Well, Obama\’s right here, isn\’t he?

In his radio show, Mr Dobson accused the Democratic presidential nominee of twisting Biblical passages like Leviticus, which Mr Obama said suggests slavery is acceptable and eating shellfish is an abomination.

Hmmmm

11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11:11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

11:12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Sure looks like shellfish are covered there to me.

Looking for the bits about slavery is beyond me at this time of day. Now of course it could be that Mr. Dobson thinks that passage needs interpretation, needs finessing from an intermediary like himself. But that would really be rather odd, a little Catholic of him. For the Protestant contention about the Bible is that it is the Word of God, plain and unadorned, written so simply that the truth is obvious to every man who reads it. Without the necessary intervention of that priestly caste.

11 thoughts on “Well, Obama\’s right here, isn\’t he?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Except the New Testament bit comes along and replaces, or “clarifies” if you’re a Christian, the Old Testament bit. And Jesus is quite clear on this subject:

    “Matt.15
    “[10] And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
    “[11] Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
    “[12] Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
    ….
    “[16] And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
    “[17] Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
    “[18] But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
    “[19] For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
    “[20] These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

    So Jesus says that the laws of Kosher are irrelevant compared to, you know, being a good person and all that. Which is not exactly a fringe element of Christian thought.

    Slavery on the other hand? Well that is harder. Perhaps someone might argue that it is hard to reconcile that with treating your Brother as you would want to be treated etc – but for the fact that millions of slave owners have had no problem with it.

  2. Regardless of what is said in the new testament, Obama was right about _leviticus_ – I don’t think he was passing commentary on Christian thought.

    And as for slavery, it isn’t ‘difficult’, at all – Paul says (in Corinthians, I think) that slavery is just hunky dory with being a christian.

  3. And there’s me thinking that the Protestant contention was that every man should read it for himself and then discuss it with his fellows. At least, that’s what we did it at Sunday School.

  4. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the US, was founded to protect and proclaim the biblical foundations for the continuation of slavery.

    As far as I can tell, there is not one word uttered by anyone criticizing the institution of slavery, not even by Jesus.

  5. Slavery was so much a part of the ancient economy that it was taken absolutely for granted. The irony is that the Jewish Torah (ie the “old testament”) enacted some of the most liberal slavery laws then known: slaves had to be freed after seven years, had to be treated reasonably well etc.

  6. Except the New Testament bit comes along and replaces, or “clarifies” if you’re a Christian, the Old Testament bit. And Jesus is quite clear on this subject:

    This is the standard apologetics line, but it’s not very convincing. For a start, what you quote is hardly explicit on the subject; it is vague and metaphorical.

    More importantly, Jesus plainly wasn’t clear enough for his most immediate followers (assuming they ever heard of what you quote from Matthew) because Acts 15 documents a meeting called between Peter, Paul, et al. to debate the importance of Jewish Law for Gentiles. For instance it was affirmed that Christians must abstain “from blood”, which in context means meat slaughtered in a non-kosher fashion.

    The fact remains that Christians, even evangelical fanatics, persistently ignore all kinds of inconvenient Biblical rules (another example would be those related to divorce).

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Actually I don’t think those quotes is where the real offense starts:

    “He took exception to Mr Obama stating that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount was “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defence Department would survive its application”. ”

    Obama is, of course, right, but this is woo-ing Evangelical voters? I can’t see Southern Christians buying this. The Democrats are f*cked. They have rejected the unelectable in order to chose the utterly unelectable.

    John A – “As far as I can tell, there is not one word uttered by anyone criticizing the institution of slavery, not even by Jesus.”

    Greek and Roman philosphers did.

    Philip Thomas – my pleasure.

    Stephen – “The irony is that the Jewish Torah (ie the “old testament”) enacted some of the most liberal slavery laws then known: slaves had to be freed after seven years, had to be treated reasonably well etc.”

    This is starting to smack of the MCB’s apologetics for Islam. I doubt that the OT did have some of the most liberal slavery laws then known, but if they did insist that slaves had to be freed after seven years, I expect that most were worked to death in six and a half. Laws are hardly humane if they cause what they purport to prevent.

    Stuart A – “This is the standard apologetics line, but it’s not very convincing. For a start, what you quote is hardly explicit on the subject; it is vague and metaphorical.”

    Absolutely it is the Party Line. But I think it is explicit. Very explicit. I don’t see how you can say otherwise really.

    Stuart A – “More importantly, Jesus plainly wasn’t clear enough for his most immediate followers (assuming they ever heard of what you quote from Matthew)”

    And there’s the problem as the Bible was not codified for generations afterwards.

    Stuart A – “For instance it was affirmed that Christians must abstain “from blood”, which in context means meat slaughtered in a non-kosher fashion.”

    Well no. Surely it refers to animals that had been slaughtered at a pagan idol? – as was often the case, a rich man would buy the animal but the meat would be given to the poor.

    Acts 15
    [20] But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
    [29] That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

    However either way, Paul won that argument and the Gentiles were accepted without the need for circumcision – or the rules of Kosher.

    Stuart A – “The fact remains that Christians, even evangelical fanatics, persistently ignore all kinds of inconvenient Biblical rules (another example would be those related to divorce).”

    Absolutely. Whether you’re a Catholic that allows no divorce or a Protestant that allows any, you’re not following the NT rules.

    In fact the only attempt I know of to enforce proper Christian laws was by the American Puritans. Even they couldn’t make them work.

  8. Absolutely it is the Party Line. But I think it is explicit. Very explicit. I don’t see how you can say otherwise really.

    I’m sorry, but it just isn’t. It is metaphorical, like much of what Jesus said, and not at all obviously literally about food, any more than the parable of the vineyard was about growing grapes.

    Well no. Surely it refers to animals that had been slaughtered at a pagan idol?

    No, it doesn’t. Firstly, the same passage explicitly refers to idols, so it is eccentric to attribute the same meaning to the separate reference to blood. Secondly, if sacrifices were unclean generally (which Acts 15:20 confirms), why refer specifically to the their blood? Thirdly, it would be bizarre for a council called to discuss the application of the Jewish Law to Gentiles to focus its dietary rulings entirely on sacrifices, ignoring the other elements of Jewish dietary law. Fourthly, and crucially, it is a clear reference to Leviticus 7:26, the origin of the Kosher slaughtering rules, which says that “you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal” (NIV).

    However either way, Paul won that argument and the Gentiles were accepted without the need for circumcision – or the rules of Kosher.

    With regard to the rules of Kosher, that is false. Acts 15:20 says “Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” (NIV) They explicitly reaffirmed these elements of the Mosaic Law.

    In fact the only attempt I know of to enforce proper Christian laws was by the American Puritans.

    As with everybody else, I believe they implemented those rules that were congenial to them. Given that the Bible is fundamentally contradictory, this partial approach seems inevitable.

  9. Incidentally, I’m not sure what you were saying here:

    And there’s the problem as the Bible was not codified for generations afterwards.

    But just to be clear, that’s a problem for fundamentalist Christians, not me. They have two choices. They can accept the usual story, that Paul et al. were keen followers of Jesus and familiar with his message, in which case the meeting at Antioch is incompatible with your literalistic interpretation of Matthew 15 (because Paul et al. would have known Jesus’s views on the matter). Abandoning your line on Matthew 15 leaves nothing to contradict Acts 15:20, which leads to eating Kosher-slaughtered meat.

    Or they can accept that what we read in the gospels was not, in fact, known by Jesus’s alleged closest followers. If that’s so then they must abandon some element or other of Christian dogma. The easiest explanation, not available to them, is that the Bible is an unreliable, contradictory account of events that may or may not have taken place.

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