I'm writing this post while watching a Louis Theroux documentary on ABC about the "most hated family" in America who are members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in the USA. They are known for their offensive ministry that preaches God's hatred and judgement against anyone or anything they interpret as an affront to the Word of God. With placards like - "God Hates Fags" - "Pray for More Dead Soldiers" - "God Hates You" - "You're Going to Hell" - they picket funerals and public places with their gospel of hate.
As a student of theology I am often engaged in discussion with people who interpret Scripture differently, but never have I encounted such an extreme misinterpretation of the Word of God that is so opposite to the established character of God, who is presented in the Bible as a God of love.
Every action of God from the Fall of humanity to the Cross of Christ was to bring people back into relationship with God, whereas the actions of this church repel people from God. The gospel of John teaches that "For God so loved the world...For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Whereas, the gospel that Westboro Baptist Church teaches says God hates the "world" and condemns it to hell. Jesus demonstrated his love for "sinners" by doing life with them and creating community, whereas this church demonstrates a lifestyle that divides communities.
A "gospel of hate" is not only offensive to the world, but I am convinced that it is offensive to the Creator of this world also! Any doubt or confusion about the core message of the bible and the character of God, as manifested through Jesus, can be put to rest through the revolutionary words and the relational ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by all four gospel writers. Their eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus (the incarnational presence of God) promote a gospel of love, not a gospel of hate.
While this documentary evokes all sorts of strong emotions as I see God and his Church so grossly misrepresented, I know that hate can only be conquered by love. For it was Jesus who said the very opposite to Westboro Baptist Church, "You have heard that it was said,‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-45)