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America's GodFrom Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln$
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Mark A. Noll

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151114

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195151119.001.0001

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The Bible and Slavery

The Bible and Slavery

Chapter:
(p.386) 19 The Bible and Slavery
Source:
America's God
Author(s):

Mark A. Noll (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195151119.003.0019

Central to the slavery debate was the issue of how to use the Scripture. Three major positions emerged on the Bible and slavery. Theological conservatives usually defended a literal reading of the Scripture, which was held to provide a divine sanction for slavery. Radicals who wanted to abolish slavery sometimes agreed that the Bible sanctioned slavery, but that acknowledgment led them to disparage the Bible. In the middle were a distraught contingent of Bible readers who were troubled by their conclusion that the Bible sanctioned slavery, and who failed unsuccessfully in trying to combine faithfulness to Scripture and opposition to slavery. All factions, but especially the middle group, were constrained in their understanding of the Bible by the confluence (distinct to America) between traditional Christianity and commonsense republican principles.

Keywords:   abolitionists, Albert Barnes, Henry Ward Beecher, Bible, Jonathan Blanchard, Civil War, William Lloyd Garrison, N. L. Rice, slavery, Thornton Stringfellow, James Henley Thornwell, Theodore Dwight Weld

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