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.
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.”
Oh, and by the way — that wedding McLaren celebrated last weekend? It was for his son and his son’s partner.
Stay classy, “TMatt.”
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).