Thabiti Anyabwile has written an excellent summary of Doug Wilson’s controversial book Black & Tan: A Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America. In the days to come Anyabwile will interact with Wilson’s view, but for now here’s a summary of the summary:
Wilson rejects racism, but on slavery argues that:
1. The Bible speaks authoritatively about slavery and Christians are duty-bound to obey its teaching (p. 14, 37).
3. The slavery regulated in the Mosaic law differs from slavery in pagan empires like Rome.
4. Christians must denounce as a matter of biblical principle any racism, racial animosity, or racial vainglory involved in American slavery or any other race-based system of slavery.
5. The gospel is antithetical to slavery as a system and would, over time, lead to the eradication of slavery everywhere.
6. The best subversion of slavery occurs when Christian slaves and slave owners carefully obey the dictates of Scripture.
7. Godly social renewal is never bloodthirsty.
Wilson’s concerns seem to be that (a) if Christians are squeemish about slavery in the Bible, we’re more likely to be squeemish about things the culture doesn’t like (such as pro-life and opposition to same-sex “marriage”), (b) the manner by which slavery was ended caused problems “every bit as bad as the original disease ever was.” For example, the federal government is now too large, and this has put Christians on the defensive with regard to various cultural issues. (e.g., The HHS mandate and Hobby Lobby case come to mind.)
I’ve not yet read Wilson’s book, but I really appreciate Anyabwile’s review (which Wilson has noted is fair), and look forward to the future posts. Here are some questions I hope to learn more about (from Wilson’s perspective):
1. How do you distinguish between man stealing and slave owning? In the antebellum South, how was owning a slave any different from supporting a sytem you’ve argued was fundamentally unjust (man stealing)?
2. How does the “best subversion of slavery occurs when Christian slaves and slave owners carefully obey the dictates of Scripture” cohere with “Christians can legitimately own slaves, provided they’re well-treated”? And how does either cohere with the reality that many were not well-treated? How would slavery have been subverted when Christian men in the South (some of them slave owners) were themselves defending slavery?
FYI – I previously interviewed Doug Wilson on the (then) candidacy of Ron Paul for President. One of the questions dealt with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.