Feb 152017

Outside of sports, I usually don’t watch much tv.  For many years now, there really have been no shows that I watch with close to any kind of regularity, with one exception.

That exception is 24.  

It has been my guilty pleasure. 

 Now with the show re-launching a new season, I am already hooked again after just two episodes, even without Jack Bauer to save day.

For those unfamiliar with 24, it is an action packed, suspense driven, often political thriller of a show where there is almost always a race against the clock to diffuse some catastrophic terrorist plot (often multiple ones at the same time) that is about to go down and threatens thousands, if not even millions of people.  Often chock full with conspiracy theories with some bad guy(s) always working from the inside, one is never sure who to trust (except Jack, we can always trust Jack), each week is left with a cliff hanger as disaster is perilously close to happening.

Obviously there is much drama built into the show as last second aversions (and failures to avert) of disaster and political conspiracies add much suspense and intrigue and help draw in and keep viewers.  How much of the show reflects what reality is actually like in regards to terrorist threats for government and top government defense and security agencies, I don’t really know.  One would probably have to be a legitimately pertinent government insider who is plugged in to some top secrets to really know how much of the show reflects some measure of reality and how much is just Hollywood sensationalism.

Since the show revolves around fighting terrorism, the antagonists are most often Muslims and/or Middle Easterners.  This gives the show an air of reality as we recognize in our world that most terrorist attacks, especially the larger and more intricate ones, are carried out by radical Muslims and/or people of Middle Eastern descent.  It does give picture to the very real danger that we face in this world by a radical Islam that believes it is righteously and triumphantly killing anyone it views as an infidel.

Which leads me to think about the refugee issue.  Now, my intent is not to make this a debate about refugees and/or President Trump’s executive order, although the discussion can easily end up going that way and there’s probably not much I can do about it.  But I want to reflect on a few different thoughts or aspects akin to the issue.

First, I echo Michael’s thoughts that he gave in last week’s Calvin’s Corner podcast (At the time of this writing, I haven’t yet listened to this week’s podcast so I can’t speak to anything additional there).  Those thoughts being that this is a complicated issue and it’s not nearly as simple as being for or against refugees.  That there are competing considerations between loving the refugee and showing mercy and compassion to them and also loving your family and neighbor and showing love to them by protecting them from potential harm.  Moreover, although this is a state issue as far as deciding who or how many or where from that we allow refugees into our country, as Christians we can always work to try to influence our governmental leaders to do what we believe is the right thing to do.

From a personal standpoint, I have thought through the issue and have come to the conclusion that Trump’s executive order is in the wrong and is the un-Christian thing to do.  Again, I am not trying to start a debate about it, and so I am not going to argue or detail all reasons which have brought me to such a conclusion.  However, this is what I believe on the issue and my belief was primarily informed by my faith.

Which brings me to how people react to either myself or many others saying that their Christian faith has helped bring them to such a judgment.  It is an interesting juxtaposition of sorts.  In many different instances, when a theologically conservative Christian says a political view is informed by their faith, there are cries from political liberals, some who even are Christians, that they should be keeping their faith out of politics or out of the government.  Sometimes the words of cultism or extremism are even thrown out there.  This often happens on issues like abortion or gay marriage or religious freedom.

But then when one states that their Christian faith was integral in their decision to oppose Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration, or to support environmental issues, or to support the same religious freedoms for Muslims, there are frequently similar cries about wrongfully applying faith to political issues, except this time they come from the opposite camp – those who are political conservatives, some who even are Christians.  Some who will so strongly fight against abortion or for Christian religious freedom with their faith driving their fight, will now say that you’re mixing up church and state issues and you should keep your faith out of this one.  Or there will be the condescending remarks of, “Oh now you want to apply your faith to a political issue.”

We cannot expect different from those who aren’t Christians.  We can try to appeal to them, but we should not be surprised if they choose not to accept or even respect our religious convictions.  But we could and should expect more from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are free to disagree with political conclusions and the reasoning that led to them, but we should be the last ones telling other Christians to not allow their faith to inform their political beliefs and actions.  Sadly, it seems in our increasingly political divide, we much too often allow our political inclinations to override how we should rightly treat each other, including even those who share our faith.

I am not advocating for a type of Christian nationalism where we should work as Christians to take over the government and remove any line between church and state.  But what I am saying is, especially within our own Christian brethren, we should be respectful and even encouraging of people to allow their faith to illuminate how they think and act on the political issues of the day that surround them.  We should even be respectful of those who aren’t applying a Christian faith, but are still thinking and acting and expressing their political beliefs with some modicum of reason and care.  Just maybe if we were successful in accomplishing this, it could be a significant spark in helping to heal the unhealthy division we have in this country.  Just maybe the church could set a good example for the rest of our citizenship by acting like Christians should.  

Just maybe it could even help to heal some of the unhealthy division we have in the church. 

It sure wouldn’t hurt to try. 

  21 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: Religious Conviction and the Refugees”

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Everyone has a worldview. Our worldview influences our vote, whether we’re conscious of it or not, whether we’re public about it or not. We do not usually vote contrary to our worldview.

    Christians should have a worldview. However, our Christian worldview is imperfect at best (because of sin) and non-existent at worst for nominal Christians.

    If you believe that (1) life begins at conception and (2) the embryo deserves legal protection, then there is a very clear commandment against murder. So, in the case of abortion, you can find a variety of Christian groups (who otherwise do not agree on much else) coalesce and even cooperate in a pro-life movement.

    However, the contemporary issues of immigration and refugees as they pertain to government policy are not clearly laid out in the Scriptures. The best you could do is draw some potential inferences. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Christians disagree on immigration and refugee policy in whole or in part. For one thing, there are a variety of potential humane solutions or at least treatments of the problem that aren’t even being discussed right now. I am not in favor of drawing on the name of the Lord on issues on which He has not clearly spoken.

  2. One thought that comes to mind, I don’t know where to stand on this btw, is that Jews and subsequently Jews and Christians for the better part of history have always been the refugees. Jesus, interestingly, was not a refugee. But in keeping with the typology of Elijah being feed by ravens (unclean), Jews and Christians have always been helped by the unsaved as well as hurt.

  3. Kevin,

    Thank you…this is not an easy subject to broach.
    We’ve created an environment where a person is supposed to be all in on one side of the divide…and that does not lead to creative solutions.
    The worst week I ever had on this blog was when I advocated for the Central American child refugees…I almost shut down and shut up.
    I’m being extremely cautious about saying much about the current messes…I don’t want or need the vitriol.

  4. I think our faith convictions should (and do) guide our political convictions, and all aspects of our lives.

    Obviously, there is a recognition that, for example, we as Americans do not want to outlaw freedom of religion, even as we know God does not support freedom of religion. America is ruled by the Constitution. The Christian is ruled by Christ.

    There is also a recognition that allowance under the law is not the same as mandatory compliance and while we can seek to influence to change those laws we do not violate God’s commands to fight for an American theocracy. (i.e. killing the abortion doctor or p*rn distributor).

    However, where I see plenty of room to challenge “Christian conviction” is when those convictions seem to be conveniently aligned with whichever political party is in power. Then I throw a flag on the play and call political partisanship using Christ for cover.

  5. Jean,

    I agree that some issues that we deal with are more clearly laid out in Scripture than others. On the refugee issue, Scripture is clear that we should be compassionate to those in need. It is also clear that we should love and care for our neighbor, which one way of doing this would be not exposing them to unnecessary harm. It is also clear that the state is in place to punish the wrongdoer, which by extension would intimate that the state would be maintaining order and protection of its citizenry. And so the application of what we should do with this current refugee issue is not so cut and dry.

    My personal conclusion when thinking through all the circumstances involved that I am aware of on this current issue is that the executive order and the way it was carried out was wrong and unchristian. I don’t maintain that this is an absolute that all Christians must believe or else they are sinning or contradicting Scripture. I do maintain that I and any other Christian should be allowed to apply our faith in thinking through the issue and come to conclusions of what we believe to be right or wrong actions. We may even come to opposite conclusions. Obviously, we both can’t be right (although we could even both be wrong in some manner or another) and it is because of our fallen nature that you speak of, that that can happen.

    I understand you’re not wanting to invoke the name of the Lord on issues that He has not clearly spoken on. My intent was not to say that this is the definitive word and will of the Lord on the issue. Rather, I wish to communicate that to the my best of my abilities, this is what I personally think God would want the United States to do (or in this case, not do) on this issue.

    Hope that explains a little more clearly what I was trying (or meant) to say.

  6. Michael

    “The worst week I ever had on this blog was when I advocated for the Central American child refugees”

    That says a lot.

  7. Siggy,

    We’ve had some hellacious times on here over the years, so this was significant.
    To be blunt, I’ve had two experiences that radically changed how I thought about my faith and the church in general.
    The first was when I got kicked out of Calvary Chapel and that week was the second.

    In both cases, people I loved and respected turned on me like I was evil incarnate…and I will never completely heal from either until I get home.

  8. Michael, you can let me take the heat on this one. The increased temperature will help me think more about pitchers and catchers and warm and sunny days. 🙂

  9. Kevin,

    I appreciate that, but my conscience is screaming at me…especially in light of the uptick in deportations.

    Even hockey season isn’t an adequate distraction… 🙂

  10. I don’t know why you got kicked out. I did too, not the association but my personal CC.

    Care to elaborate? I can’t for want of not damaging a body of believers. Sorry.

  11. Yeah, but heat melts the ice and then that makes the hockey really ragged. Much better game without the heat. 🙂

  12. Too much heat and hockey becomes lacrosse… 🙂

  13. before reading the comments here…
    i listened to a radio preacher as i drove yesterday making the case that we as Christians don’t try to make our government function as a Christian entity – it is a God ordained one, not a Christian one… our Lord told us to pay our taxes and obey the rules of the nation/state even when He knew that those taxes went to Rome for bad as well as good, i suspect
    now as Christians what do we do then? don’t we we do everything we can to be good neighbors and, when possible, good Samaritans? – if can we help these people, these refugees? then we should do it, but what about all the martyrs of recent years? what have we done to help them? their families? their churches? … not much, so it does ring hollow in my ears now, all the clamor to welcome these people who are fleeing their homelands, looking for safety…
    that said, this is, seemingly, an irresistible tide – we are witnessing a mass migration that is going to have an impact on the world for centuries to come – more to the question might be, how do we preserve or do we, that is our government, preserve Western Civilization or will we just let history run its course?
    probably the latter, so pray for souls to be rescued from darkness as, whether they intend it or not, the darkness they want to flee comes with them….
    dunno, tho, do i?

  14. the uptick is not in the number of ICE arrests this year, but in the publicizing of them – will there be an uptick over time with this administration? could be… dunno

  15. John 20:29,

    According to immigration lawyers and others I’ve been in contact with,the net has been greatly broadened.

    I do not understand why this is a controversial statement…this is exactly what the President promised.
    I do know a lot of very concerned people here locally…it’s already taking a toll on the kids.

  16. If you want to know about ICE…Google the name “Lalo”….Bowden wrote a book about it.

  17. This is a good summary from Nov 2015 about the process. Mainstream, US News source. Of note is the final point about the Christian organizations (and other faith groups) necessary to the process.

    Included is the quote “”We serve them all without distinction. As Christians, it’s a unique honor to help persecuted Christians as well and it’s an important part of the program. But we’re Christians who believe in loving our neighbors.”

    Not included is that each of these groups takes in literally millions of dollars from the federal government.

    Make your own application.


  18. I’ve been kicked out of a couple and left a few others also. At least here on this blog I’m not poison. Yet. 😕

  19. When I join protests over the refugee issue, it is owing to my faith.
    When my wife and I arrange for an immigration lawyer to provide someone with assistance, it is owing to our faith.
    When we provide a place to sleep over the weekend to the illegal sister of a legal friend, it is owing to our faith.

    I wish that I could say that it is because I am a humanitarian, but I’m not. I’m selfish, I don’t want my life to be interrupted. I don’t want to be inconvenienced. I really don’t want to go the extra mile… sort of like days I don’t want to go to church, but I do it anyway…

  20. #16 – it is a shame that the children are living in fear (naturally breeding quite a bit of anger and hostility, too)… there is a very strong sentiment in this country to protect these children from any more harm… there is very little chance of them being separated from their parents… as i see it, the odds are greatly in their favor, but that’s just from where i sit in Washington State
    the anger and hostility that is gaining such a strong presence in our country – and some others – is the greatest danger – a danger to all our children IMNSHO

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