Curiously, Donald Trump is not the one asking what it means to be Presbyterian. The PCUSA is having that conversation about its own identity.
The denomination’s online survey that is being used to discern the identity of the PCUSA, begins:
First, we are going to ask some questions about why you are a Presbyterian. From this, we hope to learn who we are as Presbyterians, what our shared identity is, and how we express it. In addition, we are going to ask you to give us some thoughts about the denomination and its functions and importance.
The first question then acknowledges that they’d really like to hear from PCUSA members, but there are other options listed and there is no indication that if you are not a member of the PCUSA your survey answers will be excluded.
Further along the survey asks people to self-identify on a social and theological spectrum from liberal to neutral to conservative. This seems curious in a denomination that has been calving off its theologically conservative members and churches since the 1920’s.
To further complicate the question, no definitions of social or theological liberalism nor conservatism are offered, so the participant is left to choose a point along a spectrum without reference to any fixed position.
What does it mean to be theologically conservative in a denomination where it is considered equally faithful to believe or not believe, support or not support, same-sex marriage?
What does it mean to be socially conservative in a denomination that advocates for causes that would be considered socially liberal in D.C. and at the U.N.?
Then there’s question 13. If I were to print it here I would be accused of unnecessarily inflaming the conversation. So, I will let you go see for yourself and then ask who has the identity issue, Donald Trump or the PCUSA?