First of all, there are some rational and well-meaning agnostics out there. They try to think things through in a logical and consistent manner.
However, there are some that can twist Scripture as good as the latest prosperity preacher. Sometimes the attempt at trying to “de-bunk” the Bible is so outlandish that your neck hurts from your head spinning over the lack of logic applied to it.
47And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47-48, King James Version)
“There you have it!” they will announce. “Jesus condones slavery and the beating of slaves.”
OK. Wow. This actually beats the question about “Do children, whatever their age, who curse at their parents deserve the death penalty?” for pointlessness and twisting words out of context and beyond reason.
First of all, let’s remember the context. As you read through Luke 12, you see that Jesus refers many times to servants and the master returning. This is an obvious reference to Himself returning to the earth and His disciples serving Him, doing His bidding while away. This is made the more obvious when Peter asks who Jesus is referring to (v 41). Jesus’ reply starts off with, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward …?” Jesus is obviously referring to His disciples in the subsequent parables.
A literal interpretation of the Bible still must recognize the poetic nature of many passages. In fact, Jesus intentionally and constantly used hyperbole, allegories and parables. Much of the time, He used hyperbole to shock the audience into considering a point. However, He often used parables to hide the true meaning of His words.
Allegories could be either to illuminate or to hide, however. Some of his allegories were parables, so those are perhaps the most obvious. However, some of the symbolism of His speech would have been quite recognizable by the average listener. He used common events and objects to make lessons out of them. He used the incident of the Tower of Siloam, for example, to illuminate that we need God’s protection at all times. He used bread over and over again as a symbol. He even compared His disciples to ravens in a roundabout way.
Slaves and servants were commonplace in His day. The Roman Empire during much (if not all) of its history had more slaves than citizens. It would have been silly to overlook this when considering our duty to God.
We owe God only one thing: Everything.
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1, King James Version)
God created us, fashioned us and gave us life. We only owe Him everything. If we are in debt to God, then don’t we become His slaves?
Paul insisted that we have to serve something or someone:
Just as there were only two trees in the Garden of Eden, we ultimately serve either God or Satan. There are no in-betweens.
So, did Jesus condone slavery? Yes, He did! However, it wasn’t to serve other people as lord and master, but rather to serve God as Lord and Master.