To start I want to give a special shout out to Robert who challenge some of the things I said in my post Christians are weird, get over it. This is going to be a series of posts clarifying some of the more controversial issues Christians are arguing about today that have resulted in our misrepresentation.
GROUND RULES FOR COMMENTS: 1) No proselytizing please. The point of these posts are to share information and educate one another on our beliefs not to gain converts. 2) Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. IE – be nice. 3) The discussion can go all kinds of places, so let’s make sure we stay on topic. IF I ask that you please don’t reply to a comment it’s because I want to post a more in depth post on it later, not because I think the comment is invalid.
So, now that housekeeping is taken care of, let’s get to the heart of this really difficult conversation which is: if the views of Christian men and women such as Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson are consistent with biblical norms, then they are valid representatives of the Christian faith.
We are neither arguing the normative value of the scriptures nor are we arguing the validity of the statement above.
The questions I will answer in this post are two fold (and hopefully I won’t take TOO long to get through them)
1) Are Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson’s views consistent with scriptural principles?
2) To what degree is the Christian faith dependent on the Bible? (and I’ll use Scripture and Bible interchangeably in case you were wondering)
The answer to question 1: No, Phelps and Robertson are not acting or speaking in accordance with the New Covenant more commonly known as the New Testament Scriptures. Now there are passages that would support Phelps anti-homosexual campaign (Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27) and Robertson’s insane cry against Haiti (Exodus 20:4 and half of deutero-Isaiah) however they are superseded by the words of Christ in Matthew 22:37-40.
37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
The question to which Jesus replies is “What is the most important law?” If you’re really interested Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 here but what’s important is the active verb. There’s only one and that verb is “love.” It isn’t condemn, it isn’t protest, it isn’t even heal, free, or deliver. It’s love. All the law of the prophets hangs on love.
Paul understood this and in 1 Corinthians 13:1 he describes Phelps and men like him perfectly. “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Methods matter in Christianity and the means, and the spirit in which such people speak and act I believe is a greater offense to God than whatever sin may exist on this earth.
How can I say that?
Isaiah 42:1-3 “Here is my servant whom I uphold…a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” In other words, it doesn’t matter who you are or what’s going on in your life, you will not come to harm at the hands of a true Christian.
Matthew 9:10-13 Jesus is eating dinner with the same people that “Christians” are so eager to damn. His disciples are prepared to walk away and Jesus says “It is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words ‘mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice.’” Jesus quotes a passage from Hosea in which the Prophet relays the words of God on how to properly worship.
John 4 Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well as she comes to fill up her water jug. She has had 5 different husbands and is busy living with a man to whom she is not married but rather than call her an adulterer or call out her sin he thanks her for being honest and then offers her salvation.
I could go for days, and I’m sure that an argument could be made against me for days but it still comes back to a few simple facts.
The Old Covenant has been fulfilled. The Law, the right by which men like Phelps build a platform, and the covenant it represented has been fulfilled with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is a cornerstone of Christian faith, that by the Grace of His sacrifice we are spared the brunt of the law. As we are called to be like Christ we should offer grace as freely as He did.
Christians are supposed to be Christ-like. Check out the gospels and tell me how many times Christ called down judgment and damnation. Now look at those instances and tell me who receives it? The people who receive His anger or frustration, the people who are on the receiving end of the divine whip are the people who should already know better ie – Christians. Everyone else gets mercy and love and grace.
We’re allowed to screw up, but we need to repent when we do. The “we” means Christians. I’m sure that Phelps and his crowd have accepted Christ into their hearts and I’m equally sure that they’ve been corrected, chastised, and rebuked for their actions. That they have not yet repented could mean any one of a million things, but it still puts them at odds with Scripture.
This post has already run kind of long, so I’ll answer the second question in a post later today and address one of the main arguments against me in this instance which would be the sufficiency of scripture. For now, I welcome your questions and comments on this first part.