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The Movie Lincoln And The Real Story Of Slavery

01/22/2013 04:34 EST | Updated 03/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Although it was not in the movie, here is what Abraham Lincoln said when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe, (author of the best selling book Uncle Tom's Cabin, Or Life Among the Lowly, 1858 ) "Here is the little lady who gave us this big war."

Stowe was the brilliant daughter of a Christian pastor, (Beecher) and she married Stowe (a professor at Lane Theoligical Seminary), they had seven children. Harriet was a devoted Christian, who looked at the world around her, to her the modern era, and tried to make sense of it all, from a Christian perspective.

The movie Lincoln did not tell this story, but it is a great movie nonetheless, giving us an opportunity to reflect again, on why our world was so cruel.

Slavery goes back to Aristotle, who taught that the slave was to be treated and used like a tool and not to be befriended. And during the time of the Roman Empire, Aristotle's view was in the majority.

Jesus Christ, essentially took on Aristotle, and taught that the slave was to be treated like a Christian brother or sister and not only befriended but loved.

Ok, so you ask, why was England, a Christian nation, shipping slaves across the ocean, in deplorable conditions, where many died - where was the Christian love?

First, there is no such thing as a Christian nation, there is only the ongoing discussion between people on the evidence for the Bible as true or not. Part of the revival in the 1800s was William Booth and The Salvation Army rescuing the people of England from alcoholism and prostitution. And finally the preachers John and Charles Wesley and the great Christian parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who in 1833 committed England to spend £20,000,000 to buy the slaves to set them free.

Yes you heard that right, to actually buy the slaves, from their owners, to set them free. (I know, you should have been taught that in public school, but Huston, we have a problem, but that's another topic.)

No offense to secularists of common decency and goodwill, but it was probably the same people who sold the alcohol and ran the brothels who owned the slave ships that transported the slaves in such cruel conditions across the ocean.

Wilberforce believed that if people of goodwill, both secularists and Christians alike, really knew how bad things were, they would stop it, but it took 25 years of in your face Wilberforce and Harriet and the Battle Hymn of the Republic (again, so important in history but not mentioned in the movie) to do it.

In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet recounts how cruel it was to sell the son and daughter of a slave family to a new owner and finally that, although mentioned in the Bible, that slavery itself, in the modern era was unchristian, because no one could effectively share the gospel under these conditions. Jn 8:32

Jesus said... you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

As much as the US Civil War military battles, the overturning of slavery was a battle in Christian theology, where theological colleges broke up over the issue, and where differences existed on the issue, even between Christian friends. For example the great Christian scholar Samuel Johnson (he wrote the first English dictionary) was an abolitionist, and his friend and biographer, Boswell, was not. (See the book Boswell's Life of Johnson, for a fascinating account of the life and times. In this book, Johnson, ever the abolitionist, is noted as commenting on the hypocrisy of the US slave drivers rallying to the U.S. declaration of independence in 1776, "All men are created equal...". Johnson and the great Methodist preacher John Wesley advised against US independence.)

Who won? Well, although Spielberg's movie Lincoln left her out, we owe a lot to that little lady and devoted Christian, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and of course everyone, including Lincoln and Wilberforce, who helped rescue the slaves, our Christian brothers and sisters, to set them free.

PS. Perhaps the US Civil War could have been avoided if America had listened to Johnson, Wesley and the United Empire Loyalists, for 57 years after 1776, and 27 years before the US Civil War, the miraculous event occurred in 1833: Wilberforce bought the freedom of the slaves, throughout the British Empire.