Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alcohol, Slavery and Loss of Social Concern 2

Lovelace continues, "a second shift, which was also divisive, was the emergence of diverging positions over the issue of slavery. While the English evangelicals had remained united in their opposition to this institution and had brought about a bloodless revolution in its abolition, American evangelicals began to divide on this issue in the 1820s into at least three groups":

1. those who favored immediate abolition no matter what the cost.
2. those who favored ultimate abolition but only after a vaguely defined period of preparation.
3. those who defended slavery on biblical and theological grounds.

Dynamics, pp. 375-76

In defense of #2 and #3 came the argument that “... the gospel should deal with ‘spiritual matters’ and not meddle with political or social affairs, the familiar Fundamentalist argument for passive support of the status quo, emerged before the Civil War as conservative evangelical defense of resistance toward or postponement of abolition” (Dynamics, p. 376).

Lovelace writes further:

The seriousness of the break in evangelical ranks on the issue can hardly be overestimated. The results have included the necessity of fighting one of the bloodiest wars in history in order to accomplish what English churchmen did with prayer and argument,... and a retreat from all social applications of the gospel except a few relating to personal morality such as "temperance" (Dynamics, p. 376).

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