Episode: What 1619 Means for Christian History

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What 1619 Means for Christian History

Last month, the New York Times Magazine devoted an entire publication to remembering the 400th anniversary of American slavery. In the introduction to the project, it wrote,The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.But the transatlantic slave trade goes back to the 15th century, when Portuguese merchants began trading North African people as slaves. The industry’s growth happened alongside massive changes in the church, including the Reformation in 1517 and subsequent church fighting and division between Catholics and Protestants. 

To understand the church’s beliefs about slavery at the time, you have to go back to the Patristic period, says Michael A. G. Haykin, a professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Augustine and Aquinas argued that while slavery was not part of God’s first intention, it was a result of the fall—a conclusion embraced by the church for years.

“The only clear abolitionist in the patristic period is Gregory of Nyssa who argues that slavery violates the image of God in man, to hold another individual as a possession is a violation of his human dignity and value in the sight of God,” said Haykin.

Haykin joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the genesis of the church’s views on slavery, how the missions movement affected the slave trade, and the role of the Quakers in pricking the Protestant conscience on this atrocity. 

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

Today's episode of Quick to Listen is brought to you in part by Baylor University’s Truett Seminary, where Kingdom-minded women and men are equipped to follow their callings. By learning to think theologically, developing ministry skills, cultivating a community of support, and engaging in spiritual formation, Truett students are uniquely prepared to make an impact in the Church and the world. Learn more at baylor.edu/truett.

This episode of Quick to Listen is also brought to you by Things Above Podcast: Heavenly Thinking for Earthly Engagement.

This episode of Quick to Listen is also brought to you by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, a ministry-focused insurance and payroll provider serving Christian churches, schools, and related ministries. For more information, visit BrotherhoodMutual.com.

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