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Was Slavery God's Will?
At the 1996 Promise Keepers pastors conference in Atlanta, a Native American brother stood up and chronicled the many gross sins committed by white Americans against Native Americans over the centuries. He reminded the audience of the violation of hundreds of treaties, the slaughter of millions of buffalo, and the near genocide of numerous tribes.His conclusion, however, disturbed me. In spite of the horror, he told the gathered pastors, most of whom were white, if the white man had not come to the Americas, we wouldn't know Jesus. The crowd of 40,000 shouted "Amen!" in stirring unison.I returned home in a quandary. I appreciated the fellowship I experienced with my Christian brothers, but I could not shake the deep reservations I had concerning that Native American pastor's remarks. I realized that this same perspective sometimes is applied to the African-American experience:
You suffered horribly under chattel slavery, you were brutalized and dehumanized, but if the slave ships had not arrived and brought you to the New World, you wouldn't have found Jesus.
African-American pastor Earl Carter articulated that view a year later in his book No Apology Necessary. Carter argues that white people need not apologize to people of African descent because: (1) God instituted slavery due to Africans' pagan idolatry and (2) importation to the New World eventually resulted in the Christianization of African slaves. Carter's book leaves a lot to be desired exegetically and morally. To suggest that Euro-Americans are not morally culpable for their involvement in the Atlantic slave trade is ludicrous. What's more, to suggest that slavery was necessary for African people to be introduced to Jesus trivializes the horrors of the Middle Passage, ...1