Why the Syrian refugee crisis must be met with Gospel-sized grace

Jarod Grice

Jarod Grice
September 9, 2015

Germany's uncommon approach to the Syrian refugee crisis is a reflection of the lavish grace God has offered us all.

Doug Vande Griend
September 11, 2015

What I don't like about this article, sorry, is that it suggests -- pretty much just states -- that because God is gracious to sinners, governments should adopt certain immigration policies that are similarly gracious. Sorry but as the Sesame Street chant goes, one of these things is not like the other.

I am not trying to say that the German government shouldn't be doing what it is doing, but rather that if government -- any government -- chooses to take in immigrants, especially at this level, the reasoning has to be totally other than that God is gracious to sinners.

Doing public justice, the core task of goverment expressed in three words, is simply not the same thing as individuals doing mercy because they have been shown mercy. To the extent that distinction is not made and practiced, government will fail to do public justice.

Jarod Grice
September 11, 2015

Doug, thanks so much for your contribution. I can entirely understand and partially get behind what your saying about government's responsibility, but, unfortunately, I feel your comment misses the audience that this article is addressing. My aim in writing this article was not to offer an immigration policy or even haphazardly project critique -whether in favor or against- what Germany did from a political standpoint. Rather, my aim in this article is directed toward Christians and how we should observe the parallels in Germany's treatment toward refugees with the gospel and how those parallels might inform our personal interactions and attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. As I said, Germany's actions convicted me personally on how I treat the displaced in my own life. That might be implicitly extended toward public and governmental policy (humans beings can rarely partition out their private and public opinions; they ALWAYS affect each other), but that simply is not my aim. So, while I appreciate your comment, I apologize if my writing wasn't clear as to who my audience was: namely, individual believers, not political entities. For the sake of clarity, Germany's actions are macrocosmic in scope with how we as believers ought to act personally toward immigrants and refugees. I hope this helps clear it up. Thanks again!

Doug Vande Griend
September 13, 2015

Respectfully Jarod, you may not have been "offer[ing] an immigration policy" but your article does advocate a perspective as to how to analyze government immigration policy, and in a way that is pretty much aligns with what CRC agencies (e.g., OSJ) have usually suggested (wrongly in my mind). It goes like this: God is gracious to me and he commands me to welcome the stranger, and so when I, "as a Christian" (I put in it in quotes because I've read this a number of times, even if not from your post ), advocate for government policies as to immigration, I advocate that it simply obey the biblical admonitions that I am called to personally obey.

Again with respect, your post repeatedly addresses "Germany" (the nation/government, not Germans. It points to another ThinkChristian 'about government policy' post when it points to posting series of Stephanie Summers). Even the title says "Why the Syrian refugee crisis must be met with Gospel-sized grace" -- I don't think readers will think you aren't talking about government policy in the title. Nor in the insert quote, "Germany’s actions remind us of a God who incurred the cost of redemption upon Himself."

Maybe you intend to advocate for government policy more than you think? :-)

I have a tendency to respond when/where I see this kind of advocacy for the simple reason that this reasoning will lead to bad government policy -- in my view of course, thinking Christianly about the differentiated tasks of spheres in society (I'm a political pluralist). The ThinkChristian post about the Kentucky clerk, and responses to it, are instructive in this discussion as well.

Jarod Grice
September 16, 2015

Doug, again, thanks for the contribution. I am humbly willing to concede that my survey of Germany's actions may unintentionally come across as advocating a particular immigration policy, but the fact of the matter is, I stand by my point that the audience has everything to do with my primary point. I don't understand why observing a country's particular actions toward immigrants cannot simply remind us as individual Christians how we ought to act toward refugees, immigrants, without imposing a particular political or governmental ideology. It should not necessitate, simply because I adressed a government (because the government issued the policy, not because I'm using them as example of what other governments should do), that my observation and solution must be met at the government level. If we serve a God that, as Kuyper reminds us, sees everything on the earth and calls it 'mine', shouldn't it stand to reason that we can learn on a personal, spiritual level the parallels with the gospel that a governmental entities actions may reflect and still keep our political ideology in tact? I don't think we have to adopt a theonomic outlook on government simply because there has been an action in a governments policy that might impassion or incite spiritual conviction on a personal level. That's all I'm trying to reflect in my article. And I feel that my language clearly indicates the same. But, if it doesn't, I apologize.

Doug Vande Griend
September 17, 2015

Ok, I can understand wanting to take something a particular government is doing and have that, by analogy, remind of of something we should do. Had that been your point, though, I do wonder why you didn't just point to the enthusiasm of Germans (not the German government) to welcome those immigrants by personally taking them into their homes, and by personally sacrificing, exclusive of paying taxes.

This is what happened in this country post-Vietnam war. My small local church took in three families, agreeing to provide and providing for their financial and nonfinancial support.

I'm completely baffled by your comment that we need not having to adopt a theonomic view of government. Who is doing that? How does reconstructionism come into play here? Or am I just misunderstanding what you said?

Tim Geerlings
November 16, 2015

Thanks to both of you for showing that Christians can indeed honor God in their online conversation - for disagreeing charitably.
Thanks also for the timely reminder, Jarod.

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