(Tim) Since Christless Christianity has come in for some knocks, here, I want to post this excerpt forwarded by Pastor Andrew Dionne having to do with the Christian approach to slavery. Still, the approach commended by Dr. Horton in the second paragraph is not what developed here in these United States as the spirituality-of-the-church, nor the R2-K Normative Withdrawal the Spirituality-of-the-Church has morphed into.
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Surely the abolition of the slave trade was a noble work, yet it is interesting that in Britain it was not the church as an institution that abolished it but Christians who had been shaped by the church’s ministry and held public office in the state. When William Wilberforce came to John Newton for advice on whether he should enter the ministry, Newton encouraged his friend to pursue politics instead. It was as a member of Parliament that Wilberforce loved and served his neighbor, benefiting from the ordinary means of grace that Newton ministered to him. The church preached God’s transcendent law and gospel, and her children pursued their cultural mandate in their secular vocations. Thank God that Newton was a pastor and Wilberforce was not!
I often wonder how American history might have turned out differently if the churches in the South had disciplined members who held slaves...
In other words, if the churches had simply followed their own mandate of preaching the Word, administering the sacraments, and exercising discipline and care for the well-being of their flock. Would not the institution have lost its moral credibility even outside the church? Both Northern and Southern churches had reduced slavery merely to a political issue when they should have done what only churches can do: proclaim God’s judgment upon the kidnapping and forced labor of fellow humans and excommunicate members who refused to repent of the practice. At the same time, church members could have exercised their moral conscience in deciding for themselves how best to abolish the institution in courts and legislatures. (Michael Horton, Christless Christianity; pp. 214-15)