Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Illegal Immigration

A primary element of the Christian faith is, at least in theory if not in absolute reality, independence from the state or government. Confusing one's religious faith with civil matters can lead to such atrocities as occurred in the holocaust in Nazi Germany. It is with that horror in mind that Christians should approach their thinking about illegal immigration and the very real people who migrate here across U.S. borders without lawful permission. (Photo from: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/border5.html).

As a Christian, I have mixed emotions and feelings about this issue because I know illegal immigrants personally through my sister's marriage to a Mexican immigrant. My brother-in-law's family is mostly here in the United States illegally. As recently as this past week over ten hispanics who were employed by the construction company where I earn my living were fired because their social security numbers turned out to be illegitimate. I had worked with these men for over a year or more on the most recent construction project, Oviedo High School, Oviedo, Florida. Both through contact with my sister's in-laws and through hispanic men I know at work, illegal immigration has taken on a personal face with me.

The real question here is how to uphold the law while at the same time honoring the real humanity of these illegal immigrants who are mostly trying to better their lives and support their own families. There is a tension here for the Christian. Christ commands us to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to all people in every nation (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). On a planet which gets smaller with every technological advance we must increasingly view other inhabitants of the earth as our neighbors. Even though I disagree with Hillary Clinton's view of family values, there is a sense in which we do indeed live in a global village.

Moreover, Americans in general are concerned about national security, job security, and the use of tax monies collected from citizens. A large portion of our taxes goes to educate the children of illegal immigrants and to provide medical care for their families through costs incurred at our hospitals. The crux of the matter is that these concerns are secondary to the commands given to Christians by our Lord in Holy Scripture. This is not to say that Christians cannot have loyalty to the United States but we must never forget that our first allegiance is to God. To place the United States of America first would amount to idolatry.

Having said this, there is a tension between obedience to civil authority and obedience to God. The Apostle Paul says in his epistle to the Romans that we are obligated to obey the powers that be:

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:1-7 ESV (http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Romans+13%3A1-7)

The way forward for the Christian, therefore, seems to be one in which we become advocates for our neighbors, in this case illegal aliens, without breaking the civil laws of our land. American Christians in general have a tendency to accommodate to American culture, values and prejudices. Essentially, American Christians are guilty of being more concerned for their own well being than for the well being of humanity, our neighbors in all parts of the world.

In some ways liberal theology has done a better job concerning social justice for our neighbors. However, in doing this the theologically liberal side of Christianity has jettisoned the authority of Scripture as the revelation of God (compare Carl F. H. Henry's systematic theology, God, Revelation, and Authority). On the other hand, conservative Christianity seems to have jettisoned social justice issues in favor of prosperity and their own personal interests, which is a violation of the command not to covet (Exodus 20:17). Christian ethics are philosophically and theologically more complicated than morality. Even morality becomes complicated when secondary general revelation in the form of human reason begins to question the primary revelation of Holy Scripture.

How we interpret Scripture and apply general revelation and reason is a fallible and human process. However, it seems to me that in the ongoing culture war between liberal Christianity and conservative Evangelicalism, both sides have accommodated to the American culture in different ways but both remain guilty of idolatry by placing human interests before the glory and worship of God. While Holy Scripture is infallible, we as humans continually err because even our ability to reason has been tainted and corrupted because of the curse placed upon Adam after his rebellion against God. In a sense, then, we are all rebels against God regardless of our theology. Until Evangelicalism as a whole comes to that realization, Evangelical Christians will continue to be blind to their own sins against God's glory and against their own neighbors.

The answer is not to liberalize our understanding of Scripture or to reduce our doctrinal commitments to the lowest common denominator. Instead conservative and reformed Christians must move forward intellectually and theologically, recognizing limitations and tendencies to err. The state of Evangelicalism as a whole is depressingly woeful. Evangelicals have a tendency to be prejudiced against the poor and the less fortunate, even though they give significant amounts of money to charity and evangelism. As one author put it, when Christians are prosperous they tend to take their blessings for granted and to become lukewarm. Historically, it has been in times of great persecution that the church has grown both numerically and theologically mature. Because most Evangelical churches are middle-class, the values of Evangelical churches tend toward materialism and thus idolatry.

While the social gospel commits idolatry by accommodating to earthly concerns for social justice, conservative Christianity commits idolatry by seeking its own comfort and well being in excessive luxury. The worst case scenario of this is the pentecostal/charismatic tendency toward the health and wealth gospel. However, I have observed this phenomenon in Evangelicalism in general because the health and wealth message has infiltrated not only pentecostal/charismatic circles but Evangelical circles in general.

The short of it, regarding illegal immigration, is that we Christians should be as concerned for the well being of illegal immigrants as we are for our own job security and national security. A humane solution to this problem would be one in accordance to the law of the land, which means there will be nothing done illegally. So a compromise of some sort should be considered. Perhaps allowing a more liberal plan for distributing working visas to Mexicans and other hispanics would be in order.

Securing the border is a national security issue as well. When the borders are not secure not only do we get good workers but along with the good we get illegal drug smugglers and criminals in general. In Mexican culture certain things like vengeance are more tolerated than in American culture and society. This clash of cultures leads to all sorts of cross cultural misunderstanding.

At one time our local law enforcement agencies took a hands off approach to illegal immigration but now that the problem is out of control they are beginning to realize that it was a huge mistake. Illegal immigrants are much harder to track and trace because they continually change their names and social security numbers. When murders and other felonies are committed this makes it much harder to locate and prosecute those illegals who perpetrate such crimes.

Recently in Lake County, Florida a sheriff's deputy was attacked by twelve hispanic males. The deputy was injured and only two of the men were arrested. Both of the men arrested were illegal and the remaining men escaped. (See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,225889,00.html here.)

So with the flood of illegal immigrants we also get a crime wave, despite what the liberal side of the political spectrum would have us believe. We get drug smugglers and those who have little to no respect for American law. My own brother-in-law is apparently now serving time in federal prison for drug trafficking and conspiracy. Several of his brothers were also arrested as well and of those, at least one fled back to Mexico to avoid prosecution.

Last year on the Florida Turnpike a young Mexican couple and their two young sons aged 5 and 6 were gunned down in an apparent retaliation involving a major drug deal gone bad. (See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,225889,00.html). I have no articles declaring that the couple or the drug dealers were illegal aliens. However, it is almost certain that where there is illegal drug activity involving hispanics on this level, there is a connection from Mexico and illegal entry into the country as well.

So this is the issue being ignored by the national media at large. The United States is under siege by illegal activity from illegal immigrants in general. Not only drug trafficking but crimes of assault and battery on citizens and law enforcement officers, rapes and other crimes as well. Many of these crimes go unsolved because the perpetrators are chameleons who change their names and identities at will and often flee back to Mexico to avoid prosecution. At least one of the brothers of my brother-in-law fled to Mexico to avoid cocaine trafficking charges after jumping bail. The husband of one of my brother-in-law's sisters was also murdered in Michigan over a drug deal gone bad. I am still not sure if he was murdered by the Mexicans he worked for or by whites who were out to rob him of drugs and cash.

Despite our concerns for illegal immigrants and human rights issues, we should be concerned for the safety and security of our own country, our local communities, and our families. It is my opinion that something has to be done to stop the flood of illegal immigration across our borders. Our jobs and wages are affected by cheap illegal workers and the companies which hire them go unpunished. Crime rates are up and even our law enforcement officers are at risk from poverty stricken illegal immigrants who have little or nothing to lose and place a lower value on life than we Americans do.

The solution to this complicated mess will not be easy nor will it be a perfect one. However, from the looks of things as they are we as Americans, and those of us Americans who are committed Christians, cannot afford to continue looking the other way while our jobs are at risk on the one hand and our own safety is threatened by criminals on the other. An erratical approach to illegal immigration is no longer viable, wise or acceptable.

May God have mercy!!!

Check out this link on FBI statistics for crimes committed by illegal aliens:


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