Justice and the Death of Fred Phelps


As most of you have heard Fred Phelps has died. Fred Whelps was the founder of the Westboro cult that centered around protests and a message of hate. Sadly, they functioned under the name of “church” and claimed they were doing the work of Jesus. Thankfully, everyone recognized them as a cult and no one seriously put them in the same group with evangelical churches.

A lot of Christians are wrestling with a difficult question in light of his death, “How should we feel about this?” Unless there was real repentance on his death bed (which we haven’t heard of anything like this) than our beliefs tell us that Fred Phelps will spend eternity in hell. While we believe all men deserve hell we do not wish anyone to go there. We get this from God’s very own heart in 2 Peter 3:9.

At the same time, we know that he was a very evil man. This is the same question we asked when Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden died. How should Christians feel and respond when very evil men die, bound for eternity in hell?

Typically, when this question is asked I see a lot of verses on the “we desire none to perish” side. What about the other side? Normally I read a lot of sentiment of, “Well, I can’t help but to be a little happy that he is dead. He was exceptionally evil and the world is much better off without him.”

I think there is a little more biblical precedence for our feelings of relief when a man like Fred Phelps dies. Think about imprecatory psalms: several psalms use the phrase, “may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.”

In Revelation 6 we get a picture of people who have been martyred for their faith crying out to God asking when he will avenge their blood and judge those who killed them. They were then given white robes and told to “rest” a little longer. It is clear they are anxiously waiting for justice to be carried out against those who did evil to them.

2 Thessalonians 1 tells us that God will grant relief to the saints from their suffering by making those who afflicted them suffer with eternal punishment. This passage even has this feel that the saints won’t feel full relief until that full justice has been carried out, when the Lord returns.

Why do I walk through that? We need to feel the freedom to have a sense of relief when God takes away evil men. There is no need to feel guilty for feeling relief in these situations. I think those biblical passages give us a strong precedent for these emotions. No, we do not want any man to perish and spend eternity in hell. We also do not want evil men to continue to inflict suffering on the saints and the world.

Let me be clear here: feeling relief and boasting exuberantly are two very different things. I do not think it is righteous to dance in the streets in celebration when someone like Hussein is killed. I do think it is righteous emotion to feel relief when God chooses to remove such evil men.

What I pray for in these situations:

  • While such evil men are alive (North Korea anyone) I pray for a radical salvation or that God will remove them swiftly and end the suffering they bring.
  • In light of their deaths I pray God will use it to display his goodness to humanity by displaying his perfect, righteous justice.
  • I pray that the church can use the opportunity to share the radical mercy of Jesus that no one is beyond saving and that even Fred Phelps could be justified by God through repentance and faith.
  • I pray that through the death a new day can dawn in whatever void is left by them. In Fred Phelps case I am praying the Westboro cult loses its fervor and starts getting out of the spotlight.
  • I pray for real, genuine salvation for his family and those most immediately affected by his death.

5 thoughts on “Justice and the Death of Fred Phelps

  1. Pingback: Justice and the Death of Fred Phelps » ZIONICA.com

  2. we should be sad they perished with out repenting
    we should not display happiness at their death

    Proverbs 24:17-18 King James Version (KJV)

    17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

    18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

  3. I’ve read a number of books concerning Heaven and Hell, the two latest are “Hell Testimonies” by Mike Peralta and “Heaven is so Real” by Choo Nam Thomas (a Korean-American lady recently decreases) in these I hear echoed God’s (Jesus’s) grief over people that die and end up in Hell. Perfect Love yet perfect Justice, one not compromising the other. Since Jesus is the perfect expression of the Father, and that He sent the Holy Spirit who will witness what Jesus said while on this earth and who (the Holy Spirit) will lead us into all truth etc, I would conclude that Father, Son and Holy Spirit grieve over the Death of all sinners and are in agreement with the wages of sin.

    In each of these books and others that I’ve read scriptures are cited in support of things seen, some closer or more applicable, in my mind then others, but even then the Apostle’s John and the the Apostle Paul couldn’t put fully into Human Langiage the Glories of Heaven, nor were they permitted to ‘say’ everything that they witnessed or were told.

    It also just occured to me, that in the Bible, there is much more said or revealed about the details of Heaven and it’s attributes or glories then there is of Hell! About the only thing that we’re told of about Hell and the lake of fire, is the continual burning (literally, the worm that does not die, darkness, continual thirst, eternal torment, no rest for the wicked, and a few other things.

    What these books, and others like them do, is to give magnificent detailed descriptions to the truths behind the words about Heaven in the Bible, and even then none of them ‘fully tell the tale’! As to Hell they give some of the Horrific details to the state of people imprisioned there for eternity!

    In conclusion…

    God loves the sinner, but his wrath abides on the unrepentant sinner. Their is a world, a universe, of ‘Detailed Truth’ behind that ‘fleshes out’ both realities of Heaven and Hell that ‘normally’ we are not privy to the details… I suppose that we Christians and even ‘those in the world’ can be told of such supported by various passages in scripture, as in the book of Joel, and that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and such, also remember The Lord has no joy at the death of the wicked.

    All of this does not negate the fact of Deliverance from Evil that the child of God enjoys or is the recipient of in it’s various forms! Even the non-believer in Hell will have justice done for them, and also against them, for the works that they have done while in the body, at the ‘Great White Throne’ judgement. Each ‘man’ according to his works.

    When we give our hurt and anger over to God, he can and will judge righteously in our stead. We also might remember that ‘the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God’.

    I also belatedly realized that ‘the sermon on the mount’, and such, are not ‘unreadable goals’ for us, but are what God wants for each of us, ‘to be conformed to His image, to be like him, it’s a process and someday, will be reached, and scarce I say, maybe even for us now here on earth? How about ‘be Holy as I AM Holy, or ‘your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees’ and ‘without Holiness no one will see The Lord? So it must be possible by the agency of The Holy Spirit dwelling in us while we are here on earth, how could God require it of us otherwise…?

    Those two books brought all of this to the fore in my mind, I highly recommend both of them and others by Mike Peralta and Choo Nam Thomas’s website and links.

    “Mercy triumphs over Judgement”, I’m glad that God’s mercy does in my life(!), along with what King David said “… If you (God) marked our sins who would stand…” (Paraphrasing).

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