Archives For Sojourners

Earlier this week, a group of some 140 evangelical leaders signed a statement calling for immigration reform and laying out some key basic principles they all manage to agree on. That evangelical leaders are making this a priority is good news, though long overdue. And that they agree on basic principles is also good, considering the signatories represent both ends of the evangelical political spectrum, represented by a couple of very different Jims: one at Sojourners and the other at Focus on the Family.

The statement calls for a bipartisan solution to the immigration issue based to these six principles:

  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law
  • Guarantees secure national borders
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

As has been noted elsewhere, the only possibly controversial point is the final one, which many conservatives have opposed in the past for fear it would incentivize entering the country illegally.

The New York Times’ coverage of the statement focuses largely on the Republican Party’s problem with Latino voters, which presumptive nominee Mitt Romney certainly hasn’t helped, but it’s worth mentioning that Barack Obama hasn’t exactly made immigration reform a priority either. Maybe a statement like this from a supposedly important voting bloc will serve to elevate the conversation around immigration reform as election day looms this November. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m glad these leaders got together to sign this statement, and I was happy to add my signature. Honestly, it all seems perfectly sensible to me. But now what? Will this least-common-denominator statement of basic principles be enough to make any real difference? How likely is it that those two Jims — much less Mitt and Barack — will find common ground when it comes to concrete policies that are both compassionate and just? I admit I’m not overly optimistic on that front. Nonetheless, getting leaders from different ends of the political spectrum to agree on something — anything! — is a rare feat these days.

It’s easy to lose heart when considering the sober reality that a statement like this may not actually result in any concrete legislative action. It may, but it may not. Nonetheless, if these principles indeed have biblical support, as it seems to me they do, the statement has merit in itself, as a public declaration by evangelical leaders standing together for what’s right.

If you’d like to add your signature, or see the list of original signatories, you can do so here.

[Photo credit: Jerilyn Forsythe/Cronkite News Service via tucsonsentinel.com]

1. Reject Apathy, #2
The second issue of Reject Apathy is now out and available for online viewing for free. Lots of good stuff in it, intended especially, I think, for twenty-somethings interested in doing good (tag line: “Sustainable Change. Sacrificial Living. Spiritual Formation”). I blogged about the debut issue back in July.

2. Faith and science
My friend and former pastor/coworker Brian Moore has a series going on his blog about faith, science, and often uncomfortable relationship between the two that seems to be driving a lot of young people away from the church. Brian’s a thoughtful guy, and his series is worth your time. Parts one and two have been posted so far.

3. Top culture-shaping moments of 2011
The folks at Q Ideas have compiled an inspiring list of the most memorable culture-shaping moments of the past year. Despite the many caricatures that evangelical Christians have in our culture (many of which are not entirely undeserved, in my estimation), it’s cool to see how in every sphere of culture there are evangelicals seeking the common good. Let’s support them, cheer them on, and join in the fun, what do you say?

4. Five observations about globalized society and Christianity
With the next Urbana conference just a year away, missions consultant and member of the Urbana leadership team Paul Borthwick shares five insights into our changing world and what it means for Christians.

5. Who put the “social” in social justice?
Scot McKnight shares a Sojourners post from Tim King from earlier in the month (originally here), and offers perspective on the debate over the redundancy or necessity of lumping the words “social” and “justice” together.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Graphic credit: Reject Apathy, Vol. 2, p. 41]

I just finished reading Adam Taylor’s Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post-Civil Rights Generation. As the subtitle suggests, Taylor draws heavily on insights from Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in this book written for the current generation of those inspired by their faith to engage in social action. It’s less a how-to guide than a set of personal perspectives by this relatively young but highly experienced Christian activist.

InterVarsity Press has a series of brief video interviews with Taylor discussing different parts of his book on YouTube. Here he talks about why he decided to write this book:

I’m not going to post a proper review of the book (check out some good reviews and discussion over at Patheos), but I thought I’d share a synopsis of one important chapter, which made me think of one of Anne Lamott’s great lines: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

Chapter 3 is titled “Following a Holistic Jesus” and before Taylor articulates what he considers “holistic” he lays out six common ways we tend to create Jesus in our own image, based on our limiting preferences and biases:

The bling bling Jesus: this is the name-it-claim-it, health-and-wealth gospel Jesus whose greatest desire is to make each of us materially rich and comfortable.

The apocalyptic Jesus: this is the Jesus who is going to destroy the earth really soon (an event, incidentally, that’s currently scheduled for May 21st).

The privatized Jesus: this Jesus specializes in offering fire insurance, and wants to enlist us as his salespeople.

The Che Jesus: this Jesus joins the morally superior poor in their struggle for revolution, recognizing that the greedy rich can’t be converted; only defeated.

The apolitical Jesus: this Jesus prefers to keep Christians from involvement in the divisive and corrupting world of politics, or at least reserving these activities for optional individual involvement.

The Constantinian Jesus: this Jesus sees no problem mixing church and state, and in fact wants his people to restore their country as an exceptional theocracy, an all-American “city on a hill.”

These six types are obviously provocative in each of their different ways, but I think you’d agree that we see various mutations of them around us all the time. Our own images may fall more or less within one or more of them as well. Taylor contrasts these six with “the holistic Jesus” of Scripture who leads us into responsible social action — something each of the distorted, incomplete Jesuses fail to do. So, a few questions seem important to consider:

What do you think of these six “false Jesuses”? Has Taylor missed any ways we make Jesus in our image rather than seeking to be conformed to the image of God? And what does “responsible social action” look like, anyway?