Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quote from "Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women" by Willard M. Swartley

Quote from Willard M. Swartley’s book Slavery, Sabbath, War & Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation. (1983, Scottdale, Herald Press)

“…As one grasps the central ethical imperative of the total Bible and then looks at these case issues [slavery, Sabbath, war, and women] and others from this vantage point, differences in interpretation may be resolved and consensus may emerge. Jesus’ own example in transcending scribal arguments over which law is greatest instructs us here. By appealing to the ethical heart of the entire law (Deut. 6.4 and Lev. 19:18), Jesus taught that all moral obligation is based upon love for God and love for the neighbor. As interpreters, we need to let these eyes of Jesus discover for us our own hermeneutical path. By giving priority to this moral imperative of love, we may be able to achieve consensus on the four issues of this study. For a place to begin, we might test our agreement with the following statements and direction of thought.
        The biblical imperative of love forbids oppressing anyone, especially the slave. It leads one to regard the slave no longer as a slave, but as a beloved brother or sister. Christianity ends slavery by abolishing positions and roles in which some people “lord it over others.” Love also calls us to use the Sabbath and all days of the week as a time to practice justice and to celebrate our salvation from bondage. Love celebrates the freedom of the Sabbath with joy. It tunes all of life into the Sabbath key.   Similarly, agape love calls God’s people away from destroying the enemy to loving the enemy, praying for the persecutor, and overcoming evil with good. War is over, for through love every person is a potential sister and brother in Christ.
        So also, love—even in a patriarchal society—calls the male in his cultural power to love as Jesus loved, to forgo his cultural prerogative of power, and to recognize that women are equally God’s image. Instead of prescribing rigid roles, love affirms unity, partnership, and interdependence, with each person seeking to image God in the divine fullness of Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Only as men and women fully affirm each other do they live as God’s image. (pp. 203-204)

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