Now Online: Immigration Transforum


Recently Colorado Community Church gathered for a Transforum on immigration.

(What’s a Transforum?)





Responding to the Call of Micah 6.8

Do Justice:

Whose case can I plead?  How can I involve the person who caused the problem in the solution?  What common ground do I have with those also working on this issue?

Love Mercy

Who is sinning and needs forgiveness?  Who is suffering and needs relief?  What basic human need can God use me to meet?

Walk Humbly With God

What would it look like for God to show up?  What can I do?  What can only God do?

Action:  What is God calling you to do?

Click here to download the Immigration Transforum Tool box complete with statistics, organizations and action opportunities


(Click Here to Watch Previous Transforums)


3 thoughts on “Now Online: Immigration Transforum

  1. (Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on your blog.) I attended the Immigration Transforum and later watched the video and I came away concerned. I very much agree with viewing the issue from a Christian perspective & that laws need to be updated, but when I read the Old Testament examples that Dr. Carroll provided, I didn’t come to the same conclusions he reached. Unfortunately, that causes me to be wary of his stance on the issue.

    In the first example, Dr. Carroll appeared to justify illegal immigrants lying to the US government by equating them to Abram & Sarai. He suggested reading Genesis 12, so I did. Carroll claimed that they lied in order to cross the border to get food. He said, “…there are all kinds of cultural reasons why he did that (lie) and I won’t go into those…”, but Genesis 12:11-13 says that they lied because Abram thought the Egyptians would kill him to take Sarai because she was so beautiful. Yes, they were escaping a famine, but their lie was because Abram thought they would kill him, not for food. Dr. Carroll wrapped up this example by saying, “…even the Father of our Faith will lie to feed his family” but I wonder if it actually shows that even the Father of our Faith experienced weak faith at times?

    When he talked about Joseph, Dr. Carroll often referred to him being “still connected to his culture” and used the example of the Hebrew names he gave his sons. But is Joseph connected to his previous culture or to his God? I ask this because Genesis 41:51 tells us that his first son’s name means “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household”. Wouldn’t his father’s household be his culture?

    Dr. Carroll also said that he thought it was odd that Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him, but then explained that Joseph accepted his new culture by adopting their fashion and their language. Carroll kept referring to Joseph as being “deeply rooted in his culture”, but my understanding of the story of Joseph is that he was deeply rooted in his faith in God.

    Finally, Dr. Carroll used the story of Naomi & Ruth to describe how America responds to immigrants. However, he doesn’t take into consideration that the chapter of Ruth is not a verbatim transcription of every event and conversation between the two women. He assumes behaviors and intentions in order to depict Naomi as cold, rude and indifferent to her immigrant daughter-in-law, but I couldn’t find anything in the Biblical account that supported this characterization.

    Dr. Carroll claimed that Naomi “didn’t accept Ruth” because “Naomi says nothing” after Ruth “opens her heart” to her. However, Ruth 1:8-15 says that Naomi tried to convince Ruth to return to her people so she could have a better life. Ruth 1:18 reveals that “Naomi says nothing” because she realized that Ruth was not going to leave her – Naomi merely gave up urging Ruth to leave. Not only did Naomi accept Ruth, but throughout this interaction, she acknowledged Ruth’s kindness and the women were weeping and kissing!

    Next, Dr. Carroll told us that when Naomi returned to Bethlehem and her friends came out to greet her, “Naomi didn’t even introduce Ruth”, that Ruth was “probably off in a corner looking on”, and that “maybe Naomi was embarrassed that she had a foreigner for a daughter-in-law”. When long lost friends reunite, there tends to be a lot of conversation and catching up. Such reunions have kept me up late into the night! But the Bible recorded only one statement by Naomi during this reunion and that was to explain why she was bitter (Ruth 1:20-21). There is nothing to suggest that Naomi didn’t introduce Ruth, just as there is nothing to suggest that Naomi didn’t ask any of her friends how they have been after all those years.

    And when the women of the town told Naomi that Ruth loves her more than seven sons (Ruth 4:14-17), Dr. Carroll dramatically stated, “…Naomi… says… nothing.” Doesn’t she… or does she? Just because it isn’t written, doesn’t mean that she didn’t respond. Other parts of the story Dr. Carroll left out shows that Naomi was concerned for Ruth’s safety (Ruth 2:22), wanted Ruth to find a husband so she could “be well provided for” (Ruth 3:1), and encouraged, coached & directed her (Ruth 3). Dr. Carroll concludes that when Ruth presented her son to Naomi, “Maybe now she’ll finally accept her foreign daughter-in-law”, but the Bible leads me to believe that Naomi loved and cared about Ruth all along.

    As I further researched the immigration issue, I found another Christian group called, “Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration”. They don’t agree with the Evangelical Immigration Table’s approach, specifically their use of scripture. I plan on learning more about this group and will be seeing how they use scripture to support their stance.

  2. Brian,
    Thanks for you thought, prayer and reflection on this…I’ll reach out to Dr. Carroll to see if you has time to give you a response on the items you’ve outlined.


  3. Brian: Thank you for your comments. Pastor Gelinas has asked me to respond to your questions. There is much more available in my book, Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible (be sure to get the updated and expanded second edition).

    1. Abram. What forces Abram and his clan to go to Egypt is hunger. That is why they migrate. When they get to the border, Abram plans the lie, because he feared that Pharaoh would kill him for Sarai. By claiming to be her brother, he can protect himself… and her. In that culture, anyone wanting to marry a woman whose father was not alive would have to ask her brother. So, Abram was actually protecting both of them and buying time. It is very common to see mixed motives and strategies, when people cross borders. Abram’s lie saved both of them, but it also allowed them into Egypt, where they were migrating to get food.
    2. Joseph. In our culture, we tend to compartmentalize the various components of our identity. For example, we put religion into a separate category from the rest of who we understand ourselves to be. Not so in the ancient world. One’s cultural identity would have been made up of one’s religion, language, family, customs, and land. In the story we see Joseph remembering his language, being loyal to his family and father (even to the point of introducing his father to Pharaoh, even though Egyptians despised shepherds), and asking to be taken back to his land to be buried. To name his children with names related to his God demonstrated that in his heart he still clung to his identity as a follower of Yahweh connected back to his family and culture – even though he was deeply assimilated.
    3. Naomi. When one reads the biblical narrative, one can only go with what is provided. I do find it telling Naomi’s silences telling. One reason (which I did not have the time to mention that night) is that the Law discouraged interaction with Moabites (Deut. 23:3-6; see Num. 25). Naomi and her family had gone to Moab, her sons had married Moabite women, and now she had returned with a Moabite daughter-in-law! This would have been awkward indeed! In 2:7 the workers do not even know Ruth’s name (perhaps they had not even spoke to her), but they do call her a Moabite. This sense of estrangement may be reflected by the term Ruth uses to refer to herself in 2:10 – the negative label for a foreigner, instead of the other label (“ger”) that was used to refer to foreigners who were assimilating. Throughout the story everyone refers to Ruth by the ethnic label Moabite, and even Boaz uses that of her in public. Naomi would benefit from the marriage to Boaz, and the women also tell her that this boy will take care of Naomi in her old age (4:15). It seems to me that there are all kinds of cultural and personal dynamics going on here between Naomi and her Moabite daughter-in-law. The narrative suggests that Naomi does try to help her (chapter 3), but even that also is designed to help her/them survive. So, I see a complicated set of circumstances unfolding as Ruth progressively assimilates into Bethlehem.
    4. Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration (EBI). This group has not found a wide following. I would recommend that you go to the websites of EBI and the Evangelical Immigration Table and compare the lists of signees and their representativeness. The difference between the two is quite stark. If you ever were interested in a review I did of a book that is one of the foundations of their biblical position, I would be happy to send that link to you. I, along with many others, find their biblical arguments unsatisfactory.

    Thank you for your irenic spirit. I hope that these comments are helpful.


    M. Daniel Carroll R.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s