Welcoming the Stranger: A Final Immigration Response

My final response in the Theopolis conversation on immigration has just been published here.

We beware of treating the condition of the uprooted immigrant as paradigmatic. As Christians, who are committed to the universal value of Christ, we can easily succumb to the distorted universalisms of the modern world, a universalism that resists the humility of particularity. Gottfried Leibniz expressed the modern liberal ideal of the universal human subject: “I am indifferent to that which constitutes a German or a Frenchman because I will only the good of all mankind.”

Read the whole piece here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Controversies, Culture, Ethics, Guest Post, Politics, Society, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Welcoming the Stranger: A Final Immigration Response

  1. Geoff Smith says:

    That is thoughtful and helpful enough that I’ll reread it. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for articulating all this stuff. My response to this and to the previous immigration post was “you took the words right out of my mouth!”

    Of course, my words would not have been as articulate as yours. Nevertheless, these two articles capture all the things I would have liked to say during the many, many conversations in which fellow Christians use the “we have to welcome the stranger” argument and fail to make distinctions about the responsibilities of individual Christians, local churches, and national policy.

    Some people will imply that it is wrong to feel a sense of belonging to any group whatsoever because that necessarily involves excluding non group members. It’s almost to the point where I hesitate to use pronouns like “we” and “they.”

  3. Alice Zents says:

    The two posts on this subject were very, very helpful to me – and to others. Thank you for your work.

  4. Stephen Crawford+ says:


    I hope you’ll be one of the respondents to the recently launched Theopolis conversation on divine simplicity. I’ve appreciated your efforts at defending classical theism in the past, and the inaugurating article certainly makes a mistake you’ve homed in on before in discussions: treating the Lord as a finite subject considering a variety of options. The real metaphysical insight of the Lord’s simplicity just doesn’t shine through the article’s presentation of the classically held belief. I think if that were brought forth, then richer definitions of things like freedom and necessity would reveal different pathways to its author.

    Divine necessity just isn’t best understood in terms of whether or not things could have been otherwise. The Lord is fully and completely himself, in no way dependent on anything else in order to be himself. That’s his necessity. It’s also his freedom. If the Lord were in any way composite (divine simplicity is ultimately a negation), then we would have to posit some yet greater reality within which his parts hold together (I love the way that Irenaeus hammers the Gnostics again and again with this argument). He would then be constrained and conditioned by an exterior reality, as would all of his actions, rather than being entirely free to act in ways that give expression to who he is. His goodness and beauty shine forth unhindered and unalloyed in all he does.

    Hmmm. If you’re not a respondent, maybe you could let me know if you agree with those descriptions of the Lord’s necessity and freedom. I’m certainly interested. Otherwise, maybe I’ll find out more about your thoughts as the conversation moves forward over at Theopolis.

    David Hart (maybe you can see he’s been an influence for me) has a great article on the moral significance of creation, that creation and salvation are ultimately one event and that the Lord will not finally be thwarted in his determination to make creatures who are fully what they are. It certainly paints a very different picture of grace than the one that Mullins conjures. Is Hart’s the route we have to go if we’re going to avoid the problems that beleaguer Mullins’ position?

    It also got me thinking about the nature of covenant. I realize I’m a little murky on the nature of a covenant and its relation to creation as such. I found myself wondering whether Mullins’ view of freedom means that the Lord entering into covenant should be taken as a strike against the Lord’s freedom, as a forfeiture of freedom, rather than the very expression of his freedom. That’s a way of circling back to the point you’ve pressed before, about the Lord as finite subject considering a variety of options.

    Sorry to share these thoughts out of place and out of season. There’s not an opportunity to comment at Theopolis, so I thought I’d bring these reflections to your most recent post. I’m wondering if you’re travelling, though. Maybe you mentioned that at some point. If that’s the case, I hope you’re having fun, though I also hope I’ll have the opportunity to engage with you about these issues.



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