Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

I have recently read a book that addresses the issue of illegal immigration from a Christian perspective and want to recommend it to you. The book is Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible by M. Daniel Carroll R.

First, a word about the author. Dr. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas is uniquely position to write this book. He is an accomplished Old Testament scholar who teaches as a full professor at Denver Seminary. Dr. Carroll affirms the authority of Scripture and cares deeply about the church of Jesus Christ. He is also bi-cultural, the son of a Guatemalan mother and an American father. He has lived both in Latin American and in the United States. Thus he understands the issues associated with immigration (including illegal immigration) in an unusual and unusually-valuable way.

Carroll-Christians-Border-4.jpgNow, about the book, Christians at the Border. This book is mainly a careful study of biblical texts that are relevant to the issues of immigration. Carroll’s first chapter, however, offers a short history of Hispanic immigration into the United States, as well as an overview of the complex issues facing us today. I found this chapter to be extremely helpful, especially since I am not aware of much of the history. Because of this unfamiliarity, I am unable to evaluate the accuracy of Carroll’s historical observations. But, since my academic expertise lies in biblical studies, and since most of this book focuses on Scripture, and since I found Carroll’s work in these sections to be balanced and reliable, I am inclined to believe that his historical insights are accurate.

Given Carroll’s personal situation as a bi-cultural American with Hispanic roots and experiences, I wondered if his book would reflect some sort of bias. Frankly, I didn’t see this at all. In fact, he works hard to be fair to all sides in the debate. Carroll does not seem to be arguing for some particular socio-political response from the United States to the problem of undocumented workers and their families. Rather, he wants us to begin to think about this issue in truly biblical terms. Here’s his statement of purpose for the book:

My intention is to try to move Christians to reconsider their starting point in the immigration debate. Too often discussions default to the passionate ideological arguments, economic wrangling, or racial sentiments that dominate national discourse. Among Christians, my experience has been that there is little awareness of what might be a divine viewpoint on immigration. This book is a modest attempt to help remedy that shortcoming. It is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive. Rather, it is designed as a primer for a more biblically and theologically informed approach to the topic. (Kindle Location 133)

Carroll believes, as I do, that “Christians must think about and act on Hispanic immigration as Christians” (KL 143). Carroll elaborates: “The contention of this book is this: if Christians want to address the problems posed by the immigration of Hispanic peoples and contribute to possible solutions, then they should do so consciously as Christians and more specifically as biblically informed Christians” (KL 569).

The outline of Christians at the Border is simple. The first chapter focuses on the historical and cultural context in our time. The second two chapters deal with the Old Testament. The third chapter examines the New Testament. The final chapter offers a summation. Carroll does not propose solutions for the national problems. Rather, as promised, he offers help for those who are trying to deal with illegal immigration as Christians.  

I found this book to be most helpful. It is focused, concise, and well-argued. I recommend Christians at the Border highly to anyone who is seeking a biblically-Christian perspective on illegal immigration. 

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