Many of us are familiar with the protests by the members of Westboro Baptist Church. This tiny number of people were, for a time, a convenient reference point for media and others to bash Evangelical Christianity as a whole. The picture above is one of the few without offensive wording (well, those signs are offensive, but they don't have any words I'd have to blur out).
Let me start with this quote from Volume 23 of The Berean Expositor from 1933:
Practice can never precede doctrine. Practice is the fruit of doctrine. I must know, before I can do. I cannot walk worthy of a calling that I do not believe or understand. I cannot adorn a doctrine that I do not know or believe.
We also want to start by recognizing the temporal nature of things. All around us will cease to be as is. If the Lord does not appear in our lifetimes, we shall go the way of all flesh (back to dust). Our accomplishments in the eyes of men are not worthy to be compared to the fruit of our lives as seen by the Lord. Two passages come to mind here.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
-2 Peter 3:10-12
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
So, we turn from the overt, outward fruits of Westboro's hate on parade, to Westboro's underlying doctrines. Here we will find both a disconnect from their fruit and some direct growth from the seeds they sow.
When we look at their Doctrine Page, we see an entry for "Why You Deserve to Go to Hell." Readers of this blog know my position on "Hell." That is, I try to stick with the biblical use of the words translated "hell" in English versions (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus) and avoid personal feelings or Greek mythological understandings. WBC loves the manmade doctrine of fiery torture by God. They love it so much, they praise God for supposedly not choosing some people for redemption, just so he can mercilessly torture them (this would be mass of humanity).
When you combine their full embrace of Calvinistic predestination with their personal hared of Jews and their inability to understand that we all continue to sin even after we receive a new nature, you get very ugly fruits indeed.
Let the reader not conclude that I would ever excuse or make apology for sin (in myself or in anyone else). That is not what is to be taken from this acknowledgment of sin. I have been clear on matters of immorality. But I am careful to see sin in the believer and in the unbeliever in light of scripture (rightly divided) and in light of the biblical age in we live.
On their "Jesus Christ's References to Hell" chart, they include Matthew 8:12. To their credit, they quote the whole thing.
But the But the children [sons] of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer
darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But like most hell-lovers, they fail to notice a glaring problem with their citation. That is the subject of the punishment, "the sons of the kingdom." We've covered that elsewhere, but it is a prime example of what you want to read into a verse as opposed to what the verse actually teaches. This is eisegesis, not exegesis. They see what they want to see.
And note how they have exalted the 5-points of the Doctrines of Grace to be superior to the Gospel of Grace. It is not a rejection of the sacrifice of Christ that will doom you, it is apparently the rejection of any of the 5 points of Calvinism according to them. But they must do this. The Gospel of Grace is the offer of reconciliation.
we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we implore you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
God is "beseeching" (Greek: parakalountos), as we "implore" (Greek: deometha) people to be reconciled to God who is already reconciled to them through Christ's perfect work. This is insanity if they have no ability to respond.
Parakalountos: (a) I send for, summon, invite, (b) I beseech, entreat, beg, (c) I exhort, admonish, (d) I comfort, encourage, console. [Strong's Concordance]
When the Lord tell his on in John's gospel that he sill send the "comforter," he uses the word, "Paraklētos." This word has the same root idea of coming along side. God is coming along side the world and inviting them to accept the reconciliation offered which is wholly paid for by Christ. Both the WBC signs of awaiting torture and doctrines of inability are anathema to the true calling of grace and reconciliation. WBC hides all of this wickedness under a cloak of "Grace." They reject the ministry of reconciliation to which we've been called.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation...
-2 Corinthians 5:18-19
As we have noted from this passage in other studies, God is already reconciled to the world, not imputing their trespasses against them. God is more interested in the sins of his own rather than the sins of the world. Believers are to separate and correct/restore other believers who fall into destructive sin, however, our only message for the world is grace.
Three walks of the believer of this Current Age (Dispensation) in Ephesians:
- Walk in love. Eph 5:2
- Walk as children of light. Eph. 5:8 3
- Walk circumspectly Eph. 5:15