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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just What Does the National Association of Evangelicals Believe?

Last issue, we began an investigation as a kind of follow up to Dr. Roy Taylor’s assertions that many have misunderstood the October 8, 2009 National Association of Evangelicals resolution on immigration. Dr. Taylor believes that some who read that resolution read it through jaundiced eyes and have told others 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 asserts that this simply is not the case and that he is convinced of the following: “The NAE Immigration Resolution of 2009, in my view, is a biblically-based, theologically reflective, carefully balanced, concise document.”

Since I hold Dr. Taylor in such high esteem, we wish to investigate whether the accusations are bona fide or not. Dr. Taylor points us to the NAE web site (http://www.nae.net/resolutions/347-immigration-2009) and so I went to the sight, downloaded the document, and read it. What struck me was the nebulous language in that resolution, but more important are the sources listed in the footnotes. I am not certain that Dr. Taylor combed through the articles and authors listed in the footnotes, but if he didn’t, he should have. If he did and still holds that the NAE resolution is acceptable, then we have deeper differences than I first thought.

In this issue, I want to allow us to listen to one of those NAE churches (the Evangelical Free Church) that is cited in the “Sources” section of the NAE 2009 resolution. In subsequent issues, we’ll hear what the Vineyard churches teach and what the World Relief web site states, since WR is also cited in the “Sources” section. Finally, we’ll walk through an article by Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today, posted on 4.7.2006 entitled “Blessed is the Law—Up to a Point.” What all these sources have in common is that they follow the politically correct notion of referring to illegal aliens as “undocumented workers.” The PCA is falling into lockstep with this PC practice more and more, which is not a good sign as far as I’m concerned. If we’re going to deal with an ethical issue, let’s not cloud the discussion with euphemisms.

A Stranger at Our Gates

The General Conference of the Evangelical Free Church of America adopted the position paper, “A Stranger at Our Gates,” in 1996. The paper contained five “themes,” among which was the proposition that all Christians are aliens on this earth. True. Second, “our material possessions do not really belong to us.” Third, the alien is to be protected. Fourth, “for Christians, no one is ever to really be considered an outsider.” Finally, “in serving the outsiders of society, we encounter Jesus.”

From there, the paper launches into a diatribe against the immigration policies of the U.S. “Historically, immigration policies of the United States appear to be directed more by racism and economic self-interest than compassion.” (Emphasis added.) I question the validity of such a claim, and I am not aware of the PCA ever taking such a stance vis-à-vis our immigration policies, especially the limitation on immigrants from Asia and Africa, like the EFC paper. One can only wonder why those two ethnicities were chosen. It is also declared that our current policies favor “those who bring technical expertise or financial resources with them.” Yes, that’s true, because any sovereign nation would opt for bringing in those who, humanly speaking, would help drive the economic engine of the country rather than those who are poorly educated and would be a drain on the country’s economy.

Understand well: this is an economic and political consideration made by each sovereign nation, and is not necessarily an ecclesiastical plea for evangelism. What is more disconcerting from the Evangelical Free Church 1996 resolution is the assertion that “Immigrants do not displace American workers.” The resolution continues and adds, “They usually fill a shortage of skilled labor or do the menial task that citizens refuse to do.” The first part of the statement is patently false and the second is the result of members of the EFC drinking some ideological Kool-Aid. Immigrants, legal or illegal, displace American workers in a free market setting. Illegal immigrants have, de facto, taken jobs in America performed by those who were either poorly educated, or young high school or college students looking for summer work.

What are the menial tasks that Americans refuse to do? Pick fruit? Make beds? Work as a day laborer? If your answer is Yes to all of those questions, let me ask you this: then who did all those jobs before the illegal aliens glutted this country? How did we survive? Moreover, to take such a stance is essentially to support illegality at a number of levels. Let me “esplain.” Illegal aliens come to this country illegally, which is why those who are sentient and reasonable insist on calling them illegal aliens. Then, American farmers, hotel owners, and contractors hire these illegal aliens, which is also against the law. Now the situation becomes more complex, involved. The illegal aliens are here illegally and now they are being hired illegally by Americans.

Since they are illegal aliens hired illegally, many, most of the employers pay them under the table, which is also illegal. They pay no taxes, except the sales tax they pay if they make purchases. The illegal aliens do not, for example, file federal income tax forms. In addition, if the unscrupulous employer wants to “shaft” them and pay them less than the agreed upon wage, the illegal alien has no recourse because he or she is, well, illegal. Are they going to go to the cops and report their employer for hiring them illegally since they are in the country illegally? It really gets very messy very quickly as antinomianism often does.

Yet, against all reason and fact, the EFC resolution insists that illegal immigrants “receive less general assistance than the general population, and they work longer hours.” What? Virtually every illegal immigrant uses our hospitals for “free” medical care. Try going into “emerg” in California, where I live, and you will quickly discover that the ERs are filled to overflowing with Hispanics. That is not a slur, but rather a realistic observation. Several hospitals in Southern California have closed their doors because they were bankrupted by illegal aliens receiving “free” medical care. Of course, just as there is no free lunch, there is also no free health care. Someone pays for it. If you guessed the American taxpayer gets hosed in this process, go to the head of the class. In addition, statistics show that a disproportionately high number of illegal aliens in the U.S. apply for and receive WIC assistance as well as a host of other welfare benefits, also paid for by someone else, namely the beleaguered American taxpayer. This is why the EFC statement that “Immigrants pay more in taxes than the social services they receive,” is simply untrue to a fault and it is deceptive to write such an untruth.

Some Key Questions

The 1996 resolution then proceeds to raise five issues by means of a question and a brief answer.

First, “To what extent are our attitudes towards immigration shaped by racism?” This question is a bit of a cheap shot. It’s like someone saying to you, “You don’t like President Obama because he’s black.” No, I don’t like President Obama because of his policies. His skin color is totally irrelevant to me. Is it the case that every citizen—of any country—is a racist simply because he or she wants to abide by the laws of the land? If that’s your definition, then every law-abiding citizen is a racist and that is sheer nonsense. Our attitudes towards immigration are shaped by law. America has immigration laws on its books, and, I might add, they have one of the most lenient attitudes towards immigration of any country on the planet.

In the last issue, I gave you, in bullet points, the immigration policy of Mexico. If you want to sling the racial epithet at someone, try starting with our neighbor to the South. But the EFC is not finished yet. They also ask under the umbrella of their first question, “To what extent do we assume that American culture is identified with northern and western culture; and are we attempting to protect those cultural roots of American from corruption by ‘foreign’ cultures?” For anyone who has a modicum of historical sense, America was founded as an Anglo culture. Sam Huntington’s book Who Are We? makes that abundantly clear. It is an irrefutable fact. I cannot fathom why we are trying to be historical revisionists. Do we want to have, say, an Islamic jihadist culture glut our country so we can benefit from their lifestyle?

Then the resolution asks, “Are we denying that other cultures bring gifts that add to rather than detract from our society’s culture?” That really is not the question. The question has to do with immigrants being assimilated into American culture. Illegal immigrant from South of the border that live in California, send their money back to Mexico and Latin America. In fact—it’s a fact—American money earned by illegal aliens and sent back to Mexico, is the second largest import of that country. There is more I could say, but as a final remark under the first question regarding racism, I want to conclude with the last question asked in this section: “Does our cultural identity take precedence over our Christian identity so that we fail to recognize that we are fellow aliens with these immigrants?” That is a loaded, self-serving, and self-fulfilling question.

Those of the true faith are, first and foremost, Christians. Therefore, national identity does not take precedence over Christian identity. Nevertheless, the question, as put, is open ended and poorly formulated. The ethical question is: in what sense are we fellow aliens with these (i.e., illegal) immigrants? This is unclear to me. Truly, surely since all mankind will have an eternal destiny (either heaven or hell) we are all aliens upon the earth awaiting our eternal home. We may share being made in the image of God, but that does not excuse us from acting in a biblically unethical fashion. There are murderers, rapists, extortionists, child predators, adulterers, thieves, and sexual perverts in this country. Am I, are you a fellow alien with them? I’m just askin’. You know what I’m sayin’?

I’m going to rush ahead though. The second question asks to what extent our attitudes towards immigrants are shaped by materialism. The vagary is the word “immigrants.” Are we talking about legal or illegal immigrants? But what the EFC resolution is really getting at here is this: “As aliens and strangers in this world, what is the theological basis for acting as though America were our property and we can hence deny access to it?” This is essential because what Dr. Taylor, this resolution, and the NAE are aiming at is not “open borders” in the sense that we normally think of open borders. No, what the NAE is actually aiming at is blanket amnesty so that there are no more “undocumented workers.” That will become increasing clear as we move forward and cite more of the “Sources” cited in the NAE 2009 resolution. Everyone becomes “kosher” because there are no more illegal aliens, period. The follow-up question by the EFC is “Are we being overly possessive of our lifestyle or standard of living?” I don’t think so, but one thing is for certain, America simply cannot supply a certain standard of living for the entire global population. We can teach innovation, sanitation, how to raise crops, and a host of other things, but we cannot provide unlimited resources to the global community. To ask such a question is short-sighted and absurd.

Third, “Is the fear of running out of limited resources justifiable?” You’re kidding, right? No, I suppose not. Should we be concerned about running out of limited resources? Well, duh! Limited resources will eventually run out.

Fourth, “Does denying or reducing ‘safety net’ and other public benefits to illegal immigrants and their American-born children imply that in our society some groups of people are not regarded as being equally human as others even though they participate in the economic functioning of our society?” I just thought we established that illegal immigrants didn’t make use of the “safety net.” Which is it? The “anchor baby” debacle is unique to America. That’s why illegal aliens flock here. No other nation has such a ludicrous law. The EFC seems to forget that illegal aliens function in the economics of this country illegally.

Fifth, “What about immigration policy?” Here is the crux of the matter. The questions here make the U.S. the culprit in making it so hard for people to enter this country legally. As mentioned earlier, we are not only more generous than most, but our laws are fair and equitable—not to mention reasonable.

As we shall see in the NAE 2009 resolution as well as in other member churches, the aim is total amnesty and I firmly believe that it was and remains incumbent upon Dr. Taylor to let the PCA members know this. After all, by his own admission, he has been serving as the chair of the board and of the executive committee. It may very well be the case that no one has overtly mentioned total amnesty to Dr. Taylor. I think that’s both plausible and possible, but since he fulfills such an important position, I would think that he has closely read and scrutinized the resolutions of the member churches.

In the NAE’s “Call to Action,” we read, “We believe that national immigration policy should be considerate of immigrants who are already here and who may arrive in the future and that its measures should promote national security and the general welfare in appropriate ways.” Appropriate ways? Yes, this includes moving “undocumented immigrants” towards citizenship. Break in line; go to the front of the line; ignore the laws of the land; and then be embraced by Bible-believing churches. According to the NAE, illegal aliens “are revitalizing churches” and “Their presence is a blessing of God.” Really? Then the resolution adds that we must ignore “economics” and “national security issues.” Did you know this, Dr. Taylor? It’s there on the NAE web site for all to download and read. What the NAE is calling for is reform of national immigration policy that Americans definitively said they did not want when then-President Bush tried to push it through Congress. What makes anyone think that Americans want that now? Undaunted, the NAE wishes to have immigration reform that would teach the illegal aliens to embrace “the responsibilities and privileges that accompany citizenship.” Why should they? Beginning illegally, they now have the NAE and its member churches on their side. Beginning illegally, we are now going to speak to them about embracing responsibilities. What the NAE is aiming at is “That the government legislate fair labor and civil laws for all residing within the United States that reflect the best of this country’s heritage.” (Emphasis added.) You mean our laws are not fair and civil now? Where are they wrong? But note the emphasized words. Dr. Taylor knows about these words and yet there is nothing in his elaboration about them and informing PCA folks what we’re up against. I can hardly wait to hear what he might say about the NAE’s position on global warming.

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3 Comments:

Blogger randy buist said...

Ron, tonight I was reading the story of the Good Samaritan to my seven year old son. When Jesus is asked what is needed to be saved, Jesus answers with this story...

So I ask you, why can't you seem to accept the poor immigrant laying on the road as someone deserving of help?

9:47 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Would it be fair to suggest that you don't like people from Mexico? You buy and eat the food they pick in your sunny California, but then you condemn them for attempting to feed their families. By eating of their labors, you are also guilty of the very venom that you spout. May God forgive your righteous attitudes toward people who have very little. Being right in the eyes of the law doesn't make one right before God.

In the kingdom of God, what did you do to deserve being born an American citizen? One would hope that followers of Jesus Christ would understand the grace of Yahweh, the blood of his son for our sins, and the resurrection as a means by which we live and move and have our being.

May the kingdom of God come quickly.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
To your comment about the poor immigrant laying on the road: Who says that I haven't helped such a person?

Would it be fair to suggest that I don't like people from Mexico? No. It would be totally unfair, since I served with them in the military, coached them in wrestling, and have them for friends.

For someone who claims to be critical of those who judge, you are one of the most judgmental people I know. Simply because someone is opposed to illegal immigration does not mean that they spout venom.

5:59 PM  

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