What’s Missing in the Refugee and Illegal Immigration Debate

The Pope made news recently by saying that it is not Christian to build walls.

What should we do in regard to the refugee and illegal immigration crises?  I really don’t know!  Since we are no longer a Christian nation, we therefore have no reference point in God’s law. The only solution, I fear, will come from whoever gains political power in the coming year.  The answer will spring from pure raw power.  Many isolated Bible texts will be quoted totally out of context.  Few men will defend he crown rights of Christ over all the nations. The choice is God’s law or chaos.  I am afraid we have chosen the latter. 

 

The Pope made news recently by saying that it is not Christian to build walls.  We should rather build bridges for refugees and illegal immigrants. Most liberal Christians believe in open borders while many evangelicals are for walls and closed borders.  To the surprise of some, many leading theonomists are for open borders without walls.

As I survey the arguments, I have found that the most prevailing defense of open borders by Christians is quoting Deut. 10:19, “So show love for the aliens, for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt.”  Certainly, love for strangers in the land of Israel was a biblical mandate.  Love was treating aliens equally and fairly under the law of God even as Israelites were treated. Israel must never forget what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land.

However, what is missing from those who draw upon this Deuteronomy text is the context.  The context is that this mandate was given to Israel as a theocracy. You can’t separate the mandate to be merciful to strangers in the Old Testament from the First and Second Commandments that all false gods were forbidden to be worshipped in the land. This assumes that there was one true and living God alone recognized by the civil magistrate.  Strangers were welcome but they could not set up temples to their false gods.  Baal shrines were forbidden.  Blasphemy was a crime in the theocracy of Israel.

Aliens were welcome to enjoy the fruits that came from the hand of the true God, and this actually provided a most opportune avenue for evangelism.  Success was not rooted in some capitalistic exceptionalism, but rather in the grace of God

However, the God of the Bible was intolerant of other gods, and therefore strangers must leave their false gods at home. My point is that quoting the Old Testament to support open borders is twisting the Scriptures because Israel was not a polytheistic nation.  Israel was not America.  She was not a melting pot of all religions.  Israel was a theocracy as I believe all nations essentially are. Only the gods differ.

I believe in a restricted sense that Europe and America were once Christian.  Over many years (officially beginning in 1787) America was dechristianized.  We sold our inheritance for a pottage of polytheism.  Legalized Christianity in the various states was ignored at the federal level.  It was promulgated that all religions could exist together in one nation because we could separate religion from law.  Biblical law became mere rational civil law which became political science.  Christians, in my own tradition, were told to concentrate on spiritual things and not to speak to civil matters.  Our silence contributed to the decline of America.  We became mystics in the name of Christ.

What should we do in regard to the refugee and illegal immigration crises?  I really don’t know!  Since we are no longer a Christian nation, we therefore have no reference point in God’s law. The only solution, I fear, will come from whoever gains political power in the coming year.  The answer will spring from pure raw power.  Many isolated Bible texts will be quoted totally out of context.  Few men will defend he crown rights of Christ over all the nations. The choice is God’s law or chaos.  I am afraid we have chosen the latter.

Larry E. Ball is a Honorably Retired Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.

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