Thomas White has written an excellent essay called “The Group at Westboro.” He has given me permission to copy it here. His blog (Thomas White) is worth reading regularly. He is a professor at Southwestern Seminary.
That group has never claimed to be Southern Baptist, but by having Baptist as a part of their designation, they paint all of us with their shame. Dr. White has written powerfully to show that this group is neither Baptist nor a church. Here is Dr. White’s article.
The Group at Westboro
If I told you that I was a bird, you might have your doubts. After all, I don’t look anything like a bird. I can’t fly. I don’t have wings. In fact, I have very little resemblance to a bird unless you want to count my bird legs as evidence.
Well, as a third generation Southern Baptist preacher and a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I teach about the church, I think know what makes a Baptist church. According to the Bible, a church is a gathering, but a gathering with a purpose…an ecclesia. This Greek word is a compound word from ek and kaleo meaning the “called” “out” ones. The church is made up of those called out for God’s purposes. There are other assemblies in the New Testament. People called out and gathered for political reasons which may form assemblies but not churches. You see, a church has a special mission, which is the mission of Christ. Christ came to offer love and hope, and saving grace to those who were hopeless, unloved, and sinners.
So it really upsets me when a group calls themselves a Baptist church and then conducts themselves disgracefully. As a member of a Baptist church, I want to go on record as saying that the group calling themselves “Westboro” is neither Baptist nor a church. They do not follow the New Testament or the commands of Christ. They act nothing like a church should and do not demonstrate the characteristics of a true church. They should do everyone a favor and change their name to reflect reality. They appear to me as nothing more than a hate group with a extreme agenda. God will set things right on judgment day, and I would not want to be in their shoes.
So why do they call themselves a Baptist church? Well, of course I cannot know for sure, but I suspect that it is because the Devil would love for the public to think all Baptist churches act like Westboro. In reality, nothing could be farther from truth. So when you hear about the group at Westboro that spews hatred across the land, recognize them for what they are–not what they call themselves. And please don’t mistake them for a Baptist church no matter what the sign may say.