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Terry Fox renounces Phelps’ pickets, underscores ministry to homosexuals

WICHITA, Kan. (BP)–Christians have a duty to minister to homosexuals, Kansas pastor Terry Fox told his congregation July 13, describing any other approach — such as that of picketer Fred Phelps — as unbiblical.

Calling Phelps a “false prophet” whose message “drives people the other way,” Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., said Christians must share the Gospel with all people.

A group from Phelps’ Topeka, Kan., church — which is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention — was scheduled to picket outside Immanuel Baptist at the night service July 13. Phelps’ church is best known for its “God Hates Fags” signs and its message that homosexuals cannot be saved — a message that goes against the beliefs of Southern Baptists.

“He’s not a Southern Baptist — praise God,” said Fox, receiving applause.

Fox’s message came on the heels of an emphasis by the Southern Baptist Convention to minister to homosexuals. The emphasis was announced in June at the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

Preaching from Galatians 1:6-9, where the Apostle Paul warns about false gospels, Fox said Christians must stand firm on Scripture’s teachings when ministering to homosexuals.

“I have a conviction … that the lifestyle of homosexuality is a lifestyle unacceptable to God,” said Fox, who serves as chairman of the North American Mission Board’s trustee board. “But I also have a conviction that somebody that is involved in homosexuality can turn away from that and come back to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Pointing to Romans 5:8, Fox said Christians must view God’s grace as something that is undeserved. Referencing his sermon title, “Loving the Unlovable,” he asked his congregation to consider the question: Who are the unlovable?

“The unlovable is us,” Fox answered. “… There’s not a one of us today that wouldn’t fit under the classification of being unlovable in the eyes of God.”

Because God saves those who are “unlovable,” Christians must take the Gospel to those they initially might consider unlovable, Fox said. But while doing so Christians must maintain a nonjudgmental attitude, he said. Christians not involved in perverted lifestyles should not “take credit for it, but rather [should] give God the glory,” Fox said.

“Except for the grace of God it could be any of us today,” he said, referencing the homosexual lifestyle.

Alluding to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 — the “such were some of you” passage — Fox said there were former homosexuals in the New Testament church, much like there are former homosexuals in today’s church. He said there are “godly men and women” who once were “involved in homosexuality” but have been “brought out by the grace of God.”

“You better thank God that a homosexual can be saved…” Fox said. “Thank God today that God didn’t put any parameters in the Word of God about who can be saved.”

Saying there are “many false prophets” in America today, including some on television, Fox said Phelps fits the biblical criteria of a false prophet.

False prophets, Fox said, have “mistaken insights,” meaning that their “predictions never come true.” False prophets also have “misleading interpretations from the Bible,” meaning they “add to or take away from” the Bible, he said.

“When you say that certain people can’t be saved, that puts [you] in that category,” Fox said.

Lastly, false prophets have “misguided information,” meaning they say God has told them to say something when “in reality” He has not done so.

“I’ve been amazed [by] how many false preachers there are and how many churches preach another gospel,” Fox said.

Phelps’ message, he said, does more harm than good.

“The Bible tells us to correct people but to do it with love,” Fox said. “We are to live [like] Jesus in front of a lost world. We are to love them.”
A previous Baptist Press story, “Night & day: the difference between Southern Baptist and Fred Phelps,” contrasted Phelps’ beliefs and those of the SBC.

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  • Michael Foust