Christians and Illegal Immigration

Okay, I started to write a little something about tomorrow’s predicted “rapture” and the end of the world.  But why bother?  I’m not saying Jesus won’t come back tomorrow, but it’s just as likely that he’ll come back in the next 20 seconds or not for another 2000 years.  It’s not our purpose to set the date but only to be prepared for it–whenever it is.

In the meantime, I came across a paper I wrote last December on the Church’s response to illegal immigration.  This is likely to be an important topic in the news as we get closer and closer to a new round of elections in the United States.  So, since everyone needs something to help them get to sleep at night, I’m attaching my article here: (just click on the link for a pdf version) A Christian Response to Illegal Immigration–research paper–Patrick Barber If you read it, come back and tell me what you think.  We could develop an interesting dialogue…

Thanks,

Patrick

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About PatrickBarber

Preaching Minister East Point Church of Christ Wichita, Kansas
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2 Responses to Christians and Illegal Immigration

  1. Thanks for blogging on this subject Patrick. Putting this up right about the time I was finishing up with school classes and taking an unintended two semester break back in Cedar Vale I didn’t notice this until now. You’re right this is likely to get in the news even more this election year, as if it wasn’t anyway. Right after you posted this the SBC at their annual meeting in Phoenix last week, Southern Baptist Convention passed a controversial resolution on immigration and the Gospel. The owner of Dowblog posted a three piece series in response at http://dowblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Immigration.

    I thought the most interesting section was part III, where he responds to an essay defending the resolution by Dr. Russel Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He gets into the meaning of “ger” which as you note is the Hebrew word for alien or sojourner. He writes

    “Moore conflates and misapplies different Hebrew words for alien (ger) and foreigner (nekhar or zar) which have different meanings in the Old Testament Scriptures and historic Judaic cultural practices.”

    and

    “This scenario (ger) finds its modern equivalent in the immigrant who has legally entered a foreign land with permission and secured proper documentation to that effect.

    With this background we better understand the various biblical laws protecting “aliens” from oppression.”

    Specifically he comments on Leviticus 19:33-34, which you refer to in your paper as follows:

    “Leviticus 19:33-34 sets the tone for how God expected
    Israel, and still expects his people, to relate to immigrants.
    The text says,

    When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall
    not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who
    sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall
    love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land
    of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. ”

    Darrell writes

    “Citing C. D. Ginsburg, R.J. Rushdoony says that this “‘stranger’ is one who has become circumcised, fasted on the Day of Atonement, obeyed the laws of sacrifice, and has practiced the laws of chastity, as well as obeyed other moral laws.” In short, once a foreigner had become part of the community, his nationality was not to be used against him. Such passages address treatment of aliens once they are part of the community.”

    I thought this was an interesting insight into the issue of “ger” vs.”nekhar” or “zar”. It sounds like this misinterpretation of these Hebrew words in pro-immigration religious writers who use these passages is widespread, if Dr. James Hoffmeier and R.J. Rushdooney are correct.

    This is a political issue of course and everyone has their own opinions on it, but I thought you may want to check into this. Clerics who support immigration have a right to their opinions just like everyone else, but they do have a responsibility for interpreting the scriptures that they use as evidence their position has biblical and divine support correctly. I think I do get the feeling reading your paper that you acknowledge that the actual world of the O.T. in regard to the legal and social treatment of the different types of “foreigners” etc., is complex, and our world for that matter.

    I agree with Darrell that it is very good people like yourself and Dr. Moore look for ways the scripture speaks to situations and issues in our day, and I thank both of you for this. Even if it is somewhat discouraging that the head of the flagship SBC seminary makes such basic mistakes and uses such loose polemics, I know in this political issue as with others there is far worse that goes on.

    Best Regards

    David Wilkinson

    • Thanks, David, for your comments. Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. You have listed some very helpful things to consider, and I hope to find time soon to do some additional study. Issues like these are incredibly important, and the church must seek God’s wisdom as it learns how to live with God’s desire for both righteousness and mercy.

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