Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Ugly Result of a Wrong View of God

Last week, Mark Driscoll published a blog post on the Mars Hill Church blog called "Westboro Baptist Church, this false prophet and his blind lemmings welcome you to our whore house for God's grace and free donuts." In this post, Mark explains that the Westboro Baptist Church would be picketing at one of their church campuses on Sunday. While most people only know of the Westboro Baptist Church as those people who protest at military funerals with signs that say "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS" and "GOD HATES AMERICA," Mark explains some of their theology and "church" structure. It's definitely worth a read.

So, why is one baptist church picketing another? Westboro explains:
“To picket the false prophet and blind lemmings at Mars Hill Whore House where they teach the lies that God love [sic] everyone and Jesus died for the sins of all of mankind. You have caused the people to trust in lies to their destruction, and to your damnation. Shame on you for calling yourself the Mars Hill Church! False advertising doesn’t come close! Paul would turn over in his grave at your God-hating, Christ-rejecting lies! You have a form of godliness, but you deny the power thereof…WBC will speak the truth to you in love—as God defines ‘love’. We will tell you that, in fact, there is a standard God has set in this earth that He commands you obey. Your disobedient sin is taking you to hell, and you must repent and mourn for your sins. God does not love everyone—in fact, He hates the majority of mankind, and has purposed to send them to hell when they die. You would know these things if you would pick up a Bible and actually READ THE WORDS!”
Mark responds:
The whole ”read-the-words” of the Bible thingy is actually pretty good advice. And in reading the Bible, we see that it says everyone is loved by God, and though not everyone is saved, anyone who turns from sin and trusts in Jesus will receive eternal life. Additionally, we know that it’s not God’s hatred that leads people to repentance but instead his kindness (Romans 2:4).
Mark goes on to list several references that illustrate his point, including John 1:291 Tim. 2:3–62 Peter 3:9, and of course, John 3:16–17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." He mentioned that Jesus said to LOVE our neighbors, and even our enemies. 
Mark concludes by welcoming Westboro in love. He says that ironically, the sermon planed for that Sunday will be about how Jesus saved a bad man named Zacchaeus, and how the self-righteous people were disgusted and "basically, picketing the love of God." He says that if they come, they will receive a copy of  his book, Doctrine, along with smiles, coffee, and donuts.
Mars Hill Blog
So, my question for you is this: how does this happen?! The WBC is fully convinced that their cause is just and Biblical. They honestly believe that they are true Christians, yet they call the gospel a lie. They even quote scripture. They reject fundamental aspects of God's character, claiming that He is a God of hate, when the Bible says that not only is He a God who loves, He IS love itself! 

I think this situation illustrates the danger of picking and choosing scripture to believe, and having a wrong view of who God is.

All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and it's meant to be taken in context. You can get the Bible to say whatever you want it to if you pick and choose verses from random places. Context is king; consider who said it, to whom it was said, and why it was said before you decide how it should be applied. Use tools like a concordance or commentary, and do some research on the Greek for troublesome passages. Read different viewpoints, and ask questions to get clarification. Be careful who you choose to believe. 

Do you really know God personally? I don't mean are you saved, I mean, do you know God's character like you know a friend? To some extent, there are aspects of God that are too infinite and incomprehensible for our human minds, but if we don't know the God revealed in scripture, we're prone to substitute our own ideas for who He is. And whether that's a hateful God or a Santa clause type, anything other than what the scripture reveals is false. And if your view of God is wrong, there will be consequences. 

What are your thoughts on this story? How do you make sure you interpret the Bible correctly? How can you have a right view of who God is?

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