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A Christian conversation on immigration

"A Christian conversation on immigration" Continued...

In Old Testament legislation there also were expectations of the outsider: Language learning would have been necessary to work and to understand the periodic reading of the law at which foreigners were to be present; a degree of cultural integration would have been necessary, too, to be able to participate in the religious services and daily life of Israel. In addition, the Old Testament has several terms for outsiders—for example, one that is used of those who sojourn in Israel (the ger) and another for those who do not seem to want to be incorporated into national life (nokri). Apparently, Israel made distinctions among the foreigners is its midst. There are lessons here, too, about expectations and classifications of outsiders. Again, a principled stance can give us insights for dealing with modern immigration.

There are many narratives that describe life as foreigners in new lands. We could mention Abram, Joseph, the Israelites in Egypt, Ruth, David on the run, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. These accounts ring true to immigrants today, who can identify with the experiences of these great men and women of faith. We could go on to the New Testament and speak of Jesus and his family fleeing to Egypt and living there for a time as refugees, the call in the epistles to be hospitable, and the use of migration as a metaphor for the Christian life (1 Peter 2:11). The Bible has a lot that is pertinent to immigration.

Conclusion

Mine is an invitation to a reasoned, full Christian discussion on immigration—one that is grounded in our Christian theological heritage, informed of the complex concrete realities of immigration, and knowledgeable of the breadth of the Bible’s contribution to the topic. This discussion would need the expertise and input from all kinds of disciplines. With this information and a commitment to charitable discussion, maybe we could get past the unfortunate labeling and emotionally charged caricatures, sit down at the table together, and have a constructive conversation.

Photo of Mark Tooley by James Allen Walker for WORLD

Photo of M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas) courtesy of Denver Seminary

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