21 November, 2007

TBNN Interviews The Reverend Fred Phelps

Topeka, Kansas - We here at TBNN had the great privilege of sitting down recently with the controversial Rev. Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. Phelps and his congregation have recently been thrust in the public eye for protesting the funerals of fallen United States soldiers, equating the defense of America with a defense of homosexuality. During the interview TBNN was able to get to the real issues that are important to Phelps.

TBNN: "Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to grant this interview, Reverend. May I call you Fred?"

Phelps: "You can call me whatever you want."

TBNN: "Great! Thanks Freddie. Let me get straight to the point here, you're obviously not concerned with whether or not people like you, so what is your ultimate goal in holding these protests and pickets."

Phelps: "Our goal?"

TBNN: "Yes, what is your aim?"

Phelps: "Our aim is to tell these rotten horse droppings that they're going to hell and that there's nothing they can do about it."

TBNN: "So, you tell them that they're going to hell, and you stop right there?"

Phelps: "Of course, braino! What else are we supposed to say?"

TBNN: "So when you tell someone that they're going to hell, do you consider that to be 'preaching the gospel'?"

Phelps: [laughs] "Look, I can see where this is going. You're just like everyone else who thinks God loves everyone, and that all we have to do is tell everyone how much God loves them and they'll just accept him. But the gospel is telling people that God hates them and they can't do anything about it and that they're going to hell when they die!"

TBNN: "Well, actually as a Calvinist myself I don't believe exactly as you say, but that aside, doesn't the word 'gospel' mean 'good news?'"

Phelps: "What are you getting at braino?"

TBNN: "Well, Phelpsy, Scripture seems to indicate that 'preaching the gospel' involves both a presentation of one's sin and his standing before God and also the hope that may be found in Jesus Christ. Come to think of it, I've rarely ever heard you mention Jesus in any of your 'sermons'. Isn't the gospel supposed to be the 'good news of Jesus Christ?'"

Phelps: [laughs] "You sound just like one of those namby-pamby kissy-poo preachers always talking about mercy, grace, salvation and Jesus. When we tell someone that they're going to hell and that there's nothing they can do to stop it, it is good news, good news to us! You just don't get it do you? Have you ever read Jonathan Edward's Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God braino?"

TBNN: "Actually I have Fredrika. I like it and agree with it. Have you ever read his sermon Pardon for the Greatest of Sinners?"

Phelps: [laughs] "You imbecile, he didn't write any other sermons!"

TBNN: "Um, actually he did. He preached hundreds of sermons. Now he believed in being blunt with people about sin and the need for repentance, but he also told people about Christ. And he was a Calvinist too."

Phelps: "You're a lying son of Belial!"

TBNN: "It's true, look it up."

Phelps: "What church do you go to?"

TBNN: "Me, well I'm a member of a Presbyterian church, PCA."

Phelps: "You bunch of paedo-baptists, you're all going to hell!"

TBNN: "So you're saying a paedo-baptist cannot be saved Freddy man?"

Phelps: "Absolutely! There's no place in heaven for anyone who believes any point of doctrine other than what we believe here at Westboro Baptist Church."

TBNN: "Well that presents a problem then because Jonathan Edwards was a paedo-baptist, and another preacher whom you often quote, Spurgeon, actually believed that Arminian brothers and sisters in Christ would go to heaven."

Phelps: "GET OUT! GET OUT YOU LYING FILTHY NO-GOOD FOOL. GET OUT!!!!"

Thus my interview with the Rev. Phelps came to a close. Unfortunately I never got to ask him about Ezekiel 33:11.

13 comments:

Peter Kirk said...

I wish this was a laughable caricature, but unfortunately it isn't. The famous, or infamous, preacher Mark Driscoll summarises the gospel in much the same way as you put into Phelps' mouth:

God hates sinners. You have been told that God loves sinners, but hates sin. No, Gandhi said that! … The gospel starts with “God hates you and it’s going to go really really bad forever and ever!”

And in the source for this quote Driscoll's gospel seems to end there as well.

jamesr said...

Yesterday, I drove past a church where there was to be a funeral service for a young lad from our town who had died in Iraq.

They were about a half block away, but there were these 3 protesters. They are an utterly contemptible lot. I have nothing but scorn for them.

May their disrespect for the grieving family return upon their heads.

While the fellow was my neighbor just a block away from where I live, I never had the opportunity to get to know him. I have the greatest respect for him for having served our country honorably. I have no respect at all for those who do their anti-war / anti-gay protesting at funeral and/or burial sites.

Tim Ashcraft said...

Wonder what makes Phelps' Phollowers different from the irreversibly damned? Maybe it's because they're all family. I saw an online interview where his daughter heaped that kind of scorn on a Baptist pastor, repeatedly insulting him for his respectful questions. But she didn't seem to mind the camera and the mike.

Anya said...

It is indeed "contemptible", the way in which they treat people... so much for the effects of the gospel which Paul wrote about in Eph 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every other form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Having said that, this part cracked me up: Um, actually he did. He preached hundreds of sermons. But there are plenty of people who don't know that!

Nate Phelps said...

omg!! Son of Belial! That's exactly what he used to call me. How the heck did you guys know that term? I never heard anyone else use it before besides my old man.

Your pseudo-interview was frighteningly close to the rhetoric I recall.

C. Andiron said...

Wow, is that real the real Nathan?
I must confess, I own a copy of Hatemongers and listen to his sermons. I don't really support him, but I can't help thinking- he's the Jonah of our day. Jonah was ultimately chided for his misguided disgust, but note that it was Jonah that was necessary to bring the Ninevites to repentance.

God didn't chose some Bob Schuller ecu-maniac to tell the Ninevites how wonderful they were. The preacher had to be Jonah, maybe because God had a special plan for his life, but I rather think his zeal made him the one most qualified for the situation.

Have you ever watched the news lately? It's getting pretty dark out there.

Even Ray Comfort would say Law to the proud, grace to the humble. Can this nation in any sense be described as humble?

If I recall correctly, I've only heard Fred preach once on Jonah, probably because he's secretly afraid of what happened as a result of his preaching. In this sense I wholeheartedly oppose him, as well as Jonah. I hope Fred is forced to endure the agony of people repenting at his preaching. And I fear they may be too dead for anything less forceful to get through to them.

C. Andiron said...

One more point in his defense - if he were behaving irrationally or were really a 'hatemonger' his preaching to society would not have been influenced by what societies sins happened to be (the battle line Luther alludes to). He would have always been the raving sociopath people like to depict him as. But what do we see? He is a civil rights activist when this nation was grotesquely accepting of racism - and he brought real change. Now people are more aware of that issue, and as the gay lobby conditions people to accept it no matter what it does, his preaching has continually become more forceful in that area. IOW, he's reacting consistently, and maybe it's others who are the frog in a pot of water being slowly brought to a boil, who have lost perspective. I'm just saying be fair.

Team Tominthebox News Network said...

C. Andiron,

Thank you for your comments. I must say, that based upon what you have stated I have to wonder if we're talking about the same Fred Phelps or not. There is so much both practically and theologically wrong with Fred that I simply don't have time to point it out. But let's look at what you said.

I don't really support him, but I can't help thinking- he's the Jonah of our day. Jonah was ultimately chided for his misguided disgust, but note that it was Jonah that was necessary to bring the Ninevites to repentance.

Apples and oranges. Let's look at the differences between Jonah and Fred Phelps.

-Jonah: Prophet of God who received direct revelations from God.
-Fred: Not a prophet of God


-Jonah: Resisted God's call to go to Nineveh. He didn't want to go because he knew God WOULD be merciful.
-Fred: Enjoys what he does. Relishes telling people that God hates them. Believes God is absolutely NOT going to be merciful to them.

-Jonah: Despite who he was God granted his ministry and work fruitfulness. The word did not return void.
-Fred: A work devoid of fruit. Fred's work has brought no repentance, and that's not Fred's message.


God didn't chose some Bob Schuller ecu-maniac to tell the Ninevites how wonderful they were. The preacher had to be Jonah, maybe because God had a special plan for his life, but I rather think his zeal made him the one most qualified for the situation.


You're operating on the assumption that there are simply two extremes. Schuller and Phelps. While modern day preaching leans more towards the Schuller types, there are still plenty of sound preachers out there that preach a BALANCED presentation of the gospel, confronting people with their sins and yet presenting them Christ. Plain and simple FRED DOES NOT PREACH CHRIST. Show me where in any of his pickets where they tell people to "repent, turn to Christ and be saved."

One more point in his defense - if he were behaving irrationally or were really a 'hatemonger' his preaching to society would not have been influenced by what societies sins happened to be (the battle line Luther alludes to). He would have always been the raving sociopath people like to depict him as. But what do we see? He is a civil rights activist when this nation was grotesquely accepting of racism - and he brought real change. Now people are more aware of that issue, and as the gay lobby conditions people to accept it no matter what it does, his preaching has continually become more forceful in that area. IOW, he's reacting consistently, and maybe it's others who are the frog in a pot of water being slowly brought to a boil, who have lost perspective. I'm just saying be fair.

The above, I'll admit, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If I understand you correctly, you're saying it's not possible for one to progressively "lose it." Even a psychopath can help an old lady across the street. Take King Saul for example. He did some good things in Israel, but in the end he was still consumed with killing David.

In short, I think Fred is deluded. He contradicts himself theologically. He champions old Puritan preachers, but preaches nothing like them. He calls himself a Calvinist, yet essentially preaches a doctrine of works. Condemns and anathematizes sound, faithful preachers. Any opposition to him he sees only "persecution" for his faith. I think what he fails to realize is that Christ said Christians would be persecuted for HIS name's sake, not for being jerks. In Fred there is no living at peace with all men. He takes pleasure in the death's of others. Short and simple, Fred and his cult do not preach the gospel.

-Tom

Nate Phelps said...

Ultimately I give more credibility to Tom's points, but I certainly empathize with C. Andiron in his struggle to be "fair" with my father's message. The blunt truth is that there is a wealth of anecdotal material within the Old Testament to feed the anxieties and fears of even well meaning Christians. While most theologians will argue a continuity between the Old and New Testament, it's very easy to see a profoundly different message depending on which side of Matthew the book falls open.

As to the notion that my father's rantings against gays is timely, I can assure you that's not the case. From the time I was old enough to understand (and according to family lore, before) my father has preached this same, exact message. He hated everyone, always. The only difference now is that the walls of Westboro Baptist Church could no longer contain his vitriol.

My father has ALWAYS demonstrated a fascination and almost idolatrous respect for the ancient naysayers such as Elijah and Elisha (memories of his gleeful recounting of the two she bears coming out of the woods to kill over 40 kids who teased Elisha [2 Kings 2:23-25] still chills my blood). He has longed for this day most of his adult life. That he has finally broken out with many of my siblings in lock step holds no surprise to me at all.

To me, the idea that C. Andiron, and so many other well meaning believers, can find "truths" in my father's cruelty is evidence enough that there can be no absolute truth in the Bible. Scanning the historical landscape of religion in general and Christianity specifically, nothing stands out so much as the evidence that reasonable men have never been able to find an unalterable truth within the text. So how can we possibly know the objective, inarguable will of this god? And if it is demonstrably impossible to identify this absolute truth, why do we keep destroying each other in that pursuit?

Chris said...

I'll have to say, in defense of Phelps (who I am no fan of by any stretch of the imagination), that his message is much closer to being Biblical than that of, say, Joel Osteen.

Team Tominthebox News Network said...

Chris,

You've got to be kidding! I hate to get riled here, but come on! Why do people insist on defending this nut. Would you go off and say "In Satan's defense, he does actually seem to know a lot of Scripture when he tempts Jesus."

When it comes to false prophets, there's no scale measuring good and bad out here. Both are preaching a false gospel.

-Tom

Team Tominthebox News Network said...

Nate,

I can only imagine what you went through growing up in that household. I believe Fred Phelps has done more to hurt the name of Christ than anything else. The world looks at him and says "Look, see those Christians!"

But I'm saddened to learn that you find that the Bible contains no absolute truth. I would differ in that assessment, of course. There have been numerous faithful believers over the years, preachers and laymen alike, that have found a consensus in regards to things central.

C. Andiron said...

TTNN, I will have to concede you are correct, especially in the 2 points that have bothered me the most:

I think what he fails to realize is that Christ said Christians would be persecuted for HIS name's sake, not for being jerks. In Fred there is no living at peace with all men. He takes pleasure in the death's of others. Short and simple, Fred and his cult do not preach the gospel.

there are still plenty of sound preachers out there that preach a BALANCED presentation of the gospel, confronting people with their sins and yet presenting them Christ. Plain and simple FRED DOES NOT PREACH CHRIST. Show me where in any of his pickets where they tell people to "repent, turn to Christ and be saved.

Still, what a waste of talent, passion, and intelligence. He first brought forcefully to my consciousness the fact that liberal theology redefined terms without telling anyone (love in Mt 19:19 referencing Lev 19:17-18), as well as pointers to resources such as Gill and Zanchius.

Nathan, thanks for correcting my hypothesis regarding Phelps's actions - you were there so I must defer to you. But I must say there's adiophora and core doctrine and I think there always has been a unanimity of opinion by serious believers about core doctrine. And look around you - secularism is obviously more 'laid back' - does that make it 'good'? To tell you the truth, I don't even watch TV or movies anymore.