The Great Christian Revolution IX. Christianity and Immigration

Introduction:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God (Lev.19:33-34).

From time immemorial, people have wanted to move. International trade and its twin, immigration, have roots going back to the beginning of time. We may think that “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” but there was movement between Europe and North America, and possibly around the whole world for two and possibly three thousand years before Columbus. Noah and his sons had the requisite skills to successfully build an ocean-going boat that they occupied for six months, without seeing land (Gen. 8:1-4) around 2,300 B.C. There is no reason to believe that those skills would have been lost.

Why do people want to immigrate? Very commonly, it is because they are suffering racial, religious or political persecution, and want a place to escape to. This was very common during the twentieth century, a time of unprecedented institutionalised bloodshed.

This was also the context of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, under Moses. The people were enslaved, they groaned under their oppression and their male babies were liable to be killed by the Egyptians (Ex.1:15-16).[1]

Similarly, when Joseph and Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt, it was because Herod was a murderous tyrannical ruler who killed even children in his rage (Mat.2:16-18). In both examples, the opportunity for quick immigration for either a family or a whole nation, facilitated by God’s sovereign help, proved to be a means of remarkable deliverance.

Furthermore, people have always wanted to go where they believe they may find sanctuary, enjoy a better climate, have better economic opportunities, and provide a future for their family. These are just some of the more obvious reasons. A free country will want to provide sanctuary and opportunity for people who are fleeing evil regimes. This was the context of much of the immigration to the United States in the 2nd half of the nineteenth century.

One mark of a free society is that strangers can flourish economically. The encouragement of immigration is part of Biblical law. The problem comes when the national civil covenant establishes citizenship apart from a confession of faith, i.e., a covenantal oath of allegiance to the God of the Bible and His law. When inheritance is by mere physical presence, or by a pledge of allegiance to a secular State, immigration becomes a covenantal threat to those who are already dwelling in the land. When the State is used as a means of coercive wealth distribution – e.g., the modern welfare State — then the immigrant becomes an economic threat: a potential drain on the wealth of present residents.[2]

The passport is a relatively new invention in international affairs. It was only introduced during World War I to prevent the entrance of spies to warring nations, and the League of Nations encouraged a continuation of the process after the War. It is a means of governmental control, determining who can enter a nation. Before the passport’s introduction, people had almost complete travel opportunities anywhere around the world. It is no accident that the century that witnessed the introduction of restricted international movement, was also the one of the greatest bloodshed of human history.

When a nation declares to its people, “you have to have our permission to leave,” they are saying in effect, “you are our slaves.” This was the attitude of many Eastern Bloc countries up until about 1990, and reminds us of the oppression of the Israelites under Pharoah.

Being unable to control who leaves, any tyrannical government would face a population exodus, while a free nation with perceived opportunities internationally would probably experience a sharp increase in population, as refugees and others voted with their feet and flocked to its shores. To many this would be an unsettling thought, but there is another way of looking at this:

This open invitation to immigrate to Israel was a means of increasing Israel’s wealth. Attracting productive people is even better than discovering valuable raw materials. Human creativity is more valuable in the long run than raw materials are, whose prices tend to fall in relationship to the price of labour in a growing economy.[3]

God’s law applied internationally to immigration is a means of tremendous hope and relief for an oppressed individual or family, or even a whole nation under political oppression. It is also a means for vulnerable people such as widows, orphans and the poor to find deliverance and protection.

Moses warned Israel to deal justly with orphans, widows, and strangers. Yet if Israel did this, resident aliens would flourish economically according to their talents and their work ethic. If Israelites resented their success, as Egyptians had resented Israel’s success, and began dishonouring God’s law by perverting justice to strangers, then the days of [God’s] vengeance would come. On the other hand, Israel’s covenantal success would be manifested by the economic success of resident aliens. The Mosaic law even provided for the sale of poor Israelites into household servitude to resident aliens (Lev. 25:47-52). The sign of God’s blessing would be rich strangers in the land. To attempt to tear them down through judicial discrimination would call forth God’s judgment against the nation.[4]

Does this mean that we are obligated to say to anybody who wants to enter a Christian nation, that there are no obligations or restrictions? No. The Gospel of Jesus Christ requires that there be one fundamental rule for those wishing to enter a Christian nation: the Trinitarian confession.[5] This does not prevent immigrants of a hostile religious faith deliberately making a faithless confession in order to gain entry, but it is a means of demanding accountability. Anyone who enters the nation under false pretences, and then seeks to publicly practice an alien faith, risks deportation.

Membership [in church and State] is open to all comers on the original terms of the covenant. In neither church nor State are officers allowed by God to discriminate against anyone who seeks membership through covenant oath. A racist Trinitarian church has violated God’s law. So has an anti-immigration Trinitarian State. So has anyone who seeks to substitute a covenantal oath in either institution that denies the theology of the Athanasian creed. Sonship is by oath. Public sonship is by public Trinitarian oath. To substitute a new oath is to substitute a new covenant.

This does not mean that Christians’ opposition to immigration is illegitimate when the State has adopted a non-Trinitarian confession. Christians may legitimately seek to substitute a Trinitarian covenant, which will require votes. If they see that certain immigrants who confess a rival and highly aggressive religion are becoming eligible for citizenship, then as a defensive political strategy for the sake of the extension of the kingdom of God, they may legitimately seek to work politically to cut off such immigration as part of their goal of establishing a Trinitarian confession for the nation. But for those Christians who deny the legitimacy of a Christian nation — the vast majority of Protestant Christians today — any opposition to immigration is made in terms of non-confessional considerations. This constitutes discrimination based on economic, racial, or other considerations. The Bible condemns all such judicial discrimination except against citizens of enemy nations during a declared war, which would in effect constitute an invasion, or against immigrants afflicted with contagious deadly diseases, which would also constitute an invasion.[6]

Conclusion:

Liberty in relation to immigration is a radical concept to the modern mind, because it requires a level of liberty unheard of, except of course in the Bible. We have become conditioned to levels of control over populations that are frequently oppressive and tyrannical in nature. Acceptance of the Gospel means that this must change.

The Messianic promises of Isaiah 61:1-3, which Jesus Christ applied to Himself when He preached the Gospel in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21), have plain application to people wanting to immigrate.

The freedom that Jesus Christ promised His disciples (Jn.8:31-32) has many manifestations. The Church must understand this and teach accordingly, spreading the leaven of the kingdom of God,  so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings deliverance from bondage and international freedom.


[1] For more on this, see North, G., “Moses and Pharoah,” 1985.

[2] North, G., “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.25.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] North comments, “because Western nations impose only secular oaths on their citizens, immigrants who retain their alien religious oaths undermine the remnants of the Christian social order that created the West. They are allowed to impose political sanctions in terms of religious worldviews hostile to Christianity. The experiment in secular civil government is not yet completed. It will end badly.” (See “Inheritance and Dominion,” ch.25, footnote16).

[6] ibid.

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