In the United States, when someone is suspected of committing a crime, he is arrested, incarcerated, and tried for his alleged crime before a jury of his peers. If he is found not guilty, he is released. If he is found guilty, he is sentenced to a term in prison. This process is relatively uncontroversial. It is justice. While incarcerated, the freedom of the offender is restricted. He is separated from his friends and family. This is intended to be unpleasant. Prison is punishment and the punishment of crime is an integral part of the justice system. Again, this is uncontroversial. It is also ordained by God. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul wrote the following:
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except rom God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
The application of Romans 13 made national news yesterday as it relates to treatment of illegal immigrants by the United States government. As reported by the Washington Post:
“On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border by referencing the New Testament. ‘I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13,’ Sessions said, ‘to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
The Trump administration has been under fire from critics for its practice of detaining illegal immigrants who are caught crossing the border illegally and placing their minor children in care facilities until such a time as their cases can be adjudicated. One might think that American Christians would be encouraged that their country’s top attorney is a fellow Christian (albeit a United Methodist) with a biblical view of justice. Unfortunately, Sessions’ defense was made in response to critiques from progressive Christians who claim that it is unjust to separate children from their law-breaking parents. In doing so, these progressive Christians are creating a special class of the oppressed: illegal immigrants. There are thousands of incarcerated parents in American prisons right now for breaking various laws. Yet, these progressive Christian critics of the Trump administration are focusing on a specific type of criminal and getting plenty of press for doing so. One might expect progressive religious criticism to originate from liberal denomination such as Sessions’ own UMC. Sadly, it is a Southern Baptist who has been front and center in criticizing the rule of law.
Terrible theology. Romans 13 was wrongly used to support slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act, Jim Crow, and events leading to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. It is the Subversion of Christianity for political purposes/gain and every pastor and theologian in America should be aware. https://t.co/0cPMJnCO3D
— Alan Cross (@AlanLCross) June 15, 2018
This morning, CNN invited Southern Baptist minister and SBC Voices contributor Alan Cross to discuss a Christian view of immigration. Cross has labeled Sessions’ biblical defense of the government’s administration of immigration law a “subversion of Christianity.” Cross describes himself as a minister who works towards “gospel-based Racial Unity” and “Immigrant/Refugee ministry and advocacy.” He is but one of a new breed of Southern Baptist social progressives formed in the mold of prominent Southern Baptist ethicist and ERLC president Russell Moore, who long ago referred to the Lord himself as an “illegal immigrant”. It is passed time for every-day pew-sitting Southern Baptists to start paying more attention to the politics of the convention they support with their hard-earned dollars. Southern Baptists are paying to educate and even promote men like Alan Cross and Russell Moore. The social gospel is making a comeback in Southern Baptist circles. Are you going to condone it?
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use
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