Rome is Burning, Part 2

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Last August, Dan at WithChrist.org remarked: "Mexico has suffered for centuries from spiritual darkness, corruption, crime, and poverty--the social fruits of Catholicism." (August 14, 2005)

Catholic leaders are noticeably among the most vocal religious opponents of U.S. immigration reform. After all, aren't the majority of the illegal aliens Catholics themselves? But this familial comparison is rather deceptive. The Catholicism of Latin America is simply not the same thing as the Catholicism encountered in Europe and the U.S. It is often a Catholicism blended with native pagan superstitions and practices (e.g. Santería). William E. Cashion II describes the typical experience of the missionary in Latin America:

Most evangelical missionaries have gone to Latin countries prepared to witness to the vast host of nominal Christians within the Roman Catholic Church or to the secular-minded that inhabit the major cities....The missionary then arrives on the field believing that he is somewhat prepared to proclaim the gospel in the new culture. Soon it becomes clear that something was overlooked during orientation. The missionary comes into contact with what seems to be an unknown religion. True, the majority of the people say that they are Catholic.

...Even in the United States, especially in those areas that are home to large hispanic populations, it is common to observe these unusual practices among the Catholic "faithful." Those who serve as evangelical missionaries among Roman Catholic communities wonder if they have not encountered a yet unnamed world religion.
In February, Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles attracted controversy after saying he would encourage his priests to ignore any tough new immigration laws when providing aid to illegal aliens. His bluff was a publicity stunt, but a successful one nonetheless. Mahony and the Catholic Church know full well that restrictive immigration legislation is unlikely to ever pass, considering the Bush administration's rigid position on the issue, plus the fact that millions of working-class Catholic immigrants represent a potentially huge Democratic voting bloc.

Double Standard

Actually, the underlying lesson here is that the humanist elite can freely exercise a double standard when it comes to breaking the law, all the while portraying patriotic Americans and especially those intolerant fundamentalist Christians as the true enemies of the Constitution.

Mahony is, of course, only one of many to exploit issues of poverty for political capital and certainly not the last to sprinkle on Biblical references for good measure. In March, New York Senator Hillary Clinton was widely quoted condemning the now-defunct Congressional bill (H.R. 4437) designed to curb illegal immigration:
It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures. This bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.
These remarks reflect a growing trend by the elite: using the Bible to silence critics. Political grandstanding aside, many in the U.S. realize that amnesty for illegal immigrants is not about helping the poor, but creating a subclass of Americans for the international corporations. It's a modernized version of indentured servitude that will depress the wages of legal Americans. So, really, it's about helping the rich. President Bush recently told CNN Español that the illegal immigrants are "doing jobs Americans won't do." In this day and age, that kind of political transparency is surprising.

Yet another parallel: historian Peter Heather, in his new book Fall of the Roman Empire, contends that the Roman economy was still going strong in the century leading up to its final demise.

Furthermore, the U.S. government's southern counterpart is hardly a passive observer. Mexico does not hide its desire to shed itself of undesirables and reap the economic benefits. The romanticized media view is one where illegal immigrants are entirely comprised of hard-working individuals and families who've been handed a bad break in life. But that's not the whole story. Some illegal aliens are not only trying to find a better life, they're trying to escape the law — and succeeding. Some estimate that 1 out of every 10 illegal aliens is a criminal/fugitive. Included among that number are various sexual predators and gang members, not to mention possible terrorists.

Globalization

"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there....They said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'" (Genesis 11:1-4)

Globalization has always been about the glory of man, going all the way back to the days of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel in Genesis Chapter 11. And although God did scatter the people and break their common language, mankind has found itself, thousands of years later, in a position to put it all back together again. And man, in all his pride and vanity, could not be more delighted.

The New International Order (a term used often by Alan Keyes, among others) currently faces two major roadblocks. One is the Muslim world in the Middle East. The solution, up to this point, has entailed military engagement and threats of engagement, in addition to major pressures applied to Israel. The other roadblock is the strong Judeo-Christian tradition in the U.S. and Britain, especially its persnickety defense of national sovereignty and wariness of global governance.

So far, the solution to that roadblock has been all political but certainly no less belligerent. In July of last year, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was ramrodded through the U.S. House of Representatives at the stroke of midnight with various House rules falling by the wayside. This came 12 years after the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which helped set in motion the events we see happening today.

The global media is doing an excellent job of playing to the emotions of readers and viewers. Not surprisingly, the news coverage on the immigration issue is going for the visceral reaction: wide-angle pictures depicting thousands upon thousands of unified immigration marchers with occasional references to small or nonexistent groups of angry and defensive counter-protesters. There are some telling but brief glimpses of demagoguery which are mostly edited for sound bite consumption.

Images of massive crowds can also evoke a far different meaning. From Nimrod's people and their Tower of Babel to the Israelites and their Golden Calf, massive assemblages of people in the Bible reveal the extent of mankind's spiritual rebellion. Man derives a kind of empowered consciousness when in great numbers. In those instances, he shuts out God. Fallen man's impulse is to seek strength in the unity of mankind rather than in the Lord. So that sinful ears would listen, God scattered His own.

Jim Wallis's Christian humanist organization Sojourners is pleading for "compassionate" immigration reform with their chosen Biblical panacea, Leviticus 19:34:
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:34 is abused almost as much as Matthew 5:39, and it just does not tell the whole story. Their argument ignores the alien's obligations to reject their pagan gods and practices and conform to Israel's social and religious customs:
The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. (Exodus 20:10)
In a sense, this is what the legal process of immigration is designed to accomplish: to demand assimilation and national obligation from immigrants. The real issue is not that U.S. immigration law is broken, but that it isn't being enforced.

What's worse, this common abuse of Leviticus 19:34 by humanist Christians conflates a macro issue with a micro one, with nondispensational aplomb. They confuse government responsibility with personal and private sector responsibility. This is not a surprise since all humanists wish to replace God with government. They play upon themes of Christian service and guilt by disingenuously changing the whole issue from one about immigration (national interest) to one about poverty (personal interest). Humanists make individual responsibilities into government obligations because, in their worldview, a nation does not protect the interests of her people; instead, a nation takes care of her people. Or better yet, a world government takes care of all people.

Lastly, the humanist misapplication of Leviticus 19:34 conveniently implies some kind of unbroken connection between the theocracy of ancient Israel and the Church Age that we live in today — even though "theocracy" is normally a verboten concept for the humanist.

It is also interesting when humanist Christians treat one Biblical passage as an open-and-shut case but not others, like this one, just one chapter earlier in Leviticus: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (KJV)

The Social(ist) Gospel

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3, KJV)

Heaven in the Bible is not a commune. It is a place where people have personal identities and personal property. On Earth, God raised up a nation (Israel) and gave it a home. A sense of national identification is part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Families and nations are part of God's will; only sin has introduced suspicion and strife.

Many leaders in the mainline and emerging churches would like us to think that Jesus espouses socialist values. But the meek inheriting the earth in Matthew 5:5 is not referring to some kind of proletarian revolution or "Robin Hood" scenario, i.e. stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Rather, it refers to the true followers of Christ: strangers in this world but inheritors of the Millennial Kingdom.

Not Just an American Problem

The immigration issue in Europe is just as big as (if not bigger than) it is in the United States. The riots in France last fall focused world attention on the worsening tensions between disenfranchised Arab and African immigrants and the government there. Some U.S. officials now see Europe as a threat for Islamic terrorism on par with Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East. After the July 7 London Underground bombings, one poll discovered that 1 out of 4 British Muslims sympathized with the terrorists' motives. It's about an invasion of values, not just people, much as it was in Rome 1,600 years ago.

Back in the U.S., there are reasonable solutions to illegal immigration (which is only a problem on its southern border). Syndicated columnist Victor Davis Hanson writes:
We should allow those illegal immigrants who have been living and working here for at least five years to start their citizenship process. But we should insist this be a one-time exemption rather than yet another periodic amnesty that encourages others to break the law and unfairly cut ahead in the immigration line. ("Assimilation Is the Real Debate," April 3, 2006)
On his radio show, Albert Mohler referred to this type of solution as "this much and no more." The only problem is, the elite aren't listening. They're too busy fiddling.

Further reading:

"Barbarian Invasions" (June 8, 2005) by Timothy Birdnow at The American Thinker

"A Biblical View of Illegal Immigration" (February 6, 2006) by Ron Gleason at Christianity: Doctrines and Ethics

3 comments:

Kristen said... on 4/13/2006 11:18 AM  

Wow--thanks for presenting a different perspective for me. I hadn't quite thought about it like this.

Buttercup said... on 7/31/2009 11:50 PM  

I've been reading through your blog, agreeing with some, disagreeing with some. But I am moved to comment here as this post strikes me as very unkind, for want of a better word.

You say amnesty would create a subclass of Americans for the international corporations--true enough, perhaps, but are these same people not currently a subclass of illegals, all the more easily exploited due to their lack of legal status? Giving them legal status will provide some protection, while perhaps not changing their role in society--but it's an improvement, at least for the individuals involved, and that, to me, is worth something.

It seems to me that you forget that God and Jesus love all people, even the ones you seem to dislike for various reasons--palestinians, muslims, catholics, humanists, etc., the list is rather long when you stop to look at it. God even loves the "scary people" in this post, the criminals, fugitives, sexual predators, gang members, and possible terrorists. Does he love them less than you and me? I don't think so.

In a previous post you quoted a verse that has always given me hope, 1 Cor. 13:12, now we see through a glass darkly/poor reflection depending on version, then we shall know fully, even as I am fully known. But I think you should also consider the rest of the chapter, starting with "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." "if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." "love is kind."

Your previous post re: loneliness was quite timely for me (albeit several years after you posted it!), but I would also add that you should not forget that you are loved, both by God and by friends.

Can I learn a lot from you and your well-studied writing? Absolutely, and I have, and I appreciate it. But I would hope that you would also consider my comments, and bring a little of God's joy and love (two of the fruits of the Spirit) into your life.

This might be apocryphal, but I read that when asked to criticize undesirable persons or groups, Mr. Rogers (who was a Presbyterian minister) would instead tell them that God loves them, just as they are. If our goal is to win people for Christ, showing them God's love is more likely to work than criticism, no matter how well thought out. Again, just my opinion.

Take care, love you :)

p.s. the most recent anon comment was me too, before I realized I should type in a name...

Editor said... on 8/16/2009 3:47 PM  

Good points, and thank you for the comments. I'll do my best to address them.

We agree that God loves all. To continue, "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5; emphasis mine) The second part is important, that God loved us when we were sinners. So what is sin, then? Is it merely being obnoxious, a murderer, something vile? Or could it be something more pleasing to our eyes? Sin is the state of separation from God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags to Him. Even the best humans parents are evil in comparison to Him.

The question is, do we love God? Do we even have that capacity? Not in a fallen state. We recognize love as what gives a sense of self-gratification, but what about sacrificial love (agape), love that requires us to go beyond what we think makes us happy? Yes, it's by God's grace that we are saved from that state of separation, and not through works, lest anyone boast. But faith without evidence of such regeneration is dead. (James 2:17) Our response to the Cross is important. Otherwise, what is the point, really? If anyone can have access to the Father without Christ, what does it mean when Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me"? (John 14:6)

To me, it's not enough to leave people as prisoners to worldly categorization. Should we not have compassion for the individual struggling with homosexuality who is not satisfied with "that's the way it is?" Should we not have compassion for people born into societies that restrict basic human freedoms, much less intellectual and religious ones? Should not Christians be able to rightly divide the Bible so that they may be able to see truth from error? To be a reputable witness for Christ is one of the most difficult responsibilities for Christians, because God's Word is foolishness to most. Christians stand apart, not only from the extremes, but from the "nice people" living in the suburbs. God's Word strikes at our core human views — that we are capable of making our own bliss, that we are autonomous, and that somehow if it weren't for restrictions from society or God, we would be happy. I find that history refutes that. We create our own catastrophes. I don't see the world progressing, but instead moving from darkness to light to darkness to light, back to darkness.

Illegal immigration. So government is not perfect. The rule of law is not perfect. Legitimizing what is illegitimately gained, to me, does not seem compassionate or loving. To those who are attempting to or have gained citizenship through the proper channels, it says that that slip of paper they receive is worthless. That breaking the law or bending the rules is the way to achieve what you want, when you want it. That authority in and of itself is illegitimate and should have no barrier to personal happiness. While the Bible allows that unfairness is the nature of the world, I don't believe Christians should condone the propagation of such.

Would tearing apart families, taking people away from their jobs, etc. be unkind? It would be worse than unkind. Two wrongs aren't going to make a right. I'm not suggesting changing what has already happened. Only suggesting that what should have been enforced before be enforced now, and to recognize, with clarity and repentance, that damage has been done. America has always been welcoming to immigrants, with or without specific rules in its history. I hope that continues. But I don't believe the current illegal immigration was allowed to run amok out of misguided compassion but rather exploitation and expediency.

It's a complicated issue, so I appreciate your perspective. And I take the verses you repeat here to heart; I cannot argue with them.

 

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