God’s convenient rules of real estate

Someone explain this Robert Jeffress quote to me. I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

‘While Christian compassion is one consideration, it’s not the only consideration in the immigration problem,’ he said.’I mean, the Bible also says that God is the one who established nations and its borders. God is not necessarily an open borders guy, as a lot of people would think that he is.

Borders change. Is every change god-ordained? Does God have a map in his head that says whether Alsace-Lorraine should be within the French or German borders?

Which borders are the official ones? Should we go back to the True Borders at the time of Jesus?

I’m also a bit concerned about what happened in the 16th century. There were a lot of nations in North America that were, I assume, established by God, and a whole lot of Europeans came in and fucked them up.

That was a major immigration problem. What did God have to say about that? We seem to have broken a lot of nations and borders, and God did diddly-squat in response.

I also have to say that that I seem to have read more of the Bible than an ordained minister. God never seemed to have cared much about respecting borders — his Chosen People were a huge wandering caravan of ex-slaves who wandered for 40 years, and finally found their land of milk and honey and just up and conquered it, slaughtering the people who already lived there.

(Maybe Jeffress is acknowledging that there is no historical evidence for any of this, and that the tribes of Canaan just made it all up.)

I am beginning to suspect that Jeffress is simply full of expedient bullshit to justify whatever the hell he wants.


  1. cartomancer says

    Actually, nobody in the ancient world was all that concerned about lines on maps in the way we are. That’s simply not how ancient peoples thought about borders, boundaries and territory. For a start, their maps were not nearly precise and detailed enough to do that kind of thing. Even the maps of great Imperial conquerors like the Romans (e.g. the famous Peutinger map) tended to focus on roadways as routes of travel with cities as fixed points along those routes. You simply don’t get a “painting in the map pink” type of approach to Empire. The maps of the Roman Empire PZ has put up are a modern style of presentation that would have seemed quite peculiar to the Romans and their client peoples.

    No, people in the ancient world thought in terms of tribes, groups and peoples – or for more urbanised areas in terms of city-states – as the discrete units of belonging and identity, rather than geographical areas. It would be “the land of the Gileadites” or “the territory of the Brigantes” or some such – the people there determined who the land belonged to, not the other way around. The Romans thought this way, so did the Greeks, so did the Persians, so did the Egyptians. It’s certainly the model of belonging and identity that the writers of Christian scriptures adopted.

  2. komarov says

    I am beginning to suspect that Jeffress is simply full of expedient bullshit to justify whatever the hell he wants.

    Well, expedience has been a hallmark of all successful religions and probably one of the reasons why christianity and its many institutions have been such a big and long-lasting hit. And “christian compassion” was ostensibly one excuse consideration when the whole colonialism/empire thing took off. Besides, it’s not like the heathens know or care what god, sorry, God thinks. So maybe that’s why he was willing to give his oh-so-compassionate messengers a bit more leeway – a few thousand miles – on border issues.

  3. raven says

    I am beginning to suspect that Jeffress is simply full of expedient bullshit to justify whatever the hell he wants.

    He is.
    Jeffress’s god is just a sock puppet, a creation of his own mind that agrees with him all the time.

    That is true of just about everyone.
    There was even an academic study published in PNAS, that showed that people’s gods were just…sockpuppets.

  4. raven says

    Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs

    Nicholas Epley, Benjamin A. Converse, Alexa Delbosc, George A. Monteleone, and John T. Cacioppo
    PNAS published ahead of print December 2, 2009 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0908374106
    People often reason egocentrically about others’ beliefs, using their own beliefs as an inductive guide. Correlational, experimental, and neuroimaging evidence suggests that people may be even more egocentric when reasoning about a religious agent’s beliefs (e.g., God). In both nationally representative and more local samples, people’s own beliefs on important social and ethical issues were consistently correlated more strongly with estimates of God’s beliefs than with estimates of other people’s beliefs (Studies 1–4).

    Calling the gods sockpuppets isn’t just an internet meme.
    There is a lot of neurobiology data that backs that idea up.

    You didn’t need to know this paper to figure out that Jeffress’s gods think just like him and always agree with him. Because he just made them up and they only live in his head.

  5. mailliw says

    As regards immigration from Africa, we are all from Africa, it’s just that some of us turned up a bit later.

  6. raven says

    Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV
    “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

    There are quite a few quotes like this in the bible.

    Not that Jeffress cares. His bible is like his gods. A huge Rorschach blot that says whatever he wants it to say.

  7. consciousness razor says

    ‘While Christian compassion is one consideration, it’s not the only consideration in the immigration problem,’ he said.’

    I guess it’s a good thing that we’ve got other things to actually care about, since a liberal democracy has no business relying on Christian bullshit in the first place. Consider that, you hateful fucking goon.

    I mean, the Bible also says that God is the one who established nations and its [sic] borders.

    Who cares? The Bible said yet another false thing … just add it to the list. The truth is that people establish their nations and borders, as well as laws determining how people may cross those borders. If your god were real and did anything, maybe its job would be torturing people with random afflictions and catastrophes. But for better or worse, people are in fact responsible for the shit they actually manage to do with their own lives, like governing themselves.

    God is not necessarily an open borders guy, as a lot of people would think that he is.

    A lot of people think God is your imaginary friend, who has no views and is not a guy. It’s just you, pretending as if your idiocy was supported by a source that’s supposed to be authoritative somehow, and you expect the rest of us to play make-believe with you.

  8. rcs619 says

    Y’know, it’s a wonder that people don’t bring up the Canaanites more often. We’re so concerned about who the land of Israel actually belongs to, maybe we should go to the source? The first people, recorded in the bible, to have lived there? Oh wait, they were systematically exterminated by the people God liked better. Okay then.

    …And yeah, you don’t often see people bring up the scale and complexity of native american civilization. Most of the time, you only see them depicted as roving hazards in the old west, which is pretty much at the end of an apocalyptic decline from their perspective. There are old accounts of cookfires spread out along an entire coastline. There used to be so many of them. It was pretty much over for them as soon as the first europeans touched the mainland though. Plagues started spreading northwards, and by the time the pilgrims touched down, they’d already been devastated by sickness.

    Obviously no one alive today is at fault, and no one needs to feel personally guilty, but we definitely need to keep it in mind going forward. What happened to natives during the age of colonization was an atrocity. You gotta remember the atrocities though, to make sure you don’t repeat them down the line.

  9. hunter says

    The first thing that occurred to me was the borders drawn in Africa and the Middle East by the colonial powers, which had nothing to do with the territories traditionally held by the tribes who actually lived there.

  10. Nogbert says

    You could really stir up the shit amongst the American right wing fundamentalist whack jobs by starting a movement of American repentance for rebelling against Gods appointed back in the 18th century. May I suggest advocating some imprecatory prayer by the religious conservatives for god to soften good queen Bess 2nd’s heart and invite you all back under her protective wing. Given that she has obviously got a much stronger claim to rule the North American continent than whatever layabout cons his way into the Whitehouse.
    Quite honestly in the (to understate it) unlikely event of the evangelicals actually biting, I don’t think she’d be very keen, old greybeard is going to have to work hard on softening her heart on that one. What her ancestor was keen to keep I doubt she’d want touch with a barge pole.
    But I do think it would be a great troll, maybe some of those reasonable liberal christians who appear to exist in small numbers as a half way point between sanity and absolute madness, could amuse themselves by advocating for it.
    Honestly if the nutters were sincere they should find the argument quite strong. After all they love repentance.
    And once again Britannia will be great!

  11. rietpluim says

    God did diddly-squat in response

    Maybe those earthquakes and hurricanes weren’t about gay marriage after all…!

  12. says

    I was annoyed because I didn’t think Christianity Today would bother with a Robert Jeffress quote. I mean they’re a Billy Graham magazine, but I always thought they were better than this. As it happens, the link is to Christian Today, some rag I’ve never heard of and based in London. They must have every born again loser in the UK to staff a magazine. Or UKIP.

  13. whheydt says

    On a point of How to Settle a Disputed Border peacefully, I’m rather fond of what Denmark did to establish a stable border with Germany. Granted, it took them 1000 years to do it, but that they actually gave up territory that victorious armies were eager to hand them is something. And then 25 years later, again to set the border at the previously established location.

    It was done using a linguistic survey and a plebiscite and it’s why Hamburg is German city today and not a Danish one.

  14. Ed Seedhouse says

    Er, where in the bible did god ordain borders? Chapter and verse, please, and not some vague platitudes but explicit instructions if you don’t mind. Given the vast ignorance most Christians I know have about what they are pleased to call their holy book, I doubt me an there be any such thing, but I am prepared to change my mind if supplied with convincing evidence…

  15. leerudolph says

    Genesis 10:19 – And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. (KJV)

    Now, if Genesis had been written by mortal man, that might be taken to be merely a description. But God is the Great Prescriptivist, so I think we can take it that those borders were damned well ordained by Him! Until, as rcs619@8 reminds us, He decided that that was no longer “the border of the Canaanites”, and did Him some more ordaining. It’s hard work, but someOne has to do it!

  16. davidc1 says

    @6 During the one day i was allowed to post on WND before i got banned i used quotes from the bible about
    how the big sky daddy tells us how to treat strangers in ones land ,they didn’t like it much .

  17. nomdeplume says

    Jeffress is yet another of these fundamentalists who open their mouths and their brains fall out. They say things that a moment’s reflection, a cursory knowledge of history or science, the smallest application of logic, would tell them that what they were saying was bullshit. And yet that moment never occurs.

  18. John Small Berries says

    Marcus Ranum @13: “God seems to always be on the side of the superior military force. To that extent, it’s consistent.”

    Not quite always. There’s the ever-popular Judges 1:19. (“And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”) And of course the whole “God’s chosen people being conquered and enslaved by the Egyptians for over four centuries until he finally decided to get off his omnibenevolent ass and do something about it” thing.

  19. bryanfeir says

    @Marcus Ranum:

    God seems to always be on the side of the superior military force. To that extent, it’s consistent.

    But ‘superior’ there is like ‘fittest’ in ‘survival of the fittest’… it’s kind of a tautology, because the only way to truly tell which is superior is which one won the fight. There are enough historical cases of an on-paper-superior force being defeated by better intelligence and tactics from the other side. Or just plain stupidity from the people running the supposedly superior force. (Stupidity which can include ‘getting into the fight in the first place’.)

  20. says

    I think that he was thinking of Acts 17:26 – New International Version (NIV)
    From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

    That was one of the favorite proof texts that white evangelical racists used to justify segregation. “Race mixing” was against God’s design for mankind, as it erased the God ordained boundaries that kept the races separate. His church had once been lead by a famous segregationists. See: “Never Had I Been So Blind”: W. A. Criswell’s “Change” on Racial Segregation by Curtis W. Freeman. The Journal of Southern Religion Vol. X, 2007 It’s available online to the public.

  21. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    It’s adorable to see people who themselves claim the Bible as the highest authority deciding to ignore it. I bet this jackass can cite a few passages here and there for his position, but there is no way he can override the simply unequivocal, consistent position of Jesus across the Gospels that loving one’s brother like oneself is the highest commandment. The Good Samaritan story alone pretty well shoots him in the foot.

    So far, so hypocritical. That’s standard fare. But what I love is that it’s based on a strawman anyways.

    Aside from utopian anarchists, I’ve never met anyone, not even anarchists like myself, who argue that we shouldn’t have border jurisdictions and some control over them. What everyone means by “open borders” isn’t the cessation of statehood or even a lack of concern over your national health. The false dichotomy people have is that unless you have walls at the border you’re the same as some lawless wasteland. The actual reason we have borders, something privileged people like Jeffress can forget, is to protect us from, you know, armies. “Open borders” advocates are really arguing that human beings should be free to go where they need to, especially if the alternative is starving or being impoverished, not that we shouldn’t be concerned about invasive species or which nations have access to which resources under the UNCLOS or anything of the sort.

    But asking conservatives to be consistent about their beliefs in free markets is a bridge too far, of course.