Joseph Castleberry on the New Pilgrims
Date: September 20th, 2015

What role are immigrants to the United States playing in America’s religious landscape? Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University (Kirkland, WA), examines this question and discusses his recently-published book The New Pilgrims.  While many pundits and commentators have focused on the role of immigration in labor markets, Dr. Castleberry adds to the conversation by showing how newcomers to our country have helped to revitalize our spiritual lives, both historically and in the present.

Tony first asks Joseph how he was able to research and write a book whilst also serving as the president of a growing university.  Dr. Castleberry replies that because he has such a great staff and doesn’t have any direct teaching duties, he was able to pick up on a topic that has interested him for a long time.  His experience as a missionary abroad informs many of his views on this topic and he brings fresh insights to the table.  We then turn briefly to the contemporary religious landscape in America and Tony asks Joseph about his thoughts on the increase of “religious nones.”  This facet of the conversation (and Castleberry’s book) is important to understand how people from around the world bring their own faiths with them and reshape and revitalize America’s spiritual life, both in terms of religion as we normally think of it, but also in terms of America’s “civic religion.”  Joseph explains his thoughts here and notes that immigrants have always played an important role in various “great awakenings” in U.S. history.

We move next to a discussion of the dimensions of contemporary immigration, exploring both the demographics of the people who are coming, and their reasons for wanting to make the United States their home.  Dr. Castleberry then provides a number of examples of how these “new pilgrims” are reshaping our cultural landscape with stories of students from his own university (Northwest) and places where immigrant churches are being planted or working in conjunction with existing denominations to “re-missionize” America.  We finish with some of Dr. Castleberry’s thoughts on the current political conflict surrounding immigration issues and how this affects notions of Lex Rex (or the rule of law).  He adds his thoughts on how Christians should be responding to all of this.  Recorded: September 14, 2015.


Dr. Joseph Castleberry’s bio at Northwest University.

The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants Are Renewing America’s Faith and Values, by Joseph Castleberry.

Joseph Castleberry’s blog in English and Spanish.

Joseph Castleberry on Twitter.

The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus, by Joseph Castleberry.

Your Deepest Dream, by Joseph Castleberry.


Joseph Castleberry on Religious-Based Higher Education.

Rajdeep Singh on American Sikhs and Religious Liberty.

Bradley Wright on Religion, Race, and Discrimination.

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