Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Truth Worth Telling (vis-à-vis Westboro Baptist Church)

LORD, I have heard of your fame;
   I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
   in our time make them known. (Habakkuk 3:2)

"LORD, I have heard of your fame..." - I've been wondering about that. I've been wondering about how people hear of God's fame today. I've been wondering about where I fit in; where we all fit in. Because women and men the world over have to base their perception of God on something. 

There's "natural theology", of course - the Creator's handiwork will have its say and it's a message that becomes increasingly powerful as science uncovers more wonder.

But then there's the message I communicate regarding what it means to follow Jesus in the day-to-day of real life. Do people stand in awe of God because of my witness, and yours? Does the world understand the truth about the Good News any more clearly when they run across communities of Christ-followers like ours? Do we live convincingly "gospeled" lives?

So - and because more and more outrageous lies against truth have been repeated all over the media this week - I'm going to repeat a few excerpts from one of the most widely circulated blog posts I've ever written.

This time it was a 9-year-old girl who bore the brunt of the pathetic Westboro Baptist hate-monger tirades. She deserved to die a violent death, "Rev" Phelps said, because she’s Catholic.

The group cancelled plans to picket the child's funeral when they were offered radio time instead. "It's always a question of where can you put the words in the most ears," the church spokesnazi said.

So that's the setup - here's the post in question (edited for this week):
Okay, I'll bite... Game on. Let's go head-to-head on this. In actuality, and despite your petty prejudices, God loves this little girl deeply. Additionally, and this is one of many reasons it's a very good thing that I'm not God, God also loves “pastor” Fred Phelps.

Which leads me to say the following:
       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 one word that this sick "church" says.

The folk at 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, 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 the precious little girl who was murdered in Tucson - and  Derek Maul... and  Fred Phelps... and you - is not on the radar of people who base their religion on fear and exclusion and hate.

"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 - DEREK


Randy Marx said...

I couldn't have expressed my feelings any better than that.
The God I know and worship is a Loving and Forgiving God. I assume from their actions that Westboro Baptist Church supports the actions of the sick individual that shot and killed innocent people. Now that's a congregation I want no part of. However, the God I know Loves and Forgives them.

Tim said...

Could not agree more.