Thursday, December 9, 2010

God loves Elizabeth Edwards...

Elizabeth Edwards:
I had no plans today to write about Elizabeth Edwards, the courageous - late - wife of perennial presidential candidate and serial philanderer John Edwards. But my wonderful daughter, Naomi, who has a big heart and a deep faith, is upset about the "church" that plans to picket Edwards' funeral, and she asked me to post a few words in this space.

To be honest, I didn't want to do anything that might garner any additional attention for the pathetic lemmings who populate the Kansas-based "Westboro Baptist" cult. However, and in a similar vein as my controversial comments about the fruitcake from Gainesville who planned to burn the Koran, the spotlight is already blazing, honed in on the "protest", and broadcasting to the world.

So I can't help myself (especially in an increasingly anti-Christian cultural climate); I feel compelled to tell the truth about the amazing, redemptive, generous love that The Creator of all life has for absolutely all of humankind.

So Sad:
"It's so sad," Naomi said, when she read that the Westboro press-release declared that God hates Elizabeth Edwards.

Okay, "Rev" Fred Phelps, I'll bite. Game on. Let's go head-to-head on this. In actuality, and despite your petty prejudices, God loves Elizabeth Edwards. Additionally, and this is one of many reasons it's a very good thing that I'm not God, God also loves Fred Phelps.

Which leads me to say the following - and I know I'll hear about this from a couple of people:
  • I don't believe for one moment that the folk at Westrboro Baptist Church worship the God of the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments).
  • I don't believe Fred Phelps is remotely connected with Jesus Christ.
  • I don't believe that anything about being a "Follower of The Way" has spilled over into the message preached by people like Fred Phelps.
  • And I don't think that the Gospel is in even a word that he says.
God loves Elizabeth Edwards.

You see - and this is a critically important point - the Westboro Baptist Church have confused religion with God. They have crafted a brutally narrow rules-based religious system, fine-tuned the restrictions and exclusions to fit their own personal prejudices, and then created a more manageable god to preside over the cultish result.

What's sadder still is the fact that many, many "Christian" groups do exactly the same thing, with their own nuances and variations. And the God who put everything on the line to offer the possibility of relationship to the likes of you and me becomes lost amidst the thick entanglements of obligation, fear, manipulation etc...

Understand this: The God who loves Elizabeth Edwards, and Derek Maul, and Fred Phelps is not on the radar of people who base their religion on fear and exclusion and hate.

Naomi is right. What we're hearing on the news is very, very sad. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

In love - in God's kind of love - DEREK


bookie said...

Dear Derek,

The latest elections and their commercials reflect the insane fearmongering that runs rampant in this society. Phelps (I'm not going to dignify him with "Rev.") is just as bad, if not worse, than those commercials. Fearmongering seems to be the way you win elections. You tell people who is to blame for the problems of the world and then you, without specifics, tell them you have the solutions to those problems. The problem with this is that the fearmongerers ARE the problem. If the members of this pseudochurch show up at the Elizabeth Edwards funeral, I hope the funeral attendees show enormous, true Christian grace under fire and show us what Jesus was really about.

Derek Maul said...

Good comment, "bookie"

Pastor Tim said...

Saw that article yesterday and appreciate the rebuttal. It hardly dignifies our attention, but must present an opportunity to clarify truth.

pastgott said...

Brother Derek,
I struggle with you and your daughter about this dilemma. You see ... this is a dilemma as defined in "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: New College Edition(1976)~ b) A predicament that seemingly defies a satisfactory solution. No matter how we address this issue in our current society, and we must, there will not be a satisfactory solution for those of us who are true Jesus-followers. I believe that most will find us as hypocrites or holy-rollers. The balanced Christians of our time are decreasing in numbers at an alarming rate.

However, in my current doctoral studies there is a group of folks we must wrap our arms around and "listen" with intentional ears; the emerging adults in our society (ages 15-29). Here is my reason, no one else gives them a voice and what they have to say needs to grab our attention. Case in point ~ your daughter, my daughters, your son and my son. The Holy Spirit is working through them and our hearts are open, but our ears are shut. Peace and may God embrace us this season with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.