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.