Theological ethics of migration
Janklow, Aaron Philip
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In this thesis I develop a theological ethics of migration that is attentive to the contemporary global crisis of human migration. Using the fourfold sense of scripture, with particular attention to allegory, as reclaimed from patristic and medieval exegesis by Henri de Lubac, I investigate four biblical narratives that I will show are paradigmatic of biblical approaches to the treatment of migrants. These narratives include Exodus, the Book of Ruth, and the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. I present an in-depth exegesis of these narratives as vital theological and ethical sources for addressing the contemporary migration crisis. The core claim I advance in this thesis is that migration is theologically significant for Christians because loving aliens is commended throughout scripture and the theme of hospitality to migrants is central to the prophetic witness of the Church to the nations. Refugees and migrants reveal the interconnected nature of the contemporary world, and I argue that the millions of people who are currently on the move from their home nations are not only an urgent humanitarian challenge to the global community, but an ethical and theological litmus test of contemporary global civilization. The existence of so many migrants and refugees in a global civilization divided into bordered nation-states, which is also daily joined by movements of people and goods in planes, ships and trucks, reveals inconsistencies in modern political conceptions of the nation-state and of the rights of citizens. I argue that longstanding theological traditions that speak of Christians as wanderers and aliens provide a valuable source for addressing and repairing these inconsistencies. In Part I, I address the politicization of migration and modern contradictions that arise between migration law and globalization, such as territorial sovereignty and economic liberalism, and I identify vestiges of social contract theories arising before and during the Enlightenment as preventing migration from being addressed in ways that acknowledge basic and profound truths about the interconnected nature of the world. I argue that without addressing these underlying issues, migration will remain an ongoing political and humanitarian problem. In Part II, I engage in biblical exegesis to develop ethical claims for Christians and the Church, and address the underlying issues identified in Part I. I will argue that the exegesis of these biblical narratives reveal that aid, care and rescue of migrants, even to the point of self-sacrifice, present contemporary Christians and others with the opportunity to rediscover the meaning of justice and citizenship on an interconnected planet.