In a recent string of Twitter posts, author and pastor Tim Keller exhorted Christians to vote with a “liberty of conscience,” rejecting the idea that Christians must vote for a specific candidate.
According to The Christian Post, Keller shared that though the Bible teaches Christians important principles, it does not tell us how to carry out these ideas in our current political structure.
“The Bible binds my conscience to care for the poor, but it does not tell me the best practical way to do it,” he said. “Any particular strategy (high taxes and government services vs low taxes and private charity) may be good and wise and may even be somewhat inferred from other things the Bible teaches, but they are not directly commanded and therefore we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other.”
...and may even be somewhat inferred from other things the Bible teaches, but they are not directly commanded and therefore we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other. The Bible binds my conscience to love the immigrant-but it doesnt— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) September 17, 2020
He continued to explain the same idea with immigration. The tweets spurred heavy debate amongst Twitter users who argued that Keller was loose on abortion.
“Some folks are missing the point of this thread,” he said in response. “The Bible tells me that abortion is a sin and great evil, but it doesn’t tell me the best way to decrease or end abortion in this country, nor which policies are most effective.”
Some folks are missing the point of this thread. The Bible tells me that abortion is a sin and great evil, but it doesn’t tell me the best way to decrease or end abortion in this country, nor which policies are most effective.— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) September 17, 2020
He additionally tweeted out a longer opinion article for the New York Times written in September 2018 where Keller positions that believers “should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.”
Though several Twitter responders could not get behind the idea of voting for someone who would support abortion, one user, Kedron Bardwell, professor and chair of the Political Science department at Simpson College voiced that abortion is lower under Democratic presidents.
“The idea that reducing abortion is something that happens under GOP (or even pro-life) leadership is a myth,” he said. “Abortion rate is lower under DEM presidents and record drop was under Clinton in 1990s. If you really want fewer abortions it hinges on culture/contraception and economy.”
Keller encouraged believers to not obligate other believers into voting for a particular candidate, unlike many leading evangelicals.
Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur, who has made headlines in recent months for defying government authorities over COVID restrictions, told Liberty University students that “real Christians” vote Trump, as Christian Headlines previously reported.
“There is no way that a Christian can affirm the slaughter of babies, homosexual activity, homosexual marriage, or any kind of gross immorality,” he said.
Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas also said that Christians who vote for Biden “have sold their soul to the devil and accepted the Democrats’ barbaric position on abortion.”
Keller, however, believes that demonizing different political parties is destroying the nation.
“So Christians can never feel morally superior to anyone else at all,” he said in a tweet on Sunday. “That means (MAIN POINT) when we call out evildoing in others, as vital as that is, we can never imply by our attitude or language that they deserve God’s condemnation, but we do not. Right now our very social fabric is tearing apart because of, among other things, increasing, mutual demonizations ON BOTH SIDES. Christians must not contribute to this in any way.”
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.