Fred Phelps, Sr. is dead at age 84. Jonas Cutler wrote earlier this week responding to news that the founder of Westboro Baptist Church which is, what Joe Carter accurately described, a Christian-based family cult. So I debated whether I would write something as well. Just a few brief thoughts.
Somebody’s death is not a time for celebration. Some, as Jonas mentioned, thought it would be poetic justice to picket his funeral. Frankly I think that is petty. Rise above.
I would like to think that this chapter will close upon Phelps death, but considering his estranged son Nathan had said that he was voted out of the church because he advocated a “kinder approach” among church members that doesn’t seem likely. And judging by the church’s commentary on his death I am pretty certain that the protests will continue.
I would hate for my legacy to be the picture above. His son Nathan on Facebook said, “I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many… Terribly ironic that his devotion to his God ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”
Many want to look at Westboro Baptist Church and lump them in with all Christians, but in reality, as Joe Carter pointed out in his article yesterday, at its peak they only had 40 members and the church is mostly made up of people who were related to him through either blood or marriage. One family represents all of Christianity? Phelps has 13 children and 45 grandchildren. They identified themselves as Calvinists, but are hyper-Calvinists which is in error and contrary to what scripture teaches. Carter also pointed out that the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention have denounced Westboro Baptist Church, as have many Primitive Baptist congregations. Like mentioned before this group is in reality a Christian-based family cult.
I will say again as I have in the past that Westboro’s conduct is sinful, it is hateful, and is not supported by scripture. The fact God hates sin that is pretty clear in the Bible. He doesn’t hate sinners. Yes you can find a verse here and there that one could use to proof-text, but the Bible’s greatest theme is love. If God hated sinners He would not have sent Jesus to die. Fortunately God didn’t wait for us to “clean-up” (mainly because it would have never happened). Scripture is clear – “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, ESV). Then this verse – “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10, ESV). Then the very next verse says that “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” (1 John 4:11, ESV).
Fred Phelps will now meet his Maker and Judge, and we are not Him.
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