There are many Christian leaders who have expressed their belief that Americans are responsible for welcoming and absorbing many of the refugees and immigrants from the Muslim nations of the Middle East, even though our national security experts strongly oppose such a move based upon our inability to screen them. In addition, many of the Christian leaders who strongly advocate opening our borders seem to be ignoring the impact of Islamic immigration in Europe over the past few years, and especially what has been happening since the refugee crisis began. We have been told that if we do not bring in refugees then we are failing in our Christian responsibilities.
Our church has directly expressed our support to President Trump for his recent travel ban. We decided that we could not stand by silently while Dr. Russell Moore, as president of the ERLC, published an open letter to the President in disagreement of his policies on the refugee situation. He supported his position by referring to the 2016 resolution on refugees adopted by the SBC at its annual meeting.
When we study the Bible and examine what it says about immigration, sojourners, and foreigners living within host nations, we find that the issue is not as simple as many suggest. God clearly warned about the dangers of allowing foreigners to adversely impact Israel. Israel’s downfall came as the result of embracing the pagan gods of foreigners living within the land.
We believe, while the Bible tells us to show compassion to the sojourner and stranger, that God does not want us to be foolish and gullible, ignoring genuine dangers and consequences to our own nation in the process. The world is in crisis because we are in the last days. Our church and denomination are committed to evangelism to the Muslim world but it must be done with wisdom.
We have sent a letter to Dr. Moore, signed by the members of our congregation, expressing our disagreement with his stance and his use of the secular media to express his disagreement with the President.
Perhaps we are a minority in the Southern Baptist Convention, but we feel that since Dr. Moore and the ERLC has loudly voiced what is presented to be the official SBC position, it is our responsibility to express our direct disagreement. Neither Dr. Moore nor the ERLC speaks for us.
Perhaps many would consider us to be narrow-minded and nationalistic, but we consider ourselves evangelistic, caring, compassionate Christians who have determined that compassion is not best expressed by ignoring reality, nor at the cost of our responsibilities as Christian citizens. Sometimes we need to speak out even when our view may not be acceptable to others.
Dr. Russell Moore, President
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
505 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
February 26, 2017
Dear Dr. Moore,
Your recent open letter to President Trump and Vice President Pence, in which you presented your views about the travel ban, implies by its letterhead and your official position as the president of the ERLC, that your views are representative of the Southern Baptist Convention. Your letter therefore forces me, a pastor, along with the members of our Southern Baptist church, to enter the discussion and make it clear that you do not speak for us. Your public declarations through your letter as well as at other times make it necessary for us to make our views known in response. Our first response is to you directly.
We have neither the position, nor the desire, to present our views in the pages of a major newspaper as you have done. Instead, we will next begin to communicate on a smaller scale with the appropriate individuals and agencies that we feel should be contacted in order to make our views clear.
We are absolutely in favor of President Trump’s travel ban for both immediate security concerns for the United States, as well as in view of the obvious circumstances surrounding what is happening in Europe, particularly in connection with the refugee crisis. In spite of the very loud voices that condemn anyone who expresses grave concerns about the direction and impact of Islam on the modern world, for anyone to deny that we need to be extremely cautious about the cultural, political, and spiritual influences of Islamic immigration is being willfully blind.
We are a mission-minded church, and by being in favor of both the temporary ban as well as strong vetting measures, does not mean that we are unkind, non-evangelistic, or unfaithful to the teachings and compassion of our Christian faith. On the contrary, we are genuinely concerned with national security, the ability to freely practice our faith, and the safety of Christians around the world including our missionaries. We also support effective evangelism to individual Muslims and to the Islamic world in general.
We are keenly aware of what is happening, and what has been happening, in the European and Middle Eastern world with respect to Muslim immigration and the refugee crisis. A basic premise of Islam is to expand and dominate. This is the driving force of ISIS and Jihad, as you know. In addition however to militant Jihad is the soft Jihad, as it has been called, wherein Islam is spread peacefully by population growth and territorial occupation and expansion. Europe is losing its western identity as the result of Islamic expansion. If we are concerned with evangelism, then we should be concerned as well with how Muslim expansion inhibits and destroys evangelism by its very nature. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered in the Islamic world.
Those who have tried to promote increased immigration of Muslims into America have pointed out how unlikely it is that any of us will be killed by Islamic terrorists traveling in stealth as refugees. I would like to point out that the effectiveness of terrorism does not require a huge number of victims. What we are seeing is that a single terrorist, or small group, is effective according to the strategic location and circumstances of the target. We have learned from the events of 9-11 that a terror attack can include both number count and strategic location and impact, and that it can be accomplished by a small number of individuals with careful planning.
As Baptists, we are acutely aware of our history and of the sacrifices made for religious liberty. However, freedom of religion is not a tenet of Islam. The more Islam grows in America, the louder is the call for adoption of local Sharia law, and the greater is the actual threat to religious liberty in America itself. You have commented in the recent past about how Christians were betraying their beliefs by supporting Donald Trump. Would you not say that Americans are actually betraying themselves in the way they are ignoring and even embracing an Islamic threat to our beliefs and security in the name of political correctness and under the guise of compassion and religious liberty?
Our own government security experts have warned that it is impossible to properly vet the refugees from Syria and the mass of immigrants seeking Asylum. It is not an absence of compassion to use common sense. It is also not an act of Christian compassion to expose our nation to obvious danger when an adequate screening system is not possible or in place. Compassion must be guided by wisdom. Compassion that is not guarded by wisdom becomes gullibility.
This letter does not exhaust several concerns that we have about some of your comments and the direction of the ERLC. However, we believe that your public position is unrealistic and ignores many critical factors.
Thank you for giving your attention to this letter. It was not pleasant to write, and I am sure it is not pleasant to read. Please understand it is not written in animosity, but from great concern.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Carter Corbrey, Th.M, Th.D.
Signed as well by the congregation of the First Southern Baptist Church:
Below is the letter that we, sent to President Trump and Vice-President Pence to let them know that we do not agree with the stance that Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention.
President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
Re: Support for Travel Ban
February 26, 2017
Dear President Trump and Vice President Pence,
Thank you for your tireless efforts to serve our country and keep the promises you made during the campaign. We appreciate the many changes you have already made, and actions you have taken to correct the nation’s direction and position, and return us to our traditional moral footing.
One of the main purposes behind this letter is to encourage you with our support for your stance on immigration and the travel ban on refugees and immigration from the seven nations of the Middle East.
We are a Southern Baptist church, and are in direct disagreement with the open letter recently written and publicly posted by Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition, we consider great caution and limitations regarding Muslim immigration to be important and wise.
It would have been timelier to have written this letter two weeks ago, but we have been researching and discussing the actions of Dr. Moore and the ERLC and I wanted to formulate an appropriate letter to Dr. Moore and include a copy of that letter in our communication with you.
We are evaluating our relationship with the ERLC and will be contacting our denomination with our recommendations. Dr. Moore and the ERLC do not speak for all Southern Baptists.
We are praying for your protection and guidance.
Sincerely in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pastor Carter Corbrey, Th.D., and the congregation of the First Southern Baptist Church of Versailles, Indiana.
It is the common theme that demands an audience.
It is the source of tears and admiration.
It is the heartbreaking inspiration for dreams and the cause of longing stares into the blackness of night skies by lonely adolescents.
It is the theme that finds new adherents from one generation to the next.
It is found in the forbidden love of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and the musical refrains of West Side Story.
It is the forbidden bond that crosses railroad tracks, betrays family lines, ignores national boundaries, and defies social barriers.
Love ignores the obvious dangers and moves beyond the contradictions that should limit its blossoming.
Love that reaches the greatest heights is equally tragic when the “star-crossed” lovers die when their plans go wrong, as Juliet’s apparent death is misunderstood by Romeo, who takes his own life in despair, followed soon by Juliet’s actual sacrifice.
Death that is inspired by love is especially sad when the person for whom the life was given fails to understand its purpose and significance until it is too late.
True love that ends in death is tragic beyond words.
Juliet was revived from her apparent death only to discover her plan was futile.
However, there is One unique person who died motivated by love for an undeserving people.
He gave His own life in order to rescue a people who did not know they needed rescuing.
He suffered the agonies of the most severe of tortures in order to spare those to whom the suffering was due.
The greatest story of love is the true story of God, the Creator, whose creation rebelled against Him and thus fell in sin. It is the story of the human race which did not deserve God’s mercy, yet received it by means of the sacrificial death of Christ, because God loves people. What makes this true story especially amazing is that God was not responding to humanity’s love for Him. It began with His love for us. .
We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
Christmas is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated time of the year. The music is cheerful, the decorations colorful, and the food is amazing. And fattening. More important than that, it is the time we consider the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, when God entered the human race in order to redeem lost mankind. We know what day Christmas will be each year because we have calendars. Even our children have Advent calendars to help them count down the days until the 25th. It is a good thing that we have accurate ways to determine Christmas day each year.
If we relied on the weather as an indicator we would be in trouble. We reached the mid-sixties two days before Christmas. Thunderstorms are forecast for the day after Christmas. Hardly a normal weather pattern for the Christmas holidays.
If we relied on the retail industry, we would find irregularities. We might be celebrating Christmas as early as August.
Sometimes understanding the times can be confusing.
When it comes to understanding the signs of the end times, it is important to be careful and discerning. It is easy to mistakenly pick out certain events and be dogmatic in identifying them as precise fulfillment’s of biblical prophecy. However, taken as a whole, it is evident that we are living in the final days before Jesus’ Second Coming. What is especially important is that we don’t overlook the indicators.
Shortly after Jesus miraculously fed more than 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, He was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees who tested Him by asking for a sign confirming His identity. They did not seek such a sign because they wanted to believe Him, but because they opposed Him and were constantly trying to trap Him. However, Jesus turned the discussion in a different direction. The record of this confrontation is found in Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:1–4 (NKJV)
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
Jesus advised them that although they could understand the signs indicating changes in the weather, they failed to understand the more important signs of the times. Those signs were the indicators that Israel’s long-promised Messiah was on the scene. All of the factors indicated that Jesus was that Messiah, but rather than correctly interpreting the signs and recognizing Jesus for who He truly was, they opposed Him and tried to discredit His miracles at every opportunity.
Jesus’ reference to the sign of the prophet Jonah referred to Jesus coming death, burial, and resurrection. They would later reject these evidences as well.
While we acknowledge Jesus’ First Coming by keeping Him central in our celebrations, let us be just as eager and prepared in anticipating His return.
Neither the weather nor the retail industry nor even a calendar will give us clues about His sudden return. There are many prophecies in the Bible describing end time events, but His return for His Church will come secretly and in advance of those events. The fact that we now see them indicates Jesus should return soon. Christians have the responsibility to be ready at all times, and we need to be voices of warning to others of the lateness of the time.
Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”