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Denominations repent for Native American land grabs

Descendants of the victims of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre attend a ceremony in their honor during the United Methodist Church General Conference 2016 on May 18, 2016, in Portland. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (RNS) — “You cannot understand our history as a country until you understand the history of the church.” 

That’s how Mark Charles — a Navajo pastor, speaker and author — began his presentation to a room full of missionaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gathered this summer for their annual meeting.

He was laying out the origins of the Doctrine of Discovery, the idea first expressed in a series of 15th-century papal edicts and, later, royal charters and court rulings, that justifies the discovery and domination by European Christians of lands already inhabited by indigenous peoples.

In recent years, a number of mainline Protestant Christian denominations have passed resolutions repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. Now they’re considering how to act on those denunciations.

Some are creating educational resources on racism dealing with the doctrine and related themes. Others are calling for “full disclosure” on their denomination’s involvement in land grabs and massacres of Native Americans. Some have even suggested returning church land to the indigenous people who originally lived there.

Like the push to come to terms with racism, the toppling of Confederate monuments and the rise of Christian nationalism, these efforts represent ways the mainline is wrestling with the nation’s original sins.

“I’m encouraged that more and more Christian people seem on board to at least raise awareness,” said Steven T. Newcomb, the Shawnee/Lenape author of “Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery” and co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute.

“I think we’re exploring this together in terms of where it can go and the kinds of healing activities that can take place, and the reset of an honor and a respect for the original nations and peoples.”

Doctrine of Discovery

The way Newcomb describes the Doctrine of Discovery these days is “a claim of a right of Christian domination.”

It was first expressed by Pope Nicholas V in the 1452 papal bull “Dum Diversas,” which — along with subsequent bulls “Romanus Pontifex” and “Inter Caetera” — created a theological justification for Christian rulers seizing the property and possessions of non-Christians.

Steven T. Newcomb. Screenshot from video

That doctrine became enshrined in a number of other documents, including the “Requerimiento” read to indigenous peoples in what is now the United States, explaining their land had been donated to Spain and demanding they accept the authority of the pope and of the king and queen.

Protestants didn’t immediately embrace the doctrine, according to Charles. But he hears its echoes in Puritan John Winthrop’s famous “city on a hill” speech. Newcomb recognized it in the 1823 Supreme Court decision Johnson v. M’Intosh, which established that the U.S. government, not Native American nations, determined ownership of property.

It was referenced as recently as 2005 in the Supreme Court ruling Sherrill v. Oneida, in which justices held that the repurchase of traditional tribal lands did not restore tribal sovereignty to that land.

The doctrine, said Newcomb, led to policies like those that took Native American children from their homes to attend boarding schools operated under the motto “kill the Indian, save the man,” causing intergenerational trauma still felt today.

Newcomb has written about presenting Pope Francis with a copy of his book in St. Peter’s Square and meeting with a Vatican official at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, part of two decades of efforts to get the pope to formally renounce those 15th-century edicts.

Led by the Episcopal Church, Protestant groups slowly have begun to wrestle with the doctrine and are awakening to the need to address its ugly legacy.

Denouncing the doctrine

John Dieffenbacher-Krall, now chair of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine’s Committee on Indian Relations, can’t remember when he first heard about the Doctrine of Discovery. He’s worked for public policy and advocacy groups most of his adult life and volunteered with the Maine Coalition for Tribal Sovereignty since 2002.

But it’s still shocking to him.

On the Sunday after Columbus Day 2006, he asked the rector of his church, St. James’ Episcopal Church in Old Town, Maine, for permission to preach about it, calling on the church, the diocese, the denomination and the entire Anglican Communion to renounce the doctrine.

“As we reconcile ourselves with the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere, we also do our part in helping to reconcile this broken world with God,” Dieffenbacher-Krall preached that day.

The next year, the Episcopal Diocese of Maine’s convention passed a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, and the Episcopal Church adopted a similar resolution denominationwide at its 2009 General Convention.

Pope Alexander VI’s papal bull “Inter Caetera” from 1493. This papal bull gave Spanish explorers the freedom to colonize the Americas and to convert Native peoples to Catholicism. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

A number of mainline Protestant denominations since have approved similar repudiations, including the United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, the Community of Christ, Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a number of Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) meetings.

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches — which includes 350 churches, denominations and fellowships around the world — also issued a statement repudiating the doctrine and calling on member churches to learn about the history and issues facing indigenous peoples in their areas.

“It’s not that denominations have thought of it, it’s that they’ve been called on by indigenous peoples to live out their faith,” said June L. Lorenzo, who is Laguna Pueblo/Dine and a ruling elder at Laguna United Presbyterian Church, part of the PCUSA.

Lorenzo, was part of the team that wrote a report to the PCUSA following up on its repudiation, detailing how the Presbyterian church played a role in creating and implementing government policies affecting Native Americans; how, because those policies largely were linked to land, the church’s work among Native Americans was, too; and how some Presbyterians throughout history have supported Native Americans’ sovereignty and can model this for the church today.

That report and another resolution expanding the PCUSA’s response to the doctrine both passed this summer. Among the actions they suggest: Each General Assembly meeting should begin with an acknowledgment of the indigenous people on whose land it takes place; the church also will encourage its seminaries to “give voice” to Native American theologies and direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency to create educational resources on racism dealing with the doctrine and related themes.

What’s next?  

After a two-hour presentation tracing the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery through U.S. history, Charles asked this summer’s gathering of ELCA missionaries how they felt.

“Convicted,” said one. “Enraged,” “deceived,” “ashamed” and “complicit,” chimed in the others.

“It’s important to acknowledge how this history makes us feel,” said Charles, who is writing a book about the Doctrine of Discovery with North Park University professor Soong-Chan Rah.

Mark Charles — a Navajo pastor, speaker and author — discusses the Doctrine of Discovery with a room of missionaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gathered July 26, 2018, for their annual meeting at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Ill. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

“There’s a reason we don’t talk about these things. There’s a reason we have a mythology and not a history book. We literally don’t know what to do with this. It drives us crazy.”

A gathering of about 100 religious and indigenous people hosted by the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center, recently asked that question in Liverpool, N.Y.

“Obviously, a lot of this is merely symbolic,” said Philip P. Arnold, founding director of the center and associate professor and chair of the religion department at Syracuse University.

But, Arnold added: “What would it look like for each of the Christians who attended the New York gathering to return to their home churches and work alongside the indigenous people in their communities?”

More than words

Newcomb said he hasn’t heard many churches seriously discuss returning land to the indigenous peoples to whom it once belonged. But he does remember times non-Native Christians have asked him what they could do to be “allies” to Native Americans.

He told them to go home and have their churches draw up documents acknowledging they are on the territory of the nation originally from that place.

For one Pacific Northwestern church, he remembered, that proved to be a challenge. Members of the congregation had to deal with their fears about what would happen, what it would mean if they acknowledged they were on someone else’s land.

“There was a lot of discussion and dialogue that occurred,” he said. “People had to come to terms with their own psychology and their fears.”

Alongside its repudiation in 2012, the United Methodist Church called for a study providing “full disclosure” of the involvement of prominent Methodists and the denomination as an institution in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre.

At their next denominational meeting in 2016, United Methodists held a ceremony honoring the descendants of the victims of that massacre. The denomination also released a 173-page report detailing how U.S. troops led by Col. John Milton Chivington, a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church, killed 230 Arapaho and Cheyenne people who were peacefully camped along Sand Creek in what was then the Colorado Territory.

This summer, St. John United Methodist Church in Bridgeton, N.J., incorporated elements of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape and other Native American cultures into its vacation Bible school curriculum, and the denomination’s Oregon-Idaho Conference returned 1.5 acres in Oregon to the Nez Perce nation.

The ELCA’s first test after its denunciation in 2016 came about a month later: There were clashes within the denomination over action to stop the Dakota Access pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton later released a statement supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after visiting the camps where hundreds of Native Americans and supporters had gathered on the reservation.

Now — as the denomination builds its Native American Ministry Fund and plans to observe its repudiation at next year’s Churchwide Assembly — Prairie Rose Seminole, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota and program director for the ELCA’s American Indian Alaska Native Ministries, said she is seeing hope.

“I’m seeing people willing to put themselves in a space where they’re going to learn other narratives about who we are as a church, and that’s really promising to me because I feel that’s who we are as Lutherans,” Seminole said. “You are living your faith in action when you are questioning the truth around you and finding out what’s missing.”

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

69 Comments

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  • 1) Bravo to ELCA Lutherans who usually are near the leading edge of social justice. Methodists also (if not too distracted with internal stuff).

    2) From my naughty side, what irony we find in the appearance of “bull” and “Dum” in the 10th paragraph to describe official religious malpractice in 1452.

  • It must be really nice for the white, liberal, hand-wringers to talk about how guilty they feel over a warm latte after their own ancestors and others like them sailed across an ocean, braved the unknown in N. America and developed this great country.
    Hundreds of millions of people worldwide have benefited from the technology, ideas and military strength of the United States.
    They must be so comfortable to be so selfish and ungrateful.

  • Don’t like history, do you?

    All that Christian perfidy and murder, for their own economic gain. And all with the rotten fig leaf of “saving souls” to cover naked greed.

  • Thou shalt not steal. The early settlers forgot that commandment. For those who believe that the sins of the fathers are paid upon the sons, what does that mean for their descendants?

  • It doesn’t bother me really.
    I’m not really a sins of the father sorta guy.
    Things could have went differently and maybe I wouldn’t have been born; or you for that matter.

  • “Bravo to ELCA Lutherans who usually are near the leading edge of social justice.”

    I assume this refers to the ELCA’s close relationship with PECUSA.

    Over a half million people have left the ELCA since its 2009 “human sexuality”, and 700+ congregations have withdrawn from the ELCA.

  • Perhaps you should find the local Indian reservation and propose to exchange places.
    But you won’t, because it it easier to wring your hands and pretend to care than it is to actually give up everything you have because of those that came before you.
    I’m sure your great great great grandparents are proud.

  • This reminds us of one of the Bible’s most troubling series of historical events — God commanding the Hebrews of Joshua’s era to totally exterminate the evil Canaanites living in the Promised Land, then getting mad when the chosen people failed to be as totally ruthless as He wanted. If a non-believer starts reading the Bible from Genesis 1, that makes it hard to convince the reader that “God is love.” In the New Testament, however (at least until Revelation and Jesus’ talk about the End Times) we don’t see Jesus or the early church physically attacking any unbelievers. They don’t even use violence to defend against terrible persecution.

  • The problem is in the word “Love”. We can thank Hollywood for ruining that one for us.
    God ‘hates’ just as He ‘loves’.

  • Yeah, so to HELL with the Native American peoples. It wasn’t just their land, either. Your so-called “morality” is hollow. Fake. Empty.

  • I recently drove through a little town called “Walla Walla” in Washington. I was surprised to see that the SJW’s haven’t yet infiltrated this town and demanded the Memorial for the slaughter of innocent Whites by the red indian be taken down. The likes of Canispulcharae never ask themselves the question as to “who” drew first blood and “why” did the Frontier Forts have walls built around them. Why did the Pioneers have to travel in LARGE Wagon Trains? I thought the indian was peaceful.

  • What are YOU going to do about it?
    Are you moving to the Rez? Giving up your home and your way of life? Nope. Because you’re a fake, hypocritical, liberal who just talks.
    Humans have moved for thousands of years – from once place to another for various reasons. Your problem is that in this instance, the Europeans came out ahead. Don’t worry though, what is happening in S. Africa will occur in the US some day. And then you and the other traitorous liberals can gloat.

  • What a wonderful article. I have just received approval to form a Social Justice Task Force which will hopefully become a full committee. I plan on sharing this article with them.

  • You’re a disgusting hypocrite, without any moral compass, a fake “Christian” who can’t even acknowledge that his so-called “church” committed this evil. Your excuses are part of that evil, to be blunt. There are many things you can do about this, but you’re not even remotely capable.

  • tell me, what should we do?
    Better yet, tell me what we SHOULD have done as the United States expanded westward.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the westward expansion.
    Maybe you could expound on the native tribes of central and South America; specifically on how the Aztec empire gobbled up their neighbors and demanded tribute.

  • To address a problem, you have to identify/name it first. You’re incapable of that. So, do the world and your so-called “faith” a favor, and die. The world will be better off.

  • Nobody likes it when doctors start talking about having to cut off a body part if severe infection, cancer, or gangrene has set in. But the doctors WILL cut off or cut out whatever rotten piece of you they must remove, if that’s the only way to save your life.

    God loved the Canaanites. God gave the Canaanites 400 years — 150 more years than America has even been alive — to stop doing their monstrous evil deeds and sins in His face. God’s great mercy, year after year, He kept on giving them good blessings, good food, good land, even a good economy.

    But did they stop their damnable mess? Nope. Just kept on happily spitting in God’s face, doing any and every sin, even some unthinkable cult gigs, a-wallowing in pure contagion, more than willing to spread pure corruption.

    End Result: Radical Surgery Needed. God gave them 400 gracious and fullymerciful years, but now young Israel was on the scene, and God wasn’t going to have the Canaanite cancer — which they were totally given over to — spread into Israel. Therefore God’s great mercy finally **transformed** into God’s great justice. Radical Surgery to Remove Cancer.

  • I’m not American nor do I live in the US. It wasn’t my ancestors who broke the commandment in the Bible. It was yours. I do not live on American Indian land. You probably do. You should think about how best to make reparations not break another commandment by falsely accusing me.

  • We will send the bill to the British, French and Spanish for their colonial past in the Americas. We will also bill other countries that forced the mass migration to the North America of poor exploited and persecuted Europeans.. I can hardly wait for those Euros, Kroners, Pounds, Rubles, etc.

  • It may be true, I am anxiously awaiting a check from the Britain and Church of England for how they treated my Irish and Scottish ancestors a check from the French how they treated my Swiss ancestors during the Napoleonic war, a check from Germany and the countries of the old Austro-Hungarian empire how they treated my German ancestors and a check from the Vatican for how they treated my Protestant ancestors in Europe.

  • Fair and square, that is how the last tribe on the land stole it from the previous tribe that had the land .

    We can all wallow in the sorrows of the past or pick our selves up and make the most for our families and ourselves. Stop the pity party, put down the bottle, educate our children and make something of ourselves in the world we live in now. Hunting and gathering as a way of life has disappeared throughout most of the modern world especially in middle and upper income countries.

  • So easy for you to say, while Native people continue to suffer the indignities of poverty, racism and other issues. You’re a goiddamned disgrace for a human being.

  • So… the whack-job fundamentalist believers here believe that the Jews are entitled to the land of Israel because their ancestors once lived there… but regarding the Native American land-grab, it’s “too bad, you lost”. Hypocrisy at its worst.

  • Who’s “we”?? It wasn’t whites that the Biritish, French and Spanish displaced. It was the indigenous people that were already here.

  • Precisely! We keep failing to follow Jesus path of nonviolence and that leads to an ever growing number of wars for which we need to make reparations. Unfortunately people tend to prefer more war than making amends

  • She is INCAPABLE of logic and reason. She claims to be White as well. Which is pathetic. The White Race suffers from a major affliction. It’s called “empathy”. And I guess we are ‘suckers’ as well because she bought the “White Guilt” bait, hook, line and sinker.

  • It is easy to buy all this stuff when you live in a city far away for any significant indigenous people. It is easy to believe some ideal fantasy of their life when you have no first hand experience with urban Red Ghettos and reservation life.

    I have worked around indigenous people for many years. Those who made something of themselves created a health distance from the tribal culture of the reservation. They got an education, stayed away from the bottle, moved to where the jobs are and planned their families. They did not allow extended family and old “friends” to shame them of their accomplishments and suck them into a culture that shamed success. Too many are their own worse enemies.

    My Irish grandmother did the same thing. When you are trapped in a dysfunctional subculture just like a dysfunctional family, you need to distance yourself and take your own constructive steps toward self improvement.

  • I need compensation for my ancestors that were forced out of Europe because of economic exploitation and religious/ethnic persecution. Further, it was the European empires that claimed the Americas and were later tossed out. The empires stole the land.

  • No one forced your ancestors out of Europe. Neither did they forbid you from speaking your language and they didn’t put your kids in boarding schools, either.

  • No, I happen to live in major metropolitan city with a large NA population. Worked with them my entire career. Actually I am of NA heritage. My grandmother was terribly abused by her white mother, who attempted to bleach her dark skin when she was a young girl. Nothing you write has anything to do with the issue at hand.

  • Starvation, extreme poverty, religious and ethnic persecution, and capture by the British with a threat of hanging makes leaving for a new contintent the only practical option. Learn some real history instead of PC dripple.

  • I looked it up and while the Puritans fled persecution, most were just looking for new opportunities. The early settlers were helped by the American Indians. They would not have survived without their assistance.

  • Unlike our Native Americans, no one is stopping you now from going back to wherever your ancestors came from. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance.

  • Lost all my rights to return too many generations. Also what about the numerous “native Americans” who are of mixed ancestry? Should they go back to Europe at least part time?. Looking at the faces, there is a lot of European genes in those individuals.

  • That can be said for many Indians today. A lot would not survive without modern western medicine and public health initiatives.

    What every country Mcarans comes from, I am sure her or his country has a lot of dubious actions in their past. If British, that takes the cake even compared to Germany or Soviet Russia.

  • Then you need to step back and take a good look at how the tribal culture takes down anyone who tries to make something of themselves. The high rates of alcoholism and family structure that while warm is chaotic for a child that needs a solid nurturing family that inspires accomplishment. .

    Just as Whites and Blacks left rural poverty for opportunities in the urban areas, the indigenous need to make the same journey.

  • Nothing but delusion. There is nothing in the Tanakh (Old Testament) where God said he loved the Canaanites nor gave them mercy for 400 years. There is no warning from any prophet “Thus said the prophet to the Canaanites: The God of Israel loves you therefore repent …” etc.

    The Canaanites knew nothing of the Israelites until they showed up on their doorstep saying Yahweh orders they hand over their real estate and they responded “No” to the Israelites. As a result of that action it was ordered they be destroyed…men, women, children and infants.

    Then the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you…you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them…. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: You shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. (Deut. 7:1-5)

    Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God. (Deut. 20.16-18)

    Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” (1 Sam 15:2-3)

    The “sin” of the other nations is that they didn’t give “Yahweh” the glory…they had their own gods, and since the OT says Yahweh is a jealous god, he ordered their destruction. No mercy or quarter given…obey or die.

    The story of the bible is simple…Do what the God wants or he will pull the trigger All I see in the OT is death and destruction to non Israelites. They are cannon fodder. You will never find anywhere in the Bible (OT) where it says Yahweh loves all nations equally, nor all ethnic groups…Israel is the “apple of his eye”. Gentiles only come into the picture when they meet up with the Israelites.I don’t see any high wisdom in the Bible…What in the Bible would make you think it’s holy scripture written by a god…the sacrifices, the slaughters etc?

    It’s way too weird…have fun buddy.

  • Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20 said he came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. In so many places in the NT, Jesus affirms the Old Testament. in fact Christians say he IS the God of the OT…the 2nd Divine person of the Trinity and yet we have silly Christians advocating Jesus’ path of non violence. LOL Was the “flood of Noah” a path of non violence by the “pre-incarnate Jesus”?

    There is tons of violence in the OT advocated by God himself on those who “won’t obey”. Imagine that, he threatens violence and death upon those who question. Look at the blessings and cursing on the Israelites if they don’t “obey”. I wonder if the Christian view of eternal torment and hell is a “path of non violence”.

    People can cherry pick ANYTHING in the bible. BTW, I have a question…do you believe that OWNING another human being is an immoral act, to always be shunned and the slave owners punished? If you respond YES…I have some wonderful Bible passages which say that the Gentile nations the Israelites invaded, they could take them as slaves and pass them on to the kids as an inheritance for they are their property. Crazy Christians go defend this one…

    Leviticus 25:44-46 44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Weird stuff man…Now go defend it.

  • They came out ahead by the subjugation and decimating the Natives. Taking a people’s land away from them, putting them on reservations, stripping them of their language, movement, means of living, infecting them with disease, and committing acts of genocide upon them…if you call that coming out ahead, you are a sick individual.

    The Native Indians were here thousands of years before your so called “Adam” in the Hebrew Bible…at least 14,000 years. I have read even longer. The fact is, the natives were here living fine without small pox infected blankets.

    Lastly, the truth of what happened to the natives and admitting to the truth of it has NOTHING to do with whether one is a liberal or not…it’s like gravity, it happened and ironically, even today Natives don’t have full rights. They are still having land confiscated in the USA.

  • I am a former atheist so I understand the arguments that you make very well as I have made similar ones myself in the past. Ironically enough, I was debating with a Christian conservative with some anti-Muslim views and his argument was: “Nowhere in the Bible does it command Christians to commit say genocide unlike the Quran” and I was making the case that many Christians do believe that God commands violence citing N Ireland, Catholic and Protestant wars and the Crusades.

    The Bible should not be read literally (even though that way of reading has become popular in modern times). The authors of the Bible, particularly in the OT, had an imperfect understanding of God. I have summarised a book entitled “Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did” which goes into some detail about it: https://www.reddit.com/r/cruciformity/comments/8m12t7/review_and_summary_of_disarming_scripture_by/

  • I don’t disagree with any of that. I ask again, what is to be done about it?
    Put them on your property? Take away your wages for damage done?
    What occurred was the battle for resources. Had they had sufficient resources, manpower and technology; things would have been different – and then they’d be the ones wringing their hands.

  • How do you get around the clear verses which say that the Israelites could own slaves from the other nations as property? Do you believe owning another human being as property is an immoral act? Yahweh has no problem with it…but the Israelites weren’t to own Israelite slaves as property, only the Gentiles.

    Leviticus 25:44-46 44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    You say not to interpret literally… well explain the context of the passages I posted.

    I don’t have to cherry pick anything. There is tons of strange stuff in the OT eg. A woman accused of adultery, the response is that they take some water put a little dirt in it and make her drink it. If she’s not guilty she won’t get sick. I guess they didn’t know about microorganisms back then.

    Don’t try to play me like a fool, I know about the “senses of Scripture” and about hermeneutical rules for reading the Bible. Some things, no matter how much you try to interpret according to these principles
    still come out weird.

  • My impression is that for the Israelites, religion and politics were intertwined, so it would not be a surprise to see human governmental laws with all their weirdness from our modern perspectives recorded in the Bible. This does not imply we should inherit those laws. When Jesus said he would fulfill the law, he reinterpreted it or flat out rejected it eg. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.”, healing on the Sabbath etc. It’s too much to go into in a comment here so if you’re interested, then have a look at the link I posted before.

  • I am of Cree/Assiniboine/French heritage (i am Metis); the following was written by Abram Joseph Ryan a supporter of the south during the American civil war; A land without ruins is a land without memories – a land without memories is a land without history. And if I may add a question or two; What is the evolution of human civilization? Does the writing of the Venerable Bede help us understand this evolution? Bede had to deal with the movement of tribal societies as well? What of the Ghost Dance Society, (late 1800) on the northern plains of North America; What tribe or people has not had it’s golden age…., how natural is the dream of a redeemer, an Arthur who shall return and win back for his people what they have lost?

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