Princeton Theological Statement Against American First

Princeton Theological Statement Against American First February 27, 2017

An important message from my alma mater, Princeton Theological Seminary, no bastion of liberalism, but nonetheless a strong message of resistance to the corrosive effects of “American First” as an ideology that is not consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For those of you who disagree, read it first, pray on it, search your conscience before you sound off, especially if you claim Jesus Christ as your Lord.

In Defense of Christian Faith and a Democratic Future

On the Trump Presidency: From Members of the Princeton Seminary Faculty 

February 24, 2017
(signers to this statement do not represent the Seminary or the faculty as a whole)

We, the undersigned, believe that because God is sovereign over all creation and because all human beings are embraced by God’s all encompassing grace, the god of Donald Trump’s “America first” nationalism is not the God revealed in our scriptures. Regardless of our specific political persuasions we agree that the attitudes fostered by this nationalism are inconsistent with Christian values of welcoming the stranger as if we were welcoming Christ, of seeking to distinguish truth from deception and conceit, and of believing that no institution or government can demand the kind of loyalty that belongs only to God.

We also believe that the policies and approach embraced by the Trump administration run counter to democratic values, as executive orders and members of the new administration’s cabinet often seek to demonize Islam, foster white supremacy, compromise the rule of law and intimidate judges, undermine the empowerment of women, ignore the destruction of the environment, promote homophobia, unleash unfounded fears of crime that worsen the “law and order” abuses of police and security forces. We reject the pervasive aim of placing the monetary gain of wealthy classes over the welfare of its citizenry by undermining education, quality employment, and health care. We believe that Christian faith and US democracy are not the same thing; hence, we stand against the notion of a “Christian nation.” But as Christians who are also citizens or residents of the US, we stand against the attitudes and policies that are being fostered in this present political climate.

As we look at the role of the US in promoting war and repression abroad and division among its own peoples at home, however, we confess our own complicity in the sinful entanglements that have created this political and social crisis. Not all of us have taken a firm and vocal enough stance against what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “giant triplets” of violence in the United States: “racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.” We have often embraced academic elitism that overlooks the needs of the unemployed or the value of jobs that do not require higher education. We recognize a legacy of failure that marks past presidential administrations, and so harbor no nostalgia for the politics of the past. But we do not believe that Trump is a remedy for that legacy of failure. In Trump’s values and policies we see no public witness consistent with the Gospel or with the values of those who are believers in Jesus Christ and members of Christ’s church.

We not only reject Trump’s values and policies, we also renew our commitment to a future where both the church and the academy will foster attitudes and actions so that human beings and the whole of creation can thrive. We join our hearts, our minds, our voices, and our actions with those of religious believers–Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of all faiths, as well as with secular people of good conscience, to resist the present destructive politics in our country and to seek reversal of their destructive consequences here and around the world.


Afe Adogame, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Christianity and Society
Eric D. Barreto, Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament
Raimundo Barreto, Assistant Professor of World Christianity
Clifton Black, Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology
Lisa Bowens, Assistant Professor of New Testament
John Bowlin, Robert L. Stuart Associate Professor of Philosophy and Christian Ethics
Michael Brothers, Associate Professor of Speech Communication in Ministry

Sally A. Brown, Elizabeth M. Engle Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship
Ellen Charry, Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Systematic Theology
Kenda Creasy Dean, Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture
James C. Deming, Associate Professor of Modern European Church History
Heath Dewrell, Assistant Professor of Old Testament
F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Professor of Old Testament
Nancy J. Duff, Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Theological Ethics

Gordon Graham, Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts
William Stacy Johnson, Arthur M. Adams Professor of Theology
Jacqueline Lapsley, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Director of the Center for Theology, Women, and Gender
Cleophus J. LaRue, Francis Landey Patton Professor of Homiletics
Bo Karen Lee, Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology and Christian Formation
Gerald Liu, Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching
Bruce McCormack, Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology, and Director of the Center for Barth Studies

Elsie McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship
Kathleen McVey, Joseph Ross Stevenson Professor of Church History
Gordon Mikoski, Associate Professor of Christian Education
James H. Moorhead, Mary McIntosh Bridge Professor of American Church History
Dennis Olson, Professor of Old Testament
Richard Osmer, Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter Professor of Mission and Evangelism
Brian Rainey, Assistant Professor of Old Testament

Paul Rorem, Benjamin B. Warfield Professor of Medieval Church History
Mark S. Smith, Helena Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis
Mark Lewis Taylor, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture
Sonia Waters, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology
Richard Fox Young, Elmer K. and Ethel R. Timby Associate Professor of the History of Religions 


Abigail Rian Evans, Professor Emerita of Practical Theology
Richard Fenn, Maxwell Upson Professor Emeritus of Christianity and Society
Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Helen H. P. Manson Professor Emerita of New Testament Exegesis

Darrell L. Guder, Henry Winters Luce Professor Emeritus of Missional and Ecumenical Theology
Geddes W. Hanson, Professor Emeritus of Congregational Ministry
Daniel L. Migliore, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology
Patrick D. Miller, Charles T. Haley Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Theology
Peter J. Paris, Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor Emeritus of Christian Social Ethics
Luis N. Rivera-Pagán, Henry Winters Luce Professor Emeritus of Ecumenics
Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Eisenberger Professor Emerita of Old Testament
J. Wentzel van Huyssteen, James I. McCord Professor Emeritus of Theology and Science Charles Converse West, Stephen Colwell Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics 


Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, Old Testament
Richard Lischer, Preaching
Darryl W. Stephens, United Methodist Studies
Joyce MacKichan Walker, Presbyterian Polity
Ruth Workman, Spiritual Direction 

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