Title: Just Immigration:
American Policy in Christian Perspective
Author: Mark R. Amstutz
Genre: Theology/Philosophy/Politics
Pages: 252
Rating: 2.5 of 5

Mark Amstutz addresses the issue of how a Christian’s faith should impact their approach to immigration reform with a plodding academic approach. I don’t necessarily mind meticulously dissecting a topic, but a lot of this book felt redundant with little positive payoff at the end.

For the first hundred pages or so the author describes and evaluates the state of US immigration policy and practice. This was probably the most informative part of the book as it provides a good look at the complexity of the issues and viewpoints involved.

The rest of the book describes and evaluates (i.e. heavily criticizes) the approach of various Christian denominations to the issue of immigration reform. I can save you about 130 pages of reading with this summary of the author’s main points:

  1. The church should stick to its sphere of showing love as individuals and the government should stick to its sphere of dispensing justice
  2. Churches should focus on teaching people a moral framework of general Scriptural principles that can be used to evaluate the moral aspects of immigration law rather than lobbying for specific policy changes which should be left up to those who actually understand political science.
  3. The main Scriptural principles that apply to issues of immigration are the dignity of all human beings, compassion for the stranger, and obedience to legitimate authority (with the first two frequently overemphasized to the neglect of the third).

On pages 230-232 the author gives us a bare-bones summary of his take on various moral/ethical issues discussed throughout the book…if he had focused more on this than on showing how everyone else got it wrong I think this would have been a much more profitable book.

3 thoughts on “Thoroughly Argued, but Disappointing

  1. Hmmm. Even though Adventists as a whole are very big on a separation of church and government spheres, I’m much more of the evangelical persuasion when it comes to politics and influencing things. What’s the point of my Christianity if I limit it to the walls of my church and home?

    What is your take on this subject? Do you feel comfortable stating here?

    And thankyou for saving me 100+ pages of reading, appreciate that 🙂

    Like

    1. I probably fall into the Evangelical category by most measures, but I’m less political than most evangelicals I know, including most of my church members. Here’s a basic (and probably overlong) summary of where I come down:

      1. I believe in separation of church and state (based on how history history has played out when this is not observed, on what we are told to pray for in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and on the distinction between the role of Christians and of the state in Romans 12:17-13:5).
      1a. the state should not hinder the private or public practice of anyone’s faith or try to force a person to violate their conscience (there may be exceptions if someone believes they have the religious right to do something actively harmful to another…this exception has a tendency to be stretched and abused)
      1b. the church should not expect the state to advance its beliefs or limit the freedoms of those who believe differently.

      2. My faith should affect every area of my life, including how I participate in the political process – to fail to act in accordance with my beliefs is hypocrisy
      2a. the things I vote for and vocally support should not contradict the moral principles I claim to believe. My thinking must be shaped primarily by God’s Word, not the platform of my preferred party (Romans 12:2, James 1:22-25)
      2b. Any individual I vote for should have some level of personal wisdom and integrity and not actively support policies that contradict the moral principles I claim to believe. This is accompanied by the understanding that realistically speaking there will never be a “perfect candidate” who matches me in all points. (Proverbs 14:34, Ephesians 5:3-7)

      3. I must not lose sight of my primary responsibilities as a Christian
      3a. I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven called upon to show compassion on an individual level and “make disciples of all nations” in anticipation of the day that Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom in all of its fullness…my hope is not in the American political process, so most political advocacy is pretty low on my priority list. (Matthew 28:18-20, Galatians 6:9-10, Philippians 3:20-21)
      3b. Nowhere in the Bible am I called upon to change society by seizing the levers of power and legislating morality nor do I see Jesus or his apostles doing so
      3c. I am called upon to help and speak up for the helpless and exploited, and the political arena is one place this can take place (James 1:27, Proverbs 24:10-12)
      3d. I am called upon to pray for political leaders that they will allow us Christians to live a peaceful quiet life in which we can follow our conscience and share the Gospel. Who/what I vote for can sometimes provide an opportunity to “put feet to those prayers.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

      That ended up way longer than I intended, but it has helped me think through the issue some more (“writing makes an exact man” and all that). I may have to re-post this as a blog entry all its own at some point.

      Liked by 2 people

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