Who Cares What Tim Keller Says?

100 Evangelical Leaders 
Sign Open Letter to the President

Tim and Kathy Keller, along with 98 other evangelical pastors and leaders, have signed a public letter to President Trump and Vice President Pence. The letter, sponsored by the World Relief Agency, is published in the Washington Post. The subject of their letter is President Trump's (now stayed) Executive Order that pauses the immigration of persons from seven majority Islam countries, including those refugees who are seeking asylum in the United States. 

The Christian grounding of pastors' and leaders' appeal to the President and Vice President is found in the first two paragraphs:
As Christian pastors and leaders, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement. Our care for the oppressed and suffering is rooted in the call of Jesus to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus makes it clear that our “neighbor” includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.
As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now. We live in a dangerous world and affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting the terms on refugee admissions. However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades. For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope.

They appreciate the concern shown for Christians, the most persecuted religious group in the world, but they are concerned that other groups not suffer at the expense of receiving Christian refugees:
As leaders, we welcome the concern expressed for religious minorities, including persecuted Christians. Followers of Christ face horrific persecution and even genocide in certain parts of the world. While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all. This executive order dramatically reduces the overall number of refugees allowed this year, robbing families of hope and a future. And it could well cost them their lives.
Who else signed this letter (and, since it was opened to others, following the lead of the leaders, the list has grown to 500. For those interested in the PCA, the signers of the original letter are, in addition to the Kellers, Scott Sauls of Christ Church Nashville; Bruce McDowell of Tenth Church, Philadelphia; and Patricia Hatch of Mission to North America. Other notables include Ann Voskamp, Bill and Lynne Hybels, Max Lacado, Ed Stetzer, Danny Akin, Rich Mouw, John Perkins, and Stuart and Jill Briscoe. The only Anglican I could find is John Yates of Falls Church. I was surprised not to find Russell Moore among them. You can find the full letter and a list of all the signers here.

Let me ask just two questions: 1) Most important, does the Parable of the Good Samaritan direct the President of the United States about the admission of refugees into the country? By what exegesis and reasoning does one get from the Good Samaritan to Donald Trump? Did Jesus in telling this parable envision that he was instructing the secular governments of the 21st Century regarding their immigration policies? 2) Did Jesus in the parable make "it clear that our 'neighbor' includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country?" If you say, "neighbor means anyone in need of whom I have any knowledge," I suppose you can get there. But that still leaves the question of whether Jesus was speaking to Donald Trump about the policy of his administration.

Lynne Hybels says:
For some people, embracing refugees is a political issue. For me, as a Christian, speaking up for and caring for refugees is more an act of worship and obedience to a God whose Kingdom is global and whose "mercies are new every morning."
For Mrs. Hybels "embracing refugees..is more an act of worship and obedience to a God whose Kingdom is global," but does she think all Christians are bound to offer the same act of worship and obedience? Since it is an act of worship and obedience, am I disobedient if I do not embrace the refugees as she does?

Which immigrants and refugees and when to admit those from seven countries is about politics. Just politics. It is not about the kingdom of God or my neighbor. As a political question, according to the law, it is a matter for Chief Executive to decide. If, as a political matter. I disagree with him, maybe I'll write him a letter. (I once wrote Bill Clinton, "Tell your maw, tell your paw, we're gonna send you back to Arkansas," which threat failed to come to fruition. If people would have joined me, we could have avoided the whole blue dress thing.) 

But I don't give a rip what Tim Keller and 99 other evangelical pastors and leaders think. Which evangelicals elected them to speak for the rest of us evangelicals? Who made them competent, as pastors and leaders, to instruct the President about immigration policy. As far as I am concerned they can do with their letter what Johnny Paycheck told the boss man to do with that job. 


  1. It's heartbreaking to see the suffering and persecuted, no matter where they come from or who they are. Ideally we could help all of them TODAY. But the President of the U.S. has a specific calling and mandate through the oath that he takes -- and that is to protect the security and well-being of the Nation and it's people first and foremost. It is a hard job in a world that is upside-down. It boggles my mind how many people fail to see that part of the picture and are quick to judge his attempts at protecting American citizens as being borne out of a lack of compassion, or even worse, some twisted sort of hatred toward Muslims and others. So many fail to see what a conundrum this is and assume the worst, judging the actions as ill-motivated and evil. Ignoring reality and putting citizens at risk in order to appear more "holy" politically would be just as, if not more, wrong. If I had to guess, I would think many of us would rather NOT know all the classified security details that would support making such tough decisions. Beth Botsis

  2. Just a note, Keller is a reformed Presbyterian, so technically mainline protestant, not evangelical.

    1. Go to the link in the text of the Blog to the CNN report. That report in includes a copy of the ad in the Post. Note the heading chosen by those who published the letter. But, I used to be in the PCA, and the PCA is most definitely an evangelical denomination. It is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

  3. He is PCA, a conservative evangelical denomination. He is most definitely not mainline!

  4. When several million Muslims & Buddhists have been murdered by the US Government going back to the 1950s & five miiion Jews murdered by Germany in the 1940s why do Christians claim to be the most persecuted religious group? Principles NOT Parties

  5. There is a simple reason I said Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world: because it is statistically true. "A new study out of The Center for Studies on New Religions in Italy has revealed that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
    Further, The Center for Studies on New Religions said more than 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016. Out of 195 countries in the world 26 percent of them have made Christianity illegal and largely punishable by death."
    Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/christians-are-most-persecuted-religious-group-world#0uTcLYKUY6X01sdW.99

  6. politics and faith overlap on such matters. We will resist the decidedly UnChristian cadre in the Whitehouse.

    1. If politics and faith overlap on matters if immigration, then I suggest you make a detailed study of the OT, particularly the Pentateuch, making a list of all the laws about strangers, aliens, exiles, etc, contextualize them into a 21st century American setting, and form a group to pressure the government to enact all the laws your faith teaches, so that faith and politics will overlap.

      This White House you say is un-Christian. Do you know of a White House that has been Christian? What do you mean by a Christian White House? What would that look like? How would you Christianize this White House?

      Now, if you want to resist, do so, but make certain you do it in a lawful way. That is the Christian way. Make a study of Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17, and 1 Timothy 2:1-3. These passages will tell you how to be a Christian citizen as you seek a Christian White House. If you do not follow the teaching of these texts, you will be decidedly un-Christian. As un-Christian as you believe the White House presently is.

      Write another post and tell me what you think and what you are going to do.

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  8. When the folks on this list open up their spare bedrooms to third-world Muslims then you'll know this isn't just about politics and following the culture.

  9. As usual, I'm late to the party.

    One question, would Keller, Hybels, Voskamp, et. al., witness to these refugees? I won't guess the answer, as I honestly don't know.

    What I do know is that many of these charitable organizations, at least those that get federal funds, refuse to allow evangelizing.

    It reminds me of when a church I used to belong to was told that if we were to volunteer with Meals on Wheels we weren't allowed to speak of the Gospel.

    What good does it do to feed and clothe someone when they're headed to Hell?

    1. I'm late too but just found Rev. Smith's blog and am bored so hopefully you and your internet device are alive and well enough to see this.

      Yes they *would* insofar as I am pretty sure they *would* witness to anyone. The extent to which they do/have probably varies by individual and group. Hbu?

      There is a pretty great reason federal funds cannot directly be tied to evangelizing. Even if it would be a good thing to somehow federally subsidize evangelism more than we already do, that's a slippery slope. What if like a Methodist or liberal PCUSA person or God forbid a papist worked for one of those things? then your taxes would be spreading that heresy.

      Meals on Wheels is a resource scarce organization. Feeding people is the goal. There is nothing stopping you from following up personally with any individuals who want to talk to you about religious stuff. But just think about it: you sign up for Meals on Wheels because you need some food and someone shows up and blabs your ear off about something you didn't ask to hear about. What if JWs or LDS or Vaccuum Salesmen did this. That would totally suck for the people who just want to eat.

  10. Where were these leaders when marriage and gender were destroyed by the Obama administration?


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