Its critical to understand five key issues:
1) Fredrick Douglas isn’t criticizing Christianity of the Bible, but a specific hyper-capitalistic, racialized version of Christianity that uses the Bible to justify slavery (that was pretty much exclusively used in one historical moment and in one geography by one class of people). That is….Douglas is mad at the abuse and dehumanization of slave owners who manipulate the Bible to justify slavery. That is to say…..he’s taking issue with the exact interpretation that atheists apply to the Old Testament text.
2) He became a Methodist after his experience with slavery. That is to say, his conclusion–his overall viewpoint is that of endorsing Christianity in both principle and practice. To read him outside of this context is to warp his legacy and his words in fundamental ways.
3) Lets be clear. There are two perspectives on the issue
• Majority accepted interpretation of the Biblical text (ie freedom and justice)
• Extreme minority interpretation of the Biblical text (ie slavery)
His issue is with twisting the words and it being unChristian and unethical to warp the meaning of Christianity to justify slavery.
4) This is a quote that I believes appears in the Forward of his book to clarify this issue. To not include this, is to warp history and to lie about the legacy and words from Fredrick Douglas’ real perspective:
“I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the ~slaveholding religion~ of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference–so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of “stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.” I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.
Old Testament and New Testament are justice and liberation.”
So, its not Christianity that he has a problem with, but people who call themselves Christians and do the opposite. This is an indict of a specific group of individuals who attend church, but don’t live like Christians during the week. That’s descriptive of a sub-group of individuals–not all Christians. Fredrick Douglas believes in Christianity or he wouldn’t have been a Christian himself.
5) The narrative of both the Old Testament and New Testament are about justice and liberation. Erasing that narrative is to warp the overall theme and purpose of Christianity more broadly. That’s not a real critique, but only a weak strawperson attack that mischaracterize the Bible, its mission, its purposes, and its texts.
* The quote itself makes the argument I’m making of critiquing a specific instance of specific Christians, not Christianity more broadly. (The Bible makes arguments like this about false teachers). Moreover, the Appendix may have additional reasons in it given its exclusive reason is to ensure that his legacy is not warped and used against Christianity. His argument is using unChristian arguments against Christianity is unChristian and warped.
Here’s more from the conclusion of the appendix:
Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.
I conclude these remarks by copying the following portrait of the religion of the south, (which is, by communion and fellowship, the religion of the north,) which I soberly affirm is “true to the life,” and without caricature or the slightest exaggeration. It is said to have been drawn, several years before the present anti-slavery agitation began, by a northern Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding morals, manners, and piety, with his own eyes. “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”
Further Reading & Research:
- And the 2nd part of this essay includes more:
- I’m also sure you could read more pro-Christian abolitionists for more support for this argument. Probably both Wilberforce’s writings, but also US based abolitionists.
- Black liberation theology should also answer this.
You can learn more at William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith.
The New Testament on Women in Ministry in the Church of Christ
Inclusion of Women in Worship: The Highland Church of Christ
This mentions a number of roles for women citing Biblical models:
CO-WORKERS IN THE LORD: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF PARTNERSHIP* JEANENE P. REESE
Several key examples show women’s participation in these kingdom events and the new community:
1. Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Chuza; Susanna and many others provide for the disciples from their means (Luke 8:1–3).
2. Mary and Martha, two sisters from Bethany, and their brother, Lazarus, open their home to Jesus and serve his needs in a very personal way (Luke 10:38–42).
3. A poor widow gives all that she has, two coins, and is commended by Jesus to his disciples, and ultimately to all of us, for her faithfulness and generosity (Luke 21:1–4).
4. Women are the last at the cross and first at the tomb (Luke 23:55, 24:1–10).
5. Tabitha, a faithful disciple who leads/serves a group of widows and orphans, dies, and the group is so distraught that Peter resurrects her so she can continue her good works (Acts 9:36–41).
6. Lydia, a wealthy merchant, is gathered with a group of God-fearers in Philippi worshipping God when she meets Paul. Upon hearing the gospel, she and her whole household—she is the head of it—are baptized (Acts 16:14–15, 40).
7. Priscilla and Aquilla teach Apollos sound doctrine and continue to serve in the kingdom as co-workers, co-leaders with Paul and each other (Acts 18:24–28, Rom 16:3–4, 1 Cor 16:19).
8. Philip, the evangelist, has four unmarried daughters who prophesy (Acts 21:9).
9. Phoebe is commended as a deaconess, and her service to the kingdom is extolled, and Junia is mentioned as prominent among the apostles (Rom 16:1, 7).
10. Euodia and Syntyche are listed as Paul’s fellow-workers and urged to agree in the Lord (Phil 4:2–3).
11. Lois and Eunice are commended as grandmother and mother to the envoy, Timothy, for how they have developed and influenced his faith (2 Tim 1:5).
The emphasis in these passages is on faithfulness, unity, surrender, discipleship, mission, blessing, giving, serving, learning, healing, sharing, giftedness, honoring, teaching, partnership, mutuality, and prayer. Truly, “Jesus was a friend of women. He vigorously promoted the dignity and equality of women in terms of both value and function, and He left us this example [to follow].”28 Jesus essentially establishes a new paradigm for our world.
The full article is available here.
This is a Womens Leadership conference held at Abelieve Christian University. It seems the Conference speakers reflect a good range of viewpoints on the topic of women in ministry and leadership in the Christian church and the church of Christ. You can access the handouts and notes here.
For instance Cukrowski highlights Ten functions of women in the New Testament:
1. Female Deacons
2. Female Patrons
3. Female Apostles
4. Ministry Teams
5. Female Host of House Churches
6. Female Coworkers
7. Female Laborers
8. Female Prophets
9. Female Prayer
10. Female Teachers
• Aggregation (link)
• Tool breakdown (link)
• Free Text Analysis Tools at Predictive Analytics (link)
• Text Analysis for Business at KD Nuggets (link)
• Cluster Analysis for Business at KD Nuggets (link)
• Project planning advice (link)
• Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (link) [two versions–one is about $80–the other lite version is $30]. (it does word count & theme)
• Textal iPhone App (link)
Lists of Texts:
Electronic Texts (link)
The Jesus Myth: The Case Against the Historical Jesus–A Critique/Criticism/Answer
I haven’t had sufficient time to look at the full document, but its primary arguments amount to the following:
4) other documents
5) controversy/disagreement (there is an argument–must mean there isn’t an argument)
The allegory argument is pretty weak. It assumes that documents must pick one or the other rather than combine the two. In other words, when Lincoln and other historical figures told allegorical stories–this author would condemn them. That seems a little inconsistent or hypocritical.
He ultimately makes arguments based on their similaries and differences. And the argument that the New Testament confirms the Old Testament–is evidence for credibility and consistency. The difference (the author even talks about) seem to negate the sourcing issue in Mark.
Controversy is par of the course–happens in academia all the time. If that falsified something–we would get rid of the academy entirely & every book on record. I don’t see what the problem is.
Other religious documents that point in other directions are pretty irrelevant. There isn’t the substance of an argument articulated.
And the consistency between the Old and New Testament predictions is actually a good thing. His spin is radically insufficient on this issue.
The Gospel of Mark was the first story of Jesus that was written, and all others are dependent on it
If there is any uniqueness in the other gospels, and there is a great deal, I would suggest this argument is pretty useless and meaningless.
The Gospel of Mark shows clear signs of being written as an allegorical fiction
It contains allegories does not mean its all allegories. Thats the fallacy of composition.
Virtually every detail of the life of Jesus comes from “Old Testament” scriptures
Thats a good thing. That shows consistency. That shows prophecy in action. That demonstrates the credibility of the Bible as an entity
If you want a better informed study, I suggest looking here at Gary Haberman’s work on the Historical Jesus. Also the Case for Christ is quite good as well, you can grab it here on Amazon for pretty cheap. NT Wright has written a good deal about the subject of the historical jesus, although not as much from a strictly historical view–but its quite intelligent and informed.