The Crusader Online

February 15, 2008
Vol. 49 No. 15

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The Chaplain's Corner

The Law of Unintended Consequences suggests that it is impossible to know in advance all the ramifications of a contemplated action. In addition to the outcomes one intends, there will almost certainly be others -- unintended consequences -- which may or may not be desirable, depending on one's point of view.

During Black History Month, I think of American slaveholders who put the Bible in the hands of their slaves. The intended consequence was to direct their focus to those passages that encourage servants to be obedient to their masters.

The Bible -- and by extension, the Christian faith -- was intended to be an instrument of further subjugation and threats of punishment.

God, however, had other plans.

When enslaved Africans read about enslaved Israelites laboring in Egypt's brickyards and how God delivered them and set them free, the connection with their own lives was immediate. When they read about Jesus beaten, whipped and killed by bloodthirsty mobs and governmental authorities, and how God raised him from the dead, the point of connection with the whippings and lynchings they knew was similarly immediate.
The faith and the book that white slaveholders intended to serve their oppressive purposes became one of the primary tools God used to empower enslaved Africans and liberate them.

Or as Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, only to see him rise to a position of power in Pharaoh's court, "You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good" (Genesis 50:20).

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