UPDATE 11:47 a.m. ET Nov. 4: Over 1,000 people have now signed onto the evangelical leaders' statement.
Evangelical leaders are encouraging communities to rise above political partisanship and societal divisions to live out the Gospel by pursuing peace as extremist groups threaten violence nationwide through Inauguration Day.
Some 200 evangelicals leaders have signed onto a letter titled "A 2020 Call for Biblical Peacemaking: Evangelical Leaders’ Statement on Violence and Division," that urges believers to rise up as peacemakers. The letter was borne after Christian leaders became increasingly concerned about the “targeting of specific religious, racial and political groups with rhetoric and even, in some cases, violence,” they said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
“We know that elections, especially a deeply divisive election such as this one, can create pressures to act in ways that dishonor Christ’s teachings and biblical values,” states the letter. “We must reject these pressures and not compromise our faith.”
Among the nearly 200 evangelicals who've signed onto the letter include: Max Lucado, New York Times bestselling author and preacher at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas; Pastor Tony Evans, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas; Pastor A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York; Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California; as well as bestselling author and senior pastor of Christ Church in Montclair, New Jersey, David Ireland, and many other pastors from some of the nation’s largest churches.
Tony Evans has been calling for unity the entire election season and says he wants to see Christians more unified than ever.
“I signed this statement because I want to see Christians unified, and to bring healing to our nation, to restore love, peace and harmony for all people,” the pastor said in a statement to CP.
“Psalm 89:14 tells us that justice and righteousness are foundational to the throne of God. When a nation and a government hold these standards in esteem as the Lord intends, that nation is strong and for the most part peaceful. But when these two pillars are misused, abused, or destroyed, the nation cannot stand and peace will not exist,” he added.
Max Lucado told CP, "I'm praying for a new season in which we move away from ‘we/they’ politics into an era of cooperation and mutual respect.”
The letter was issued by the newly formed Matthew 5:9 Fellowship. The fellowship maintains that Scripture calls for peacemaking and provides the standards in the Bible of how Christians are to carry themselves with their community even during times of great unrest.
“Peacemaking, inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:9, is a more active, forward-leaning responsibility than peacekeeping,” founding member of Matthew 5:9, Matthew Hawkins, former policy director for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a statement.
“Peacemakers lean into where there is no peace and, well, make it,” Hawkins continued. “Thankfully, we have guidance from scripture on how to begin this work. The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman church, ‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification’ (Rom 14:19).”
He believes that following the 2020 election, regardless of one’s political views, believers are to love their neighbors by treating them with “dignity as co-governors.”
“We, as Christians, can model a better way of doing politics if we really want to. We can be peacemakers. I hope you’ll join me and numerous others who are making that active commitment in the days ahead,” Hawkins concluded.
Pastors and faithful who are interested in signing onto the letter can do so at Matthew 5:9.