Earlier this week, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews took to the airwaves to discuss faith and religion. The center of discussion was the host’s views on the Christian faith and Jesus’ teaching. In addition to unfavorable comments about Pope Benedict XVI, he also issued some curious proclamations about Jesus’ teachings.
In commenting about the pope emeritus, the liberal host said he’s never been a fan of Benedict, adding, “I don’t think he matters.”
As for the Christian faith more generally, Matthews separated its teachings from those embraced by other religious systems, noting that compassion and care for the poor distinguish it.
“What separates Christianity from all the other religions? It’s compassion. It’s looking out for the little people,” he said. “Mary Magdalene is one of my favorite figures from the New testament. She’s a prostitute and Jesus loved her. He was a buddy of hers.”
There is debate, however, surrounding this characterization of Magdalene as a prostitute — one that was advanced during the Christianity’s early years. Also, some would contend that what separates the Christian faith from other religions is its inclusion of a savior — God’s son — who perished to save the sins of humanity.
But Matthews wasn’t done there.
“If you look at the Bible, who’s he curing and who’s he taking care of, Jesus — he’s going after the people who are blind and crippled and outcast for sexual misbehavior, if you will,” Matthews continues. “He’s looking out for those people. He’s not preaching fire and brimstone.”
As Townhall notes, though, Jesus didn’t just roam about healing the afflicted. While this was a major role as presented in the Bible, he also spoke about redemption and what was needed for one to reach heaven (elements some would consider “fire and brimstone”). Consider John 3:3, when he told Nicodemus, a religious leader, that one must be “born again” in order to be with the Lord after death.
Here’s how verses 3-5 read (as per Bible Gateway):
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
Of course, that’s only one example. While it’s true that the tactics Jesus used were not “fire and brimstone” in a more vicious sense, he surely preached about heaven and hell and what was expected of humanity.
Watch Matthews’ words below:
What do you think? Was the host incorrect in his statements? Let us know in the comments section.