For those of you who have taken a distinct disliking to the Wartburg Watch since the advent of the season of “Wade Watch” (thanks to Paul Dohse for yet another excellent play on words; his other great one being “Googleburg Press” LOL). This playful label of Wartburg Watch as “Wade Watch” refers to the fact that for the past year or so Wartburg’s e-church has been represented by Calvinist/Reformation-ist preacher, Wade Burleson. I have below a few of my comments which Dee and Deb have deigned to allow to see the light of day over there (but they still won’t speak to me or respond to my comments…awww, they no likey Argo, he make bloggers mad, he make Calvinist readers saaaad) after the requisite amount of exactly one million hours in the moderation time-out corner wearing the meanie-labeled dunce cap…still. The thread is dealing with Calvinism, related to a couple of Calvin posts, and I think the intention of the posts was to try to convince those who hold Calvinism as THE benchmark of theological “truth” must begin to put love ahead of doctrine.
Okay…you can stop laughing now.
Seriously, you are going to give yourself a heart attack.
Oh…you know what, you’re right.
Yes. You read me right. For all of Dee’s waxing eloquent about her heavy forays and and Ph.D. level self-educational excursions into the annals of the school of Calvinist Death-Worship, Debauchery and Doctrine, she…uh, excuse me, I have to go laugh my ever-loving ASS off here…
Yes, she has the nerve to post an article entitled
Insert ear-ringing forehead slap here.
I mean…honestly, in all Dee’s time in listening to and reading and posting and commenting on the stories of sordid abuse; of railing against the injustice and sick-minds of the SGM leadership in the child sex abuse scandals…after hundreds of posts detailing the ongoing violence perpetrated upon unwitting parishioners and the public in general from Calvinist monolithic monstrosities who pass for the “moral majority”; from declaration after declaration that she has studied and sat under the teaching of Calvinist doctrine…still, it is painfully obvious that no amount of reason, from me, from any other commenter, from herself, from anyone else at all, not even from the abused and tormented, have made a single dent in her understanding of what really is going on in the minds of her Calvinist friends whom she “admires”.
And this is where this blogging thing…which is done at the expense of my own time, my own energy, my own family, and my own pocketbook, with absolutely zero compensation of any sort save for the blessed satisfaction which comes from seeing even just one human being experience the dawn of the morning of TRUTH; and from that truth a resolute determination to declare the rank hypocrisy and base evil of reformation and Calvinist doctrine…yes, this is where it becomes a CHORE. It stops being fun. It stops being anything except a digging of a hole only to see it filled in again by the very people who claim they want to uncover truth. (Actually…no they don’t. They fully concede, it seems, that ultimate truth is a “mystery”…but because it’s God’s mystery, it’s okay.)
I mean, seriously, if you cannot understand by now that love for humanity is completely mutually exclusive to Calvinist theology…well, I mean, what to do? Do we throw up our hands? Is it time? I hope not, but still. To think that Calvinists can categorize “love” and “doctrine” as somehow two ideas which can co-exist in harmony is just plain silly at this point in the discussion.
Human beings are by no means entitled to LOVE! That’s the whole fucking point!!! Haven’t we been listening to at least WADE?!! Human beings are NEVER entitled to demand LOVE…they are never entitled to cry FOUL, or INJUSTICE! For their very existence is WHY they are so horrible. Humanity is to blame for EXISTING. Human existence is EVIL, and what partnership can light have with darkness?! The ONLY love is that which God, without ANY appeal for justice from man, arbitrarily decides to “give” to an “elect” person…and this only in spite of that person, and never because of them.
Really…looking at Dee’s post, I just want to cry now. Their understanding has been exorcised. By Wade? I don’t know. What I do know is that you cannot declare Wade Burleson the spiritual authority and mentor of your blog and your blog’s church and ever truly confront Calvinism for the atrocious evil that it is. Because to do this you must confront and destroy the very root doctrinal assumptions Wade holds. And they cannot do that; they will not do that. For, in their mind, the panacea for all Christian ills is tolerance. And that means that letting Wade, in all his neo-reformed glory and unfettered “authority” as God in the stead, teach his destructive Calvinist ideas is the very pinnacle of GOOD, no matter how many human lives these ideas have wrecked in the past and will wreck in the future and continue to wreck, of which Wartburg Watch is stark evidence. Exhibit A. A once-great site in the throws of utter capitulation to the very ideas it was founded to confront.
So far I have not been able to understand exactly what the attraction is to Wade over there. He is, with the exception of overt fire and brimstone teaching and a threatening jangling of the “keys to the kingdom” in front of the faces of his parishioners like a carrot in front of a tired and dead-eyed horse, every bit as rank a Calvinist in his doctrine and his assumptions about the “authority” of the reformed “orthodoxy” as CJ Mahaney or Al Mohler or John Piper as far as I can tell. And make no mistake, the authority of orthodoxy IS the authority of the PASTOR who teaches that orthodoxy. For orthodoxy is nothing…but he who has been “called” to preach it has been given the authority inherent as the divinely bestowed priest in the stead, because orthodoxy can compel no man. But a human being with the divine mandate of FORCE certainly can, if given enough power. And make no mistake about this either: power is what the neo-Calvinist movement seeks (I am going to do a post on Cal Thomas’s terrifying sermon at Wade’s church last week). A theocracy of their own making, wherein the state is truly merged with “the Christian religion”, making TRUTH not a function of individual human beings or the purview of human contextual REASON, but of the government guillotine.
So, regardless of what Wade says or even believes (because believing one thing about your philosophy and having it actually mean something entirely different is not a farfetched idea, regardless of how commenters like Jeff S over at Wartburg whine that I am “misunderstanding him”…no he is misunderstanding his own presumptions)…so, regardless of what Wade thinks, the very idea that TRUTH is utterly beyond human agency means that the only people who get to have truth are those whom God has somehow, someway, in spite of their own innate evil and blindness in the spirit of total depravity managed to–in utter contradiction of Himself; which implicates God in their hypocrisy–bestowed this utterly mutually exclusive TRUTH.
And so what are they to do with this TRUTH then? For, surely God has given it to them for a purpose, and that purpose–what these pastors in their million-plus dollar churches with their expensive clothes and fine, large houses get PAID for–is to disseminate that TRUTH.
Well, I ask you, how is this possible? By their own doctrinal definition man does not possess the capacity to understand truth, for he is so lost in a sea of his depraved self…for in Calvinism man IS evil, and does not merely DO evil, and so man then is never in a position actually “get it” without some kind of…er, external help.
And what kind of help is that, exactly? Well…there a few ways these pastors, Wade included, disseminate truth as the “specially dispensed” ones, divinely placed in positions of “authority” (FORCE).
….and let’s take a break for a side note: from now on, anytime you read or hear the word “authority”, no matter who from, think VIOLENCE. Think FORCE. For this is the practical meaning of authority. Nothing more. Authority never implies that the recipient of this power gets to decide when to bow to that authority…authority is absolute at the end of the day. Authority breeds violence ultimately. This is sobering. And it helps to think of it this way…for it ceases to allow those who carelessly throw this word around (and even some folks I respect, like Paul Dohse, speak way too much of “biblical authority” for my comfort) to get it past your brain’s “warning/danger” trip circuit. Respecting the pastor’s or the bible’s authority is nothing more than acknowledging that they both have an inherent right to do violence against you–to HURT you–in the event you refuse to concede their perspective; and it NEVER implies that he or it which has authority must convince you of their point of view using a rationale that you can understand and that speaks to your own individual self context.
Oh, sure, by the goodness of their heart, and according to whatever plumb-line of “charity” they have arbitrarily decided to allow themselves (because, of course, as those given authority from God, they get to decide what is “truth” in ALL things, even the limit of their patience with the slobbering barbarians they “teach”), they may not exercise force until their own good pleasure runs out, but understand that they are not obligated to “convince” you of anything. But if needs be, they acknowledge violence as an appropriate tool, and that in their capacity as God’s holy priests, they will be held completely innocent before God, because ultimately it is God’s “truth” that matters, not human lives. And of course the two are indeed, by their own doctrine, mutually exclusive. Human existence is the root of all evil. For without humanity, there would never have been a “fall”. And thus, God’s greatest mistake is in creating you and me, then. So, all of Calvinist thought is wholly devoted to the idea that somehow those standing in the stead must cull the elect from the damned. And, really, they reserve the right to declare who is who…which is another contradiction in terms, for how do they get the “keys to the kingdom” if God has already elected whom he has elected before they even existed?
Enter the single greatest truth in all of reformed theology: the great cosmic SHRUG in the sky.
So, how does Wade or any other neo-Cal pastor get to “teach” this truth? Well…it’s pretty simple. First, those who wholly agree with every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Go….er, Wade (or whoever) are of course among those God has elect–provided they continue in their “agreement” with God’s authority. As such, they need no convincing. For they have abdicated the throne of their own minds (and thus, their property, which is of course of the most practical benefit to “God’s” kingdom…ehem).
Next, to those who disagree. Well…elect? Hmmm. Who can say? For by definition, since election in reformation theology is totally arbitrary (and it must be, for it has nothing to do with man or anything outside God…which means election is based on God’s whim) then these people may be elect. And of course, as this possibility is evident, the hypocritical and logically contradictory assumption is that they will eventually “see the light” and agree with Calvinist orthodoxy and thus the “proof” of their calling will be sure. So, Calvinist pastors aren’t so heavy-handed with the keys right away.
Perhaps they will try to convince them of the “truth”. This certainly is charitable, but seeings as how by their own doctrinal assumptions man is wholly incapable of grasping truth, because he is an evil slob jerk-off at his core, this tactic seems a futile endeavor…which is why Wade frankly states that he is under no obligation to “impress” my readers (by “impress”, I submit he means, “convince”…which makes sense; he cannot convince those God has not given the “grace to perceive”…a grace which I would say that Wade, himself, fully assumes he has been given). But since “teaching” is what they get handsomely paid for (seriously, has “treading out the grain” ever seemed so cushy and so profitable as in the American Reformed church? Ew.) they must at least make an attempt to teach what by definition cannot be learned. And maybe God’s election of this dude or that gal will be revealed this way.
Those who refuse to accept…well, this is where the man-God behind the plexiglass must actually, for the first time in his life, take into account the context of REALITY. He must look and see just what practical and actual power he has in light of the social and civil constructs of his surroundings. That they can do this so well, as is evidenced by all their lawyers (see SGM lawsuit) and their carefully worded “membership-agreements”–or as I like to call them “less impressive and less intellectual versions of the Communist Manifesto”–is proof that they are not insane and thus are completely culpable and at fault for their evil abuse and abusive teaching.
And their level of civil authority will be the yardstick for their abuse. In places where the state is wholly merged with reformation theology, the unsurprising and unrestrained violence perpetrated upon the citizenship is patently seen with all the clarity of a bright spring afternoon. Just take a quick gander at the Wikipedia article on John Calvin, the part where this despot is in Geneva, and…well, here we see the fullness of all of the presumptions of Calvinist pastoral “authority” in the likeness of a serial flasher.
But the lower the level of their civil authority, the more they temper their violence…but not always, as a cursory reading of any one of the discernment blogs, like SGM Survivors or Spiritual Sounding Board, will show (make sure you don’t eat for at least four hours before reading the stories of how “sound doctrine” is applied in many churches…or just stick your finger down your throat in service to medically necessary preemptive vomit). So, they may not be burning you at the stake, but excommunication? Oh sure. Stalking? Following you to your new church with the intention of purposefully maligning your reputation in front of another entire body of believers? Of course. Threatening you with violence? Yeah…they got that. Putting you under “redemptive church discipline”? Oh that you should be so lucky. For that one presumes that you can be “reconciled”, and thus, there may not be any immediate violence done to you…well, at least not outside the church.
Or, there is the Wade way. The “loving” way. They will dismiss you with a wave of their charitable hand. “It may not make sense to you” he says. Which is just another way of saying that they will see your dumb ass in hell. Sorry to be so blunt, but really…what else could that mean?
You are beyond help. You are lost in your ignorance. Shrug…it’s up to God. You ain’t my problem. Wade, I submit, has merely selected the the lazy way of applying “authority”: Shelve it. Your problem, not mine. Go to hell then, and let God deal with you.
(Not that he actually says it or thinks in in such base terms; but the meaning, I submit, is the same.)
Again, the presumption is that they have NOTHING to learn from you, because what they know, they have gotten directly from God. And this is merely a passive aggressive form of authority; merely a non-physical form of violence. But it is a psychological punch in the groin. It is a shrug of which the veiled meaning is that you are not his problem. You are to be handed over to Satan. In Wade’s church, I would be surprised if you are permitted to proclaim oppositional views in his building. You may be tolerated, but I feel like eventually you (as I was at SGM) be “invited” to attend at church you are more comfortable with. Which is fine…I’m a big believer in libertarian capitalism. You want to have a place where only your brand of “truth” is tolerated, that is fine with me. But let’s not mince words. Let’s stop the presumption. Just admit that YOU have truth because God has given it to you, and as such, you don’t have to explain a damn thing to anyone else. They either get it or they don’t. Admit that you will NEVER concede that you could actually be teaching ideas that are false, because since they are GOD’S ideas, and God is merely using you as a vehicle for Himself, you cannot by definition ever be wrong.
Because HE is God’s AUTHORITY. Period. He is the priest who has special knowledge, and you are not. And thus, as I have said before and will say again, proof of TRUTH is nothing more or less than agreeing–not with the Bible; not with God–but with HIM.
So, after all that, here are my comments on Wartburg for your reading pleasure, in case you have either a.) eschewed that site, on account of you witnessing its decline in effectiveness in actually defending the abused or b.) don’t see my comments because they appear seventeen days later and you don’t have enough computer memory and/or time in your schedule to scroll up to find them.
These comments deal with the same old and tired and trotted out defenses for the indefensible doctrines of “total depravity”, and a little bit of Biblical Inerrancy, just so we an rest assure that these “absolutes” are still, in as jaded and rote way as possible, bandied about by stunted thinkers as proof of their divine enlightenment. Enjoy.
You said: “…not the bible says, but “the bible says and this is what it means””.
Wow. Exactly right. For all the claims of biblical inerrancy, we seem to forget, inerrant or not someONE…some HUMAN, has to interpret it. So the question is not “is the bible inerrant?”, but “whose interpretation is inerrant?”.
An this is the problem. If we concede that truth is not ultimately rooted in individual human context based on a moral value of the human SELF as the objective plumb line for truth and love, then we are forced to trust that God has somehow given some person a “divine” insight you can’t have. And this is why so many Calvinists are comfortable with contradictions in their assumptions. The realize that the only proof of truth they have is merely to agree with whomever they have decided speaks “for God”.
I would disagree that anyone on TWW–and I have been reading here a long time–has misrepresented Calvinism. In fact, with respect and not intending to hurt feelings, it is the Calvinists who are misrepresenting their own doctrine by refusing to acknowledge the contradictions (which…they do this by arguing that truth really can’t be known). Many of us come from heavy Calvinist backgrounds, have studied the confessions and the institutes, and can find no basis for a distinction between Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism. For example, the word “total” in Total Depravity is an absolute…there is no such rational idea as “partly total”, which is what some Calvinists want to say when they declare that humans are “not as bad as they could be”…as if this matters in the dualistic Calvinist paradigm: God is Good, and you…are not. This, of course, is totally irrelevant. The ideas of “bad” and “good” are meaningless in Calvinist doctrine. The simple interpretation of total depravity is this: because you are human (totally), you are perpetually and inexorably morally corrupt, and the only way you can understand any truth is if God functionally does it for you via the doctrine of arbitrary “election”. People like RC Sproul understand that he can woo you all day long with heady notions of “secondary causes” because he understands that it will appeal to your false, but emotionally necessary urge for “feeling loved” and your “sense of justice”, without actually conceding his utterly deterministic assumptions. A secondary cause is always subservient to the primary cause, which is God. Hence, your “free will” is categorically subject to God’s absolute control (meaning, God “allowing” is functionally the exact same thing as Him “not allowing”; anything that happens happens as a direct function of his will, either via that positive (allowing) or the negative (not allowing)…in either case, your “free will” is utterly under God’s sovereign control. In light of this, RC understands that “free will” cannot possibly be free, by definition. But RC, as a neo-Cal intellectual, is, I think, trying to avoid what so many Calvinists do with regularity, and have no problem with it: concede that at the root of what they believe are ideas that simply cannot be reconciled.
Some Calvinists who want to make a distinction between “hyper calvinism” and “proper Calvinism” will gravitate to these equivocations in an effort to convince you–and I suspect themselves–that God in their construct is not some despotic puppet master who controls all things including abuse, rape, etc (e.g. by “allowing” them). But those of us who are labeled as “misconstrue-ers” of Calvinism are simply pointing out the logical flaws in their arguments. I am not trying to hurt or be cruel…I am trying to say that ideas must have basis, and one does not get to declare an idea and then refuse to defend it rationally by appealing to humanity’s inherent inability to understand it, and THEN proceed to give examples of why what is a contradiction in the doctrine really isn’t a contradiction.
I would be happy, however, to never use the label “Calvinist” again, out of respect for Jeff and Jeff. I have no problem with that…no one likes to be labeled. I get called an Arminian routinely…LOL, I don’t even know anything about Arminianism. How one can be labeled an Arminian after a decade and a half as an SGM bobblehead is beyond me. But I do…and I understand where Jeff S is coming from here.
Anyway…that’s fine. We can just debate doctrine. Or the ideological roots of abuse.
Buuuuuut the problem with this is that trying to pin a Calvinist down on what doctrines they actually believe is like trying to hold a wriggling cat using hands stuck in oven mitts (not that we’d be putting the cat in the over…gross, and, uh, cruel). Because their first and most precious assumption is that truth is forever beyond any human agency. Thus, just when you think you’ve got them pinned with the logical plumb line, they slip deftly away with a declaration of “no…you don’t understand; I don’t BELIEVE that”. By which they really mean: God hasn’t given you the “grace to perceive”; or, as my mother in law likes to say to end all discussion “I just know that I know that I know”.
This is merely a nice way of saying that God hasn’t enlightened you to the “truth”. You are still lost in your finite mind. And thus, we are left with the only real “proof” that anyone has been given the truth: by agreeing with THEM.
But, no…they will say, you don’t have to agree with me! That’s misrepresenting my heart, Argo! Yet again!
I disagree. They MUST insist you agree with them…it is implied in the very protest to my assertion: You don’t understand me; you can’t understand me; thus, your only response is to AGREE that you could be wrong. In other words, the Calvinists want you to agree that YOU have a FINITE mind and “could be wrong”. Agree that you can’t really know, truth, and as such you can have NO basis for denying their doctrine. After all, you could be wrong.
No. I am not wrong. And I will not say I could be…because many of us understand that once we concede that men and women cannot know truth, then there is only one thing left to decide who gets to wield God’s “authority” on earth, because reason and logically reconcilable ideas have no place in “truth”: violence. He or she who has the bigger gun or knife or bomb–he or she who has the juggernaut of “platform” or Church Leadership “seniority”–is the one who gets to compel others to their point of view. Once we agree that all ideas have the exact same chance of being wrong…we have merely held the door open for ANOTHER, and even more sinister and vicious, arbiter of truth to be released: the power of the “keys”, which is nothing more than the power of DESTRUCTION…and with this, the powers that be continue to be the powers that be. And those of us who see the logical cause and effect of Calvinism-to-abuse are against Calvinism because we don’t WANT the powers that be to be the power any more.