First of all, this is not an endorsement or condemnation of Donald Trump or the U.S. government’s immigration policies in general. This article is simply addressing biblical interpretation errors and other fallacies in a Washington Post article written by a Yale Divinity School professor which takes issue with Franklin Graham’s insistence that immigration is not a Bible issue. Here is the article:
This is not the first article I have read this week on this subject. All of them have a common theme: Christians should let anyone immigrate to the United States because of how “strangers” are treated in the Bible. Here’s my take:
- The U.S. is not ancient Israel. This comparison needs to end. But if you want a comparison, how about this: Israel conquered the land by force. And they used force then and uses force now to protect it. Shouldn’t we? (Just having some fun with this to make a point.)
- At issue is legal vs. illegal immigration, which is up to the government of the nation in question, which is likely why Franklin Graham responded as he did.
- Pharaoh oppressing the Israelites is not the same as Donald Trump wanting to control immigration into the U.S. (See point 2 above) Stop the comparison. Please, just stop.
- Ruth legally became a resident and then a citizen and abided by the laws of Israel, which is why she was welcomed as she was. Isn’t this what we want? People lawfully entering the country and lawfully becoming citizens? I’m not saying that immigration laws couldn’t be improved, but we still should abide by the ones we have.
- The author writes, “Israel leaves Egypt as refugees, and encounters nations that, out of fear or sheer intransigence, do not want to let them pass, forcing them through the harsh wilderness.” Now I don’t care that this guy is a professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale. This is blatantly wrong. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness because of their disobedience for not wanting to conquer the land immediately. (Joshua 5:6)
- Citing commands concerning the “stranger” given to Israel in Leviticus and Deuteronomy doesn’t mean that applies to Christians today. If everything in Leviticus and the rest of the Law applies to Christians, then we better stop wearing clothing made with mixed materials and start stoning rebellious children in accordance with the Law of Moses. (I don’t advise either of these. Please don’t call Child Services.)
- The U.S. is not exactly a “Christian” nation. Nothing in our founding documents establishes Christianity or the Bible as our rule of law. Certainly Christianity and the Bible had an influence (and hopefully still does), but nothing compels our nation to act in accordance with those principles unless it is codified in our laws.
- Biblically, shouldn’t the government be more concerned with the peace and protection of citizens than upon welcoming the stranger?? (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Acts 25:11)
So there are two major problems with this author’s (and others’) reasoning. First, the selective choice of passages to support his position, while ignoring anything to the contrary. Second, confusion of the roles of different entities: government, church, Israel, family, individual. Oh, and I guess there’s a third, bonus problem: Choosing a professor of Hebrew Bible from Yale to write the article, who doesn’t even know why Israel wandered in the wilderness!