In some PC(USA) circles there is a certain amount of- shall we say- dismay at the revelation that Donald Trump and Ann Coulter are Presbyterian. To be honest, my first reaction to that information also contains just a little bit of dismay.
Honestly, Trump and Coulter? How did that happen?
Well, Jesus. Because Jesus is the head of the church and therefore our model. And Jesus welcomed all.
And then there is PC(USA) polity.
From our constitution, The Book of Order
G-1.0302 Welcome and Openness
A congregation shall welcome all persons who trust in God’s grace in Jesus Christ and desire to become part of the fellowship and ministry of his Church. No person shall be denied membership for any reason not related to profession of faith. The Gospel leads members to extend the fellowship of Christ to all persons. Failure to do so constitutes a rejection of Christ himself and causes a scandal to the Gospel.
So, we have no choice. People decide they want to join us, we don’t choose them.
These are the questions potential members are asked (with the answers, because it’s not a quiz)
- Who is your Lord and Savior? Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
- Do you trust him? I do.
- Do you intend to be his disciple, to obey his Word, and to show his love? I do.
- Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be? I will.
We don’t expect sophisticated theological answers. All we ask is that you trust Jesus and are willing to be his disciple in this particular congregation. We begin there and together we figure out what being Jesus’ disciple means.
There are no guidelines for appropriate congregants. There are no particular standards. Which explains how Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Fred Rogers and I all end up Presbyterian. We’ll take anybody. Which is both awkward and wonderful. I suspect if Donald and Ann knew me, they would be as dismayed about me being Presbyterian as I am about them being Presbyterian. But that doesn’t matter. We don’t choose each other. Christ chooses each of us. We have to figure out how to be the church together.
My hunch is Jesus finds all this very amusing and he’s telling us, “Okay kids, figure out how you’re going to get along. And then show the world how to do the same, because that’s part of your work as the church. But don’t worry, you aren’t doing it alone, I’m always here to help.