John Barclay gave a paper on Monday evening at the NT Seminar about how the bible was used in the british abolitionist movement which came to fruition in laws passed in 1807 and 1834.  You can read the full version in the most recent, I believe, copy of Expository Times.  He focused on the dual influence of enlightenment moral philosophy and biblical themes.  The interesting item of note is that on the surface one can make a surprisingly strong argument for slavery based on biblical texts (e.g., Leviticus 25).  However, John noted strongly that a key influence in the application of biblical texts against slavery was the enlightenment moral philosophy with its emphasis on universal rights that allowed abolitionists to reframe slaves as ‘men’ and even more importantly ‘brothers’.  Accordingly, all the texts on how to treat one’s brother in the bible became relevant to all people regardless of race.  It does make one think about how strongly our current worldview determines our ability to interpret the bible. 

It also shows how much evangelicalism in the UK has a different DNA in many ways than that of the US.  In the UK evangelicals were (and are?) very active in social issues, and were the main movers for social change.  On the other hand, evangelicals in the US regularly toy with isolation from society rather than positive engagement. 

One item to note is that along with William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp was a key player in the abolitionist movement.  And as Dan Wallace will tell you, he also wrote an essay on taxation without representation, which also proved influential in a small conflict around 1776.  So he had three very influential essays in very different areas: abolition, taxation, and Greek grammar. 

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