Is Westboro Baptist truly Christian?
As I scrolled through internet news this morning I was astonished again (though I shouldn’t be) by the highly publicized social media war between country superstar Blake Shelton and the unfortunately infamous Westboro Baptist Church. I was not surprised at the immaturity exhibited by the “boy round here” icon, for after all, if you have seen The Voice and listened to the country crooner at all you know that he takes pleasure and pride in purposefully being playfully disrespectful and openly immature. His barbed replies to the insults leveled by WBC were to be expected, and were, quite honestly, tame in comparison to what mine might have been had the same uncouth slurs been pasted to my wife. This blog is not an attempt to defend Blake. He is a sinner, as is Miranda Lambert, as are each and every one of us. What he/we need is not ridicule, abuse, and hate, but the sovereign, unmerited kindness of God, revealed through the powerful truth of Scripture and delivered by redeemed rascals that actually care about the souls of Blake, Miranda, homosexuals, politicians, entertainers, pharisees, and everyone else.
While Shelton’s behavior did not alarm me, I was conversely appalled once more by the idiotic, unloving rants of those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The signs pasted with the country couple’s faces and derogatory slogans wrenched my stomach. The words that the people of Westboro Baptist chose to use on twitter and the immaturity laced throughout their responses to Shelton were literally unbelievable. The hate that is brazenly and flagrantly targeted at celebrities, politicians, and seemingly innocent (yes, I know, no one is truly spiritually innocent) bystanders is actually anti-Christ and must be acknowledged and revealed for what it is. Which is why your question is a great one: Is Westboro Baptist truly Christian?
On their website (which I have frequented at various times) the word “hate” is a common trend. They seem to despise everything and everyone (which logically should include themselves since they are citizens of this nation that is so morally reprehensible). They call homosexuals words that are detestable, demeaning these individuals as almost inhumane (irregardless of their explanations). They celebrate the deaths of US soldiers and firefighters, claiming that God is killing these men and women because they served this “pagan” nation. They actually have listed a running tally of how many soldiers in our Armed Forces who “God has killed” on their site. The first link on that site is to their picket schedule, and to date they have picketed more than 51,000 events, businesses, or locations, something in which they take obvious pride. Their official website is www.godhatesfags.com, a url that should make livid any true compassion filled, follower of Christ. There is not one drop of compassion, mercy, or love in their sea of hatred.
I realize that the doctrine of WBC may sound legitimate and Biblical (I am speaking of their doctrines of salvation), and I am also aware of (and believe) passages in Scripture that state that God not only hates sin, but also sinners – that’s you and I as well (Psalm 5:5); but the methods and proclamation of WBC, make it clear that they do not actually know the God of these doctrines. Christ and the apostles, with meticulous clarity, established the truth that while we as believers must stand firmly rooted in the Gospel, our hallmark characteristic will be love (John 13:34-35). The beloved apostle stated with finality, “He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love” 1 John 4:8. WBC, despite their best efforts to explain themselves, are not (by anyone’s standards – the Bible’s most importantly) living love and portraying the incredible grace of a God who detests sin but is rich in mercy toward sinners. Jesus Himself was moved with compassion when He gazed upon Jerusalem. Paul declares that he wishes he was damned if it meant others could be saved (Romans 9:1-2). The apostle goes on to state that evidence of the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of all believers will be joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and love. If anyone does not exhibit this fruit (singular) then the evidence is clear that they are not rooted in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
We have clear instruction Biblically for how we as believers are to deal with the lost. Just a couple passages to consider:
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” Colossians 4:5-6.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” Ephesians 5:29.
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” 1 Timothy 1:5.
The WBC crowd would condemn BLDG 28 and like churches, saying we are lukewarm and hypocritical because we befriend and love sinners, while in compassion, exposing the folly of self and sin and revealing the power of the Gospel. If we are apathetic hypocrites for this, then we should welcome the label because we are in good company: And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. And when the scribes and the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” Mark 2:15-17.
As you know, I typically avoid calling out people by name, and can’t stomach how Christianity has become known much more for what it is against that Who it is for. There is enough mudslinging going around today that I don’t feel frequently compelled to add my slop to the pile. However, in this particular situation, with this particular WBC group, I cannot remain silent while the beauty of Christ is being maligned, the power of the Gospel is being polluted, and the people of God are being tarnished.
So, in answer to your query I will attempt to be absolutely clear. Leaning against the teachings and testimonies of Christ and His apostles, I believe that those who live in and practice the pervasive hate that is heralded by WBC are not true followers of Jesus Christ. Westboro Baptist is a pseudo-Christian movement, that verbally embraces sound theology, but practically denies the Lord of glory. In a day when clusters such as WBC are disgracing the Gospel of Jesus, it is all the more incumbent upon the true followers of Christ to know the Gospel, and in merciful compassion, present this grace and truth to a world that is fallen and desperately in need of the hope that is found in the magnificent Lover of our souls.
Soli Deo Gloria