Tag: hell

The crazy lady in the attic

Thornfield Hall burns to the ground

By Alan Bean

Fred Phelps is dead and there is no one to mourn his passing.  In the end, poor Fred was abandoned even by the cult his hate built.

One is tempted to see Fred Phelps as an extreme expression of the evangelical impulse.  Don’t most prominent evangelicals hate homosexuals just as much as Fred does?  Doesn’t the evangelical tribe condemn America for tolerating the sin of Sodom?

Perhaps, but there is a difference.  Pastor Fred learned in the early 1990s that condemning America for being soft on sin was getting him nowhere.  By spelling out things out in the most graphic and objectionable fashion Fred and family gained the attention of the world.  Westboro Baptist was the Church the world loved to hate, and that was fine with Fred so long as he got his headlines.  For the next quarter century, Fred and company made hate their private cottage industry by transforming gross, pornographic insensitivity into an art form.

Theologically, Phelps was an old school, Jonathan Edwards Calvinist.  Read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and you’ve got Fred’s theology.


Of hell and hell fire: it’s not what you think

C.S. Lewis as a young man

We worship a bi-polar deity, most of us anyway.  Our God is the very definition of love . . . but, like the killer bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “he’s got a vicious streak a mile wide.”

We are taught that God is love.  We are taught that God consigns the wicked to hell for eternity.  Surely both can’t be true?

C.S. Lewis (who, like Jack Kennedy, died fifty years ago today), captured this dilemma beautifully in The Pilgrim’s Regress.  It was his first crack at Christian apologetics written shortly after his conversion to Christianity in 1929.  The allegory is set in the land of Puritania where a young boy named John is taken, as all young boys eventually are, to meet the Steward.  Puritania is owned by “the Landlord”, a shadowy figure who has gone abroad and left his vast domains in the hands of a caretaker.  Lewis was always at his best writing about children, and his description of John’s visit to the Steward is so good I will give you the whole story just as he wrote it: (more…)