Compassion Shaming and Refugee Proof-Texting

Image credit: Amanda Ferguson @AmandaFBelfast

Image credit: Amanda Ferguson @AmandaFBelfast

We are witnessing a metastasizing global migrant and refugee crisis. It is  unprecedented in its volume, the distances involved, the risks undertaken, the direction of movement, the porousness of the borders, and the degree of moral confusion about how to deal with it. Millions of people are on the move to exchange their failed homelands for Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. Smaller scale sub-migrations are also underway at a regional level, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Whilst many are fleeing war, the actual root driver for the majority is information. It is easier than ever to — in real time — compare and contrast misery and deprivation at home with rights and opportunity abroad. At the same time, it has never been easier for the poor huddled masses to cross national boundaries and to be encouraged to do so via policy and welfare incentives.

We live in an interesting era where a passport-less peasant from Chiapas or Arak effectively has more rights and less fear at a border crossing than a New York or London billionaire. That’s not a value judgement; simply data.

Christian responses to the migration have tended uniformly toward a law-heavy compassion shaming strategy designed to guilt people into conformity. This is unsurprising for two reasons: 1) we love the law 2) Christian charities have largely been co-opted by the massive industry that has developed to stimulate and facilitate mass human migration. Indeed, some of those Christian charities have become the pillars of this complex that is indulged with colossal taxpayer funding, and which insinuates itself with the political elites.

With Refugee Sunday closing in (13 December), the compassion shaming is ramping up. The anvil of the law on which Christians are beaten has some general themes that are mirror images of secular arguments:

  1. Helping migrants and refugees is a means of grace.
    1. Secular analogue: you are saving the world through your work.
  2. Resettling migrants and refugees ushers in God’s perfect Kingdom on earth.
    1. Secular analogue: Poverty, unhappiness, inequality and suffering can be eradicated through our actions and in our time.
  3. Kindness and generosity toward strangers is the mark of a true Christian.
    1. Secular analogue: you are an especially good and moral person without any nativist prejudices or regressive nationalism.
  4. Jesus modeled for us welcome and care for everyone in every circumstance.
    1. Secular analogue: only bigots reject open borders.
  5. Mass migration is a new mission field that all Christians are called to.
    1. Secular analogue: diversity and multiculturalism are the most superior social outcomes.
  6. Sacrificial love of your enemies is sanctifying.
    1. Secular analogue: “🎶Imagine there’s no heaven…”

 

Propping up these themes are a raft of works righteousness proof-texts applied to migrants and refugees. Below are some of the most commonly cited verses used to try to guilt Christians into supporting open borders and / or migration without any limiting principles.

Proof-Text (PT) Deuteronomy 10:18-19 — “[God] 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”.
Rightly Handled (RH) It is common to invoke Levitical laws selectively to promote mass migration. Authors quote Deut 10:18-19 approvingly, but would throw a fit at applying Deut. 7 to modern Israel and its enemies. Deuteronomy is the renewal of the Sinaitic Covenant between God and Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. It cannot be selectively or wholly applied to any modern context. Secondly, the term sojourner has a specific meaning. It refers to an uncircumcised non-Israelite living among the Israelites.
Example (E) http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/eight-words-from-jesus-in-a-world-with-refugees
PT Leviticus 19:33-34 — “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 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.”
RH It is certainly a good thing to respect an alien and give them citizenship privileges. However, this is misapplied when it is used as a justification for unlimited migration, and the benefits of citizenship are extended beyond sovereign boundaries.
E http://www.unityitc.org/documents/Compassion.pdf
PT Micah 4:1-2 — Often adulterated to read: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, … and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come”

However, note the full text:
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
2
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,[a]
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

RH This is a prophetic end-times text that is violently abused to suggest that national borders and sovereign governments are contrary to God’s will. Rather, the reason that nation state conflicts will cease is because Christ will be rendering perfect judgement. Note to whom all the nations will look, where they will go to, and what they will seek.
E http://www.unityitc.org/documents/Compassion.pdf
PT Matthew 2:13-14 — Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees.
RH The holy family was certainly seeking refuge, but that is where the similarities end unless someone knows something we don’t about angelic instruction to millions of migrants. It is also conveniently ignored that the family went to Egypt with the means to support themselves thanks to the provisions of the “wise men”.
E http://www.twcnews.com/nys/hudson-valley/politics/2015/12/3/protestors-link-syrian-refugees-to-jesus–mary-and-joseph.html?cid=twitter_TWCNewsCNY
PT Matthew 7:12 — “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”
RH Using Matt. 7:12 is meaningless without proper context provided by the follow-up verses particularly, and the whole chapter generally. We cannot follow the Golden Rule without faith in Christ, and without relying on the Word of God. Unfortunately, the Golden Rule has become the basis of a global civil religion.
E http://frankpowell.me/christians-golden-rule-syrian-refugees
PT Matthew 8:19–20 — “A scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”
RH This verse is typically used to hector Christians to abandon notions of safety and security. It is astonishing that recklessness is regarded as a virtue. Yet, c’est la vie does not translate to Come Lord Jesus. Correctly understood, these verses describe the suffering that is promised to Christians because of their faith in Christ (James 1:2-4.), but the focus is properly on Christ and what he endured for our sake.
E http://blackchristiannews.com/blogs/johnpiper/eight-words-from-jesus-in-a-world-with-refugees/
PT Matthew 16:24–26 — “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul”
RH Applied in the same way as the previous example. Again, what is missing here is any sense of awareness that it is a lack of faith that causes us to seek the whole world. Conversely, adopting a Platonic abandonment or dismissal of the temporal produces the same works righteousness.
E http://www.missioalliance.org/fear-faith-and-nationalism-in-the-era-of-terrorism/
PT Matthew 22:37-39 — “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
RH It is telling that verse 39 is almost always quoted alone without the preceding verses. Jesus’ declaration of the Great Commandment is a word of Law to the Pharisees, condemning them and us in our self-righteousness and hypocrisy since nobody is able to keep and perform the Great Commandment. Only Jesus has done these things for us if we have received faith to believe in him.
E http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2015/11/kierkegaard-the-neighbor-and-the-refugee-crisis/
PT Matthew 25:35-41 — “35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
RH Probably the most commonly abused proof text for compassion shaming, with verse 41 wielded as a club to prove that hell is reserved for people who don’t do nice things for “the other”. It is a damnable provocation to self-righteousness when misapplied such as with statements like “need-not-creed”.

* First, this text speaks to the happy consequences of faith granted without merit. Verse 37 is instructive – the righteous are entirely surprised at their good deeds.

* Secondly, the text is referring specifically to Christians – missionaries, victims of persecution, and fellow believers.

* Thirdly, it reminds us of the Doctrine of Vocation – when we serve our neighbors in our God-given vocations and estates, we serve God.

* Lastly, nobody will go to hell for being stingy, but they will be damned by their rejection of faith in Christ alone.

E http://blog.lirs.org/it-was-either-this-or-be-murdered/
PT Luke 4:16-20  — Jesus is rejected at Nazareth
RH It is simply a Satanic deception for someone to twist this text to say, “Jesus announced that the essence of His ministry was to help and serve people in refugee-like situations.” This is a magnificent text where Jesus confirms that he is the long-expected Messiah.
E https://goaim1.org/articles/caring-for-refugees
PT Luke 6:27-36  — Loving your enemies
RH A go-to text to berate Christians for not being compassionate enough. Properly understood, Jesus is here reminding us of the full requirements of the law if we wish to pursue salvation by our own means. It is by grace alone that we might accomplish any of these requirements. Better yet, our God does all these things because we cannot. Will you place your faith in your ability to turn the other cheek and divest yourself of your possessions, or will you look to Jesus alone?

The best way for us to love our enemies is to ensure that they hear the Word of God rightly proclaimed. However, proselytizing is explicitly forbidden for agencies taking government money. You may only share the Christliness, crossless social gospel of good deeds.

E http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/november/love-refugee-with-compassion-christ-has-shown-you.html
PT Luke 10:25-37  — The parable of the Good Samaritan.
RH Always incorrectly applied to try to make us turn from being the uncharitable Pharisee to become the Good Samaritan. Actually, this verse is entirely about Christ’s mercy to us – we are the robbers’ half-dead victim. We are being rescued from sin, death and the devil by the completed work of Jesus.
E https://frted.wordpress.com/tag/luke-1025-37/
PT John 18:36  — “My kingdom is not of this world…”
RH A typical application suggests that Christians are to divorce themselves from politics and the machinations of the nation state. It is sometimes used to justify and even encourage rebellion against existing laws. This is a denial of the Two Kingdoms. We confess instead, “Legitimate public ordinances are good creations of God and divine ordinances, which a Christian can safely use. This entire topic about the distinction between the spiritual kingdom of Christ and a political kingdom has been explained in the literature of our writers…. Christ’s kingdom allows us outwardly to use legitimate political ordinances of every nation in which we live, just as it allows us to use medicine or the art of building, or food, drink, and air. Neither does the Gospel offer new laws about the public state, but commands that we obey present laws, whether they have been framed by heathens or by others. It commands that in this obedience we should exercise love” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XVI 53–55).”
E http://www.missioalliance.org/fear-faith-and-nationalism-in-the-era-of-terrorism/
PT Romans 12:13  — “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
RH This verse is invariably shortened to just the last four words, yet the focus is on the needs of the “saints” – our fellow believers in Christ. We are to prioritize our charitable action to support the saints.
E http://www.redletterchristians.org/what-it-means-to-worship-a-refugee/
PT Hebrews 13:2  — “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
RH Almost always used as an imperative that is salvific. Surely, hospitality to strangers is to be commended, but your capacity to entertain angels is entirely a function of God’s actions, not yours. We are not called to be reckless in inviting every and any stranger into our countries, states and homes. Our first obligation is to our families, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
E http://usuncut.com/politics/7-bible-verses-that-tell-christians-to-help-refugees/

Comments

Compassion Shaming and Refugee Proof-Texting — 90 Comments

  1. @jb #-1

    No, jb, I could not excommunicate you. That is within the power of the Church, and those who have the power to forgive or retain sins. You take yourself out by denying our Lord.
    The Church will always be different from the world. The words of our Lord could not be clearer:
    Matthew 5: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Nor the words of the Apostle Paul, “Romans 12: 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    My major regret in all of this is that the ordained servants of the Word, whose duty it is to speak up for our faith, are keeping a deafening silence, with the exception of the Rev. Dr. Sonntag. If they were to speak up that would end the discussion.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  2. @George A. Marquart #51

    This post of yours is all very well, as far as it goes.

    But where does it say that we are to neglect the “household of faith” to “feed our enemies”?
    As I recall Scripture, it says, “As much as lieth in you, do good to all men, especially those who are of the household of faith.”
    I think most of us “in protest” are asking “Why do we neglect Christians to help pagans [who are killing Christians in their own homeland] preferentially?”
    Sorry if you don’t think it’s a reasonable question!

  3. @helen #52
    Helen, of course it is a reasonable question. If you have done “as much as lieth in you,” then there is nothing left to do. But I am reminded of the conversation between our Lord and the rich young man.
    Who is the “we” who is neglecting Christians? If it is the government, then do what you can to change that. If it is the Church, then remind them of their responsibility.
    All of the pagans are not killing Christians. All the countries involved are trying to separate the terrorists from the innocent, but do you let all of them starve or be killed in their civil war, just because we do not have the systems in place to do that? God would have spared Sodom for 10 righteous people. We hesitate because 3% mean us harm.
    Although, as jb has mentioned above, the people of the USA have been the most generous in the history of the world with regard to helping others, this is not necessarily true when it comes to a percentage of what we have.
    The words of our Lord and the Apostle are unambiguous. We are to help those in need regardless of the consequences to us. Yes, if we really have to ration our resources, then “those in the household of God” come first. But do not expect the government to make that choice. We do have a separation of church and state. If someone decides to kill us for that, they will have their reward, as will we.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  4. George –

    Do you read the words you write, or do you just mean to have the last say?

    Now you’re talking percentages and “rationing?” Huh?

    Oh, well, you are convinced. Pax.

  5. @jb #54

    I am reminded of an old Soviet joke about Chukchie, the representative at the union of writers gathering, who, when asked whether he read a certain book, proudly responded, “Chukchie is writer, not reader!” Aside from that, about the generosity of various countries, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/09/foreign-aid-which-countries-are-the-most-generous

    Please respond to this, and I will promise not to, just so I will not have the last word.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  6. @George A. Marquart #53

    We are to help those in need regardless of the consequences to us. Yes, if we really have to ration our resources, then “those in the household of God” come first.

    Christians don’t seem to be coming last, even.

    “regardless of the consequences to us”

    Where, exactly, do you get this?

  7. @George A. Marquart #53 “We are to help those in need regardless of the consequences to us.” that is a very reckless position which illustrates the proof-texting problem I raised. It is neither compassionate nor scriptural to deliberately place yourself and others in danger. The texts are not a call for martyrdom or the abandonment of our temporal kingdom obligations.

  8. @helen #56

    It always startles me when Christians ask this question. Here is one answer – there are many more:
    Philippians 2: 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:…. 8… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  9. @Tim Wood #57

    One you did not cover in your essay:
    Luke 14: 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  10. George –

    I read that guardian.uk link you provided. Were I the least bit inclined toward political correctness and the SJW mindset, I might have felt intimidated to a degree. The article threw out numbers with nothing by way of conclusion. It was yet another attempt by the commies in Britain to minimize the phenomenal good America has done, which will not wash whatsoever. That you, having been rescued from that VERY mindset, then use the very same mindset against me or the country that rescued you, make any objective reader seriously consider the direction from which you are coming. Makes -0- sense!

    By no means did I think you were done having the last word, so that part was humorous. But along the way – you DID excommunicate me! If you then say you did not – which you did, then I would appreciate a very precise parsing of your closing sentence in #48″

    “You may disagree with this, but that puts you outside of the Kingdom. It’s that simple.”

    It is one thing for a Pastor do so (I did it ONLY one time, thankfully, and the re-conversion was immediate). But with your words you did so WITHOUT either a collar/call and completely without the Church’s agreement. You just did so willy-nilly, and then ducked and weaved backwards to say you did not say that. Yes, you did, George.

    Admirably, Tim held his tongue through all the comments. In #57 – he gave you a course correction to his essay, and away from your misleading take on his essay, or my comments as well:

    ““We are to help those in need regardless of the consequences to us.” that is a very reckless position which illustrates the proof-texting problem I raised. It is neither compassionate nor scriptural to deliberately place yourself and others in danger. The texts are not a call for martyrdom or the abandonment of our temporal kingdom obligations.”

    You, rather than seeking the harmonization of various Scripture, to allow the Scripture to interpret itself (a point your OWN brother emphasized over and over and over again in class), are pitting certain verses that represent your point of view over against passages and the whole context of family and national responsibilities, to fit your narrow interpretation of matters. You, and most everyone, are unable to even ascertain these folks are truly refugees, but you are certain anyone objecting to accepting them is wrong.

    My friend, your words – however kindly couched, are sheer arrogance, and rejecting the legitimate concerns of all involved, for the sake of your own misguided conscience. Might I add –

    Good man, you have no right to do so. You are simply out of bounds.

    Pax – jb

  11. @George A. Marquart #59 I’m now inclined to believe this is trolling.

    This text points us to Christ and what he has done for us, not what we must do for him. This is exactly the foolishness of the gospel; he warns us that being granted faith to believe carries a heavy price. The world will hate Christians not because of what they have done or not done for refugees, but because the Christian has as the object of his faith the external Word, and a man thrashed to within in an inch of his life before being hung out to die on a cross.

    Luke is recounting that Jesus requires us to prize Jesus above all things, especially our inclination to justify ourselves by doing “good” things for other people and the planet.

  12. Thus, George has spoken, and the rest of us neophytes need to pack our pens/keyboards, and simply go home.

    No one needs a clue, George, except, well, what you are writing here.

    That is sufficient.

  13. George, I understand what your heart is saying and I would like to respond. I am not going to use verses. This is a personal story. Up front I will apologize for it being rather long. I tried to minimize it as best as I could but still get my point across. I hope I did that. I hope by saying this that I am not derailing the topic in any way.

    My husband is a Syrian/Lebanese man. He was born and raised in the United States. His mother was born here but her parents came here from Damascus, Syria. His father was born in Beirut, Lebanon but was brought here as an orphan when he was a little boy.

    His mother’s father was a professor at a University in Damascus. German Kaiser Wilhelm was in Damascus and a small group of men were able to meet with him, including the grandfather. They asked him for help, as Christians, to be able to live in peace in Syria with the Muslims at that time. (A little over 100 years ago.) The Kaiser simply told them, “Convert or leave.” The grandfather made the decision to pack up his wife and oldest child and come to America. When he arrived in our city there was a sizable community of Christian Syrians already there, and more came after. He decided to become an Eastern Orthodox priest in order to minister to them. He began two EO churches in the city and both are still thriving to this day.

    My husband’s father was born in Beirut, Lebanon and his father was an official in the government of Lebanon. Both of his parents were killed by the Druze. He, his brother and sister were brought to America by uncles who were already here. After he served in the Air Force, he met my mother in law and were married.

    My husband was raised in the Eastern Orthodox faith in the grandfather’s churches. I was raised Lutheran, and when we were married I became a member of his church. About 2 years later my husband joined my Lutheran church due to his growing friendship with the Pastor. He remained LCMS until his death and was very happy to be a very active member of the Lutheran church.

    During the 90s we met a man who was an LCMS missionary (I can’t remember his name) who had converted from the Muslim faith. My husband and he were talking about their Arabic backgrounds and my husband told him that his grandfather had started the first Orthodox churches in our city. The missionary said, “My grandfather started the first mosque in Detroit.”

    My husband has a cousin who lives in Detroit. I was talking to her recently about the proposal of the government bringing in 250,000 Syrian refugees to this country. She is also 100% Syrian, is not a Christian, and is a liberal Democrat. She said she was firmly opposed to the government bringing in even one refugee. I was very surprised at her response. I chalked it up to her experiences of living in her area with the very large segment of the Muslim population in the U.S.

    My purpose in telling this is: Based on several reports that I have read, President Obama is restricting Syrian Christians from entering the country right now. All of the refugees are purported to be Muslims. Is that not a “religious test?” Why are Christians being excluded?

    I admit to being conflicted over the refugee crisis in light of my personal family knowledge and experiences and from Christian compassion. In light of all the current new reports — my question is: What would the grandfather(s) say? Both the one who came here to practice his Christian faith in peace, and the one that was killed by Muslim terrorists in Beirut. What would they say that Christians from that area are singled out and excluded by our government from coming here at this time?

    I think I know their answers. They came to America to be safe. To be safe to practice their Christian faith. They were welcomed here over a 100 years ago. I see all of our Christian protections to be in jeaopardy of late.

    My view is that I am opposed to this very rushed reaction to bring in only Muslim refugees at this time. Especially in light of what we are hearing about the screening processes.

    I just attended a Christmas concert at one of the grandfather’s churches. A presentation was given, and an offering taken to benefit the International Orthodox Christian Charities organization. They are providing various aid to refugees who are located in some camps in the Middle East. They have already ministered to 2.5 million refugees in the last 3 years to the tune of several million dollars — 95% of which reaches beneficiaries. They are ministering non-discriminately to Christians and Muslims alike. The presenter asked the father of one family he talked to how he could live in his present circumstances. The father responded, “As long as there are good people, we will be ok.”

    I can only guess that the grandfathers would work to give aid to those suffering in the current crisis in Syria and Lebanon. That is what I have done, and will continue to do also. I can only guess that they would think this would be the best way to go at this time. This day and time is not the same as it was a 100 years ago and beyond.

  14. I am inclined by now to interpret George this way:

    ‘We must, even at the sacrifice of our own families’ safety, import Muslims. They need the good life now, because they are going to hell.’

    ‘It’s OK to let Christians be crucified and their women enslaved,
    because they have their reward in heaven!’

    [Some of our pop-music preachers do the same when they say, “It’s OK to drive Lutherans out of the congregation; they are baptized. We have to cater to these “seekers” (who are mostly seeking entertainment).]

    I’m very glad I knew Kurt Marquart.

    I don’t think I’ll waste any more time talking to George.

  15. @Abby #66

    Abby, every day, once in the morning and once at night, when I say my prayers to our heavenly Father, among other petitions I say something like this: “Dear Father, I pray for all of Your people, our friends and loved ones, and our family, but I also pray especially for all those who suffer in body or soul, and I ask You to be merciful to them, to help them, to provide for them and to grant them relief from their suffering, especially the little ones, whom Your Son loves so much, and those who suffer for the faith….”
    I do not know the details of the present situation. I know there are a lot of people, a lot of children drowning in the Mediterranean. I know a lot of people are hungry, cold, and in terror. I know that our government is not doing everything right, and I am sure they are doing many things wrong. Political correctness has led many governments to absurd reactions. Nevertheless, I do not believe that those who are dealing with the situation are conspiring to harm any particular group of people.
    I love my life in America, but I remember being a child in Europe, both when we were fleeing from Estonia, and when we were fleeing from the Soviets again at the end of the war. I remember that record breaking cold winter 45-46, and having nothing to heat our room with, and having no shoes.
    I remember so many people who helped, without regard to whom they were helping. On the other hand, the German word, “Flüchtling” (refugee), became a curse word for those of us who were victims in this situation, a word applied to us by those who were behind this tragedy.
    So, I have seen good and evil, but as my Christian consciousness became more developed, thanks to many good people in my life, I became convinced that if ever I were involved in a similar situation, I would speak for the side that wants to help suffering people without having my left hand know what my right hand is doing, and regardless of whether there was any personal danger involved for me. Before anyone says that I talk a good game, let me tell you that, by the grace of God, I have been directly involved in saving the life of a former terrorist, who converted to Christianity. It was not the popular thing to do, and my congregation at the time (in Moscow) was against it. No, it was not heroic, it was what any Christian would do, especially if he had been a refugee once himself.
    Abby, what I am saying is that I agree with you. But I also feel very strongly that what defines whom we help, is need. I think our Lord looked at it that way.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  16. George, I understand what you are saying.

    Many years ago, a Christian Reformed minister from Michigan sponsored, and brought over, a refugee family from Bethlehem which is in the Palestinian territory. His church took care of the family’s needs in the beginning and befriended the family for a very long time. The family eventually opened a very fine and lucrative business. The father (grandfather) was so thankful that he put all of his sons into Christian schools. In turn, these sons also educated their sons in Christian schools. (These happened to be the schools run by the Christian Reformed Church.) This family eventually joined one of my husband’s grandfather’s EO churches and are members there now. From this second generation of sons, one went into politics. He graduated as valedictorian from Christian high school and magna cum laude in economics from the University of Michigan and then obtained a law degree. His first stop was the Michigan legislature in Lansing. A few years ago, he ran for, and was elected to be, a representative to the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. He is a very smart and fine Christian man who is still a member in the grandfather’s church. His name is Justin Amash.

    The Lutheran church we were attending sponsored a Vietnamese family who were escaping the Communist takeover after the end of the Viet Nam war. We did the same for them. We found and set up housing for them. Stocked their pantry and supplied all their household needs. They attended our church for a pretty long while. The family was not Christian and the father stated from the outset that he would not be interested in changing from Buddhism.

    The thing that I am most objecting to — and believe is a mistake — is bringing the refugees in by droves and setting them up in our government welfare system. I think we see how that works out for large numbers of people existing only and continually on government welfare. I would be more for a program involving a “sponsorship” idea such as I have shown here, and as you illustrated with your “hands on” approach with a known terrorist. I do know, however, there is no fool-proof system. And, also again, I am objecting strenuously that Christian refugees are being prohibited from entering our country at this time.

    Yes, I believe our Lord cares that we help those in need. And if many refugees are going to be brought here, whether we like it or not, (and many already have been), a church would be wise to find and reach out and give a hand to a family in their community.

    However, I am still a strong proponent of helping refugees to be able to stay in their own country — which I believe is what they want too.

    I can see, and agree with Tim that it is very wrong to use “proof texts” to try to guilt Christians into actions that may indeed be very unwise. I hope I’m not wrong, but this, from Luther, seems to me to describe what Tim is talking about here. That is, the direction from which truly effective and God pleasing good works flow.

    “You must get used to the idea that it is one thing to do the works of the law and quite another to fulfill it. The works of the law are every thing that a person does or can do of his own free will and by his own powers to obey the law. But because in doing such works the heart abhors the law and yet is forced to obey it, the works are a total loss and are completely useless. That is what St. Paul means in chapter 3 when he says, “No human being is justified before God through the works of the law.” From this you can see that the schoolmasters [i.e., the scholastic theologians] and sophists are seducers when they teach that you can prepare yourself for grace by means of works. How can anybody prepare himself for good by means of works if he does no good work except with aversion and constraint in his heart? How can such a work please God, if it proceeds from an averse and unwilling heart?

    But to fulfill the law means to do its work eagerly, lovingly and freely, without the constraint of the law; it means to live well and in a manner pleasing to God, as though there were no law or punishment. It is the Holy Spirit, however, who puts such eagerness of unconstained love into the heart, as Paul says in chapter 5. But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction. So, too, faith comes only through the word of God, the Gospel, that preaches Christ: how he is both Son of God and man, how he died and rose for our sake. Paul says all this in chapters 3, 4 and 10.

    That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith it is that brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ. The Spirit, in turn, renders the heart glad and free, as the law demands. Then good works proceed from faith itself. That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith. No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith.” http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    And then there is this: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/12/17/feds-cant-say-whereabouts-those-whose-visas-were-revoked-over-terror-threat.html?intcmp=hpbt1

    These are my last thoughts on the subject. God bless you, George.

  17. George –

    You wrote:

    “So, I have seen good and evil, but as my Christian consciousness became more developed, thanks to many good people in my life, I became convinced that if ever I were involved in a similar situation, I would speak for the side that wants to help suffering people without having my left hand know what my right hand is doing, and regardless of whether there was any personal danger involved for me.”

    “For me.” Your call, George, for which no one can fault you. However, when you are essentially demanding fellow Christians to kowtow to the state’s demands of “compassion” – you, yourself are playing the part of a tyrant! In granting you the One Holy Faith, Christ did NOT grant you that power.

    You were NOT involved in a similar situation. You were a true refugee. Today, we cannot figure if we are dealing with refugees, or excellent, murderous liars. In any case, and going back to your confusion of Law and Gospel, the Two Kingdoms, etc., which Brother Wood and others pointed out with clarity, confusing the role of state with Church, particularly in this instance of demanding compassion, is sheer law. Peter Scaer, noted by Tim above, said that such a bastardization leads directly to communism, the very evil you sought to escape.

    Your counter-argument to me about Truman early on was interesting . . . Truman was a millenialist of the highest order (I leave the question of him being a Christian as such in the Lord’s hands. Above my pay grade and yours.) His great exodus of the Eastern Europeans (Gog and Magog survivors), coupled with his immediate approval of the State of Israel, likewise combined with the millenialistic confusion about Jesus’ words about His returning within one generation . . . certainly he was true to his view. But to Scripture, not so much so. The new Israel is the Una Sancta, not the militaristic state on the coast of the Mediterranean.

    You mentioned not letting your left hand know what your right was doing. To that specific point, no problem. But when NEITHER hand knows what it is doing, then there is a problem, the solution to which, coming from Jesus, in Mark 9:43, seems barbaric, but He gets it and we often do not!

    George – what you suggest is perfectly fine IF that is your PERSONAL choice. That does not transgress Law and Gospel, nor the Two Kingdoms, nor the proper uses and understanding of the Law. But your formula, based upon your anecdotal stories, has no place in asking or demanding others to step past the clearly established Scriptural and Confessional understanding of Church and State and Law and Gospel, to satisfy your personal piety and view of compassion.

    Abby and Helen and others have spoken kind words to you in the hope you might modify your perceptions. Your personal stories, like those of your sainted brother, are in themselves, amazing. But a top-down demand from government to accept their prescription of “compassion” – is not good, right and proper, nor is it compassionate. Y’all coming in from Eastern Europe were not the fanatics of a death cult, which Islam in its foundation most certainly is. You yourself admitted you don’t know much (#68), but you nonetheless favor the state forcing us to practice its version of “compassion.”

    Go learn, then, George, and you will discover that how the state defines “compassion” is diametrically opposed to Christ’s words in Matthew 9:13. If you wish to show compassion, venture into the “no-go” neighborhoods of American cities, and see how that plays out. I did so in collar, because that is what I was called to do. I had no right to demand every Christian do so – just as you have no right to use the power of the state to force a free people to accept those whose creed is diametrically opposed to freedom, and the very Christian Faith you say you have.

    That is simply out of bounds.

    Pax – jb

  18. @jb #72 One terminus of the logic of “help at any price” is to suggest that Christians should never be refugees in the first place, and should accept what befalls them… We should never be so cruel. And the converse is to ensure that for those who have failed to show mercy to those in need, and realize it, that Jesus died even for those sins.

    Kyrie Eleison.

  19. Tim – spot on.

    The Church needs to speak directly to all of this, not merely generalize matters and go with the political flow as though doing so is evangelical. I hold that Matthew 10:16 is speaking precisely to issues like our present moment of crisis!

  20. Millions of dollars can produce Churchly compassion in abundance!

    “The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service reported total income of $41.7 million in 2012, and government grants accounted for $40.4 million, or 96.8 percent of that amount, according to the nonprofit’s most recently reported Form 990, a disclosure that nonprofits must file with the Internal Revenue Service. The group raised only $1.3 million from private donors.”

    Here for more . . . http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/29/unholy-alliance-christian-charities-profit-1-billion-fed-program-resettle-refugees-40-percent-muslim/

    “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” (Albert Camus)

  21. @helen #67

    Helen, I really cannot understand how anyone can pervert someone’s words in the way you have.
    But I really resent your bringing my brother into this. You did not know him. If you did, you would know that he and I would be firmly on the same side on this one. I mean on the basis of what I actually wrote, not what you made up about me. Obviously you do not believe anything I say, but if you know any of his family members, ask them.
    George A. Marquart

  22. Is it worth considering the wonderful work Pastor Gottfried Martens and the SELK church is doing in Germany. The fact the the Muslim immigrants are very open to the Gospel and are converting in droves. Should we not be trying to copy that work with the immigrants that are coming here. Like it or not they are cumming.

  23. @Andrew Wachter #77 SELK’s work is a blessing and instructive. It is not strictly analogous to the U.S. situation though. First, a lot of the SELK work is founded on Iranian refugees who sought out the church. I’m not aware of any equivalent in the U.S. that is both seeking out the LCMS and providing a bridge to other Muslims. Secondly, you cannot get specific information from the immigration agencies on new refugees – so there is no obvious way to minister to them unless they walk in the door.

  24. @Andrew Wachter #77
    Amen,
    My big questions here are:
    Where are the collars in this discussion?
    and
    Since when does the fact that there are folks doing the right thing (loving the neighbor) for the wrong reason (legalism) make loving the neighbor the wrong thing?

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  25. @Andrew Wachter #77

    The fact the the Muslim immigrants are very open to the Gospel and are converting in droves.

    1. “in droves” is a gross exaggeration. They are coming to Europe “in droves”
    but what % are becoming Christian believers?

    2. Muslims are free to “lie to the infidel” if it serves their own ends. It’s part of their creed. I am not so optimistic about those conversions. Other Muslims quite often kill those who renounce Islam. That they are not doing so in Germany gives one cause to wonder.

  26. @Tim Wood #78

    SELK’s work is a blessing and instructive. It is not strictly analogous to the U.S. situation though. First, a lot of the SELK work is founded on Iranian refugees who sought out the church.

    There were Christians in Iran so the situation may not be analogous at all.
    Are these conversions or Iranian Christian refugees? Does anyone know more?

  27. @Matt Mills #79

    My big questions here are:
    Where are the collars in this discussion?

    I expect “the collars” were just a little busy preparing Christmas sermons. One I know had services Wed.,Thurs.,Fri., and will have the regular Sunday one tomorrow. He will also have an Epiphany service on the 6th.

    Another church did not have the 4th Wed. in Advent, did have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will have a substitute on Sunday…the Pastor is customarily on vacation for one week after Christmas.

    All the others I know are somewhere in between. BJS can’t be too high on a Pastor’s list in December. If you’ll notice, most of the ones writing are favoring us with the sermons they have to produce anyway.

    Also, one Pastor I know had two funerals last week; another’s father died. Members get sick and get hospital visits at this time of year, too.

    Besides services, churches and their Pastors commonly go caroling to their shut-ins, hold Christmas parties, and if the Pastor can’t visit relatives, relatives may come to them.

    You asked. 🙂

  28. Dear BJS,
    Where are the collars? Well, this collar does not really know what to say? I have had Pastor Chehab out a few times, and some of this was touched on. There are a whole bunch of issues on the table, you can only deal with some.
    Problem is politics gets in the way on this one, big time.
    Security gets in the way, keeping us safe, etc.
    Keeping a clear witness as we help.
    A few issues.

  29. @Matthew Mills #85
    Dear Matt,
    I toss this back at you, perhaps I missed some earlier notes:

    I myself still think:
    01) Sanctuary cities are wrong.
    02) Illegal immigrants are, well, illegal…I refuse to say undocumented.
    03) I believe in compassion, but do not break laws.

    Where do I fit in today’s scheme?

  30. @Pastor Prentice #86
    Dear Pastor,
    Perhaps I missed something as well, but I assumed the dialogue dealt with the question: “what should our laws and policies be vis-a-vis Middle East refugees?”, rather than “should Christians follow the laws we have?”

    I jumped in because:

    1) I understand math, and do not like the way the media has been stampeding folks into irrational fear of the refugees our (frankly stupid) foreign policy has been driving out of their home countries in droves. There are a lot of things that might kill you and yours today in America, but statistically ISIS terrorists on refugee visas are way way down the list (below not only all the obvious things like drivers and Big Macs, but the wacky ones like domestic cattle, bee stings, and pit bulls.) Christians should never be driven to selfish behavior by real legitimate fears, let alone fake statistically irrelevant media circus fears.

    2) The basic drift of those writing on this (I assume dead) string seemed antinomian to me: the fact that there are folks doing the right thing (loving the neighbor) for the wrong reason (legalism) does not mean that we have no responsibility to love the neighbor. (I’m sure there are people not committing adultery for legalistic reasons as well, I’m fairly sure that doesn’t mean I’m free to commit adultery.)

    Christmas Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  31. Might George Marquart be the brother of Kurt Marquart? Kurt also came to this country from eastern Europe as a refugee. Having met Kurt whose brother George was in my husband’s class at Concordia, Bronxville, I suspect Kurt might share the thoughts of the George Marquart who posted here. Kurt had a heart for persons who had to flee their country due to persecution.

    Marie Meyer

  32. I’m going to say this. You need to read Dr Luther on the Turks and his book on the Jews. That’s all one needs to know and one bad apple can spoil the bunch. White Christian genocide is happening in Sweden and U.K. And France and now Germany. And if you think war is cool then you don’t understand Luther or Scripture or what is going on in Europe and America. I truly wish the old Luther Lutherans were still alive plus other now dead Christians. They knew the enemies. Europe stayed Christian for centuries by keeping the gates closed to Islam and the leaders kept the Jews out of power. I’m a firm old Traditional LCMS Confessional who is looking to go to ELDONA due to post modernism creeping into many WeLs and LCMS Churches. Oh and if you really desire to learn the truth see Dr Ludwig A Fritschs book—THE CRIME OF OUR AGE 1948. He gives it to you straight as an old fashioned truly passionate Lutheran Pastor of God!!! That book helped open my eyes years ago as did Pastor Herman Otten. He fought the Evil Seminex of the 70s long before many of the young pastors were even born yet. I remember those days as a child in Sunday school and how my parents and many were speaking about abortion and the war and pornography in Hollywood and they all said it was the Chosenites of Hollywood causing trouble. Truly Lutherans know better or should know better. So get some passionate nerves worked up and tell the truth! We are dying from the inside in America and in Europe. Funny though how Lutherans are starting to thrive in Russia after the end of communism but communistic ideologies here including abortion and many lost freedoms and a big centralized government are killing us and our empty churches show it! Good ole Cultural Marxism. And in some of the Eastern block former Soviet countries the churches are also beginning to thrive once more. They remember communism! That’s why. The West has been signing its death warrant for decades now including our war mongering on Middle Eastern nations while giving Israel billions but forgetting Palestinian Christians who are persecuted by Zionists. You can’t win by hiding these facts in political correctness! God is angry and our nations are lost presently and it shows. Oh it shows. As Dr Fritsch stated in his book, “the Crime of our Age “….The West lost WW2 and Judaism and paganism prevailed”. So sad but sooo true. Now get busy like I did and learn the truth! Go into all nations——as Jesus says but nowhere does he say surround yourself and flood your countries with enemies of the gospel!!!

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