The experiment lives on



I think we often forget that America was and is an experiment. At no other time in history has the setting and the resources been so right to begin a democracy. And the fact that the country is still strong and a leader in the free world is a tribute to those who envisioned it and built it with the tools to make it sustainable. We have every reason to celebrate its beginnings tomorrow: Happy Birthday America!

Something we also forget, however, is that we are a nation of immigrants. Everyone who founded this country escaped here from somewhere else. They came seeking a better place to build their families and pursue their dreams. This is why it is so hypocritical of us to close our doors to those who are attempting to do the same thing today. We shut the door to the ark; we put an end to the experiment.

God left no doubt as to the importance of the foreigner, the alien and the immigrant in both the Old and the New Testaments. Provision is made for them in the nation of Israel and in the founding of the church.“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Of course we have to confess that the blot on the experiment was our treatment of the original natives of this country. Too bad that the cooperation we idealize at Thanksgiving couldn’t have been part of the experiment too. Imagine what might have happened had the indigenous people of America been treated with honor and respect and given a voice in the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The point is: when you see an American flag this weekend, don’t see a bunch of white males with wigs drafting a constitution. See people of all races, all colors, all faiths, and both genders, for that is what America is. And, by the way, that’s what the kingdom of God looks like, too.

So celebrate the Fourth of July. Celebrate America. Celebrate freedom. Celebrate the chance to start over. Celebrate the immigrant and the native. The Grand Lady still welcomes the huddled masses. Celebrate diversity. The experiment lives on.


This entry was posted in Christianity and politics, kingdom of God, Religious freedom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The experiment lives on

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    I love you Pastor John & your gorgeous wife, yet PLEASE learn the BIG difference between legal & illegal immigration.

  2. noel says:

    brilliantly written piece on America’s value to the world…sending you my ‘updated’ lyrics and mp3 of AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. Love rules!

  3. handbook4thehalt says:


  4. Sam says:

    Hi John and Happy 4th! I agree with Mark: legal immigration is alive and well but illegal immigration is causing problems that have to come under control. There is no hypocrisy in that.

  5. Kathy says:

    Unless we are personally willing to open each of our homes to the masses trying to cross our borders, we need to have rules that regulate the influx of immigrants. The USA is not a free-for-all!

  6. peter leenheer says:

    I too love democracy yet God’s Kingdom is not one where the ‘ people rule” .

  7. John, your history education needs a refresher course. As people have already pointed out, legal immigration continues to be a part of “the experiment.” Communities that existed thousands of years ago had rules for who could come into their structure, what they could do, and when necessary there was a limit on the number that would be accepted (usually defined by available land, food, or other community assets). Historically, immigrants in the Biblical lands you speak of were given little more than a smile and a welcome. That’s enormously different than spending billions of dollars on people who illegally cross the border to access free medical care, various forms of welfare payments, and use government services with very little or no contribution. That’s why we have rules for LEGAL immigration. To throw the door to the ark wide open as you seem to desire would quickly derail and bankrupt this experiment you propose to celebrate. I’m disappointed you apparently fail to perceive – or even acknowledge – the difference in legal and illegal immigration.

    With regard to indigenous people, the ones who were here when the British colonies began to settle had already displaced others who were here prior to them as indicated by archeological finds. Those “indigenous people” were in a never-ending war with each other, and war was a way of life for them. Some of them were treated unfairly by the newly formed USA. Some of them were unnecessarily hostile to the new settlers regardless of how they were approached and treated. Apparently those indigenous people didn’t have anyone telling them the importance of immigration.

    As someone who fought for the continued safety and security of this country, extricating myself from several situations that seemed hopeless, and remaining surprised to this day I survived, I find it appalling when I see our own citizens focus so much of their attention on taking care of illegal immigrants and so little attention on taking care of those who took care of them.

    I am NOT one to say people involved in Christian ministries should remain silent about politics. I’m quite the opposite, and while I personally find your historical narrative factually erroneous and your current perspective unsupportable with effective reasoning, I’m happy to see that you are apparently not reluctant to venture into political venues. Dialog is good. It’s healthy. And healthy dialog leads to better ideals. Conversation, argument, debate, history lessons, and a reasonably open mind have all led to my current understanding and perception of “the experiment.” I hope your ears and your mind are as wide open as the door to your ark.

  8. peter leenheer says:

    Deuteronomy 17″ 14 – 20; I Samuel 8:4 – 22. Never mind the legalities or not, but what do we perceive God to say in the matter. He after all is the ruler of the earth and has given us the authority in his place here on earth. Let us consult Him and have a conversation amongst ourselves. If we leave God out of the picture then our compassion and legalities come to a disagreement. We need to look at this in love. Remember the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China, or the Maginot Line….they were all breached in one way or another. Solve the problem out of love not some other reason. Fences make bad neighbors.

    Just remember if God was reasonable he would not have sent Jesus Christ.

    • I appreciate the incalculable value of scripture. I strongly object to its misapplication. When reading for context, the scripture you noted clearly refers to a specific group of people in a specific time. It is not a proclamation for all to follow thenceforth. I could quote other scripture that refers to raising mighty armies to crush those in their path, and these were armies blessed by God. Should we use those verses today as justification to conquer the world?

      Fences don’t make bad neighbors; they define who your neighbors are. A country without “fences” ceases to be a country. Historically, countries without “fences” predominantly became lands of anarchy. History is a wondrous source of wisdom, perhaps second only to God’s Word.

      Do you honestly believe yourself qualified to declare what is not reasonable for God? I can barely comprehend His magnificence. Trying to define God with our limited earthy understanding is not something I’m willing to embrace. Perhaps you are bolder than I am.

      As followers of Jesus we are brothers, and I am often torn between desire and responsibility: i.e. my desire to be one who brings good news and joy; my responsibility to articulate what I perceive to be wrong (with a keen awareness of my own imperfection). You may not appreciate my STYLE; I respectfully hope you will consider its CONTENT. I proudly call you “brother” regardless of the differing perspectives; I hope you feel the same. Stan (San Antonio)

  9. “As I would learn later on, developed countries will always welcome the Einsteins of this world — those individuals whose talents are already recognized and deemed to have value. This welcome doesn’t usually extend to the poor and uneducated people seeking to enter the country. But the truth, supported by the facts of history and the richness of immigrant contribution to America’s distinction in the world, is that the most entrepreneurial, innovative, motivated citizen is the one who has been given an opportunity and wants to repay the debt.”
    ~ Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Author “Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon”

    “A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.”
    ~ Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister

    • I don’t understand the purpose of your post. I don’t see any place from John’s initial narrative through all the responses that indicate a desire to stop immigration. The first few responses have already defined the issue: LEGAL vs. ILLEGAL immigration. The compelling reason for my response is to counter the current wave of thought that treats anyone who opposes ILLEGAL immigration as someone who opposes ALL immigration. It turns a legitimate issue into a straw man argument. Legal immigration is mostly concerned about ensuring someone will be able to function within our society (i.e. live under our laws, support their family, etc.) Contrary to the quote you posted, legal immigration DOES “extend to the poor and uneducated.” Even poor and uneducated people are qualified for many types of jobs, and the opportunity to be educated formally or informally permits upward economic movement. The overwhelming majority of people I know don’t support ILLEGAL immigration. Conversely, I don’t know anyone that does NOT support LEGAL immigration.

      • bobnearseattle says:

        Perhaps you’re right, Stan.
        I may have missed the mark on this one. Sometimes I don’t understand what impels me to post certain replies but I’m certain our Lord knows the reasons – both for me and for those who read and/or respond.

        I confess some disappointment, however, at your decision to “be silent” for awhile. You have some good things going on in your head and I appreciate what you’ve written these past couple of days.
        I agree with you about the need for dialogue and differing perspectives. Unfortunately, we seem to be lacking “iron-sharpeners” which tends to drag things down to dull routines: Get up. Read. Nod. Eat. Go to bed. Repeat.
        So, for me, your recent posts (along with others who converse) are refreshing and, as Hercule Poirot might say, “stimulates my little grey cells.” Thank you!

        Don’t stay a stranger –
        Shalom, Peace to you my friend…

  10. I’m Stan Lambert (San Antonio, TX). Yes, I’m new to this group even though I’ve known John since the mid 70s. (I seriously doubt he remembers me!) I have no intention of trying to routinely dominate conversations, so those of you who don’t like extended passionately worded responses can relax. I felt compelled to respond repeatedly to this message from John since I fervently disagree with some opinions on issues he expressed (as do some others). If my posts become disruptive, I’ll withdraw as I have no desire to harm a great ministry and community. From my earliest recollection (around 1975) I have perceived John as someone who speaks his mind while allowing others to speak theirs. I admire that. I ardently believe in the value of constructive dialog –the iron sharpening iron concept – and the value of sometimes just listening… like visiting “Johnny’s Café” and soaking up the conversations and various types of non-verbal expressions. I plan to make no more posts or replies on the issues addressed in this thread. My position has been sufficiently expressed.

    My final plea is in full avid agreement with John; we often “waste” the freedom we still have to speak openly in most venues about the Good News of Jesus Christ. The dilution of that freedom began years ago and is accelerating. Let’s embrace the ability to shout the Gospel of Grace with every opportunity. Let’s not allow the side-debates to distract us from the primary task at hand. Thanks for tolerating me. I sincerely love and respect all of you and this outreach ministry. I’ll be silent for a while.

    • Dan says:

      Thank you, Stan.

      • Mark D Seguin says:

        I’d like to thank-you too Stan! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post!

        PS and sincerely hope you’ll consider re-thinking “I’ll be silent for a while.” B/C your input is valuable.

  11. Timothy Logan says:

    John you said in your comments that the kingdom of heaven consists of people of all faiths,I may misunderstand you but the bible says only those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will be in the Kingdom of heaven not all who have faith, unless you mean that all who have faith are believers. because you can have faith in other religions and not get into heaven.Sorry if i misunderstood you.

  12. peter leenheer says:

    I have read all the responses and appreciate all the opinions expressed about legal and illegal immigrants. Let me throw some historical facts into the mix and please use them as you see fit.
    When Jacob and his family went to Egypt to be with Joseph, that was the kindness of Pharaoh. A lot of Jacob’s sons we would call criminals, or even terrorists today. We would not want them into our country. Just read Genesis 34 and 38. Also note how Jacob created a lot of those problems by playing favorites. When Jacob blessed his sons at the end of Genesis read that a lot of the ‘blessings’ were more like reprimands.
    When Israel left Egypt some 430 years later we read in Exodus 12:38 ” that a rabble of non Israelites went with them…”, most certainly these were illegal immigrants. Perhaps they influenced the Israelites with their constant complaints and with the golden calf and not being allowed in the promised land due to unbelief. Yet they got in, despite all the detours.

    Australia is a nation built on criminals and unsavory characters of both genders. Yet look what they accomplished today. You would not even know the origin of that nation today.

    The USA was a European dumping ground (immigration) for many of Europe’s poor, criminal, rejects and unwanted. Immigration was a means to get rid of them. Yes I know, not all but the majority were people of whom little was expected, and were deemed good for very little. When John uses the word immigrants he is being kind. Just do your research, and today you would not let the majority of them in. In fact the European elite were amazed what the riff raff accomplished in that north American colony. America became the greatest nation in the world in its time.

    When slaves came from Africa and arrived on the southern beaches, they looked much like world war II people did in concentration camps. The Roman Catholic Church representatives fed these people on the southern beaches knowing full well that their compassion would create a slave that would fetch a higher price. Their concern was the people. That was love. Yet the slave traders took full advantage of the churches compassion. They counted on it, to maximize their profits.

    To a large degree America was built on the people that we object to being let in today. God blessed America!! Were their problems with crime, and other sins that required repentance of course! Let us get busy and love these people, and yes punish the criminals. The majority are not criminals or unsavory, they are just poor and desperate for love and provision.

    I hope this is food for thought. My intention was not to make anyone angry, but just to make you think. In Canada we face similar problems and a lot of our immigrants over the centuries are similar to that of the USA.
    Maybe the church should get busy and do more than they are doing now. After all Jesus suffered every possible indignity for us and paid a huge price, certainly we can forgive a smaller debt.

  13. peter leenheer says:

    Stan, I agree with Bob near Seattle and his welcoming and personal comments to you. Please stay with us. We may agree to disagree but we will be judgmental. Welcome!!

  14. peter leenheer says:

    Sorry, we will NOT BE JUDGMENTAL!!

  15. jwfisch says:

    Excellent. Proud and happy to see a healthy discussion going on. Thank you to all who are taking part. I encourage us all to seek the heart of the matter.

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