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Author Topic: Slavery and the Orthodox Church  (Read 5329 times) Average Rating: 0
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stanley123
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« on: August 10, 2010, 08:46:22 PM »

Split off from    Purgatory, and the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Views on Sin and Forgiveness.


Last I checked, slavery wasn't a theological issue, but a political one.


I recommend checking further. I would contend that it is a sin and it is morally wrong for the white European to enslave the colored woman (or man). This is a serious denial of her right to live as a human being and I would be  surprised to find that anyone would say that the enslavement of the colored woman by the white European male is not immoral, unethical and seriously wrong according to the Christian moral code today.  
Do you say that according to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the enslavement of the colored woman (or man)  by the white European male is not a sin?  That there is nothing wrong with it?

The meaning of slavery itself in the United States and how it became an issue of race is a political issue which is couched in morality.  Of course it's wrong for someone to be enslaved because of their race.  This is a red herring and a ridiculous statement.  And, as far as I know, there was never a pronouncement from any Orthodox church which said that Africans should be allowed to be enslaved by white men simply for being Africans.  Do you know of any?  For me to answer such a question, you have to show that the Orthodox Church once said that it was okay for the "peculiar institution" of the South to exist or to continue to exist.

St. Paul apparently condoned slavery, as he told slaves to accept their lot in life.  Are you saying that St. Paul was wrong, theologically speaking?  
At one time slavery was permitted, now it is not. The teaching of the OO, EO, and RC Churches has changed.
As to the question of whether or not there were slaves of darker skinned people held as workers at Orthodox monasteries please see: Will Guy, Between Past and Future: The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe, University of Hertfordshire Press, Hatfield, 2001. ISBN 1902806077 p. 267
Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient şi Occident. Ţările române la începutul epocii moderne, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995. ISBN 973-28-0523-4 p. 43, 44.
This is why it looks to me like it is not completely accurate to say: "...there has been NO doctrinal or theological creep in the last thousand years within Orthodoxy."
I see a change in the theological teaching on the morality of enslaving darker skinned women (and men) by the white European male.
Someone else brought up in the discussion on this thread the question of theological creep in Orthodox teaching.
The Orthodox Church was a major slaveholder and did not contest the institution of slavery. Please see:
•   Viorel Achim, The Roma in Romanian History, Central European University Press, Budapest, 2004. ISBN 9639241849
p. 97.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 09:34:25 AM by Schultz » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 09:43:47 AM »

Thank you for the references; I will see if I can locate them and read your sources.

I still, however, posit that slavery is a political/cultural issue that may have theological implications but is not a vital "piece" of the Faith as codified by the Creed.  I also posit that throwing the issue of slavery into a discussion on the immutability of the Orthodox Faith over the centuries is a red herring.

You also have not answered by question re: St. Paul.  According to your logic, because St. Paul condoned slavery (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22; 4:1; Philemon 8-12, 15, 17; 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9), he was theologically wrong.  What changed over the years, in both the Catholic and Orthodox churches, was the hearts of those who professed that faith, not the faith itself.  Within the profession of faith was the kernel of truth that slavery was wrong for the very reasons you espouse.  As I noted, the Orthodox Church, to my knowledge, has never said outright that the enslavement of any race was right and good and the will of God.  It condoned what may be seen as a economic necessity tied up in strong social and cultural institutions, while the Spirit quietly worked in the background to soften the hearts and minds of those who held slaves, yes, even monks.

Again, the change of attitude towards slavery is not a change in faith, but, rather, the change of the hearts and minds of Orthodox believers.
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 10:07:43 AM »


This is why it looks to me like it is not completely accurate to say: "...there has been NO doctrinal or theological creep in the last thousand years within Orthodoxy."


You may be right.  The Orthodox have now quite rejected the biblical teaching in both the Old and New Testament whereby God allows slavery.  The question arises: were we right to go against scripture?  Is slavery a part of divine revelation?  Startling as that question may seem in the 21st century it obviously was not startling to Saint Paul and to many generations of Christians.

Btw, does anybody remember the two Papal Bulls authorising slavery?
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 11:14:40 AM »

Split off from    Purgatory, and the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Views on Sin and Forgiveness.


Last I checked, slavery wasn't a theological issue, but a political one.


I recommend checking further. I would contend that it is a sin and it is morally wrong for the white European to enslave the colored woman (or man). This is a serious denial of her right to live as a human being and I would be  surprised to find that anyone would say that the enslavement of the colored woman by the white European male is not immoral, unethical and seriously wrong according to the Christian moral code today.  
Do you say that according to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the enslavement of the colored woman (or man)  by the white European male is not a sin?  That there is nothing wrong with it?

The meaning of slavery itself in the United States and how it became an issue of race is a political issue which is couched in morality.  Of course it's wrong for someone to be enslaved because of their race.  This is a red herring and a ridiculous statement.  And, as far as I know, there was never a pronouncement from any Orthodox church which said that Africans should be allowed to be enslaved by white men simply for being Africans.  Do you know of any?  For me to answer such a question, you have to show that the Orthodox Church once said that it was okay for the "peculiar institution" of the South to exist or to continue to exist.

St. Paul apparently condoned slavery, as he told slaves to accept their lot in life.  Are you saying that St. Paul was wrong, theologically speaking?  
At one time slavery was permitted, now it is not. The teaching of the OO, EO, and RC Churches has changed.
As to the question of whether or not there were slaves of darker skinned people held as workers at Orthodox monasteries please see: Will Guy, Between Past and Future: The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe, University of Hertfordshire Press, Hatfield, 2001. ISBN 1902806077 p. 267
Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient şi Occident. Ţările române la începutul epocii moderne, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995. ISBN 973-28-0523-4 p. 43, 44.
This is why it looks to me like it is not completely accurate to say: "...there has been NO doctrinal or theological creep in the last thousand years within Orthodoxy."
I see a change in the theological teaching on the morality of enslaving darker skinned women (and men) by the white European male.
Someone else brought up in the discussion on this thread the question of theological creep in Orthodox teaching.
The Orthodox Church was a major slaveholder and did not contest the institution of slavery. Please see:
•   Viorel Achim, The Roma in Romanian History, Central European University Press, Budapest, 2004. ISBN 9639241849
p. 97.



Seeing as how slavery in most of the cultures of Europe during the time it was allowed was usually a "spoil of war" (such as Aristotle's enslavement to Philip II of Macedonia), the presence of "darker skinned" slaves does not prove that the basis of slavery was the color of the person's skin.  It merely proves that at one point in time the people of Europe, who were "white" were at war against people of "darker skin", something the historical records attest to.

Keep in mind as well that the peasant classes of feudal Europe were slaves.  In England we see the above statement proved, in that the majority of the slave holders were Norman, subjugating the previous inhabitants of island.  A comparison of the nobility of the other European nations, which arose in earlier and less documented periods of history will bear this out, as one considers that the nobility of France was of the tribe of Franks, while most of the peasantry were descended from the Gauls.  Along the area of France called Normandy the peasantry consisted of Franks and Gauls who had been conquered by the Normans (Vikings).
 
As to whether or not the institution of slavery is morally justifiable, or indeed is as abolished as we think, is a judgment beyond the scope of an age as morally decadent as the one find ourselves in.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 11:24:19 AM »

Slavery is definitely a theological issue.

St. Gregory of Nyssa on Slavery

'I got me slave-girls and slaves.' For what price, tell me? What did you find in existence worth as much as this human nature? What price did you put on rationality? How many obols did you reckon the equivalent of the likeness of God? How many staters did you get for selling that being shaped by God? God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness. If he is in the likeness of God, and rules the whole earth, and has been granted authority over everything on earth from God, who is his buyer, tell me? Who is his seller? To God alone belongs this power; or, rather, not even to God himself. For his gracious gifts, it says, are irrevocable. God would not therefore reduce the human race to slavery, since he himself, when we had been enslaved to sin, spontaneously recalled us to freedom. But if God does not enslave what is free, who is he that sets his own power above God's?

St. Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes; Hall and Moriarty, trs., de Gruyter (New York, 1993) p. 74.

http://books.google.com/books?id=BReXJwwE_D8C&pg=PA179&lpg=PA179&dq=st.+gregory+of+nyssa+slavery&source=bl&ots=kFZMIuRICK&sig=UmQGRYdyWQmk__1lpd5Q7PToWXU&hl=en&ei=srxiTKyiGYH68Abx4filCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CDoQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

At least in St. Gregory's day, Roman slavery, as ugly as it was, was not racially based and never called anyone's full humanity into question.  That is what made American slavery even more of a theological issue, because declaring that any particular family of humanity is "inferior" or of a "lesser breed" is inherently blasphemous.

There's an interesting article out there called The ‘Whole Humanity’: Gregory of Nyssa's Critique of Slavery in Light of His Eschatology by D. Bentley Hart of the Divinity School of Duke University if you can run it down.  An abstract:

Nowhere in the literary remains of antiquity is there another document quite comparable to Gregory of Nyssa's fourth homily on the book of Ecclesiastes: certainly no other ancient text still known to us—Christian, Jewish, or Pagan—contains so fierce, unequivocal, and indignant a condemnation of the institution of slavery. Not that it constitutes a particularly lengthy treatise: it is only a part of the sermon itself, a brief exegedeal excursus on Ecclesiastes 2:7 (‘I got me male and female slaves, and had my home-born slaves as well’), but it is a passage of remarkable rhetorical intensity. In it Gregory treats slavery not as a luxury that should be indulged in only temperately (as might an Epicurean), nor as a necessary domestic economy too often abused by arrogant or brutal slave-owners (as might a Stoic like Seneca or a Christian like John Chrysostom), but as intrinsically sinful, opposed to God's actions in creation, salvation, and the church, and essentially incompatible with the Gospel. Of course, in an age when an economy sustained otherwise than by chattel slavery was all but unimaginable, the question of abolition was simply never raised, and so the apparent uniqueness of Gregory's sermon is, in one sense, entirely unsurprising. Gregory lived at a time, after all, when the response of Christian theologians to slavery ranged from—at best—resigned acceptance to—at worst—vigorous advocacy. But, then, this makes all the more perplexing the question of how one is to account for Gregory's eccentricity. Various influences on his thinking could of course be cited— most notably, perhaps, that of his revered teacher and sister Macrina, who had prevailed upon Gregory's mother to live a common life with her servants—but this could at best help to explain only Gregory's general distaste for the institution; it would still not account for the sheer uncompromising vehemence of his denunciations.

Another article on St. Gregory's treatise:

http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/110986.pdf
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 12:31:37 PM »

Slavery is not morally justifiable, no matter what a few Bible verses say.
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 12:58:11 PM »

Slavery is not morally justifiable, no matter what a few Bible verses say.

I'm not aware of Bible verses which actually justify slavery. There are ones that speak to how Christian slaves and masters should act within the socio-political context of slavery and how Jewish and non-Jewish slaves ought to be treated.

What, precisely, is meant by slavery is difficult to define and depends on context. Interesting, the Greek word can be translated as slave or servant. In the ancient world, one in which attachments to lands or masters was not just normative, but necessary, one's compensation was not the paycheck people receive today. A slave, servant, peasant or serf as someone who was not the master of his own destiny (if anyone can be said to be such) would still have received and expected compensation of sorts. Of course, abuse often occurred. Yet, it would be incorrect to assume that all forms of the institution called slavery were equally morally reprehensible and that all types of slaves found their condition repressive to freedom.

Defining the morality of an ancient institution that existed under quite different circumstances that what we have today is a bit fuzzy. That said, I agree with St. Gregory of Nyssa's assessment.
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2010, 12:58:32 PM »

In the former Russian Empire, slavery was the norm of life for the vast majority of the population for centuries. Until 1861, all peasants were officially serfs, in bondage to their landlord (or to a monastery). They had to pay very heavy taxes to their lords, and also to work several days a week on their lords' land. They could be bought and sold. They had no right to move anywhere. The attitude towards them was worse than the attitude towards beasts of burden (they were often cheaper on the market). Any girl or woman could be raped by her lord, without any consequences to him. Horrible punishments were daily routine. Sometimes the landowners behaved like real sadists, inflicting these punishments: for example, the notorious Mrs. Saltykova ("Saltychikha") would ask her serf girls to scub the floor, and then, always finding some fault in their performance, had these girls beaten in front of her with rods to death. After a couple of dozen serf girls murdered in this way, Saltychikha was charged and convicted to life in prison, because it was obvious that she had human beings killed deliberately, with premeditation. However, if a sef died after a flogging, usually no one was held responsible because it 'just happened." I have no information about the Russian Orthodox Church ever expressing any anti-serfdom sentiment.

Slavery re-appeared in the former Russian Empire, now reincarnated as the USSR, in 1928-29, during the so-called "collectivization of the Soviet agriculture." All land except tiny plots around the peasant's hut were taken away from people and made the property of the "collective farms." Rural dwellers had to work on these collective farms day and night, usually without any pay in money but only with a meager pay in "kind." Those who worked on the collective farms had no ID cards and no right to travel. If they moved somewhere and the police caught them, they would be deported to the GULAG labor camps or shot. It was forbidden under pain of long imprisonment to be late to work on the collective farm or to pick up and hide some agricultural produce (everything had to be surrendered to the state). In 1930 or 1931, Stalin's government issued a law that established death penalty for those collective farm workers who hid the agricultural produce that weighed more than this many grams (and the people immediately called this law "the law about six straws," because that was about how much they could hide and not be shot). Executions by firing squad were carried out on people beginning from the age of 12. Women and men were shot equally. The home and all the meager utensils owned by the executed person were confiscated and the relatives often sent to the GULAG.

The life of collective farm workers became just a tad less horrible only in 1953-55, when Khrushchev ordered that these people were issued ID cards and were allowed to travel, and also intoduced some monetary payment for their work. Yet, even in the 1960-s a collective farmer would normally earn about 3 times less than the then-minimal wage for urban workers, and there was still a colossal abuse of power by the Communist Party apparatchiks who were appointed to be collective farm directors.

Again, I have no information about any statements made by the Russian Orthodox Church condemning this slavery.
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 01:12:13 PM »

In the former Russian Empire, slavery was the norm of life for the vast majority of the population for centuries. Until 1861, all peasants were officially serfs, in bondage to their landlord (or to a monastery). They had to pay very heavy taxes to their lords, and also to work several days a week on their lords' land. They could be bought and sold. They had no right to move anywhere. The attitude towards them was worse than the attitude towards beasts of burden (they were often cheaper on the market). Any girl or woman could be raped by her lord, without any consequences to him. Horrible punishments were daily routine. Sometimes the landowners behaved like real sadists, inflicting these punishments: for example, the notorious Mrs. Saltykova ("Saltychikha") would ask her serf girls to scub the floor, and then, always finding some fault in their performance, had these girls beaten in front of her with rods to death. After a couple of dozen serf girls murdered in this way, Saltychikha was charged and convicted to life in prison, because it was obvious that she had human beings killed deliberately, with premeditation. However, if a sef died after a flogging, usually no one was held responsible because it 'just happened." I have no information about the Russian Orthodox Church ever expressing any anti-serfdom sentiment.

Slavery re-appeared in the former Russian Empire, now reincarnated as the USSR, in 1928-29, during the so-called "collectivization of the Soviet agriculture." All land except tiny plots around the peasant's hut were taken away from people and made the property of the "collective farms." Rural dwellers had to work on these collective farms day and night, usually without any pay in money but only with a meager pay in "kind." Those who worked on the collective farms had no ID cards and no right to travel. If they moved somewhere and the police caught them, they would be deported to the GULAG labor camps or shot. It was forbidden under pain of long imprisonment to be late to work on the collective farm or to pick up and hide some agricultural produce (everything had to be surrendered to the state). In 1930 or 1931, Stalin's government issued a law that established death penalty for those collective farm workers who hid the agricultural produce that weighed more than this many grams (and the people immediately called this law "the law about six straws," because that was about how much they could hide and not be shot). Executions by firing squad were carried out on people beginning from the age of 12. Women and men were shot equally. The home and all the meager utensils owned by the executed person were confiscated and the relatives often sent to the GULAG.

The life of collective farm workers became just a tad less horrible only in 1953-55, when Khrushchev ordered that these people were issued ID cards and were allowed to travel, and also intoduced some monetary payment for their work. Yet, even in the 1960-s a collective farmer would normally earn about 3 times less than the then-minimal wage for urban workers, and there was still a colossal abuse of power by the Communist Party apparatchiks who were appointed to be collective farm directors.

Again, I have no information about any statements made by the Russian Orthodox Church condemning this slavery.

It seems to me that St. Nil Sorsky and the Non-Possessors condemned serfdom, or at least monasteries owning serfs. But they were pushed out by St. Joseph of Volokolamsk and the Possessors, with help from the Crown.

Did the Ecumenical Patriarchate or any other affected local Church condemn the Ottoman child tax? Did anyone condemn the millet system itself?

The Bolsheviks and their adherents were anathematized by Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Russian Council of 1917-18, IIRC.

There are things the Church has missed speaking against, there are things the Church has clearly spoken against, there are also things that the Church has, apparently, not found it necessary to speak against because such things are already condemned. Nothing's going to fit our conception of perfection, which is itself imperfect. In my view, however, all these injustices are condemned already, whether or not an official statement on the latest evil is released.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2010, 01:13:55 PM »

Sometimes our greatest and most effective testimony against evil is not what we say about it, but that we do not ourselves take part in it, and that we teach likewise not to take part in it.
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 02:39:53 PM »

Slavery is not morally justifiable, no matter what a few Bible verses say.

I agree.  I think perhaps that slavery in the Old Testament is best understood alongside polygamy, exacting retribution instead of turning the other cheek, putting away one's wife, and stoning people to death for sexual deviance, as things permitted "only as a concession to the hardness of your hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended", as Our Lord and Savior reminded those who disputed with Him.  I also agree with Shanghaiski's historical assessment.

With regards to the New Testament, I remember a sermon of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III remarking on the story of St. Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus.  His Holiness remarked that St. Paul knew that if he simply lectured Philemon about the anti-Christian nature of thinking to own another human being made in the image and likeness of God that Philemon might not have been able to accept that straightforward message because of the societal norms of the time, so instead, St. Paul attempted to bring this message home to Philemon by appealing to the man's better nature and describing himself (someone he knew Philemon respected and admired) as a "prisoner" and someone "in chains".  The Apostle describes Onesimus as "departing for a time" not as a "runaway slave" in acknowledgement of man's natural and God given freedom, and at the end asks Philemon to accept Onesimus "not as a slave, but as a beloved brother".  So St. Paul, like His Master, was trying to meet the man where he was and get the message through to him in a way he could understand, as usual, being "all things to all people".  He was not, as some apologists for slavery have contended, endorsing this unnatural state of affairs.  I think His Holiness, as usual, was accurate in his interpretation.

The 19th century historian and writer August Neander wrote that, "the early oriental Christians declared themselves opposed to the whole relation of slavery as repugnant to the dignity of the image of God in all men".  Certainly this is theological and not political.

Many early Christian writers, including St. Theodorus Studita wrote against slavery.  St. Theodorus declared that Christians were, "not to employ those beings, created in the image of God, as slaves".  This also sounds more theological than political to me.  According to the 19th century historian John Fletcher, the early Christians of Asia Minor were vehemently opposed to slavery on purely theological (and not political) grounds.  They, "decried the lawfulness of it, denounced slaveholding as a sin, a violation of the law of nature and religion. They gave fugitive slaves asylum, and openly offered them protection".

But I think the most eloquent opponent of slavery on purely theological grounds is still St. Gregory of Nyssa.  More from this great man, may his prayers be with us and all who have ever felt the abominable, blasphemous, and anti-Christian hand of slavery:

"As for the person who appropriates to himself ... what belongs to God and attributes to himself power over the human race as if he were its lord, what other arrogant statement transgressing human nature makes this person regard himself as different from those over whom he rules? 'I obtained servants and maidens.' What are you saying? You condemn man who is free and autonomous to servitude, and you contradict God by perverting the natural law. Man, who was created as lord over the earth, you have put under the yoke of servitude as a transgressor and rebel against the divine precept. You have forgotten the limit of your authority which consists in jurisdiction over brutish animals. Scripture says that man shall rule birds, beasts, fish, four-footed animals and reptiles [Genesis 1.26]. How can you transgress the servitude bestowed upon you and raise yourself against man's freedom by stripping yourself of the servitude proper to beasts? 'You have subjected all things to man,' the psalmist prophetically cries out [Pslams 8.7-8], referring to those subject to reason as 'sheep, oxen, and cattle'."

"Do sheep and oxen beget men for you? Irrational beasts have only one kind of servitude. Do these form a paltry sum for you? 'He makes grass grow for the cattle and green herbs for the service of men' [Psalms 103.14]. But once you have freed yourself from servitude and bondage, you desire to have others serve you. 'I have obtained servants and maidens.' What value is this, I ask? What merit do you see in their nature? What small worth have you bestowed upon them? What payment do you exchange for your nature which God has fashioned? God has said, 'Let us make man according to our image and likeness' [Gen 1.26]. Since we are made according to God's likeness and are appointed to rule over the entire earth, tell me, who is the person who sells and buys? Only God can do this; however, it does not pertain to him at all 'for the gifts of God are irrevocable' [Romans 11.29]. Because God called human nature to freedom which had become addicted to sin, he would not subject it to servitude again. If God did not subject freedom to slavery, who can deny his lordship? How does the ruler of the entire earth obtain dominion ... since every possession requires payment? How can we properly estimate the earth in its entirety as well as its contents? If these things are inestimable, tell me, how much greater is man's value who is over them? If you mention the entire world you discover nothing equivalent to man's honor. He who knows human nature says that the world is not an adequate exchange for man's soul."

(Edit: I like this translation better than the one I quoted in my previous post.  Much more powerful!)
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 03:29:40 PM »

How many of us are bondservants or serfs to banks?
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 04:27:02 PM »

How many of us are bondservants or serfs to banks?

Or to our own passions and sins?  Cry

I don't have my sources at hand, but since this thread is an offshoot of a Catholic v. Orthodox thread, I seem to remember reading somewhere that prior to the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans (1359-1481), the largest number of slaves imported to Catholic Europe were Eastern Orthodox (both Balkan Slavs and Aegean Greeks living on Italian controlled islands) and that the Westerners turned to Africa only after the Turkish conquests had made further acquisition of Orthodox Christian slaves more difficult.  Elizabeth Zachariadou of the University of Crete wrote a paper on this, and I have a hard copy somewhere in my office, but I can't find it anywhere online to provide a link.
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 04:47:55 PM »

I'm not aware of Bible verses which actually justify slavery.
What, precisely, is meant by slavery is difficult to define and depends on context.
It would be incorrect to assume that all forms of the institution called slavery were equally morally reprehensible.
This is total mumbo-jumbo.  The Bible declines to condemn slavery, and thus the conclusion that it justifies slavery is 100% legitimate.  As for what defines slavery, I would hope that you jest.  For 99% of possible situations, 99% of the population would look at them and agree that either "this is slavery" or "this is not slavery".  Understanding what is meant by slavery is not nearly as difficult as you'd like to believe.

You're trying to explain something away.  There's no need to.
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 04:53:39 PM »

The Bolsheviks and their adherents were anathematized by Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Russian Council of 1917-18, IIRC.

Yes, but Patr. +TIKHON soon died (in the 1920-s), he did not live to see collective farms. And the "Zhivotserkovniki" (or "Sergians") who began to collaborate with Stalin never said a word against any atrocities of Stalin's regime.
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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2010, 06:45:23 PM »

This is total mumbo-jumbo.

No, it’s not.  Calling for clarity isn’t mumbo-jumbo.  There’s no monolithic institution of slavery in the Bible.  In the Old Testament alone, there are several different forms which are discussed, so Shanghaiski is right to suggest that we should differentiate between them instead of making simplistic blanket statements.

The Bible declines to condemn slavery, and thus the conclusion that it justifies slavery is 100% legitimate.

Not so.  Just because a book (or a person, or an institution) doesn’t condemn something in explicit terms, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they endorse it.  Our God, speaking through the Bible, met people where they were and temporarily allowed for certain circumstances (slavery, polygamy, et cetera) but that doesn’t mean that this was His original plan for man or part of the ideal that we should strive for as Christians.  Most of what the Old Testament says concerning slavery seems to be admonitions to masters concerning how they were to treat their slaves.  In other words, stipulations were put in place to prevent the occurrence of chattel slavery, so although the Bible gives certain guidelines for treating slaves, that doesn't necessarily mean the Bible condones slavery – especially chattel slavery.

More importantly, context and clarity are important in this discussion (as Shanghaiski pointed out) and the fact that various forms of slavery existed in the ancient Near and Middle East, and were part of the experience of the chroniclers of the Bible, doesn’t necessarily entail a blanket justification of all forms of slavery that have ever existed.

Perhaps most importantly of all, as Orthodox Christians, we are not sola scriptura and the writings of the Fathers and the history of the early Christian community tells us that the Church has always regarded slavery as incompatible with the Christian Faith.

As for what defines slavery, I would hope that you jest.  For 99% of possible situations, 99% of the population would look at them and agree that either "this is slavery" or "this is not slavery".  Understanding what is meant by slavery is not nearly as difficult as you'd like to believe.

Again, this is overly simplistic.  Slavery could be a rather ambiguous term in the ancient Near and Middle East.  People could sell themselves into slavery to pay their debts, men could sell their wives or children, and some people became slaves to avoid taxation by local rulers.  Some were slaves for pre-determined periods, others for life.  In some contexts, slaves could own land and property, in others they couldn't.  Often they married into their master’s households.  In some cultures, slaves had rights which were to be respected, in others they were regarded as property.  Some slaves sued their masters for mistreatment, others were sued by their masters for stealing, instead of simply being beaten as one familiar with American slavery would assume.  Slavery in the Bible meant a number of different things.  And then we can get into slavery in the Greek context, the Roman context, the Islamic context, the American context, et cetera, so Shanghaiski’s statement that, “What, precisely, is meant by slavery is difficult to define and depends on context.  It would be incorrect to assume that all forms of the institution called slavery were equally morally reprehensible” is entirely accurate.  There are different varieties of slavery, and some are more egregious than others in their violation of Christian precepts.

You're trying to explain something away.  There's no need to.

There's never a need to simply explain things away, but it is necessary to explain that the very concept of slavery is antithetical to the Orthodox Christian Faith, especially when both misguided critics of Christianity and racist apologists for American slavery endeavor to distort the Gospel to suit their insidious agendas.
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2010, 09:31:39 PM »

Antonious Nikolas:

Thank you so much brother for bringing light, reason, and Truth to this very disturbing thread. It is astoundingly sad that some people attempt to divorce issues of human rights from theology, and just as sad that others actually try to assert that the Holy Scriptures condone the brutal sin and injustice of chattel slavery. I'm shocked and saddened by some of the comments made on this thread, and I'm really too tired now to respond. But you have done a wonderful job of refuting some of these misguided notions, and for that I applaud you.

This thread reveals a depth of sin and ignorance, and I know that I am not immune from such depravity myself. May Our Lady the Virgin St. Mariyam intercede for all of us!

"Lord have mercy."


Selam
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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2010, 09:33:14 PM »

 Calling for clarity isn’t mumbo-jumbo.  There’s no monolithic institution of slavery in the Bible.  In the Old Testament alone, there are several different forms which are discussed, so Shanghaiski is right to suggest that we should differentiate between them instead of making simplistic blanket statements.
Very well.  For the sake of clarity, which forms of slavery do you think we should advocate today?
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« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2010, 09:43:09 PM »

Antonious Nikolas:

Thank you so much brother for bringing light, reason, and Truth to this very disturbing thread. It is astoundingly sad that some people attempt to divorce issues of human rights from theology, and just as sad that others actually try to assert that the Holy Scriptures condone the brutal sin and injustice of chattel slavery.

They do.

I'm shocked and saddened by some of the comments made on this thread, and I'm really too tired now to respond. But you have done a wonderful job of refuting some of these misguided notions, and for that I applaud you.

Applaud to "slaves, obey your masters." Very honorable thing to do.

This thread reveals a depth of sin and ignorance,

Gebre, dear brother, I think, rather, that this thread reveals a lot of idolatry in us. "Bibliolatry" is also a form of idolatry. Defending every single line in Scripture as "right" by definition is exactly this, "Bibliolatry."

and I know that I am not immune from such depravity myself. May Our Lady the Virgin St. Mariyam intercede for all of us!

And may we have some simple reason left in us.

"Lord have mercy."

Indeed.


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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2010, 01:15:19 AM »


I have no information about the Russian Orthodox Church ever expressing any anti-serfdom sentiment.


A little surprised that you are unaware of the involvement of the Church in the abolishment of serfdom in Russian in 1861 by the Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.

It was Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, who was one of the major influences on Alexander for the abolition of serfdom.  It was the Metropolitan who drew up the 1861 Decree promulgated by the Tsar.
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« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2010, 07:51:55 AM »


I have no information about the Russian Orthodox Church ever expressing any anti-serfdom sentiment.


A little surprised that you are unaware of the involvement of the Church in the abolishment of serfdom in Russian in 1861 by the Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.

It was Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, who was one of the major influences on Alexander for the abolition of serfdom.  It was the Metropolitan who drew up the 1861 Decree promulgated by the Tsar.

Thank you, Father. I really had no idea.
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« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2010, 11:46:49 AM »

Antonious Nikolas:

Thank you so much brother for bringing light, reason, and Truth to this very disturbing thread. It is astoundingly sad that some people attempt to divorce issues of human rights from theology, and just as sad that others actually try to assert that the Holy Scriptures condone the brutal sin and injustice of chattel slavery. I'm shocked and saddened by some of the comments made on this thread, and I'm really too tired now to respond. But you have done a wonderful job of refuting some of these misguided notions, and for that I applaud you.

This thread reveals a depth of sin and ignorance, and I know that I am not immune from such depravity myself. May Our Lady the Virgin St. Mariyam intercede for all of us!

"Lord have mercy."


Selam

Thanks for your kind words, brother.  I agree that we cannot divorce such matters from theology.  The Fathers who inform our Holy Tradition did not.  In fact, I think it’s very Western to try to do so.  I’ll never forget what an old, wise Albanian Orthodox priest once told me.  It’s burned into my heart.  He said the Westerner tries to put his religion in a box and divorce it from the rest of his life, but that for the Orthodox Christian, the Faith informs everything he does, every decision he makes.  Every moral decision is also a theological decision.  We can’t divorce the Church from our everyday lives.

Very well.  For the sake of clarity, which forms of slavery do you think we should advocate today?

Absolutely none, brother, just as I would not condone polygamy today.  Both of these things are unnatural and were not a part of the Lord’s original plan for man, but He allowed them in that time for a purpose.  It is well documented that people in the ancient Near East sometimes sold themselves into slavery to avoid starvation and that polygamy was also acceptable at the same time for the same reason – because a woman on her own would likely starve or become a whore – still, this wouldn’t justify polygamy today or any form of slavery today.

Antonious Nikolas:

Thank you so much brother for bringing light, reason, and Truth to this very disturbing thread. It is astoundingly sad that some people attempt to divorce issues of human rights from theology, and just as sad that others actually try to assert that the Holy Scriptures condone the brutal sin and injustice of chattel slavery.

They do.

I’m afraid I must disagree, brother, as Gebre clearly said, “and just as sad that others actually try to assert that the Holy Scriptures condone the brutal sin and injustice of chattel slavery".

No where does the Scripture condone chattel slavery.  Chattel slavery is typically racially-based, and under this system a slave is considered in the same class as a farm animal, a piece of property.  This was not the slavery practiced by the Hebrews.  In fact, because of their history as slaves in Egypt, the Hebrews took great care to avoid this form of slavery, and put stipulations in place to insure that this did not occur in their community.

See Exodus 21:2-6 and Deut. 15:12 (limiting the period of slavery to six years), Exodus 21:20 (restricting the power of the master over the slave, which is not the case at all with chattel slavery), Deut. 23:16-17 (forbidding the extradition of slaves and granting them asylum), Deut. 15:14 (declaring that when a slave was freed, it was the duty of the master to provide him with certain endowments that would allow him to survive independently in the world).

So chattel slavery is not condoned here at all.

Applaud to "slaves, obey your masters." Very honorable thing to do.

The full quote:

“Servants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”

This isn’t advocating the pagan, Roman system of slavery of St. Paul’s time, but merely instructing us to be humble and Christ-like in all we do, in whatever circumstances we might find ourselves as individuals.

When the Lord says, “render unto Caesar” and “obey earthly authorities and governments” should we take this to mean that He approved of the brutal, pagan, idolatrous Roman Empire of His day?  That His followers, the early Christians, should have obeyed all of that Empire’s laws?  Including Emperor worship?  Or, by extension, that America should never have declared its independence from Great Britain?  Or that Christian citizens of Germany should not have defended the Jews or otherwise resisted the Nazis?  Or that Christian Americans should have gone along with slavery or segregation?  Or that the Irish should have accepted the Na Péindlíthe with a smile?  Or that no Christian should have resisted or fled from the Communist regimes of the last century?  Or that the Copts and other Christians in countries where the Muslims persecute them should renounce Christ and just 'go along to get along' with their earthly masters?

Or rather, is the Lord simply extolling the Christian virtues of meekness, humility, and inoffensiveness and not endorsing the sinful, blasphemous institutions of this world?  I think it is the latter, and also that it can be dangerous to pluck verses from the Scripture in isolation and consider them out of context.

I agree that bibliolatry is a form of idolatry, and closely related to sola scriptura, but I also believe that the distortions of those who would pervert the Scriptures to advance ideas that are contrary to Christianity must not be allowed to stand unchallenged in the public forum.  I know that no one here is an apologist for slavery in the American context, or in the world in general, but we must not leave such blasphemers a leg to stand on or in any way hedge or be unclear with them.  St. Gregory did not.  May his blessing be with us all.
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2010, 05:53:15 PM »

Both of these things [slavry and polygamy] are unnatural and were not a part of the Lord’s original plan for man, but He allowed them in that time for a purpose.  It is well documented that people in the ancient Near East sometimes sold themselves into slavery to avoid starvation and that polygamy was also acceptable at the same time for the same reason – because a woman on her own would likely starve or become a whore
So God condoned slavery for the benefit of the slave?  Is that the crux of your argument?  And if so, then why is it not justified today?  I've heard of numerous instances of women finding themsleves enslaved in the sex industry.  To avoid that, using your logic, why would enslavement in another manner not be a good thing for them, and not be justifiable?
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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2010, 06:06:39 PM »

So God condoned slavery for the benefit of the slave?  Is that the crux of your argument?  And if so, then why is it not justified today?  I've heard of numerous instances of women finding themsleves enslaved in the sex industry.  To avoid that, using your logic, why would enslavement in another manner not be a good thing for them, and not be justifiable?

I'm not condoning any sort of slavery.  I'm merely stating that:

a.) Biblical slavery was different than modern slavery, so those who seek to use the one to justify the other are off the mark.
b.) God allowed certain abberations during the time of the Old Testament (polygamy, certain forms of servitude enumerated under the blanket term "slavery", stoning of those considered sexual deviants) which were not part of His original plan for man and as such should not be condoned by Christians today.

I'm not an apologist for slavery of any sort, nor for polygamy, nor for the stoning of those whose sexual activities are unacceptable by Judeo-Christian standards.

So what is your position exactly?
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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2010, 06:20:50 PM »

So what is your position exactly?
I don;t see the justification for the enslavement of people by the Orthodox monasteries.
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« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2010, 06:25:19 PM »

So what is your position exactly?
That God has never condoned slavery, whether today or in Old Testament times.  That those who wrote as if he did were projecting their own ideas of what God should be like upon him (something we all continue to do today, so if consistency is of any value, we can all take pride in that, I guess).

That those who insist on biblical innerancy are delusional and that their logic is fraught with inconsistency.  As one such example, support for the idea of God condoning slavery meets with the immediate inconsistency of any condition existing then which might validly support slavery also exists today.  Etc.
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« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2010, 08:01:18 PM »

So what is your position exactly?
I don;t see the justification for the enslavement of people by the Orthodox monasteries.

Why are you addressing this to me?  I never advanced this position.  I'm not even aware of the specifics of the case you're talking about.

So what is your position exactly?
That God has never condoned slavery, whether today or in Old Testament times.  That those who wrote as if he did were projecting their own ideas of what God should be like upon him (something we all continue to do today, so if consistency is of any value, we can all take pride in that, I guess).

That those who insist on biblical innerancy are delusional and that their logic is fraught with inconsistency.  As one such example, support for the idea of God condoning slavery meets with the immediate inconsistency of any condition existing then which might validly support slavery also exists today.  Etc.

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking idea.  I'm open to viewing the Bible as at once the divinely inspired word of God and also as a product of the various historical eras in which it was composed.  Does your position, to your knowledge, in any way contradict the official teachings of the Orthodox Church on the Scriptures?  Why or why not?  I'm not trying to give you a quiz here, but genuinely find your idea to be noteworthy and would like to explore it further and see how it jibes with Orthodox theology.
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2010, 10:42:56 PM »

Why are you addressing this to me? .
I thought that you were asking for people's position on slavery?
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« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2010, 10:59:46 PM »

I thought that you were asking for people's position on slavery?

Chrevbel asked me to clarify my position.  Once I had, I asked him to clarify his.  It wasn't meant to be a general solicitation, but it's cool.  This is, after all, a public forum.  Would you care to elaborate on the situation you're describing?  I'm completely unfamiliar with it.  Are you saying that an Orthodox monastery enslaved someone?  Was it a single monastery or a number of them?  Did the monks involved endeavor to justify this on theological grounds (which would be contrary to the teaching of the Church)?  Who were the enslaved persons?  How were they forced into this situation?  Did the monks buy them or kidnap them?  I'd like to know the particulars before making any declarations, other than to say that slavery is contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church (as indicated in my previous posts and quotes from the Church Fathers).
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« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2010, 11:33:06 PM »

I thought that you were asking for people's position on slavery?

Chrevbel asked me to clarify my position.  Once I had, I asked him to clarify his.  It wasn't meant to be a general solicitation, but it's cool.  This is, after all, a public forum.  Would you care to elaborate on the situation you're describing?  I'm completely unfamiliar with it.  Are you saying that an Orthodox monastery enslaved someone?  Was it a single monastery or a number of them?  Did the monks involved endeavor to justify this on theological grounds (which would be contrary to the teaching of the Church)?  Who were the enslaved persons?  How were they forced into this situation?  Did the monks buy them or kidnap them?  I'd like to know the particulars before making any declarations, other than to say that slavery is contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church (as indicated in my previous posts and quotes from the Church Fathers).
According to the following book, the Orthodox Church was a major slaveholder and did not contest the institution of slavery, although there were some priests such as Father Poteca who advocated abolition.
See page 97 of Viorel Achim, The Roma in Romanian History, Central European University Press, Budapest, 2004. ISBN 9639241849
See page 270- 271 of
Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient şi Occident. Ţările române la începutul epocii moderne, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995. ISBN 973-28-0523-4
Also according to the following book (see Googlebooks) Slavery and social death: a comparative study By Orlando Patterson:
"The Orthodox Church, according to Richard Hellie, "condoned, and in fact, encouraged, the enslavement of Orthodox by Orthodox," and it did not object to the enslavement of Orthodox Christians by members of other faiths."
http://books.google.com/books?id=T2grY7NbnygC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=slavery+in+Orthodox+Church&source=bl&ots=_RrgvEK2mK&sig=VgrIBYdu6Wa0S_EVlEln-qkwOeU&hl=en&ei=SFNrTNSdH4L6swPfvq1G&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=slavery%20in%20Orthodox%20Church&f=false
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« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2010, 12:04:59 AM »

I’m asking for the specifics of the case you cited in your previous posts involving the Roma and the monastery (monasteries?).  The book you referred me to Between Past and Future: The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe by Will Guy is not available for less than $55.19, and I couldn’t possibly obtain it from a library anytime soon.  Could you please type a brief summary of the specifics of the case for me as I requested in my previous post?

The second book you linked to did not discuss this case at all, but rather seemed to describe Russian serfdom in somewhat ambiguous language and termed it slavery, suggesting that Orthodox Christians enslaved their fellow Orthodox Christians in Russia and that the Russian Church, not Orthodoxy en toto, condoned this.  I’d want to confirm that this was indeed the case before commenting on it, but would prefer to discuss the case you mentioned first before doing so.

So what went on with the monastery and the Roma?

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« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2010, 12:31:34 AM »

The monasteries of Moldova and Wallachia used to have Roma (and Tartar)  slaves:
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Slavery_in_Romania
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« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2010, 02:47:55 AM »

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking idea.  Does your position, to your knowledge, in any way contradict the official teachings of the Orthodox Church on the Scriptures?
Well, I certainly don't think so.  I've discussed many areas of my personal beliefs with priests, both pre and post-conversion.  There seems nothing unorthodox about the belief that God opposes slavery.  What God allows is a confusing area -- practically speaking, people get away with murder every day; is this not therefore something that God is allowing?  When we observe what God is allowing and then conclude that he is condoning it, I believe we are making a grave error.  I know of nothing in Orthodox theology that runs counter to this.
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« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2010, 11:01:24 AM »

The monasteries of Moldova and Wallachia used to have Roma (and Tartar)  slaves:
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Slavery_in_Rmania

This article makes it clear that the Church was complicit in this abominable act, but I see no evidence in the article that any of the monastics involved ever endeavored to justify this clearly sinful act on theological grounds.  It seems to me that they were corrupted by worldly things, as so many monks before and after them were.  The idea of monks coveting property at all is oxymoronic.  Monks regarding humans created in the image and likeness of God as property is even more bizarre.

That said, I see no evidence of the theological drift Stanley spoke of, as I see no monk attempting to justify his heinous complicity with this worldy evil on theological grounds.  Rather, this simply reminds me of other stories of monks corrupted by the world who hoarded fortunes, philandered about with women, and engaged in other evil acts in contradiction to their calling and the theology of the Church.

It seems that in this instance, the authentic position of the Church was articulated by the priest Eufrosin Poteca who declared that that slavery must be abolished because it contradicted both the Christian religion and natural law established by God, violating the Golden Rule as preached by Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.  It’s no surprise that nominally Orthodox boyars or even corrupt monks would oppose this authentic Orthodox teaching, because it would put a dent in their bankbook, and they were obviously slaves themselves of a different kind, slaves to this world and to mammon.

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking idea.  Does your position, to your knowledge, in any way contradict the official teachings of the Orthodox Church on the Scriptures?
Well, I certainly don't think so.  I've discussed many areas of my personal beliefs with priests, both pre and post-conversion.  There seems nothing unorthodox about the belief that God opposes slavery.  What God allows is a confusing area -- practically speaking, people get away with murder every day; is this not therefore something that God is allowing?  When we observe what God is allowing and then conclude that he is condoning it, I believe we are making a grave error.  I know of nothing in Orthodox theology that runs counter to this.

I agree wholeheartedly that slavery and Orthodoxy (or Christianity in general) are incompatible.  What I was asking is, what is the teaching of the Church on the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and how does this match up with your contentions on that score?
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« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2011, 02:40:04 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I was discussing this issue with another brother and I though I'd jump on this thread with some relevant ideas.

Our Church follows the Laws of the lands of its time, it attempts through spiritual and Mysterious activities to guide the people towards a Christian truth, but always within the context of the local laws, so long as these laws do not directly contradict the Church.  In the United States, slavery was legal and so the Church was realistically obligated to support slavery as a legal institution.  Further, the Church had already been pushed into this bind in other regions in our history, including Russia and Ethiopia.  However, as the socio-political climate shifts, as morality shifts in a more universal direction, as popular attitudes and sentiments about justice and legality take force, the Church reacts within the sphere of Christian influence.  The Apostles have told us to "respect the brotherhoods, honor the king" and also to "be subject to sovereignties, to authorities."  So long as slavery is an accepted law of the land, then the Church had to oblige, though surely the Church could push for equality and spiritual understanding of Christian love within slavery until slavery was eradicated.  The Church did not have to take an antagonistic, hostile approach to work towards change within its membership.  Paul did not tell Philemon explicitly to end the slavery of Onesimus yet it is clear that the Apostle was implying such, without necessarily having to condemn the institution. 

One thing is clear, slavery is against the law of all Orthodox lands today, and the Orthodox Church now rightfully condemns it as inhuman and not Christian.  We do not need to dwell on the Church of the past in this regard, but carry this truth into the future.  Our Church was implicated in slavery in the past in its complicity and even involvement directly, but today is a different day.  For those who in anyway supported slavery or are indifferent to its horrors because of the tainted Church history of involvement, know that today the Church fully supports the sentiments of the people of this time that insist fully that slavery is a tragedy, a horror, and injustice, regardless of what the Scriptures or the Church history have said or done, and Jesus Christ liberates the captives in bondage, which is indeed the testimony of
the consummation of slavery's history.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2011, 03:28:58 PM »

Saying "slaves, obey your masters" does not equal advocacy of the institution of slavery.
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« Reply #36 on: February 12, 2011, 09:58:04 PM »


  So long as slavery is an accepted law of the land, then the Church had to oblige, though surely the Church could push for equality and spiritual understanding of Christian love within slavery until slavery was eradicated.  The Church did not have to take an antagonistic, hostile approach to work towards change within its membership.  Paul did not tell Philemon explicitly to end the slavery of Onesimus yet it is clear that the Apostle was implying such, without necessarily having to condemn the institution.  

 

I would respectfully disagree. When the accepted law of the land is diametrically opposed to the law of the Gospel, then the Church does not have to oblige. In fact, the Church is obliged to oppose systemic evil, whatever the cost. How many martyrs died because they refused to oblige the idolatry of the kings and rulers of their day? The Church must not sit around and wait for hearts and minds to change, instead she must be actively engaged in proclaiming and living out the Gopsel so that hearts and minds will change. It is impossible to proclaim Orthodox Truth without condemning unjust institutions. The Light and Love of Christ burns wickedness and condemns inhumanity and evil.


Selam
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« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2011, 10:08:14 PM »


  So long as slavery is an accepted law of the land, then the Church had to oblige, though surely the Church could push for equality and spiritual understanding of Christian love within slavery until slavery was eradicated.  The Church did not have to take an antagonistic, hostile approach to work towards change within its membership.  Paul did not tell Philemon explicitly to end the slavery of Onesimus yet it is clear that the Apostle was implying such, without necessarily having to condemn the institution.  

 

I would respectfully disagree. When the accepted law of the land is diametrically opposed to the law of the Gospel, then the Church does not have to oblige. In fact, the Church is obliged to oppose systemic evil, whatever the cost. How many martyrs died because they refused to oblige the idolatry of the kings and rulers of their day? The Church must not sit around and wait for hearts and minds to change, instead she must be actively engaged in proclaiming and living out the Gopsel so that hearts and minds will change. It is impossible to proclaim Orthodox Truth without condemning unjust institutions. The Light and Love of Christ burns wickedness and condemns inhumanity and evil.


Selam
Very nicely said. I strongly agree.
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« Reply #38 on: February 12, 2011, 11:30:31 PM »


  So long as slavery is an accepted law of the land, then the Church had to oblige, though surely the Church could push for equality and spiritual understanding of Christian love within slavery until slavery was eradicated.  The Church did not have to take an antagonistic, hostile approach to work towards change within its membership.  Paul did not tell Philemon explicitly to end the slavery of Onesimus yet it is clear that the Apostle was implying such, without necessarily having to condemn the institution.  

 

I would respectfully disagree. When the accepted law of the land is diametrically opposed to the law of the Gospel, then the Church does not have to oblige. In fact, the Church is obliged to oppose systemic evil, whatever the cost. How many martyrs died because they refused to oblige the idolatry of the kings and rulers of their day? The Church must not sit around and wait for hearts and minds to change, instead she must be actively engaged in proclaiming and living out the Gospel so that hearts and minds will change. It is impossible to proclaim Orthodox Truth without condemning unjust institutions. The Light and Love of Christ burns wickedness and condemns inhumanity and evil.


Selam

No disraspect my iyah, but you took that entirely out of context, especially considering I already explicitly said the exact same thing

Quote
always within the context of the local laws, so long as these laws do not directly contradict the Church.

However, we have a dichotomy in Church history, that is, even in Ethiopia itself, our Mother the Church supported and even participated in slavery.  Further, the Church in many jurisdictions has accepted their own contemporary slavery institutions as being biblical and patristically sound, so how to we approach this? We either condemn our own Church history as heresy, or we understand that our Mother the Church had an evolving approach which went along with the popular and political sentiments of each respective era.  As our societies began to defy and reject slavery (and rightfully so) our Church evolved its approach and came into mutual accordance with the better decisions.

But this was a process, in Russia, in America, in the British Empire, in the United States, and even in a lot of periods in across history almost ALL jurisdictions of Orthodox were dealing with slavery directly, and most of the time they universally accepted it.  I do not agree with this acceptance, but I must accept our Church as always having been Holy, and always having been Apostolic, even when it was making decisions I fundamentally and religiously and reasonably disagree with in the context of slavery.

We know that Jesus Christ came to liberate the captives of slavery, and yet nowhere in the Church was this stance taken until relatively recently in our history.  In Ethiopia, it was Janhoy HIM Haile Selassie I who first brought  liberation to the Church and the people of Ethiopia in the 1930s!! This is reality and history.

InI is pure and heartical Rastafari, and we are a Liberation Movement first, reverberating the True Christian love and liberation across the entire face of the earth ending slavery and colonialism in the name of the equality of the Divine Theocracy, however, in Its own history, our revered Church and Monarchies have had a diametrically different opinion.  Now ontologically, realistically, and fundamentally, we as Orthodox Christians need to overstand this, need to meditate upon it, must discuss it openly as it is, without twisting it anachronistically in our own directions.

Nyabinghi I! Fyah burn all downpressors and slavemasters, but we must in the same breath venerate the our Church in all its eras, and this makes us turn inward to God to figure it all out in a Mysterious way.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2011, 02:15:55 AM »


  So long as slavery is an accepted law of the land, then the Church had to oblige, though surely the Church could push for equality and spiritual understanding of Christian love within slavery until slavery was eradicated.  The Church did not have to take an antagonistic, hostile approach to work towards change within its membership.  Paul did not tell Philemon explicitly to end the slavery of Onesimus yet it is clear that the Apostle was implying such, without necessarily having to condemn the institution.  

 

I would respectfully disagree. When the accepted law of the land is diametrically opposed to the law of the Gospel, then the Church does not have to oblige. In fact, the Church is obliged to oppose systemic evil, whatever the cost. How many martyrs died because they refused to oblige the idolatry of the kings and rulers of their day? The Church must not sit around and wait for hearts and minds to change, instead she must be actively engaged in proclaiming and living out the Gospel so that hearts and minds will change. It is impossible to proclaim Orthodox Truth without condemning unjust institutions. The Light and Love of Christ burns wickedness and condemns inhumanity and evil.


Selam

No disraspect my iyah, but you took that entirely out of context, especially considering I already explicitly said the exact same thing

Quote
always within the context of the local laws, so long as these laws do not directly contradict the Church.

However, we have a dichotomy in Church history, that is, even in Ethiopia itself, our Mother the Church supported and even participated in slavery.  Further, the Church in many jurisdictions has accepted their own contemporary slavery institutions as being biblical and patristically sound, so how to we approach this? We either condemn our own Church history as heresy, or we understand that our Mother the Church had an evolving approach which went along with the popular and political sentiments of each respective era.  As our societies began to defy and reject slavery (and rightfully so) our Church evolved its approach and came into mutual accordance with the better decisions.

But this was a process, in Russia, in America, in the British Empire, in the United States, and even in a lot of periods in across history almost ALL jurisdictions of Orthodox were dealing with slavery directly, and most of the time they universally accepted it.  I do not agree with this acceptance, but I must accept our Church as always having been Holy, and always having been Apostolic, even when it was making decisions I fundamentally and religiously and reasonably disagree with in the context of slavery.

We know that Jesus Christ came to liberate the captives of slavery, and yet nowhere in the Church was this stance taken until relatively recently in our history.  In Ethiopia, it was Janhoy HIM Haile Selassie I who first brought  liberation to the Church and the people of Ethiopia in the 1930s!! This is reality and history.

InI is pure and heartical Rastafari, and we are a Liberation Movement first, reverberating the True Christian love and liberation across the entire face of the earth ending slavery and colonialism in the name of the equality of the Divine Theocracy, however, in Its own history, our revered Church and Monarchies have had a diametrically different opinion.  Now ontologically, realistically, and fundamentally, we as Orthodox Christians need to overstand this, need to meditate upon it, must discuss it openly as it is, without twisting it anachronistically in our own directions.

Nyabinghi I! Fyah burn all downpressors and slavemasters, but we must in the same breath venerate the our Church in all its eras, and this makes us turn inward to God to figure it all out in a Mysterious way.

stay blessed,
habte selassie


Give thanks for the explanation. I do not think that the EOTC has ever supported any form of chattel slavery as was practiced here in the U.S. I do know that His Majesty outlawed slavery, and I must plead ignorance as to what type of slavery actually existed prior to that. I suspect it was more a form of indentured servitude, but I may be wrong. Please educate me brother.

The main point I wanted to make is that the Church is not obliged to follow the laws of the land when those laws are contrary to the law of the Gospel. And chattel slavery was certainly contrary to the law of the Gospel. Even if the Orthodox Church did not make an official condemnation of slavery, there were Saints in the Church who spoke up against this evil practice. And since the Saints are part of the Church, then I think it can be argued that there has always been at least a part of the Church that condemned slavery. Also, the Orthodox Church did not begin at Pentecost (as the Protestants teach), but rather traces it's beginning back to the Garden of Eden. Thus Moses and the faithful Israelites were part of the Church, and therein lies a certain precedent for the Church's denunciation of chattel slavery. Surely "Let my people go!" is a divine injunction in any era.


Anyway bredren, I know you were not in any way justifying slavery. I just wanted to make sure other readers of this forum don't get the idea that the Church simply must go along with the laws of the land, even when those laws are evil.

Selam
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« Reply #40 on: February 13, 2011, 01:13:39 PM »

Slavery can come in different forms. Slavery exists even today right under your nose. Simply holding a job makes you a slaves. The trade off is who our master is. A corporation instead of a slave master. laugh
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« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2011, 04:52:38 PM »

I agree wholeheartedly that slavery and Orthodoxy (or Christianity in general) are incompatible.  What I was asking is, what is the teaching of the Church on the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and how does this match up with your contentions on that score?
And I missed this question until the recent resurrection of this thread.  We should probably continue a full discussion of this elsewhere, since this thread is on slavery, but biblical innerancy is a large part of why I became Orthodox to start with.  I had left a tradition which holds this view; a view that I believe is either a form of, or related to, sola scriptura -- a doctrine the Church soundly rejects.
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« Reply #42 on: October 11, 2013, 07:39:09 AM »

I've been reading Donald Rayfield's Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia and came across a moderately interesting tidbit. In 1555, a Georgian synod (with the two Catholicoi) came together and passed a law against slavery: "If any man, great or small, prince, freeman, or peasant, sell another, he shall be excommunicated from the communion of saints, be cast out and sentenced to the gallows." While it looks like a blanket condemnation of slavery, the immediate context was that Georgians were selling chiefly other Georgians into slavery to the Turks, especially in Western Georgia, and it was actually depopulating the region. Also, the king in Imeretia (Bagrat III) was too weak to really enforce the law.
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