Please Note Well: I contacted the office of Dr. Roy Taylor in Atlanta and attempted to speak with Dr. Taylor by phone. I was told that he was in a meeting and unable to speak to me. I left a detailed message with the woman who took my phone call about what I was doing and asked if she would pass the message along to Dr. Taylor and please to have him get back in touch with me. To date, more than a week later, there has been no return call. Therefore, I am moving ahead with the publication of this Ethos on my blog and electronically.
We Need Much Better Communication
Recently, I was made aware of a short article written by Dr. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the PCA dealing with an immigration resolution from the National Association of Evangelicals. Let me state unequivocally that I have the utmost respect for Dr. Taylor and that he is an esteemed colleague and brother in the Lord. Therefore, what I will write is a sort of intramural debate, but it is a debate. A member of the OPC made me aware of the article, which appears on byFaithonline, which explains why I didn’t see it. One can go to that web site, however, and locate Dr. Taylor’s article entitled “Roy Taylor Elaborates on NAE Immigration Resolution.”
Dr. Taylor informs us that on October 8, 2009—thus, quite recently—the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) adopted a resolution on immigration. It is Dr. Taylor’s intention to clear up misunderstandings about that resolution and he pinpoints three particular areas where he fears there might be misunderstandings. He writes, “Shortly after the release of the document, reports from several sources circulated via the Internet (which, like Al Gore, is suffering from global warming—RG) asserted that: (1) the NAE advocates open borders, (2) the NAE advocates blanket amnesty, and (3) every denomination that is a member of the NAE endorses open borders and blanket amnesty.” Dr. Taylor opines that these assertions are incorrect. Moreover, Dr. Taylor is convinced that “The NAE Immigration Resolution of 2009, in my view, is a biblically-based, theologically reflective, carefully balanced, concise document.” I agree that it is concise, but I need to explain why Dr. Taylor and I differ on the remainder of his statement.
I rejoice that the first section of this resolution begins with “Biblical Foundations.” Right off the bat, the paper begins with a truth we all can agree on: “Discussion of immigration and government immigration policy must begin with the truth that every human being is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28).” They also maintain—correctly—that “Jesus exemplifies respect toward others who are different in his treatment of the Samaritans (Luke 10:30-37; John 4:1-42).” Sandwiched between these two assertions, however, is an “agenda item”: “Immigrants are made in the image of God and have supreme value with the potential to contribute to society.”
I’m not sure exactly what to make of that statement and why it is positioned where it is in the NAE resolution. What, for example, does it mean to have supreme value? I’m not asking this question with a view to immigrants, legal or illegal, or non-immigrants, but with a view to the definition of the word “supreme.” Personally, I am comfortable with saying that all mankind is created in the image of God and has great inherent value, but if we mean by “supreme” an inviolable or absolute right of existence, I disagree. Clearly, our Lord mandated crimes that require the death penalty or lex talionis thereby dismissing any notion of an absolute respect for human life. For the time being, I’ll simply leave this as something that is unclear to me from the NAE Immigration Resolution of 2009.
The NAE position paper then launches into a discourse on Old Testament migration. They state that the Word of God contains accounts of God’s people migrating because of hunger, war, or personal circumstances. They could have said, “hunger, war, or famine,” but personal circumstances is another more or less surreptitious agenda item. You see, illegal aliens come to the U.S. for personal reasons or because of personal circumstances, such as wanting to live the American Dream, which, by the way, under the current administration is turning rapidly into the American Nightmare. Names such as Joseph, Daniel and his friends, Ezekiel, Ezra, and Nehemiah are also presented as those who “lived in foreign lands.” It is patently true that they lived in foreign lands, but for what reason? They were, of course, exiles; a point that is rather conveniently left out. We are simply told they moved and lived elsewhere than their native homeland. Do you see where this is heading? Can you begin to understanding why I disagree with Dr. Taylor in that the IR of 2009 is not biblically-based, theologically reflective, and carefully balanced?
In the New Testament, Peter is cited as one who in his first letter referred to his recipients as “aliens” and “strangers,” “perhaps suggesting that they were exiles within the Roman Empire.” Once again, I must take exception to Dr. Taylor’s allegation that the NAE’s IR of 2009 is biblically-based, theologically reflective, and carefully balanced. Here’s why: In 1 Peter 1, Peter addresses his audience in the following fashion, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” The NAE resolution groups all humanity together because their agenda item is to address immigration and want to paint us all with the “aliens” and “strangers” brush.
Peter is addressing elect exiles. Who are they? J.N.D. Kelly comments that “On a hasty reading one might be tempted to infer that they (the elect exiles—RG) are Jewish Christians: so did most of the Greek fathers, but not Jerome or Augustine. The Greek noun translated “scattered people” is diaspora (i.e. ‘Dispersion’), a technical term among Greek-speaking Jews…for members of their race dwelling outside Palestine in heathen countries.” The word “elect,” according to Kelly “was the epithet regularly used by the Jews to express their conviction that God had singled them out from all nations to be His special people.”
Wayne Grudem believes that “strangers” “wrongly suggests that they were not known well by their neighbours, something which was untrue of Abraham, for example, or other Old Testament saints. Better is the phrase ‘those who reside as aliens.’” In this particular context, Grudem is convinced that “the term here has a new spiritual sense, referring to Christians ‘dispersed’ throughout the world and living away from their heavenly homeland (yet hope some day to reach it). The word thus reinforces the meaning of ‘sojourners’ and adds the idea that they are part of a ‘world-wide’ scattering of Christians.”
I could continue to multiply examples like these, but you get the point. I wrote a lengthy article on August 19, 2006 that dealt with the Old Testament concept of the “sojourner” (gēr), which I will recount more in detail in our next installment. For the present, I simply want to point out that the NAE has taken quite a bit of liberty and license in their attempt to correlate Old and New Testament “aliens” and “strangers” with our current situation with illegal aliens. Unfortunately, Dr. Taylor appears to side with the NAE.
At this stage, the solution I’m offering is somewhat tenuous, but Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), taught me that it is not enough simply to criticize. One should offer an alternative. Therefore, I want to spell out my alternative to the current immigration impasse and difficulty by offering my own thoughts on what a good immigration policy might look like. You are free to disagree, but here it is:
· Foreign visitors and immigrants must be in the country legally.
· They must have the means to sustain themselves economically before they arrive.
· They must not be a burden on society (i.e., they must not get on welfare. They must have their own health insurance that is up to date before they arrive so that they will not use health services as a freebie).
· They must have no criminal record and be of good character.
· They must be contributors to the general commonwealth of the nation.
· Immigration authorities must have a complete and accurate record of each foreign visitor.
· Foreign visitors may not violate their visa status, upon penalty of immediate deportation.
· Foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics (i.e., no marches, protests, organizations attempting to coerce or lobby politicians).
· Foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported.
· Foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported.
· Those who aid in illegal immigration in any way will be sent to prison.
As I look over this list, it is by no means complete, but I believe that it is a very good start. I wish I had had more time to work on it, but Ethos has to be done by Thursday afternoon, so I took the easy way out and simply listed Mexico’s policy. That’s right. What you just read in the bullet points is the immigration policy of Mexico.
John Lillpop, writing in the Canada Free Press (is there such a thing in Canada?) reminds us that Mexico deports more illegal aliens annually than the U.S. does. In addition, “it is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.” He continues, “At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it’s noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve our illegal immigration problem.” Yep.
We need to tread very carefully on this issue if, for no other reason, than New York Senator (D), Chuck Shumer enthusiastically embraced it. It was also reported by Mark Tooley of “The Institute on Religion & Democracy” that NAE testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security “advocated loosening immigration policies.” Tooley warns that this was not the first time the NAE has supported liberal causes, citing environmentalism and global warming as current issues where the NAE is also left of center. And, Tooley adds, the NAE “plans to adopt a petition regarding nuclear disarmament.” All of these are up for discussion and debate, of course, but evangelicals and I would hope especially the PCA would not want to align themselves with organizations that lean left. One member of the NAE—the Salvation Army—“has publicly disavowed the NAE immigration statement, say it could not endorse such a political agenda.”Thus far, we have observed shoddy, self-serving exegesis and a willingness to push for comprehensive immigration reform. “Wait!” you object. “We haven’t heard anything in the NAE report about comprehensive immigration reform!” You’re right, but you will next time, because there are NAE affiliates who are cited in the IR for 2009 resolution who speak out of both sides of their mouths. You don’t have to dig far before you discover that Dr. Taylor is not doing us a positive service by endorsing this resolution, but I still respect him very much.
 Ibid. Emphases added.
 J.N.D. Kelly, The Epistles of Peter and of Jude, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), p. 40.
 Ibid. Comp. Deut 4:37; 7:6; 14:2; Ps. 105:6; Isa. 45:4.
 Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), p. 48.
 Ibid., 1-2.
Labels: Illegal immigration