Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Gospel of Hate

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

I’m often amazed at how much hatred we can direct to each other in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been a bit obsessed over the last week with Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. He spews hate from his pulpit, going so far as to say he prays every night for President Obama to die and burn in hell and calling for the public execution of homosexuals. He openly professes he hates the President along with homosexuals, pro-abortionists and apparently anybody who reads anything but the King James Bible. He actually claims that true salvation only comes through the King James Bible so I guess all those people cursed to be born before 1611 that relied on English translations such as the Geneva Bible and the Bishop’s Bible are all rotting in the nether reaches of the abyss. So much for the Puritans and their preaching from the Geneva Bible: I guess they were as heretical as any heathen that would dare to read from the pages of the satanic NIV translation.

I’m sorry, I digress. It’s just so easy to get sidetracked when you are dealing with fascinating characters like Anderson. I’m not sure where to start or finish with him. He is a clean cut looking man in his late 20’s with a beautiful family. You’d never imagine by looking at him that he was capable of vomiting the vitriolic messages he preaches each week. He really isn’t a bad speaker, just a bad interpreter of God’s word.

Let me clarify my stance before going further. If you show up at my church on Sunday morning you will most likely hear me preaching from the King James. I like it’s majestic and poetic language. I even believe it is an accurate translation. However, I don’t believe that it is the be all and end all of Bibles. Yes, I admit it…I confess…I read from the NIV, NASB, NKJV, NCV, AMP, NLT, ESV but I draw the line at the Message! Too much of a paraphrase, but I’m pretty okay with any other mainstream translation allowing that you understand the translation methodology so you can utilize it properly in study. We don’t send you through a TSA level pat down to see if you are smuggling in non-KJV Bibles on Sunday at Lee Chapel Baptist Church.

I believe homosexuality is wrong and sinful. I believe the same about adultery, lying, stealing, murder and a whole string of other things clearly laid out as such in God’s word. I’m glad God doesn’t arbitrarily strike down any sinner, but desires all to come to repentance (just glance over at 2 Peter 3:9 if you don’t believe me). I believe we should preach about such things from our pulpit concerning God’s wrath on the sinner and the grace, mercy and salvation offered to each and every sinner (the balance offered in Romans 6:23).

I’m just wondering if guys like Anderson (or the Westboro Baptist crew or Terry “Burn-a-Koran” Jones) bothered to read over Matthew 5-6 or huge sections of the Gospel of John? Anderson claims to have over 100 chapters of the Bible memorized but I think the bulk of them are from Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. I often believe we glaze over the wrath of God, but let’s not leave out the love of God either. God’s wrath towards sin condemns, God’s love towards man offers salvation. Yes Pastor Steve, even a homosexual, pro-choice Obama supporter that reads from the NIV can experience the love of Christ. Anderson and his followers in all their abhorrence for Obama love asking those opposed to such views, “If Hitler showed up on your doorstep what would you do?” The inference is the best choice is to take him down.

I’ll be honest with you, if Hitler showed up on my doorstep via some sort of temporal time distortion I’d grab the most effective weapon I had – God’s Word. I can’t change the heart of a man like Hitler, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ can. I’d do the same thing if the President of the USA knocked on my door…even if all I had was an NIV.

In closing, I cannot help but reflect on the life of the Apostle Paul. He was intolerant and uncompromising in his faith. He is my role model. When you think of Paul, it’s not hate that comes to mind, but love and sacrifice. What will Pastor Steve Anderson be remembered for? What will Pastor Terry Jones be remembered for? What will Pastor Fred Phelps be remembered for? I believe they have all erred over simply missing the mandate of one important verse, written from a titanic leader of the early church to his struggling protégé:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The phrase “rightly dividing” is the Greek orthotomeō. It means to cut straight. I’m afraid they have studied the Word that they might cut deep with it, inflicting grievous wounds on their flocks and any other unfortunate individuals who cross their path. I do not believe God approves of their teaching, and I believe they bring shame upon themselves because of their hatemongering.

Randy Alan

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