Mercer University Sometimes asking blunt questions about doctrine makes news Sometimes asking blunt questions about doctrine makes news

Way back in the late 1980s, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado needed to elect a new bishop.

This led to an interesting series of events, with the various candidates -- there were a bunch -- traveling across that large and diverse state to meet with the faithful and to take questions. As the religion-beat writer at The Rocky Mountain News (RIP), I went along.

It was during that tour that I came up with a set of three questions that I have used, ever since, when probing doctrinal fault lines inside Christian organizations, both large and small. Here at GetReligion, we call these questions the "tmatt trio." One of them is rather relevant to this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in) and my recent update post on the work of the LGBTQ activists at

But first, here are the three questions, as stated in an "On Religion" column I wrote about the polling work of the late George Gallup, Jr. It opened with a reference to a speech he gave in 1990.

About that time, I shared a set of three questions with Gallup that I had begun asking, after our previous discussions. The key, he affirmed, was that these were doctrinal, not political, questions. ... The questions:
* Are biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus accurate? Did this happen?
* Is salvation found through Jesus, 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."
* Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

It is interesting, sometimes, to observe the lengths to which Christian leaders, academics and others will go to avoid giving clear answers to these questions, even the one focusing on the resurrection. The key is to pay close attention to their answers, seeking insights into where they stand in the vast spectrum -- liberal to orthodox -- of Christian life.

Now, look again at the third question: "Is sex outside of marriage a sin?"

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Evangelicals and Trump, chapter 666: In which The Washington Post misses one crucial detail

Evangelicals and Trump, chapter 666: In which The Washington Post misses one crucial detail

Let's talk about evangelical Protestants and Donald Trump, shall we? After all, that has been one of the two or three dominant storylines of the entire Republican race for the White House. Your GetReligionistas have poured out an ocean of digital ink on press coverage of this topic.

But now the reality is beginning to sink in, out there in some pews and pulpits, that this race is really going to come down to Trump vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Viewed as a political choice, that is agonizing. Viewed as a theological choice, things are even worse for Christians who embrace centuries of church teachings on moral theology.

If you peel off the layers of political language, the Washington Post has offered a piece -- "‘There’s nobody left’: Evangelicals feel abandoned by GOP after Trump’s ascent" -- that features a few key voices describing this agonizing puzzle in their own words.

In terms of journalism, this is business as usual. In terms of coverage of doctrinally conservative believers, this is called progress. Still, this story is sadly simplistic. Hold that thought.

The key voice early on is the Rev. Gary Fuller of the Gentle Shepherd Baptist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz. By the way, in this piece it would have helped to have known that Fuller is not a Southern Baptist (it took two clicks to find that out), since other key voices in this piece are from the SBC or an institution on the left edge of Southern Baptist life. Why does this matter? It only matters if you think this is a religious story, as well as a political story.

Here is a key passage near the top:

... Fuller has a hard time stomaching Trump as the Republican nominee and plans to vote for Cruz on Tuesday, even though the senator has dropped out of the race.
“In a sense, we feel abandoned by our party,” Fuller said. “There’s nobody left.”

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