Gatekeeper gatecrashes a wedding (stay classy, Get Religion)

Gatekeeper gatecrashes a wedding (stay classy, Get Religion) September 29, 2012

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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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  •  Yeah, they should stick to the important things, like which side you butter your bread on.

    You wouldn’t happen to be one of those perverted downies would you?

  • P J Evans

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

    Remember, these are the same people who apparently argued about the number of angels who could dance on the head of a pin. (I suspect all their disagreements turned into arguments like that.)

  • P J Evans

     After I put the honey on the buttered toast, it doesn’t matter.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Who butters toast? That’s what salad dressing is for.

  • Hilary

    dude – word!

    can you imagine some poor divinity student doing their graduating thesis on the definition of “total asshole”?


  • Jeffrey_Kramer

     I’m just surprised that Q. 3 wasn’t “Do you believe that tax cuts are the one true path to prosperity?”

  • Tricksterson

    Then there’s the Roma legend that one of them was approached to make the nails for Jesus’ Crucifixion but swallowed the fourth which was intended for his heart which is why they are allowed to steal from the Gaje.

  • Tricksterson

    Or whether you break open your egg on the small or large end.

  • Tricksterson

    One, as long as it’s a tango.

  • The_L1985

     I’ve known those people.   They do exist, and I’m as frightened by them as you are.

  • The_L1985

    Over such things Christians have had schisms.

    There’s a reason why there are so many more Christian denominations than Jewish ones, and stupidly-rigid adherence to dogma and intellectual concepts would be that reason.

  • Makabit

    I’ve heard the Roma story too, but don’t understand it. Wouldn’t a spike through the heart have rather improved the situation?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not from the Romans’ perspective. The point of crucifixion is a long tortuous humiliating death. (All those crucifixes that depict cloth around Jesus’s hips? Lies.)

  • P J Evans

    (All those crucifixes that depict cloth around Jesus’s hips? Lies.)

    Or religious fig leaves.

  •  They said Roma, not Roman.  There’s a significant difference there.  (I haven’t heard that myself, but I’ll assume they know what they’re talking about.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you for the insight, I had no idea that bands of nomads who don’t seem to have been in Europe till centuries after Herod ruled Judea weren’t the city-based civilization that made a practice in that era of nailing people to crosses.

    With a little less sarcasm: go read up on crucifixion. I’m not sure it’s the most painful way to die, but I’m confident it’s up there. It took days, usually. The people being crucified were always naked, and they didn’t exactly have access to sanitary facilities, and the crosses were always somewhere there’d be onlookers or passersby. A nail in the heart would mean a much swifter death, which kind of defeats the purpose of putting him naked on a cross in a public place to begin with. Might as well just stab him with a sword, like one would an enemy soldier, and save the time and effort of crucifying him like one would a rebel.

  •  OK, it’s just that when you said “not from the Romans’ perspective,” it sounded rather as you were conflating them with the Roma.

  • Tricksterson

    Doesn’t really make sense to me either.  I just relayed it for gits and shiggles.

  • jedgeco

    Brian McLaren’s generosity of spirit continues to amaze me.