Thursday, November 09, 2006

Multiculturalism, Immigration and the Bible

I earnestly invite Bill Harrell, and anyone else who might be tempted to see multiculturalism as a Major Deterrent to Revival, to do an open-minded study of the Bible to see what it has to say to us on this topic, and then decide if you still think this view is tenable. And even if you are already convinced you don’t agree with Harrell, I believe it would still do you good to take the time to look up each of the passages cited below, and review and meditate on what God’s authoritative Word teaches us as His Kingdom people on this important subject.

God called Abraham, the "father of faith," to be an immigrant in a land He would "show him" (Gen. 12.1).

It was God’s plan that led his people to Egypt, where they would spend 430 years, as underprivileged immigrants, a minority population group among an established culture. It is in this context that they developed their consciousness as the "people of God" (Gen. 50.20, Deut. 26.5, Ps. 39.12).

Upon returning to Canaan, God’s people once again found themselves as newcomers in a foreign country. They were not commanded by God to "blend in" with the culture of their host country, but rather to "come apart" and "be separate" (Deut. 7).

It was made expressly clear, however, that God’s people were not to be an exclusive, xenophobic people. The law commanded kindness and hospitality to immigrants on numerous occasions. (Ex. 22.21, 23.9, Lev. 19.10, 33-34, Deut. 10.17-19; 24.17, 19-22; 26.12; 27.19, Jer. 7.5-7).

God used exile and forced immigration in Babylon as a tool to work a sincere repentance in the hearts of His people, and prepare the way for restoration and revival (Jer. 29.4-14).

Jesus, God’s only Son, came to earth, in a very real sense, as an immigrant from heaven (Phil. 2.5-8).

When He was on the earth, Jesus lived a part of His childhood, together with His family, as an immigrant in Egypt (Matt. 2.13-15).

Jesus, in His earthly ministry and teaching, showed special compassion to foreigners (Matt. 8.5-13; 25.35; Mk. 7.24-30, Lk. 9.51-56; 10.25-37; 17.15-16, Jn. 4.1-42).

One of the most notable facets of the Day of Pentecost, when the first Holy Spirit inspired revival came to God’s New Testament people, the Church, was the distinct multicultural dynamic that permeated the atmosphere (Acts 2.5-11).

An important part of God’s plan for fulfilling the Great Commission, and the spread of the Gospel message throughout the known world of that time, was the forced immigration of believers throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8.1, 4), the visit of foreigners such as those present at Pentecost (Acts 2.5-11) and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8.26-39), and the calling of immigrants such as Saul of Tarsus (Acts 26.4) and Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18.1-3) into missionary service and "lay" church planting ministry.

One of the main themes of the entire book of Acts is the development of Christianity from a monocultural sect of Judaism into a multicultural universal faith spanning the entire Roman empire.

The foundational teaching of the Apostle Paul, in several key passages (Gal. 2.11-16; 3.26-29; Eph. 2.11-22) leaves absolutely no room for monocultural ethnocentrism in the Body of Christ.

The vision presented by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation (ch. 5 & 7) is that of a diverse group of believers from every tribe, language, people and nation, who find their unity, not in similar cultural mores or linguistic patterns, but rather in their worship of the one and only King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lamb upon the throne, Jesus.


Paul said...


As always, very well said.

Todd Nelson said...


Home run! Or, I should say (in honor of the Primera Liga): GOAL!

Seriously, thanks for surveying the Scriptures on this important subject. Maybe Mr Harrell will reconsider his pastoral commentary and respond.


Les Puryear said...


Bravo! Excellent biblical analysis.


Tim Sweatman said...


Excellent survey of Scriptures related to this topic. We need to strive to make sure that our words and beliefs are based on the teaching of Scripture. Sadly, many in our churches are like the Judaizers---we're not satisfied for people to commit to Jesus; they have to dress like us, talk like us, do the things we like to do, refrain from doing things we don't like to do, associate with the "right" kind of people, avoid the "wrong" kind of people, etc. We act as though our cultural preferences and likes/dislikes are ordained by God Himself.