The Theology That Justifies Everything

The Theology That Justifies Everything

This might seem like inside baseball, but it’s worth reading because what happened gives a solid indication of the new world religion that is taking shape.

Fr Martin tweeted this.

Interesting: “Where the Bible mentions [same-sex sexual] behavior at all, it clearly condemns it. I freely grant that. The issue is precisely whether the biblical judgment is correct. The Bible sanctioned slavery as well and nowhere attacked it as unjust…

“Are we prepared to argue today that slavery is biblically justified?”

That Martin is in favor of priests exploring the lower alimentary canals of their flocks is well known. So we are not surprised by his approval of the quote.

The quote itself is not his but was hosted by the Franciscan Richard Rohr. It came from the article “A Deeper Tenor“. From which we read (the brackets are original):

Where the Bible mentions [same-sex sexual] behavior at all, it clearly condemns it. I freely grant that. The issue is precisely whether the biblical judgment is correct. The Bible sanctioned slavery as well and nowhere attacked it as unjust. Are we prepared to argue today that slavery is biblically justified?…In the same way, fifty years from now people will look back in wonder that the churches could be so obtuse and so resistant to the new thing the Holy Spirit was doing among us regarding [sexuality].

It is well to highlight this self-own. There are many forms of slavery, including the one our oligarchs use now. So, yes, we are indeed prepared to argue the unarguable. Ignore that, too, since the question about slavery is not primary. What is is how the argument against slavery is used to justify sodomy.

What happened to bring about such a monumental shift on the issue of slavery was that the churches were finally driven to penetrate beyond the legal tenor of Scripture to an even deeper tenor, articulated by Israel out of the experience of the Exodus and the prophets and brought to sublime embodiment in Jesus’ identification with harlots, tax collectors, the diseased and maimed and outcast and poor…

That’s the first step. Cast doubt on the “legal tenor of Scripture”. If slavery is justified in Scripture, yet modernity says slavery is wrong, then Scripture itself is wrong.

This isn’t new territory: this argument is no different than a standard atheist argument. Man’s desire is better than God’s.

In the same way, women are pressing us to acknowledge the sexism and patriarchalism that pervades Scripture and has alienated so many women from the church. The way out, however, is not to deny the sexism in Scripture, but to develop an interpretive theory that judges even Scripture in the light of the revelation in Jesus.

It is true there is a strict separation of sexes in Scripture: men and women have different duties. St Paul would have women remain silent in Church, a wise rule, and a rule not denied here. Just as it is not denied that Scripture is against poopdick.

That’s the second, and clever, part of the argument. Every time an opponent says “Scripture condemns or forbids X”, the member of this new religion agrees immediately, and indeed insists on it. The scriptural condemnation is actually necessary for the conclusion of the arugment.

Here’s the twist and brilliant final part in the justification. Hold onto your shorts and read this slowly, for this is everything:

What Jesus gives us is a critique of domination in all its forms, a critique that can be turned on the Bible itself. The Bible thus contains the principles of its own correction. We are freed from bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible. It is restored to its proper place as witness to the Word of God. And that Word is a Person, not a book.

Now this is pure gibberish, because it is from the Bible that we learn of the man-God Jesus. You can’t say (as we can call it) the “spirit of Jesus” commands us to eschew Scripture and embrace poopdick and women priests while simultaneously citing Scripture as the basis of the “spirit of Jesus”. For then there is no basis to create this “spirit of Jesus”—except your own will.

This new religion is thus the religion of man, man the measure of all things. But it will use the notion of Jesus and of God to justify the primacy of man’s will. Whatever a man wants but can’t have makes him a member of the downtrodden, the poor, the victims. That’s when the spirit of Jesus comes to his rescue to give him what he wants, because no matter what he wants, there is nothing worse than being oppressed.

Jesus created the oppression by his Scriptural proscription, then he relieves it because Jesus hates nothing more than oppression.

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  1. Alice

    ‘You can’t say (as we can call it) the “spirit of Jesus” commands us to eschew Scripture and embrace poopdick and women priests while simultaneously citing Scripture as the basis of the “spirit of Jesus.” For then there is no basis to create this “spirit of Jesus”—except your own will.’

    Of course you can say that. What is stopping you? A rule of logic? No. Such a startling maneuver is precisely what Wittgenstein had in mind when he wrote, “My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.” Christianity is the most radical world religion, proving through its own teachings that it is truth—by going beyond itself in an extra-textural leap from dry page to the spirit of humankind, the spirit that, as the Catechism avers, knows of the existence of good and evil in its deepest chambers.

  2. Michael Dowd

    Fr. Rohr’s interpretation was enshrined in the Church with Vatican II, which in effect, is the embrace of Modernism. Why this isn’t perfectly clear to most Catholics is something of a wonder. But one thing is clear, most of them like it this way, i.e, do whatever you want and still go to heaven. This is an offer that seemingly they can’t refuse. The devil has their number.

  3. Leo

    C. S. Lewis has Professor Weston make this argument in Perelandra: God created you to be free, and the way to step into that freedom is to break His laws.
    How very clever.

    Prof. Weston is not a nice person. Don’t be like Prof. Weston.

  4. kawaii_kike

    Does this mean slavery is morally permissible? Surely slavery is at least a lesser evil than poopdick.

  5. Michael Dowd

    I think slavery is morally permissible and, evidently, had at least the tacit approval of the Catholic Church.

    Most folks are slaves in effect as they are beholden to their employer to a great degree.

  6. Slavery can be a form of compassion. “If you work, you shall be fed, clothed and housed.”

    Most militaries from time immemorial did nothing more than arm and feed the men – if that much. Are armies and navies to defend the nation immoral slavery?

    The faith shall not be used as a weapon against the faithful.

  7. Ray

    “Does this mean slavery is morally permissible? ”
    I have read the KJV version of the bible from start to finish and don’t recall any scripture that says slavery is a sin. Historically, slavery was ubiquitous. What ended slavery was the industrial revolution when animal and human power were replaced with machine power. Slaves and horses became obsolete. My favorite example of the industrial revolution is the cotton picking machine. The first machines picked one row of cotton at a time and did the work of about 40 humans. Now the cotton picking machines pick 6 rows of cotton at a time. That’s a lot of cotton pickers that were obsoleted.

  8. Ye Olde Statistician

    Believe it or not, people in the first century [and earlier] did not have the obsessions of Late Modern man. The Bible — rather, its various writers — took no position on slavery because a) they were not writing about slavery and b) it wasn’t the same thing as the Post-Renaissance revival of slavery in the West. The Bible took no position on air, either, and for much the same reason. It was everywhere. Slavery was an alternative to massacre of defeated enemies, the starvation of debt-plagued individuals, and throwing the mentally impaired onto the streets to fend for themselves.

    When a Late Modern American thinks of slavery, he thinks of a white Enlightenment master setting whip-wielding overseers upon kidnapped Africans or their bred-in-captivity progeny and not of M. Tullius Tiro, slave of Cicero and inventor of shorthand. Nor do they understand the distinction made by Aristotle between political slavery and natural slavery. “…we wring our hands over all the passages in Scripture which are really only guilty of using the taboo word “slavery” while seeking to advance justice for those who, like all of us, have someone who is morally entitled to our labor.”

  9. Sheri

    The real question here is why stupid people go along with any of this. People should have ran the minute Pope Communism-is-Wonderful was brought in. Participating is supporting Satan. Yet, there people are out there, pretending this is not true. So, address the first cause, and the rest will sort out. It’s not a Christian church anymore whatsoever so the Bible is irrelevant. Start there.

    (You don’t abandon God when you abandon a FALSE prophet or religion. You glorify him by obeying his commandments. How is that so hard to understand?)

  10. Sander van der Wal

    If Gods explicitly forbids males to have sex with each other on pain of death, then IMHO you are insane if you believe both that being an active male homosexual is going to be fine, and secondly, that you profess being a Christian.

  11. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Fr. Richard Rohr is a sad joke of a man.

    He and his friend, Sister Hobday, were skulking around Portland, Maine the same time ABS was living there.

    Went to one of his laughable public presentations and the audience was teeming with clerics anxious to hear the spirit wisdom of th peahen tribes and Sr Hobday, was succeed upon a groups of Confirmands and she taught them to howl at the moon.

    ABS once read one of his books, poured lighter fluid on it, lit it, photographed it and mailed him the photo with the caption “I just finished your book.”

  12. Bryant Poythress

    On the scripture on slavery question, the primary teaching is from Gen. 1:24 where we are shown that man is made in in image of God. This is not a throwaway verse but the grounding for all moral teaching in the rest of Scripture.

    Jesus said “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you”(Lk 6:31), and “…’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” ( Lk 10:27). These leave no room for advocating slavery in any way.

    Two passages specifically condemn kidnapping for slavery, the first shows it worthy the death penalty:

    He who kidnaps (?????? (g?nab) carry away, steal, steal away) a man , whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death. (Ex 21:16).

    “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers (?????????????, andrapodistes – one who acquires persons for use by others, slave-dealer, kidnapper), and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” 1 Ti 1:8–10)

    Scripture does not support slavery, quite the opposite. Believers are to love others as ourselves – even more – we are to regard one another as more important than ourselves (phil 2) and both masters and slaves will answer to the impartial God for their treatment of one another (Eph 6). For the world of unbelievers the message is always: be reconciled to God! (2 Cor 5:20).

  13. Richard Stevens

    Briggs’ analysis is powerful here — pushing past the first and second layers of rhetoric to get right to the Genesis 1 / Genesis 2 roots of the “new theology.” Truly clarifying.

    Bryant’s detailed and nicely documented post answers the “slavery in the Bible” question wonderfully. Thank you!! The truth needs to be restated tirelessly, there are always new people who haven’t heard or understood it yet.

    Sheri raises a tremendously important point. The problem we Catholics, actually Christians in general, have, is: when to consider a leadership change, or a doctrinal shift, as our good reason to leave that church? “After all, our whole family and all our friends attend” or “Most of what they do is fine, I don’t worry about other stuff.”

    I’m quite serious here, not snide. Protestantism began because Fr. Luther made the challenges clear, plain and public. Must the Church splinter to preserve doctrine and truth?

    Full disclosure — I attended Catholic Mass for over 30 years, didn’t formally convert to Catholicism, now attend evangelical bible church with no denomination, still admire the Catholic Church for so much of what it does right. But the Church is about one generation from becoming like the Anglicans in the leadership, and thus embracing the “new theology,” I fear.

    So when do we say “no way” and either protest or leave a church?

  14. The Old Testament is superceded by the New. The New does not directly address slavery. However, kidnapping/slave taking is definitely wrong. But so is expecting to eat without working. So voluntary slavery, ie. working for your supper, is morally just, at least for men. (Children and widows are to be provided for.) And slaves should be treated kindly, for they are closer than your neighbor.

    This is neither difficult nor complicated, people.

  15. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Doctrine never changes as it is an expression of Divine Revelation in the Original Deposit of Faith.

    When the bishop of Rome bellows his heresies, one is not supposed to laugh, but I do.

    One respects the Papacy by denigrating the praxis and progressive prose of its current occupant.

    One would not display respect for, say, MIT, if its President said that because of gravity everything tends to rise.

  16. acricketchirps

    The pope isn’t the president of the Church, though. He’s more akin to her janitor—I should say custodian.

  17. swordfishtrombone

    This is a truly dreadful article. You come across like an adolescent trying to shock with vile language rather than an adult making a coherent argument. If you fully support what the Bible claims, then do you support the death penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? All you (and your commentors) are demonstrating is that you’re quite prepared to support slavery, the oppression of women and probably pretty much anything as long as you don’t have to face up to the possibility that your laughable holy book transparently obviously contains the moral opinions of ignorant bronze age humans rather than those of a perfectly loving God.

    As for the comments, it seems that people are eager to join you in throwing away their humanity to pitch in with slave traders. Praise the Lord.

  18. Michael Dowd


    Ah, the perfect comment from a reader and a true believer of the New York Times.

    You may be uneasy that freedom of speech is allowed by Mr. Briggs.

  19. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    If you fully support what the Bible claims, then do you support the death penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath?

    Haven’t you heard? The Old Mosaic Law is kaput.

    It is in many of the better Bibles.

  20. Bryant Poythress

    In attempting to understand scripture, an important question was raised (a sub-category of the general and well-known conundrum in the theodicy), which is the relation of a loving God to the punishment meted out in the Old Testament, and specifically those listed in the Law of Moses.

    Instead of seeing God’s justice through the lens of his love, we need to see both through the lens of his holiness. As God reveals himself in Scripture, he is ‘holy, holy, holy’ (Is 6). From what we understand (with our infinitesimally small people brains) his holiness is an overall characteristic that surrounds and pervades (and sums up?) everything about him (metaphysical attributes – aseity, simplicity, omniscience, triunity etc. & moral attributes – love, truth, righteousness etc) and sets him apart from all else.

    The Mosaic Law is from God and reflects his character in that it is ‘holy, righteous and good’ (Rom 7:12), but it was a ‘ministry of death’ (2 Cor 3:7), a mere shadow (Heb 10:1) given only to Israel for a particular purpose (Gal 3:23) and for a specific end – to make disobedience to God, in any respect, (understandable to all) as deserving of death (Rom 7:13). Right standing before God was never attainable by keeping the law – as that was never it’s goal: ‘for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing’ (Gal 2:21). Christ’s perfect obedience fulfilled the Mosaic Law and it’s usefulness to its originator has concluded [as ABS said – kaput] (katargeo – abolish, invalidate, make useless; Eph 2:15; Heb 7:18,19). Christ’s death on the cross provided what animal sacrifices never could: actual forgiveness (Heb 10:1-18). What was formerly hidden in God’s plan has been revealed: all believers are now ‘coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise? in Christ Jesus through the gospel’ (Eph 3:6).

    Where believers are now is, we are not lawless, we have an even higher standard: the royal law (Ja 2:8), the law of Christ (1Cor 9:21) – perfect love (1Jo 4:18, Ro 13:10). Can we, who are still mere humans, keep this law on our own, since we could not even keep the old law? No, never, not a chance!!! What hope do we have?

    The answer is we abide (meinate) in Christ (John 15), we walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16-6:10), we (gradually, steadily and intentionally!) get our mind right (Rom 12-15), we ‘grow in every way into him who is the head? – Christ’ (Eph 4:15).

    I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved? me? and gave himself? for me. Gal 2:19–21

  21. DG

    I agree Briggs, their support for homosexuality is unbiblical.

    Now, I’m no theologian, but from what I gather, the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery per se. It does, however, say that slaves ought to be treated fairly particularly in the New Testament.

    Nonetheless, I think one can see from right reason and history that slavery is morally wrong and should not be allowed within society. It’s not wrong, of course, because it’s against modern or social trends – what’s trendy isn’t necessarily what’s true. Rather, slavery is wrong because of how it tends to treat people as mere utility and it generally puts people under abusive treatment. Slavery is at odds with the ethical “Principle of Ends” and slavery should have no place in the world. The Bible may not explicitly condemn slavery just as it doesn’t explicitly condemn cocaine drug use, but both activities are definitely wrong.

  22. Michael 2

    kawaii_kike asks: “Does this mean slavery is morally permissible? Surely slavery
    is at least a lesser evil than poopdick.”

    It is in a different world. Slavery is a social evil; there were many in Jesus’ day and in modern times. Jesus did not come to end social evils. Presumably social evils will end automatically if people tend to their private righteousness.

    Meanwhile, some unholy behaviors put a barrier between you and God. Whether society finds such things abhorrent, or worthy to celebrate, is nearly irrelevant.

    The Gospel of God is meant to operate, and be accessible in, many social systems; to save souls but sometimes not bodies. Citizens illuminated by righteousness will decide to eliminate social evils; but that is not the duty of a church, it is the duty of citizens.

  23. swordfishtrombone

    @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “The Bible — rather, its various writers — took no position on slavery…”

    Not true. Setting out rules under which human beings may be bought, sold, raped, and beaten is absolutely taking a position on slavery, as is saying “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear”. But even if your claim was true, it would be a red flag indicating that far from being ‘divinely inspired’, the Bible actually embodies the primitive morality of the people who wrote it.

    “When a Late Modern American thinks of slavery…”

    He/she thinks it is wrong.

  24. swordfishtrombone

    @ Bryant Poythress,

    “Jesus said […] These leave no room for advocating slavery in any way.”

    Jesus (if he existed at all, and if his sayings were correctly reported by unknown authors in another country and a foreign language fifty or more years after he’d died) said all sorts of contradictory nonsense. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart,” certainly leaves room for advocating slavery.

    In any case, the question shouldn’t be ‘why does the Bible advocate slavery?”, it should be “why doesn’t the Bible condemn slavery?”.

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