The Donald made the news again. Surprise! This time he made news in Liberty University. The report happily states that a Liberty University student corrected Trump when he claimed, “We’re going to protect Christianity. I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct. Two Corinthians, 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame … is that the one you like?” There’re plenty in blog sphere and in the audience who so gladly and smugly note that it’s “SECOND” Corinthians not “TWO” Corinthians. After all, there’re more than TWO Corinthians. They were may Corinthians in Corinth.
The pitiful thing about this episode is not so much about what Trump said because we’ve come to expect outrage. I’m not even shocked to learn that another conservative Christian college has chosen to align itself to the most extreme right of the political spectrum. I’ve come to expect it. I’m even less shocked that he was giving a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when many respectable educational institutions take the day off while Liberty conducts classes. Liberty, after all, has never been about “political correctness” anyway. What I find most pitiful is that a college that’s supposed to teach about the Bible has students who only focus on the “Two versus Second” instead of Trump’s clear misquotation of 2 Corinthians 3.17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.” (NET)
The verse has nothing to do with freedom. Paul was talking about the glory of the new ministry in Christ in light of the ministry by Moses. He was involved in this ministry and the freedom he was talking about was regarding the freedom from Torah-observation among gentile converts to his gospel (3.3, 6, 7, 9). It is possibly Paul’s reformulation of Exodus 34.34 with a similar formula of “Now the Lord … ” Unless Trump was arguing about how gentiles fit into God’s greater plan for Israel or how Paul used certain phrases of the Hebrew Bible to express his ideas, he shouldn’t be quoting anything from that section of the Bible. While we can’t expect any of Trump’s quotes to be accurate, I’m shocked that no one at Liberty caught this and made it an issue. I suppose if Trump’s agenda fit the political leaning of the college, all’s forgiven. What would be worse however is if people who were taught in that college, a bible-teaching college, can’t even understand that Trump was misquoting scripture. That degree of ignorance is what allowed politicians from both sides to snow well-intentioned believers in the church.
Right text, wrong meaning, anyone? As a result, we reap the consequence of mistaking the petty for the main issue by majoring in the minor. If we don’t go for political correctness, can we at least go for scriptural correctness? Then again, if we have arrived at scriptural correctness, we may have to change our ways of thinking and our behavior. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?
By the way, in England, where I studied for my PhD in the New Testament, they call it “Two Corinthians”. Just saying …