Phelps: What I got from that speech, I take it, was a challenge,
and I accept the challenge, and I put it in the form of a question that
will go for all of those dichotomies that you put. Kind of boring, but
I paid attention as much as I could. Read it all, did you?
John Rankin: That way I didn’t go over my time
Fred: Did God — I refer you to Malachi for this question.
Is it my time to put a question to Brother Rankin?
Moderator: Yes. This is your second question, though,
you asked him if he wrote it, first.
Oh, well he goes now?
Moderator: No, I'm just kidding. Go ahead.
Fred: I refer you to Malachi 1, verses one, two, and
three. I’ve got it here for you if you don’t know that by
John: You can go ahead, I know it.
Fred: Do you know it by heart?
John: In terms of I have loved Jacob and I’ve
Fred: Let’s hear it by heart.
John: Oh, I won’t go by that. You can read it
if you want to.
Fred: All right, I’ll tell you, here’s
the question. “The burden of word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved
us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved
Jacob, and I hated Esau . . .” You say that you can’t define
love by hate. And the rest of those dichotomies fit this same pattern,
so I’m putting it to you as a synecdoche, a part put for the whole,
how do you explain Malachi 1, one, two, and three, which specifically
defines love by saying you don’t understand God’s love until
you understand God’s hate? There’s the verses. You don’t
know ‘em by heart.
John: I haven’t memorized it, I know the content,
and you can challenge my content. And so I’ll ask you about the
larger content. Would you agree…?
Fred: You ask me?! I’ve asked you the question.
John: Oh, absolutely. And I’m answering you with
a rhetorical question that will give you my answer.
Fred: You threw it out in a pejorative way that it
was wrong to define love by hate.
John: I agree.
Fred: You did that. I’m suggesting to you that
that’s exactly what God almighty did in Malachi 1, one, two, three.
And I’m submitting to you that God says you cannot understand
love. Your notions of love will be perverted, and as Luther said to
Erasmus, your thoughts of God are too human unless you’re willing
to admit, that in this instance, God says I can’t define love
for you, in response to a direct question by you, without defining it
by hate. You understand how much God loves you when you look at those
souls suffering in hell and he didn’t send you there. That’s
the message of the gospel, and the good news is that God’s not
sending the whole human race to hell. He should do it.
John: Let me try again to answer the question. Jesus
answered many questions with questions, and if you’d listened
carefully, you would have seen I was giving you a rhetorical question
that would give you an answer. I’ll try it again. Would we agree,
and if after my answer you don’t, please let me know, would we
agree that the entire Bible is defined by the doctrines of creation,
sin, and redemption?
Fred: Of course not. What that is, is pure —
nobody in the world knows what you said, what this is, is perverse,
John: You mean sin came before creation?
Fred: Perverse disputings by men of corrupt minds and
destitute of the truth. You’re filibustering. You don’t
answer a simple question. Did not God define love by hate in Malachi
1, one to three? And if he didn’t, expound those verses!
John: Well, I’ll expound them for you once again.
This happens long after the history of sin. And it’s God’s
love that made us in his image that once we’ve sinned, draws us
in redemption. So my question for you is this: Why did he hate Esau?
Because Esau hated God, and despised his blessings. And God said in
Fred: That’s what you say he hated Esau for.
Unfortunately, that’s not what God said he hated Esau for, and
you know that very well. Now you don’t agree with those verses
in Romans 9, the whole chapter, and Romans 11.
John Rankin: Oh, absolutely.
Fred: No, you don’t agree with them, but you
must not mischaracterize them and say that God said that. Brother Rankin
said that, God said the opposite, neither having done good or evil,
both still in their mother’s womb, it is said, Jacob have I loved,
Esau have I hated, that the purpose of God, according to election might
John: Okay, now I’ll try to answer your question
again, simply. And the reason I raised the rhetorical question is because
this is an interpretative question that is consistent. You said you
don’t believe the Bible is defined by creation, sin, and redemption.
Fred: You’re filibustering! This is a simple
John: Just a minute, please, I’m giving you a
simple answer, and it comes from the basis of the Bible.
Fred: Did God define love by hate?
Fred: Did he not say you will never understand my love,
as it is, not some romantic nonsense that you’ve concocted and
written 25 minutes worth of tripe about, but if you would understand
my love as it is, you must understand my hatred as it is.
John: And do you know what you’re saying?
Fred: I’m saying what Malachi’s saying.
John: You’re saying that sin existed before creation.
You see the Bible starts with a good God. Is there any destruction or
evil in God’s nature? Does the Bible start in Malachi or Genesis?
Fred: Did they teach you these debating tricks to avoid
answering a plain question?
John: No, I’m asking an honest question, and
you’re the one who’s shooting from the hip.
Fred: And furthermore, if you claim to have been called
to preach, you jumped right over Isaiah 58:1, cry loud, spare not, lift
up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression
and show the house of Jacob their sin. The word “show” means
get in their faces and make it crystal clear what their miserable, hell-bound
sin is. And then when I do that, you say he’s preaching hate.
John: Wait a minute, just a second. Transgressions,
Isaiah 58, and did transgressions exist before or after God’s
Fred: Wholly irrelevant to the point.
John: No, it shows that you take the Bible in your
image and not in its own image.
Fred: And you said you most certainly did not like
ad hominem tricks in debate. “Ad hominem” means you ignore
the issue and pillory your opponent personally, that’s what you
John: Have I pilloried you personally?
Fred: That’s what you did for 25 minutes, and
you have not come within 150 country miles of addressing the only issue
in front of us: Does God hate homosexuals? You said no, and you never
did expound on that point.
John: Oh, yes, I did. And you know, I didn’t
do it by attacking you with one thing. I only asked questions. All the
questions were open-ended. And see what happens is….
Fred: Do you have a question for me? I’ve given
up, you’re never going to answer mine.
John: Well, I will give you two quick questions.
Fred: Let’s take them one at a time.
John: They’re both so quick. The first observation
is that you’ve confirmed my diagnosis, you start with sin and
Fred: That’s not a question. Ask a question.
John: You quoted before you asked me the question,
so I’ll continue. You started in Romans 1:16, you didn’t
start with the order of creation and God’s goodness in Paul’s
letter to the Romans. And this shows that you start with sin and not
creation. Also, you misquoted….
Fred: Perverse disputings by men of corrupt minds,
destitute of the truth, that very well defines you.
John: Questions are terrorizing to you, my good friend.
In Romans 1:30, you also misquoted the text, you said that the people
were hated of God. The Greek says it was people who hated God.
Fred: And that shows your abysmal ignorance of the
John: That’s not true.
Fred: Take any expositor …
John: I’ve translated it from the Greek.
Fred: … from the days of Augustine to now, and
it is the hated of God in Romans 1:30.
John: It is the God-haters in the Greek. Now here’s
my question for you.
Fred: Then you agree that homosexuals are haters of
John: And many other people, oh, absolutely.
Fred: You agree that homosexuals are haters of God.
John: Not all, but many.
Fred: And you certainly don’t believe that anybody’s
in heaven hating God, do you?
John: I absolutely agree with you on that one.
John: I agree, no one can be in heaven if they hate
Fred: Thank you.
John: And no one can be in heaven….
Fred: But then they’re in hell.
John: They would be in hell.
Fred: Yeah. The haters of God are in hell.
John: And we’ll get to the moral nature of hell,
but I want to ask you a very simple question. I know Luther, I know
Edwards, I’ve read some of their material, here’s my question
Fred: No, you haven’t! You’ve never read
Bondage of the Will, and you told me on the telephone you never
John: Yes, I did, you’ve got a memory lapse.
I read it in college. And I didn’t tell you that. I’ll continue.
Does the Bible define Luther, or does Luther define the Bible?
Fred: What a ridiculous question. I’ll answer
it this way. The Bible defines gospel preachers as those who hew the
axe to the root of the trees and expound the doctrine of depravity,
human depravity, and preach on sin and transgression, and make it sparkle
and shine until the sinner is reduced to penitence.
John: Where did depravity begin?
Fred: You must preach on sin, and the wages of sin,
and the certainty of going to hell and spending eternity there, unless
you repent. Now if you’re not preaching that, you’re not
preaching the gospel.
John: Where did sin begin?
Fred: Awwh, come on.
John: In other words, you don’t want terms to
be defined accurately or biblically?
Fred: You know the verse that applies here? I recommend
that you type it up on a three-by-five card.
John: Every verse comes from Genesis on forward.
Fred: Put it on your mirror so you can read it every
morning, it is Second Timothy 2:23. Foolish and unlearned questions
avoid, knowing that they do but gender strife or wrangling, and the
servant of the Lord must not wrangle; but be gentle. You’ve got
to be gentle if you’re dealing with subjects like this…
John: And you’re gentle? [audience laughter]
Fred: …apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing
those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will grant them repentance
to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves
out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him to do his
will. That verse, that passage defines you, Brother Rankin.
John: Well, okay, let me read a passage, then. You
have pointed out that the Bible says that homosexuality, in Leviticus
18, is an abomination. It says that about a lot of other things as well.
The Hebrew words, shaqatz and toevah mean something
that is detestable. Let me read to you Proverbs 6:16 through 19. You
like the word “hate,” so I will quote one here. “There
are six things that Yahweh hates, seven things that are detestable to
him.” And the scholars will tell you that the seventh thing is
the most important thing being criticized. One, haughty eyes; two, a
lying tongue; three, hands that shed innocent blood; four, a heart that
devises wicked schemes; five, feet that are quick to rush into evil;
six, a false witness who pours out lies; and seven, the most important
one, a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. So you’ve talked
about the abomination of various sins, and the Bible talks about them.
And you, I’ve seen nothing but stir up dissension. I ask you honest
questions about the very Bible you say you trust in.
Fred: You have a question in there somewhere?
John: My question is, are you not stirring up dissension?
Fred: You’ve been talking for three or four minutes
on that one point. What’s the question?
John: Tell me something, are you stirring up dissension?
Fred: Look, I’ll tell you what I’m doing,
I’m glad you asked that, I’ll tell you exactly what I’m
doing. September 8, 1947, when those old Southern Baptist preachers
laid their hands on my head, they delivered what’s called an ordination
charge. And they delivered me that charge out of Isaiah 58:1, Ezekiel
16:2, and Second Timothy 4:1 & 2. I charge thee before God and the
Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing
in his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the
time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their
own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
and having turned away their ears from the truth, they shall be turned
unto fables. Ezekiel 16:2. Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.
Son of man, cause America to know her abominations. Isaiah 58:1. Cry
aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people
their transgression. That means get in their faces and make it crystal
clear what their sin is. Now that’s my job. Now you might not
like that, but that’s my job description, and that’s my
commission from God almighty, and for the last 55 years, from that September
8, 1947, down to this present hour, that’s what I’m doing,
showing my people, the people of America, what the transgression is.
That’s singular there. It means some dominant sin is destroying
the nation. Did you never preach, my friend, on that simple, short little
verse: Remember Lot’s wife? She wasn’t a practicing homosexual,
but she had it in her heart, because that was her hometown, that it
couldn’t really be so bad. That surely God is not destroying every
living thing in this town, my loved ones, my kinfolks, my friends, my
neighbors, she could not help but look back. But that defined her and
that defines this country that has given over the notion that it’s
okay to be gay, that somehow or another it’s all right. That somehow
or another it’s no really big deal, that they’ve accepted
with respect and acceptability, societal respectability. That, in my
opinion, is the transgression of modern America. How do you cause a
nation to know her abominations? Son of man, cause America to know her
abominations. This maudlin kissy-poo stuff that you call the love of
God is nothing but a satanic lie and won’t help anybody do anything.
And I’ll tell you another thing about love, now that you ask me.
Leviticus 18 denounces homosexuality and some other sins, you agree
Fred: Leviticus 20 pronounces a death penalty upon
such. Tucked in between Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 is a verse that
you thought began in the New Testament, where the Lord Jesus says you
shall love thy neighbor as thyself.
I did think that?
Fred: Yes, you thought that.
John: Boy, you are quite omniscient.
Fred: Oh, you thought that, you give it away at every
turn, you think the Old Testament is nothing, blah, blah. I’m
telling you that “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself”
is found at Leviticus 19, verse 18. And it says, the way you love your
neighbor as yourself is to preach to him about his sins and not let
him go on in the notion that he can live this way and go to heaven.
That’s the love of God.
John: And I don’t give the notion, and what I
find funny, you think I say the Old Testament is nothing.
Fred: Yes. You treat it as such.
John: Oh, I treat it as such. So I ask you to go to
back to the beginning of the Old Testament, and you say that’s
a canard of a question. You don’t go back to where the love of
God starts. You start with sin. You don’t start with the order
of creation. Let me ask you another question.
Now wait, isn’t it my time?
Moderator: Yeah, it is his turn.
John: That was a long answer, then.
Fred: I’ve been waiting for this a long time,
Brother Rankin. I’m glad to see you, sir. And you got a hint that
this was coming, so don’t claim surprise or ambush. Does God love
those people in hell now or not?
John: The only way you can answer that….
Fred: I want a yes or no.
John: The answer is he loves everyone, even those who
choose hell, and yes, in hell they are loved. Do you know why?
John: Because of the nature of God’s love that
you haven’t touched yet. What is the nature of God’s love?
He made us in God’s image. And when he made us in God’s
image, he gave us the freedom to accept or reject that love. Now had
he forced us to accept that love, we would not be image-bearers of God.
Fred: Is that a yes?
John: Excuse me, I’m answering now.
Fred: Is that a yes?
John: I answered you. I said yes, and I’m explaining
Fred: Look, do we have to put up with these objections
from the floor about this loudmouth right here?
Moderator: Let the questions flow, as far as I can
see, you answered his question, and then you asked him another question,
which is what is the nature of God’s love, and that’s where
John: Okay, since he doesn’t like questions,
I’ll give him an answer.
Fred: No, you can’t change the rules.
John: I am doing a classic designed rhetorical question.
Paul does it all the time, he asks a question, then he answers it as
a teaching mechanism. If you don’t like me asking a question,
then I will give you answer. You asked me, does God love those who are
in hell. I will say yes, and I will give you the answer why. The reason
Fred: That yes is enough. That yes has given you away
as a number one heretic.
John: Well see, here’s your problem, you will
not listen to the answer.
Fred: And absolutely without any ability to follow
a point to a logical conclusion.
John: You will talk on and on and you won’t let
me — logic, you won’t listen to logic! You start with sin
and not creation.
You tell me that God loves the people he’s punishing in hell for
the last 6,000 years, and I’ll tell you, you don’t know
the meaning of the word logic.
John: Okay, let’s do some logic. I asked you
earlier about the logic, does creation precede sin, and you couldn’t
abide by that logic. Because if sin comes before creation, destruction
comes before creation, and Satan is God. That’s logic, and you
wouldn’t touch it. Now I will tell you the logic of which I’m
referring to. In the order of creation, God makes us male and female.
He gives us the freedom to accept or reject that love, those are the
first words in Genesis 2, in human history. Please don’t interrupt!
Fred: So if you reject the love, then he gives you
John: If you reject the love, he loves you enough to
take that rejection.
Fred: To send you to hell.
Fred: And so is that then hate?
John: Love defines hate, hate doesn’t define
Fred: Is that then hate? He says, if you don’t
accept what I’m offering, I’m going to hate you?
John: The love of God defines all. The Bible says God
is love, therefore anything where he hates wickedness, it’s because
he hates how it destroys his image-bearers of God. Therefore it says
that men love darkness instead of light, John 3:19, Jesus’ words,
because they knew their deeds were evil.
Fred: Where is that?
John: That’s John 3:19. So if you will look all
the way through the Bible you will see the metaphors of hell are self-chosen
destinations. People are happier in stewing in their bitternesses than
in forgiveness of God’s kingdom.
Therefore, to complete answering your question, God loves us enough
to let us choose hell. And since the Bible says that God is love —
let me finish, please, sir!
Fred: So he doesn’t want us to go to heaven?
John: No, he says he desires all men to be saved, First
Timothy 2:4, but he doesn’t force his love on us. Because forced
love is rape. So when you’re out there forcing hate on people,
you are spiritually raping them, you are not showing them the love of
God that he said, "Come unto me."
Fred: So people in hell are experiencing God’s
John: They are experiencing the freedom of the one
whom God gave them to love, to love darkness more than light.
Fred: You believe they’re being tormented with
fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and the presence
of the lamb, do you?
John: I’ll ask you a rhetorical question, and
then I’ll answer you.
Fred: Do you believe that verse?
John: I believe all the verses of the Bible, but I
want to ask you something.
Fred: They’re being tormented with fire and brimstone….
John: Hell, the Bible says, is fire and darkness. How
did that go together…
Fred: No, the Bible says it’s torment with fire
and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels….
John: It also says it’s outer darkness.
Fred: …in the presence of the holy angels and
the presence of the lamb.
John: It also says it’s outer darkness.
Fred: And that the smoke of their torment ascendeth
up forever and ever.
John: You’re right, but it also says it’s
Fred: And that they have no rest, day or night, gnawing
their tongues with pain and blaspheming God.
John: Is it also outer darkness, in Jesus’ words?
Fred: And that too.
John: So how did darkness and fire go together?
Fred: And you say that that is evidence of the love
John: I asked you a question.
Fred: He loves those people?
John: Talk about not answering questions. How does
fire and darkness go together?
Fred: And I’ll tell you the answer to that. It’s
found in Second Thessalonians chapter one, where it is said plainly,
to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be
revealed from heaven in flaming fire, with all his mighty angels, did
you read about that verse?
John: That’s not the fire of hell.
Fred: All his mighty angels, to punish them with everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his
power. That’s the answer to that question.
John: Can fire and darkness exist side by side?
Fred: The Lord Jesus Christ is personally administering
the punishment, in the presence of the holy angels.
John: What you will find, all the way through scripture,
and this is a question of sovereignty. God is sovereign, he loves us
enough to say no. No one is ever judged in the Bible apart from deeds
they chose to do. God takes sovereign accountability for having given
them that freedom to say yes or no to his love, and therefore his love
is operative in letting them choose darkness. So when they’re
in darkness, they would rather be in darkness, in the weeping and gnashing
of teeth, stewing in their self-bitter, vengeful, unforgiving nature,
because they don’t want to trust the goodness of God, and they
would rather love being in hell than love being in heaven.
Fred: And the old preachers called all that mass of
nonsense you just spat out a paralogism. It means an argument that comes...
From the Bible.
...with the falsity in its teeth, the lie in its teeth as it comes,
so that no rational person would believe it.
Moderator: We’ve got two minutes left in this
John: One final, simple question. Fred, what are the
influences in your life that have led you to believe, speak, and act
as you do?
Fred: Are you trying to hurt the feelings of my thirteen
John: I asked you an honest question. You can ask the
same question of me.
Fred: Are you trying to get personal?
John: In an honest way, yes.
Fred: That’s what “ad hominim” means,
but I’m glad to answer it for you. The influences in my life that
have caused me to preach this gospel without any fear of ambiguity and
without any fear of timidity. To cry aloud, and spare not, and lift
up my voice like a trumpet, and show my people, the people of America
living in my generation, their transgression. To get in their face and
make it crystal clear what their sin is, the one that is taking them
to hell? The influence that’s caused me to do that is this blessed
word of God operating in, and by, and through the holy spirit of God.
And I’ve got to say to you, sir, that there are doctrines of devils,
and that there are perverse disputers by men of corrupt minds and destitute
of the truth, who are like Balaam. And I laid that all out for you,
who pervert the word of God out of Jeremiah, who corrupt the word of
God out of Second Corinthians, and who twist or wrest the word of God
to their own destruction, out of Second Peter chapter three. And it
makes me feel deep-down bad for you, but that’s the way you are,
headed for hell, Brother Rankin. Have fun, because you say that means
God loves you.
John: And yet you — well, I won’t rejoin
Fred: You asked the question and I answered it, you
asked what influenced me.
John: But in truth you didn’t answer.
Fred: You asked what influences me to preach and do
as I do, that’s what influences me.
John: You know what I was actually asking?
Fred: And furthermore, that’s the only genuine
love, I told you, Leviticus 19. Read it. Read the Bible once in a while,
I recommend it to you.