If you weren’t aware, Fred Phelps has died.
(CNN) — Fred Phelps — the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals — has died, the church said Thursday. The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain. Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, in 1955 and molded it in his fire-and-brimstone image. Many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.
In a statement Thursday, the church chided the “world-wide media” for “gleefully anticipating the death.” According to Westboro, the church has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Typically, a dozen or so church members — including small children — will brandish signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
You received this news and it provoked an emotion in you. Each of us have different emotions concerning this situation, but we all react to it nonetheless. Whether it is hate, disgust, frustration, happiness, pride, justice, or pity, we all felt something when we heard the news.
This man has unfortunately been a face for churches on the homosexuality debate. Everyone who has come into contact with him either feels:
- He is right, and I stand behind him.
- He is right, but I won’t admit it.
- He is right on some issues, but he is going about it the wrong way.
- He is wrong, and I wish that he would die and go to hell.
Personally, I am truly sorrowful over those he has disgusted or offended over the years.
There is a difference in the truths of the Bible offending and the messenger of the Bible offending. It is a hard balance, but there is a necessity for someone who claims to speak on behalf of the Bible to speak with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15) and to find a way to speak the “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). I don’t think Fred Phelps was known for doing that.
So, where is Fred Phelps residing in eternity? Some would say that he was doing what he thought was right and is probably in heaven but now he sees the error of his ways. Others believe that he is rightfully in hell and are gleefully celebrating that thought.
Eternity is long. It is not a joke. The reality cannot be reduced to his condemning posters or anyone’s sarcastic online posts.
If you think that a man who thinks differently than you deserves hell because he believed that people who thought differently than him deserved hell, how are you any better than he is?
The very attitude that disgusts you has suddenly taken over you. You have become like what you hate.
Let me make this clear: everyone deserves hell. If the Bible is correct, and I believe it is, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and that includes all sin. So, sure he deserves hell just as much as we do.
I don’t claim to have the knowledge to know where any soul will rest, but instead of making a call on him, maybe I should evaluate myself.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor. 13:5).
“I tell you, no, but unless you all repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:3-5).