In 1980 Dr. Gary North, free-market economist and leading giant of theonomic commentaries, hired David Chilton to write a response to a popular Christian socialist. This book was not only a response but still stands today as one of the most thorough, compelling, and brutally effective demolitions of Marxist ideals in relation to Christian ethics. In short, Chilton destroyed socialism and the notion that Christians should have anything to do with socialism. Amen.
Back in the late 1970s, the star of the growing Christian Socialism movement was Ronald Sider. As we can all imagine, Sider is little more than a Bernie Sanders who uses more Bible verses (albeit all out of context) in favor of his support of theft. He is in favor of mass welfare, public education, redistribution of wealth, as well as a governmentally controlled “reasonable” immigration policy.
David Chilton’s crushing rebuttal and response to Ronald Sider’s then-popular, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger was Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators: a Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider.
Chilton, however, did not just write against so-called “liberal” socialism, he also wrote against “conservative” and generally accepted socialism. To Chilton, and all genuine theonomists, socialism is not just a euphemism for whatever the Democrats happen to be supporting this election cycle, it is an economic and ethical ideology directly opposed by Holy Scripture. Scripture shows no partiality for party politics. If it is theft to plunder the citizens and redistribute their wealth in order to “help” starving kids, it is also theft to plunder the citizens and redistribute their wealth in order to “educate” the same kids. Likewise, if it is unjustified violence and thuggery to treat people like criminals with no due diligence, it is no different to treat non-criminals like criminals on the southern border.
Biblical ethics brings this sort of consistency, no matter how much this consistency refuses to play politics and line up with the politician of the day’s platform.
In 2016 Sider wrote that he was voting for Hillary Clinton. Clinton, like Sider, is also in favor of what she calls “human immigration reform.” Without getting into a detailed analysis of Clinton’s policy proposals, what is certainly clear is that Clinton, like nearly all Democrats, is in favor of closed, strict, and highly federally regulated immigration controls. Like Clinton, Bernie Sanders, the socialist poster-child of the Democrats, has a highly mixed voting record on immigration. Instead of finding that popular liberals are in favor of lax border policies, we find that most vote in favor of immigration restrictions and regulations when it is their party doing the regulating.
Simply put, the idea that Democrats are for open borders while Republicans are for closed borders is a myth borne out of ignorance and tribalistic non-thinking. Democrats are opposed to Trump, not immigration regulations. Democrats are in favor of strict, highly regulated, massively expensive immigration policies just like Republicans. The Democrats do this while attempting to sound less xenophobic, but their policies are very similar. This is politics, not ethics, and we would do well to not be so naive.
Sider, like other liberals, wants the government to be in control of as many facets of life as possible, and where you can travel and where you can do business is no different.
This is, in short, what Chilton had to say about immigrants.
Again, it is a sin to ignore the legitimate needs of immigrants, and God threatens to destroy a nation that neglects·strangers. (Pp 24)
It should not be a great surprise that Chilton, in a work dedicated to destroying the idea of Christian socialism, also took aim at the socialistic immigration views and presuppositions shared by even so-called conservatives.
At length, Chilton explains our duty to the stranger in the land: (The following is from David Chilton till I close out the extended quote with his name)
Biblical law assumes that a nation which is materially blessed will attract immigrants. There is no biblical justification- and hence no economic justification- for prohibiting immigration. According to popular mythology, immigrants take jobs away from American citizens. It is ironic that this belief is held by many who are often in violent opposition to one another. In Southern California, Ku Klux Klansmen often patrol the Mexican border to aid Immigration and Naturalization Service agents in rounding up illegal aliens (occasionally, immigrants caught by our loyal defenders have been raped, beaten, and shot in the back); on the other hand, consider this report on the United Farm Workers from the New York Times:
“During the union’s 1974-75 strike near Yuma, Arizona, which was led by Manuel Chavez [Cesar’s cousin and long time top aide], hundreds of Mexican aliens were brutally beaten by UFW representatives to keep them from crossing the border and taking the jobs of striking melon workers.”
So much for solidarity.
God is firmly opposed to this activity. Not that our borders shouldn’t be protected against military invaders and criminals but mere immigration is not a crime. Virtually all the activity of the Immigration and Naturalization Service is thus in flagrant violation of the law of God. God tells us that He loves the stranger, and commands us to love him also:
“He . . . shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien . . .”(Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
Note: in the Bible, love is always action. It is defined here as providing strangers with what they need in order to live. Obviously, then, it angers God if we abuse them, trouble them, or make life hard for them. They are to receive the same justice in court as native citizens: “There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the strangers as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 24:22); “You shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land” (Numbers 9:14). Specifically, any oppression of strangers is strictly forbidden, and brings on divine judgment (Exodus 22:21-24).
This does not mean the abolition of all distinctions, however. It does not constitute a legal mandate for integration. Indeed, Israelites were permitted to sell diseased meat to strangers, since pagan cultures generally have no objection to eating it (Deuteronomy 14:21). In addition, full citizenship in Israel was denied to certain ethnic groups for three and sometimes ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3, 7-8). But while the Bible maintains a realistic appraisal of the often heathen backgrounds of immigrants, it nevertheless commands justice, fair treatment, and positive concern for their welfare. (For the advantages of population growth, including immigration, see Chapter 7.)
What then should we do about illegal aliens? Gary North makes the following suggestions:
“First, require proof of immunization, or require those without proof to be immunized. Second, abolish the minimum wage law. Third, abolish all public welfare programs. Fourth, abolish the requirement that the children of illegal aliens be required to attend public schools at taxpayers’ expense. Just let them work, at whatever wage they can get. In short, let them enjoy the freedom that we all want. But our homegrown socialist programs have made a threat out of those who are willing to work. Our great-grandparents were welcomed, or at least tolerated, because there was no American welfare State in the nineteenth century.”
God blesses nations for obedience. If we practice kindness and justice towards strangers, we are promised national blessing (Jeremiah 7:3-7); on the other hand, if we disregard this law, we are warned that we will become immigrants ourselves (Jeremiah 22:3-5). The land of Judah refused to heed Jeremiah’s warnings about this, and the curses of the law were fulfilled in their national captivity. After their return, Zechariah reminded them of this fact, and exhorted them again: “Dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress . . . the stranger . . .” (Zechariah 7:9-14).
The prophet Ezekiel, as he looked forward to the flowering of Christian culture through universal obedience to biblical law, spoke of the complete assimilation of strangers into the covenant – an assimilation which would come about, not through positive legal enforcement of external integration, but through a common adherence to the true faith. The evangelical witness to strangers by observing God’s justice toward them will result in their conversion and discipleship. While it is couched in the symbolism of prophetic language, it is no less clear that the inclusion of strangers in the covenant will result from obedience to God’s word:
“So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. And it will come about that you shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.” (Ezekiel 47:21-22) Pp 46-48
Whether it’s widely accepted socialism like public education and social security, Democratic socialism like welfare and universal healthcare, or Republican socialism like heavy-handed immigration policies and the prison system, Chilton applied a consistent and theonomic hammer to socialism. Wherever the civil government acts in a way that is not prescribed by the Law Word of God, and wherever the civil government steals from its citizens to enact unjust policies, there you will find socialism and there the axe of Biblical law should land. Chilton dealt handily with the guilt manipulating of socialists in his day, and we must deal as sharply with the fear-mongering socialists of our day.
I do not agree with Chilton on all things, but he is right about socialism. If Christians, especially Christians who claim to be theonomic, want to stand against socialism, we must stand against socialism, and not just specific policies that are not popular in our particular tribes. We must be consistent and have the backbone and integrity to apply the same standards that we say we apply to other policies.
We are hypocrites and fools to speak of God’s law and then only appeal to fear when so-called theonomists pontificate on why they can justify their support of the adulterous Trump’s immigration policies. Instead of holding to the postmil hope we have in Christ, as well as sound economic analysis from men like Chilton and North, too many are trembling in cowardly fear from non-existent threats to their livelihoods. Fear and tribalism are fueling the dogmatic sensationalism of man.
Just today Dr. Joel McDurmon was called “liberal” for holding the very same position as Gary North and David Chilton. Would these same alt-right “theonomists” call Dr. North a bleeding heart liberal? I haven’t a clue how this view, which argues for more individual freedom and less federal regulation, can possibly be called liberal. Also today, I watched a short video about getting the Bible back into public schools. The Trump-supporting theonomist featured in this little video is opposed to getting the Bible back into public schools because public schools are actually government schools. He also makes a Constitutional argument saying that the federal government has no constitutional power to educate. He’s right, but do we see the obvious and glaring problem? This conservative is correct about education, but all of his arguments could also be applied to immigration control. It is not just immigration control, it is government immigration control. Moreover, the US Constitution does not give the right to the federal government to restrict immigration. To resort to cliches, conservatives are supposed to be for limited government, but strict border control is much more government.
Nearly all modern immigration controls are built on one socialistic presupposition: the collectivist ownership of all the nation by the federal government. In order to ethically and legally justify the threat and use of violent force, one must first establish a principle of ownership. Far too often I have heard the line “if you lock your doors at night then why wouldn’t you build a wall on the border” or some version of the same misguided Marxist ideal. It is not a conundrum at all. I justify locking my doors at night because they are my doors, and not my neighbor’s doors or my communities doors. When I lock my doors, I am not infringing on anyone’s rights because I am regulating my own property. If I, for example, padlocked my neighbor’s door, I absolutely would be infringing on someone’s rights because I do not own that property. In order to justify putting the proverbial padlock on the entire nation, one must establish who has the property right. This is the very same philosophical and legal foundation for asset forfeiture, eminent domain laws, and random checkpoints. The presupposition is that the government is the ultimate property owner of the entire nation and they will act like it.
Like many of these issues, it is a matter of jurisdiction. Under the US Constitution, the US Federal Government was not given the right to regulate immigration. Biblically, and this is so much more important, the civil government has been given a specific mandate and that mandate does not include setting up massively expensive and heavily armed bureaucracies designed to restrict the movement of non-criminals.
Simply put, there is not one biblical law that comes even remotely close to restricting the free travel on non-criminals on a national scale. I address this presuppositional defense of abolishing unjust immigration control here. There is a word for when the government acts outside of its properly mandated sphere to restrict the freedoms of individuals, and that word is tyranny.
We need to stand against socialism and we need to stand against Marxism, but we should not be taken seriously if we cherry-pick which socialism to condemn, which to ignore, and which to endorse. Abolishing socialism means abolishing immigration restrictions.
We must seek to abolish: the minimum wage, fractional reserve banking; the government monopoly of the mint, compulsory education laws, rent controls, zoning restrictions, tariffs, price supports, price ceilings, closed-shop union laws, taxation of property and inheritance, immigration restrictions, “windfall profits” taxes, restrictions on energy development, and so forth. We need to do everything we can to increase the productivity of God’s world. Poor countries should be made aware that true development will occur, not by envious political expropriation, but through increasing capital supply and investing it in terms of market demand. National, state, and local governments must be forced to retreat into their rightful spheres of authority. Capital punishment and restitution laws must replace the unbiblical prison system-which will also free up resources for investment. In every area, men must be allowed the responsibility to fulfill their callings under God. (pp 224)