For Further Study: A Minute Against Slavery, Addressed to Germantown Monthly Meeting, 1688, A Liberated Lifestyle: Slaves and Servants in Biblical Perspective,Ralph W. Klein
Questions for Reflection:
The first permanent settlement of Mennonites in the American Colonies consisted of one Mennonite family and twelve Mennonite-Quaker families of Dutch extraction who arrived from Krefeld, Germany, in 1683 and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania...This early group of Mennonites and Mennonite-Quakers wrote the first formal protest against slavery in the United States. The treatise was addressed to slave-holding Quakers in an effort to persuade them to change their ways.
Mennonites were way out in front on the issue of slavery, having issued the first fomal protest against slavery in the New World-almost 200 years prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. Why do you think that was?
Their protest was directed to fellow Christians as well as the culture at large. How was it that believers could read the same Bible and come to such different opinions on this important issue?
Many pro-slavery advocates used the presence of the word "slave" in the Old Testament to justify their position? Why were they wrong?
We are shocked to look back and see Christians justifyig slavery from the scripture. What might some 50 years from now look back and be shocked about our generation?
On what issues are Mennonites continuing to show leadership? On what issues can Mennonites lead out in the future?
What are some of the differences between the slavery of the Old Testament as described in the Torah and African slavery?
God commanded his people to be compassionate in the way they treated their slaves. From the above scriptures, what are some of those commands?
Slavery is never justified. The practice of slavery in the ancient near east existed in every society and culture. What does the fact that there are significant differences between Israel's practice of slavery and that of their members tell us about God?
The identity of Israel was forged in the crucible of slavery-first to Egypt and then to God. If the primary association of the people of God is one of slavery/servanthood, what does that mean for us?
Read the above verses from Isaiah. God has chosen a particular kind of person to redeem the world. How is this person contrasted with figures of power in the larger culture? What implications might this have on the way we live our lives as disciples?