How Am I Supposed to Feel about Fred Phelps’ Death?

Just read, as you probably have, that Fred Phelps is very near death. His family is at odds, and there is word that even Fred himself was excommunicated from his own “church” a few months ago. He is hovering on the brink of eternity and the church he founded will likely pass into the hands of one of his progeny, perhaps his daughter. Fred will be gone soon.

I don’t know how I should feel about this.

How am I supposed to feel when Saddam is hanged or bin Laden takes a bullet? When great evil passes from this world there is a natural sigh of relief, a sense that the world is a better place. And the world would be a better place without the Westboro Cult (I’ve joined Marty Duren’s suggestion that we NOT call them either Baptist or a church – they are neither). I hope that the cult falls apart when its leader is gone and that it is no longer able to do evil.

But ought Christians ever rejoice when a lost man (it is hard to see Fred Phelps as a brother in Christ – that judgment is not mine) dies? There is a dysfunctional family, a lot of grief and pain, and even more bad publicity for the church – since there are always those who try to tie us to his cult. We are told to LOVE our enemies (as a Baptist preacher, I certainly consider him an enemy) and return good for evil. It is hard to believe that gloating over his death would fit into those parameters.

So, I feel conflicted. Honestly, a part of me is relieved that he will no longer be here and that the evil he has done will soon pass away. Another part of me believes that a follower of Jesus ought not to see the passing of an evil man as a good thing.

So, I guess right now all I can do is leave Fred Phelps in the hands of a just God, pray that his evil will come to nothing, that his family will find healing from the lies he taught them and the bitterness he instilled in them and keep wondering how I should feel in times like this.

 

 

Patrick of Ireland was a Scot (by CB Scott)

As we prepare for another national holiday devoted to drunken revelry tomorrow, CB reminds us of who St. Patrick really was. 

The saint of God who became known as St. Patrick to the world was born in his native homeland of Scotland in A.D. 389. Below is a very short history of this tough-as-nails follower of Christ who became known as St. Patrick.

(This is a story of the slave trade. Slavers have been parasites upon humanity since the early years of creation. The Bible records many such stories. The Bible also records the stories of God’s wonderful works of grace and deliverance in spite of the evil that men do . . . and still do this day. Since the fall of man, no greater sin has been perpetrated by men upon other men, women, girls, and boys than to enslave them for profit and personal pleasure. Slavery’s ongoing continuance upon this planet is the great shame of all free men everywhere. However, God’s grace continues to be sufficient in spite of our shame and shameful conduct to one another. Patrick’s story is evidence of Gods’ amazing grace upon a slave.)

Patrick was born in Scotland. As a youth of 16, he ran into the worst of all possible life experiences for a young man or woman short of a torturous death. A band of Irish mercenaries (Wild Geese) captured him and sold him into slavery upon their return to Ireland. Patrick lived a harsh life working for cruel owners.

By the tender mercies of God, Patrick escaped and fled to Western Europe, then known as Gaul. While there he became a follower of Christ in accord with the biblical gospel. He was, as we would say today and as Christ explained to Nicodemus of the first century, “born again.” Patrick returned to his native home of Scotland, a free man both of body and soul. Christ had freed him of his slavery to sinful man and from the penalty of sin itself.

While living as a free Scot in Scotland, God spoke to Patrick. It was not unlike the same manner in which Christ our Lord spoke to Paul in the “Macedonian Call.” This experience would change Patrick’s life forever and make him a figure in human history that will never be forgotten although his story has been greatly altered from the truth.

In a dream Patrick saw a “man of Ireland.”  The Irishman gave him a letter entitled, “The Voice of the Irish.” In this same dream, Patrick heard voices of men who lived near where he had lived as a slave in Ireland. The voices he heard stated, “We entreat you, holy youth, to come and walk still among us.”

With nothing but sheer grit and steel faith that God’s call was upon him and inspired by his new found life of freedom from Satan’s slavery given him by Christ alone, Patrick left the freedom he had cherished in Scotland and went back to the land of the hardest men ever to roam the earth for blood, profit and adventure; Ireland, native home of the Irish.

He landed in Wicklow, but found nothing but hostility to his efforts. He then sailed north and settled in Strongford Lough. There, he moved into a barn and started a church. He took the biblical mandate seriously and began to aggressively “do the work of an evangelist” in fulfillment of the Great Commission.

God blessed his obedience to go among the heathen Irishmen with the Good Story of Jesus Christ. He shared the gospel with the peasantry and the nobility alike. History records that Patrick treated the people who had enslaved him as a youth with kindness and grace. He gave true adherence to the gospel admonition to love one another, even those “who despitefully use you.” God blessed his ministry, using him to plant hundreds of churches and baptize thousands of converts. His influence was felt throughout the Middle Ages even to distant parts of the earth. Patrick imparted a stronger impulse than any other man toward Medieval Missions and Evangelism.

Lastly, it is significant that despite the claims of the Roman Catholic Church upon Patrick, his message and methods were more distinctly those of contemporary Baptists and evangelistic Protestants than were others of his time and culture. He had no connection with the Pope whatsoever, although his grandfather had been a “married” priest. The reliable accounts of the life and career of Patrick present no reference to such Roman Catholic practices as auricular confession, extreme unction or the over emphasis of Mary in the gospel story. Patrick was not a Catholic. However, he was a saint in the biblical sense of the word totally and completely.

Program # 3296 James Bailie

3926 James Bailie: (Irish, Anger, WW II) His father is accidentally killed two weeks before Jim is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jim grows up in poverty during World War II. He runs the streets, stealing and being arrested. A benefactor starts a boys club to keep the boys from reform school, and Jim trains as a boxer. He joins the Orange Order, a group that drinks and resorts to violence. But one night Jim yells indignation at their hypocrisy; then he walks to a church where he is saved.

Program # 3296 James Bailie

3926 James Bailie: (Irish, Anger, WW II) His father is accidentally killed two weeks before Jim is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jim grows up in poverty during World War II. He runs the streets, stealing and being arrested. A benefactor starts a boys club to keep the boys from reform school, and Jim trains as a boxer. He joins the Orange Order, a group that drinks and resorts to violence. But one night Jim yells indignation at their hypocrisy; then he walks to a church where he is saved.