June 17th, 2009
Hoffmeier, James K. The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 174 pp. $14.99.
I recently wrote a review on Ancient Word, Changing Worlds where the authors showed the importance of the doctrine of Scripture throughout history. In that book, they argue that the Bible is written for all people in all times. This has wide ranging implications for just about everything in our lives today.
One implication would include the issue of immigrants in America—legal and illegal. This issue has become the center for many political campaigns. So too, many political pundits are discussing the pros and cons on television and radio. In The Immigration Crisis James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern archaeology at Trinity International University, uses careful exegesis and hermeneutics to show how the Bible speaks to this “lightning rod” issue today.
Looking primarily at the Old Testament, Dr. Hoffmeier writes of how Isaac and Jacob were treated while living in foreign lands. He then details how the Israelites were aliens in a foreign land (Egypt) and how the Law instructed them to treat aliens and immigrants once they settled in the land God had given them.
He then takes a look at what Christ said regarding aliens—“I was a stranger and you invited me in.” He explains what Paul means when he calls Christians aliens of this world in Ephesians. The last chapter explains how all of this applies to us today and how we should approach the issues of immigration today.
I must confess that I really have not given much thought to the issue of immigration in America except to know that it has become fodder for talk show hosts and politicians seeking office. After reading this book, I have come to understand the issue of immigration through a biblical lens. For that, I am indebted to Dr. Hoffmeier.
What is more, Dr. Hoffmeier does not write as a mere scholar looking to add his two cents to a hot-button issue. Rather, he is writing from the experience of a war refugee and an alien in two different countries. He has been a sojourner in a foreign land and understands what that feels like.
While you may not agree with all of his exegesis, Dr. Hoffmeier will certainly help you think through some critical issues while maintaining a biblical worldview on the issue. If you live in a region of the United States where the topic of immigrants is prevalent, then this book is a must read. If you would simply like to better understand what the Bible says about this issue, then this is certainly the place you start your research. This is a timely book in an era when the world continues to shrink with the advancement of travel and the Internet.