Midwinter Speaker: Immigration Conversation Needs to Change

By Stan Friedman

SAN DIEGO, CA (February 6, 2013) – Daniel Carroll, the preacher during Tuesday evening’s Midwinter Conference worship service, exhorted attendees to help “change the conversation” on immigration in the United States.

“Lets make it a Christian conversation,” he said. “Let’s make it a biblical conversation. Let’s make it a missional conversation.”

Carroll currently serves as the Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary. Prior to his appointment to the seminary, he was professor of Old Testament and ethics and director of graduate studies at El Seminario Teológico Centroamericano in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Carroll said he came to speak about law. Some laws are arbitrary, such as which side of the road people are to drive on.

Other laws, however, deal with organizing society and determining identity. If we are to address the issue of immigration, then it is important to be reminded of how law as enunciated in scripture identifies us, he suggested.

Carroll focused especially on how God commanded that the Hebrews welcome the sojourner. The law was rooted in the story of how God had delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt and from the oppressive rule of the pharaoh.

Once the Hebrews had their own nation, they were admonished not to forget their past and the manner in which God provided for them. The sojourner needed the same compassion.

The sojourners were vulnerable for two primary reasons, Carroll said. They had traveled into a strange land, where there was no social structure or family to support them. And, consequently, they were dependent upon the Israelites for jobs and other assistance.

The sojourners also were without land in that agricultural society, but had no access to it. Land was handed down through families.

Too often, however, Israelites didn’t care as they should have. Carroll compared today’s situation and noted that, other than Native Americans, current residents in North America – as well as many in other countries – have an immigrant history.

At different points, each of the immigrant groups suffered from the bigotry of others. If society forgets its past and the injustices suffered by immigrants, however, “We become the Egyptians,” he said.

The biblical story and the law thus call Christians to speak into discussions about immigration, Carroll said is his summation. “It is about remembering who we are and what God has commanded us to do.”

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