RE: The Credentialed Signatories of American Evangelicalism who intimate a Scriptural and Spiritual Imprimatur for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (see http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/)
Weaving through the Web to acquire factual information for many writing projects, I often get sidetracked onto articles and essays which, although worthy of interest, waylay the priorities of my time. This article reflects one of these occasions, to which I will, no doubt, be kicking myself tomorrow.
One comes across an inordinate number of ethical and sociopolitical advocacies by purported Christians, proud of their own voice, while displaying third rate Scriptural interpretation and reason. I often wish that the Internet had not been invented and thereby not give such free agency for such to utter their babblings in the name of Christ.
I am not timid in expressing economic, social and political analysis in this web site. And Scriptures deeply and insidiously influence my thinking. However, the underlying motivations conform to two of the few New Testament adages, which might bear any relationship with sociopolitical issues. One seeks to extend individual liberty of conscience in the social realm to the fullest extent that the virtue of a contemporary populace can bear (Romans 14). The other is a sociopolitical implementation of the frequently enjoined Scriptural admonishment to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy (Hebrews 12:14). If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). If I raise a concern about economic inequalities and their ensuing social, political and legal inequalities or with philosophical sectarianism, it is in the context of their relation with social piece and individual liberty.
So, I do not have problem with people voicing opinions, regardless of competence. The Internet might prove a worthwhile vehicle to induce iron sharpens iron precision and clarity to its participants’ arguments. What I do take umbrage with, is the SPIRITUAL IMPRIMATUR that some Christian adherents arrogate to their views.
I have seen Christ conscripted into the cause of capitalism and socialism; although I find that those advocates seem clueless about the respective economic philosophies, let alone their own theology. There is a distinction between free markets and capitalism. And a voluntary surrender of one’s goods and property with a community of one’s choice (Acts 204) differs from the coercive ideologies of socialism and communism.
One of the earliest uses of Scriptural imprimatur in my life came from adversaries of mixed racial marriages. As is so common from such advocates, the unity of the mind of God is ripped into little selective proof texts. The banner of Be you not unequally yoked together was waved in my face; until it was realized and pointed out that a couple of words were missing from that adage.
Therefore, I cannot help but feel like punching through church walls when I encounter such rubbish as the suggestion of a Biblical sanction for some American Comprehensive Immigration Reform policy or bill. It astonishes that church leaders, denominations and umbrella organizations even have Statements of Principles with its who’s who of signatories from many Evangelical denominations. Or that advocates, more interested in the things of this world than in things of God would dare to embellish their advocacies with Scriptural verses, located by a Google search without a coherent depth of understanding of Scriptures, theology or the complicated trade-offs required in sociopolitical policy.
From this article comes this little gem
I believe that the primary reason that most have spoken out is not, as Mr. Tooley hints, an embrace of sentimental, liberal theology, but rather an orthodox commitment to the authority of Scripture.
To correct this biblical blind spot, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge, providing a bookmark that lists 40 Scripture passages that relate in one way or another to the topic of immigration, which we are encouraging people to read, one passage per day.
In this, the author of the article and the umbrella organization, which he cites, tosses tinsels of Scriptural proof texts to embellish their sociopolitical cause and impress the gullible and clueless.
Are these people serious and sane?
I do not desire to perform exegesis on the flak of Scriptures being offered. There are greater principles involved than discoursing on the minutiae of immigration policy.
And the source of my complaint stems not from any given position on the matter. My overall position on the matter, if it mattered, would be probably one of being in favour of a one-time amnesty program, but with grave misgivings. But these arguments are rational and nuanced. It is certainly not a clear-cut moral issue. Indeed, those who oppose naturalization of illegal immigrants have a better hold of justice on their side.
The issue and the only issue of this dissertation is the perverse abuse of Christ and Scriptures to give spiritual imprimatur to a temporal concern. It requires a hermeneutical contortionism, which betrays the competence or integrity of those credentialed signatories who wasted serious time and money on their theological training. It exposes the worldliness of modern Evangelical theologians, who scurry around like Constantinian bishops, self-deluded by the ostentatious flattery of secular authority of the importance of their influence. It helps explain why the person on the Evangelical pew is Biblically, theologically and ethically ignorant, while its leaders expend their time on needle point points of legislative policy. It causes unnecessary alienation from the Gospel of people with different views on this tertiary social matter, when the Magisterium of God is being invoked. It brings considerable and long-term dishonour to the cause of Christ if this scripturally unsupported policy goes south. The corruption of the theological elite is a tell-tale sign that the salt of American Evangelicalism has lost its savour. “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)