I love Westboro Baptist Church members. There, I said it. I love that they are not lukewarm, but blazing hot. I love that they try to take seriously the Bible. I love that they are willing to endure the scorn of everyone.
Yet my heart is broken for them and for evangelicals who decry them. In both groups I find evidence of a theology of glory, debates on hermeneutic raging and Jesus weeping over our Jerusalem, saying, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34).
To our shame, evangelicals, including Westboro Baptists, have often been profoundly anti-incarnational in our actions.
Allow me to explain with an example: Christian Hardcore music. The historical roots of the Christian Hardcore (XHC) movement stems from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Christians got together and saw violence in the moshpit, and a subculture that the Church has been afraid to look in the eyes until recently. Descending into dark, smoky bars, Christians brought Spirit-filled lyrics to the masses that the church had alienated. XHC bands met youth where they were in order to tell them about Jesus.
Similarly, God descended to the dark, silent planet Earth out of love. He became truly human. He met with us where we were. (Thank God that he does not distance himself from us as easily as we distance ourselves from our neighbors.)
When evangelicals distance themselves from others, we deny that we ought to imitate Jesus and live out the incarnational theology of the cross.
Perhaps rather than denounce Westboro Baptist Church members, we ought to attempt the incarnational — meet them where they are, learn why they think what they think, pick up our cross as Christ did on Golgotha and join in solidarity with whoever your enemy is.
My heart breaks that both Westboro Baptist Church members and evangelicals cease to be incarnational. In ceasing, we forget that the Gospel is good news. Christ came “to reconcile to himself all things” (Colossians 1:20).
Indeed, God’s word does not come back void. Jesus, the Word of God, accomplishes his purpose. Admittedly, we will fail in being incarnational. But Jesus does not, and in him we have a strong and perfect plea before the Father. Praise be to the Lamb who was slain, who was, is and evermore shall be.
Editor’s Note: While the author of this letter wished to remain anonymous, readers may respond to the followin email: email@example.com.