Russian writer Leo Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. War and Peace and Anna Karenina have inspired millions over the last century. Less well-known about Tolstoy, though, is that his interpretation of Christian ethics has had a profound effect upon the world, especially regarding non-resistance and pacifism. In this paper, I will examine the development of these themes in Tolstoy’s philosophy as they appear in The Kingdom of God is Within You.
D. writes to LCC:
As Christians and Libertarians, how do we deal with Colossians 3:22?
“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not be way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”
I’m having a hard time with this.
Here’s an answer for you, D.
Paul says elsewhere that it is good if you can obtain your freedom. See 1 Corinthians 7:21-23; “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.” In one epistle, Paul even gently rebukes a slave owner – Philemon – admonishing him to free the slave Onesiumus.
The reason Paul wrote to the Colossians in this way was to advise prudence. With the newfound freedom a Christian in bondage has found, he might make a rash decision to buck his presumptive “owner” and put himself in a terrible position for his health and witness.
Also, this is actually an encouraging message to someone in slavery. Perhaps after hearing the gospel of Christ and the freedom it brings, the slave may think that there is no way he could possibly be included in this salvation – for he is in physical bondage. Paul’s meta-message is that all are included in the gospel.
Remember what Paul says in Galatians 3 to all Christians everywhere: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
No matter where we are, whether in physical bondage of slavery or oppressed in a dictatorship, the body of Christ – the Church universal – prevails forever.
(Additionally, you might be interested in the LCC blog post on Slavery in the Old Testament.)