Is your church better than Westboro?


Westboro Baptist’s head cheese, Fred Phelps, released a video the day of Tim Russert’s death, declaring the act an example of God’s further condemnation of America and, in particular, its media.

Obviously, I don’t agree with Phelps’ assertions. But I do wonder what he would have us do. They continually call for repentance, but they never provide a clear call to action. How are we to repent? How are we to turn our nation back to God? What do they want us to do?

What is your church doing differently? Is it making the message of repentance and salvation tangible and practical? Or is it equally as abstract and unclear as Westboro?

Just curious.

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  1. June 18, 2008 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Excellent question, Todd. Definitely something I will be thinking about today.

  2. June 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm — Reply

    Salvation which is purely spiritual and other-wordly can never be practical. It must be vague to work. So, most churches see there mission as leading people to “conversion” which in most cases means the praying an ambiguous prayer which somehow in the hidden realms conveys salvation from hell upon the individual who prays it. There is nothing tangible to be found in a repentance from a sin nature we inherited for the salvation from a hell we have never seen.

    But, if we can imagine salvation to be more significant than where you go after you die, we open ourselves up to amazing possibilities to be communities formed in the way of Jesus. This requires that we change this fundamental assumption: Jesus’s message was exclusively spiritual in nature. Until we change that, we will be shouting into the wind, just like Fred Phelps (albeit a big nicer).

  3. June 18, 2008 at 10:19 pm — Reply

    In my opinion, repentance is nothing if it isn’t tangible and practical.

    Jesus often called people to repent as did the guy who was to prepare the way for Jesus: John.

    I cannot quite eliminate the afterlife as Chris does. Mostly because I think it is irrefutably important.

    Hopefully when I call people to repent (or when I challenge myself to do so) I am making clear all the inherent practicality therein.

    It is unique for each individual, I suspect. Each person comes to a place of life perspective and assesses the things which are holding him or her down in life; the things each should identify as detrimental, counter-productive, harmful, and selfish, and, through the “act” of repentance, declares to strive to live differently and free from these things.

    What a person comes to learn with maturity in faith is that there is such a way to live that actually and literally produces life that never ceases. Some call it eternal life, Heaven, etc.

    Jesus spoke of such a life.

    We live in a temporal state currently.

    I think Jesus is pretty passionate about us transcending the temporal and finding a way of living that actually makes people everlasting.

    I think Breathe operates in this fashion. We maintain and speak of a better way to live. We try to encourage people to think they have the capacity to overcome anything which holds them down, and to try and trust they were created by God to be in control. To know what stands in the way of everlasting-ness, to take control of it, and to find Forever.


  4. June 19, 2008 at 5:24 am — Reply

    I’m not trying to “dismiss” the afterlife as much as I’m criticizing an over-emphasis on the afterlife. I love the way you talk that, Cliff, and I agree that Breathe is a community which is trying to provide tangible repentance in the way that Jesus talked about. Perhaps we must hold those things in tension, so we don’t become too focussed on either this life nor the one to come.

  5. June 19, 2008 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    Chris I totally agree! There is such an over-emphasis on “Heaven”; the hereafter. A lot of people, including myself, take for granted the life God gave me in flesh on planet earth.

    I think you always help to remind me to not forget I am here. Now.


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Is your church better than Westboro?