By what authority? A public outcry from AMBS administrators

Published: June 20, 2018

The Administrative Cabinet of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, has issued the following statement regarding the forcible separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border:

Central to the roiling public debate over families being torn apart at the U.S.-Mexico border is the question: “By what authority?” The forcible separation of families at the border is cruel and heartbreaking by any human calculation, and it is authorized by the U.S. government. The horror of tearing children away from their parents in order to prosecute the parents as criminals is inhumane in the extreme — parents who more often than not are fleeing violence and terror in a desperate attempt to bring their children to safety. A government that legislates this cruelty and manipulates a Bible verse, taken out of context, to justify these actions has ceased to exercise legitimate authority, in our view.

Jesus had an authority that astonished his listeners because it was unlike the authority of the leaders of his day. Jesus’ moral authority was in full throttle when he focused his righteous anger on those who harm children. It would be better for such persons, he said, “to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:2-10 NIV).

AMBS administrators call on followers of Jesus:

  • to find meaningful ways to express outrage at the despicable actions of the U.S. government that harm children, criminalize desperate parents and tear families apart;
  • to decry any use of Scripture taken out of context and twisted to justify inflicting brutality on children and parents, who are all made in the image of God.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In the name of Jesus and with the power of the Holy Spirit, may all followers of Jesus:

  • Do what is just and right … and “do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow,” remembering that we, too, were foreigners (Jeremiah 22:30 NIV; also Leviticus 19:34, Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 10:19);
  • Heed Jesus’ command: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

The AMBS Administrative Cabinet:
Rebecca Slough, VP and Academic Dean
Ron Ringenberg, VP and CFO
Daniel Grimes, Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid
Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, Dean of Lifelong Learning
Sara Wenger Shenk, President

Safwat Marzouk, Associate Professor of Old Testament, representing AMBS teaching faculty

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