What Kind of Presbyterian is Donald Trump?
October 27, 2015 1 Comment
Trump has lately been shouting that he is a Presbyterian, as if the only one who has trouble believing it is himself. This is not to say that most people believe it. But Trump needs to convince himself if he hopes to convince everyone else.
But what kind of Presbyterian is Donald Trump?
His claim might mean something if he would simply answer a few straightforward questions. For example: “Which ‘version’ of Presbyterian are you, Mr Trump? Are you PC USA (Presbyterian Church USA)? Are you PCA (Presbyterian Church in America)? Do you know the difference?” The PC USA is much larger, but only marginally theologically orthodox (to put it gently). The PCA is broadly evangelical and much closer to the tradition of Presbyterianism influenced from the outset by John Calvin, who was active during the European Reformation of the 16th century.
There are many other smaller branches of Presbyterianism spread out across the U.S. and Canada. Most of these are broadly evangelical. Is Trump the evangelical kind of Presbyterian?
Now if Trump thinks he will recruit scores of evangelicals to his cause simply by calling himself a Presbyterian, then maybe he doesn’t know what a Presbyterian is. Or maybe he doesn’t get evangelicals. Or maybe he doesn’t credit the intelligence and discernment of evangelicals, including those who are Presbyterians.
Here’s another question for Trump: “What is the name of the Confession of Faith historically affirmed by Presbyterians?” I would be surprised if he could answer this question without prompting from his handlers. (Yes, Donald Trump has “handlers.”)
Suppose Trump can name that Confession. Then he should be asked if he can complete this sentence from the Confession: “The chief end of man is to ____________________ and ____________________.”
If Trump can’t answer that question, he may know less about Presbyterianism than he does about Seventh-day Adventism. If he can answer that question, then he should ask himself how his campaign rhetoric holds up in light of its standard.
Bonus Question: Whose statue is pictured here and what does this guy have to do with Presbyterianism?