Her Only Hope, Mt. Pleasant, SC - 2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
Of all the buildings we saw at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, the one that touched me the most was one of the slave cabins that was used for religious services and called "Praise House". The Praise House and its story has so much to say about that period of history, and also speaks to many of the same challenges facing people today.
Although the plantation owners made a sincere attempt to introduce their African slaves to Christianity, they also used religion to try to advance their own agenda of justifying and preserving the practice of human slavery. Christians today find those circumstances abhorrent and unthinkable, yet the practice of religious manipulation of masses of people continues unabated in the 21st century. On any Sunday morning you can find any of several false gospels still being preached. Whether wearing expensive suits or religious robes, you can find numerous "preachers" preying on the ignorance of their eager listeners. You won't find anyone promoting slavery today, but you'll have no trouble finding men and women, on TV or in your community, waving Bibles, quoting Scripture, and promoting nothing less than crass materialism. They reduce the God of the Bible to nothing more than a genie in a bottle who can make all your worldly dreams come true. Deception is deception, no matter what the century.
Initially, only white preachers were allowed to lead the services for the slaves, and they used their sermons to try to show a biblical justification for slavery. Eventually, a few trusted slaves were allowed to learn to read the Bible for themselves and lead the services for their slave brothers and sisters. As slaves began to discover the true Gospel, and in time began to learn to read the Scriptures for themselves, the light of God's Word began to shine through.
And therein lies the answer to all religious deception: don't depend solely on any man or organization to do your thinking for you, but pick up a Bible and read it for yourself. And don't just read "selected verses" chosen by someone else. Read the books and letters as they were intended to be read, in their entirety. Yes, you will no doubt come across things that are hard to comprehend, but the more you read, the more you will understand. You'll also learn to discern which preachers and Bible teachers are worth listening to. There are still men and women out there committed to pushing God's agenda instead of their own. The more you read, you'll begin to discover that the Bible is not an incomprehensible riddle, but God's revelation of Himself, and His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Don't allow the fakers to turn it into anything else. Take a lesson from slaves and learn to read the Bible for yourself.