Thursday, March 3, 2011

I can't say this often enough (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)


I've been wondering about how people hear about God today (see text, above). I've been wondering about where I fit in, about 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.

HERE'S THE SET UP... The decision of the Supreme Court not to rule against Westboro Baptist Church hate speech has been all over this morning's news..

Now, here's the latest re-write of the first commentary I posted late last summer:

The Supreme Court May be Right. But the Westboro Baptists are so Wrong


Originally, I had no plans to write about the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. Why give them the extra attention? But yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling makes me anxious to point out a few truths too many people tend to miss. Besides, the spotlight is already lit, honed in, and broadcasting to the world.

I can't help myself - 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 okay, Mr. "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 all those people you accuse God of hating.Gays, soldiers, President Obama, Muslims – you name ‘em, God loves ‘em.

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.
  •  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's most fundamental nature is love.

You see - and this is critically important - 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, and manipulation.

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

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


Jesse said...

Well said. Heard a sermon recently about the etimology of the word "Church". In the NT, the greek word ekklesia was used to describe the gathering of Christians. The word "church" comes from the Saxons several centuries later, and meant "house of the lord." The two words reveal a lot about how we went from a movement toward an institution. The movement oriented church centered on Jesus and tended toward new life, hope, and love. The institutionally oriented church centered on itself and tended toward power structures, conformity, and control. Wish the Westboro folks would discover Jesus.

Ray said...

Derek, you said it so well.

I ran across this very disturbing couple of videos from Eugene Cho's blog; incidences that happened recently. Cho says in his article they will make you sick to your stomach. I definitely had a very sickening feeling watching them, especially the 2nd one. I couldn't help but think of Nazi Germany in the 30's while watching. What are we supposed to do as Christians to make seekers understand that this is not what Jesus taught?