In a recent article, The Gospel Coaltion slandered white evangelicals as idolizing security and white culture at the cost of discipleship. This article, titled “The Greatest Gospel Opportunity In a Generation – Lost,” was written by a man named James Misner (Senior Vice President of Strategic Development at World Relief). He makes the argument that white evangelicals shouldn’t support Trump’s limitations on the admittance of Muslim refugees (aka the “Muslim Ban”) for three reasons:
(1) He thinks we may have lost, and will continue to lose, the greatest opportunity to reach the unreached with the Gospel here in America.
(2) He believes white evangelicals are allowing our desire to preserve white culture to take precedent over discipleship.
(3) He assumes white evangelicals want to limit Muslim migration because we idolize safety and security over loving others as Christ loves us.
Did We Lose Our Opportunity to Reach the Unreached in America Because of Decreased Muslim Migration?
According the Misner, Trump’s reduction in refugee admittance is damaging our opportunity to share the gospel here in the US. He says,
“From 2016 to 2017, the number of refugees entering the United States plummeted from 96,874 to 33,368. This constitutes a nearly 70 percent reduction in the number of people who have a chance to come into contact with an American follower of Jesus. A 70 percent reduction in the number of people the church can serve and support. A 70 percent reduction in our ability to put aside our nationality and ethnicity and to simply love as Christ has loved us.”
This is not even close to an accurate representation of the effect that slowing down refugee migration has on mission opportunities available within our borders.
In fact, Misner himself contradicted his own claim within this same article. In the third paragraph, he stated,
“The global church has…too often neglected the opportunity to reach the lost within our own country…. The United States is home to the world’s third-largest number of unreached groups…. Many from these unreached groups have arrived in recent years as refugees.”
In other words, we already have more unreached groups of people with whom we can share the gospel than we know what to do with. Even if we had a 100 percent drop in immigration (not just Muslim immigration, but all immigration), we would still have enough lost immigrants to keep us busy for quite a while. Just because there are less unreached people entering the US via refugee migration doesn’t necessarily mean less unreached people hear the gospel.
Do White Evangelicals Believe White Culture is More Important Than Spreading the Gospel?
Misner made it absolutely clear his criticism was not just for evangelicals, but specifically white evangelicals – because everything must to be about race nowadays.
He said he finds it troubling that “more than three-quarters of white evangelicals…support [Trump’s] policy shifts.” He also insisted that the “white American church’s…primary zeal seems to have become defense of national identity, ethnic heritage, and creature comforts.” This is similar to the sentiment he expressed earlier, that support for Trump’s refugee policy is an indication we’ve “lost our ability to put aside our nationality and ethnicity” for the sake of the the Gospel.
This is just a fancy way of accusing white evangelicals of prioritizing the preservation of their white culture over spreading the gospel and discipleship. It seems to be an insinuation that we reject racial diveristy due to a fear of or predjudice against non-whites.
I don’t know what church Misner goes to, but I know exactly zero white Christians who care, at all, about others’ whiteness or lack thereof. I know a lot of liberals in the church who see diveristy as a virtue to be sought after, though. They even push such causes when their virtue signaling is at the cost of slandering their brothers and sisters in Christ, as Misner has done in this article.
Now, if I’m mistaken to connect his criticisms of specifically “white evangelicals” with his allegations that “we” desire to preserve our “ethnic heritage,” then please forgive me. I do not wish to misrepresent his argument, as he has so egregiously misrepresented the intent and motives behind our support for stricter Muslim refugee admittance standards.
Maybe it’s merely a coincidence that he mentions whiteness continually throughout the article. By “ethnic heritage” maybe he’s simply referring to American culture. But if that’s the case, he is severely misunderstanding why we would find it beneficial to preserve American (Western) culture.
White evangelicals don’t believe that advocating for the preservation of American culture will reduce our local missionary and discipleship opportunities. We believe the opposite. We see advocating for the preservation of our culture as a natural extension of preserving our Judeo-Christian value system here at home, of which we believe will result in better opportunities to spread the Gospel now and in the future.
Our opposition to open borders doesn’t have anything to do with us not wanting to “give up our own preferences and identity to champion” the cause of Christ, as Misner so arrogantly assumes. It is not merely an objection to doing “the uncomfortable work of being with people who are so different from us.” We just disagree with the viability of the strategy of flooding our country with Islamic ideologues. Especially considering that right now not only are their more people the US converting from Christianity to Islam than ever before, but we’re also dealing with mass depravity within our culture (sexualized children, abortion, transgenderism, etc).
Does Idolization of Safety & Security Drive White Evangelicals to Reject Muslim Migration?
Misner stated that “white evangelical churches…have allowed a desire for security to become an idol, displacing our passion for the lost.” This is quite an incredible accusation to make against your brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore it’s reasonable to expect solid evidence for the claim. But the evidence he provided for his accusation was wildly insufficient.
His only example of a fact we have disregarded is that “no refugee admitted in [his] lifetime has ever taken an American citizen’s life in a terrorist attack.” This declaration is accurate, but it’s a severe oversimplification of the dangers of mass Muslim migration.
Muslim refugees may not have committed a terrorist attack, but Muslim migrants and their offspring account for the vast majority of Islamic terrorists attacks in the US. Many were even radicalized by family and friends from their country of origin (like the Boston bombers, Orlando shooter, San Bernadino shooters, etc). Also, if Trump followed Obamas lead, we would’ve admitted a total of ~170,000 Muslim migrants since 2013. This is more than the 15 years prior, or maybe even longer. We simply don’t know the consequences of admitting such high numbers of Muslim refugees, for an extended period of time.
His only other evidence was that “just 12 percent of evangelicals say the Bible is the primary influence on their thinking about immigration issues.” But this stat doesn’t take into account the lack of scriptures instructing us on who to let in, or not let in, to our country.
There are versus instructing us on how to treat “sojourners” during their stay in our country (Lev 19:33-34; Exo 22:21; Deu 10:18-19), but such verses were never meant to be used by a country as a guidance for admission standards. It’s also pretty clear that God saw borders as meaningful and important. And what is the purpose of borders if not to, at least in part, limit migration to and from the country?
Ironically, the standard of evidence Misner is using to justify his accusations of idolatry is just as (or less) sufficient than the evidence that Misner idolizes America.
One could easily argue that by saying these Muslims are missing their greatest opportunity to receive the gospel, he’s saying that their status as part of the elect (or their opportunity to receive salvation) is based upon their ability to immigrate to America. I don’t believe this is a standard by which Misner would like to be judged, so it’s probably in his best interest to debate this issue without unjustifiably accusing his fellow Christians of idolatry.
I think there’s much discussion to be had concerning refugee migration in this country. Sometimes I hear good points from those with whom I disagree.
Yet those who lean Left, like Misner on immigration, do have a nasty habit of resorting to attacking the character and identity of those who oppose their viewpoint, rather than presenting a rational and constructive argument.
Misner stated, “I fear that we may have lost the greatest opportunity in a generation to advance the cause of Christ, forfeiting a unique avenue both for evangelism and for personal discipleship.”
Well, it seems many Left-leaning Christians have chosen to unjustifiably blast the Christian-Right, attributing their beliefs to their whiteness, instead of offering productive counter arguments. Therefore, I also have a “fear.” I’m concerned Left-leaning Christians are creating divisions within the church by participating in identity politics and demanding everyone live up to their arbitrary standard of virtue, at the cost of relationships and discipleship.