For centuries, the Scriptures were twisted and distorted to provide support for racism and race-based slavery.
It is no exaggeration to state that the enslavement of African Americans would never have persisted as long as it did without the support of persons who claimed to follow Scripture. At the same time, Christian ethics were also one of the key factors that reshaped imaginations and sparked the social transformations that ended slavery—and it wasn’t only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that the Word of God turned Christians’ minds against the enslavement of human beings. Even in the early centuries of Christianity, some Christians already glimpsed the unavoidable clash between slavery and the creation of every human being in God’s image, equal in value and dignity.
Many of these arguments are as relevant in the continuing battle against racial injustice today as they were centuries ago—but, before taking a look at the many Christians who spoke against these injustices, it’s important to acknowledge the ways in which generations of church leaders misused Scripture to support racism and slavery.
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