“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, ‘Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.– The Lord Jesus Christ (From His ”Sermon on the Mount” in The Gospel of Matthew 5:38-42)

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.– The Lord Jesus Christ (Also, from His ”Sermon on the Mount” in The Gospel of Matthew 5:43-48)

One of the most troubling aspects from the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001 and the ongoing aftermath is that very few public Muslims came out – publicly and clearly – to condemn those horrific attacks and (or) to disavow the perpetrators of those unparallelled-in-history, altering-life-as-we-knew-it acts as the criminal, mass-murdering, false zealotry of a false fundamentalism of a global religion that they plainly were.

Even then, the words of the comparatively few, truly public Muslims who did come out against “them” – terrorists and their terrorism; jihadists and their jihad; or those specific nineteen, their support personnel, their acts and associates, and their stated intentions – were couched and crafted in such a way as to leave the discerning listener, or the astute reader, unclear as to just who was being condemned and who was being memorialized.

        (For one example, go to http://www.americanrhetoric.com/rhetoricofterrorism.htm and listen (very carefully) to the actual words of the prayer offered by Imam Muzammil H. Siddiqui at the National Day of Prayer and Rembrance on September 14th, 2001 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. Who, exactly, was he praying for? Can you tell? I couldn’t. Or, who or what represented ”the good” or “the evil,“ which he declared as “not equal“? I remember, as I watched this event live, that I hoped for a brave Muslim cleric, who would make clear that those nineteen were deluded, deceived, and false Muslims. It never happened, or anything close to it ….)

Intelligence personnel know all too well that a number of governments, groups, and individuals who expressed their ‘official’ condolences for the events of 9/11/2001 also celebrated these attacks upon the United States, and actively support global terrorism – both then and now.

I don’t mean to lump all Muslims together; that’s not at all my point. The vast majority of Muslims were (and are) appalled at those and other events perpetrated in “the name of Allah.”

My point is that some public Muslims and leaders of Muslim groups and governments said some things in public to create a certain false impression, while their private (read: secret) behavior stands in diametric opposition to their words and undermines any credibility on the world’s stage that they may arrogate to themselves.

Most – whether for fear or fealty – said nothing at all. But Islam is not the only world religion that has its false prophets, false would-be ‘spokesmen,’ false zealots, and silent co-conspirators.

Enter Terry Jones and Fred Phelps, two birds of an equally false feather.

Unless you recently returned from a decade-long vacation to Neptune, you must have heard something about Terry Jones and Fred Phelps ….

Jones is the rather recently infamous leader of the White Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida – as diminuitive in its size as is conversely proportional to its pomposity (“World”? Outreach Center). Phelps is the more veteranly and marginally more infamous leader of the equally diminutive Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

        (Reportedly, and ironically, they each have something close to 50 or so followers associated with their ministries – not 500 or 5000 … 50each! These two literally are the molehills made into mountains. Only, they’re more mirages than mountains ….)

You’ll surely know of the Phelpsian-Westboro folks. They are infamous for staging “rallies” and protesting military funerals, where all three-to-thirteen of them hold up signs and scream such spiritually uplifting messages as ”God hates fags!” (If they are speaking of homosexuals, He doesn’t. If they are speaking of cigarettes, then maybe He does.) and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers!” (Only, He didn’t do it – either in judgment or otherwise, contrary to their shrill claims.)

For their part in this very bad, farsical-if-it-weren’t-true play-noir, Terry and his tribe are the folks who threatened to burn a stack of Qur’ans back on September 11th, 2010 in commemoration of the 9/11/2001 terror attacks – fully two years after Fred first threatened to burn his own Qur’an(s).

But tribal leader Terry backed off of his threats, when a supposed deal was struck between him, according to him, and a well-known, well-respected Muslim leader in New York City. They agreed – again, says only Terry – to discuss the location of a still-only-proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.

Until two weeks ago, when Terry and his little tribe renewed their zeal to burn the holy book of OVER A BILLION PEOPLE in their fittingly diminuitive shack of a facility, everyone had [almost] forgotten that Terry Jones and his little White Dove “World” Outreach Center existed. But alas ….

The good news is several. Terry and his tribe only burned one Qur’an, rather than the originally planned “stack of Qur’ans” (200 or so) – fully six months after Fred actually did it, but he and his folks threw in the burning of an American flag for good measure, I suppose.

        (Fred’s folks actually whined that their event received comparatively little attention. Perhaps they’d both prefer to combine forces, move their little tribes to the mountains of Pakistan, and take up residence with their spiritual inlaws – you know, Uncle Osama and the Taliban.)

Apparently attempting to give the impression of objectivity and legal due process, Terry and his tribe staged a mock-trial for the defendant-of-a-holy-book – complete with defense attorney (supposedly a Muslim cleric, who they scrounged from Texas), supposed Muslim-turned-Christian of a prosecutor, and twelve-member jury, reportedly made up of members and attendees of the White Dove “World” Outreach Center.

The Qur’an wasn’t actually burned by Terry Jones himself – looking more than a little like Uncle Osama, who also has others to do his dirty work – but by another false pastor, ironically and fittingly named … Wayne Sapp.

Here’s the thing (and the point of my post): Both Fred and Terry claim to be ’Christians,’ preachers of the ‘Christian’ gospel, and leaders of ’Christian’ people, assembled in ’churches,’ so-called.

They aren’t … any of those things. Their actions – contemptible and condemning, hateful and hatemongering, fearful and fearmongering – expose the lie of their shared, false confessions, which falsity is obvious to all … but themselves and their two trifling tribes.

To be clear: Neither Terry Jones nor Fred Phelps is a true Christian, a true pastor, or a true preacher of the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ; and their ‘churches’ are false.

To be equally clear: This judgment isn’t mine, according to me and my subjective judgment. (Who cares what I think? My church is only about three times as large as Jones’s and Phelps’s!)

No, this is Jesus’s own personal judgment and His warning to all who have ears to hear:

        “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will reognize them by their fruits. – The Lord Jesus Christ (Again, from His “Sermon on the Mount” in The Gospel of Matthew 7:15-20)

Similarly, Luke recorded Jesus’s words on this topic, too, but notice that the source of the fruit – whether good or evil – is the heart, the truest reflection of a person’s identity and character:

        “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ but you do not do what I tell you? – The Lord Jesus Christ (Luke’s Gospel account of His “Sermon on the Mount” in Luke 6:43-46)

Calculating generously, I’d be quite surprised if more than three people ever read this blog. Nevertheless, I thought someone should say – publicly and clearly – that Jones and Phelps, along with others of their ilk, whose words claim to honor God and exalt Jesus Christ, but their actions demonstrate that their hearts are far from Him, do not represent or reflect true, Biblical, Christ-initiated, Spirit-born Christianity. And their churches are false.

And yet, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is extended also to them: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel! – The Lord Jesus Christ (The Gospel of Mark 1:15)

I hope that they do, and pass it on to those they have deceived ….

May God’s grace, peace, mercy, and love accrue to us all, including my enemies and yours!

Pastor Mark