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Letter 15 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 15

M. Craig Barnes

President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry
Princeton Theological Seminary

February 3, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

“May grace and peace be yours” (1 Peter 1:2).

Every time this phrase occurs in the Bible, grace always comes before peace. There is no way to find peace unless grace comes first.

When peace eludes our hearts and anxiety reigns in our souls, grace is often the last place we turn. We try to talk our way out of fear and rationalize our way into peace. We separate ourselves from others to insulate ourselves from what we fear. But this is never successful in alleviating our fear. Only grace-filled love can cast out fear and lead us to peace.

Your administration begins its leadership at a time of great anxiety in our nation and our world. The fear of terrorism and economic insecurity results in suspicion of foreigners and those who are different from ourselves. Anxiety about the direction our country will take prompts painful divisions among neighbors, citizens, and families.

The Christian tradition teaches that only love can dispel the anxieties that plague us. If we try to rationalize our way out of these fears through argument or policy alone, we will never know peace. And no one finds real peace by building walls. The only true balm to our national anxieties is abundant love that stretches to citizens and immigrants, poor and rich, young and old, neighbors and strangers.

May your administration govern with a wisdom that is guided by love. May grace and peace be ours in abundance as a nation, so that we may be a beacon and a blessing to the world.

Grace and peace,

M. Craig Barnes

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes
President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry
Princeton Theological Seminary

About the author

M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary, also serves as Professor of Pastoral Ministry. He  earned his Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in church history from the University of Chicago. He is the author of eight books, including most recently Body and Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism (2012) and The Pastor as Minor Poet (2008), and he serves as a columnist for The Christian Century.