Dr. John Goldingay of Fuller Theological Seminary is not a scholar that I would expect to agree with me on biblical ethics. He is a well-known evangelical biblical scholar and I am an openly atheist biblical scholar.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to read this passage on pages 42-43 of his book, Do We Still Need the New Testament?:
“What difference did Jesus’ coming make to the world? It has been argued that ‘The Church has made more changes on earth for good than any other movements of force in history,’ including the growth of hospitals, universities, literacy and education, capitalism and free enterprise, representative government, separation of political powers, civil liberty, the abolition of slavery, modern science, the discovery of the Americas, the elevation of women, the civilizing of primitive cultures, and the setting of languages to writing.
It is easy to dispute this claim. The church resisted some of these developments just listed, some are not particularly Christian, and all were encouraged by humanistic forces and reflect Greek thinking as much as gospel thinking.
[Footnote 10]: On slavery in particular (even when one allows for overstatement) Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011).”
Of course, Dr. Goldingay still thinks the Bible is generally a good set of books. But Dr. Goldingay’s comments show that even evangelical biblical scholars can acknowledge the powerful evidence that atheist biblical scholars have presented to refute the claim that biblical ethics led to abolition.