Sept. 11 changed everything.
Before 9/11, for example, most Americans probably didn’t worry too much about Finnish theologians infiltrating America’s nondenominational seminaries and infecting our unsuspecting, red-blooded American theology students with their Scandinavian theories of pneumatology.
We were such innocents then.
Fortunately, your Department of Homeland Security is on the case. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, a systematic theology professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has been deported to his native Finland.
Here’s the Religion News Service report:
A renowned Finnish theologian and tenured professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has been forced to leave the United States because he did not qualify under new visa regulations for religious professionals.
In what may be one of the stranger cases involving stricter visa regulations in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Veli-Matti Karkkainen was unable to appeal government decisions that denied him an extension of a visa and a work permit, prompting a July 31 deadline for him, his wife and two daughters to leave the country.
“If a theology professor from Finland can’t stay here, there is something wrong with the administrative process,” Karkkainen, a professor at Fuller since 2000, said in a telephone interview just before his departure.
Ted Olson of Christianity Today explains how Fuller and Kärkkäinen ran afoul of the new visa regulations:
A seminary must now be directly tied to a single denominational body for the U.S. government to consider it legitimate. Since Fuller is interdenominational, it apparently no longer counts. …
There are many unanswered questions. Will the new rules affect other Fuller faculty members? Kärkkäinen is not the school’s only non-American. And what about other seminaries? Many of the country’s top evangelical seminaries, including Dallas, Gordon-Conwell and Asbury, aren’t directly tied to a single denominational body. Will they also be prohibited from hiring scholars from abroad?
So, no, the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t done much in terms of making our ports safer. And security at our chemical plants is still largely voluntary and inadequate. And first-responders are little better equipped to handle an attack than they were on Sept. 10, 2001. And the guardsmen and reservists who might otherwise respond to such an event have all been shipped overseas.
But the threat of Finnish scholars coming over here and writing monographs on the third person of the Godhead? DHS is all over that.
So sleep soundly America — the Department of Homeland Security is on the job.
(P.S. note to Ted: Dallas? Is that a joke?)