Treating the Sojourner

Recently a pastor friend recalled a sermon he preached about a local immigration ordinance that was dividing the community and his congregation. He remembered looking out into the congregation, knowing that half supported the law to limit public services for undocumented immigrants and half did not—never an easy place for a preacher to be. If only I could have had handy Daniel Carroll’s Christians at the Border: Immi­gration, the Church, and the Bible.

The book doesn’t provide an easy answer to one of the most contentious public policy issues facing our country. There aren’t any. What it does is implore Christians to expand the lens with which they view Hispanic immigration beyond merely an economic or political one. He asks that we consider this recent wave of immigration, and the controversy surrounding it, deliberately as Christians.

What exactly does that mean? In the first place, it means informing ourselves about what the Bible teaches on the issue, which is no small task. The Old Testament is a veritable history of people on the move. Carroll guides us through the stories of biblical migrants and refugees, the forces (which are remarkably similar to those of today) that drove people to leave their homelands, and Hebrew laws on the treatment of the sojourner. He also draws lessons from the gospels and Jesus’ embrace of the outsider. The extensive scriptural evidence, paired with sections at the end of each chapter outlining their implications for today, makes this book a relevant resource for Christians hoping to engage in this issue.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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