Last week, I commented on the hate-filled approach to ministry that is the drum beat of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps has now produced a video announcing his protests at the memorial services for actor Heath Ledger.
Phelps ministry appears to focus solely on God’s Law and it has become his “gospel.” But in so doing, he only preaches half of God’s nature and His interaction with man. Yes, God is righteous and expects mankind’s obedience to the law. And God promises judgment for those who offend. But that same righteous God recognizes our inherent inability for obedience. So, in His mercy, He provided a way out. An alternative to our futile efforts to observe the Law. A means of redemption. And THAT is the true Gospel, the good news of forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ.
I certainly have no idea of the spiritual condition of Heath Ledger, and it is entirely possible that he had notcome to a saving relationship with Jesus. But his damnation was not sealed by playing the role of a homosexual in a movie, any more so than Jim Caviezel is assured of salvation by playing the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. Fred Phelps’ assurance is not guaranteed by obedience to his “law gospel,” nor by him playing the role of a pastor.
If Heath Ledger escaped Hell, it was by grace and not by obedience to the Law. If Fred Phelps escapes Hell, it will be by the same means, as will be the case for anyone reading these words. As long as Fred Phelps preaches obedience to his “law gospel” he will be depriving his hearers or the real Good News. And he will be depriving them of “faith that comes by hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10: 17)
At the end of the video, Phelps says about Ledger, “he did incalculable harm in his one short life.” Right back at ya’, Fred.