Letter 20

DAY 20

Eric D. Barreto

Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament
Princeton Theological Seminary
February 8, 2021

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the 117th Congress,

As you begin your work leading us, let us recognize that these are days of challenge and sorrow. The pandemic has cost too many lives. Racial injustice continues to harm the marginalized. Economic injustice tears at the fabric of our communities. These are terrible and terrifying days for so many.

These are also days of courage and hope. Nurses, support staff, and doctors have healed the sick and comforted the dying. Protestors have called for justice. Millions have voted with love for their neighbors and hope for a better future. These are promising, hopeful days in so many ways.

Now, we have called you to a high purpose: to repair what has been broken; to heal the wounds that have festered in the midst of political neglect; to call us to a unity too long forsaken; to embody a politics in which belonging, justice, and love crowd out fear, self-interest, and the vain pursuit of power.

“…we have called you to a high purpose: to repair what has been broken…”

Of course, you know too well that no politician alone can deliver on such promises. Those politicians who think they can promise what only God can deliver delude themselves and harm the nation. Those politicians who claim only they can solve our problems put themselves on a throne that only God can fill.

The Christian Scriptures help us imagine what it might feel like to live in the shadow of God’s extravagant grace, to live in a kingdom only God can inaugurate: the end of grief (Revelation 21:4), an answer to creation’s groaning for redemption (Romans 8:22), the liberation of the imprisoned (Luke 4:18), blessings to the poor (Matthew 5:3).

So what are we calling you to do? The words of Jesus call us to love our neighbors (Luke 10:27) and to care for those we tend to harm with our neglect (Luke 9:48). To meet this high calling, we all need the help of our neighbors and a force larger than any one politician’s ambitions.

So, believe the promises that God has made. Trust that God will accompany you when you make good on our hopes and call you to repair what you have broken when you fall short.

In these terrible and promising, terrifying and hopeful days, may you lead us with faith, hope, and love.


Eric  D. Barreto

Reverend Doctor Eric D. Barreto
Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament
Princeton Theological Seminary

the author

Eric D. Barreto is Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. He holds a MDiv from Princeton Seminary and PhD in New Testament from Emory University. He is the author of Ethnic Negotiations: The Function of Race and Ethnicity in Acts 16 (Mohr Siebeck, 2010), the co-author of Exploring the Bible (Fortress Press, 2016), and editor of Reading Theologically (Fortress Press, 2014). A leader in the Hispanic Theological Initiative Consortium, Dr. Barreto pursues scholarship for the sake of the church and regularly writes for and teaches in faith communities around the country.