Vol.I No.IX Pg.8
September 1964

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

In Christ's time, slavery was a common thing. The early church contained both Masters (owners) and slaves -- chattel property. Paul sent a Christian slave home to his Christian master (Phile. 8-19) and Peter taught slaves to respect and obey even the froward master. (1 Pet.2:18)

Yet, in God's sight the soul of the slave was as important as that of any person (Eph. 6:9) and Christians were taught to treat all alike. (Jas. 2:1-f.) But the organized church was not taught to "lobby" against slavery as a social order, nor to revolt against a government that allowed it. (1 Pet.2:13-f) The divine institution has a spiritual mission--that of worshipping God and bringing lost souls to Him --- and its resources must not be prostituted to temporal matters.

Instead, as the cited passages show, the doctrine of Christ abolishes slavery by its leavening influence --- as it teaches men human dignity (Heb. 2:6-f) and our equal kinship to the Creator. (Acts 17:26) As true Christianity spreads, its followers lean and appreciate the brotherhood of man, and are freed of racial prejudices. We seek to better understand our "neighbors" and how to treat them. This is Christ-like character, and it develops and matures in the very natuc/imf man as we individually "put on" Christ. (Phil. 2:5-f. 3:12-15) CHARACTER can not be "legislated" into being; nor have congregations any business trying, by political or other carnal means, to force men to conform to Christ's law. The "gospel" is the power of God unto salvation, (Rom.1:16) not Uncle Sam's long arm.

As the gospel of Christ is taught, each individual Christian-- as a citizen --- will put its principles to work in civic, social, and economic affairs. He will pay taxes, respect authority (Rom.13:5-f) and in a Republic such as ours, cast his vote for equity and justice.

The church, as such, teaches and nourishes character. If those who are members participate in social injustices and racial hatreds, it is because the church has done a poor job of teaching Christ and exercising discipline. As the church fails the man, the man fails society and the state.

More directly, today's weakness is in the individual, who claims to be a Christian, but acts like a "heathen."