Immigration, culture, and Christ
Should Christians value ‘cultural purity’?
Published: 3 March 2012(GMT+10)
How should the Christian view ‘cultural purity’?
Susan J., U.K, wrote in response to the article, Is Christianity for ‘whites only’?:
Excellent article; but why did God create nations to separate us? Also, in the UK, we have many immigrants. This is changing our culture through intermarrying and many indigenous people leave certain areas or emigrate; immigrants then move in. This country is in very great danger I’m afraid; we are a hated nation now.
Dr Carl Wieland replies:
Dear Mrs. J./ Dear Susan,
Many thanks for your comments and your query about this article. Actually, there is a very recent book from CMI which directly deals with these sort of issues (or at least the principles behind them, using many different countries and situations as examples). For example, it deals squarely with that formation of nations in the Acts 17:26 passage (which I think is relevant to your ‘creating nations’ query). But it does so in the context of the history and background of apartheid in southern Africa, in which that issue was raised by many Christian Afrikaners.
The book is called One Human Family: The Bible, science, race and culture. The very things you raise, culture and lack of immigrant assimilation and so on, were issues that for me were important to incorporate in any book on the subject. (Plus much, much more.) I firmly reject ‘political correctness’ in the process, including ‘Christianized’ versions of it.
I honestly think you will be fascinated by its fresh approach. OK, I’m biased cos’ I wrote it . But seriously, we are seeing incredible responses from it. In fact, I am absolutely convinced from what you write that it will go directly to your queries, and that you will find it both “fascinating and compelling” (to quote Philip Bell, CMI-UK CEO, who is highly averse to hyperbole or marketing spin). So sure, in fact, that if after reading it, you think I have overstated the case, I will personally fund from here the equivalent amount of value in any other resources from our website, sent to you postfree.
It was definitely part of God’s plan that humans should spread to populate the entire earth, and Babel was a judgment on the early post-Flood civilization’s refusal to do so.
I would also be most grateful if you could let me know, too, in due course, your reactions when finished. I will of course be very glad to respond to any followup questions you may have after that.
Kind regards in Christ,
Flickr: Patrick George
Lita Cosner, the other author of the article, replies further:
I see Dr Wieland has already responded, but I thought I’d chime in with a few thoughts as well.
It was definitely part of God’s plan that humans should spread to populate the entire earth, and Babel was a judgment on the early post-Flood civilization’s refusal to do so. For a long time, language and geography were barriers between cultures, and in a time when people were not often exposed to different customs, etc, cosmetic differences in traditions and dress made people of other cultures seem much more alien than they do today.
A lot of people in the US have similar worries about immigration as those you’ve stated about the UK. But cultures have always absorbed influences from outside. For instance, in your own country, the Romans conquered the Celtic peoples nearly 2,000 years ago—Germanic and French people also made their mark on your culture and language. As the British Empire spread, tea came from India and China, just to name one substantial influence on English culture. And the museums in England are famous partly for acquiring and preserving the treasures of other cultures which might otherwise have been lost or ruined.
One short paragraph cannot come close to covering the rich variety of influences that have made English culture what it is today—my few examples will undoubtedly be very simplistic. I could say the same sort of thing about America—we have a combination of English, German, French, and Spanish which primarily makes up what one thinks of as the prototypical ‘American’ culture. Many are threatened by the influx of Middle Eastern immigration to the United States. But I think as Christians, we have to approach the issue of culture in a slightly different way.
We should rather desire a Christian culture, and view the contributions of various geographical regions as healthy diversity as long as it glorifies Christ.
As Christians, we should primarily ask “Is this aspect of this culture something that glorifies Christ, denies Christ, or is it something that is neutral?” Christianity itself came out of the Middle East, and Palestinian Christians have some wonderful cultural expressions of their faith. Of course, the Muslim religion is anti-Christian, and in political climates where Christians have a say in such things, we can speak out against politically correct silence about the human rights abuses, etc, of Islam. Other things, such as types of food or clothing styles, are morally neutral and can be good or bad depending on the context.
If we are dedicated to simply preserving a ‘pure culture’ (without recognizing that almost without exception, different Western cultures are ‘mongrels’ that have a multitude of different influences), we will inevitably begin to view the people within other cultures as undesirable. We should rather desire a Christian culture, and view the contributions of various geographical regions as healthy diversity as long as it glorifies Christ.
It’s interesting that you note that the UK is becoming a hated nation—many in the US feel that about our country, as well. However, whenever I’ve travelled overseas, I’ve found that, regardless of what foreigners may feel about America as a nation, they don’t hate individual Americans indiscriminately. Both the UK and the US are still desirable countries for immigration1, which shows that people can’t hate us too much.
- One Human Family goes into the background detail about why certain countries are where even their most ardent critics would want to raise their children. Return to text.