Skip to main content

The OSJ and Office of Race Relations are offering a new opportunity to fulfill God’s command to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger among us.

We ask that you sign A Commitment to My Immigrant Neighbor, a personal pledge committing to live out your faith by aiding immigrants marginalized by our broken system. Every voice that signs is an important word of encouragement to our immigrant neighbors and a valuable demonstration of the desire for a U.S. immigration system that is more just.

Please add your name today!


Meghan. This is the kind of post that causes many people in the denomination to groan. You seem to have a great care and love for people which is very good and very Christian. We should see peopel first as created in the image of God and not first as illigal or legal. But I wish there would be a little more nuance in your post and in  the "commitment to my Immigrant neighbo"r pledge.  Do you and those who work at the OSJ realize that America accepts mor immigrants than all the other countries in the world combined? This is a very generous country in terms of immigration.  I agree with you that this is a country of immigrants. Its what makes this country great ,what gives it energy and viatality .But does this country have the right to determine its own immigration policy? If it does ,then it needs to punish people who violate those laws. People do not have an inherint right to illigally immigrate and then to bring thier families here. The plege states that this is a complex issue and truely it is. So lets aknowlege the complexity by saying that the system is broken because illigal immigrants have broken it AND the US government needs to change some laws.  The plege states that illigal immigrants can not go the police when they witness a crime or are the victims of a crime. That is a blanket statment that is not based on fact . The Banner recently has had some good articles about people who are here iligelly. Perhaps we should also have articles in The Banner from small buisness owners and ordinary people who have felt the negative effects of illigal immigration.  Thank you  Brian Tebben

I. P. on August 17, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am a small business owner. I have not felt the anything from immigrants but increased business. Love for your neighbor doesn't come with conditions.

In many years ago, people came all of the world for different reason, there were not law to determine who and who is not illegel and these laws add latter. those who came to this country become illegel , becuase they have hard life christians, our duty is love neighor, as you entertaining strangers,  whom maybe angeles sent from God.

Eric Verhulst on August 18, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Actually, there have been laws regulating immigration from the very beginning of the European colonies on these shores.  They tended to be light, hard to enforce, and frequently ignored, but they were there.

By the middle of the 19th century, as patterns of immigration changed and more of those immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe, the laws changed, becoming more restrictive.

It is a fact that many of those laws were racist - not against Blacks or Hispanics, but against Slavs, Italians, Irish, Jews and most especially Chinese (cf. American Passage).  From the time of the U.S. Civil War and running through the 1950s, there were also close connections between immigration restrictions and the eugenics movement.

That said, there is a distinctive American culture that is worth preserving, and far more people want to come into the U.S. at a rate much faster than we can effectively assimilate.

What is more, illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.  We see the poor immigrant, but that poor immigrant undersells the local youth on the labor market leading to things like 50% unemployment for Black teenagers in Washington, D.C. and, while it is too often and too simply (and falsely) attributed to some ill-defined racist power structure, immigration is a factor.  There are also the social services used by many of these immigrants that amount to a theft from taxpayers.  To further avoid the law, there are issues of identity theft, forged papers, hidden papers, dangerous drivers who have not been properly trained for our roads and vehicles - not to mention the ability to exploit the fear of deportation and/or prison employers have been known to use against illegal immigrant employees.

I will grant that U.S. immigration laws are hosed - byzantine, burdensome and ineffective.  That doesn't mean we should have unrestricted immigration or that we should reward those who have broken our laws in order to steal jobs, identities, and tax dollars.

So no, I won't be signing this pledge. It will do little more than perpetuate the problem.  I'm more interested in finding possible solutions.

Charles: Are you suggesting the US (and other countries) must be borderless in order to obey God's norms for government?  That's the essential message I read from what you say but I don't want to put words into your mouth (or keyboard hands).

Meghan: Are you (meant as folks from OSJ) intending to actually discuss these issues, or is your post just an advertisment for the OSF initiative you are pitching?

I'd love to discuss these (and other) OSJ issues--constructively--but I am getting the feeling that your seed post wasn't an actual discussion invitation.

Let me know.  I don't really want to waste my time "discussing" with myself, but would like an "iron sharpens iron" discussion with OSJ folk and CRC members about this.

Hi Doug:  If you have comments about the Commitment to My Immigrant Neighbor Pledge this would be a great place to post them.  Others who have already posted here will probably get an alert that more people have jumped in on this conversation and maybe they will respond.  On the other hand trying to start a general discussion on immigration under this specific post might not get a big response...   you could also start a new topic/thread in this Social Justice Advocates section and see if it gets some more discussion going around the issue of immigration.           

Eric Verhulst on November 30, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm committed to my immigrant neighbor.  If he's here in violation of our laws, I'm committed to encouraging and helping him to go home.  Laws like the ones recently passed in Arizona and Alabama are part of that.

If he's here in accord with our laws, I'm committed to helping him adjust and assimilate.

Enforcement, rationalization of the INS system, assimilation.  There's a pledge for you.

Kris: Thanks for the help.  OK, I will.

First, I'm wondering first how the OSJ develops the statements it develops. Does it just assign someone to write it?  Does the BOT write it?  Does it subcontract with Sojourners or Center for Public Justice?  Or ...?  The reason I ask this is because it seems to me that it is difficult at best (acutally impossible) to "represent" all CRCers when producing statements like this.  So I think knowing the process is important.

Second, I notice in the statement that there seems to be a presumption that people from other countries have some sort of justice based right to immigrate into the US.  Is that a presumption, or not?  Put another way, would it be "just" (not discussing wisdom at this point, or even mercy) for the US to simply deny immigration requests to everyone?

There's a process??

Judging by the statements themselves, they just avail themselves of the latest left-wing group-speak, put a Christian gloss over it, and send it out.  A process implies careful thought, consideration of how this will impact people, and so on.  But those statements are laid out in a way that makes it fairly clear that it never occurred to the authors that they might even need to answer cogent arguments from opponents - they assume there aren't any.  When the people they hang out with do become aware of disagreement, they simply declare it invalid and unchristian, as in the recent BANNER editorial.

Makes it much, much easier.


This statement in particular was co-written by OSJ staff and the Office of Race Relations in accordance with the recommendations from Synod 2010 that we educate and advocate on comprehensive immigration reform. If you visit the pledge website, you'll see the recommendations in bullet-point format. 

Your second question is much more complex. As a follow-up to the aforementioned pledge, the OSJ and Office of Race Relations are offering a more in-depth curriculum for congregations wanting to take a closer look at the issue of immigration. The curriculum is being piloted among a few churches this winter, and will be available for broad use this spring.

Megan: Thanks for the answer to the first question.  That's helpful.  I have read by now pretty much everything on the OSJ web pages, as well as the Synod 2010 report.  Please understand that I understand you and other OSJ staff are doing what you are assigned to do.  I say that because some of what I may say in my posts here might seem to be taking pokes at you and other staff.  I'm not intending that. But I am trying to figure out what political positions the CRC (via OSJ and otherwise) is taking (because in so doing, the denomination is acting as my political proxy and the political proxy of other CRC members).

Which brings me back to the second question I asked.  You punted on answering that one.  :-)

I do realize my second question is more complicated than my first, but it's not that complicated.  In fact, I would argue that the question is a foundational one, such that OSJ can't really start "doing" anything without answering it and a handful of other foundational questions.  When I reviewed all the OSJ web pages and linked reports, I found lots and lots of the usual "left of center" lingo but I would be really hard pressed to say there was even one statement that clearly acknowledged the right of any government to limit (even if to the point of eliminating) immigration.  Again, the answer to this question is a fundamental point for any immigration discussion.  Indeed, some folks will openly and honestly say they believe the US should be borderless, that it has no right to disallow anyone from coming here.  What is bit troubling to me is one could make a case, from reading the Synod 2010 report and the OSJ pages and links, that such is also the position of the CRC/OSJ.

So, is it?  Does OSJ take the position that the US government should be acknowledged to have a "right" to control (i.e., limit, even if that means eliminate) immigration?  Or does OSJ take the position that all people, or even some people, outside the US have a justice based right to immigrate into the US?

Kris Van Engen on December 2, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


Hi Doug,

The question about people having a “justice based right to immigrate to the U.S.,” is an important one.  According to our Constitution people have the right to apply for immigration and congress has the right to set laws for yes or no on who gets in.  In 2010 the U.S. said yes to about 140,000 Mexican applicants, including children, but we employed and received income taxes through false social security numbers from well over 4 million Mexican immigrants.    

Another question is, are we, as a part of the current immigration system, breaking God’s law regarding fair loving just treatment of all people including the alien within our gates?  Synod 2010’s answer is yes.

Also, I think, given our history and current context, even though it is our right, it would be an ironic injustice of biblical proportions for the U.S. to deny all immigration requests.  

Kris: Thanks for the response.  A few things:

You say, "According to our Constitution people have the right to apply for immigration...".  Can you cite the Article/Section or quote the text that you believe gives a right to persons who are not US Citizens to apply to immigrate?  As far as I know, there is no such right created by our federal constitution, whether as written or as interpreted by any court decision.

Understand I'm not suggesting Congress should not choose to allow immigration. I think it should, but also that it should apply criteria for allowing that.  But I wasn't really asking a legal question (although interesting what you say about the Constitution).  What I was asking was a question of political theory.  In other words (and framed another way), do you think our Constitution SHOULD provide that foreigners have legal right to immigrate?  Now if you say "no," then we can take on the next logical question that presents itself given your "no" answer, and if you say "yes," then we can take on the next logical question that presents itself given your "yes" answer.

Too often people jump to the end decision on political issue without carefully examining the foundational conclusions reached to get to that end decision. I'm literally trying to find out OSJ's (my denomination's) underlying political theory as it relates to this particular legal/political issue.  Sort of like reading from John Locke's First and Second Treatises on Government to figure out his.  Or, more contemporarily, reading CPJ's (Center for Public Justice's) "Guideline" documents and other position papers to figure out theirs.

I'll certainly be getting to your "another question" -- again, just want to take this somewhat methodically or the discussion can get utterly confusing.


See point 5 to read what the Commitment to My Immigrant Neighbor Pledge says about borders...

“We commit to be advocates for the following principles in order to make our immigration system more functional and just:
1. Reforms in our family-based immigration system that reduce the waiting time for separated families, maintain the constitutional rights of birthright citizenship and the ability of immigrants to naturalize;
2. An opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn a path towards permanent legal status by satisfying specific rigorous criteria;
3. A viable guest worker program that creates legal avenues for workers and their families to enter our country and work in safety with their rights and due process fully protected;
4. A framework to generate solutions to the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities between sending and receiving nations;
5. Border enforcement and protection initiatives that are both consistent with humanitarian values and allow the authorities to enforce the law and implement immigration policy."

Kris V. E. -

I didn't see anything that specified "rationalization" - reform, yes, but that can mean numerous things.  I'm not sure that what the pledge envisions as "reform" is what I would call "rationalization".  By "rationalization" I mean clear rules for who's in and who's not, evenly applied, and those who don't meet the "who's in" criteria are quickly shooed home - decisions are clear, timely, and as objective as possible with as little time as possible hanging about wondering what the answer will be.  If somebody wants to appeal a decision, they may do so from their home country, not here and the burden of proof is on those who want to show us they meet the "who's in" criteria, not the other way 'round just as I have to prove I'm elligible for a Drivers' license instead of government having to prove I'm not.

I did know that "enforcement" was point 5 - enforcement "consistent with humanitarian values".  Would you consider the recent Arizona law to require law enforcement to check the immigrant status of people arrested/pulled over for some other violation of the law to be "consistent with humanitarian values"?  Judging from other stuff written on the OSJ site and by people connected with OSJ at the time Arizona's law was passed, I seriously doubt it.  But enforcement that doesn't check their immigration status or actually deport people - even if it means breaking up families (and there is no possible criteria for immigration that will not mean in some instance that one family member is allowed in and another is excluded) - is no enforcement.

But then there's amnesty (point 2 - yeah, "rigorous criteria" which are unspecified and pretty much any rigorous criteria imaginable would conflict with point 1 about reform, besides being grossly unfair to those who have followed the legal process); guest workers is point 3 (why do we need unskilled guest workers when we have several millions of our own citizens unemployed?); and point 4 is welfare for foreigners who stay foreigners - in their own countries, not foreigners who come here to become Americans - because we can see how well government welfare transfer payments have worked here.

So, as I understand what is being pledged, we are to "advocate" reform (not rationalization), amnesty after rigourous criteria that don't actually bother anybody, guest-workers, foreign aid (which is largely ineffective, serving mostly to prop up corrupt, oppressive governments), and humane enforcement which is to say enforcement that doesn't inconvenience anyone.

Now, answer me this...  what makes this political program more compatible with the biblical injunction to care for your neighbor and "the alien among you" than others (such as one that doesn't include points 2-4)?  Why is the church specifying this political program - or any political program - rather than simply the biblical principle?  Do we not trust our members to have the conscience, intelligence, compassion, or initiative to apply the principles without such specificity?

Article 1 Section 8 under powers of congress says, "Congress shall have the power to...  establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization."  Maybe it would be more accurate so say it is up to other countries to decide if their citizens have a right to apply?  At any rate the U.S. congress is supposed to set up laws that respond to those applications. I wasn't sure what you were looking for in your original question.   

I think if you want to get at theories behind Synod's decision you would have to read the full report.  I think it is on the OSJ website.  Sorry if this doesn't answer your question.  Not trying to "punt." Feel free to ask from a different angle if I'm missing it.  

Kris V. E. -

I think the first problem is the assertion of a "right to apply".  While people may ask for whatever they wish to ask for, and often do, that does not mean either that they have a right to make the request.  It's like saying, "people have a right to ask for chocolate syrup".  It's incongruous - makes no sense - to describe the behavior as a "right".  The article of the Constitution you site merely indicates an assumption on the part of the framers that people would ask to become citizens.

The fact that people will ask also does not compel any particular answer.  I could freely apply to my mother to have ice cream instead of broccoli.  She doesn't have to grant my application and, to my knowledge, never did.

The article, then, directs Congress to decide how to answer those requests, but to devise an answer that is "uniform" - that is, consistent and consistently applied.  A blanket "no" would meet that requirement.  Whether we think that's the best answer or what of the various forms of "maybe" or "yes" we prefer, is immaterial as far as the Constitution is concerned.  Only that Congress have a rule, and that it be "uniform".


I think it is important to note that the CRC’s involvement in immigration began with a young CRC congregation realizing that many of its people who were being baptized, becoming members, and taking the Lord’s Supper, were undocumented immigrants.  The Elders weren’t sure how to respond biblically or legally so the question went to Classis and then Synod.  After much prayer, bible study, and conversation Synod came to an almost unanimous conclusion that being undocumented should not prevent someone from being baptized.    

Synod also concluded that the church can’t simply ignore the law but that, given our system of government, it should advocate for less burdensome laws.  You have to understand, the authors of the report to Synod are Pastors, Elders and CRC members from various backgrounds across the U.S. They experienced the negative impact of our current immigration policy on the lives of people in their churches and towns.  Their hearts are broken because of the pain they’ve seen in the lives of people they love.  Somewhere on the Network someone recently wrote something about mercy, that the church forgot about mercy, this cause isn’t being driven by politics or CRC bureaucrats, it’s being driven by mercy.  

When I work on advocacy for this issue I’m not concerned about the Board of Trustees or the Denominational Offices.  I’m concerned about honoring the various Christians who put the immigration report together and in doing so requested that the whole denomination help them in working for the good of our immigrant neighbors.  In my computer there are dozens and dozens of stories from CRC members who tried and failed to get documentation for immigrants and then saw families broken apart or new friends waiting for decades to enter.  For every one of those stories there are dozens more I haven’t had time to hear.  This isn’t a debate about the semantics of the U.S. constitution this is an effort to change laws that are ruining people’s lives.  U.S. laws do not change until enough people ask.  This is a justice effort born out of scripture, relationships, compassion, and a desire to defend the cause of those who are most vulnerable.  

Most importantly, advocating for immigration reform only covers about half of what Synod 2010 asked of CRC churches in response to immigration.  The rest of the report has to do with attitudes that embrace newcomers in our congregations.     

(In response to b-ver, “Why is the church specifying this program rather than simply the Biblical principle? Do we not trust our members...”  We do trust our members. Hopefully that trust is reflected in the work we are putting into this project they’ve given us.  I’ll leave the question of why 1-5 vs other policies to others who may want to weigh in.)

Kris: I mean this kindly and with a smile on my face, but you did punt on the question.  I asked (with bolding), "In other words (and framed another way), do you think our Constitution SHOULD provide that foreigners have legal right to immigrate? " and you answered "maybe it would be more accurate so say it is up to other countries to decide if their citizens have a right to apply?  At any rate the U.S. congress is supposed to set up laws that respond to those applications."  Respectfully, and again with smile, that's a punt.

It could be that you are punting because you don't know what your answer would be, that you haven't thought of this before.  But, you are the OSJ's "Congregational Justice Mobilizer" and, again with respect and a smile, you need to have your political theory down if you are going to mobilize others.  CRC members will reasonably assume OSJ has its political theory down, and that they can rely on it as scripturally based.

I have read the full text of the report from the "Committee to Study the Migration of Workers" -- twice in fact.  Actually, I thought it was a pretty good report. My one concern about it was that in one recommendation especially, it exceeded its own analysis.  It recommended (and Synod adopted the recommendation) in paragraph G that the BOT was to encourage the OSJ to engage in advocacy strategies that will lead to immigration reform and enactment of fair, just, and equitable laws regarding immigrants. 

Sounds innocent enough, but here's the catch.  The analysis of the report clearly recognized, essentially, that Scripture gives no specific guidance for what immigration laws might be, and that Christians could reasonably disagree as to what they would be. So just what are the "fair, just and equitable laws" that OSJ should politically advocate for?  And why don't CRC members just get to advocate for themselves?  They are the US citizens, individually, not collectively through the CRC/OSJ.

Now if the OSJ would just say, "hey members, we don't know what they would be, but please consider for yourselves what immigration laws should be and advocate for them," I'd be fine. Certainly, Kuyper's "not one square inch" also covers immigration and we should be responsible Citizens.  BUT, and a bit BUT, OSJ's pledge letter advocates for specifics. Just one, for example, is that the US government "maintain the constitutional rights of birthright citizenship."  Certainly, Christian minds can differ on whether a government should grant a baby citizenship just because his/her parents illegally came to the US soley in order that their child be born here (and so acquire US Citizenship).  In my mind, creating that incentive is really bad government policy. And I think the Committee Report members would regard my position as "reasonable" and "not contrary to Scripture."  So, why does OSJ insist on being my political proxy on that issue?

The Committee Report did an excellent job, I thought, of distinguishing between our perspective: (1) as Christians and churches dealing with immigrants; and (2) as government, or citizens who play a role in creating good government.  On the other hand, there is nothing in the OSJ documents that I could find (the pledge letter included) that appropriately distinguishes between those two perspectives. That's a "Kuyperian sphere sovereignty" thing, and although I saw that perspective recognized in the Committee Report, I just see no evidence of it is OSJ's implementation of the Synodical mandate based on that report.

And that's is the core of my concern, which is why I start by asking "In other words (and framed another way), do you think our Constitution SHOULD provide that foreigners have legal right to immigrate? "  From what I do read off the  OSJ site, your office may be promoting the political idea of borderless societies.  I'm not saying you do, but I certainly can't determine that you don't, and some of your materials at least suggest you may.  And so I ask a "beginning question," a "foundational question," in order to work up to OSJ's adopted political theory/framework that would be the beginning point from which it would answer lots and lots of specific immigration questions.

Whether OSJ staff knows it or not, OSJ is being my political proxy on this.  I just want to know what OSJ has fundamentally decided its political theory is in this area before I "complain too much" (again, smile on my face).

Kris V.E.-

I find this paragraph in your answer telling...

"When I work on advocacy for this issue I’m not concerned about the Board of Trustees or the Denominational Offices.  I’m concerned about honoring the various Christians who put the immigration report together and in doing so requested that the whole denomination help them in working for the good of our immigrant neighbors.  In my computer there are dozens and dozens of stories from CRC members who tried and failed to get documentation for immigrants and then saw families broken apart or new friends waiting for decades to enter.  For every one of those stories there are dozens more I haven’t had time to hear.  This isn’t a debate about the semantics of the U.S. constitution this is an effort to change laws that are ruining people’s lives.  U.S. laws do not change until enough people ask.  This is a justice effort born out of scripture, relationships, compassion, and a desire to defend the cause of those who are most vulnerable."

1. The U.S. Constitution is one of our laws - the foundational one.  It is usual when people claim a matter is mere "semantics" that they've got no real answer to the question put before them and would rather dismiss the whole matter.  But we cannot, precisely because that's the law the rest are supposed to be based on.  Besides, you brought it up and now you don't want to talk about it?

2. The laws are not ruining people's lives.  Ignoring the laws, acting in violation of that law, willfully trespassing in our country and stealing from our citizens - stealing jobs, social services, medical care, and more to the point where hundreds of ERs have closed down, minority youth unemployment approaches 50%, and our national debt is immense.  While illegal immigrants are not solely responsible for these ills, they contribute greatly to them.  A guy who gets arrested for robbing a bank is not having his life ruined by the law against robbing banks.  His life is ruined because he violated the law.  A guy who breaks into somebody else's house and gets shot by the homeowner isn't dead because the homeowner defended himself but because he attacked the homeowner.  So somebody who breaks the law to come here, settles, gets a job, brought kids with him who grow up knowing nothing of the home country, then gets caught - the law isn't what caused his problem.  He did.  It's not like he didn't know he was breaking the law.

3. I agree the U.S. should alter its laws regarding immigration.  But those laws will also then have to be enforced.  We want to make sure (a) that those new laws aren't worse than the ones we have; and (b) that they are so enforced.  But enforcing those laws will also and inevitably have a deleterious effect on those persons who choose to ignore them.  Those law-breakers will be vulnerable, too.  What will you advocate then?  Changing the laws back?

4. Have you any stories on your computer about those who lost loved ones because the ER they would have used is shut down and the closest one is now miles away?  Have you any stories on your computer about young Black men who cannot find a job because they can't speak Spanish and so can't communicate with the illegals working there?  Do you have any stories on your computer about people killed by illegal immigrants driving without the necessary skills or training on our highways?  Pick your set of sob stories and I can find you others.  The difference is, the people harmed in mine are legally entitled to be here and fellow citizens.

Kris: Your latest posts suggests to me that you're just trying to help congregations help people in their church who have immigration issues.  It seems to me that you are not really into the part of OSJ that deals with "advocating government policies."  That's fair enough. 

I did notice that OSJ has a number of positions, and yours isn't the one I'd expect to answer questions about the "government policies" OSJ advocates for.  There is another position, that of Policy Analyst/Advocacy Fellow.  I believe Than Veltman holds that position.  Might he be able to help on some of these questions?  Could you ask him.

Switching thoughts, my own church, employers in my church, and I personally, are pretty Hispanic immigrant friendly (lots of Hispanics in the mid-Willamette Valley here).  We sponsor a Hispanic church in the city, our dairy owners employ pretty much all Hispanics for milkers, I've had Hispanic (legal and illegal) for clients, and I have them for neighbors (I live on "that side" of town).  I coached a junior high (public school) basketball team a few years back and I suspect at least half my team were illegals or the children of illegals.  No, I don't check anyone's legal status when I deal with obvious immigrant types  in the neighborhood, or as coach, etc.  I do deal with that at work, but my "rules for myself" at work are more complex than would be profitable to go into.

But there there's me as Citizen of Oregon, City of Salem, Marion County and the United States.  In my voting (and political advocacy), I take the position of having to create and implement "good government."  And if government does what I think "good government" should do, more illegals would be removed than are from the area I live in, mere birth would not create citizenship, and many fewer illegals would get across the border. 

Certainly, I think comprehensive immigration reform is LONG overdue.  But the reason we don't have that reform is because too many people allow their genuine feeling of mercy to trump concepts of justice when it comes to voting and advocating government policy.  We've had pretty good law in the somewhat distant past, but then we started to not enforce it, and eventually the change in the law that should have happened didn't, because our real law (what we enforced) eliminated any motivation to change the formal law (what's in the books).  We think we are doing good (being merciful) by failing to execute laws that "are mean to people" but instead do bad, putting immigrants in impossible situations and literally tearing down "the rule of law," ending up with neither justice nor mercy. 

This problem will only be successfully tackled when we, as a nation, figure out how to separate what we'd personally like to have happen for the illegal immigrants we personally know from what we know to be good government.  I don't see OSJ or the Synod pushing in that direction, which means I suspect at this point, we are part of the problem, not the solution.

Now there are some who honestly believe there should be no borders, that anyone who wants to come into the US (or any other country for that matter) should not be prevented by government from doing so.  I can sympathize with the sentiment but that is not a practically workable proposal at any level.  Not even close.  Nation states have to have enforced borders or they cannot be nation states (and some oppose nation states).

By the way, Congress and the president resolved to have comprehensive immigration reform back when Reagan was president.  Amnesty was given to millions of illegals, which was to be followed by legislation that would control the border (a fundamental prerequisite for any control of immigration), create appropriate guest worker laws, etc.  The problem was that after the amnesty was granted, nothing else was done.  I put that one squarely at the feet of Democrats, who renegged on the deal after getting the amnesty they wanted.  And that's why you know have so many Republicans who absolutely refuse to discuss anything about immigration reform until the border is controlled.  Sort of a "fool me once, shame on you, twice shame on me" thing for them.

And this is why it is important that the CRC, if it is going to represent my political voice (certainly not my first choice), do so competently.  If it can't distinguish between CRC members and congregations being merciful, and creating/implementing good government (and so far I can't tell that it can), it will only be adding to the mess already there.  And the result of that will be injustice for pretty much everyone.


Hi Doug,  

Yes, maybe Than will be able to answer more of your questions.  
I think CRC members who shared immigration stories and 2010 Synod understand the difference between justice and mercy. They are calling on church members to treat immigrants with mercy and they are calling on church members to call on government to enact laws that are just.  (Points 1-5 in the pledge are all about justice.)           

On your critique of G, I understand your position, that you would prefer the OSJ not do policy development or advocacy on immigration.  Be assured that in doing advocacy the OSJ doesn’t claim to represent the views of every individual in the CRC (even if we did congressmen wouldn't believe us), that’s why mobilizing individual members to speak up is so important.  The OSJ does their best to communicate Synod’s recommendations to members but it is up to each individual to decide what to do about it.  And in this case Synod has said, as it has with other non-confession issues in the past, that you can disagree with them.

Kris: Thanks for the further response and your willingness to invite Than to the discussion.

I'm particularly pleased to see your willingness to use the word "mercy."  It is becoming a rarely used word in CRC.  For example, in the Belhar confession, the word "justice" (or injustice) appears 7 times,  mercy" 0 (zero).  If I go to the WCRC (World Communion of Reformed Justice) website (the CRC is a member of WCRC ) and use it's search facility, there are 11 PAGES of hits for "justice,"  but a search for the word "mercy" renders NOT EVEN ONE  hit.  If I use the CRCNA.ORG search facility on the CRCNA site, I get 11, 100 hits for "justice" but only 2560 for "mercy."  Contrast this with the 1995 Bylaws for the CRCNA (the denominational corporation).  It mentions only "mercy," never "justice." What a difference 16 years makes, eh?

I would suggest "justice" predominantly characterizes the jurisdiction of the sphere of government, and "mercy" is within the "church" sphere (ala Kuyper/Dooyeweerd), perhaps among others.  "Liberation theology" saw this quite differently, with some manifistations of Liberation Theology becoming almost totally, if not totally, involved with justice (usually unapologetically Marxist, eg., Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas).  Somewhat more contemporarily, a "Black version" has also evolved (Black Liberation Theology), as exemplified by Barak Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  I regard the "Social Justice" movement as largely a relabeling of  "Liberation Theology," which I think essentially confirmed by John Cooper and is one of his objections to the Belhar.  Unlike Cooper, I don't want the CRC to adopt the Belhar as anything, confession or otherwise.  My objections to both the Liberation Theology movement and the Social Justice movement are: (1) both morph the church into a political organization, and (2) the political theory adopted by both is largely unbiblical.  Both perspectives rewrite Micah 6:8 by ignoring the "love mercy" phrase. 

Which is why I appreciate your obvious willingness to use the word "mercy."  :-) 

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post