Tag Archives: globalism

Real Questions, Thoughtful Answers, Part 3: Our Immigration Mess: A Hospitable and Secure Way Forward

I was in an airport restaurant recently and my server told me her family’s story of emigrating to the USA from Albania. After a decade of paperwork and hearings, and lots of hard work, most of the family members are now legal residents, and some are citizens. She asked me, “Why does the government tolerate the mess at the border with Mexico or let any Afghan into the country? We worked so hard to come legally, and they are giving more benefits to the people coming in illegally. Why?”

Here was a single mom, working 60 hours a week and grateful for her hard-earned citizenship upset about the chaos with “asylum seekers” and the “undocumented.” She also commented that she and her family had never taken a dime in welfare. How do we answer her honest query?

We start solving the current mess four ways: 1) learning from our history; 2) cultivating hope that solutions are possible; 3) finding courage to enforce current laws and reform broken systems; and 4) expose the nefarious motives of those who prefer anarchy over substantive solutions.

First, reckoning with our history helps us avoid arrogance as we see a rather challenging set of narratives. All nations and empires are founded with primary “tribes” and then learn to integrate others. In this essay, I am not focusing on the African slaves or treatment of Native American populations – those narratives are exceptional and warrant separate essays (coming soon in 2022!).

In the mid-19th century, the Irish potato famine sent many to our shores and they were often met with hostility by the WASP majorities. They, along with other Roman Catholic populations, were subject to marginalization and persecution. Over time, they found ways to assimilate and maintain their cultures, but as late as 1960 millions of American feared a Roman Catholic President for fear that JFK would be more loyal to the Pope that the USA.

The famous Ellis Island surge of the late 19th and early 20th century was a commendable moment in our history, yet there was extensive screening involved and not everyone was admitted. Many of these immigrants faced tremendous hardships, but America was the promised land for people fleeing poverty and persecution.

While Ellis Island welcomed millions, on the West Coast, The Chinese and Japanese immigrants were treated abysmally, especially the Chinese. The very people who labored on the transcontinental railway were subject to internment, severe economic restrictions and significant harassment. The scandal of the Japanese internment camps of World War II is well-documented, with justice too late in coming for many. A century later, both populations have flourished and consider themselves fully American while celebrating their cultures.

From the 1920s to the end of WWII, the USA closed her doors to most immigration and xenophobia was the order of the day. Even full knowledge of the Holocaust could not sway the State Department. When I share about the Middle East, this narrative will be prominent. We utterly failed as the land of liberty.

Since the 1960s, immigration policies have varied greatly and many more have found homes in our land. It is important to note that many Democrats, who today want unfettered immigration, opposed welcoming the Vietnamese refugees fleeing communism after the 1976 takeover of Saigon. It is stunning reading the words of apparently inclusive politicians. Of course, having thousands of hardworking immigrants that are living witnesses to the terrors of Marxism is quite uncomfortable for some. We do welcome legitimate groups fleeing violence, though the selectivity has varied with the administration in power. For example, it is currently much harder for Christians to flee persecution in Muslim nations than for Muslims emigrating from many nations.

Our border with Mexico has its own complex history, with alternating moments of hospitality and xenophobia. People of all political persuasions have avoided comprehensive reform out of economic (cheap labor) and political (assuming voter loyalty to one party) motivations. Those who desire more selective immigration policies are branded racist and those wanting easy pathways to entry are also offering more help to the undocumented than some of their own citizens.

Concerning points 2 and 3: We must cultivate hopeful realism that solutions are possible while being honest about the mess created since the 1960s. Enforcing current laws and screening immigrants for criminal backgrounds and COVID are reasonable steps.  Walls define borders – they can still have many hospitable gates. The massive amount of drug and sex trafficking, potential terrorist infiltrations, and disrespect for the rule of law and nature of a nation must be confronted.

Finally, comprehensive change will require courage to confront the cartels on the border, and the corrupt regimes allowing massive groups to march toward the USA. Courage is also needed to reaffirm the goodness of borders, national identity, and the privileges of citizenship, while offering reasonable pathways for millions of undocumented neighbors. There is no place for racism and xenophobia; likewise, voting must be only for citizens. The undocumented, while treated with compassion, should not receive more government help than US citizens. Illegal felons in prisons should be deported and enforcement increased. Dreamers should be placed on an expedited pathway to citizenship.

Avoiding globalism and xenophobia, securing borders, welcoming those who will contribute – all are possible if we have courage, humility, and wisdom. I welcome the faith and family-oriented friends that want the USA to be home…and I think we can screen out many threats to our civil life. May we find the way forward that is inclusive and wise.

Unsanctified Mercy: Integrating Compassion and Conviction for Human Flourishing

Compassion is a marvelous virtue. Feeling concern for others and acting sacrificially – especially on behalf of those that cannot return the favor – reveals mature character and contributes to human flourishing. Compassion moves missionaries and monks to great efforts as they plant churches, pioneer institutions and work for justice across cultures and geographies. Paul’s words are the motivation for his apostolic proclamation that, “…the love of Christ compels us…” and, “one died for all, therefore all died. And those who live should not live for themselves but for him who died and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5) This agape love includes moral conviction and missional wisdom.

“Unsanctified mercy” (thank you, Jill Miller, for this term) arises when compassion becomes compromise and our fear of offending subverts biblical truth. The American Church is increasingly guilty of doctrinal, moral and spiritual compromise under the guise of compassion and misplaced historical guilt.

At the risk of offending tender sensibilities, it is time to confront our own hearts and our public ministries with gospel truth. Progressive Christians have served the kingdom well as they expose the excesses of consumerism, capitalism and colonialism that often mark American and Western ecclesial efforts. Conservative Christians serve God’s reign as they remind the church that there are timeless beliefs and values not subject to one’s “evolution.” The sanctity of life, the definition and marriage and the historical foundations of the gospel and Scripture are among these convictions. There is much room for civil family debate on a variety of issues and strategies.

The events of the past half-century and the last few months are cause for grave concern and I am unashamedly speaking truth to power as unsanctified mercy leads the church down pathways of compromise, irrelevance and ineffective witness. Here are some of the ways compassion is fogging the vision of well-meaning believers:

  • Sexual ethics and identity: A miniscule percentage of the population has engaged in a subversive, well–funded attack on the biblical family and sexual conduct and identity. Yes, the church has often marginalized outsiders; however, hospitality and humility need not lead to compromise. Campolo is wrong. Gushee is wrong. There is no way a careful reading of the Bible yields approval of same sex unions. This does not mean hatred or persecution. It means that we must promote celibacy for singles and fidelity for heterosexual, monogamous marriage, even when it is hard and unpopular. Gender confusion is growing rampantly as young people are exposed to relentless media pressure to question biology and conscience. It is time for holy love with humility. The reasons people feel the ways they do are complex; biblical ethics are not.
  • Economic justice: So many well-meaning believers fall into soft socialist and redistributionist ideologies in the name of fairness, ignoring the factors that lead to human flourishing. Trillions in aid has left many parts of Africa behind the improvements in the global economy. (See the new award-winning Acton Institute feature presentation, “Poverty Inc.” as well as the video series, “Poverty Cure” for real solutions at acton.org) Personal virtue and private property, the rule of law and access to markets are the structural changes that will liberate the creativity and prosperity God’s intends for his creation. Crony capitalism is the great weakness of both conservative and progressive political powers, with local business owners and workers left in the dust. Reparations are just a slogan without accountability and stewardship. Welfare without work dehumanizes recipients. Chris Brooks from Detroit is right when he opines, “We must confront both individual iniquity and institutional injustice.” Accountability for choices must be joined with denunciation of redlining. I recommend thoughtful believers consider the Economic Wisdom Principles found at www.oikonominetwork.org.
  • Climate change and ecological policies: The science is not settled and thoughtful believers should “follow the money and power” as globalists attempt to extract more wealth from the West for the rest with no participation from the Chinese, Indian and Russian empires. Why is Al Gore over $150 million richer since peddling his unscientific fear? Why are the leaders of carbon trading conglomerates also producing polluting small cars? A.J. Swoboda has done believers a great service with his groundbreaking work, Tongues and Trees: Toward a Pentecostal Ecological Theology. Worshipful stewardship of creation and Spirit-inspired redemptive action must include care for all living creatures. Pope Francis’ recent ecological encyclical spends more time on the dehumanizing effects of sin than specific legislation. While I disagree with some of the science in both works, the clarion call for theological and moral reflection and thoughtful action is welcome. Somewhere between unbridled exploitation and elitist global governance is true stewardship. The Body of Christ must point the way.
  • Racial Reconciliation: As a white male from the middle class, my voice on race must be carefully weighed and I offer the following thoughts for consideration and critique by sisters and brothers of all backgrounds. There is no place for racism in the Christian vision. Through Christ, distinctives remain while divisions and hierarchies are destroyed (Gal. 3; Eph. 2-3; Col. 3). It is only in my lifetime that millions of African Americans have been able to vote and have access to education and economic hope. We have a long way to go. My plea is this category is for peacemaking and renunciation of violence. We must exchange suspicion for openness and anger for humility. When someone speaks about morality, work ethics and personal responsibility, it is not always “code” for racism. Conversely, those in power must understand the institutional injustices and social barriers keeping many from flourishing. I commend the irenic works of Anthony Bradley and Chris Brooks for ways forward that get past the polemics.

This list can – and will continue, but space compels a conclusion to this moment of vulnerability. There is, however, one more “hot button” issue the Body of Christ must confront for the future of her mission in North America and beyond. It is the foundational principle embedded in the couplet found in Heb. 6:2 and reiterated in Heb. 9:27: Resurrection and eternal judgment. The Missio Alliance is thoroughly biblical as we call for God’s people to live a resurrectional life in the power of the Spirit, celebrating Christ’s atoning death AND the liberating power of his resurrection. In the midst of this joyful message we must include the reality that there is eternal judgment awaiting all. Those who refuse the truth and fail to listen to both general and special revelation face a dark eternity. Christians must debate the nature the heaven and hell, but not the existence of both.

Unsanctified mercy is often unconsciously rooted in denial or avoidance of eternal judgment. We are so busy confronting hypocrisy in the church that we forget to behold, “the goodness and severity of God.” Why should I share the gospel with my neighbor? Jesus is more than a self-improvement guru and Christianity is richer that principles for better living. Eternity and the Truth are at stake. Good news: we are not the judges of anyone’s eternal destiny. Only God knows the elect. We can and must, however, share the good news of assurance in Christ – the true audacity of Christian hope. When a friend hears the gospel, and places her or his unreserved trust in Christ, we are authorized to declare the forgiveness of sins and an eternal hope that will not fade away.

Let’s unite compassion with conviction, humility and holiness; truth and unconditional love as we live and share the good news of Christ and watch faithful churches create flourishing communities.