Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Christian "Apologetics"

If you have not yet been exposed to Fred Phelps and his followers, feel free to click on his name, but beware my warning of crude language, prejudiced judgment, and heretical conclusions wholly contrary to Christ. If you wish to not see the website, then just know that "Rev." Phelps and his church believe their role in God's kingdom is to be a prophetic voice against the homosexual lifestyle and anyone who offers any kind of positive response to it. They boast of picketing over 22,000 events in fulfillment of this "call." I myself have run into these guys a couple of times. They have picketed my seminary's graduation in the past. I saw five-year-old little girls holding graphic picket signs when I went to pastors' meetings last year in Kansas City. They picketed the high school in my mother's small-town school district because they have a club called the "Gay Straight Alliance" set out in the hope to create amiabililty. They even have plans to picket Billy Graham's funeral (he's not even dead yet).

We all should have known that it would come and it did, almost immediately. "Rev." Phelps has connected Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath with the wrath of God against the US (see "Thank God for Katrina!"). The point of my post is not necessarily to argue against his point. I'd hate to waste the bandwidth on that. It is hard for me to think that I even live in the same state as these guys.

But it's not just extremists like Phelps. Individuals in on-line Christian community in which I often participate have said close to the same - that because of things such as homosexuality and abortion, God has demonstrated his wrath.

Here's a question:
If God were going to demonstrate his wrath against a sinful people, would the earth not have been obliterated long ago?

Again, I don't want to argue against the point too much. People who have come to that conclusion are probably not going to be swayed from their position.

Rather, my point here is that I am sick of having to defend Christ and his message to my friends who do not follow him. It is no wonder that the gap between the Church and marginalized groups is so wide. How can I expect people to hear the message of Christ when we have extremists like Phelps and others who dogmatically point out what they see as the horridness of the sins of others. Where is the good news in that?

Here's the good news:
God does not demonstrate his wrath! In fact, au contraire! On the contrary, God has demonstrated again and again reconciliation for a sinful world (most notably through Christ). What does that mean? In other words, it means that rather than destroy a pathetically sinful world, God has chosen rather to redeem, reconcile, reverse, "repentify," and return the created world to his original intention - an image of his holy love.

Do we need prophetic voices?
"Absolutely. We need voices that call people back to God."
Do we need human judgement?
I tend to think, "Absolutely not."

- J


  1. Some good observations Jeremy. Early on in this crisis a man from the New Orleans area responded to comments about this being God's judgment on a wicked city. His reply went something like this. "Well if that is the case then God missed, because people will be up bumpin' and grindin' in the French Quarter again long before our houses are rebuilt." I've gotten a little of this judgment thing around my place as well and have urged people to not even go there.

  2. Amen, Jeremy. When I first came across the good "reverend", it was like looking at a train wreck. I couldn't look away. Now, he just sickens me. Like you stated, however, what he is saying is not much different than Pat Robertson or even some good old Nazarene adult SS teachers. We must combat this thinking whole-heartedly in our churches and in our culture.