By Dr. Elisha Weismann and Dr. James Ach
Westboro Baptist Church, known for its picketing of military funerals and open air “preaching” against sodomites, recently posted the following “Manifesto” on their God Hates Fags website,
Manifesto of Westboro Baptist Church
We are a TULIP Baptist Church!
We believe — and vigorously preach — the 5 Points of Calvinism!
Anyone preaching otherwise is a Hell-bound false prophet, a messenger of Satan, to whom we say, Anathema Maranatha! and, Let him be accursed of God!
To every lover of Arminian lies — believing and preaching that God loves every individual of mankind — we say, You are going to Hell! Period! End of discussion! God’s decree sending you to Hell is irreversible! Hypocrites! How can ye escape the damnation of Hell?!
Now what is ironic about this is that last phrase in which Westboro states, “God’s decree sending you to Hell is irreversible!” If God’s decree were irreversible, then what is the point of preaching that “God hates fags”? If they can not be “saved to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25), then isn’t it rather pointless to appeal to any sense of morality? This presentation actually appears more Arminian in approach where there are large groups of open-air preachers of the Arminian persuasion appealing for sinners to-as one preacher put it-“stop being a whore” before getting saved. Or in other words, stop sinning so God can save you.
Now don’t get us wrong, God does not approve of homosexuality and repentance is required for salvation (Acts 20:21 Acts 17:30), but repentance does not involve changing your lifestyle to get saved. The reason that homosexuals do not get saved is because repentance involves wholly admitting to God the utter hideousness of your sin (Luke 5:8, Luke 18:13, Isaiah 6:5), and a person that does not admit that homosexuality is a sin is a person that believes there is something yet righteous about themselves. The purpose of showing the sinner what the law says about sin is to BRING them to Christ (Galatians 3:24) not to make them change before God saves them. However, to stand before a Holy God and believe in your heart that what the Bible calls sin does not apply to you is a failure to admit to your sin nature before God, and calls God a liar, and it is on THAT basis of self-righteousness that a person has not truly repented unto salvation, not because they do not change in order to get saved. They CAN’T change without the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:41, Philippians 4:13, Romans 4:5, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:9). Therefore saving faith is a person that fully acknowledges his depravity, and believes that the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can save him, and thus turning to God from self-righteousness and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation in which works are not a part of. 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 11:6, Acts 26:20 (notice in Acts 26:20 that “works meet for repentance” comes AFTER repenting from self-righteousness and turning to God).
Nevertheless, on the Calvinist side of this view, the belief is that God hates all who are “non elect”, and since the sodomite obviously fits this category, God hates the sodomite. Ironically, Jesus says exactly the opposite in Matthew 21:31, and in Mark 10:21, Jesus said He loved someone that refused to follow Him. According to Calvinism’s view of “compatibilism” (or “soft determinism”), all sinners who are not elect will always act according to the predetermined nature that they have been given, and neither their destiny nor their actions can ever be altered. But, because that sinner can make choices albeit only within the predetermined set of beliefs that he has been given, the compatibilist Calvinist still calls this “free will”, even though the sinner can’t really act otherwise than according to the nature he has been given.
Thus accordingly, the sinner is actually doing exactly what God wants him to do! The problem that this presents to any Bible believing student is that God judges based upon actions that demonstrate a clear violation of an established premise, axiom, law or rule. Even in most criminal justice systems, a criminal act is punished by a person who knowingly and intentionally violates a statute. But if the sinner is doing just what God wanted him to do-since after all, that IS the nature that He gave the sinner-then a sinner can not rightly be said to have done anything wrong intentionally, and is being punished for his obedience to God rather than his malfeasance. This ironically, makes the sinner more faithful to God than the Calvinist because a Calvinist can backslide and often act in opposition to God’s will. The reprobate sinner is always acting according to God’s will, and never truly does anything God doesn’t want him to do if one takes Calvinism seriously.
The other conundrum for Calvinism is that God could prevent the sinner from committing such heinous acts of sin by simply “electing” him. But, if He didn’t, He obviously did not do so because He didn’t WANT to. Thus God wants the sinner to curse and blaspheme and rape and murder as opposed to electing him and causing him to glorify Him. God gets more glory from those whom He predetermines to hell than He does from those that He could have elected to do otherwise if He wanted to. The only Biblical and logical way to escape this evil as well as avoid universalism is that if man has a libertarian free will with the ability to choose between one option, and the ability to not choose that option where the sinner is responsible for the choices made,not God. Although some Calvinists will argue that mans reaction in his deadness are a secondary cause (or God simply “passes over” the non elect) this is a futile argument. This argument basically holds that God winds up the walking toy, and points it toward the wall, but it’s the toys fault for walking into the wall, and the impact was secondary so it is not really God’s fault even though He was the first cause of the will of the toy and the first cause was the proximate cause of any and all subsequent actions.
Although we would conclude that the actions of Westboro Baptist Church are atypical of most Calvinist churches, we believe they are practicing honest Calvinism and embracing its theological implications without flinching. I’m sure Fred Phelps would have applauded John Calvin’s treatment of Michael Servetus. However, because of the public opinion held by Christians and Non Christians alike against such churches as Westboro, Calvinist churches simply refuse to be honest with people about what they really believe for fear of losing credibility. If all Calvinist churches were as honest as Westboro, and simply told their visitors that God doesn’t love them (at least as far as they know unless they are of the proven elect), and that when the preacher says “come drink of the water FREELY” that they don’t truly believe that any sinner can come to Christ freely in the sense that most people understand “freedom”, Calvinism would cease to acquire new converts, and likely lose members who can’t tuck their children in bed at night and honestly tell them Jesus loves them.
As despicable as we believe Westboro Baptist Church is, we at least applaud them for being honest about their theology. Any theology that can not be implemented and followed with complete honesty of what one believes is not a theology worth following. That doesn’t mean that their theology is correct (it certainly is NOT), but if you can’t be honest about what you believe, then why preach or follow it?
Thank you to Laurence Brown for finding this link to the Westboro Baptist site.
*Calvinists are divided in different camps on the preterition of the non-elect-supralapsarian and infralapsarian. However, even Calvinist theologians such as Loraine Boettner recognized that ultimately there is no difference between the two. ALL Calvinist theology ultimately leads to hard-determinism. The compatibilistic view of freedom merely extends the determination of God to blaming secondary and indirect causes, but when this philosophy is examined to its most logical conclusion, it ALWAYS ends up being totally fatalistic and complete determinism.