I pray for the soul of Phelps who has died this morning. I hope the reaction from those he hated is “out of all proportion” to the damage he has done.
Ignatius of Antioch, in writing to the church in Rome, concludes a passage with the thought,
“Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the World.”
There are a few ways to look at this, I guess. The first, is through the lens of the self-proclaimed martyr who believed that only through his death could he be ‘proved a Christian.’ The second is through what some may label empire critical and the such. By this, I mean we understand Christianity as the other kingdom, opposing the World System. In this case, like much of the New Testament, World = Rome.
I hope he meant the latter.
After all, Westboro Baptist Church, John Hagee, John Piper and others of the ilk are often hated in the name of Christ, although we may debate just what merits ‘Christian’ when we speak of some of these.
In the last few months, we’ve seen — and I count this as a positive — a warmer reception of tradition Catholic teaching thanks to Pope Francis. Some have gone so far as to say he is ‘making Christianity cool again.’ I have to wonder what the Holy Father would have to say about that.
This presents two different realities of reception of Christianity. Ignatius demands we stand against the World System. Today, many want traditional Christian teaching to bow to modernity, the new World System.
By the way, I’m not against progressive in theology based on the Quad. I believe very much in progressing theology based on new understandings rendered to us by the host of sciences.
However, examine closely how the Right, politically, in this country desires the Church to be an arm of the State? Allan Bevere covered this in Politics of Witness and it still rings true. Not to say the left doesn’t have their sway as well, but the Right wants Church blessings on war (bad eschatology) and the such.
Have we in the West become too aligned with the Government? Isn’t it not time to find the Church hated by political parties?
- Richard Dawkins is Not the Atheist Version of Pat Robertson (patheos.com)
- Get Ready! Something BIG Is About To Happen! (vineoflifenews.com)
I’m trying to make sense out of Barton Gingerich’s latest post at the IRD blog.
He opens with
But how much do we know about them? Yes, they make it above the centerfold on the front page, but what else? It seems our disgust at such revolting behavior keeps most of us from researching Westboro any further. However, I think it is incredibly important to know who and what Westboro actually represents since they have left thousands of Christians cowed in shame for believing in traditional marriage.
He goes on to recount some of the history of the group and then, out of nowhere, lays a conspiracy theory out that even Glenn Beck would disown:
A more sensational conspiracy theory suggests that Phelps & Co. are backed by big time liberal donors.
Then suddenly, he talks about how WBC has cowered Christians from speaking out about upholding “traditional” marriage. I’m sorry, but what? Has Bart not seen what the IRD does on a daily basis? What the SBC and other conservative denominations do on a daily basis? Who has been cowered by WBC? And, besides the slight comments about their church government (vs. their theology), is there a difference between you and them?
My contention has long been that the only difference between WBC and groups like the IRD is that the WBC has the courage of their convictions to stand with little signs to protest. I don’t doubt for a minute groups like the AFA and IRD wouldn’t love to be out there with them.
Guess both really like Pepperdine:
On Monday, Pepperdine’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts announced quarterback Tim Tebow as the keynote speaker at the 2013 Pepperdine Associates Dinner.
“Each year we try to pick a speaker that we think will be a draw to our constituency and has something important to say,” wrote Keith Hinkle, senior vice president for Advancement and Public Affairs, in an email while out of town. “He’s found a way to win when many have said he couldn’t. We also wanted someone who could speak to faith, leadership and courage, which we believe Tim can do well.” (here)
Pepperdine was on the only schools in the area not to be protested by Westboro Baptist. So, Tim gets to the point — again — of speaking at a really Right congregation and stands down, is attacked by AFA and other Religious Right groups.
And goes to speak at Pepperdine.
I guess I have to wonder why Tim Tebow, besides being a football player who prays in public, is so qualified to give sermons or other presentations? Are we just about superstar Christianity?
Who would Jesus want to set at a fancy dinner and listen to?
- Tim Tebow Attacked By AFA For Canceling Gig At Mega Hate Church (lezgetreal.com)
- Tim Tebow’s speech slated at controversial church drawing criticism (denverpost.com)
- Tebow’s Big Fumble (christianitytoday.com)
- As Job Axe Comes: Tim Tebow Drops Pastor Jeffress Speaking Engagement (lezgetreal.com)
- Tim Tebow Cancels Dallas Speech, Discovers that Anti-Gay Megachurches Are Controversial (blogs.dallasobserver.com)
- Tebow’s Pastor Blasts Attacks on Christianity (radio.foxnews.com)
- Dallas Mega-Church Responds to Tebow Controversy (radio.foxnews.com)
- Former Westboro Baptist Church Member Confronted By Sterling Wyatt’s Family (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tim Tebow pulls out of speaking at Dallas church (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
If they keep this up, either the church will be empty or we can just wait until the old folks die off.
Her departure has hurt them already—she knew it would—yet there was no way she could stay. “My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she says. Megan met David, an Israeli web developer who’s part of the team behind the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter. “I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs—‘Death Penalty for Fags’—and I was arguing for the church’s position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, ‘But Jesus said’—and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus—‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that’s what Jesus was talking about.”
What’s great about this is that, first, those of who have left similar churches do not feel so alone when we describe our tears. Second, guess what folks… God doesn’t have to fit in that tiny box and when you find out he doesn’t, you can still believe in God.
I realize that people don’t like to be challenged, even though who are just as fundamentalist atheist as they were fundamentalist christian, but stories like these two must challenge us. You can still believe in God when you realize you have no clue about God.
I have to say sorta because I wasn’t in her shoes. We didn’t have enough guts to go an stand on the street corner and “share” our beliefs. Instead, we set in our pews and preached to each other about them:
A White House Petition set up on the 14th December, the same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has become the most popular petition of all time, and currently stands at 262,708 signatures.
The petition reads thus:
Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.
This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups.
Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.
I must admit, if I were an US citizen, I’d sign it…..
UPDATE: It appears that following the success of the above petition somebody thought it a great idea to create a similar one pertaining to the Catholic Church:
Officially recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a hate group.
In his annual Christmas address to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI, the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church, demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world. Using hateful language and discriminatory remarks, the Pope painted a portrait in which gay people are second-class global citizens. Pope Benedict said that gay people starting families are threatening to society, and that gay parents objectify and take away the dignity of children. The Pope also implied that gay families are sub-human, as they are not dignified in the eyes of God.
Upon these remarks, the Roman Catholic Church fits the definition of a hate group as defined by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
This has garnered a whopping 93 signatures…..
The responses by Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee have once again reminded me the great gulf fixed between fundamentalism and mainline Christians. Do not mistake my words here as a rant against conservative Christians. I am a conservative Christian, but I am neither fundamentalist nor evangelical (at least in the American sense of the word). I am mainline. I am a United Methodist. I, instead, speak about the fundamentalists, those like Fischer and Huckabee — those like Westboro Baptist Church. Let me state clearly here as well something. There is little difference between the normative fundamentalist and Fred Phelps. Phelps just as the courage to say in public what so many pastors yesterday said in the comfort of their pulpits. 1
What was the first response you had to the tragedy? Was it to demonize the gays? Democrats? To call for the end times? Was it fear? Did you promulgate a false notion of history, as if violence suddenly increased in this country due to a Supreme Court ruling? Did you suggest it was because the rampant sin in society as if this sin is something germane to our social situation? Or did you begin to pray for the families of the victims, even for the shooters? Did you wonder what you could do to host a vigil, to send a prayer, to tweet something to the family, to hug your children?
If your first response was to assume the children in some way deserved it, that we as Americans deserve it, then you are nothing more than a follower of Fred Phelps.
If your first response, after the anger subsided just a bit, was to begin to call for prayers of comfort, you may be a follower of Jesus who refused to condemn the Gentiles who perished in the tower at Sidon.
Compare well the responses from the Westboro ilk and the mainline Christians:
The Roman Catholic Church issued a statement from Cardinal Dolan:
Once again we speak against the culture of violence infecting our country even as we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace at Christmas. All of us are called to work for peace in our homes, our streets and our world, now more than ever.
The ECLA issued prayers of intercession:
For communities and schools affected by violence, especially Sandy Hook Elementary School. As they remember and as they grieve, hear their cries and wipe away their tears. Assure them of your promised peace in the midst of suffering.
The United Methodist Church in their respective districts issued words of care, while on Facebook issuing a prayer for all.
“Friends, in the midst of this tragedy draw closer to your loved ones, especially the children,” his letter said. “Reassure them of God’s love and your love. While we cannot undo this carnage, we can respond with the message of hope and healing that our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ offers to us all. Through the tears of a nation, remember the promise of the Psalmist: ‘Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Ps. 30:5).”
Recently, Dan Savage issued a plea for the Christian Left to get louder:
Here’s the thing – we who you would call liberal are too busy working – too busy praying – too busy doing God’s work for us that we do not have time to blast anyone. For example, these mainline churches in Newtown are already working to help the families in crisis. The UMC and other national groups are already working to provide backup to the churches in Newtown while still working in respond to Sandy, while still working in response to AIDs, immigration, labor, equality… while we are still working around the world. The reason you only hear from the right wing is because they aren’t work — they are too busy coming up with excuses and playing the blame game to work, to do real, meaningful work.
To the kind stranger – thank you…
Why? Because they are doing this stuff for money. Fame. I doubt their sincerity.
She has taken the church’s cause mainstream, kick-starting its social media presence (she has more than 7,000 Twitter followers) and appearing as a regular guest on “Afentra’s Big Fat Morning Buzz,” one of Kansas City’s edgiest and most popular morning radio shows. Her online musings have attracted the ire of celebrities, including actors Rainn Wilson and Michael Ian Black. As part of a group that measures success largely in the amount of publicity it is able to generate, she has helped propel the 40-member church to what might be the most visible stretch in its 56-year history. (here)
I suspect that in reality, they are little more than prosperity preachers who make money on false promises of destruction. They love the media attention because it brings in more money…
So maybe we shouldn’t blog on them anymore?