The Rev knows all about Wayne Grudem. In someways the Rev feels that Wayne and he are kindred spirits. This is mainly because they share the same birthday. However, any similarity between Wayne and the Rev end there.
If you’ve never heard of him, Wayne Grudem, directly or otherwise, is part of the bedrock of all elementary modern theological study. This is because he wrote a huge book that teaches you exactly how he wants you to think about all those questions that the Bible does not directly answer itself.
Wayne Grudem comes from a long line of thinking, that starts with Petrach, the “Father of Humanism”. Following on in the footsteps of his forefathers, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Tyndale, etc. Grudem excels at extrapolating from the Bible using logic, deduction, essentially the “power of thought” to explain every eventuality in life. He is so good at reading between the lines, if the page were completely blank, he’d still see lines everywhere. He has a “biblical” answer for entrepreneurialism, faith schools, global warming being a scam, buying a house to fulfil the Eighth commandment, voting for Trump, and many more besides.
More recently, Wayne has read between the lines and come to the conclusion that “keeping Mexicans out of the US is morally right”. Lets say that again, Wayne thinks that “the Bible states that the US should build a wall along the Mexican border”. If you have a generally positive constitution and do not take yourself too seriously, you can venture in here.
Walls are Good?
The first argument proffered is that in the Old Testament, cities had walls.
“In the world of the Old Testament, people built walls around cities to protect themselves from thieves, murderers, and other criminals, and from foreign invaders who would seek to destroy the city.”
Presumably, because walls are mentioned in the Bible, therefore they must be a good thing. So Trump is doing a morally, biblical act in building the wall.
He then goes on to quote the Bible:
“A strong wall gave peace and security to the city, and one prayer of blessing for a city was, “Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” (Psalm 122:7)”
Fine, David prays for blessing to Jerusalem. Whether the blessing given by God would be BECAUSE of the walls, or IN SPITE of the walls, we will never know.
Yet in verses 3-5 of the same Psalm, it says:
3) Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4) That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
5) There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
In verse 4 in particular, David makes the point that people who love God, will go to Jerusalem to praise him. This is because Jerusalem was being established as the place where God will dwell. Later on, this is climaxed by David’s son, Solomon building the temple in the city.
Based on these verses, then we could say that, yes, bless us for being inside the walls, but also respect the fact that people who don’t live in the city may want to come here. From David’s tone, the Rev is of the opinion that he would let them in.
Then Wayne throws in a few more biblical quotes where walls are mentioned. One in particular is worth a look.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).
Without splitting hairs about the translation itself, a city being attacked is in view. When the walls are broken through, the city will be open to a marauding hoard to come and take as their hearts desire. The verse uses an example from every day life in Solomon’s time to explain a more abstract idea, i.e. self control. As an analogy for a person with no self control, the verse is not stating that somehow walls around a city are an absolute necessity (though they probably were in Solomon’s day); rather that a person with no self control has no defence and therefore will be easily overcome and eventually left with nothing. It seems the verse is not necessarily trying to establish that walls are morally good, but that people need to have self-control otherwise they will give in to every vice and temptation that will eventually ruin them.
Walled cities have been around almost as long as time itself. Walls, prior to post-industrial technology, were the main defence against attack. The question is, are walls an absolute biblical imperative? Or are walls just part of the pragmatic governance of leaders? Interestingly, in Genesis 1-3, there were no mention of walls, or instructions to the first man and women to build them. In Wayne’s view, was creation really perfect since no walls were built? The Rev is of the opinion that walls are much more a consequence of self-preservation rather than divine directive.
What is interesting from all this is that, whether Wayne meant to do this or not, he is intimating that somehow, the US is God’s new dwelling place and therefore needs to be protected. If he didn’t mean this, one would question why he is so keen to argue that building the wall along the Mexican border was a moral thing to do. It may be a pragmatic thing to do, but a moral one?
If you know anything about Biblical Theology (something that is alien to Wayne), then you would know that you cannot pull a verse out of its context. And all the verses he uses are talking about establishing, protecting and receiving the blessing of God as he dwells in His temple, in His holy city, Jerusalem. Indeed it is this temple, in this Jerusalem that was eclipsed by a man, Jesus, the true Temple of God. Is the US, the new Jerusalem in Wayne Grudem’s mind? Does Wayne Grudem even know about Jesus?
From Bible to Politics
So Wayne has firmly established that walls are mentioned in the bible (and for him, that means that they are morally good). Now he proceeds to answer some hypothetical questions about state generosity towards foreigners. Here, sadly, he wonders from quoting the bible to backing up his points by regurgitating nationalist politics. If you’re interested, the main thrust of these points are “if they come to the US legally, then yes, we’ll be nice to them”. At this junction the Rev has switched off.