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Posts Tagged ‘Birthright Citizenship’

Apostle Paul_Citizenship

The Apostle Paul declares his Roman citizenship, anon. 2008.

Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?”

He said, “Yes.”

The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.”

And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen” (Acts 22:27-28).

Hamartano is a Greek verb, which is rendered in English translations of the New Testament as “sin.” But in classical Greek usage it more commonly meant “miss the mark.”

For example, one classical Greek writer gave an account of a hunting party that went out to slay a wild boar. Among the hunters were the king’s son and a rather ambitious courtier. The hunters finally cornered the boar, and the courtier, apparently eager to get credit for the kill, threw his spear and missed, instead striking the king’s son and killing him.

That, as they say, was a bad career move.

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

Of all political issues, immigration is perhaps the one most likely to elicit strong emotions from all sides of the political spectrum. For this reason alone it is important that we be careful to define our terms. For my part, I find that seeking to be precise in my language is an effective hedge against allowing emotion to cloud my judgment.

In today’s post I would like to tackle one of the most important, and at the same time one of the least examined, aspects of the immigration debate: According to Scripture, by what method or methods does someone become a citizen?

The answer to this question will have a significant impact on our understanding of what the Bible teaches about immigration.

What is a Citizen?

It’s been said, truly I might add, that if you don’t define your terms, you don’t know what you’re talking about. So let’s begin by asking this question, What is a citizen? My Webster’s Seventh Edition give the following,

  • an inhabitant of a city or town; esp : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman
  • a member of a state
  • a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to reciprocal protection from it
  • a civilian as distinguished from a specialized servant of the state

Of these four definitions, the third “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to reciprocal protection from it” will be the sense in which I use the term “citizen” in this post.

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