that and think it is a homosexual relationship is the very problem  we have been discussing- using modern sensibilities to interpret scripture instead of trying to find what they meant at the time they wrote it.

  • Patterrssonn

    You’re absolutely right while biblical slaves were bought and sold as chattel, owned and inherited, their children born into slavery they didn’t work in cotton fields. Its amazing that people see the biblical celebration of slavery in a negative light when cotton is never even mentioned.

  • “And the Bible, like any other book, and people do it with the Constitution, make it mean what they want it to mean.”

    He freely admits this then expects us to buy it when he pretends anything in the Bible is “God’s  eternal word”. 

  • Piet Puk

    ” .. is the scholarly consensus.”
    You typed ”cherry picking” wrong.

  • Piet Puk

     So that would make him deceitful, no surprise there..

  • Piet Puk

     Wow, suddenly ”evidence” is important to you. You have shown multiple times that you have a very twisted sense of what evidence is, when it concerns your own religion.

  • Piet Puk

    You have never shown any evidence of the existance of your god here. So, in all respect, please don’t be such a hypocrite.

  • What the Bible says about slavery

    So, what was that again about “zero biblical justification for slavery”?

  •  Oh, fffuuuuu-

    Now I have the damn seagulls stuck in my head!

  • David and Jonathan.

    18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
    18:2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
    18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
    18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

    Queer as as a football bat.

  • What I stated is evidence. That’s all there is of anything in the Bible- evidence, mostly thin. The Bible is historically weak, and most of the characters are either fictional or rather far removed from the people they are based on.

    A rational person considers all the evidence and makes a judgment about interpretation- recognizing, of course, that no interpretation is certain.

    As I said before, anybody who believes that anything in the Bible is factually correct, without doubt, is irrational or intellectually dishonest.

  •  No, it is not “obvious” that he was straight.

    Would a straight man’s love for another man “exceed the love of women”?

    At best, you could argue for bisexuality in the case of David, as he did marry a number of wives and produced a number of children.

  •  Yeah, because gays and lesbians have never married members of the opposite sex in an attempt to “change” or at least blend in…

  •  Hey, at least you get geek cred for the Hogwarts diploma (and it’s still more useful than whatever Rick Warren has).

  • The women and children volunteered?  Really?

    The proper historical context is that women were chattel.  Men volunteered six years of servitude.  Women were ‘given’ and children remained ‘property’.

  • I think I’d be ready to assume ‘true believer’, just like Rwlawoffice, mommaJ, Ndonan, Nordog et al.

  • Exodus: 21:4
    If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. 

  • Patterrssonn

    God rw you’re like a fucking broken record. No matter how much polish you stick on this turd it’s still a turd. Times are different, attitudes towards slavery are different. It’s understandable that the slavery wouldn’t be considered evil by the authors of the bible, they were the products of a violent and brutal time. Slavery is slavery is slavery, no amount of dissembling or rationalizing can change that.

  • We get that slavery was a reality of the time.  What we don’t get is how your supposedly omniscient and omnibenevolent deity was incapable of saying, “I know this is commonly accepted throughout the world right now, but it’s just plain wrong.”  It’s almost as if the Bible was written by mere mortals who couldn’t have known any better…

  • Ndonnan

    It constantly amuses me to read athiests interpreting the bible,pure ignorence. And biblically illiterate ha,why do you think there are so many denominations,because of critical thinking,reason,free thinking.The only people who leave the church to athiesm  never knew God,only religion.Read luke 6. 27-31.See if it makes sense to an athiest,i think not

  • Ndonnan


  • Ndonnan

    Yes but tolerance dosnt mean everything is ok

  • Ndonnan

    The N.T quotes given all refer to servants not slaves.The government dosent have public slaves but servents,their workers.The O.T times ,and N.T for that matter was a time of rulers,kings and what they said was absolute, if you were in another kingdom or country  you became their prisoner,end of story

  • Ndonnan

    You do know they dont really want to know dont you RW?

  • Patterrssonn

    Keep polishing that turd RW.

  • Ndonnan

    Look around you Piet,i know you think it came from an all mighty explosion [not that teres any evidence of that} but i see a creator. you carnt see the forest for the trees

  • Ndonnan

    Now now Pieti, friendy athiest,dont be hypocritical

  • Ndonnan

    another great example of how much an athiest knows the bible

  • Piet Puk

    Sorry if realitu seem unfriendly to you.

  • Piet Puk

    Pff, can you at least TRY to come with a real argument? Troll.

  • Piet Puk

     That is because we are interested in reality, not fairytails.

  • Rwlawoffice

    And what evidence would that be? 

  • Rwlawoffice

    I am sorry CP but that is really not true.  I would respectfully suggest that you read up on the historicity of the Bible. Norman Geisler is a good place to start.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Not all love between men is sexual. That is something that is being read into the text by someone who wants to see it there.

  • Rwlawoffice

    People who study the Bible with the proper hermeneutics follow a method that attempts to preclude them from reading in their own personal interpretation. Trying to find out what the author meant and not what he had in a hidden meaning.   

  • Rwlawoffice

    Only if you read that into the text because you want it to be that way.  If you understand the story of David, the Bible is not shy at discussing his sins- adultery and murder for example.  So there would be no reason to hide this if it happened. 

  • Erp

     Please give references to support the scholarly consensus

  • Erp

     Probably several reasons but a few are (1) a church was one of the few  institutions that they controlled post reconstruction and one that could provide a security net; (2) they had reinterpreted the Bible to support themselves (there is a reason that Exodus, the story of a group of slaves escaping, is so prominent for many blacks [much less so, I suspect, for white Christians]).  

  • Piet Puk

    “..the proper hermeneutics..”
     You wrote “Cherry picker” wrong again..

  • Piet Puk

     “That is something that is being read into the text by someone who wants to see it there.’
    Is what all religious people do.

  • Piet Puk

    The evidence for the existance of your god, and that he/she created the universe. The same standard of evidence as you would accept in a court room please.

  • Piet Puk

     So the flood DID happen!?

  • Romantic and sexual relationships between people of the same sex are now much more open than they have been for many centuries. As a consequence, most people now have a much better understanding of their nature, and are similarly better at recognizing them when they see them. So it’s hardly surprising that relationships with those characteristics (which have always existed, of course) are now noted in biblical writings, where they would not have been in the past.

    That doesn’t mean anything is being “read into” the text. It means we’re better at interpretation, because we’re working from a better knowledge base.

  • Rwlawoffice

    I know i get accused of cutting and pasting but this is the easiest way to give you the references if you are truly interested. This article cites well over thirty sources for the information.


  • Rwlawoffice

    This is for latest post.  Too narrow for a reply but if you want a detailed explanation I would suggest you read “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler.  Very detailed explanation of the evidence . It is the kind that would be accepted in  a court from expert witnesses.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Actually, it is using a modern lens to try and see what was written long ago. That is the opposite of a proper interpretation method. For example to interpret what Mark Twain meant in his writings about the realtionship between whites and blacks you would not look to post civil rights relationships after the 1960’s, you would look to them as they existed as the time Twain wrote his novels. 

  • Well, in that case, why would anybody use the words of a handful of bronze age savages to define any aspect of modern thought?

    The Bible sucks as a moral guide even when reinterpreted using more recent secular standards; by the standards of the times when it was written, the document is appalling!

  • Piet Puk

    oh, the irony, it hurts.

  • Piet Puk

    No, I mean REAL evidence, not the philosophical kind.

  • Stev84

    That’s like saying someone has a doctorate in smurfology. It’s the study of made up nonsense

  • Ndonnan

    yes,yes it would Rich

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