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Old 09-05-2010, 10:11 PM   #1
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Hi, Everyone! I've got some questions...

Well, hello, everyone. I'm slowly making the transformation of leaving Christianity and attempting to become a Baha'i. My main problem is that I'm thirteen, therefore I cannot drive to any meetings, or engage in any fraternization with my soon-to-be fellow Baha'is.

Second, I understand the three main ideas of Baha'i Faith, as well as the obligatory daily prayer, the Manifestations of God, etc. But I don't know how I'll manage expanding my knowledge of Baha'i faith due to the problems explained earlier, nor how to unofficially become a Baha'i in my actions, words, and thoughts. I'm still thinking like a Christian, and I already understand what I need to do, say, or think, but I don't know how to start. Am I getting confusing?

Third, I've still got this old, Christian feeling in my head that's saying that I need to rethink this commitment. I already know that I wish to be a Baha'i, because Baha'i Faith's philosophies and ideas agree with my own. How do I get rid of this feeling, if I can?

Thank you so much for your help and understanding, as this is a very complicated time in my life.

-Cole
 
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pheonixduprese View Post
Well, hello, everyone. I'm slowly making the transformation of leaving Christianity and attempting to become a Baha'i. My main problem is that I'm thirteen, therefore I cannot drive to any meetings, or engage in any fraternization with my soon-to-be fellow Baha'is.

Second, I understand the three main ideas of Baha'i Faith, as well as the obligatory daily prayer, the Manifestations of God, etc. But I don't know how I'll manage expanding my knowledge of Baha'i faith due to the problems explained earlier, nor how to unofficially become a Baha'i in my actions, words, and thoughts. I'm still thinking like a Christian, and I already understand what I need to do, say, or think, but I don't know how to start. Am I getting confusing?

Third, I've still got this old, Christian feeling in my head that's saying that I need to rethink this commitment. I already know that I wish to be a Baha'i, because Baha'i Faith's philosophies and ideas agree with my own. How do I get rid of this feeling, if I can?

Thank you so much for your help and understanding, as this is a very complicated time in my life.

-Cole
Please do not feel that it is Christian vs Baha'i. In our view the religion of God is one so it is in fact impossible to switch religions :lol

Read about the Baha'i faith and use resources like Baha'i Reference Library on your search. B

Now how dose your family see religion? Are they supportive of looking into other religions or do they prefer you to stay with their religion?
 
Old 09-05-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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Sounds cool. I don't think that becoming a Baha'i means leaving Christianity though. It means becoming a much more insightful, stronger and better Christian.
 
Old 09-05-2010, 11:35 PM   #4
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The life of discipleship is one thing, whatever path brings you into it: prayer and thoughtful scripture study, and the practice of virtues. That doesn't mean you have be all all pious and righteous - there's just as much room for practicing virtues in sport and games as in work and study. Be "under His protection and are shine with His light."
******** *********
See how many conquering kings there have been, how many statesmen and princes, powerful organizers, all of whom have disappeared, whereas the breezes of Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting; His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining with His light.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 152)
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/S...-38.html#pg152

[the reference library I have linked to is a great resource. Bear in mind that not every book in it is authenticated Bahai scripture: Paris Talks, Abdu'l-Baha in London and Promulgation of Universal Peace are reports of what Abdu'l-Baha said, speaking through an interpreter. ]

Last edited by Sen McGlinn; 09-05-2010 at 11:38 PM.
 
Old 09-05-2010, 11:48 PM   #5
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I would investigate more before you make the choice to convert. Its a big thing. I hope you will stay with Christianity ( I am aware that the bahai don't see a difference between the two but there is a big difference in my opinion because Christianity fundamentally dissagrees with bahai).
 
Old 09-06-2010, 01:37 PM   #6
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I would investigate more before you make the choice to convert. Its a big thing. I hope you will stay with Christianity ( I am aware that the bahai don't see a difference between the two but there is a big difference in my opinion because Christianity fundamentally dissagrees with bahai).
Naw, there's no doubt, I'm converting to Baha'i Faith, I just have to phase out the process, I've decided. Mm, thank you all for your help, I appreciate it very much so.
 
Old 09-06-2010, 02:24 PM   #7
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Cole, I think of it as growth changing into the newer way of thinking for this age. I hope your parents are okay with your decision. You are still under their roof and respecting them remains appropriate. I don't believe you are able to be officially enrolled until you are 15, but faith has nothing to do with age. I hope you can find literature online, there seems to be plenty. I do not use online literature, but I know it is there.
Provided it is okay with your parents I am sure the Baha'is in your community would come get you for things at times. I know I would. If you live in an area without or only few Baha'is, there are may not be people who can help. Being a Baha'i is a life long process of growth, where you heart dwells is more important than what you know, but you sound like someone who wants more now. There is so much in the Faith that it is really complex approaching it on your own. I would assume you can still attend church, and you don't have to reject it completely. I've learned more about Christianity as a Baha'i far more than I think I would have if I had stayed in it. It took me a long time to realize though that I can't tell other people things that I see and they don't know whether it be about religion or themselves, if I can think of it, then they will have also or they will not accept what I say. Most people have to learn things on their own, so I need to keep the focus on myself. I do not have to respond to others, I just take care of me. You can quietly tell yourself that I don't believe that way anymore, and it's my choice, others have to make their own as well.

There is no easy way between 13 to 18 and then out of the house. I so hope your parents won't mind. If they do then it will take patience and care on your part. Adversity makes better Baha'is. We don't see life as about getting what you want or things going my way. It is about living life with the knowledge for this age and serving God, not ourselves. Being strong and faithfully patient is important now. I had to learn all that the hard way. I am so happy and proud to know of you. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.
 
Old 09-06-2010, 02:58 PM   #8
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Cire, Im sorry if I sound like a wet blanket, but i do have to speak my mind. Assuming the church he used to attend was trinitarian and believes that Christ rose and died physically, would it not be hypocritical to go to that church? And the bahai view of Christianity is not the historic view of Christianity.
 
Old 09-06-2010, 06:45 PM   #9
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Cole,

Welcome..

I appreciated hearing about your studies and exploration of the Faith..

Baha'is of course encourage independent investigationof truth..

I would also though urge you to be of course respectful of your parents or family and not say bring the Faith into a cause say for disunity or conflict..

But keep investigating and exploring by all means!:wink
 
Old 09-06-2010, 07:34 PM   #10
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Ok, another question; How do I tel others about Baha'i Faith? Someone kept asking me, and I didn't know how to explain it in a simple way.
 
Old 09-07-2010, 02:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pheonixduprese View Post
Ok, another question; How do I tel others about Baha'i Faith? Someone kept asking me, and I didn't know how to explain it in a simple way.
Just have them ask you and answer best to your ability. I would suggest to read up on it a bit more, though. Especially if someone is trying to find a flaw by asking biased questions.
Remember not to proselytize, though. My friend asks me about it and him and I debate on everything, so he is critical of the faith, saying it is just a bunch of mixed up religions and assumes we have to follow everyone's laws. Don't not expect someone like that.
 
Old 09-07-2010, 08:02 AM   #12
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My friend asks me about it [the Baha'i Faith], and him and I debate on everything; so he is critical of the faith, saying it is just a bunch of mixed up religions and assumes we have to follow everyone's laws. Don't not expect someone like that.
You should point out to him that not only do we have our own scriptures (fully 200 volumes of them!) but our own laws and procedures, a number of which are new and entirely different from those found in other religions!

So it's a clear mistake to say we're a mere combination of other religions.

Regards, :-)

Bruce
 
Old 09-07-2010, 09:11 AM   #13
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Ok, another question; How do I tel others about Baha'i Faith? Someone kept asking me, and I didn't know how to explain it in a simple way.
Ruhi classes are avaialble in many areas and could be a good beginning to explore the Faith.. Maybe a small group is within the area where they live.. also a local library may have the book:

"Baha'u'llah and the New Era"
 
Old 09-07-2010, 03:37 PM   #14
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You should point out to him that not only do we have our own scriptures (fully 200 volumes of them!) but our own laws and procedures, a number of which are new and entirely different from those found in other religions!

So it's a clear mistake to say we're a mere combination of other religions.

Regards, :-)

Bruce
I have. He and I just love to argue. He beat our teacher (teaching a college-level class) in a debate and used the Geneva convention and defended the 9/11 attacks from a legal standpoint. O_o But he dosen't listen to me when I say we aren't a mixed up bunch of religions. He might just be trying to anger me. lol
 
Old 09-08-2010, 06:29 AM   #15
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I have. He and I just love to argue. He beat our teacher (teaching a college-level class) in a debate and used the Geneva convention and defended the 9/11 attacks from a legal standpoint. O_o But he dosen't listen to me when I say we aren't a mixed up bunch of religions. He might just be trying to anger me. lol
You might point out to him that Christianity explicitly permitted slavery (demonstrable by quoting the Bible), while Islam still permitted it with certain restrictions.

It wasn't until the coming of the Baha'i Faith that any scripture explicitly forbade it!

(Who says there's nothing new under the sun?)

Peace,

Bruce
 
Old 09-08-2010, 12:57 PM   #16
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You might point out to him that Christianity explicitly permitted slavery (demonstrable by quoting the Bible), while Islam still permitted it with certain restrictions.

It wasn't until the coming of the Baha'i Faith that any scripture explicitly forbade it!

(Who says there's nothing new under the sun?)

Peace,

Bruce
Consider in the Old testament God allowed slavery. So therefore it isn't immoral isn't it.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 02:22 PM   #17
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Consider in the Old testament God allowed slavery. So therefore it isn't immoral isn't it.
It wasn't at that time and place. But it is now. Thats the one thing you dont seem to get. Different peoples were taught different things in different time periods based on their spiritual needs.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 02:34 PM   #18
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It wasn't at that time and place. But it is now. Thats the one thing you dont seem to get. Different peoples were taught different things in different time periods based on their spiritual needs.
MOrality isn't a thing which changes and bends, it is an eternal consistent thing in line with what God defines. If God defines morality and then changes it, truly morality must be random and arbitrary.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #19
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MOrality isn't a thing which changes and bends, it is an eternal consistent thing in line with what God defines. If God defines morality and then changes it, truly morality must be random and arbitrary.
I never said it was. I said different people needed different things at different times. You just love to twist peoples' words.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 06:01 PM   #20
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Orthodox. As a fellow human and follower of religion, I respect your opinions and interpretations of God. But, please, do not try to come here and "correct" us or press your interpretations on us. Again, I respect your personal findings of truth, but I don't see why you joined this forum if you were to come here and simply correct us or tell us we're "wrong." This is not a part of our religion; we are not recognizing your thoughts as "wrong," therefore please do not call ours the same.

Thank you,
Cole.

Last edited by pheonixduprese; 09-08-2010 at 06:05 PM.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 07:05 PM   #21
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You see these are not my personal findings, my doctrine did not come from me, it came from the saints and apostles, my personal research lead me to find it. And clearly you must recognize my thoughts as wrong.

I believe in the trinity (which bahai reject and you know what I mean by trinity so don't say you don't reject trinity you simply reject the historic version of it and try to revise it into foul heresy)

I believe Christ rose from the dead (physically so don't say you believe it to)

I believe in the eucharist the real presence of literal blood and body of Christ as a divine mystery given to us by God.

I believe that Christ died so that we may reach theosis or divinisation.

I see a pattern that in order for bahai to have any validity they have simplify things and never truely expand on them. Thus I why I have to clarify myself, so that you will admit you reject such Christian doctrines.

I have twisted nothing, but these are the conclusions I come from when you say certain things. There is no consistency in the revelation God gives. Im sorry, it doesn't exist. Bahai claim it.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 07:06 PM   #22
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And asking me to not recognize your thoughts as wrong is like asking a scientist to recognize Newton was wrong. It ain't gonna happen.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 07:39 PM   #23
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See, the nice thing is that, according to Baha'i faith, you're right. :wink

You are one hundred percent correct due to your personal findings, belief in the Bible, and faith in Jesus Christ. But while we realize you to be correct, we believe that we're correct, too. It's fantastic that we have a difference in opinion, because if it weren't for this, beautiful people like Jesus Christ, Baha'u'llah, Zoroaster, Muhammed, and countless others would never have been realized.

But I do politely reject your offer for debate, as I have no interest in debating religion, because according to mine (religion) most religion (including yours) are correct in their own spectrum, therefore there's no ground for debate. (I am a debater, though. Public Forum style all the way.) Thank you again for the offer.

And, finally, thank you for submitting you opinions, as this is greatly appreciated. Lovely to see others' view of God.

Allah'u'abha,

Cole
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:09 PM   #24
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So you have essentially admitted that hte bahai religion is relatable to that of the new age movement in which everyone has their own personal subjective truth. I cannot believe in such a thing. If I am right and you are right God is both something he is and is not. This is called contradiction. Something cannot both apply and not apply at the same time. You cannot have a married bachalor, no matter how much you want it.

So you believe me to be correct? Alright so you believe the orthodox church is correct?
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:19 PM   #25
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This brings us to another belief in the Baha'i Faith: The unknowability of God. He could be anything that you feel firmly that he is. And we will never know until we pass, will we? Therefore, let us not debate how correct or incorrect someone's view of God is; however you see him, that is how he will be. Of course you are correct in some ways; everyone is correct in their own view of Him.

-Cole
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:24 PM   #26
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You told me you believe me to right. So answer my question. Is Orthodoxy My belief right.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:26 PM   #27
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Yes, brother, Christian Orthodoxy is your belief.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:29 PM   #28
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You are ignoring my question. Is Orthodox Christianity RIGHT? Don't give a vague answer. Give a clear and direct answer. Yes or no. Also if you were my brother in faith you would recite the Nicene creed.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:30 PM   #29
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Is some perspectives, yes. You can not answer straight "yes or no" to topics that have multiple, separate beliefs, friend. This applies to everything.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:33 PM   #30
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And yet, Christian Orthodoxy is correct in the same way that Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Islam are.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:33 PM   #31
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Actually it can. If orthodoxy is wrong, it is wrong, thats simple. you can admit there are truths in it. But please answer is the majority of orthodox beliefs wrong or right. Or should I list some at which you will tell me they are wrong or right? I can list the essential orthodox beliefs if you like.

Its like answering this question. Is there a can of energy drink called cocaine. The answer is yes, yes there is. It is not vague it is a true statement. It is a spicy energy drink found in america.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:35 PM   #32
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And yet, Christian Orthodoxy is correct in the same way that Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Islam are.
You forgot to add Bahai to that. And no, Orthodoxy is much more true compared those those religions lol. It has the one truth given from Christ to the apostles and his church no other religion can claim this.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:36 PM   #33
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Friend. I am politely answering your questions, but if this turns into a debate, I'm afraid I'll have to abstain.

We recognize Jesus Christ as a Manifestation of God; therefore, we accept Christianity as being a valid way of viewing and interpreting God.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:38 PM   #34
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Okay, so did you know that Christianity believes Jesus to be God incarnate, literally? Since you just said that I take bahai believe this as well thank you. I'm glad bahai actually realise this essential truth. It is no debate. It is a conversation. We are discussing important concepts, comparing and contrasting that fits into the realm of conversation.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:45 PM   #35
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Friend, you're misinterpreting me.

Manifestations of God are much different; for example, we do not hail Jesus as God; only as a messenger. This is the gist of it: Indeed, while we may be of different faith, we are both becoming closer to God, and when we pass, we will both be in bliss with Him.

I'm afraid I'm forced to cut this conversation short; thank you, friend, and I hope you learned something about Baha'i Faith.
 
Old 09-08-2010, 08:48 PM   #36
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Im afraid what you think of Jesus doesn't matter in light of what you have said. You just told me that Christianity is a valid view of God, therefore it is valid or right to believe Christ as God and likewise not God right? For if bahai and Christianity are both valid you must hold these two contradictory ideas as acceptable. I don't know how, but this is what you must come to Unless you will rescind your statement. And sir if I have misinterpreted your words I don't know how that is possible.

"therefore, we accept Christianity as being a valid way of viewing and interpreting God." Pheon 1-1

Christianity views God as eternal who became incarnate so that we may acheive theosis and may have our sins payed for. You were quite clear in this. Either you don't know what Christianity teaches or should change your statement.

Last edited by Orthodox; 09-08-2010 at 08:51 PM.
 
Old 09-09-2010, 01:51 AM   #37
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Okay, so did you know that Christianity believes Jesus to be God incarnate, literally? Since you just said that I take bahai believe this as well thank you. I'm glad bahai actually realise this essential truth. It is no debate. It is a conversation. We are discussing important concepts, comparing and contrasting that fits into the realm of conversation.

Once again orthodox.. Please bear in mind this is an introductory thread and you are inserting your own theological views here.. Baha'is as you know do not accept that God incarnates Himself or that Jesus is God...that is your belief.
 
Old 09-09-2010, 11:23 AM   #38
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I have appreciated our Faith for being there with a new argument or explanation in so many issues. I think of it in general as "the third truth". It is like our teaching on evolution that no one else seems to believe or come up with, that man has always been man, not a monkey, though he may not resemble his current form, as there is a tree in an acorn. We don't deny evolution, it becomes clarified. We live in a world in which science and religion agree, in my eyes it makes God even more lofty. I am reminded over and over that if one argues with someone, then both are wrong. I think Baha'is are called on to reach for newer and better solutions. As Christianity brought a new way of living to the pagan world e.g. stopping abortion, belief in life after death, and the Golden Rule, so are Baha'is to change themselves. We cannot change those who do not have the ear to hear and the eye to see, but we can change ourselves.
 
Old 09-09-2010, 12:12 PM   #39
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Consider in the Old testament God allowed slavery. So therefore it isn't immoral isn't it.
Hi Orthodox

I am a Christian and find it incredible that you can support slavery. For a start, the Book of Exodus - the core of the Jewish Torah - was the first book in history to depict a mass exodus of a people from slavery. God is a God of liberty and all men are created equal. It is interesting to note that many Black people in America looked to Moses as a symbol of their fight for liberty against white slavery and oppression.

Look at this quotation from the Prophet Isaiah,

" Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke? "

This is I think is as clear a condemnation of the practice of slavery as one can find. And the above is exactly what God did to the Hebrews!

Now although the Bible is 'against' slavery as an eternal practice of oppressing innocent people, the Bible was written at a time when humanity had not yet advanced as far as we have now morally and in which slavery was widely practised. So although the Bible preaches, as above, that slavery is inherently wrong, many parts of the Bible speak of slavery - indeed accept it - as a reality of the THEN world. This is what has seemed to cause you some confusion. Acceptance of a reality and guidelines on how to treat slaves with the dignity they deserve as human beings, as you will find in some of the Letters of St Paul, are not a condoning or divine-actioning of the act of slavery which is so obviously against the words of Jesus when he says of his mission in the world, 'I came that they (humankind) might have life and have it in abudance'. How many slaves do you know live abudant lives?

What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not race-based. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or skin colour. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

The slavery of the past few centuries was race-based. The Bible clearly condemns race-based slavery, which was not really as prevalent a reality in biblical times. Consider the slavery the Hebrews experienced when they were in Egypt. The Hebrews were slaves, not by choice, but because they were Hebrews (Exodus 13:14). The plagues God poured out on Egypt demonstrate how God feels about racial slavery (Exodus 7-11).

In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of kidnapping others and forcing them into slavery against their will. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

Slavery, the kind that is accepted as a reality by Moses and St Paul - although interestingly enough not Jesus, who never explicitly mentioned slavery but who taught his followers to 'wash each others feet' and clearly taught against it - is one that they tried to assure was as limited and as humane as posible. Slavery could not be eradicated in Biblical times. Cyrus the Great tried it but soon after his death the practice returned. Moses and Paul worked within a system they did not like but had to find a way of making as humane as possible for the benefit of the human beings who were enslaved. Take St Paul in the Book of Philemon. was a slave to Philemon of Colossae, a man of Christian faith. Eventually, Onesimus transgressed against Philemon and fled to the site of Paul the Apostle's imprisonment (most probably Rome or Ephesus) to escape punishment for a theft he had committed [1], there, he heard the Gospel from Paul and converted to Christianity. Paul, having earlier converted Philemon to Christianity, reconciled with the two and wrote a letter to Philemon (which today exists in the New Testament as the Epistle to Philemon [2]). The letter read (in part):

“ I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this is perhaps why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. ”
—Paul of Tarsus to Philemon, Epistle to Philemon 1:10-16 (ESV)


Due to this epistle from Paul, Philemon indeed accepted Onesimus as a brother and freed him of slavery.
Paul recognised that Philemon was a human being, deserving of the same love and respect as himself and so tried his utmost best to have Onesimus freed. Thankfully, Paul's efforts where successful and he laid down a blueprint that has been followed by such splendid Christians as William Wilberforce, the man who campaigned to end the race-based slave trade and slavery condemned unequivocally in the bible but widely practicised in the 19th century in the British Empire and once again thankfully was successful. It was his Christian Faith, anchored in the self-sacrificing love of Jesus who died to 'free' all humanity, which inspired him to do this, much like in the famous abolition song The Battle Hymn of the Republic,

'Christ died to make men holy, so let us die to make men free'.

Here are other cases where Moses and Paul tried to limit the cruelty of slavery and create conditions as humane as possible for the victims:

Chattel slavery - where slaves are treated as property and denied basic human rights - did not exist under the Law of Moses. There was no form of servitude under the Law of Moses which placed them in the legal position of chattel slaves. Legislation maintained kinship rights (Exodus 21:3, 9, Leviticus 25:41, 47-49, 54, providing for Hebrew indentured servants), marriage rights (Exodus 21:4, 10-11, providing for a Hebrew daughter contracted into a marriage), personal legal rights relating to physical protection and protection from breach of contract (Exodus 21:8, providing for a Hebrew daughter contracted into a marriage, Exodus 21:20-21, 26-27, providing for Hebrew or foreign servants of any kind, and Leviticus 25:39-41, providing for Hebrew indentured servants), freedom of movement, and access to liberty (Exodus 21:8, 11, providing for a Hebrew daughter contracted into a marriage, Leviticus 25:40-45, 48, 54, providing for Hebrew intendured servants, and Deuteronomy 15:1, 12; 23:15, providing for Hebrew or foreign servants of any kind).

Though several forms of servitude existed under the Law of Moses, in every case all rights were maintained unless voluntarily relinquished (Exodus 21:5-6, Deuteronomy 15:16-17).

The Law of Moses commanded that servants, of whatever origin (Gentile or Hebrew), were to be treated as human beings who were part of the family and community. Unlike any other ANE society, the Law of Moses commanded that servants enjoy at least one day a week free from every kind of labour, participating in the Sabbath day of rest together with the free members of the community:

Exodus 20:
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates.

Deuteronomy 5:
14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. On that day you must not do any work, you, your son, your daughter, your male slave, your female slave, your ox, your donkey, any other animal, or the foreigner who lives with you, so that your male and female slaves, like yourself, may have rest.

The commandment in Deuteronomy 5:14 specifies that one reason for this injunction is that male and female servants may enjoy the same privilege of leisure as their free masters. This commandment was unique to the Law of Moses. No other ANE society provided its slaves, servants, or even hired workers, with a legally protected day of rest every 6 days.

In addition, the Law of Moses required that servants be incorporated into the community festive activities.

Read this portion of an article:

"
The inclusion in these feasts of servants and socially disadvantaged groups such as the resident foreigners, orphans, and widows demonstrates that these individuals were not to be marginalised by the community, but included with the free community, and provided with the same benefits as equal citizens. This explicit emphasis on the humanity of servants encouraged strong personal and emotional bonds between servants and the households they served, and prevented them from being viewed as mere chattels or being dehumanized, as they frequently were in other ANE socities.

Priests under the Law of Moses had no income other than that which they received from the community tithe (a tax of ten percent of the community’s produce), and from certain of the offerings made under the sacrificial code. Ordinarily, the food of the offerings was permitted to be eaten only by the priests. Since it had been ritually sanctified, it could not be eaten by a non-priest. A priest could not offer it to his guest, his lodger, or his hired worker:

Leviticus 22:
10 “‘No lay person may eat anything holy. Neither a priest’s lodger nor a hired laborer may eat anything holy,

However, both an indentured servant owned by the priest, or a servant who was born in his own house, were permitted to eat of the food which was ordinarily reserved only for the priest:

Leviticus 22:
11 but if a priest buys a person with his own money, that person may eat the holy offerings, and those born in the priest’s own house may eat his food.

This remarkable law provided uniquely for the servant of the priest, treating their welfare as equally important as that of the priest himself. The servant had the right to share the ritually sanctified food which was otherwise reserved only for the priest, who belonged to the most privileged class in the community.

Masters were accountable to the law for their treatment of all their servants, whether fellow Hebrews or foreigners (Exodus 21:20-21, 26-27), and the death of a servant caused by a domestic animal had to be compensated (Exodus 21:32), though the death of a freeman caused by a domestic animal did not have to be compensated unless the animal was previously known to be dangerous (Exodus 21:28-29). These laws were far superior to the laws of other ANE societies, most of which permitted chattel slavery, and provided little or no protection for servants of any kind.

For example, the Law of Moses placed an equal value on the life of the slave as on the life of a free born man, which the Code of Hammurabi did not do:

* The Code of Hammurabi exacted no penalty for the murder of a slave, but the Law of Moses proscribed the death penalty for the murder of any man (Exodus 21:12)

* The Code of Hammurabi exacted no penalty for injuring a slave, but the Law of Moses required a master to set his slave free if he inflicted permanent injury (Exodus 21:26-27)

* The Code of Hammurabi held the life of a slave to be of less value than the life of a free born man, but the Law of Moses valued them equally (Exodus 21:12, 19)

No servant under the Law of Moses, of whatever status (Hebrew or foreigner), was subjected to the terms of ANE or New World chattel slavery:

‘A [chattel] slave was property. The slaveowner’s rights over his slave-property were total, covering the person as well as the labor of the slave. The slave was kinless, stripped of his or her old social identity in the process of capture, sale and deracination, and denied to capacity to forge new bonds of kinship through marriage alliance. These are the three basic components of [chattel] slavery.’

Peter Garnsey, ‘Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine’, 1996, page 1, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

‘Guterbock refers to ‘slaves in the strict sense,’ apparently referring to chattel slaves such as those of classical antiquity. This characterization may have been valid for house slaves whose master could treat them as he wished when they were at fault, but it is less suitable when they were capable of owning property and could pay betrothal money or fines. The meaning ‘servant‘ seems more appropriate, or perhaps the designation ‘semi-free’. It comprises every person who is subject to orders or dependent on another but nonetheless has a certain independence within his own sphere of active. [sic]‘

‘A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law’, Raymond Westbrook (editor), 2003, volume 1, page 632, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

Several laws in the Law of Moses which applied to servitude are unique, having no counterpart in any other ANE society:

* Servants were protected from injury by their masters, and were set free if they were injured

* Murdering a slave incurred the death penalty

* It was illegal to capture individuals and place them in coercive servitude as property (chattel slavery)

* Any servant who ran away from their master automatically gained their liberty and were free to live wherever they chose; not only was it illegal to return them to their master, it was also forbidden to oppress them in any way

Under the Law of Moses, the master who struck his servant and knocked out an eye or tooth, had to let the servant go free (Exodus 21:26-27), a law understood by the Jews as referring to any permanent injury. In contrast, under the Code of Hammurabi a man who struck an even ex-slave and knocked out their eye or tooth had only to pay a monetary fine, and there was no penalty for injuring a slave at all. Other ANE law codes also failed to provide any such protection for servants and slaves:

‘The above prescription is hugely instructive, in comparison to the ANE: In some ANE codes, a master could literally put out the eyes of his slaves![HI:HANEL, e.g., at Mari, 1:383; at Nuzi, 1:586]. This represents a MASSIVE departure from ‘conventional morality’ of the day!’

‘The ANE, however, did NOT have the same ‘respect’ for the face of slaves–besides eye-gouging, they resorted to branding, cutting of the ears, mutilating the nose, etc– IN THE LAW CODES!. These practices are NOT in Israel’s law codes, and they are implied to be prohibited by the focus on penalties for striking the face.’

Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

‘This law-the protection of slaves from maltreatment by their masters-is found nowhere else in the entire existing corpus of ancient Near Eastern legislation. It represents a qualitative transformation in social and human values and expresses itself once again in the provisions of verses 26-27.’

Nahum M Sarna, ‘Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary Series: Exodus’, 1991, note on Exodus 21:21-27, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

‘Although slaves were viewed as the property of heads of households, the latter were not free to brutalize or abuse even non-Israelite members of the household. On the contrary, explicit prohibitions of the oppression/exploitation of slaves appear repeatedly in the Mosaic legislation. In two most remarkable texts, Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 10:19, Yahweh charges all Israelites to love (‘aheb) aliens (gerim) who reside in their midst, that is, the foreign members of their households, like they do themselves and to treat these outsiders with the same respect they show their ethnic countrymen.’

‘Marriage and Family in the Biblical World’, 2003, Ken Campbell (editor), page 60, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

Under the Law of Moses, murdering a slave incurred the death penalty:

Exodus 21:
20 “If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she dies as a result of the blow, he will surely be punished.

The term for ‘punished’ here is ‘avenged’, indicating the standard ‘lex talionis’, the law of equivalent retribution (Deuteronomy 19:21, ‘principle will be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot’). The earliest Jewish commentaries on the passage makes this clear:

‘And when a man hath smitten his Kenaanite man‑servant or maid‑servant with a staff, and he die the same day under his hand, he shall be judged with the judgment of death by the sword.’

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Mishpatim, commentary on Exodus 21:20, 1st century AD

‘And when a man smiteth his servant or his handmaid with a staff, and he die under his hand, condemned he shall be condemned.’

Targum Onkelos, Mishpatim, commentary on Exodus 21:20, 2nd century AD

Modern commentaries agree:

‘He must be avenged The master is criminally liable and faces execution, in keeping with the law of verse…The verb n-k-m is popularly taken to signify “revenge.” Actually, it means “to avenge,” that is, to vindicate, or redress, the imbalance of justice. Its use in the Bible is overwhelmingly with God as the subject, and in such cases it always serves the ends of justice. It is employed in particular in situations in which normal judicial procedures are not effective or cannot be implemented.’

Nahum M Sarna, ‘Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary Series: Exodus’, 1991, note on Exodus 21:20, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

“The second case involved a master striking his slave, male or female. Since the slave did not die immediately as a result of this act of using the rod (not a lethal weapon, however) but tarried for “a day or two” (v. 21), the master was given the benefit of the doubt; he was judged to have struck the slave with disciplinary and not homicidal intentions. This law is unprecedented in the ancient world where a master could treat his slave as he pleased.

When this law is considered alongside the law in vv. 26-27, which acted to control brutality against slaves at the point where it hurt the master, viz., his pocketbook, a whole new statement of the value and worth of the personhood of the slave is introduced. Thus if the master struck a slave severely enough only to injure one of his members, he lost his total investment immediately in that the slave won total freedom; or if he struck severely enough to kill the slave immediately, he was tried for capital punishment (vv. 18-19). The aim of this law was not to place the slave at the master’s mercy but to restrict the master’s power over him (cf. similar laws in the Code of Hammurabi 196-97, 200).’

‘Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament’, 1992, note on Exodus 21:20, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

Under the Law of Hammurabi, the death penalty was not enforced on a master murdering his own slave. The only penalty enforced for the death of a slave was if the slave died as a result of mistreatment in prison, in which case a fine was imposed:

116. If the prisoner die in prison from blows or maltreatment, the master of the prisoner shall convict the merchant before the judge. If he was a free-born man, the son of the merchant shall be put to death; if it was a slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina of gold, and all that the master of the prisoner gave he shall forfeit.

Under the Law of Moses, it was illegal to capture individuals and place them in coercive servitude as property (chattel slavery). The punishment for such a crime was death:

Exodus 21:
16 “Whoever kidnaps someone and sells him, or is caught still holding him, must surely be put to death.

Deuteronomy 24:
7 If a man is found kidnapping a person from among his fellow Israelites, and regards him as mere property and sells him, that kidnapper must die. In this way you will purge evil from among you.

In contrast, the Law of Hammurabi only punished the kidnap of a minor son of a freeman, and offered no protection for anyone captured and placed in coercive slavery:

14. If any one steal the minor son of another, he shall be put to death.

Under the Law of Moses, any servant who ran away from their master automatically gained their liberty and were free to live wherever they chose. Not only was it illegal to return them to their master, it was also forbidden to oppress them in any way:

Deuteronomy 23:
15 You must not return an escaped slave to his master when he has run away to you.
16 Indeed, he may live among you in any place he chooses, in whichever of your villages he prefers; you must not oppress him.

The Hebrew word here translated slave is ‘ebed’, and refers generally to any servant, no matter what form of servitude they were under, and regardless of their nationality. This is arguably the most remarkable law regarding servants in the entire Law of Moses. No other ANE society had any such law, and most contemporary societies actually punished those who protected or supported runaway slaves. The Law of Hammurabi was particularly vindictive regarding this matter, enforcing the death penalty on anyone who sheltered a runaway slave, or who even concealed knowledge of their whereabouts:

16. If any one receive into his house a runaway male or female slave of the court, or of a freedman, and does not bring it out at the public proclamation of the major domus, the master of the house shall be put to death.

17. If any one find runaway male or female slaves in the open country and bring them to their masters, the master of the slaves shall pay him two shekels of silver.

18. If the slave will not give the name of the master, the finder shall bring him to the palace; a further investigation must follow, and the slave shall be returned to his master.

19. If he hold the slaves in his house, and they are caught there, he shall be put to death.

Other ANE law codes were equally cruel, and the Law of Moses stands out as uniquely humanitarian:

‘Wherever slavery existed, there were slaves who escaped from their masters. Ancient Near Eastern law forbade harboring runaway slaves, and international treaties regularly required allied states to extradite them. The present law, in contrast, permits escaped slaves to settle wherever they wish in the land of Israel and forbids returning them to their masters or enslaving them in Israel.’

Nahum M Sarna, ‘Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary Series: Exodus’, 1991, note on Deuteronomy 23:15-16, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

‘A slave could also be freed by running away. According to Deuteronomy, a runaway slave is not to be returned to its master. He should be sheltered if he wishes or allowed to go free, and he must not be taken advantage of (Deut 23:16-17). This provision is strikingly different from the laws of slavery in the surrounding nations and is explained as due to Israel’s own history of slaves. It would have the effect of turning slavery into a voluntary institution.’

‘A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law’, Raymond Westbrook (editor), 2003, volume 2, page 1006, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

I refer you to read the rest of thi excellent article for yourself: Slavery In The Bible (2/5) Bible Apologetics

But what about St Paul?

First and most important is 1 Cor. 7.20-4. Here Paul writes that slaves should not be troubled about their status, though if they can take advantage of freedom they should. What matters more is their relationship with the Lord. In the Lord the slave is a free man, though a slave to Christ like all Christians.
The third text is Col. 3.18-4.1. The essential point is the same - social hierarchies are relativized in the Lord. But here Paul addresses slaves themselves and he is also concerned that the Church does not scandalize society. It is typical that Paul addresses slaves directly and talks to them as to equals. He puts brotherhood in the Lord into action, which may be why slaves made up a good proportion of the church in Corinth.

The second point is Paul's concern not to scandalize society. For some critics this is the point where the Church is seduced into bourgeois respectability, but it is possible to be more understanding of these early Christians. Christianity was not a licensed religion so its followers might be prosecuted at any time. There were few Christians and their roots were not deep. They were fighting on enough fronts as it was, without risking further persecution, and they needed those breathing spaces from persecution in which the Church in Acts grew. Commanding slaves, then a crucial part of society, to free themselves from their masters would have been seen as an incitement of mass revolution. The only comparison I can call to mind is Marx and his call for the working classes to rise up against the upper class. In Russia working class people were known as 'serfs', slaves. Was the bloodshed that followed moral? No. The desire for serfs to be free was, but the bloodhed wasn't. So Paul could not posibly, in the context of his time, command all slaves to free themselves.

But he did do something: he told people to recognise that all human beings were equal regardless of their social status, being made free by Jesus and his radical message:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatian)

Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. The Bible often approaches issues from the inside out. If a person experiences the love, mercy, and grace of God by receiving His salvation, God will reform his soul, changing the way he thinks and acts. A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong
 
Old 09-09-2010, 03:35 PM   #40
Dedicated to Orthodoxy
 
Joined: Sep 2010
From: New Zealand
Posts: 1,318
Quote:
Originally Posted by arthra View Post
Once again orthodox.. Please bear in mind this is an introductory thread and you are inserting your own theological views here.. Baha'is as you know do not accept that God incarnates Himself or that Jesus is God...that is your belief.
Once again, he told me Christianity is a valid way of viewing God. Im just revealing that Christianity has always viewed Christ as God.
 
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