Immigration, What Does The Bible Really Say About It? With Alan Atchison:Â The Bible is not open to interpretation in a subjective sense, so what does it really say about immigration? Â And what about the scripture in Leviticus 19:34? Â Later in the program, Alan AtchisonÂ will be with us sharing on this topic and about recent attacks on pastors for standing on the immigration issue.
Air Date:Â 02/14/2018
Guest: Alan Atchison
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is here. He”s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator.
You can find out more about us at WallBuildersLive.com and also get some archives of the program. The shows that have aired over the last few weeks including those Good News Friday’s if you need a little pick me up. Or Foundations of Freedom Thursday if you want to dive deep into some of those Constitutional principles. It’s all available right there at WallBuildersLive.com. Also visit WallBuilders.com, that’s our main website and there’s a lot of great information there for you as well, so check those out.
Later in the program, Alan Atchison will be with us. We’ll be talking about these attacks on Pastor Robert Jeffress and others for actually standing on the immigration issue. There’s really a split in the evangelical community right now over what does the Bible really say about immigration. So, David, Tim, let’s take on this hot topic today.
Well, let’s take on evangelical first. You said there’s a split in the evangelical community. One of the things that has come out a whole lot in the last year is maybe we shouldn’t even be using that term anymore. Because “evangelicals” used to mean those who believed and adhered to the Bible as opposed to what was called “mainstream Christianity” that was more traditional and not Bible.
They Move the Direction Their Heart Pulls Them
Now, you have a big segment of evangelicalism that no longer believes the Bible, adheres to the Bible. They move in the direction their heart pulls them – not in the direction the Bible tells them to go. And so this split you see now even as we’re going to cover today is even within the Southern Baptist Convention where you have a Robert Jeffress who is a big Bible believer, versus a Russell Moore who has shown himself, on a number of occasions, to not follow the Bible’s teachings in clear social areas.
Now, I would say Russell Moore certainly would acknowledge that he is a big Bible believer.
Right. He would.
And so one of the significant things about this is it really comes down to Biblical understanding. And so in the midst of this, the split in evangelicals, you have people that acknowledge to love Jesus and that’s wonderful. I wish everybody loved Jesus, more people knew about Jesus, that”s great, yes. No, the gospel– But we’re not disputing whether or not someone actually loves Jesus.
That’s right. That’s not the question.
We’re not disputing if someone has an emotional connection, if someone had an encounter with Jesus, if someone has prayed a prayer of salvation, none of that is what we’re talking about. The split comes down to a Biblical understanding and there are some people that certainly don’t seem to follow what the Bible would indicate.
Our Postmodernist World
And by saying that, the Bible is not open for interpretation in a subjective sense, right. Where in our postmodernist world, if you go to college today they have what are called postmodern literature classes. And in these literature classes you will read old historic classics and then the professor or the teacher will say, “Well, what did that mean to you? How did that make you feel?”
Well, none of that has anything to do with the book, or what it actually says, or what the story was actually about. But what we do is we make it subjective, we make it feeling and emotion driven, emotion based. And so what happens is a lot of evangelicals, as they read the Bible, they go, “Oh, well, Jesus would just love people. Well, Jesus is loving and God wouldn’t want us to.” They make an emotionally based argument.
And they will take some verses, but generally they don’t take the whole counsel of the Bible, they don’t take the whole of God’s Word, or oftentimes, they even use verses out of context. When if you go back and look at the original Hebrew, if you go back and look at the Greek, if you go back and look at the context of what was going on, the Bible is not very confusing on most issues. So, when people are confused it’s because we really don’t study and know the Bible as we should .
Does God Want Closed or Open Borders?
The particular issue here is over whether God wants nations to have closed borders or open borders. Now, Pastor Jeffress, First Baptist in Dallas, said, “No, a nation should have explicit defined borders. And they should be closed and protected by the nation, regulated and controlled by the nation.” Whereas Russell Moore tends to go more on the side of open borders, “No, you should let everyone come in. That’s the loving thing to do is not have controls on the borders.”
So, here within the Southern Baptists and they would both admit to the inerrancy of the scripture, that they believe the Bible is what guides them. Okay, but the problem you get into with that is from a Biblical viewpoint, the Bible does take a clear position.
Now, I will say that the English language has given us great problems with this. Because the English language is not nearly as expressive as many other languages. For example, when I speak to Spanish crowds anywhere across the Spanish speaking world, I have to speak much slower because it takes 20 percent more words in Spanish to say exactly what I say in English. English has fewer words. And so to express the same thought in Spanish, my interpreter needs an extra 20 percent of the time.
So, in other words, if I take a 30 minute speech, my translator is going to take 40 minutes to translate that speech. So, if I have to give an hour lecture somewhere with a translator, I have to go about 23-24 minutes and the rest will be the Spanish speaker. And he speaks fast, but other languages have more more words. So when it comes to English, in English we have the word “love”. And I can say “I love you” and that can made a whole bunch of things.
So, in Greek, they actually had four words for “love”. So, “I love you” could be four different meanings. It could mean I love you like a father loves his children, it could mean I love you like God loves you, which is different kind of love. It could mean I love you like a friend, like a close friend and brother, or, it could mean I love you sexually.
So, the same word in English is translated “love”. But it has four completely different meanings in Greek.
So, let’s take the New Testament where Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” Okay, so, is Jesus saying have sex with your neighbor? Clearly not. But we only have the one word love to express for different Greek words that it could have meant. So, which one did he mean when he said that? And that’s where, when you read the Bible in English and you don’t go and check out what God actually said, or check out other verses around what He said, you come up with these really weird interpretations.
It’s the same in Hebrew. When you look at what leads to open borders, Russell Moore uses Leviticus 19:34 where God says, “The stranger that dwells with you shall be as one born among you.” Treat him like you treat others. So, that says the stranger that comes in you treat him just like a citizen. Okay, but there’s three different Hebrew words for the one English word “stranger”.
So, which of those three is it? Because one word for stranger means a native born citizen. One word for stranger means an immigrant who wants to come in and become a native born citizen. And the third word means a stranger who does not want to become a citizen.
So, which of the three is it? Because if I look at it in English I can say, “Well, God says a stranger that comes among you is supposed to be just like a citizen.” No, that’s not what it says originally. You have to understand the Hebrew words. And that’s what Russell Moore does not do that Dr. Jeffress does do.
This Debate Characterizes All of Christendom Right Now
And so we’ve actually– we’re talking Southern Baptists here, but this is a debate that characterizes all of Christendom right now. And it’s all based on what Tim said where we get into the emotional thinking of how we feel about a verse, and the experiential thing of how we think, and God’s a God’s love, and He loves everybody, so He wants everybody in every nation to have open borders. No, that’s not Biblical.
But one of the guys who’s done a great job writing on this within the Southern Baptist perspective is Alan Atchison. And he did a great article going down and making the right distinction. So, we thought it”d be a great discussion to have as the immigration issue is a very hot issue right now. And as it deeply divides the Christian community along the same lines as Southern Baptists are being divided.
The article”s called “Repairing Evangelical Political Theology: Getting the State Right”. We”ll have a link today at WallBuildersLive.com so you can read the article in its entirety, but Alan will be with us when we return. So stay with us – you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
A Moment From America”s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. In several decisions, over recent years the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that it is unConstitutional for the government to encourage religion.
Did our Founding Fathers agree with this? Consider the words of Henry Lawrence, a signer of the Constitution, and a president of Congress. Henry Lawrence declared, “I had the honor of being one who framed that Constitution, in order effectually to accomplish these great ends set forth in the Constitution. It is especially the duty of those who bear rule to promote and encourage respect for God and virtue and to discourage every degree of vice and immorality.”
Founding Father Henry Lawrence believed that the goals of the Constitution could not be fulfilled apart from a fear and a respect for God and that it was, therefore, the duty of government to encourage this among the people. For more information on God’s hand in American history. Contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Alan Atchison is with us –it’s called the capstone report–you can get it at CapstoneReport. com. Alan, thanks for being on, man.
Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Great article– I got to tell you –did this article on repairing evangelical political theology–actually it’s a series –this one on getting the state right, on defending Dr. Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas. And all of us evangelicals have been saying, “Hey, immigration policy should not be just love everybody and let anybody here that wants to be here.” Being attacked by other evangelicals and folks like Russell Moore saying, “no”, that we should just basically let everybody in. You did a very thoughtful– this is not just a quick read, folks you got to go do it, it’s good theology in here as well. What made you decide this policy you needed to address in your blog?
Immigration in Evangelical Circles
Well, immigration and some other things have been popping up over and over in the last 18 months or so, in evangelical circles. In general, Southern Baptists circles –in particular I”m a Southern Baptist. So, I wanted to put something together that began examining the proper role of the State.
And I’ve read some things that were very harsh that have been directed at Dr. Jeffress– I wanted to kind of re-examine what’s the point of the State, what does God intend the State to do? And I think if we answer that question then we can get our policy implementations correct. Whether it’s immigration, or prison reform, or whatever, we have to go to that core thing first what did God say the State is for and in the New Testament. Fortunately, we have a really good record of that in the writings of Peter and Paul.
And you point out –you give some great examples from them as well. I’m going to start at the end of your article actually. Because I think the way you sum this up is is actually a great place for us to start today in the two examples that you give– and I’ll let you give them– where you talk about the role of the individual Christianity as we live out our faith versus the role of the state and trying to force gospel principles on the state and how that just doesn’t work.
Right. We are commanded –and I think a lot of times people are well intentioned, but don’t think that the Sermon on the Mount or these admonitions to forgive are applicable also to how we do politics. And, unfortunately, I just think that’s a complete misunderstanding. I don’t think God intends for the magistrate –who we”re told has the power of the sword– to be forgiving; he’s there to be an avenger to punish evil.
Now, the state could be merciful, but it’s not always that it should be merciful, in fact justice is important. And if you’re not getting a state that has order, security in place then you’re not going to have as easy of time for the church doing its mission of evangelism. I think there’s a lot of scholarship–one of the great New Testament scholars Seabee Cranfield said that by restraining the chaotic tendencies that are out there amongst human beings in human nature that government helps in God’s plan of salvation because Â it makes it easier to go out and preach. Civilization itself really means government to do right. And whether it’s immigration policy or national defense, that’s how we need to think about it to get the right policy answer.
The State”s Role of Protection and Security
Yeah, you point out –and this fits so well with this particular debate and put it in perspective– individual Christianity being lived out versus the state’s role of protection and security. You say, “Look, would Â justice be served if the government just turned the other cheek to open rebellion? Should the state forgive the felons 70 times seven?” And you say, “Of course not.” And those are great examples.
We’re supposed to forgive as individuals, but, if the state forgave 70 times 7, then we’d never put a criminal in jail and Â it would be chaos.
Absolutely chaos and it wouldn’t be–it would make for a breakdown that we made and again, we need to restrain that type of bad behavior. And there are ways that the government does that, it can punish evil and it protects us from outside invasion. Getting thinking about those things, maybe that influence will help us get a better answer on how to address immigration.
Yeah, and this is not– I don’t think either of us are saying Biblical principles shouldn’t influence how our government is set up. That was the founders view, that’s our view. Certainly it should influence– what we’re saying is you can’t live out a personal Christianity. You can’t use the state’s sword, its power, its money, to live out a personal Christianity and that those personal commands that we have as individuals to live out the gospel, don’t always apply to the state in fact most of the time don’t apply to the state.
So, give me your perspective on immigration itself and what the state’s role should be there. You laid that out in the article– but for our listeners.
Immigration Can Be a Positive for Society
Well, I think immigration can be a positive for society, if you have an ordered process that kind of follows an orderly law. Unfortunately right now we’ve had generations of illegal immigration and other problems, and it doesn”t look like process is being followed. So, I think to any answer to an immigration policy has to start by kind of enforcing the law. I think that’s critical. If you don’t enforce the law then really what’s the state doing?
Now, that part gets skipped over a lot by evangelicals today, they just say –and I think you point this out in the article as well– they just tend to take– the “treat the sojourner as yourself” out of context and say “Just let everybody in and treat them as if they’re a citizen.” That’s not what it says. First of all, it certainly would be horrible policy as a nation.
Absolutely. I think you have to have a lot of nuance in understanding those Hebrew terms that are often quoted by progressives wanting to influence evangelical thinking. And in there I think Professor Hofmeyer has a great book on the immigration crisis, where he examines the context of those Hebrew term. And shows it’s not just a random person, it’s a person who follows a process to become an immigrant into theocratic Israel.
In fact, you used Ruth as an example. I never thought about that. Follow the law, follow the policies, follow the customs, and then received in. Not the other way around. Don’t Â break your way in, and then once granted citizenship then say, “Okay, now I”ll follow the law.”
Ruth as an Example
Right. And certainly, she was a proselyte. She was becoming a Jew in that process. And I think that’s something that’s often forgotten. She makes that declaration, “Your God will be my God.” That’s a step in a process of becoming part of the covenant.
I think one of the– I don’t know, turning point–I don”t know what the right phrase is– this was a few years ago that when you had a lot of people marching in the streets and waving flags from other countries. And basically saying, “We’re not going to assimilate, we’re just going to take from, and still be wherever we came from and have allegiance to wherever we came from.” And I think that really woke up a lot of people in the country, this is not what we envision. We want immigration no doubt. We need immigration as a nation to be healthy.
But the idea that we’re not going to have assimilation when they come is– that was a turning point. Seems like that”s when people really started getting riled up about this issue.
I think that”s a very, very, good point because immigration can be a great thing, it has historically. But there has to be a process in place there to make it function. You mentioned assimilation, which is a really nice way to build on that story from the Old Testament. But also to– one of the things you mentioned in some of these demonstrations and some of the things I think that’s happening in evangelical circles today, is the fact that you’ve got progressive political money coming in to influence the Evangelical Immigration groups. And I think there’s been reporting on that in the past.
Just a few weeks ago, the ERLC was tweeting out a video from ChristianDreamer’s.U.S.– well, I went online and looked at who has information for that ChristianDreamer’s.U.S. Website, and guess what? It’s one out of an immigration lobbying group in Washington D.C.. Yes, search for that name and it immediately pulls up stories funded by George Soros. So, there is a kind of a big deal going on in evangelical circles.
When the SBC is Doing the Bidding of George Soros, We’ve Got a Problem
When the SBC is doing the bidding of George Soros we’ve got a problem. This needs a little sunlight on it. No doubt about it. But I tell you, Alan, your thoughtful article I think is the right way to go. This makes people think deeper about the issue, not just an emotional response.
Obviously, as Christians we want to help those in need and our heart breaks for some of the things that are happening around the country. But to not think through this and be intellectual about it, and reason about it, and really study God’s Word and what He says about it, and the proper role of government, is foolish.
So, it’s very important for us to do this and I appreciate what you’ve added to the conversation here and encourage people to read your series there, CapstoneReport.com.
We”ll have links at WallBuildersLive.com to make it easy for folks to get there. But I appreciate you taking time to come and share with us. Keep up the good work.
Thanks so much for your time and your interest in the topic, I appreciate it.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that has no place in the public square, and that it is incompatible with government.
The Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite. They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government. For example, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”
And signer of the declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed, “Without religion there can be no virtue and without virtue there can be no liberty and liberty is the object and life of all Republican governments.” The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people. And that public morality was produced by the Christian religion. For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion in public life go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live. Thanks to Alan Atchison for joining us today. And we’ll have links to his articles so you can study more.
But David, Tim, this is what appears to me to be well reasoned arguments. And actually, thinking this through and not looking at it just as an emotional response, but actually saying, “What’s the proper role of government here, what”s the proper role of individuals.”
It’s just like if a legislator– somebody brings a bill or testimony committee and it’s a heart wrenching story. What a lot of legislators will do is they’ll say, “Oh, well let’s go solve the problem. What kind of law can I pass?” Instead of saying, “Do I have authority to solve this problem? Is this within my jurisdiction?” That’s the attitude it seems like Alan’s taken with his article, saying, “Let’s check the jurisdiction of who’s supposed to do what.”
And in addition to pointing out that there is a jurisdictional distinction between what the church should do, and what individuals should do, what government should do, there’s another thing that goes here. And it goes back to the verses talking about Leviticus 19:34 with the stranger. The word “stranger” in Hebrew there is the word that in English means “proselyte”. And a proselyte is someone who wants to convert to.
So, when it says that the stranger with you is going to be as one born among you, that’s saying the “proselyte” that’s with you. A proselyte is someone who wants to convert you– so, what is said is if someone comes to you and says, “I want to become a Jew”, then when they become a Jew they get the same rights as all of the other Jewish citizens. It didn’t say everybody that came in. He said those that are proselytes and want to convert.
And you mentioned the passage Ruth 1:16, but the context of it is, Naomi is a natural born citizen of Israel. Ruth is a citizen of Moab. She’s not a Jewish citizen. She says “I want to become a Jewish citizen”. And so what does she say to Naomi? “I will go where you go, I’ll be what you are. Everywhere you go, don’t ask me to depart from here. I want to assimilate 100 percent and be a total Jew.
Now, that’s what the word “stranger” means that Russell Moore doesn’t get. See, he’s taking in Syrian immigrants that believe in Sharia Law. No, no, no, they’re not wanting to assimilate, they’re not wanting to say, “Where you go I’ll go. Your God will be my God. And your ways will be my ways and your Constitution will be my Constitution.”
See, when you take in someone who has an adverse and an opposite viewpoint, they’re not asking to proselytize. And that’s where Jeremiah, when he told the people going to Babylon, he said, “You seek the good of the nation were God’s putting you. Wherever you go, you assimilate in and you become part of that nation.”
Does Heaven Have Open Borders?
Think about Philippians 3:20. Philippine’s 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Do you think heaven has open borders. Do you think anybody that shows up in heaven gets to come in just because?
Unfortunately there are many Christians that do think heaven has open borders.
Remember the parable in Matthew 22:13 where the guy showed up and said, “I’m here for the marriage feast.” And the Lord looked at him and said, “You’re not dressed right. You don”t have the right garments on.”
Yeah, you didn”t make the cut.
You”re in outer darkness.
Yeah, let”s throw this guy out of here.
And, see, to get to heaven you have to renounce your old way of life, you have to pledge allegiance to the new way of life, you have to conform to the laws of Heaven and then you can be a citizen.
And on top of it, Jesus says in John 14:6, He makes this claim of exclusivity that, “No man comes to the Father except through Me.” So apart from Jesus, you don’t get to the Father, you don’t get to heaven. And so it’s not an open border concept.
But even– I think there’s a level of intellectual dishonesty when someone says there should be open borders. Because the same people that say there should be open borders are the same people that believe you should be able to lock your house at night. So you don’t think anybody should be able to come in, and go out, and leave, and go.
And even if we talked about groups of individuals that have been caught by police because of crimes they”ve committed like MS-13. So, MS-13, the largest gang from down south, sending members up, infiltrating. Do you think we should just have open borders and let any of the drug cartel, any of the MS-13 members come and just have free reign in America? Would that be appropriate? Well, no, of course not. That would be wrong. We are being intellectually dishonest when we pretend like we want open borders and yet we don’t want bad people in the nation. Well, the way you prevent bad people from coming in the nation is you don’t have open borders, right?
The Role of Government
That’s what the Bible teaches. And those that try to make Leviticus 19 into an open borders verse do not know the rest of the Bible. They have taken a verse out of context, they’ve ignored all the words that go– they”re just wrong theologically.
Especially when the role of government is to bring justice and security for the people. Government cannot do its job of bringing justice and security if there is no concept of right and wrong, if there is no concept of borders, of there is no concept of security, government is not doing what God created government to do.
Immigration, What Does The Bible Really Say About It?
Which, of course, is part of what Alan points out and part of what he explains in the article. Which is just a great article. If you haven’t read it, go to the website today, read the article. It really explains this well.
Thanks for listening today, folks. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.