“It might be the reason there’s a problem with excessive pastoral authority is a lack of interest in praying for one’s pastor. 🙂 Maybe?”
-Wade Burleson, eChurch Pastor, http://www.thewartburgwatch.com, 10/14/2013, 8:26 am
Before reading this third installment of the series–which concerns Wade Burleson’s extremely disturbing quote above, and which went wholly unchallenged by the purveyors of The Wartburg Watch, Dee and Deb, who laud and congratulate commenter, Eagle (former self-avowed atheist) on his upcoming baptism, while at the same time presumably sending the message that, in the interest of Dee’s brand of Christian love and solidarity, he may be forced to suck up some of the culpability for his pastor’s unholy tyranny should the situation arise. And let it be known yet again, that neither Dee nor Deb to my knowledge offered one singe rebuttal to this quote; raised no hand of inquiry, nor even demanded a brief explanation. And I am supposed to congratulate Eagle on his Baptism? What am I to think, though? Of course, that we should all acknowledge Christ and be free…but free from the exact same kind of tyranny which Wade declares in this quote and the exact same kind which Dee and Deb cannot fathom is actually tyrannical at all, for Wade after all is just such a kind fellow. And of course we all know that the plumb line for TRUTH and LOVE, and the single greatest indication that a leader is a good leader is our subjective opinion of how pleasant his demeanor is, and how many times he pats you on the shoulder and calls you “friend”.
Congratulations, Eagle. Really. I mean it. Now, stop listening to Dee and Deb (and most definitely Wade) and continue on your journey to think for yourself. Don’t let all the Wartburg love-bombing cloud your senses…because this is just what happens. You feel all warm and fuzzy…and then WHAM! the next minute your spiritual “authority” is demanding that you stop forcing him to hurt you by disobeying his “divine calling” according to your pervasively depraved nature; and your blog queen friends are right next to him nodding with sympathetic looks and and murmuring, “He’s right, you know.”
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…before your read this third installment, be sure you’ve read the previous two.
I have mentioned before what I think Wade’s intention was in submitting this quote for all the world to see and wonder just how in the hell anyone who actually likes people could believe such a peculiar thing, but it bears repeating again. What I submit Wade is doing here is attempting to draw a direct connection between the laity’s interest in prayer (by which he really means: you’re not praying!) for their pastor and his level of authoritarianism. This notion he presents, with his patronizing smiley face and the snarky “Maybe?”, as theoretical. This is because even Wade knows, I hope, that there is no actual, empirical, objective, or even reasonable way to measure such a correlation: prayer as it inversely relates to a given pastor’s degree of psychopathic narcissism or sadism.
Nevertheless, let’s take a gander at how it might develop should we buck the odds and attempt to make such a correlation, in accordance with accepted university-level research standards. I have a doctorate, so I am familiar with such things to some extent. Hmm…let’s see what I can recall off the top of my head.
First, of course, you would need to outline the experiment in a formal proposal for the purposes of securing funds, which…good luck on getting that grant money. You may want to hit up Liberty University or the SBC for this one, because a secular college (that’s code for a college that actually has empirical standards for the execution of studies and demands valid statistical data in the analysis) will do little more than call security on you depending on how hard it is for you to take “no” for an answer. But let’s assume you find some complicit institution which is sympathetic to your totally irrational epistemology.
Then you need a control group. You’d need to get a pastor willing to fake authoritarianism, and a congregation willing to fake prayers. So you’d actually need two control groups, then. And in both cases, considering this is church we are talking about, one could make the argument that the control groups are organized around wholly unethical behavior which will likely lead to the affliction of emotional/psychological abuse on the part of certain test subjects. Which I’m pretty sure disqualifies the study right out of the gate if my memory of Internal Review Board codes of ethics serves; not to mention you’d really be making more work for yourself because now you’d need to do two more studies–because the suspense would kill you–on the degree of abuse perpetrated on church members by pastors who fake leadership in the church (i.e. preach a bunch of shit they don’t really believe) or members who fake prayer or an interest in prayer for their pastors (i.e. say they’ll pray for him while crossing their fingers behind their back) just so they can make a few bucks participating in a study on the psychology of and social relationships within a hyper-authoritarian Christian cult…a study which is, itself, abusive.
See how Wade’s innocent little remark only very lightly masks a vast, vast ocean of metaphysical and epistemological chaos? I submit that there is no way a man who would make such a suggestion can be operating from a rational world-view. That there are people out there who really believe such things acting as God’s proxy for real, life human beings should scare people.
Next, you’d need to identify the Pastor’s (the one in question) natural disposition according to accepted professional clinical standards and definitions/labels, and which has been vetted and reviewed by psychiatric experts. That is, you would need a reference personality by which you could gauge this Pastor’s standard deviation from this reference to the degree the laity withdraws their “interest” in praying–and you’d need to, if you wanted to precisely measure Wades’ glittering jewel of philosophical insanity, make some kind of quantifiable distinction between an “interest” in prayer and actual prayer. And so the study’s sample size would need to be limited to those pastors who have been professionally and clinically deemed to posses such a natural disposition…for there wouldn’t be much of a deviation to record if the natural disposition of the pastor was already that of a psychopathic narcissist. And given the rise in popularity of neo-Reformation teaching and preaching, and the ubiquity of neo-Calvinist despots literally and figuratively littering the landscape of the modern American church, good luck in finding some genuinely compassionate elders. Before you rounded up enough test subjects to make the study statistically valid, you’d run out of land. You’d have to sample from other countries and that’s a whole new set of criteria you’d have to meet, as there isn’t necessarily reciprocity between domestic and foreign Review Boards, I’m afraid. But you might get lucky.
So, as I was saying, you’d have to exclude your psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines, sadists, dependents, depressives, PTSDs, anxiety cases, schizoids, molesters, violent porn addicts, drunks, pharmaceutical dependents, and your general, run-of-the-mill assholes…all of which of course would require an extensive amount of professional vetting. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the kinds of specialists you’d need wrangle into your corner in order to accomplish such a thing, but as Rodney Dangerfield once said, “I assure you, it’s not the Boy Scouts”. And these psychiatric egg-heads don’t come cheap; get ready to grease a few palms and fork it over for expensive steak dinners and a more than a few hundred-dollar bottles of wine. If you are an attractive female, you may need to consider, er, other ideas in order to curry favor with expert adjuncts should you find yourself running short of grant money.
(That was a joke, okay. Just a joke.)
Then you’d need to both qualify and quantify “excessive pastoral abuse”, and also “prayer”…yes, yes I’m afraid you will. You must understand that for the kind of exacting study Wades impressive divine musings demand you cannot leave anything up to the notion that certain ideas are just perfunctorily understood. And so, yes, an equation for prayer will need to be produced by you and your fine research mentors for the purposes of generating the charts and graphs to fill your impressive end notes, first and foremost to cause an impressed murmuring among our esteemed reviewers, and second so we may understand just what we mean by “prayer” with respect to the study. Which is important, believe me. Will the monosyllabic prayer of our little three-year-old Cheerios munchers fit the bill, or do we require the solemn chanting of our more seasoned citizens? Will the prayers of women be permitted for inclusion, or are we assuming that there will be far too little time a woman can give to the kind of prayer a mighty man of God requires, given the weight of his stature and unsearchable wisdom; and after all shouldn’t she be spending a little more time minding her biblical role and a little less time worrying about what a man with supreme God-like authority over her AND her husband (because, see, it’s in the bible) is doing to “abuse” her. Scoff! As if she could be in a position to know! For if God doesn’t give PASTOR the grace to perceive his sins at times, how much less does the Almighty heed the insufficient sniveling of the weaker sex?
Next…what do you consider the direct influence of prayer upon the pastor to be, exactly? What is the direct influence of a lack of prayer? How do we define/quantify the direct influence of a lack of interest in prayer? And then in light of this, how do you define and then how do you statistically subtract other factors which might affect the pastor’s disposition from the influence of prayer…such as stress, fatigue, marital strife, work load, personal health, medication, diet, doctrinal assumptions (e.g. maybe excessive abuse is not actually excessive nor abusive at all according to another pastor…maybe what Wade would define as pastoral authoritarianism is just biblical as far as they are concerned), interpretive assumptions, vagaries concerning the definition of “authoritarian”, and, if your Mark Driscoll, sexual frustration and the influence of your extra sensory perception (ESP).
Supposing you were able to do all of that, and rule all of that out to an acceptable degree according to the standards of empirical research, you would still have the very, very formidable…nay, impossible task of proving beyond a statistically reasonable and and logical doubt that the prayer–since its direct causal influence is almost certainly unobservable (hence the needing faith part of Christianity)–was the single greatest factor acting upon the disposition of the pastor in question. It is impossible to qualify as empiric that which is a function of an extra-sensory Being (God) unless He happens to show up in a flash of smoke and lightning at just the right time and on cue during the dissertation defense and and declare “Ta da! That prayer did that thing!”. Which, I suppose He could do, but…unless the Ph.D. committee actually had faith enough in God in the first place, they likely wouldn’t believe Him anyway.
So what are we left with? We are left with this:
“It might be the reason there’s a problem with excessive pastoral authority is a lack of interest in praying for one’s pastor. 🙂 Maybe?”
A statement which has absolutely no rational defense, no plausible means of validation by any empirical or reasonable standard, and should be rejected as nothing more than a churlish playing at Christianity. The point of my facetious exercise in this post is simply to point out that this egregious statement of Wade’s should not in any way be given serious consideration as a legitimate perspective worthy of any sane person’s time. He should categorically retract it and apologize for its utter offensiveness to anyone who has ever been abused at the hands of a self-absorbed, unbalanced despot, be it a parent, a spouse, a governmental leader, or a pastor.
But he won’t because God likes him better than he likes you. It’s really just that easy once you get away from all the high-brow platitudes and the appeals to “right biblical exegesis” and “sound doctrine”. It’s nothing more than a Christian caste system where PASTOR declares TRUTH for all of us…and we agree, or suffer a divine “fuck off” which shall surely run the gamut of physical and psychological horrors.
Still…I’m not done with this little Calvinist peach of a statement. Stay tuned for part four.
James Jordan said:
“And I certainly would not be destroyed by an educated atheist or any type of atheist, and certainly not by you. But a Christian has to answer for the 3 most idiotic doctrines ever conceived by any religion:
1. Original Sin.
2. The Trinity.
3. The necessity of a human sacrifice for anyone to make it to heaven.
The Christian has destroyed themselves before the atheist even gets started. “Everyone is born damned and in need of salvation because a man thousands of years ago ate an apple when he was told not to, and now nobody can go to heaven without a human sacrifice that is required by a god who is three people at once.””
You have already lost the debate to me…you just won’t concede it. You are as stubborn as any advocate of a Primacy of Consciousness in that you will never explain how man can be reconciled to an absolute truth which exists outside of his physical person. By any rational observation or standard, the only means man has of apprehending any sort of truth, moral or otherwise, are his senses and his brain. The only way man has of physically organizing his environment vis a vis his cognitive conceptualization of it is with his legs and opposable thumbs. Thus, all reality and all truth starts and ends with man, even God. If God does not exist to ultimately affirm the only thing man can know as absolute truth, himself (his life/existence), then God cannot be trusted. Further, your premise assumes that there is an inexorable and perpetual chasm between you as a human being and your epistemology and metaphysics. This means that by your own definition you cannot actually know anything.
Anyone affirming that there is a standard of truth which exists outside of man’s person (be it a physicist proclaiming the Laws of Physics, or Plato with his Forms or Marx with his Utopia or Lenin with his Collective or the Calvinists with their “body of believers” or Kant with his Categorical Imperatives or Ayn Rand with her “happiness”) will lose the argument because when all the bullshit they use to try to qualify what cannot be qualified or reconcile what cannot be reconciled is done away with it always comes down to the fact that unless YOU are YOU and YOU as a person–not what you do or think or how lovable you are or what “values” you offer to another person or what property you own or money you have…and yes, I am a capitalist–are the standard of all that is GOOD and thus all that is TRUE, you cannot claim to know one single damn thing at all. And so it is the height of arrogance and self-contradiction to continue to argue for a truth which by your own rationale cannot ever be obtained. It is more than arrogant…it is insane. It is a sign of a mind that is not in touch, literally, with reality. And how these men/women like Kant and Marx and Plato and Augustine and Calvin and even Rand are not called out as shills of the Impossibly Insane Epistemology but instead lauded and thrown money at and propped upon pedestal’s to be worshiped as givers of life and lesson is beyond me except to say that at any one time in my life, I was given to accept their conclusions like every other third rate thinker walking the streets.
No more. I demand you and them…no! I defy you to answer the basic question of how a man can be a function of a truth which cannot include himself as a physical being (actual, observable, quantifiable, visceral, relatable, an objective of the senses) in its infinite absoluteness…and further, how that truth can demand anything from man and by man except man’s utter destruction.
And since you cannot answer the basic question: how can the Law both be satisfied as an absolute truth and yet still affirm MAN as the root of all GOOD (which MUST mean all truth), you have lost the debate before I need to utter a single word in rebuttal. You kill yourself in order to be “right” (metaphorically speaking; but those like-minded to you in civil power will kill to be right literally, as history has shown). We call that kind of argument insanity in the rational world.
As to your accusations of Christian assumptions, I have addressed them many times on this blog. Actually reading my posts would, I believe, satisfy your interrogations. You may not agree, but at least you’d have your answers.
I deny Original Sin as a false and evil lie. Original Sin contradicts even basic Old Testament standards of the right of the individual to stand or fall on his own moral actions before God; he or she is not a product of anyone’s offense but their own. It is their life, they own it, their name is on it, they have categorical free will, and thus when they are judged they are judged by what THEY do, not what Adam and Eve did. Adam and Eve subverted the human being as the source of all moral good and sold themselves and by default all of humanity to the notion of the Primacy of Consciousness. It is up to individuals to reject that premise and put themselves at the center of all morality and truth…which is the way it was before the “fall”. At the root of humanity is moral GOOD; man IS good, as the Lord declares in the very first chapter of Genesis, and never recants in any other chapter in any other book in the Bible. If man is not fundamentally good by his mere physical existence, only rendered “evil” when they deny the human self as the singular moral truth which must be affirmed, then man cannot be saved period. Not by the Law, and not by Jesus Christ, and not by any Consciousness Prime. Man can no more be totally depraved and yet “saved” and “declared righteous” than the color black can be declared white or the grasshopper declared an automobile. Aristotle’s Law of Identity must stand in this case. Original sin is a logical fallacy.
I deny the Trinity as impossible logic. A God which is infinite cannot be declared a number (by obvious definition), because numbers are purely an abstraction used by man’s conceptualizing mind in order to cognitively organize his own environment for his own physical survival. Time and numbers and space are not actual…they are concepts man invents and uses to affirm and propagate his own survival. They are not the source of man, they are a product of his mind. Hence, a concept is only logically useful when it practically and observably adds to “truth” in such a way that it results in an efficacious elevation of the standards of life or understanding (incidentally, this is also the definition of “truth”). The “Trinity” does no such thing. The Trinity detracts from man’s proper understanding of God’s metaphysical truth by attempting to make what is most useful to man’s understanding and thus his survival–God as infinite–and declare Him to be a function of MAN’S own devised and purely abstract concept: number. This is ludicrous. In this case, the idea of infinity is utterly incongruent with a limitation of that which is infinite via numerically conceptualizing it. Literally speaking, that which IS, IS (God is I AM), and so regardless of how God reveals Himself to man, man has no right to remove God’s infinite identity and replace it with an utterly useless and improper label, as boring as it is stupid: Three. It is arrogant, stubborn, and nonsensical for a person to both declare God infinite and NOT infinite at the same time. Such is the state of the Christian mind. NOT thinking is as ontologically inevitable to the Christian it seems as his utter worthlessness as a human being in the universe. And this is why Christians are pariahs to the rational world when they should, in fact, be the bastion of it.
As to the “human sacrifice”. Christ’s sacrifice is an extension, and necessarily so and inevitably so, to the demand by Old Testament Law for sacrificial atonement. The “human sacrifice” rose from the dead, so the death of Christ as a sacrifice does not qualify as “human sacrifice” in the common understanding of the notion. To rank Christians as practicing and affirming the customs of those worshiping Molech is ad hominem at best. And an evil lie at worst. (Closer to the latter.) The point of Christ’s death was to satisfy the only and inevitable conclusion of the Law so as not to invalidate the Law as a lie and a contradiction of itself; and His resurrection was proof that the human Self, the human LIFE, being the real source of all moral good, was not ultimately subject to the Law, but quite the opposite. All truth is subject to man’s life…this is why Paul declares no condemnation for those in Christ. Literally, THEY are the source of their own moral perfection. Christ’s death was God’s way of satisfying the Primacy of Consciousness which man demanded when Adam and Eve conceded Satan’s Platonist lie without actually destroying man altogether, which is what the Law inevitable leads to without Christ. God, in order to save humanity from a truth outside itself–the very thing the Law cannot do–sent Christ to both reveal man’s root existential purity as defeating the Law of Truth outside himself, and yet not contradicting His (that is, God’s) own need, after the Fall, to explain to humans that there are ACTIONS and ways of THINKING (as embodied in the Law) which affirm the Truth of human life as the source of all morality and knowledge…which affirm man, not despise him. And that if you don’t think these ways, or run around with people who develop whole cultures (look at Islam today; look at Communist Cuba and China) around the idea that man’s denial of himself is the key to absolute truth, you will suffer the fate you demand: destruction. Only more viscerally so as God had chosen Israel to reveal his right to instruct TRUTH to man by his ever-present and in-your-face power.
Finally. James, I have no problem debating ideas that really have little or nothing to do with the original post to which the comment thread belongs. However, I do have a problem debating ideas which I have already explained in previous posts (some very, very recently so) and which your questions reveal you have never bothered to read.
From this moment on, I will no longer engage you because I don’t believe you actually read anything I write, either in post form or as a response to you in the comment thread. This makes communication and the exchange of ideas impossible, you see, and I do not appreciate spending my time engaged in activities which are, by definition, a waste of that very time.
You, not because of your ideas or your disagreement, but your laziness in actually reading anything I write, have become an albatross to me. You see the world as a mirror, and so you can hear nothing. You can learn nothing. You may continue to post, but I will delete any comment of yours which indicates that you have not read a post or comment…by me or any other person here. And I will delete any comment which resorts to insults or other sundry evidences of childish thinking and ranting rather than rational debate.
I would hope that you would have granted me the ostracism you so vehemently declared we–that is, those who disagree with you–sorely need.
By the way. I like gay people a lot and have absolutely no problem with them, their behavior or existence. I declare them to have every inherent right under the sun as any other human being and that Christians cannot and should not pass judgment on them or anyone else for behavior that is mutually agreed upon between two self-aware and law-abiding American citizens who are hurting no one and nothing by engaging their right to own their own lives. I do not concede that homosexuality is a sin in and of itself. Like anything, truth and morality is established by the context of the individual human being in specific circumstances. And truth in general, that is axioms and maxims, are only true insofar as they affirm the right of human individuals to pursue their own survival and happiness and comfort because and for no other reason than they are human individuals. Anything which is effective to that end is truth. Anything not effective to that end–the end of the human individual him/herself–is a lie.
Does that help?
Perhaps a “Get behind me Satan!”?