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Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Stephen L Smith, Feb 17, 2013.
How would you describe the Westboro Baptist church?
A sect with cultic overtones.
More cult than anything else...
Mean and nasty.
A bunch con artists lawyers who realized that they could make a lot of money by angering people enough that they would do physical violence against them so then the WBC could sue and make money off the guy or girl they infuriated.
I am usually against judging the heart of people, but I will say this with utmost conviction, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY THEY ARE ELECT, THEY WILL ROAST IN THE ETERNAL FIRES OF HELL, AND IT COULDN'T HAPPEN TO A NICER GROUP OF PEOPLE.
When I was a freshman in college over my spring break, I went home to OKC, OK and went and witnessed them picket my High School because a few students at the HS had formed a gay-straight alliance. Now I believe that the act of homosexuality is a sin based on scripture, but it was infuriating to see the pain these people caused confused high school kids in the name of my lord and savior Jesus Christ.
However, during the picket I saw a group of evangelical Christians come out to show that these people do represent Christ or HIS Chrurch.
"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
I still tear up thinking about this.
In Christ Alone,
And protected in our constatution..Oy vey.
I used to live 2 blocks away from Westboro when I lived in Topeka. I would pass their protestors every day on my way to work. They travelled to protest as well but had protestors out every day in Topeka. I have never met any of them but was told that the "pastor" believed in Reformed doctrines. If this is the case, it is mere intellectual assent. I would say the same thing about their belief in the gospel. The true gospel with a regenerated heart doesn't cause that type of behavior. There is much more to them than than what they broadcast (not in a good way).
I have done a lot of research on the "Calvinism of the WBC" and in all their interviews it seems that they believe that the Gospel is not Good News but Bad News for the sinner, they never answer the question how one is saved, and if America truly wants to turn from God they must rid themselves of all homosexuals. It seems that the only way to truly repent is to have mass genocide of the gays. I definitely don't see the doctrines of grace in their theology.
Cult. Plus their dance routines to gay-hating remakes of modern pop songs is really weird.
They're a disgrace. Allies with the devil himself.
The Gospel is not good news to the unelect. The problem is that we do not know who is elect. WBC must have not read the part in the bible on really bad sin about how "as WERE some of you".
I think it would be better to say there is no way they are regenerate. Repentance and faith is always possible (at least from our human perspective), even for the chiefest of sinners.
I have heard that in recent years two of the Phelps daughters, who once participated in the vile behavior orchestrated by their father, have confessed the error of their ways and left the Westboro church. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is beginning His regenerating work in their lives. I truly hope and pray that is the case.
WBC doesn't believe in evangelism, If I recall correctly. They believe everyone else outside of them is damned already and they are the only elect. Their only purpose to preach is cursing the darkness rather than bringing light to a world that God has turned His back on. Kind of a mix between extreme hyper-Calvinism and apocalyptic dispensationalism on that front.
This is assuming they're not a plant by the left to discredit Christianity and Christian morality. I don't think they are but it wouldn't shock me.
Don't want to drag this into politics, but Fred Phelps had ties to the Al Gore campaign, as I recall.
Marcus, serious question. Isn't this exactly how WBC feels about the military, homosexuals, etc.? It is a frequent irony that the lack of charity in others is the thing that causes us to stumble into a lack of charity. At any rate, it is something to be on guard against. The WBC is certainly not doing the cause of Christ any favors, but we can still hope and pray that they will hear the gospel. As Gerson says, It is emphatically expressed in the Lord's prayer -- Let thy kingdom come, i.e., let it come to us, because we are not able by any inward power of our own to go to it.
I would say 'cult' and therefore much to be pitied. They do terrible, hateful things, but my educated guess is that they are a mix of truly evil people with ordinary people who are just all mixed up. Cults are all muddled and twisted on the inside, and it is a terrible fact of life that people who are very average, otherwise sweet people can do horrible things when they are faced with certain kinds of pressure--like being told (and convinced from birth, if they were raised in that church) that this is what God requires of them. Cults gather in two kinds of people: (1) evil manipulators who realize they can profit from the situation and (2) really genuine but not very bright people who want to follow God but don't know much about Him. I don't think I would categorically say that all WBC is going to hell. But no doubt all of them are by this time only the zombie-like remains of what once might have been people.
PS. It always seems to me the best prayer for cult members is to pray that God will raise the dead. They are the deadest bunch one is ever likely to meet among those who are still breathing. It is an unfathomable horror.
To the best of my knowledge Westboro Baptist Church have an evangelical statement of faith. Their heroes are actually Spurgeon and John Gill and other Puritans? Also they do publicly say that if one repents God will be gracious and save. So broadly speaking you could argue they have the true marks of the church per Calvin's Institutes 4:1:9-13. However, if one is not prepared to go that far, would it be more appropriate to call them a sect than a cult?
I had occasion to write to the Westboro Baptist "Church" a few years back. Among the things I deplored them to consider was that they "Read God’s Word as a tonic, not a toxin." Their lovely response included the following:
Not only did you serve in the ***-infested, God hating military, you BRAG about it. You've propped up the military and the flag as your idol and have far more reverence for them than you do the Lord your God.
Your quarrel isn't with us, it's with God. God does not know you, and you're headed straight for Hell.
By the way, you can take your title "Reverend" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Was that supposed to be an insult? All you've done is proven your total ignorance of the scriptures. The word reverend is used one time, in reference to God, not man.
Thanks for writing. You're going to Hell, have a nice day!
The letter was signed in this manner:
An humble Tachmonite, and thankful member of Westboro Baptist Church
If the report from the (now sadly atheist) son of Fred Phelps is true, they qualify as a cult because of the abusive dominance that Fred Phelps exerts.
From the frying pan into the proverbial fire...
Westboro appears to be hatemongers masquerading as a church. A tree is known by it's fruit, not a piece of paper saying it is a tree.
I disagree. It's more along the line of a plaintiff's attorney looking for jackpots.
Humility on full display right there. I know that if these folks showed up at a funeral of my loved one(s), someone's probably going to the orthodontist.........
I don't know. I find it strange that some make pronouncements against Westboro Baptist Church with the same degree of certainty and force as is used by Westboro in their pronouncements against this nation. Even the poll options reflect a degree of certainty with which I m not entirely comfortable. I would have preferred an "I don't know" option.
What makes me uncertain about Westboro are three things. 1) While it is offensive, they nonetheless have a very clear understanding of the relationship of the military to the rest of the American culture. Thus if they want to find something wrong with America, they can "blame" the military for defending that thing with some degree of accuracy. 2) America is a jingoistic culture. Thus directing one's criticism of the culture in general towards the military specifically is a good tactic if one desires to get under the skin of the collective group. But perhaps most significantly 3) I've heard comments from some on this site critical of the US, and the military's role as accomplice, that differ with the sentiments of Westboro Baptist Church only in their choice of rhetoric. So is Westboro evil because of their choice of rhetoric? Or maybe they have a legitimate point but they are unwisely and sinfully articulating it.
But like I said, I don't know.
Curt, I believe you posted this on the Reformed Baptist Discussion list a few years ago? It looks similar
Most of them are lawyers, I'll give you that. It just seems like they rejoice in announcing condemnation on people. To me, that is totally void of any attribute of love.
Wow! way to convict me Ben! "Great, Now I have guilt" (think of the quote from the original toy story).
Cults are always a mix of truth and error. That is what makes them so confusing. People like things to be black-and-white, absolutely good or absolutely evil, but that is rarely true of anything. In cults, one can readily assess them as evil if viewing them from outside as a whole, but inside, they are a mass of confusion. It is hard to say exactly where the good leaves off and the bad picks up. The fact that Westboro Baptist Church may have some correct ideas does not mean they are not a cult. All cults have some correct ideas. If they were completely and obviously in error about everything, nobody would join. It is truth twisted and distorted into something evil.
The hateful response given by WBC to Curt is, in my opinion, classic example of cultic writing. They've lost perspective on the outside world. Everything has been reduced to the evil out there and the good in here. There's an Armageddon feel to everything. Cults lose the ability for self-assessment, because they believe themselves to be the only good left in the world. They can't evaluate their own actions because 'righteousness' is whatever the cult is doing and 'unrighteousness' is everything else. Protection and promotion of the cult is the highest good, and anything that furthers that agenda is 'right.' Attacks against outsiders are applauded because they are all evil and deserve it.
The odd fact is that cults can (and do) accomplish a lot, even good things. They are usually really hard-working people with a strong sense of commitment. In the 1970's, Jim Jones and the People's Temple helped a lot of people, including elderly and disabled. They ran a drug treatment center and picketed for some good causes. They also sent hateful letters threatening death to their enemies and rubbed the letters with poison ivy to make the person who received them develop a painful rash. Eventually, they drank poisoned kool-aid. The few survivors still all say what wonderful people many of those cultists were, how sweet and loving and how they really did want to help other people and build a better America. Nothing about assessing cults is easy. Even really provoking ones like Westboro Baptist Church.
I'd be careful about judging ex-cultists, even those like Fred Phelp's son who turn atheist. Almost all ex-cultists go through an atheist phase, including myself. It's hard to know what to believe when you've committed yourself to something so completely and realized you've been deceived. You lose everything and everyone you ever knew. You are broke because the cult took all your money. You are getting death threats, and your mom won't let your brothers and sisters talk to you anymore. You have no education because the cult didn't let you go to college. You haven't a clue which church to join or whether they are all as corrupt as the cult was (which you thought was a church but now turns out to have been a cult). It doesn't make atheism right, but I've never known an ex- cultist that didn't become one for a while.
Hopefully, the progress is frying pan to the fire to a better and healthier place. But truthfully, the success rate of ex-cultists on the outside is abysmal. Many of them return to the cult eventually. Suicide rates are astronomically high among ex-cultists also.
Thank you Caroline. I found this post insightful and helpfully balanced.
i gather from your post that you were in a cult for some time?