Book Review: “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible” by James K. Hoffmeier

This review also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum

The Book
I first heard about James K. Hoffmeier’s book The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens and the Bible when a friend of mine, who knows my interest in issues surrounding immigration, emailed a brief review of the book that appeared in an April 30th edition of Publishers Weekly. I knew I had to read to book after the final sentences of the review made me laugh:

The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like.

First, let me say what I like about The Immigration Crisis. It’s short, easy to read, and intelligently written. While I remain steadfastly unconvinced by his arguments, Hoffmeier is a first-rate biblical scholar who has articulated a cogent challenge to the assumption that the God revealed in Jewish and Christian scriptures has a special place in the Divine Heart for immigrants, even if they cross international borders without proper documentation. Continue reading

John Calvin’s 500th Birthday: Reason to Celebrate

At the end of this month, I will be traveling to Geneva to celebrate John Calvin’s 500th birthday, and I suppose the occasion of my pilgrimage to that city on a hill above the place where the Rhone leaves Lac Léman and begins its journey to Provence is as good a time as any to say what I like so much about John Calvin, a man remembered primarily for his stern demeanor, his commitment to the doctrine of predestination, and his abiding ability to make people feel guilty.
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In Support of Amendment 08-B

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

On April 4, 2009 the Presbytery of San José voted 84-81 in favor of “Amendment 08-B,” a bit of ecclesiastical legislation that, if adopted by a majority of the 174 Presbyteries, or regional governing bodies, in the Presbyterian Church (USA), will lift the absolute and universal ban on the ordination of Gays and Lesbians in the largest Presbyterian body in the United States. I was one of sixteen presbyters chosen to speak on the amendment. Each of us had two minutes to speak our minds. Here’s what I said:
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AIG: Why I Can’t Be Bothered To Be Bothered

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum

I have a confession to make: I’m having a hard time getting worked up over the taxpayer-funded retention bonuses handed out to executives at AIG, the huge, failed, insurance company that remains solvent only because the federal government has picked up the tab for their foolhardy business practices.

I may be the only person I know who isn’t irate over the AIG compensation scandal. While I don’t like the idea that the some of the folks who sent the world’s markets into a tailspin are making more in a year-end bonus than I’m likely to earn in my entire professional career, I’ve come to expect such things at the place where business and government intersect. The simple truth is that American taxpayers have been making well-connected financiers rich for a very long time, and usually we’ve had miserable returns on our investments. Continue reading