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Matthew Schmitz: Immigration Idealism: A Case for Christian Realism

… the irony of American history.

Third, in addition to a well-known emphasis on realism Niebuhr famously put forth the idea of the irony of American history. Tragically, all-too-often rash pursuit of America’s highest ideals have had the opposite of the intended effect. Liberty is foundational to the American ethos. Yet in its pursuit Americans imprisoned First Nations Peoples on reservations. And Americans built “the land of the free” on the backs of African slaves. Americans seized property from Mexico and then labeled its long-term inhabitants “foreigners” and “trespassers”. Isn’t the irony evident? Now a nation of people descended from immigrants refuses to address honestly and holistically the plight of immigrants on and within its borders. Have we so soon forgotten a just God’s love for the alien (Lev 19:33-34; Deut. 10:17-19)? Oppression is inconsistent with liberty. Oppression under the guise of liberty actually produces loss of liberty. Whether liberal or conservative, it is wrong. It is un-American. And un-Christian. Why can’t American Christians support both national security and human liberty? Are these values really antithetical? As a conservative Pentecostal Christian realist, I think not.

Reviewed by Tony Richie


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2019

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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