Monday, January 20, 2014

Some Reasons I Became a Paedobaptist

Many factors, biblical and experiential, have been a part of our shift as a family toward Presbyterianism.  My understanding of the church and the nature of the covenant changed as I tilled the soil of Romans 11, I Corinthians 10, Hebrews 6, and Hebrews 10.  But I was most persuaded by the fact that God is remaking the creation.  An important element of that re-creation is the remaking of the family.  Below is an argument in the form of an outline as I trace some of my thinking on the question of baptism and covenant. 

I.  The Purpose of Man and Significance of the Family in Creation
Attempting to understand baptism should rightly begin with God’s will and purpose for man in creation.  So what is God’s will for man, the pinnacle of His creation?  D. James Kennedy writes, "God's answer to the question of human purpose and meaning centers around two great mandates He has given us in His Word. A mandate, of course, is a directive or command that points us in a specific direction." Those two mandates are the Cultural Mandate, given at the creation of man, and the Great Commission, given with the creation of the new man.

The first of God's two mandates - the Cultural Mandate - is found in Genesis 1:26-28:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

To "'be fruitful and multiply,' means to develop the social order: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. 'Subdue the earth,' means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage commands man to create cultures and build civilizations.

Here we see God conferring upon man the role of vice-regent, ruling and reigning with God, bringing the world under His dominion. Man’s task in accordance with God’s command and our own nature, having been created in His image, is to exercise dominion and develop culture. As a "federal head" Adam did not merely act on his own behalf, but as a representative for all of mankind. The command to Adam, which is stated again in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9) is still in force today. To quote Kennedy again, "As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors - in short, over every aspect and intrusion of human society."

However, man does not exercise dominion and authority solely or even largely as an individual, but primarily through covenantal and corporate structures.  God creates man in His image.  God is Trinitarian.  Though He is One God, He reveals Himself in three distinct persons.  Because humanity is created in the Imago Dei, man is both one and many; unity and diversity; individual and community.  The exercise of dominion is unmistakably a family enterprise and thus the institution and structure of the family as a governing authority is central to the outworking of God’s Kingdom in history.  This is confirmed in the New Testament through, to take one example, the numerous instances of “household codes” in which husbands, wives and children are told how to live in the home—establishing authority structures, duties, and blessings within the covenant family.  Likewise, the family has been given stewardship over children, authority over property and inheritance, and control over education. The family is also the institution preeminently responsible for social welfare. Paul says that the failure to care for our own marks us as "worse than an unbeliever" (I Tim. 5:8) and James says that "pure and undefiled religion…is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble" (James 1:27).  God created the family as the primary source of earthly government.

II.  The Consequences of Sin for the Family and the Need for Grace

Yet that which was created good to magnify the glory of God became corrupted and broken as a result of Adam’s fall whereby sin was imputed to all humanity, perverting the God-given desire to exercise authority in God’s name and replacing it with a desire to become God ourselves.

One consequence of the fall is that the curse distorts and disfigures families as families.  Sin disrupts the relation of God-to-man but also man-to-man in families.  That the curse includes barrenness (symbolized by thorns and thistles and pain in childbirth) and quickly produces a fraternal murder is evidence of the consequences of sin within the family.   The theme of barrenness is picked up repeatedly in Scripture (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, etc.), yet in each case God graciously opens the wombs of these women.  (The Bible also paints a portrait of death and resurrection related childbirth—see Rom. 4:18-25). 

Thus we see in this and countless other ways the need for grace and God’s generosity in giving it to His people.  Christ’s representative and vicarious death was necessary to restore and renew the image of God to allow redeemed men to bring the creation into submission to God. It is only in Christ, through the power of the Holy Sprit, that man can fulfill his original mandate.  This ties together the Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission.  The former is dependent upon the latter.  The impartation of grace was necessary to renew and restore what was lost in the garden, including the restoration of families to their proper role in God’s order.  Therefore, it is significant that God’s covenant administration—His grace in condescending to be a God to a chosen people-- throughout the Bible has a specifically family orientation. 

III. Old Testament Administrations of the Covenant of Grace Included Children

One factor that points to the unity of the various covenantal adminstrations is the genealogical principle, wherein scripture portrays a God entering into covenant with a federal head and also his children.  When God determined to relate to a people covneantally, his arrangement was genealogical.  It is manifested in the “seed” concept.

A.  In the Noahic covenant
Gen. 9:8-9--Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you.

B.  In the Abrahamic covenant:
Gen. 15:8:
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

Genesis 17:7-8:
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

C.  God worked through Isaac and his descendants:
Gen. 26:
24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiplycyour offspring for my servant Abraham's sake.”

D.  God worked through Jacob and his descendants:
Gen. 28:13-14
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give  to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the  south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

E.  In the Mosaic covenant:
Exodus 20:5-6
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a    jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
           
A dramatic expression of this is conveyed in renewal of the covenant in  Deuteronomy 5:2-3:
The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

The majority Israelites standing on the plains of Moab during this renewal of the covenant were not even born when God covenanted with His people at Sinai.  But Moses here says that they were present there.  There is solidarity with their forefathers because of genealogical continuity. 

F.  In the Davidic covenant:
2 Samuel 22:51:
51 Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.”

Psalm 89:3-4:
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
  I have sworn to David my servant:
I will establish your offspring forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’”

IV.  New Covenant Promises in the OT Include Children and Offspring
Because the various covenant administrations also included the children of the covenanted party, it seems that there should have been decisive new covenant break to abrogate the principle of “to you and your seed” if children were not longer in the covenant. 

But, to the contrary, the new covenant promises contained in the Old Testament continue to use the same language.

A.  Deut. 30:5:
And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers   possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all      your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.

B.  Jer 31:34-38
And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother,    saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and  their sin I will remember no more." 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun     for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36  "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, " Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever. " 37  Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured, And the     foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD. 38 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.

C.  Jeremiah 32:38-40
38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the        fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.

D.  Isaiah 59:21
21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that  is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of  your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

E.  Ezekiel 37:24-26
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one    shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived.   They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

F.  PS. 103:17-18
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
 the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
                and his righteousness with their children’s children
            18 with those who keep his covenant
             and remember to obey his precepts.

The Old Testament concludes with a prophecy pointing to the restoration of the family bond. 

G.  Malachi 4:5-6
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of    the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Rather than abrogation of the genealogical principle, we see it confirmed and fulfilled in the NT beginning with the ministry of John the Baptist. 

V.  Evidence That the Preceding Pattern is Assumed and Confirmed by Jesus and the Apostles

A.  Jesus expressly includes children in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:14:
14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Mark 10:14
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:15-17
15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

To argue as some do that Jesus was merely teaching the disciples that a “child-like faith” is necessary ignores the fact that there were parents bringing their children to Jesus and seeking assurance that He would bring them into His kingdom.  Though some may object that water and baptism are not in these passages, children are, as is their relationship to Christ.   They were seeking a blessing—surely a sign of covenantal significance.

B.   Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost
Given this heritage and context and the nature of prior covenant administrations, as well as the actions of Christ noted above, consider how Peter addresses a gathering of Jewish men in the first New Covenant sermon.  Peter instructs them (as converts) to repent and be baptized.  He then assures them that the promise is for “you and your children” as well as those “far off.”  The accent is not on discontinuity, but continuity and expansion. 

Peter's listeners at his Pentecost sermon in Jerusalem were Jews at the tail end of roughly 2,000 years of being taught that their children were heirs of the promise of salvation represented by the sign and seal of circumcision of their infant sons (Genesis 17:7; Acts 3:25-26; 13:32-33).  Yet not only in Acts 2 but throughout the New Testament, there is no record of an outcry against the supposed exclusion of their children from the covenant.  Rather, Peter simply says that the promise is for his hearers and their children.

C.  Evidence From the Epistles
Given the preceding, it is not surprising that baptism is administered to households ("the families of the earth," Acts 3:25).

Every person named in the New Testament baptism narratives had their household baptized, if the individual had a household. (i.e, it is not reasonable to expect the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul, and Simon the Sorcerer to have had a familial household.)

Of the nine individuals named in the baptism narratives, one likely did not have a family (Sorcerers are not generally considered family men), two had no household for obvious reasons (eunuch, Saul ), and five had their households baptized.  That leaves Gaius (1Co 1:14) who is mentioned as a household head along with Crispus. Crispus' household was baptized with him (Acts 18:8)

Finally, when Paul gives in instructions to the “saints”, those called out who belong to God, he includes children (Colossians 3:20; Eph. 6:1).   Children are to be instructed and discipled which implies that they have been baptized (Matt. 28: 18-20) 

Does the Nature of Family and Children Change in the New Covenant

As mentioned above, one feature of the New Covenant is the restoration of the parent/child relationship, the fulfillment of the promises of Malachi 4: “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17).  

Instructions to fathers in the New Covenant are to bring our children “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  Children are learners—they are disciples.  Baptist appeals to clear instances of adult conversion baptism imply that there is no real distinction between Christian nurture and evangelism.  But do the scriptures assume that the children of believers are mere pagans and that a Christian home is necessarily divided by the very presence of children?  How shall I, as a father, simultaneously nurture my sons in the Lord while treating them as unbelieving pagans?  Can a house divided against itself stand?  Is not the task of Christian parents to teach their children “all that Christ commanded?”

Though it is an argument from silence, the occurrence of a sizable number of household baptisms seems an expression of this same covenantal reality.  As the gospel expands into Gentile contexts, it does so by household (Cornelius, Lydia, Philippian jailer, Stephanus and household, etc.)   Turning to Jesus is not merely an act of individuals, though it is that, but also of families.  The grace of Christ does not merely restore and renew individuals, but families.  Indeed marriage and biological procreation further the Kingdom of God and Christian marriage is in part to serve as an instrument for the propagation of the Kingdom via the birth and nurture of godly descendants (Mal. 2:15) .  

This raises the question of what the New Testament says about children.  Does not Jesus expressly and explicitly include children in the Kingdom of God?  Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mt. 19:14; Mark 10:14).  Luke says that some of those brought to Jesus were infants: “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  To argue as some do that Jesus was merely teaching the disciples that a “child-like faith” is necessary ignores the fact that there were parents bringing their children to Jesus and seeking assurance that He would bring them into His kingdom.  Though some may object that water and baptism are not in these passages children are, as is their relationship to Christ.

The New Testament likewise recognizes that the children of believers are holy.  Paul writes that the children of at least one believing parent are hagia (1 Cor 7:14), which seems a clear reference to being in covenant with God or, in New Testament terms, saints.   In short, the children of believers have a status different from pagan unbelievers.  They are covenantally clean and able to approach God and should not denied the sign of the covenant. 

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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Myopia of Christian Conservatives

On his Facebook page today, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posted this comment regarding the surge in violence against Christians in the Middle East: “Britain's Labour Party to take up issue of persecuted Christians. Will Republicans & Democrats in the US do the same?  Dr. Mohler also addressed the issue of Christian persecution in his December 18th version of “The Briefing”. 

Mohler’s analysis followed on the heels of a spate of news reports indicating that Christian communities have been all but destroyed in the region.  Once nearly one-fifth of Middle Easterners were Christian.  Today, that number is less than 5%.  In Iraq, a once thriving Christian community that numbered over one million during Saddam Hussein’s regime has shrunk to less than 200,000. 

The statistics in Syria are likewise sobering.  In the midst of raging civil war various factions of the American-backed “Free Syrian Army”, receiving vast amounts of Western aid under the guise of supporting supposed “moderates,” have been implicated in attacks on Christians.  Last week in the town of Sadad, 1,500 families were used as human shields by rebel forces.  It is estimated that 500,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Syria.

The chaos enveloping the Middle East was entirely predictable.  I was writing about it back in 2004.  The authoritarian regimes of the old era—Hussein, Asaad, Mubarak, etc.—while not governed by men of great charm did protect Christian populations in their respective nations.  The health of the state was necessary because Christians never organized themselves along tribal lines in these regions.  As a result, they forfeited the protection that comes with such a structure and became dependent on a functioning and healthy state.  (That was, of course, a mistake, but that’s another conversation. )

The problem is that American foreign policy since the early Bush administration has been centered around the propagation of democratism—the ideological imposition of “democracy” at the point of a bayonet.  As such, it was designed to destabilize the states of the region and replace the existing regimes with "democrats", as though Massachusetts town meetings would germinate and sprout along the Tigris.  The crazed ideological zealotry of the Neo-Conservatives was best stated by George W. "Robespierre" Bush himself:
 
“I believe democracy can take hold in parts of the world that have been condemned to tyranny. And I believe when democracies take hold, it leads to peace. That's been the proven example around the world. Democracies equal peace.”

"It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

"With the power and resources given to us, the United States seeks to bring peace where there is conflict, hope where there is suffering, and liberty where there is tyranny."

Ultimately the "Arab Spring" merely accomplished the destabilizing of existing regime, either producing civil war or more clearly defined Islamic states.  The protection of Christian minorities was an afterthought as the globalists in the Imperial City gladly offered up human sacrifices on the altar of democratism.

But my primary concern here is the fact that it was conservative Christians who provided the popular political anchor for the Bush (and now Obama) policy.  This includes Christian leaders such as, you guessed it, Albert Mohler.  In his commentary on the Iraqi election in 2005, Dr. Mohler assured readers that “freedom” was on the march. Mohler wrote that, “while the pessimists in Western nations may be embarrassed by their empty predictions of a failed election, the response in other Arab capitals should be far more dramatic. The autocratic despots of the Arab world must surely see this election as a sign that time is running out. Once freedom is set loose in the Middle East, it will not stop at the borders of Iraq. It will eventually make its way across the Middle East, the gulf states, and North Africa.” Mohler goes on to say, “Iraq did feel the force of freedom on Sunday--and that force was felt not only by freedom's friends, but its enemies as well. That noise you hear is the sound of autocrats shuddering.”

Actually, that sound in the distance was not the shuddering of autocrats nor the faint cry of freedom, democracy, and constitutionalism slouching forth to be birthed in Baghdad. On the contrary, it was  screeching and sputtering nonsense emanating not merely from American pulpits but practically every orifice of the American body politic. The elite media were virtually unanimous in their full-throated acclaim for that episode in civilization building along the Mesopotamia. Such myopia was not merely an affliction of the Christian political community but also the political left.

As Dr. Mohler predicted, the revolution unleashed in Iraq has indeed made "its way across the Middle East, the gulf states, and North Africa" with the result being dead and displaced Christians.  We are reaping the the whirlwind of a war predicated upon a deception--that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical weapons.  It lacked a clear mandate from the Congress.  It created chaos in Iraq that led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.  That chaos ultimately has spread throughout the region and continues to imperil our brethren.  Who is to blame?  The GOP, George W. Bush, and conservative Christians. 



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Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Free Trade Ideology

The late Samuel T. Francis, a former congressional staffer, columnist, and essayist de jour, once lamented that, “We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party.  Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.”

Pat Buchanan likewise noted the fraud of our “two party system” when he said, “On foreign and trade policy, open borders and centralized power, our Beltway parties have become identical twins.”

Real wages continue to plummet, the trade deficit skyrockets, and America increasingly takes on the export profile of a Third World banana republic. What do the free traders say? The evangelists of open markets, barking like Pentecostals raise their hands and shout for more. 

Republican Congressman David Drier announced last week that he intends to propose a free trade agreement between the United States and Tunisia.  After all, there is no use waiting to bring the new “democracy” into the globalist superstructure overseen by transnational, deracinated elites.  Meanwhile, trade negotiators from nine countries are looking to build a free-trade bloc spanning the Pacific from North America and Chile to Australia, Singapore, and Brunei. 

As a younger and more naive man, I hoped to one day become an economist.  Over time, I was tempted by the siren song of libertarian thought unconstrained by God’s law and become a methodological individualist.  With this new found sympathy for anarcho-capitalism came a fervent belief in open borders—for goods and people.  The latter delusion was shattered by Peter Brimelow, the former primarily by Patrick Buchanan

While attending graduate school, my thinking began to change.  I was perplexed by the unanimity of economists on the subject of trade, particularly because they disagreed about so many other matters.  Ultimately, it became clear that economists have a very limited analytical tool kit and are often much too impressed by theoretical abstraction and mathematical mumbo jumbo while ignoring trifling concerns—you know, things like history and human nature.

As I drifted into Calvinism and traditional Reformed theology, I rejected many libertarian and individualist assumptions and became a Christian covenentalist. Ultimately, I concluded, free trade is the economic component of the liberal ideology.  At its core, free trade doctrine is a religion fueled by the passions of zealous converts and is based upon the assumption that all things work together for the good of those who eliminate tariffs.

In Day of Reckoning and more thoroughly in The Great Betrayal, Buchanan traced the origins of the free-trade cult to 19th liberal thinkers Richard Cobden and Jean-Baptist Say. It was in the stew of Enlightenment thought that free trade developed into what Rushdoony has called a "god-concept."

In 1846, the year of repeal of the Corn Laws, Cobden rose to defend free trade:

I have been accused of looking too much to material interests...I believe that the physical gain will be the smallest gain to humanity from the success of this principle. I look farther; I see in the Free-Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe, drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace...I believe that the effect will be to change the face of the world, so as to introduce a system of government entirely distinct from that which now prevails. I believe that the desire and the motive for large and mighty empires; for gigantic armies and great navies...will die away; I believe that such things will cease to be necessary, or to be used when man becomes one family, and freely exchanges the fruits of one's labor with his brother man. I believe that...the speculative philosopher of a thousand years hence will date the greatest revolution that ever happened in the world's history from the triumph of the principle which we have met here to advocate.

According to this apostle of free trade, it is commerce, the free and unhindered movement of consumer crap across borders that has the wonder-working power to save man from sin.  Free trade causes men to lay down arms, cast aside envy and greed and embrace one another in the bond of unity, fellowship and brotherhood.

Cobden’s rendering of Luke 18:18-20 might read like this: “A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good -- except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not establish tariffs or prevent the free flow of commerce across borders.'"

In the vision of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, it is the love of self and self-interest that drives all men to an enlightened interest that creates prosperity and the good society. There is some truth here. Indeed, a benevolent creator has ordered the universe in such way as to produce human happiness. Upon this foundation, it is true that there is a natural harmony of interests, exchange is beneficial for both parties, and men are chiefly responsible for self-government, and the governing of family and other spheres within their proximity, rather than being rigidly responsible for the welfare of all men.

Here as elsewhere, however, sin creates divisions among men. Smith’s vision of the "invisible hand" owed much to an assumed understanding of divine providence and he wrote in a cultural context greatly influenced by Puritanism and Calvinism. Great Britain of the 18th century was not yet a thoroughly non-Christian nation nor did her populace consist of modern men for whom “freedom” means drugs, booze, easy sex, and ceaseless entertainment options.

When an abstract concept of freedom reigns unchecked by the restraint of biblical morality grounded in gospel truth and God’s law, all practices from narcotics to unspeakable perversion are subject to no controls other than personal preference and whim. This is the logical outgrowth of an ethical system and worldview grounded on the premises and presuppositions of radical libertarianism.  Free trade ideology is inextricably linked to that system of thought. 

The assumptions of free trade theory are also faulty or at the very least apply to a specific historical context rather than being universal laws.  According to David Ricardo’s principle of comparative advantage if nations specialize in the production of goods where they have some natural advantage and trade for other goods than gains from exchange will improve economic conditions in both countries. Thus Ricardo says all nations can benefit from the principles of specialization, division of labor and free trade.

The problem is that Ricardo’s theory assumes a world where the factors of production are largely immobile or at the very least migrate within individual nation-states.  The theory breaks down in our era because production can readily move to nations with an absolute advantage.

In 19th century Britain, productivity was primarily predicated on factors such as climate and geography, which cannot migrate.  But the collapse of socialism at the end of the 20th century created vast pools of cheap and willing labor. Meanwhile technological advances, beginning with the Industrial Revolution and proceeding apace into the computer age, have either made physical location unimportant or allowed for the easy transfer of capital to nations with low labor costs.

The benefits of free trade in the form of cheap consumer goods are immediate, but the narcotic effect of dependence on other nations will only become visible over time.

"What...the free traders fail to understand or ignore is that the transfer of production abroad is not free trade" writes Buchanan. "Unlike the export of goods, which adds to GDP, the transfer of factories subtracts from U.S. GPD and ads to Asian and Chinese GDP. When factories closed in the North and reopened in the Sun Belt, the North became a Rust Belt. The same happens to a nation when production is transferred overseas."

As the trade deficit balloons and the dollar collapses the wages of Americans are lower than thirty years ago.  Moreover, we are increasingly dependent on foreign goods for the necessities of life, and on foreign banks to pay for them. The chickens are coming home to roost.

The public policy apparatus is controlled by corporate globalists—Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals and libertarians. Their loyalties are international rather than regional, national, or local. They are anti-traditionalist and their one-worldism is the heresy of Babel.

At bottom, Pat Buchanan says, we need a new nationalism with foreign, immigration and trade policies that look to the wisdom of our ancestors and put Americans first.

"Is America on a path to national suicide?" Buchanan thinks that the twilight of America is at hand. "Our day of reckoning is at hand. Time to mind our own business. Time to lay down the burden and come home. Time to put America first."


For too long, we've been bamboozled by ivory tower intellectuals, academics, and walking calculators. Economists can provide very useful analytical tools, but they are blind to how the world works, and to history, which they studiously ignore in favor of quoting the likes of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, as though such two products of the Enlightenment were guided by the Holy Ghost and speaking with the authority of Holy Writ.


Monday, June 27, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part III

Having previously discussed the economic and political implications of mass immigration, particularly of the illegal variety, I’d like to consider in a bit more detail some of the thorny biblical and theological matters surrounding the issue. Here I will interact with Dr. Russell Moore’s biblical and ethical arguments. Because this will likely get a bit lengthy, I intend to write two posts. First, I’ll deal directly with Dr. Moore’s sundry assertions defending the SBC resolution “On Immigration and the Gospel”. In a second post, hopefully later this week, I’ll try to provide a brief outline and sketch of what the Bible says about nationality.

First, let me praise Dr. Moore for explicitly tying the immigration issue and other matters of public policy to Scripture. God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient for all of life and gives us a worldview grid to thoughtfully examine the issues of the day. Unfortunately, misinterpretations and poor applications of Scripture combined with faulty logical assumptions flaw his overall analysis.

The Jesus Was an Illegal Immigrant Fallacy, or There is No Such Thing as Illegal Immigration

Dr. Moore repeatedly claims that Jesus was an illegal or undocumented immigrant. He begins with this Jim Wallisesque doozy: “First of all, our Lord Jesus himself was a so-called ‘illegal immigrant’”. I’ll address shortly the truth of the statement, but take note of Moore’s choice of language. By his use of scare quotes Moore repudiates the use of the word “illegal” and implies that there should be no moral distinction made between legal and illegal immigrants. He prefers the term “undocumented” workers or immigrants, by which he appears to mean aliens who may not have followed proper bureaucratic procedures but have otherwise done nothing immoral or sinful. It stands to reason by Moore’s rationale that if the sinless, perfect Son of God was an “illegal immigrant” then there must be nothing inherently sinful about violating immigration laws.

Toward the end of his essay Dr. Moore continues the same line of reasoning by crafting a picture of the New Heavens and New Earth where believers worship together before “the throne of a former undocumented immigrant”. Via tortured and fallacious ethical reasoning Moore again normalizes law breaking because after all, Jesus did it. Dr. Moore is undoubtedly correct when he says, “this [the immigration issue] is also a question of mission.” But alongside the call for generous hospitality there must be a respect for law. Christians cannot and must not decouple the message of grace from the necessity of repentance. A central focus of the church must be the calling of sinners, those who have violated God’s law and civil law, to repentance. The church must help illegal immigrants come to Christ, confess their sins of illegal entry, repent and return to love and care for their people and families. The portrait of Jesus painted by Dr. Moore is unhelpful and his rhetoric is little different from those in the sanctuary movement while his hermeneutic smacks of the liberalism rejected by the SBC for three decades.

There are other reasons to scoff at Moore’s analogy. First, Jesus and His family simply moved from one Roman imperial province to another. Sure there were legal, cultural and linguistic differences, but the modern equivalent might be moving from Rhode Island to Eastern Kentucky (actually the distance to Egypt would have been considerably less than sojourning across parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California if you’re keeping track at home). Second, the nation-state is a relatively new conception historically and the 1st Century is a tad different from the contemporary world. The immigration restrictions enforced by modern states were not as necessary in an agrarian culture and such laws didn’t exist to be broken. Third, Joseph moved his family because of the impending threat to their lives posed by Herod--he wasn't looking for a work permit. Therefore, it would be more apt to term Christ a refugee rather than an illegal immigrant.

In an episode of “The Simpson’s” Bart took an interest in journalism and set out to get advice from Kent Brockman, Springfield’s premier news anchor. Brockman told Bart that the key to journalistic success was human interest stories that “cloud the issues and fog the mind.” The “Baby Jesus was an illegal immigrant” argument serves the same purpose. It is a flawed piece of emotion laden nonsense bandied about in order to fog the mind, preclude rational discourse and draw an erroneous equivalence between two completely unrelated circumstances separated by fact as well as 2000 years of history and legal development. As an argument it is ethically troubling, exegetically unsupportable, historically inaccurate, and logically fallacious.

The Law of the Stranger

Dr. Moore next harkens to the Old Testament law and history of Israel to ground his plea for the practical erasure of borders. He writes, “In so doing [migrating to Egypt as a boy], our Lord Jesus was re-living the life of Israel, our ancestors in the faith, who were also immigrants and sojourners in Egypt (Exod. 1:1-14; 1 Chron. 16:19; Acts 7:6). It is this reality, the Bible tells us, that is to ground our response to those who sojourn among us (Exod. 22:21; Ps. 94:6; Jer.7:6; Ezek. 22:29; Zech. 7:10). God, the Bible says, 'executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt'" (Deut. 10:18-19).

An appeal to biblical law is refreshing given Moore’s penchant as a proponent of Two Kingdom theology to frequently ground his defense of Christian social ethics in natural law rather than pointing to scriptural precept. Unfortunately his interpretation of these passages is flawed. Moore conflates and misapplies different Hebrew words for alien (ger) and foreigner (nekhar or zar) which have different meanings in the Old Testament Scriptures and historic Judaic cultural practices.

In his book “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible”, Dr. James Hoffmeier provides a clear definition of an alien in Israelite culture and law. The Hebrew word ger is translated variously as "stranger" (KJV, NASB), "sojourner" (RSV, ESV), and "alien" (NIV) in contemporary English translations. A ger was a foreigner living in a land outside his homeland who had received permission from the proper authority. For example, when Jacob's family wanted to flee famine they traveled to Egypt and asked Pharaoh for permission to enter, "We have come to sojourn in the land … please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen" (Gen. 47:4). With the appropriate permission secured, Jacob’s family, which grew into the people of Israel, became legal aliens in Egypt. In short, they were allowed into the country by the host. This scenario finds its modern equivalent in the immigrant who has legally entered a foreign land with permission and secured proper documentation to that effect.

With this background we better understand the various biblical laws protecting “aliens” from oppression. It is wrong to allow people into your land and subsequently subjugate them. God gave many laws to protect aliens in Israel. Aliens were not to be oppressed (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:33-34). They were integrated into Israelite society, entitled to equal justice (Num. 15:15-16) and equal pay (Deut. 24:14-15), and could celebrate Passover (Ex. 12:48). They had legal standing and near equality of status in the community.


Two other Hebrew words, nekhar and zar, refer to those foreigners passing through or sojourning in Israel. They were not given the same benefits and protections as the ger (Ex. 12:43; Deut. 15:3; 17:15). The "foreigner" and the "alien" did not have the same social and legal status. Some English versions of the Bible, including the TNIV and TLV, translate ger as "foreigner," allowing the reader to think that these categories of people were the same. They were not.

Biblical supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform” and a “path to legalization” often refer to Leviticus 19:33-34, which says: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Citing C. D. Ginsburg, R.J. Rushdoony says that this "'stranger' is one who has become circumcised, fasted on the Day of Atonement, obeyed the laws of sacrifice, and has practiced the laws of chastity, as well as obeyed other moral laws." In short, once a foreigner had become part of the community, his nationality was not to be used against him. Such passages address treatment of aliens once they are part of the community.

The Scriptures do call for the extension of hospitality and justice, not an open-borders re-ordering of social life. Rushdoony says, "To call for the modern, humanistic society with an open relationship to all men would have appeared to the Israelites as the ultimate tyranny. The law did not require any such a re-ordering of any man's private life: It simply required justice in dealing with all men."

The Spiritual Equals Physical Fallacy

A perennial temptation in Christian thought is the elevation of the “spiritual” over and against the material. The acceptance of Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian categories has plagued the church from the beginning. The Christian believes that God created everything good, that sin mars every aspect of creation, and that Christ redeems it all, though we await the future perfect fulfillment of that promise.

The invisible church is composed of the elect in all places in all ages. It is a spiritual fact from age to age and consists of people from every tribe, tongue, nation, social class, ethnic group and historical epoch. This invisible, universal church is made manifest and incarnate in local bodies and assemblies. There is an on-going debate as to whether churches must, or even should be multi-racial and multi-ethnic. In his essay, Dr. Moore says, “Our commitment to a multinational kingdom of God’s reconciliation in Christ must be evident in the verbal witness of our gospel and in the visible makeup of our congregations.” I don’t feel the need to enter this debate suffice to say that I agree with the noted theologian John Frame, who says that the natural tendency to want to be with people like ourselves is clearly not sinful, whether in marriage and friendship or worship.

Elsewhere, in a defense of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Moore writes, “If God personally regenerates repentant sinners, both white and black, how can we see people in terms of ‘race’ rather than in terms of the person?” I understand what Dr. Moore is saying here and there is truth to the comment; however, it sets the spiritual directly at odds with the physical and has the flavor of Gnosticism and Manicheanism. In this view God’s salvation abstracts the individual from any and all natural attachments—not merely national and ethnic groups but presumably the family as well (Yes, I’m aware of Matthew 10:34-47). Could Moore’s logic not be applied to gender as well? “If God personally regenerates repentant sinners, both male and female, how can we see people in terms of ‘sex’ rather than in terms of the person.” If not, why? Isn’t it right there in Galatians 3:28?

The point is simple: Moore is utilizing doctrines that apply to the church, a primarily spiritual body, and imposing them on a nation, which is a physical and material entity. They are not analogous. If Moore were simply addressing the church, I would not strenuously object to his reasoning on this particular point. However, given the political nature and goals of the resolution, his comparison of apples and oranges needs to be noted. Simply because the Body of Christ is multiracial does not necessarily imply that particular peoples are not allowed to claim a land for themselves. Would Dr. Moore argue against the public policies of the state of Israel, to take one example, that are designed to maintain an ethnically Jewish state? No, in fact he has written that "Powers rage against" Israel, who as a nation merits the prayers and support of Christians, because "these are the kinsmen according to the flesh of our Messiah." In short, some ethnic groups are allowed to insulate themselves from a demographic transformation but others are not quite so lucky.

Next time I’ll labor to provide a biblical view on nationality and ethnicity (note that I said “a”, not “the”.)

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part I I

On the Political Consequences of Immigration

In my previous post I dealt primarily with the economic consequences of immigration. I would like to continue by highlighting the political problems caused by the continuing high levels of immigration.

In his book “Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity”, legendary political scientist Samuel Huntington has done yeoman work pointing out the worrying features of current immigration policy. He writes: "Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway."

If Huntington is correct the SBC has officially acquiesced to Reconquista and endorsed the transformation of the American nation with its call to amnesty. In so doing it is merely following the example established by our political leaders.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton embraced the coming demographic revolution: "We want to become a multiracial, multiethnic society. This will arguably be the third great revolution.... to prove that we literally can live without ... having a dominant European culture."

Shortly after these comments, Clinton headed west to exult in the fact that California's white folks were soon to lose their majority status: "Within the next three years here in California, no single race or ethnic group will make up a majority of the state's population. ... A half century from now, there will be no majority race in America."

Running to secure the GOP nomination in 2000, George W. Bush also welcomed the reconstitution of the United States. Mr. Bush said:

America has one national creed, but many accents. We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism, and culture. Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago, or West New York, New Jersey... and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago, or San Miguel de Allende. For years our nation has debated this change - some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the new America.

Who exactly gave these hombres the right to create a "new America," and what might it look like from a political standpoint, if it survives at all? Alexander Hamilton said that “the safety of the Republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment…The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to…corrupt the national spirit…” As the old saying goes, in politics demography is destiny.


The demographic tsunami unleashed by 45 years of mass immigration will distort and change American political life in at least five ways. First, traditional political institutions and especially parties and their campaign tactics will compete for this new bloc of voters. Such is the nature of democratic polities and importing a new class of voters will reshape the way politics is conducted. Our parties and institutions will adapt to the demands, interests, and values of immigrants by abandoning issues and constituencies they have supported in the past.


A second long-term possibility is that immigrants may import new demands and interests that cannot be met by existing political institutions. The likelihood is that they will create new political vehicles to pursue their goals, further polarizing and fracturing the electorate along racial lines, which is a recipe for continued conflict. According to a Zogby poll, some 58% of Mexicans think that the American southwest belongs to Mexico. One might assume that Republican and Democrat politicians will resist such claims. In such an event, it would not be terribly surprising to see new parties form that are more amenable to be shaped by the forces of polarization and disunity.

Third, mass immigration is likely to create a backlash, creating further racial and ethnic polarization in the country. Our political elites actually relish such an outcome as it provides justification for further meddling in the lives of citizens. The management of racial and ethnic strife is bread and butter for the state and unchecked borders become a means of creating chaos to be “solved” by statist means.


The late Sam Francis coined the term "Anarcho-Tyranny" which he defined as "both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through 'sensitivity training' and multiculturalist curricula, 'hate crime' laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny."

Francis elaborates on immigration as part-and-parcel of this strategy:

The most obvious sign of what would normally be called anarchy is the immigration invasion. By some serious estimates, no fewer than 11-to-13-million illegal aliens now live in the United States, most of them from Mexico or Central America. The Mexican government actively encourages this invasion and, as the press recently reported, even provides to its own citizens a guidebook on how to carry it out. Our government does nothing serious to stop the invasion, to apprehend the invaders, or to deter the aggression that the Mexican state is perpetrating. The invaders—as residents of Arizona, where some 40 percent of illegal aliens enter the country, constantly complain—threaten the lives, safety, and property of law-abiding American citizens; depress wages; gobble welfare; and constitute a new underclass that is an object of demagogic political manipulation by both American and Mexican politicians. (The illegals in this country cannot legally vote, though that does not necessarily stop them, but they remain voters in Mexico, and Mexican politicians now routinely campaign for their votes inside the United States.) The federal government invaded Iraq, although Iraq never harmed or threatened us, but it does virtually nothing to resist the massive invasion (and eventually the conquest) of its own country and the deliberate violation of its own laws by Mexico.

Fourth, the Republican Party is finished. Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubestein have been arguing since at least 1997 that mass immigration would leave the GOP as a minority party, in spite of their best efforts to "reach out" to Hispanic voters. Large blocs of immigrant voters have typically become aligned with the party supporting big government (though that would describe both parties presently in the United States). Given the biblical limitations placed on civil government Christians ought to be concerned by the prospect of adding millions of potential voters who would likely use the state as a means of redistributing resources, i.e., theft by ballot box.


Finally, mass immigration will shift political power from the heartland to the coasts. Some seventy-five percent of immigrants settle in just six states. Between 1990 and 2000, California lost nearly a million white residents, yet the population of the state increased dramatically due to immigration. California picked up five House seats as a result of reapportionment. Texas, New York, and Florida also picked up seats while Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin each lost one seat and Colorado and Kentucky both failed to gain a seat that they otherwise would have had there been no immigration after 1990.


Immigration Undermines Social Trust

Mass immigration also dramatically undermines covenantal thinking by exalting the individual at the expense of family, community and nation. Individuals leave behind their community and desert their homeland rather than working to improve it. They move to a different place and by their presence in large numbers necessarily transform it culturally, economically and politically. Who benefits? Perhaps the immigrant himself and possibly those individuals acquiring whatever service he may provide. But community, the ties of natural affection that are produced by commonality are completely undermined.


Research by the influential political scientist Robert Putnam, of Bowling Alone fame, shows that the more diverse a community is the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone.


In the face of diversity people tend to "hunker down" and surround themselves entirely with the familiar. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us," Putnam says.

Putnam adjusted his data for distinctions in class, income, and other variables but still reached the "shocking" conclusion that untrammeled ethnic diversity is a breeding ground of distrust that spreads like an aggressive cancer, destroying the body politic. "They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," said Prof Putnam. "The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching."

Putnam found that trust was lowest in Los Angeles, that heaven on earth for mulitcultists everywhere, but that his findings were also applicable in South Dakota.

Mass immigration also undermines the free market, which necessarily exists as part of social framework. While that framework needs a system of law to protect property rights, enforce contracts, prosecute practitioners of fraud, etc., it is also dependent on a rudimentary level of trust among the populace. If that trust is undermined, the foundation supporting the entire edifice crumbles, with the state being the institution forcefully putting the house back together.

A classical liberal like John Stuart Mill knew that free institutions are "next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities." But speaking of immigration, Putnam says "that immigration materially benefited both the 'importing' and 'exporting' societies, and that trends have 'been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed.'"


Conclusion

The state exists for three primary purposes: 1) to protect human life made in the image of God (Gen. 9:6); 2) to serve as a minister of justice defending the law abiding from lawbreakers (Rom. 13:3-4); and 3) to provide for a peaceful, orderly society (I Tim. 1:1-2). As it relates to immigration is the state fulfilling its charge before God?

In his essay, Dr. Moore makes one brief reference to Romans 13, a primary scriptural text dealing with the role and authority of civil government. Moore quite curtly dismisses those wacky simpletons who assume illegal immigration should be treated as…well….illegal. Moore writes, “It is easy to lash out at undocumented immigrants as ‘law-breakers,’ and to cite Romans 13 as reason to simply call for deportation and retribution. But this issue is far more complicated than that.” Indeed, I hope that I’ve shown it is MUCH more complicated than that.

Does the magistrate not have a duty to protect his people from dissolution and destruction through demographic invasion? Are Americans under some moral and legal obligation to obliterate themselves or be "socially reconstructed"? Are nationhood and nationality gifts from God? If so, is it right and proper to destroy them by appealing to the universal ethical claims of Christianity? I'm waiting for someone from the SBC to answer.

Next time: Jesus was an illegal immigrant, and other logical fallacies and a brief dissection of Dr. Moore's faulty interpretation and application of the law of the stranger...and much more fun!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part I

Introduction

At their annual meeting in Phoenix last week, Southern Baptist Convention messengers passed a controversial resolution on immigration and the Gospel. The resolution specifically calls upon "governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country." For good measure the resolution also condemned, without defining, that old bugaboo—nativism. Authors and prominent supporters of the decree managed to cram it through despite modest opposition from messengers.


A Tucson pastor named Richard Huff nearly succeeded in erasing the amnesty provision. Huff said, "[T]he principle is that citizenship is a right of people that are here under legal processes, and you do not want to make this something you are rewarding people who are in violation of the law and they have no interest in being here legally." Huff's amendment narrowly lost, 723-766.


Another defeated amendment would have urged illegal aliens to return to their home countries. Finally, to quell the dissenters, proponents had the audacity to add an amendment indicating that the resolution is "not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant.” That thigh-slapper fails the truth in advertising test.


Writing prior to passage Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the SBC flagship seminary in Louisville, tweeted “Southern Baptists are at a crucial decision point. The immigration crisis demands a Gospel response before any political response.” Mohler here implies that disagreeing with his view on the question is tantamount to placing politics above the Gospel. That is a serious allegation.


My colorful retort: By passing this resolution the SBC eagerly hopped on the amnesty bandwagon and comes dangerously close to advocating lawlessness in the name of Jesus. In so doing, they seek the approval of men, by which I mean the editors of the New York Times, rather than God. The entire spectacle is yet another piece of evidence that even the most “conservative” American institutions have been taken hostage by the poisonous principles of political correctness and Cultural Marxism, a Satanic Trojan Horse whose purpose is to serve as a weapon wielded by the enemies of Christianity to lull gullible and guilt-ridden Christians into complacency prior to slitting our collective throat.


In a number of posts I intend to discus the economic, political, and gospel dimensions of the debate over immigration (in that order). To engage the discussion I will be critiquing an essay by Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His essay is the most cogent attempt to defend the resolution I’ve seen.


Just the Facts


Dr. Moore begins his essay with the following rhetorical salvo: “The Christian response to immigrant communities in the United States cannot be ‘You kids get off of my lawn’ in Spanish.” Later he writes, “If our response to them is to absorb the nativism and bigotry of some elements of society around us, we are showing them a vision of what the Bible calls ‘the flesh’ rather than the Spirit.” Does the portrait painted by Dr. Moore remotely describe the Christian response to immigration? Is it even an approximation of current American immigration policy? Was the draw bridge lifted up when I wasn’t paying attention? Or is Moore simply using an emotion-laden argument designed to inhibit dissent?


In 2010 alone the U.S. admitted 1 million legal immigrants. Of that total 73% were based on “family preference”, 16.7% were admitted as refugees or asylum seekers, 4.2% were based on the “diversity lottery”, and just 5.7% were admitted because they possessed employment skills in demand. In 2009 and 2008 an additional 1.1 Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) were added each year. As recently as the 1990s America added up to 1.8 million LPRs annually.


Meanwhile the number of “undocumented workers” living in the U.S. is a matter in dispute. Typical estimates range from 7 to 20 million. Officially the Department of Homeland Security places the number at 10.8 million and other reputable sources put the figure closer to 13 million. Were there mass deportations of these law breakers? No, in 2010 there 387,242 deportations, of which 168,342 were for criminal convictions.


Average annual legal immigration in the 1990s was twice that of the 1970s and three times the flow from the 1950s. Does this comport with the picture of a nation filled with pitchfork wielding xenophobes? Or does it describe a generous nation that has broadly shared its bounty with millions with who have sought to legally become citizens?


On the Economics of Immigration

Dr. Moore largely ignores the economic consequences of immigration and only tangentially addresses the issue in a couple of terse comments. First, he chastises Evangelical Christians who “speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as ‘those people’ who are ‘draining our health care and welfare resources.’” He goes on to say that Americans send conflicting messages about immigration, largely because business interests slavishly pant after sources of cheap labor and often seek out vulnerable immigrants.

There are numerous economic costs connected to immigration, both legal and illegal, that Dr. Moore and the SBC resolution fail to note. According to Census Bureau figures poverty rates continue to increase and the number of Americans without health insurance has reached all-time highs. Mass immigration is a significant source of these problems and data show a growing chasm between natives and the foreign-born. For example, consider median family income:



Income of native households rose $135, or 0.3%
Income of naturalized citizen households fell $422, or 0.9%
Income of non-citizen households fell $1,852, or 5.6%

The poverty rate for U.S.-born citizens was 11.8%, but 21.7% among foreign-born non-citizens.

Because immigrants typically have limited job skills and are very poor they frequently become a burden on the American welfare state. According to Steve Camarota state governments spend an estimated $11 billion to $22 billion to provide welfare to immigrants. Camarota finds that welfare use remains high over time; immigrants in the country for more than 20 years still use the welfare system at significantly higher rates than natives.



Data pertaining to health insurance is likewise shocking. While 12.7% of natives lack insurance coverage, 33.2% of all (legal and illegal) immigrants did not have health coverage. Immigrants account for 27.1% all Americans without health insurance.


There are approximately 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children who lack health insurance, 31.9% of the entire uninsured populace. In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. In short, much of the “health insurance crisis” in America is the result of surging immigration. What was the consequence? More statism in the form of Obamacare.


Finally there is education. According to a report by FAIR, expenditures for illegal immigrants from grades K-12 costs $52 billion annually, largely absorbed by states and localities in often very disparate ways. School districts are dropping programs and closing schools at least in part because they are paying instead for services to the children of non-citizens (I’ll concede that immigration is a small part of the general trouble with public education, but hey, I homeschool).


Aside from the costs to taxpayers there are also consequences for job seekers resulting from mass immigration. The intrepid Ed Rubenstein has demonstrated on repeated occasions that Mexican immigrants in particular are increasingly displacing natives in the job market. Moreover, unemployment statistics are not indicative of the entire economic picture and ignores underemployment and decreasing wages caused by immigration.


A secondary issue of economic ethics completely ignored by Moore is the redistributive impact of mass immigration. Like so much public policy the benefits of immigration are largely privatized while costs are socialized. Benefits accrue to the upper middle class while costs are borne largely by those on the lower rung of the economic ladder.


The unfairness and insanity of America’s immigration policy has been ably dissected by Harvard economist George Borjas in his book Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy and numerous other books and academic papers.


One myth Borjas explodes is that immigration adds substantial wealth to the American economy. In fact, as Borjas says, “All the available estimates suggest that the annual net gain is astoundingly small, less than .1% of GDP.” In real terms, that translates into approximately $10 billion dollars added to the overall economy, just $30 per person. It has also been estimated that between $6-$10 billion dollars is remitted to Mexico by immigrants working in the U.S.


But that’s not the end of the story. The relative skills and economic performance of successive waves of immigrants has continued to decline. Immigrants arriving on American shores in 1960 had more education and earned more money than natives. By 1998, the newest arrivals earned 23% less than natives. They also had acquired two fewer years of education than natives.


As low-skill immigrants have flooded the labor market opportunities for the least skilled among us have markedly decreased and the most vulnerable Americans have seen their wages decline as a result. Borjas estimates that immigration is responsible for half the decrease observed in the wages of high-school dropouts.


The obvious implication of these facts is that immigration policy as currently constituted has become little more than a wealth redistribution program, shifting resources from the poor to the wealthy without creating aggregate economic growth. The lawyers, politicians, business executives, journalists, and editorialists who drive the immigration debate don’t have their livelihoods, not to mention their children’s education, threatened by mass immigration, but they do acquire the cheapest pool cleaners, house-keepers, and roofers in the Western world.


If Dr. Moore's policy prescriptions are followed Americans would be asked to subsidize millions of additional outsiders at the expense of their own countrymen, children, and posterity. Studies estimate that two thirds of illegal immigrants lack a high school degree and Robert Rector of the Heritage foundation found that "the average immigrant without a high school degree will impose a net cost of nearly $100,000 on U.S. taxpayers over the course of his or her life."

Rector continues: "This means that the six million immigrants lacking a high school diploma and legally residing in the U.S. today will cost taxpayers more than a half trillion dollars over their lifetime." Indeed the average annual fiscal burden of illegal immigration is nearly $100 billion according to a recent study published by FAIR.


Dr. Moore fails to reckon with the economic fact of scarcity. Resources are not infinite. Economics is not a science but a branch of applied ethics primarily focusing on the study of human action. In a world of scarcity, a result of God’s curse on the earth due to Adam’s sin, human beings necessarily make choices among competing alternatives effecting the distribution of resources. Ethically speaking do six trillion people have a claim on scarce and finite American monetary and economic resources?


Do Americans have a moral imperative to import poverty, and in so doing divert resources and employment opportunities from our most vulnerable citizens? The primary victims of unchecked immigration are Americans with little education and skills, native-born minorities, convicts who have done their time, and the disabled. These are our fellow citizens whom the SBC would consign to dog-eat-dog competition with those who have broken American law. Surely, Dr. Moore, such citizens are among "the least of these”.


Stay tuned…more in coming days.

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