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The Christian and the Syrian Refugees: A Rebuke

The target audience of this post is the Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously, as written, but styles himself as a political moderate.  In particular, if you have seen fit to chastise your brothers for their ‘heartless’ and supposedly ‘unchristian’ attitude towards the Syrian ‘refugees’, this post is very much for you.

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It was so very interesting watching my Facebook feed fill up with sanctimonious denouncements of Christians, by Christians, who were opposed to absorbing the ‘Syrian Refugees.’  The interesting part was not the sanctimony, but the timing.  It was almost as if someone had rang a bell, and the dogs dutifully salivated.  You see, the people who have been raising alarm about the ‘Syrian Refugees’ have been doing so for a long time.

As it happens, my Facebook feed has been constantly updated over the last several years with numerous concerns about Christians being wiped out in the Middle East and the U.S. government doing nothing about it.  A Democrat, Mark Arabo, has been smuggling Christians out of the Middle East and into the United States for quite a long time–Syrian refugees among them.

When Glenn Beck openly declared that he would risk jail to smuggle Syrian refugees into the United States back in September, I saw some sympathetic remarks, but I saw an awful lot of comments to the effect that Christians should work within the rule of law, and therefore could not support Beck’s position.

Clearly, Syria did not just become a nightmare just last week, so why is it that only last week did you take an interest?  People, including many Christians, have been advocating for getting Syrian refugees (along with many others) out of the region for months and years, but only last week did you see fit to take a stand?

Let’s think about what happened last week.  Oh, yea, that’s right.  More than a hundred people were slaughtered in Paris.  What did that have to do with any refugees, Syrian or otherwise?

I will tell you the answer, and you’re not going to like it.

Essentially, Barack Obama knew that the Paris attacks were precisely the sort of thing that conservatives have been warning about for years and even decades.  The attack is one of many that have already transpired and many more that are yet to happen, with many of them due directly to his own policies in the Middle East.  The Paris attack is the kind of thing that has the ability to shake the cobwebs out for even the most uninformed person.  It does not require higher education in order to see the connection between radical Islamicists running amok and policies seemingly designed to facilitate them running amok.  In fact, my observations seem to suggest that the higher the education, the less one’s ability to see the connection.

So, Obama went on the offensive.

He invented an issue out of whole cloth, appropriating to himself a position that was actually the position of Christian conservatives for years, and painting those very same Christians as being in opposition to it.

And you fell for it.  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.

One of the reasons you fell for it is because you misconstrue and misunderstand why people pushed back against Obama’s comments.  You think the opposition is against the ‘refugees’, per se, just like you think that people who are against illegal immigration are being heartless (so much for the rule of law, eh?).  No.  The ‘opposition’ is a reflection of the complete lack of confidence that people have in Obama himself, and more broadly, a lack of confidence in the competency of our Federal government to do what they say they’re going to do.

Your reaction against your fellow Christians is based on Obama’s characterization of those who oppose him, rather than on the actual positions of those Christians.

Haven’t you noticed how under the Obama administration we’ve been led from one crisis after another?   This is intentional, and part of the program.

When I heard Obama’s comments, especially the ones about Republicans being afraid of ‘widows and orphans‘, I knew it was just part of the playbook that liberals and progressives have been acting out of for decades, but which Obama has mastered and institutionalized in his administration.

Go ahead and watch that video clip of the ‘widows and orphans‘ again, and then remember that Obama actually studied and taught the principles of Saul Alinsky.  Alinsky was an atheist who knew that he could not transform the United States unless he got the Church on his side.  Like Margaret Sanger, who specifically used black pastors in her effort to depopulate the black population, Alinksy would co-opt the Christian church in America; his ‘Industrial Area Foundation’ is the founder and sponsor of the ‘Gamaliel Foundation’, a group that lists Alinsky’s book as required reading and specifically goes into churches to agitate for the kinds of things Alinsky wanted to achieve.    Go ahead, check it all out.  Perhaps start here.

Three of Alinksy’s ‘rules’ jumped out at me when I heard Obama’s remarks.

Rule #13:  Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

You Christian ‘moderates’ have been decrying the polarization of the United States in the last decade or so and seem to think its because of something that conservatives have been doing.  It’s actually part of the liberal activist program.  It is they that have been personalizing and polarizing things, and Obama the most.  Can you not see how his comments are a perfect application of this rule?

Rule #5:  Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

You thought Obama’s comments merely unfortunate?  No sir.  They are calculated.  Completely calculated.

Rule #4: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

Alinsky immediately goes on to explain just who he has in mind, here:

“You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

He’s talking about you, brother.

Getting Christians to pile onto other Christians, ostensibly in the name of Christianity, is precisely what Alinsky–and Obama–wanted to do.

And you fell for it.

Again.

The seemingly impossible has been achieved:  Christians, thinking that they are interceding on behalf of ‘Syrian Refugees,’ have piled onto Christians who actually have been interceding for Syrian refugees for months, and even years.

Meanwhile, the one whose policies directly led to the destruction of country after country in the Middle East, manages to escape scrutiny.  Again.

Where do you think ISIS got their weapons in the first place?

The legitimate refugees are fleeing the various Islamo-totalitarian regimes that came into power due to Obama’s instigation of the Arab Spring, beginning in Tunisia, burning through Libya  and coursing through Egypt, on its way to Iran and Syria.  Do you remember what happened to Gaddafi? You can bet that Assad, in Syria, did, pal.

A funny thing happened in Iran.  When the Islamic hard-liners evidently rigged the election there, the genuine Muslim moderates took to the streets.  Given what had transpired elsewhere, these Iranian people thought the United States had their backs.  Instead, they were put down, mercilessly.  From Obama:  crickets.

The only reason there are refugees at all is because Obama put a torch to the region.   Except in a few cases where strange twists of fate occurred, hard-line Islamcists surged to power.  In Egypt, the military stepped in and deposed the Muslim Brotherhood, which had taken power.  Obama protested.  In Syria, Assad saw the writing on the wall and knew that he had to act decisively.  It appears extremely likely that Obama armed ISIS, and the death of the ambassador in Benghazi was connected to this fact.

No wonder that Hillary Clinton has fought the release of her emails so vigorously and the State Department has dragged its heels on everything.

If this is all true, and it seems likely that it is, what did you expect Assad to do?

I mean, really.

Pretty much everywhere else, Islamcists grabbed control, and moved to purge the region for Allah.

Don’t you think its reasonable to think that a better solution is to ‘fix’ the region so the people can live in their own homelands safely, rather than simply patching over the problem by bringing those people over here, leaving those lands firmly in the hands of Islamcists?  And what about the fact that Islamicists are not shy about their intention to infiltrate the mass of refugees in order to carry out their work?

Whatever else you may think, it is not ‘unchristian’ to want to solve a problem at its source.

I will tell you what is unchristian, though.

It is ‘unchristian’ to allow yourself to be manipulated, over, and over, and over, and over again.  Of all people, Christians are supposed to be the most discerning.  When the media says “jump!” Christians shouldn’t be the first to enthusiastically shout, “how high?”

Stop taking things at face value when there are obvious and glaring reasons to be suspicious about what is going on.  Stop paying attention only to what Obama is saying, and look at what he is doing.

Which, of course, is an important thing to remember for any politician–nay, for any person.

“By their fruits you will know them.”

Please, please, please stop playing right into ‘their’ hands.

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    • End Bringer on November 24, 2015 at 11:26 am

    “The target audience of this post is the Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously, as written, but styles himself as a political moderate.”

    I fear this is an increasingly shrinking demographic SJ, as I have often observed a correlation between churches who disregard the Scripture as the foundational source of Christian study, to how more secular and liberal their ‘Christian’ members become.

    There is just little if any room to take Scripture seriously and ignore so many passages about conflict and opposition between Christ and the world in favor of playing moderate peacemaker while remaining consistent.

    • Anthony on November 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm
      Author

    Well, they think they take the Scriptures seriously, at any rate.

    But I have higher hopes for those on my Facebook feed… I don’t exactly attract very many liberal Christians.

    • Josh D on November 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Your link “in Benghazi was connected to this fact” is the same link as the “protested” one above. I’m assuming this is in error, and I was interested in seeing what the Benghazi link was supposed to be.

    • Anthony on November 24, 2015 at 4:17 pm
      Author

    Fixed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmjT-VeHjiY

    I would suggest really delving into that if this is the first you’ve heard of this. Everything seems constructed to prevent us from knowing definitively what happened, but there are enough clues and claims that more than reasonable suspicion is warranted.

    • Josh D on November 24, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    How come there wasn’t more mentioned about the weapons at hearing with Clinton? Are they building to something?

    • Anthony on November 24, 2015 at 4:36 pm
      Author

    That’s a great question.

    I’ll concede the premise, even though I didn’t watch the hearings myself to know if in fact it wasn’t mentioned (more). What I do know is that it has been mentioned in a variety of contexts, and the suspicion that there is ‘something to it’ has been fueled by Clinton’s email server scandal, and all that that scandal entails.

    It is clear that something is being hidden. If it isn’t gun-running, it is something else pretty juicy.

    Minus the Benghazi angle, Rand Paul has been going after the administration for arming ISIS for quite a while:
    https://randpaul.com/failed-policies-weapons-to-isis-syrian–iraq

    • Josh D on November 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Yeah the weapons thing is not new to me — even Vox has reported that. I just wasn’t sure how it related to Benghazi. I did watch the hearings and didn’t think the Republicans did a very good job of getting anywhere. It is pretty obvious that Clinton is slimy just by watching and listening to her, but they either 1) didn’t have enough to pin her to the wall with, 2) weren’t smart enough to make their case well, or 3) don’t know what she’s hiding.

    • Anthony on November 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm
      Author

    I think all 3 of those items could be true, simultaneously.

    If I had to make a pick right now, I would go with #1, though. I think they have some good ideas about what she is hiding, but the evidence that would prove it has been smothered in government circles of hell and carefully expunged from Hillary’s server(s). If they were to make a claim without that evidence, they’d be nailed to the wall.

    Even if everyone knew it was almost certainly true, it wouldn’t matter.

    I get this impression when I hear certain representatives talk, as if they know something but can’t share it for some reason or reasons.

    But it could very well be #3. Or #2! Or all three! See above.

  1. Ooonliest thing I would say contrary to this is the issue…
    It really isn’t about Obama’s simple desire to immigrate Syrians, but to immigrate Muslims, specifically Islamists, not Christians. The desire is based, in part on realizing his claim that the United States is NOT a Christian Nation, by forcing an increased rate of the Islamization of the nation by creating an invasion of immigrants.
    Immigration of Christians would possibly work to strengthen conservatives because there is a commonality of values based upon Christian principles that tend toward assimilation to the society, and laws of the land;Islam has no such tendencies, in fact, the doctrine instructs gaining confidence and trust of the infidel to overpower him and maim and destroy him.(Taqiyyah) It teaches Invasion by soft immigration, then demands seizure of political control. One need only look at Dearborn, MI to see this has long been accomplished. The city of Hamtramck, near Detroit, has seen changing demographics: long known as a 90% Polish American enclave, it is now as much as 60% Muslim and they have seized political control of the city. In Europe, some small villages of only 100-200 citizens have been inundated by up to 750 Muslim immigrants. These communities have in a matter of weeks experienced what Obama has promised for all of the United States… a Fundamental Change You Can Believe… We are being invaded, and we are on the verge of losing our way of life, our society, our religious base of Judeo/Christian principle but secular government to Islam and Shariah, and Christians are too busy square-dancing to the call of Progressive Socialists with a soft spot for Islam.
    This is what is at issue.. or should be, rather that pitting Christian against Christian. Oh,yeah, and immigration of Muslims? There IS a law against it.
    The Immigration and Nationality Act passed June 27, 1952 revised the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality for the United States. That act, which became Public Law 414, established both the law and the intent of Congress regarding the immigration of Aliens to the US and remains in effect today. Among the many issues it covers, one in particular, found in Chapter 2 Section 212, is the prohibition of entry to the US if the Alien belongs to an organization seeking to overthrow the government of the United States by “force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.”

    • Anthony on November 24, 2015 at 6:23 pm
      Author

    Very good, Dan. It is a rare man who even knows what ‘Taqiyyah’ is. It’s sort of the Islamic equivalent to the Alinsky style of politics.

    • Silas on November 24, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    I am, in your view, falling for a trick to “get Christians to adopt positions that are not Christian at all.”

    I think I and those like me have basically two positions. Very briefly, you could express them as:
    1) Christian values and the teachings of Jesus dictate placing a low priority on our own safety and comfort, and a much higher priority on offering aid to those in need.
    2) Christians should not publicly espouse moral or ethical positions that conflict with #1, and when they do so, they bring discredit upon Jesus and his teachings.

    Which one is the unChristian position?

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 12:38 am
      Author

    Thanks for posing the question. So everyone knows, I don’t know you from Adam. I have, however, had my own position characterized as ‘unChristian’, from POTUS on down, and seen countless others described as the same. You have not specifically done this (to me), so my answer is not personal in any way. It is intended to reflect objective reality, and assumes that together we take the Scriptures very seriously.

    All of them.

    Essentially you have invoked the ‘Good Samaritan’ argument which I have seen going around as a pretext for labeling our opposition as ‘unchristian.’ But of course, there are more Scriptures than that.

    If you will indulge me, I can answer your objection and expose it as being unbibilical and even unChristian by asking you some questions. I’m pretty sure that you will begin to see the fallacy all on your own.

    So, two questions of my own.

    A. Given proposition #1, is it your position that a Christian could not, as a police officer, use lethal force?
    B. Given proposition #1, is it your position that a Christian–say, under assault in his own home–should not call the police for help?

    Thank you in advance for your answers.

    • Silas on November 25, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Reasonable questions.

    A) I’m not one of those who reads scripture to actually forbid any use of violence at all by citizens, but it’s certainly disfavored. I could point out the cases of both David and Jehu, who were both punished for violence even though God himself had specifically authorized and praised it at the time (Hosea 1:4, 1 Chronicles 22:8). Plus all the traditionally cited NT text about extra miles and cheek-turning and so on.

    However, violence by public officials acting in their public capacity is not merely permitted, but mandatory in some circumstances, under any reasonable reading of Romans 13. A sword is not properly a disciplinary implement. You use it to kill people with.

    So, we get a bit of a conflict if we have a person who fits in both of these categories, with which better minds than mine have struggled in vain. However, I’d cautiously say that believers should perform their sworn duty as public servants, meaning use of force when required by law, and that given the two-masters problem they should also avoid holding those sorts of positions in the first place.

    B) I bet I’m not going to like where you’re taking this metaphor, but I’ll play along. Certainly someone should call the police, all else being equal. That’s what the police are for, according to the Bible. It’s a harder question to determine whether your homeowner ought to try shooting the intruder himself; John Piper says he wouldn’t, but I think I would, particularly if other lives than mine were at stake.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 9:26 am
      Author

    Thanks for your answers. Just to be clear, these questions have thoroughly practical implications. They aren’t metaphors… although, they do lend themselves naturally to certain analagous situations, admittedly.

    You do 2 things here of interest.

    First, the complete contradiction…

    “So, we get a bit of a conflict if we have a person who fits in both of these categories,”

    I would put this up for the “understatement of the year” award. It isn’t a ‘bit of a conflict.’ It is a flat contradiction. Remember, in your #1, you said:

    dictate placing a low priority on our own safety and comfort”

    And now you say (and I commend you for saying, cuz it is quite true), “violence by public officials acting in their public capacity is not merely permitted, but mandatory in some circumstances, under any reasonable reading of Romans 13″

    Your proposition #1, ‘dictating’ a defensive, self-sacrificing posture, cannot be reconciled with ‘not merely permitted,’ ‘but mandatory’ exactly opposite actions.

    The logically consistent position would have been to say that a Christian could in no way be a public official whose duties included using violence “in some circumstances.”

    The other thing of interest you do is draw a distinction between a ‘public official acting in their public capacity’ and a Christian public official.

    I should be interested to hear how it would be a ‘bit of a conflict’ for the Christian tasked to possibly use violence, while the public official need not be concerned with Jesus ‘dictate’ to put a ‘lower priority on their safety and comfort.’ Wouldn’t Jesus’ moral teachings apply to every human in every capacity?

    I think you know the answer to these questions: your #1 is going to have to be significantly broadened. Insofar as it has merit at all (and I will agree that it does), it has a very narrow application. At best, it applies to the single individual concerned only about his own interests.

    It is powerless to address situations where someone is tasked with protecting others (which under Romans 13 is an EXPLICIT task given to the government) or where there are conflicting interests, ie, a police officer arriving on the scene of a robbery may very well give his own safety and comfort a low priority, but he’s obviously not going to be able to offer the same kind of ‘aid’ to both the robber and the robbery victim.

    That is, in service to the victim, he may need to shoot dead the robber.

    There is no way that your #1 can be extended to such situations–which are innumerable in real life–unless you denounce the police officer, whether he be Christian or not. (Unless you say that non-Christians are not also subjects in God’s moral universe).

    I will now address your answer to my question, B.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 9:42 am
      Author

    Your answer to B also completely undermines your original statement, #1.

    “Certainly someone should call the police, all else being equal.”

    This is about as definitive as using the words ‘dictate’ and ‘mandatory.’ You seem to be drawing from a deep well of absolutes here. 🙂 Now if only one was not required to kill someone in one circumstance, while required to lay down and be killed, in another (the natural implication of your #1, as written.)

    I don’t disagree with your answer, mind you. But I would insist that you are drawing on other moral principles that are valid and in force and must be integrated into your #1, because if this is not done, #1, as it stands, is not biblical. It is not a lie, but it is not the whole truth, either.

    “That’s what the police are for, according to the Bible.”

    Right. 🙂 “according to the Bible.”

    “It’s a harder question to determine whether your homeowner ought to try shooting the intruder himself;”

    This is actually not the direction that I’m going, but while we are here, I would say that the husband and father has the same vocational rights and obligations as the police officer, as far as his own family goes. I think it is quite simple: if there are people in the house under his protection, then absolutely, you shoot the intruder. No brainer. I would even say if you are alone, and your home is just a random target, you are still not merely permitted, but may have a moral obligation to use lethal violence.

    It only becomes a ‘hard question’ if the person breaking through your door is doing so for the specific reason that you are a Christian. Jesus called us to suffer for his name, true. Suffer for willy-nilly random acts of violence? I don’t see that.

    But like I said, this is not actually where I was going with this question. I’m taking aim (pardon the pun) at the ‘Samaritan’ analogy. Let me deal with it more directly in my third and final comment.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 9:52 am
      Author

    After some thought, I decided that the better way to address your answer to my B is to ask you another question.

    Continuing my scenario, instead of calling the police, would you not only submit yourself to whatever violence the robber is going to do, but also tell him where the key is to your neighbor’s house, along with detailed information about when the best time to break in, is? If the robber said, “I’d prefer to kill him, too, while I’m at it. Just to keep things clean.” Would you tell him when your neighbor is likely to be home?

    For a moment, let’s assume your neighbor isn’t a Christian. Because obviously, if he is a Christian and #1 applies, he should have no qualms about being murdered. Let’s say he isn’t a Christian. Do you give him up to your neighbor?

    To refocus this along the Samaritan story, if instead of stopping to help a man hurt along the road, imagine you instead came across the act in progress. Out of deference to the robber’s own interest, and de-prioritizing your own comfort and safety, should you now go and pay his way at the hotel down the road?

    Too easy.

    All sane people can answer this one.

    Imagine instead that you come across the scene in progress and there are 20 men surrounding the man. You can tell that one of them, at least, is the culprit, but you don’t know which one. Do you invite them all into your neighbor’s house?

    I say your ‘neighbor’s house’ because obviously according to #1, there should be no question about bringing them into your own house. But what about your non-Christian neighbor? Out of the kindness of your heart, according to Jesus’ parable, do you believe you are obligated to invite this dubious lot into the comfort and safety of your non-Christian’s neighbor’s house?

    • Silas on November 25, 2015 at 11:27 am

    ^ _ ^ This is fun. You forgot to ask an even harder question for those taking my position to answer: What are the moral implications of authorization by the state for citizens to use force? Does the ordinary citizen become, in a limited way, a state actor, gaining a scriptural authority he lacks in other circumstances? Or even worse, what if the Christian is conscripted? Is this grounds for civil disobedience? Moreover, does a Christian become his own sort of proto-government if he lives in an area where there is no functioning civil authority?

    I don’t have authority to make decisions about my neighbor’s house, property, or family. Personal ownership and authority over property are very clearly protected even if the owner is a scummy fraudster who’s about to die (Acts 5). This distinguishes my relationship to my neighbor on the one hand from my relationship to other citizens in a nation on the other; I do have some limited shared authority to have a say in mutual decisions in the latter case.

    But you’re imputing to me a position I haven’t taken. I haven’t said “Christians must never do violence.” That would, indeed, result in some insoluble scriptural contradictions, which means if we’re going with inerrancy (one of the things I hope you mean when you say “take Scripture seriously”) we can’t take it as our view. Instead, I’m trying to eschew absolutes. My #1 does say “dictate” but it also talks about high and low priorities, not about absolutes. In other words, a comparison between these value is situationally dependent, not universally prescriptive. My position re: refugees (remember our original topic?) has never been that it’s stupid to think about our safety AT ALL, but that most Christian comment I’ve seen personally is getting the balance very badly wrong.

    Which leads me back to a point I made on the other thread. So far I have read hundreds of inches explaining why I’m wrong to criticize the anti-refugee groundswell among conservative evangelicals, but not a single line of text making an actual affirmative case for why the anti-refugee position is scriptural and/or moral. Almost all of it, for some reason, seems to be dedicated to explaining why the overwhelming, generally recognized teaching of Scripture is actually not on point here. For lulz I’ll cherry-pick Hebrews 13:2 and James 1:27 as examples, but we all know I could go 50 texts deep and not be done.

    So, since I’m sure I’m more or less on an island here, I’ll issue a challenge. If you truly, sincerely, and prayerfully reach the conclusion that the right moral choice for a Christian in the US to make is to oppose the acceptance of any number of Arab Muslim refugees, tell me why from Scripture. Make an affirmative moral case based on affirmative moral authority.

    And if you can’t, do try to consider what that might mean.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 4:17 pm
      Author

    I am glad that you are entertained. 🙂

    I haven’t imputed any position on you. I have asked you some questions for the specific purpose of finding out what you really think, and moving the conversation forward in a step by step rational way. I am disappointed that in this most recent reply, you did not answer my questions, but instead glossed over them. That is unfortunate, because that is exactly the sort of thing that fuels misunderstandings, as it forces me to make assumptions, which may or may not be right.

    Another unfortunate result is that instead of giving me a careful reply, you fell into one logical fallacy after another.

    One of my assumptions is that the reason why you think your reply above suffices as a response to my questions, as if I’m trying to pin you down as a pacifist or something (and you feel this is absurd.) I also sense that you know that to answer my questions directly, would be tantamount to a complete repudiation of your argument–from your own mouth.

    I regret to inform you that this damage has already been done. In your very first reply, you wrote:

    “violence by public officials acting in their public capacity is not merely permitted, but mandatory in some circumstances, under any reasonable reading of Romans 13.”

    This alone is sufficient to expose why your #1 is not biblical, and I already explained why, and you have tacitly accepted my correction. But, if you had answered my questions, we could have made good progress towards understanding better what would need to be added to #1 in order for it to actually be biblical.

    You are trying to have your cake, and eat it too. You admit:

    “I don’t have authority to make decisions about my neighbor’s house, property, or family.”

    Which is absolutely right. And your #1, if it is valid at all, is only valid in this narrow sphere of authority.

    But then you put a challenge to me about the ‘right moral choice for a Christian in the U.S.’, as if individual Christian has the authority “to make decisions about my neighbor’s house, property, or family.”

    Out of one side of your mouth, you admit you do not have that authority. Out of the other side of your mouth, you wish us to impose a moral calculation on a whole country of your neighbors, based on a statement that, on your own concession, cannot possibly be extended in that fashion.

    Which means that this whole line of argument amounts to the logical fallacy known as a ‘red herring.’ One’s individual responsibilities are not what is at issue, but what our government’s responsibilities are.

    You can “go 50 texts deep” along the same vein all you want, and it would still be nonsense. There is no solid basis for interpreting a passage like Hebrews 13:2 to apply to governments. There is no way to reconcile Jesus’ call to the individual to ‘turn the other cheek’ with Paul’s description of the proper role of the government in Romans 13 to ‘bear the sword.’

    As you yourself said,

    violence by public officials acting in their public capacity is not merely permitted, but mandatory in some circumstances, under any reasonable reading of Romans 13. A sword is not properly a disciplinary implement. You use it to kill people with.

    I have in the past made exactly the same argument to Christian pacifists.

    For you to continue to cite passages that apply only to the individual Christian acting in his own private capacity, when your own words acknowledge limitations to that authority, is pure stubbornness. You know that I’m right, you just don’t want to admit it.

    But on to some of your other logical fallacies.

    You note the absence of “a single line of text making an actual affirmative case for why the anti-refugee position is scriptural and/or moral.”

    This is a strawman, and a perfect example of the kind of behavior I denounced in my post:

    “Your reaction against your fellow Christians is based on Obama’s characterization of those who oppose him, rather than on the actual positions of those Christians.”

    There is no anti-refugee position. Refugees may have been YOUR original topic, but my contention is that we are only talking about it because Obama made it an issue, and the dogs dutifully salivated. MY position is not spelled out, but it was certainly alluded to:

    Don’t you think its reasonable to think that a better solution is to ‘fix’ the region so the people can live in their own homelands safely, rather than simply patching over the problem by bringing those people over here, leaving those lands firmly in the hands of Islamcists? …

    Whatever else you may think, it is not ‘unchristian’ to want to solve a problem at its source.

    If you think that it is unchristian to think it is better to fix what we’ve broken and solve the problem at its source, you’ve got serious problems that I’m afraid I cannot fix in the comment section on a blog. 😉

    Your characterization of my view as ‘anti-refugee’ is not only a strawman, but it is vile. But don’t take that personally. It is precisely because my position does not at all represent an ‘anti-refugee’ position but is characterized as such that I wrote the post in the first place.

    It is also why I began by pointing out that people with my position have… please pay attention to this… this is important… BEEN ADVOCATING FOR REFUGEES FOR MONTHS AND YEARS… long before Obama ever seemed to notice them. To say that we are ‘anti-refugee’ when we have a long history of doing whatever we can to help these people destroyed by our government’s policies, in the face of our government’s ACTIVE OPPOSITION, is insulting.

    And we’re sick of it.

    And you should be ashamed of yourself for regurgitating it.

    When you challenge me to defend the proposition that “the right moral choice for a Christian in the US to make is to oppose the acceptance of any number of Arab Muslim refugees, tell me why from Scripture.” it should be clear that I do not accept the premise, and that I think your premise is rotten at the core. It is deeply flawed, conflating whatever the appropriate personal responses might be with the appropriate responses of civil servants.

    If you care to actually answer my questions, we can continue to probe what the ‘appropriate’ responses of civil servants might be, in light of the Bible, and by all means, eventually take into account the “limited shared authority” we have in influencing and guiding the responses of those civil servants.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 4:22 pm
      Author

    Just in case you are unsure about what questions I wanted answered, I have summed them up below:

    Continuing my scenario, instead of calling the police, would you not only submit yourself to whatever violence the robber is going to do, but also tell him where the key is to your neighbor’s house, along with detailed information about when the best time to break in, is? If the robber said, “I’d prefer to kill him, too, while I’m at it. Just to keep things clean.” Would you tell him when your neighbor is likely to be home?

    For a moment, let’s assume your neighbor isn’t a Christian. Because obviously, if he is a Christian and #1 applies, he should have no qualms about being murdered. Let’s say he isn’t a Christian. Do you give him up [to be killed]?

    To refocus this along the Samaritan story, if instead of stopping to help a man hurt along the road… Imagine [] that you come across the scene in progress and there are 20 men surrounding the man. You can tell that one of them, at least, is the culprit, but you don’t know which one. Do you invite them all into your neighbor’s house?

    I say your ‘neighbor’s house’ because obviously according to #1, there should be no question about bringing them into your own house. But what about your non-Christian neighbor? Out of the kindness of your heart, according to Jesus’ parable, do you believe you are obligated to invite this dubious lot into the comfort and safety of your non-Christian’s neighbor’s house?

    By asking these questions, I am not imputing to you a position. Instead, by coming to agreement about what the proper biblical response would be in this kind of scenario, we will be able to more precisely explain just why your position, as it currently stands, is not biblical at all, and what we would have to add to it so that it becomes biblical.

    • Anthony on November 25, 2015 at 4:35 pm
      Author

    Ah yes. Sorry, but I was also going to highlight another example of your fallacious (strawman) argumentation. You describe my position as ‘anti-refugee.’ But I addressed this in the post:

    One of the reasons you fell for it is because you misconstrue and misunderstand why people pushed back against Obama’s comments. You think the opposition is against the ‘refugees’, per se, just like you think that people who are against illegal immigration are being heartless (so much for the rule of law, eh?). No. The ‘opposition’ is a reflection of the complete lack of confidence that people have in Obama himself, and more broadly, a lack of confidence in the competency of our Federal government to do what they say they’re going to do.

    Judging from the pretty large FB response I’ve gotten to this article, this does not seem to be a position peculiar just to me.

    You can keep asking for what the biblical basis for the ‘anti-refugee’ position until you are blue in the face, but you’ll never get an answer to it here, because this author, at least, is NOT anti-refugee. Per se. 😉

    • Silas on November 25, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for continuing this conversation. Thanks also for important clarifications.

    I’m glad we both recognize that the moral choices a nation should make are not the same as the ones incumbent upon an individual. If I’ve given the impression I don’t recognize that difference, you’re right to criticize that in me. I intended no such thing, nor indeed do I hold that view.

    Furthermore, I think it’s right to show wisdom in the way we help others. I agree that there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to solve a problem at its source. I’ve read analysis about how it’s 11 times more efficient in dollar terms to locally resettle displaced persons than to take them elsewhere. I have no reason to quarrel with the numbers or the analysis. Anyone who, in good faith and from right motives reaches the conclusion that the best way to help displaced Syrians or Iraqis is to make sure they have what they need where they are is not my intended target. I might disagree with such a one practically, noting at the same time my own relative inexperience with the issues presented, but not rebuke her for moral inconsistency.

    To your questions:
    Whether I personally submit to the thief. Situational, but probably not. Knowing no other details than the ones offered in the hypo, definitely not.
    Continued…

    • Silas on November 25, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    As to inviting a known thief into my neighbor’s house while he is away, also no, for the reasons I’ve laid out above. It would amount to theft of my neighbor’s home even to invite a stranger into it whom I knew to have no hostile intent, and especially to abet them in entering it with a key or information as suggested in your hypo.

    I might, perhaps, prevail upon my neighbor to make certain choices, particularly in the 20-to-1 case you offer, and I might indeed make arguments to support my view, taking the risk my neighbor might suffer guilt or perceive me as a holier-than-thou Pharisee.

    But the distinction between a nation and an individual is crucial here. In this country, each of us has a certain power and authority over all the others. Just as a nation is not a person, a nation is not a home, and it belongs to me (in theory, at least) as much as to anyone else who lives here. That includes, as I think you’re saying, a responsibility to the safety of everyone in the same case, which indeed is heightened relative to those from elsewhere, and would be further heightened if, as a public official, I swore an oath to serve the best interests of the United States and her people.

    If I (following the President or not) have mischaracterized the positions of those who oppose me in this, I apologize for the error. Your examples in your post, and the position of those Obama was criticizing, advocate for (Cruz, Bush, Beck) admitting Christians and excluding Muslims en masse, or (Huckabee, Trump), admitting only those who can prove they pose no threat. These positions I hold to represent poor moral reasoning. I think acceptance of some risk is called for, while blind acceptance of all risks without prudence is not.

    In immediate, practical terms, I think Obama’s goal of 10,000 of all faiths does not correctly balance humanitarian goals with security goals in one way, while the public statements of the men I’ve mentioned balance them incorrectly in the opposite direction. This, however, is not tantamount to calling for the US to ignore either all security problems, nor all humanitarian ones.

    • Anthony on November 28, 2015 at 11:25 am
      Author

    Quoting in full:

    But the distinction between a nation and an individual is crucial here. In this country, each of us has a certain power and authority over all the others. Just as a nation is not a person, a nation is not a home, and it belongs to me (in theory, at least) as much as to anyone else who lives here. That includes, as I think you’re saying, a responsibility to the safety of everyone in the same case, which indeed is heightened relative to those from elsewhere, and would be further heightened if, as a public official, I swore an oath to serve the best interests of the United States and her people.

    Just when I begin to think that communications over the Internet are always destined to fail, you bring me back from the brink!

    You’ve essentially spelled out my overall position. Add a few items (eg, firm upholding of the rule of law according to the U.S. Constitution as written) and it sums up my entire approach to politics as an American.

    I want to draw your attention to an important feature of your response to my scenarios.

    What would we say about someone who did send the robber to his neighbor’s house? What would we say about the person who let 20 people into his neighbor’s house? You’re right that the principle is violated even if they are all fine fellows, but surely if we know that one of them is a murderer, even if we don’t know which one, that compounds the violation significantly!

    Would we say to our protesting neighbor, as I have witnessed being said, “What would Jesus do?!?!?!? Don’t you remember Hebrews 13:2?!?!?!?!”

    Would we even say this if our protesting neighbor was a Christian?

    And if the murderer rose up and killed your neighbor, would we wring our hands about the event but then say, “Christian values and the teachings of Jesus dictate placing a low priority on our own safety and comfort… which means sometimes our safety is compromised…”

    I think not.

    This part is very important: if such a series of events were to transpire, our judgement on the ‘Christian’ who invited the people into our neighbor’s house would have been highly unfavorable. No one would think those actions were ‘Christian.’ Indeed, we would rightly describe them as wicked and despicable, and about as unChristian as it is possible to be.

    So we find ourselves understanding a very important distinction: subjecting ourselves to danger is indeed a likely consequence of a genuine walk with Jesus, but using those same passages to subject others to danger, is a vile perversion of the Gospel.

    It is all well and good for the Good Samaritan to come along and help the mugged man out of his own resources, exposing himself to negative fall out (eg, the mugged man is a drug addict), but as soon as others come into play, the responsibility shifts immediately (and ‘others’ includes one’s own family, along with the rest of society, I’d say).

    • Anthony on November 28, 2015 at 11:36 am
      Author

    The next very important thing I would say is that this shifting of responsibility is not a matter of spectrum. Without addressing the merits or demerit of your comments related to ‘poor moral reasoning’, you used the word ‘balance.’ I don’t think we’ve reached a point in our conversation where I can accept that use of the word. Before we can talk about ‘balance’ we need to make sure we are even in the right category.

    Balance implies a spectrum or a scale, with a fulcrum. The context of your remarks still suggests that the ‘poor moral reasoning’ is being calculated according to principles that can only be properly applied to the individual acting only in light of his own interests and responsibilities to himself. But our responsibilities to each other are in an entirely different category or moral reasoning.

    The proper response to coming across the men surrounding the bludgeoned man on the path is to try to obtain justice for the bludgeoned man, care, perhaps, for the putative 19 non-murderers, and concern for the safety of the immediate area. This represents an entirely different ‘scale’ of moral reasoning.

    Now, from your comments and our discussion, I think you are willing to concede this and go further, acknowledge that it is essentially your own position.

    But from watching the catcalls and cries of Christians denouncing other Christians, and looking at the Bible verses and rationales that they are using, and so on, this very important distinction seems to be utterly absent from their considerations.

    Which puts me in the unfortunate position of pointing out that, on their reasoning, they are advocating that the moral thing to do is to invite a murderer hiding among a larger group into their neighbor’s house, and then trying to cow the neighbor into silence and submission by reminding him that Jesus said to turn the other cheek. (Meanwhile, many of their neighbors aren’t Christian at all).

    Thus, according to this principle…

    “Christians should not publicly espouse moral or ethical positions that conflict [with Christian values and ethics], and when they do so, they bring discredit upon Jesus and his teachings.”

    … I feel a responsibility to rebuke these Christians and point out that their actions are not at all in line with what Jesus asked, and bring discredit upon Jesus and his teachings. And oh yea, will very likely lead to their neighbor being killed.

    That is the spirit and intent behind my original post.

    • Silas on November 30, 2015 at 8:50 am

    So, in your view, does scripture have nothing at all to say to the governance of a nation? Or, specifically, the governance of a nation regard displaced persons from other nations? Is it your contention that I’m picking the wrong texts, or that there are no applicable texts and we’re on our own?

    • Anthony on November 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm
      Author

    I don’t think that at all. Didn’t we just have resounding agreement that Romans 13 applied?

    One of the things that I’ve always found interesting is how little Christians have thought to evaluate that very question. So many times we get a line of argument that is very similar to the one that you raised, where passages clearly applicable to individuals are uncritically applied to groups or governments. I’ve already addressed that. On the other hand, more ‘conservative’-leaning Christians have committed a similar error, but from the other direction.

    A friend of mine once put it this way: conservatives tend to legislate morality while liberals tend to legislate compassion. Both think they are justified, and both appeal to the Scriptures to make their case. But, in both cases, the selected passages usually have limited scope; ie, Christians are clearly prohibited from engaging in homosexual behavior, but whether or not it is appropriate to impose that legislatively is an entirely different matter (see 1 Corinthians 5:12).

    There is a reason why I classify myself as a ‘Constitutional-libertarian’, in a somewhat vain attempt to capture such nuances.

    But as soon as one does sit down to see what the Scriptures say about the purpose of the government, and the areas where we do right to ‘impose’ on others, we find that there is more to go on than we may suppose. For example, Romans 13 is patently clear about what God perceives one purpose of the government is–to protect the people governed from wrongdoers.

    This is a first-order responsibility, plainly and explicitly spelled out. It is therefore completely within my rights as a citizen and as a Christian to demand that my government fulfill this basic responsibility.

    A vast number of other things that governments have been doing have no Scriptural warrant at all. Some things are neutral (it is not prohibited or recommended) while some things are clearly outside the scope of what God wants out of the government–especially, for the Christian.

    I consider it a great start to just ask the question, instead of assuming that whatever our natural proclivities are (legislating morality vs. legislating compassion) it is proper to equip the government to enforce those proclivities–a dangerous affair, I’d say, since “the government does not bear the sword for nothing.”

    I have an essay on something related, with Christians only in mind, arguing that Christians should STOP trying to use the government to carry out its charitable endeavors. If you are interested in reading it, send me your email address to director@athanatosministries.org

    I think you’ll enjoy it, even if you don’t agree with it. And besides, I’m currently floating it to people I expect to be critical, and I think you may qualify. That’s a compliment. 🙂

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