Gatekeeper gatecrashes a wedding (stay classy, Get Religion)

Terry Mattingly notes that popular evangelical author and speaker Brian McLaren recently officiated at a same-sex wedding. Mattingly takes this as an opportunity once again to remind everyone that he, Terry Mattingly, has personally discussed religion with Billy Graham.

Have you? No? Well Terry Mattingly has. So there.

And if that doesn’t qualify Terry Mattingly to separate the wheat from the chaff, what possibly could?

In his role as someone who has, personally, discussed the meaning of the word “evangelical” with Billy Graham, Mattingly thus feels duty-bound to ask whether or not it is “Time to pin a new label on Brian McLaren“?

So besides the gay-hating, what else distinguishes Real, True Christians from mainline Protestant posers? How can we tell the evangelical sheep from the mainline goats?

Mattingly offers a simple mechanism, which he humbly dubs “the tmatt trio” of litmus-test questions:

(1) Are biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus accurate? Did this event really happen?

(2) Is salvation found through Jesus Christ, alone? Was Jesus being literal when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)?

(3) Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

Let’s just focus on No. 2 there. Mattingly wants to clarify if those subject to his inquisitory trident believe that salvation is exclusively “found through Jesus Christ, alone.” But the second part of that question gets weird.

I imagine that many RTC’s and bona fide, card-carrying evangelicals have actually read John 14 and, having read it, would disappoint Mattingly by answering, correctly, that No, Jesus was not “being literal” in this passage.

Thomas was being literal. Thomas asks a literal-minded question. But Jesus does not give him a literal-minded answer:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Even Chris Traeger couldn’t think that Jesus was “being literal” there.

Oh, and by the way — that wedding McLaren celebrated last weekend? It was for his son and his son’s partner.

Stay classy, “TMatt.”

Greg Metzger has a nice two-part takedown of “Terry Mattingly’s Scurrilous Question” and “Mattingly’s Unsustainable Denial.”

Brian McLaren himself responds to what he calls “An interesting discussion, somewhat peripherally about me.” Read the whole thing, but I especially like this bit at the end:

God bless Terry Mattingly and those who worry that the Evangelical label is being used too broadly. God bless Greg Metzger and all who fear the label is being constricted into something far more narrow than the love of God would mandate. God bless those who have the label and love it. God bless those who lost the label and still love it. God bless those who have no idea what the label means or why it matters. And everyone else too.

That sounds like someone who takes Jesus much more “literally,” than any name-dropping, gay-hating, litmus-testing gatekeeper has ever tried.

P.S. Christianity Today also noted McLaren’s role in his son’s wedding. While CT’s brief report reeks of disapproval, it describes McLaren thusly:

Brian McLaren, who formerly was chair of the board for Sojourners, is among a minority of evangelical progressives who advocate that the church should abandon heterosexism and move toward reconciliation with homosexuals.

There’s an encouraging development there. “Is among a minority of evangelical[s]” indicates a begrudging acknowledgement that, yes, one can celebrate and affirm marriage equality without thereby deserving excommunication from the evangelical tribe. It’s a teeny-tiny baby step, but it’s a teeny-tiny baby step in the right direction.

P.P.S. Congratulations and best wishes to Trevor and Owen (and congrats to proud dad Brian, too).

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  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Number 3 on that list makes me want to cry.

    Not because of the substance of the claim, which is neither here nor there are far as the crappiness of its inclusion on the list is concerned.

    But because someone thinks that one of the big 3 points that supposedly defines a group based on sharing the Good News is a rule about sex. Not anything about good news for the poor, freedom from captivity, sight for the blind, release from oppression. A freaking rule about sex.

    For crying out loud.

  • Gotchaye

    Yeah, that second one is just plain weird.  I’m pretty sure I know what’s meant by the first and third, but it’s not at all clear what “Is salvation found through Jesus Christ, alone?” means, or what Jesus means when he says his quotable thing.  “Literal” isn’t helpful, unless Jesus was some extremely boring variety of Transformer who could turn into a Milton Bradley board game.  I can guess that Mattingly means something about magic words and heaven, but that’s reading an awful lot into his question and into the biblical text.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Don’t forget all the unstated assumptions that go into that third rule. ‘Marriage is reserved to two people with different genital configurations’ for sure.

  • Div School Survivor

    I’m in the “one of these things is not like the other” camp.  Christology, soteriology and…sociology?  I thought the maxim about preaching was “tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em what you told ’em.”  Here it seems to be: “Ask ’em if they’re gonna be saved, ask ’em if they’re saved, then ask ’em about their sex lives.”

  • P J Evans

    (2) Is salvation found through Jesus Christ, alone? Was Jesus being
    literal when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one
    comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)?

    This is always going to bring to my mind Stross’s Laundry series, where some of the evildoers take that last sentence more literally than even most evangelicals.

  • I am constantly amazed that these people expect me to believe in an all powerful eternal being that created the universe with millions of galaxies filled with billions of stars surrounded by trillions of planets at unimaginable distances away whose top concern apparently is how I make use of my genitals.

    Narrow minded much? 

  • Rissa

    Fred, I must say, you are no small part of why I don’t entirely hate having worn that label for so long. You’re also why I can still take it out of the drawer from time to time and look at it fondly, so to speak. Thank you for that.

    I still kind of wish Jesus had been more literal, though . . . would it have killed him to say “Thomas, you dingledook, don’t you get it yet? ANYBODY WHO ISN’T A TOTAL ASSHOLE IS ON THE LIST.”

    (and even the total assholes, possibly, who can say for sure . . .)

  • Random Lurker

    That’s one of the passages I’ve always wondered about when people tell me the Bible needs to be read literally. If the only way to the Father is through Jesus, I think, “Um. Well.  Sounds pretty messy to me, but if you say so…”

  • SisterCoyote

    “I believe in God the Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

    “Great, we’re with you, go on…?”

    “I believe in Jesus Christ, God made flesh, who died  for the sins of mankind, and rose again from the dead to ascend to Heaven.”

    “Right, sounds good…”

    “I believe that the greatest commandment is Love, and I believe in the Holy Spirit, who comforts and guides us here on earth.”

    “Wait, that’s it?”

    “…Well, yes. Isn’t that enough?”

    “Nope, sorry. You were so close! But you forgot to mention that sex outside of marriage thing, so it turns out you were never Christian at all! Straight to the Lake of Fire for you! Next!”

  • Lori

     And now this is stuck in my head and I can’t get it out.

  • Victor

    Fred! Speeking Literally, I honesly believe that Jesus meant these words below in the Gospel but then again, many would probably need to believe in Angels and also that some of God’s Angels rebelled agains His Creator. Maybe they were jealous and thought that they were creater than He was but we know that if they do exist, they are more powerful than U>S (usual sinners). Right?

    Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9:38-43.45.47-48.John said to Jesus, «Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.» Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

    Go Figure is this all sillyness or are there any truth to “IT”

    Maybe we should ask Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael  who are Angels and then maybe we can get more help here

    Good Luck  and God Bless


  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    We have two different creeds that we may recite at Mass, and neither of them mentions sex at all*. Way to drop the ball, twenty centuries of tradition!

    *Well, unless you count “born of the Virgin Mary” as an oblique reference to sex. More to the point, a reference to not sex. 

  • GDwarf

    Brian McLaren, who formerly was chair of the board for Sojourners,
    is among a minority of evangelical progressives who advocate that the
    church should abandon heterosexism and move toward reconciliation with

    I’m sure it’s not what was intended, but to me this paragraph makes heterosexuality and homosexuality either/or propositions. Either the church endorses one or the other, not both.

    …Which, admittedly, seems to be what many of these anti-gay activists fear.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unless you’re reading ‘heterosexism’ as synonymous with ‘heterosexuality’, I have no idea how you’re getting there from here. Heterosexism, fyi, is the privileging of heterosexuality over all other sexualities, analogous to sexism and racism. It’s more or less synonymous with ‘homophobia’, and a statement that someone is being heterosexist cannot be derailed by that someone explaining that they don’t fear homosexuals, while a statement that someone is being homophobic often is so derailed.

    Tradeoff being the word has to be defined much more often, because most people don’t know what it means.

  • Terry Mattlingly isn’t an evangelical. He’s a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy from Episcopalianism. This is a pretty well known part of his identity.

    The three questions aren’t meant to determine who is “in” or “out” of his own group, they meant to quickly tell which side of the culture wars the person he’s talking to stands on. As Fred is always saying, contemporary evangelicalism is a tribal identity based on the “Big Three”: No evolution, no gay marriage, and no global warming. But there are various people who are self-described evangelicals who don’t agree on all three of those points. So, TMatt uses his own big three to give readers a better portrait of where the interview subject lies within the Christian landscape.

  • From the original post:

    Let me stress, once again, that these are questions that — working as a mainstream religion-beat pro — I found useful when trying to get the lay of the land on disputes inside various Christian flocks, on the left and right. The whole point to was to get information about doctrinal basics and, in our era, these are some hot-button subjects in a wide variety of groups. The goal is to listen carefully as people answered or, on many cases, tried to avoid answering these questions.

    And in the comments on the original post:

    The tmatt trio is not about McLaren. And it’s not an orthodoxy test. It’s about asking questions that yield interesting info and these questions work well in this era when covering debates in Christian denominations and groups. Other groups would require different questions.The goal is to pay close attention to the content of the answers. That is all.I agree that the term “evangelical” has become vague to the point of being almost meaningless. That’s part of what the post is about. And, yes, there is no evangelical pope. There is no evangelical creed. There is no evangelical body of work by the Church Fathers. Etc., etc.I simply wanted to start a debate about how to accurately describe McLaren in the public press. I think simple references to him as an evangelical leader have jumped the shark. It’s time for more specific info, in his case. This thread has contained some helpful debate.

    Mattingly is a journalist. He is not an evangelical now and has not been one for decades. He wonders whether it’s fair to readers to describe someone in a newspaper as an “evangelical” if they don’t believe what 75%+ of the other evangelicals believe. He suggests there are some questions that will help readers quickly get a handle on what the person in question believes. Why this should be the object of a five minute hate is beyond me. Frankly, I think this whole thing was just an excuse for posting the Parks and Rec jokes. 

  • Ymfon Tviergh

    I still kind of wish Jesus had been more literal, though . . . would it
    have killed him to say “Thomas, you dingledook, don’t you get it yet?

    No, but then we would still be sitting here today with several libraries’ worth of debate over the theologically literal definition of “total asshole”.

  • friendly reader

     Because Fred and a lot of other people self-identify as Evangelical, and they don’t want to be denied that identity by other people imposing definitions on them.

    “Evangelical” didn’t used to mean the social conservative/anti-sex outlook with which it is now tied. It used to have more to do with theology, and Fred has, in the past, repeatedly said that he considers himself Evangelical by the original* definition and doesn’t want to let anyone take it away from him.

    If Mattingly has found that Evangelicals don’t fit into these three rules, maybe he should find new rules that fit Evangelicals, or come up with a new name for the group that fits the rules.

    *Well, not “original.” Originally, Evangelical meant Lutheran. It still does in many places in Europe.

  • Apparently Terry Mattingly is spiking all comments that don’t fit into his world view, with the somewhat “Call Me Buck” justification “let’s get back to journalism”.

    I doubt if this comment will get out of moderation, so I copied it here, JFTR:

    Perhaps I can help, TMatt.

    “The term evangelical itself comes from the Greek ‘euangelion’ which was used by the New Testament writers to speak of ‘glad tidings’ and ‘good news’.”

    An evangelical Christian is, as I have always understood it, one who is inspired by the gospels to spread the good news – the belief that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected to save everyone. The belief that anyone, “can enter into relationship with him if they turn away from their sin and devote their lives to him.” The belief that “the Bible is our ultimate authority and governs the way we live our lives and act in our world.” (Quotes from Evangelical Alliance UK.)

    If sex outside marriage is a sin, then Trevor McLaren and Owen Ryan did well to marry, since otherwise, they would have been sinning. If anyone can “enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ”, then obviously Trevor and Owen can. Is Brian McLaren still an evangelical Christian if he spreads that good news at his son’s wedding?

    I would say that any man who would refuse to be the celebrant at his son’s wedding is an anti-evangelical: he would be spreading the bad news that gay people aren’t welcome in Christianity. There are enough Christians doing that already that evangelical Christianity doesn’t need to lose one more.

    It is also possible that Brian McLaren was taking literally the message of Matthew 7:7-12 and Luke 11:5-13.  Just a thought.

  • Bificommander

    A question to the former fundies: Is ” No one comes to the Father except through me ” the only Bible quote that is supposed to prove that the only way to avoid hell and go to heaven is to ask Jesus for forgiveness for your sins? Cause even without the full quote provided by Fred, ‘ask me for forgiveness for your sins’ is not a simple, obvious and literal interpetation of ‘you come through the father through me’. I’ve seen it argued that it just means Jesus picks who may enter heaven, not that those persons must have picked Jesus first. And I could imagine that ‘through me’ could mean ‘once I die for the world’s sins, you can enter heaven despite your sins through my sacrifice’.

    This test of a literal interpetation of this particular line seems especially stupid since even without context there are multiple interpetations of this line. So I wonder if they have more scripture that ‘proves’ that their literal reading is the correct literal reading. Or have they just been told that this is the only possible reading of that phrase ‘except through me’, and therefor never thought of any other meaning?

  • And, again on the second question, a literal interpretation of “no one… except through me” would have it that “through me” was a necessary but not sufficient condition for  “coming to the father.”  It definitely doesn’t mean (very literally taken) that there couldn’t be additional requirements, e.g. works (*gasp!*) and such.

  • PollyAmory

    Replied to wrong person, sorry!

  • PollyAmory

    I noticed this too. This word has an extremely negative connotation so I was surprised that they used it to describe their position. To admit that they practice heterosexism basically negates the “hate the homosexuality not the homo” fig leaf they use to defend their homophobia. 

  • PollyAmory

    So basically he’d call someone who believes opposite-sex marriage only but supports choice for women an evangelical? 

    Besides, why should Mattingly presume that the adjective he assigns to someone is more valid than the adjective that person uses for themselves?

  • Tricksterson

    Wow, that was mostly coherent.

  • Hilary

    Side steping the icky part about gays daring to fall in love like normal human beings . . . What does Mattingly think about these people?

    Jews and Muslims,  in Israel and Palastine, who lost family to the violence there, yet try to reach past their own pain to see ‘The Other’ as another greiving parent, not an enemy to be destroyed.  If this is not “Love your enemies” I don’t know what is.  Could Mattingly do it?  If his son was killed by Muslim violence, could he look into the eyes of a Muslim mother whose daughter was killed by Christian violence and see a parent who lost a child, not an enemy to be killed at all costs?

    Is there an asteriks on “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”* saying “* this offer null and void to all and sundry who doen’t do this in my name.”

    Mattingly’s Christ:  “Wow, you guys really GOT IT.  You reached past hate to love each other.  And thanks for trying to end the bloodshed in my old ‘hood, it was a violent mess when I left it, and it’s great that you’re trying create peace.  I am called Prince of Peace, after all.  But . . . you didn’t do it in My Name, sooo . . . . burn in hell, anyway.  Suckers.” 

    Even as a Jew, I don’t think that’s who Jesus is.  And these are the people who give me any hope for that land, f*ck politicians.


  •  I’m sure a “true” evangelical as Mattingly would define it would say something like, “Sure, what they’re doing is nice, but all humans are dirty dirty sinners unfit for the sight of the lord without the cleansing power of JESUS!!

    So yeah, they’re totally burning in hell. Satan’s got a grill waiting for them.”

  • Yog-Sothoth is the Way and the Gate, or something like that. Through him, one may learn many things and call the old gods to walk the Earth again. And one sorcerer invokes him to raise the dead.

    Note also the resemblance between Sothoth and soter, which is Greek for “Saviour” and the S in the acrostic that gave us the Jesus fish thing. I’m not saying that Jesus  was actually some sort of soul-devouring Lovecraftian entity, but that’s one literal meaning of “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

  • Launcifer

    Thanks… Now I can’t imagine the Disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit as anything except a mass possession by the Great Race of Yith.


  • Hth

    I’m actually sort of appalled by the whole list, not just the third thing.  So — to be an orthodox Evangelical, you have to have opinions on the crucifixion and resurrection — and you have to have the correct interpretation of  one particular conversation Jesus had with his disciples directly before the crucifixion… but nobody gives a shit what you think about the three years’ worth of ministry before that?

    Once again, the Gospels that the Evangelicals insist we must hear in order to be saved…can’t possibly be what Jesus was preaching, since it’s totally focused on soteriological events that hadn’t happened yet.

  • Lunch Meat

    Mattingly is a journalist. He is not an evangelical now and has not been one for decades. He wonders whether it’s fair to readers to describe someone in a newspaper as an “evangelical” if they don’t believe what 75%+ of the other evangelicals believe. He suggests there are some questions that will help readers quickly get a handle on what the person in question believes.

    25% of a group is hardly a vanishingly small minority of that group. If Mattingly as a journalist is interested in describing evangelicals as they are, it would seem prudent to acknowledge that opinions are divided. He can’t just define 1 out of 4 evangelicals away just because they’re different from the others.

    Also, just because 25% of people disagree with the rest doesn’t mean they should be in a different group, if the thing they disagree on is not important. I’d guess there would be a pretty wide difference of opinion on whether instruments should be used in worship, or who the Antichrist will be or whether there will be a rapture. But just because only 20% of evangelicals don’t use instruments in worship doesn’t mean that they should be redefined as something other than evangelical. What makes “no sex outside of marriage” not just a core evangelical belief, but one of the top three evangelical beliefs? Who is Mattingly to decide that, if he’s not an evangelical?

    Finally, as Greg Metzger has pointed out, there is no reason to assume that McLaren doesn’t believe in the resurrection. He quite plainly does. If Mattingly wanted to help his readers get a handle on what McLaren believes, he should have cited his writing or other things he’s said in public. Or, if he was not willing to make that effort, he should have just discussed what is apparent from this story–that McLaren thinks the church should accept gender/sexual minorities. Instead, Mattingly’s question, by obliquely hinting that McLaren might not believe in the resurrection, functions as a way to cast doubt on his status in the in-crowd. “You don’t have to listen to him because he’s a heretic.” Mattingly’s questions don’t help to enlighten his readers. They obfuscate.

  • Don’t forget all the unstated assumptions that go into that third rule.
    ‘Marriage is reserved to two people with different genital configurations’ for sure.

    I run into that one a lot.

    “Should sex be reserved for marriage?”
    “Yep. Now… wanna ask me about my definition of ‘marriage’?”

  • Who the hell should care? Put the strangers needs before your own. The definition of Christianity.

  • Gregmetzger

    Thanks for the links to my posts on this. To emphasize: Terry chose a moment utterly unrelated to the resurrection of Jesus Christ—namely, the wedding of Brian’s son—to inject that question into the conversation and specifically singled out McLaren as “an example” of the kind of person who is “foggy” about key doctrines like the resurrection and as someone who is unwilling to answer questions like the reality of the resurrection clearly. It was all towards the end of not only questioning Brian’s evangelical bona fides but of substantiating Terry’s long-term vision of Brian as a “libreral mainline Protestant”. It was a horrible piece of journalism, made worse by the fact that he has blocked my comments, and the comments of 20 0thers, while allowing comments that make snide comments about Brian’s marriage and his son’s sexuality. Not a good role model for someone who is the leader of the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities journalism program….

  • Div School Survivor

    Sorry for the earworm, Lori!  Once my Christian Iconography professor said, very deadpan, of an annunciation painting, “Here’s Gabriel saying, ‘Ave, Maria, Gee it’s good to see ya’.”  Later I saw him in the hall and thanked him for the earworm; he guessed I was probably the only person in class who knew he was quoting a song. 

  • Hilary

    In that case, I’m better off being a Jewish lesbian.  I’d rather be in Hell with all the people I love.  I don’t want to be in a heaven that would the people of the Parents Circle away.

    Whatever.  “The rightoues of all people have a place in the world to come.”  That’s the official Jewish line on the afterlife for non-Jews, and I’m sticking to it.


  • EllieMurasaki

    I would rather not reserve sex for marriage myself. One, that seems very likely to make the wedding night, one, intimidating, and two, suck. Practice beforehand will make it much less intimidating and much less suck. Two, if people who want sex get married and then have sex instead of just having sex, now they are legally bound, which, yes, Britney Spears, and of course I want marriage to be something that ends when one party is certain it should. But I would rather people take marriage seriously, and in my view that means not marrying the first person you want to sex, unless you have thought about it long and hard, considered long-term compatibility as well as sexual attractiveness, which are not things one is necessarily going to do when in the throes of lust.

    My objections are much reduced for people who have had comprehensive sex ed starting well before anyone is considering the possibility of sex (something one knows about is typically much less frightening than something that all one knows is it’s scary) and for people who do take that time to think. And of course I’d never say that someone who doesn’t want to have sex outside marriage should do so anyway. But requiring everyone to wait sex till after the wedding, hell no, with a side of hell fucking no if some people are forbidden to marry anyone to whom they might be sexually attracted.

  • But requiring everyone to wait sex till after the wedding, hell no, with a side of hell fucking no if some people are forbidden to marry anyone to whom they might be sexually attracted.

    Agreed – but just to clarify, by “my definition of marriage” referred to above, I mean that – among other things – people who are living together in a committed relationship should feel free to sex it up as much as they like. It’s the commitment that matters, not the certificate.

    (And I’m quite happy for other people to disagree with me on the whole sex thing. I just think they’re incorrect.)

  • The_L1985

     There’s also the hilariously poorly-punctuated bumper sticker that says “ONE WAY THROUGH JESUS.”

    My first thought is, “But aren’t there 4 nail-holes?  That’s 4 ways through Jesus right there!”

  • The_L1985

     Heterosexism isn’t the same thing as heterosexuality.

  • The_L1985

     You win all the Internets.

  • aren’t there 4 nail-holes?

    I’m relieved to discover you do not subscribe to the triclavianist heresy.

  • The_L1985

     It has nothing to do with whether there were 3 or 4 nails.  There would still be 4 holes made in either case, since both ideas involve nails going through both of Jesus’s feet.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t think that’s the point. Dave’s link says:

    The heresy in triclavianism is not the belief in the use of only three nails, *per se*. Rather, it is the insistence that fallible, non-Biblical sources of information should be used as a guide to important matters of Faith.

    I wouldn’t know Landover Baptist from a sincere example of what it parodies; I can’t tell whether Dave’s link is sincere or not. If it is? If there are people who not only actually believe that the Bible is 100% literally true, but who believe that there is no truth outside the Bible? That’s frightening.

  •  I’m fairly confident the link is humorous. That said, there may be a big difference between believing that “Faith” (whatever that is) should depend solely on the Bible, and believing that “truth” (whatever that is) should.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t think there is, though. The link argues that anyone saying the Crucifixion used exactly three nails is wrong, not because the Bible disagrees, but because the Bible doesn’t say, so anyone who says the Crucifixion used exactly three nails is basing that belief on records of the time indicating that when the Romans crucified people with nails instead of rope, they used exactly three nails. Which means they are basing beliefs on things that are not in the Bible, which the link vehemently objects to.

    No basing beliefs on anything outside the Bible means no way to trust any scientific finding ever. Maybe nothing anyone says, either.

    (Incidentally, Wiki says the only crucified body from that era that we’ve found, the heels were nailed to opposite sides of the upright. Four nails. That’s the only indication Wiki has of how many nails per crucifixion; the records I mentioned above do not, as far as I can tell from Wiki, exist. But that is still relying on evidence outside the Bible, and is therefore, according to the link, wrong.)

  • I know what you’re thinking. “Did he have four nails or only three?” Well,
    to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track
    myself. But being as this is a Roman crucifixion, the most horrific torture/execution method in
    the world, you’ve got to ask
    yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

  • vsm

    Objective: Ministries is a parody site, but there really have been arguments about the number of nails used, and triclavianism has apparently been declared a heresy.

  • Which means they are basing beliefs on things that are not in the Bible, which the link vehemently objects to.

    Again, my reading of the text you quote does not object to basing beliefs in general on extrabiblical sources, but specifically to basing beliefs about “Faith” (whatever that means) on such sources.

    Since I’m fairly confident, as I said, that the link is humorous, I
    suspect there’s no fact of the matter as to what the writer’s intent
    actually is.

    But if we consider some hypothetical person who might genuinely write such a text, then, sure, that person’s understanding of relevant beliefs might include all beliefs, including historical beliefs about Roman habits of crucifixion, or the most nutritious brand of peanut butter, or whatever.

    Which, I agree, would be appalling in just the way you describe.

  • Makabit


    Look, as a Conservative Jew, I acknowledge that I come from a tradition that is a bit overinvested in the the small details of the text, but…how can this possibly matter? Four nails, three nails, eight nails, the point is THEY NAILED THE MAN TO A PIECE OF WOOD and left him to die by inches.

    How relevent can it be how many nails were actually involved?