On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 0 (Introduction)

walls-of-jerusalemWay back in May 2016 I posted a series called “On Sojourners, Walls and Illegal Aliens.” I’m going to repost the 7-part series and then extend it by just a post or two — all running concurrently with the present series on N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began.

I thought the series might spark a thoughtful conversation about Christians and immigration — and obviously I have failed. I mean, if Facebook is any indicator of contemporary evangelical thought, there are two camps. Either you believe the government has a duty to protect its citizens against the dangers of terrorists and other criminals who might enter the country as immigrants (It does. Rom 13 is quite clear.) or you believe that the government should be open to immigrants because of the many sojourners passages in the OT and the many hospitality passages in the NT (Kudos on reading and trying to live those passages. They mean what they say.)

What I don’t read on Facebook is any effort to honor both concepts. I mean, both the left and the right are proof-texting their preferred positions rather than seeking a comprehensive understanding of what the Bible really says. We ignore the inconvenient verses and pound on our enemies (often fellow Christians) with proof texts. It’s hard to avoid the impression that we make up our minds and only then thumb through our concordances looking to “prove” what we’ve already concluded — and this is true of both sides.

My view is that the Scriptures actually have quite a lot to say on the subject, but the texts have to be read in historical context and within the overarching narrative of Scripture. This is a lot more work then proof-texting what you already believe, but it’s far more likely not only to find God’s truth but also to establish an understanding that both sides can agree on. We should at least come closer to finding common ground.

Now, that does not mean that I think I have all the answers. I’m sure that I don’t. But I do think we might be asking the wrong questions.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 0 (Introduction)

  1. Gary says:

    I’ve always remembered Walter Brueggeman saying that some passages of Scripture are in tension with each other and that the task of preachers and teachers as interpreters is to negotiate the tension. I think that’s a good way of putting it.

    I’ve also long thought of history as providing context and possibly guidance for the present. I was surprised to read recently that the general practice around the world until about a century ago was free and unregulated movement of people. Immigrants who were willing to pay taxes and be law abiding were almost universally accepted in all countries. The concept of limiting immigration was almost unknown before World War 1.

    While we’re still a half century or more from a declining world population many countries are already experiencing a decline in their working age population with potentially negative economic effects. GDP growth is difficult to accomplish with a declining work force and an ageing population. Our new President has promised a return to 4% annual GDP growth along with the expulsion of many/most undocumented immigrants. We might be able to have one or the other but we definitely can’t have both. It’s always good to consider possible unanticipated consequences.

  2. Kevin says:

    On the topic of immigration…I highly recommend this 60 Minutes segment from last fall.


    Very impressed with Pastor Bryant Wright from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA.

  3. Alabama John says:

    We are now just getting a taste of how the Native Americans felt when the Europeans started coming in big numbers to this, their country. The end result was most existing tribes were totally eliminated and now only appear as names on old maps.

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    “This is a lot more work then proof-texting what you already believe, but it’s far more likely not only to find God’s truth but also to establish an understanding that both sides can agree on. We should at least come closer to finding common ground.”

    To establish an understanding that both sides can agree on and finding common ground, is not an equation in God’s Word. God has warned and will not tolerate man redefining His Word. Truth will prevail if sought.

    Rev 22:18-19 ESV I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

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