The Methodology of the Commissioned: A letter to the Westboro Baptist Church

Months ago, I wrote and sent a letter to the leadership and congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church with no response. I post this for my brothers and sisters so that we all might stand, unified, against this mar in the image of the church. Remember, we are all in a fishbowl.

I address this to everyone who would claim fellowship in Christ Jesus, yet, specifically, to the leadership and congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church; first, to the leadership, but, more importantly, to the congregation as a whole. Understand, though, that this is not written in the spirit of hatred or general hostility, rather, opposition to fundamental errors in your delivery of the message. Still, despite my disagreement, may one thing stand firm: that the Word of the Lord would be honored and held as supreme, for it is God-breathed and good for correction and instruction “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

As the early Christians began to spread the Gospel, they were confronted with both the lusts of the pagan world and their impotent gods. Among the Romans and Greeks, debauchery was rampant and they, too, served ineffective idols, this even going as far as the worship of the leader who took the seat of Caesar. In confronting this flagrant rebellion against the Most High among all of the Gentiles, Paul and his companions were careful and gentle in the deliverance of the Gospel to the unbelievers and did so, guided by the Spirit, as recorded in the history by Luke the physician to Theophilus. The nature of the one, in Christ, is specifically called out as the fruit of the Spirit, which, Paul writes, is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This “fruit,” as Paul wonderfully writes, is not only seen in the “great” fore-fathers of our faith, but also and more so in the One whom we are to be conformed to. No, we are not to approach with aggression and hatred as the world does, but we are called to be altogether different! When the world lashes at us, we are to turn the other cheek and forgive (Mt 5:39; Lk 6:29); when we approach the sinner, we are to be merciful to them and that, mixed with fear, hating the corruption, yet loving the individual as we love ourselves (Jude 22-23; Matthew 12:31). Also, in our witnessing, writes Peter, we are to deliver the reason or the truth, if you prefer, with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Where is this respect, I ask, in your delivery of the Gospel? Where is the gentleness and, even more, where is the love for your neighbor? Certainly God loves all, despite the sin, for that is, as Jesus spoke, the very reason why He was sent to die for us (John 3:16-17), but Jesus did far more than simply die for our sins – which is the perfect love of the Father; yes, Jesus lived the life that we should have lived and a life that we are to, as Christ-followers, emulate in conformance, for it is truly the faithful who are continuing to be conformed to the likeness of the Son (Romans 8:29). It is Christ’s love for us in our fallen state that reveals beauty in His decision to don the title of “physician” (Mt 9:12; Mk 2:17; Lk 5:31), for, just as a physician, Christ calls out to the sick and weary for healing and that is why we gratefully see Him as the “Great Physician.” Indeed, He heals that which the earthly doctors cannot and He freely calls out to everyone for healing.

The mockery needs to be stopped, for it has no place in the Gospel. If there is to be mockery, let it fall on us to their shame; yes, let us live and walk in accordance with the Spirit, bearing the true fruit of kindness and gentleness, love and joy. Indeed, in all things, we are to have love – even for those who hate us. Just as God loved us as sinners, so too must we love. Certainly, we must not accept and tolerate sin, but we are not to transfer the hatred for sin on to the sinner. Eliminate the mockery and heed the words of James, who writes that we are at fault in praising God and cursing men with the same tongue. “This should not be” (James 3:9-12). How profoundly relevant are his following words! “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (v. 11-12). Indeed.

To the leadership, I warn through scripture, as did James: you who teach will be held at a higher standard and judged more strictly than the rest (James 3:1). To the congregation, I exhort you all to follow the example of the Bereans, who, upon hearing the message of Paul, searched the scriptures daily to ensure the truthfulness of his message (Acts 17:11). Finally, never lose sight of the necessity of love, for the greatest of all is love (1 Corinthians 13).

May the Lord Jesus see you through this.

In His grace,

Phillip Nicewaner


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