Monday, 29 July 2019

Mass Immigration and Christianity

A common criticism people who condemn the mass immigration of recent years face is that they are unchristian. This has always struck me as a particularly insincere argument, and goodness knows we get plenty of those nowadays, because it completely reframes Christianity into something else entirely. No longer is it a spiritual path centred on the supernatural reality of God who became man in order to open up a way out of the material world for those who would accept it. It is now just a form of secular humanism.

The fact that there is no Jew nor Greek nor male nor female nor free nor slave in Jesus Christ does not mean we are all the same and all equal. It means that all human beings can find salvation in Christ. So it means that there is a kind of unity but the unity is in those who have turned to God through Christ. It is not spoken of as universal for all human beings under any circumstances. Besides, there are still Jews, Greeks, men, women and so on. There is now something that unites them at a higher level but on the ordinary, everyday level they remain what they are. They are not suddenly an amorphous, identikit mass. What is more, that quote from St Paul might be read in tandem with another from Acts chapter 17 verse 26 where he says, "From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands." I am not saying this proves anything one way or the other but if you are seeking to make a point through Biblical quotes you can't just select the ones you like and ignore the ones that don't back up your already formed convictions.

Christianity is concerned with the salvation of the soul. That's all. Christ's kingdom is not of this world. So the immigration question, which is a worldly matter, is peripheral to the core purpose of Christianity. That means that the opening up of a country's borders to large numbers of foreign people to the degree that the country is radically transformed does not form part of a Christian's essential duties. However, the soul that would be saved must clearly behave in a certain way concordant with that, part of which is to love his neighbour. In obeying this commandment great Christians have made enormous self-sacrifices to benefit others. But what is right on an individual level is not necessarily so on a national one, and if you think loving your neighbour means allowing unlimited immigration then you must determine who your neighbours are. Are they the people thousands of miles away you don't know or are they your actual countrymen, many of whom might have their lives severely impacted by the arrival of newcomers? You see, glib generalities are not so simple after all and even sayings of Christ have to be understood with discrimination and wisdom, and not forced into inappropriate context.

On one occasion Christ fed the 5,000 but he didn't do that all the time. He left plenty of people hungry during his ministry. He healed the sick but he didn't heal everybody, and when he was asked why the man to whom he restored sight was born blind, he said it was so that the works of God might be made manifest. In other words, his miracles were mainly to demonstrate God's power and reality. If Christianity really were principally about healing the sick and feeding the poor then Christ didn't do very well. As he himself said, "The poor will always be with you." That doesn't mean don't heal the sick or feed the poor but it does mean don't claim that Christ would automatically say we should welcome all immigrants with open arms, no matter how many of them come. The principal focus of his teaching was spiritual not humanistic. It was heaven not earth.

This debate reminds me of something I read recently on Bruce Charlton's blog where he discussed sexual morality and made the point that sexual sin, although not the greatest of sins in itself, has the effect, if unrepented, of dulling the mind to proper morality in general. See here. In the post by Ed Feser which inspired Bruce's post someone had commented to dispute this point that we are far more advanced in matters of gender equality and racial equality than earlier generations were and this happened after the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Point disproved according to him but I don't think so. He took these things to be moral matters but that just reflected his own prejudices and his assumptions that they are true and that someone holding these attitudes is more moral than someone who does not. But actually these are ideological attitudes not moral ones. Of course, there is overlap, sometimes considerable overlap, but real morality is based on the truth of God as manifested in the order of being expressed through creation. It is not a question of human opinion. Gender and racial equality are not spiritual beliefs, they are political ones. There is certainly no foundation for them, as understood nowadays, in either traditional religion or scripture.

By the same token, the idea of mass immigration being something a Christian must accept, even accept with joy, is not based on anything in traditional religion or scripture. Love and justice are part of the spiritual life but cultural self-destruction is not a religious obligation and those who claim that it is, or that which causes it is, are distorting Christianity and reducing it to a materialistic level  to suit a leftist agenda which is primary. Which does not mean that the opposite is true, that Christianity by default must be against mass immigration; only that other criteria must be brought to bear to provide an answer. Bringing comfort to the suffering is a spiritual duty and no religion has approached Christianity in doing this. But you are instructed to love your neighbour as yourself which rather implies that you must first love yourself. Mass immigration is a kind of self-hatred since it will inevitably lead to a nation's destruction as the cultural entity it traditionally has been. It is, and I think has been conceived as such, an attack on a nation's soul disguised as humanitarianism. 

19 comments:

Eric said...

It strikes me every time how secular humanism is basically Christianity turned inside out. I mean literally. Everything they do and say has a backwards Christian rationale, which is why it is so hazardous. Christianity only works if you direct it towards God not backwards to the human individual. We still live in a highly religious society and this is probably why Christ is the only solution in the end. There will never be Utopia in "maya" and we are supposed to get out of here. Falling in love with the world is eating the forbidden fruit over and over again. And we all know what Einstein said about insanity.

William Wildblood said...

'No Utopia in maya' is an excellent point even if it is somewhat like mixing metaphors!

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I am in no doubt the the motivation for unrestricted mass immigration is an evil one - it is, indeed, a core element in the plan for destruction of Christianity and imposition of materialist totalitarianism (as can be seen by the aggression with which it is promoted and defendended by the elites). Even from the hedonic point of view of utilitarianism (the justification of all modern policies) it is an insane idea. But the sad thing is that our society is so generally corrupted that its stark lunacy is not obvious to people - so the Establishment has been able to get away with it.

William Wildblood said...

Bruce, as I said in a comment on the previous post, I've tried to be even-handed here and come up with some reasons why mass immigration might have some positive qualities to it. But that's really just to forestall arguments of its proponents because it's obvious that overall its effect is destructive and, what is more, intended to be. It's a disaster for the West, seemingly carried out with full complicity and is apparently a confirmation of the old adage that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad. We have rejected God and this is the result of that.

Bruce Charlton said...

For myself, now that I have decided that the Establishment are of evil intent, I become very suspicious of *anything8 that is being pressed-for hard, by many channels and over a long time span. For example mass immigration, the sexual revolution, the glabal warming agenda, foreign 'aid', military interventions in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Afghanistan, medical (or other 'scientific') research, expansion of the education system etc. Either these things are false and wrong in themselves, or they are a disguise for an evil (usually totalitarian control) agenda. Sometimes it is hard to work-out exactly what is going on - but so far, it has always been the case that these kinds of things turn-out to be working for the wrong side in the spiritual war.

William Wildblood said...

This is the position I find myself forced into as well. Anything (underlined) presented as good in the modern world is somehow serving evil. Sometimes in the past I have not trusted my intuitions about things as much as I should have done and wondered if what I feel can be right when it conflicts with so much 'good opinion'. But I was told that I should trust my intuition and now I do and the more i do, the clearer things become. I'm not claiming to be right in everything (!) but I do think there is a spiritual organ of perception that can cut right through all the worldly obfuscation and clever arguments which paint black as white, and we all have to learn to trust that and go with it wherever it might take us.

So if i occasionally when discussing a subject present arguments for the other side that is only to show that I am not unaware of them, that I have considered them but ultimately find them wanting in the light of greater truths. They often hide a deeper agenda which the people who make them might not even be aware of themselves.

Faculty X said...

So mass immigration serves evil. Yet Christians support mass immigration. So Christians support evil.

When you say 'we' have rejected God and mass immigration is the result why is it that those who run churches and people who say they have accepted God and Christ support mass immigration?

If that's the norm then more accepters of God and more Christians mean more mass immigration.



edwin said...

The Catholic hierarchy and those who speak for the mainstream Protestant denominations are not primarily Christian but Leftist. They are not Christ-centered but man-centered in a materialist way.They have long been co-opted by politics, and their theology has become Liberation theology, which is Marxism with a pious veneer. Ironically, the ideal of the Liberation theologians is economic equality: everyone should live in a pleasant garden suburb. Can anything be more opposed to the spirit of Christ? Poverty used to be embraced as an aid to spirituality; now, it is the evil to be overcome through coercive government programs. The term "Christian" as used by the media should be understood and globalist and leftist and materialist. The Left hates Christianity because it is spiritual and directs our attention away from all that the Left can control, but instead of being honest about its opposition, it uses the tactic of redefining terms.

William Wildblood said...

Faculty X, is that a serious question? Surely you know that most church leaders are leftists first and Christians after, if at all in some cases? And those who follow them would rather be nice than true. They think they are being loving but they don't understand what love is beyond all purpose naive benevolence that looks to the short term only

William Wildblood said...

I see that edwin has beaten me to it only said it better!

Faculty X said...

You say that if there were more God in the West and more Christians then mass immigration wouldn't be happening. That's a spiritual-empirical claim which all the evidence disconfirms.

Yes, all church leadership is Leftist. But the everyday non-leader Christians I know all support mass immigration and supposed refugees over the local poor.

What is the evidence for the claim that Christ or God is the answer for national preservation? I don't see it among the Christians I know. I don't see it in nations. Nations such as China and Japan have been more successful in preserving their identity and they don't have a God.

If you end up succeeding in somehow changing modern Christianity, great. I'd be happy to be wrong on this point. At this time if it's like an input system of put more X in and we get some result then it makes no sense to put in more of what gets the same.

William Wildblood said...

Those are good points but I think you’re putting words in my mouth I didn’t say or else I haven’t expressed myself properly. I did say we have rejected God and so we have, en masse. The Christians who support mass immigration usually do so because they have succumbed to the secular God-denying ideology which surrounds them and which is humanist or, as I believe, pretend humanist. They think supporting mass immigration is the Christian thing to do because to be a Christian is to be nice to other people. They are sentimentalists confusing emotional feelings with love. But Christians of the past would not have thought like that. It’s only modern secularised Christians who do and they do because they want to feel good about themselves. They are interpreting Christianity on a predominantly materialistic level.

I’m not saying Christianity is the answer for national preservation. I say in the post that other criteria have to be brought to bear. Common sense would be a good start. But I do think that when a nation abandons God from a position of having known God it’s not long before it gets rid of nature too, and it is natural for a people to be against the influx of a large amount of foreigners into its land for it will inevitably lose itself, its cultures, its traditions, everything. Peoples low in ethnocentrism vanish. We in the West have abandoned both God and nature for ideological theory and are busy committing suicide.

Eric said...

William,

I think in some sense the West was meant to "abandon" God to be able to actualize him inwards. In some sense God might have wanted this from us too, rather than cling onto an outdated notion of Him. But this was not supposed to mean denying him, as much as it was not meant to be about holding on to blind belief. Atheism seems to have made a virtue about forgetting. If you move out of your parents house, it doesn't mean you should forget about them or lose reverence for them. Nor should you fear to move out.

William Wildblood said...

Maybe Eric. Or maybe we were supposed to abandon a false image of God and move on to a more coherent understanding of him. I believe that's more or less the way I went. The trouble is we didn't just abandon the false image. We also abandoned the reality.

Eric said...

William

People are often ironic about God today, and religion is a common topic of ridicule among comedians. Of course, as a believer I can also find old notions of God quite funny. It is funny because our consciousness has surpassed the image, but it doesn't mean it wasn't more valid and alive in the past. The problem is of course taking outdated religion as a reason for validating the liberal religion of no-religion. I find this is a typical leftist tactic. They ridicule something of the past in order to delegitimize anything of the past that does not conform to the modern lifestyle. It's just about power, so these comedians are not funny in the end. We are not the same kind. Frankly, it was always about God or not.

edwin said...

I think that to know God in our time, one has to be very serious about wanting to know the truth. In an age of superficiality and constant distraction, anything profound becomes almost incomprehensible to most people, and we tend to ridicule as preposterous what we cannot readily understand. After all, we're so smart. If something made sense we would grasp it immediately and easily. Christ is not easily grasped, although one can make him into a social reformer or moralist by ignoring what he really said and did and how he was understood by those nearest to him during his life on Earth. This is the tactic taken by most who regard themselves as Christians these days. It is the tactic of Church leaders who want be part of the body politic. People may not be so much abandoning God as they are rejecting the hollowness of religion divorced from spirituality. The mainstream denominations of Christianity have either calcified in doctrines rooted in an outmoded cultural understanding or they have jettisoned everything in the pursuit of contemporary relevance, as defined by the Left. Both define Christianity as an external thing to be realized by assent to defined doctrine or support of social-justice programs. Neither is spiritual and Christ can only be known in the spirit. There may be communities of Christians in the future, but I don't see that happening now, where individuals are struggling toward the light with little support from those around them.

Eric said...

@edwin

The question of poverty is an interesting one. Horrible conditions indeed exist in the world, that according to leftism does not facilitate any growth at all. For in all their supposed human affection, Africa must remain a low-IQ continent of inferior standards (according to materialism). Poverty is nothing but unfortunate randomness. I think they feel tremendous guilt for this, as they seem unable to appreciate differences and let anything be alone. They could easily label you as a spoilt westerner for daring to idealize poverty, and wonder how aids, malaria and starvation facilitates spiritual growth. Yet I have this lurking feeling that the humanitarian West have always seen Africa as a giant Zoo with illiterate unfortunates to be "taken care" of. It seems to me Leftism simply will not give up until the entire world speaks standardized marketplace English, lives in concrete and are able to vote. Behind the equality facade hides a yearning for more and more stuff, horizontal expansion and lack of self-restraint.

edwin said...

Poverty, without spiritual aspiration, is the most painful thing one can experience in a materialistic understanding. All suffering, without Christ, appears irredeemable misery. Europeans used to regard it as a Christian duty to bring their religion and their material accomplishments to Africa and other places where superstition, poverty and disease were prevalent. It used to be called "the white man's burden," and it rested on the idea that a Christian culture was superior to one based in animism and magic, in which power is worshiped. With the loss of Christian culture, or its transformation into sentimental humanism, great confusion about how to regard formerly "inferior" cultures has arisen. Egalitarianism elevates primitive societies as equal to or even superior to Western civilization, whose predations are dwelt upon to the exclusion of all beneficial works. Clarity about our purposes and cultural relationships can only come about through honesty and a spiritual perspective, neither of which appears to be on the horizon at present.

William Wildblood said...

edwin, you are so correct in your analysis. Modern Christianity has turned the teachings of Christ into a social welfare programme and thinks that love means there is no better and no worse, no higher and no lower.