All right. Enough goofing around. Enough fun. This is no laughing matter, really. So it is time to get serious…to flay this frog on our little silver trays of reason and reveal the putrid, formaldehyde-reeking inner guts thereof. This is life or death stuff here…for these are the ideas which water the graveyards of tyranny and violence.
What ideas? Why, this idea, for starters:
“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, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma
I submit that this statement is a revelation…a perfect example of the fullness of Wade’s allegiance to neo-Reformed/neo-Calvinist metaphysical and epistemological definitions and interpretations of not only the Bible, but of reality and existence in general. It is a clear and direct function of his world view; more precisely, how he defines humanity. The direct cause and effect which seeks to inexorably link the innocent victim of abuse to the very cause of his/her suffering in another human being in the interest of affirming the evil and false doctrine of Total Depravity is the full on moral atrocity of Wade’s neo-Calvinism on display in all its splendor. The declared culpability of victims of abuse (the laity in this theoretical example) in the behavior of the abuser (the Pastor in this theoretical example) is, in my opinion, a symptom of a clinically deviant understanding one’s fellow human beings. It is a manifestation of Reformed metaphysics, which is, I submit, at its root, little more than a thin mask of pathological narcissism; and perhaps even sadism and psychopathy. That a man with the task of leading people to the loving and merciful arms of the Great Shepherd should burden the sheep with his own disobedience and odious moral failure–not to mention his utter incompetence and lack of gifting as a elder–is an evil that strains credulity.
Does Wade actually believe all of this in his heart? Shrug. Who knows? Frankly, I don’t care what Wade THINKS he believes. I am merely pointing out what I consider to be the only rational evaluation of his troubling comment. There is no way to equivocate on the clear meaning of the language he chose, typed, and submitted for the world to view. What he thinks he is saying is fine with me, not interested…what I see and what this comment is, is a perfect example of the evil of Calvinism, stripped naked: there are no innocent victims who can rightly hold a grudge. If your pastor is fucking you over, be thankful, because you deserve a lot worse than that. And your total depravity and the inexorability of your sin nature demands that you are at your root, culpable for whatever shit goes down on your head. Therefore, if you are victim of a moral crime (and likely a legal one, too), like Pastoral authoritarianism, well…then look to thine self first, o sinner. And therein you will see the absolute infinity of your spiritual failure and realize you only have yourself to blame. If you had just prayed more, none of this would be happening to you. Translation, if you were just a better person…someone who obeyed God and could curry His favor by your righteousness and thus exist as a being the King could actually tolerate, God would save you from all manner of torment. Translation: obviously, this is impossible for you because you are pervasive in your depravity and at your root a wicked, fallen sinner. So, take your ass-kicking and keep your mouth shut and just maybe, at the Throne of Judgement, you’ll have suffered enough and died enough and hated yourself enough and denied your ability to apprehend anything at all, let alone TRUTH or GOODNESS, for God to suffer you to drag your ass across His heavenly carpet like a dog. Because in Wade’s equation, only your DEATH is the salve for your torment…your existence is what God must hate. And thus, if you aren’t dead then you can never be in a position to complain, regardless of the manner of violence and psychological horror you are forced to suffer against your will. Remember, in Calvinism, the DEATH of the individual is the solution to all the evil of life. The absence of man is how man reconciles himself to God. And this is precisely what Wade’s comment concedes.
Now, is Wade acutely aware of the startling psychological warning signs and red flags that a comment like this sets off and raises in the minds of people who do not operate from an entirely irrational epistemology? Shrug. Again, who knows? He’s a nice enough guy. But “nice” does not magically give words meaning. Wade should know what he said. If he equivocates about that statement it is possible that he just doesn’t get it. And that shouldn’t make us feel any better. This is indicative of a man who doesn’t have the slightest idea of just what in the hell he is teaching people; and doesn’t have the slightest inkling of how dreadfully destructive his ideas are to humanity. The only other option is to declare that Wade is fully aware of it and doesn’t care, and is thus a rank sadist. Given his ostensibly affable personality, I am forced to concede it is likely the former, not the latter. Wade is not a psychopath or an abuser. But his ideas…well, it’s like a three-year old with .38 shooting his Dad because he wants to see the fire come out of the barrel. Is the kid evil? Of course not. Did the kid do, objectively, a very, very, very bad thing? Definitely. And Wade preaching these kinds of ideas is just like that. Just because it is a child who pulls the trigger doesn’t make the bullet wound any more shallow. It still kills. It still maims. And incidentally this is how I view most Pastors in the American church. They are basically like children. They are stuck in the process of tepid, third-rate philosophy, parroting what their daddies told them and reinforced with a switch or a belt. Or, they bring their own utterly Platonic and thus, subjective, assumptions, which are hammered into all of our thinking from the time we are born to where we are now, and just spout out a bunch of poorly vetted and nauseatingly affected opinions and pass them off as divine mandate; as their own “special revelation”. Oh sure, you get your abject tyrant here and there (C.J. Mahaney, exhibit A), but most of them are just regular schmoes with no special wisdom who simply have a platform every Sunday for their opinions. And they are just intelligent enough (or the congregation stupid enough) and/or just spiritual enough for them to pass for a serious intellect. And this is why there is such a push to demand that people begin to accept their sermons as though from God, Himself. I think at some point in their career, most Pastors realize that they really aren’t telling anyone anything they couldn’t just figure out for themselves, or already have, and that they don’t really offer anyone anything particularly interesting or enlightening, so they pull the caste-rank card and get all in your face about their “calling” and their “authority”. Argo to reader: It is uber-likely that they don’t have the former; and it is categorically without a doubt that they don’t have the latter. Keep that in mind.
In Wade’s theology, I submit, the human being is a victim of God’s absolute, sovereign, control. Man’s suffering is a direct result, somehow (this is not actually reconcilable), of God’s determinism and man’s wholly independent and unfettered spiritual debauchery. Man thus must suffer in this life, and even better, those excluded from God’s arbitrary will in “election” get not only to suffer as an anathema to their own existence, body and environment here on earth, but after they die they get to be on fire for eternity, all for not being fortunate enough to win God’s salvation lottery. Well…that and the fact that they are, of course, unrepentant, evil pricks of their own “free will” because they are unable to freely resist their sin nature (figure that one out), and thus deserve every second they spend as cosmic charcoal.
And this is important, for the “depraved sinner/absolutely sovereign God” contradiction which the Calvinist in good standing categorically affirms as “truth” is precisely why Wade said what he said. His comment is an utter affirmation of this impossible idea. YOU are not really YOU…for you are either, or, and both a product of your wholly depraved nature which you cannot resist by an independent and free volition, as well as a product of God’s absolute control over every molecule in the past, present, and future which you cannot resist by an independent and free volition. This makes you absolutely a product of both determining forces which must exist OUTSIDE of you, which means that it is utterly impossible for you to define yourself because, as a product of these all-determining forces, you, yourself are nowhere be found. If all you are and do is already accomplished by the forces which determine you, how is it possible for you to even see to apprehend anything at all? You cannot define yourself, your existence, let alone God, or PASTOR. And this is Wade’s point. For the victim to demand rectitude, a victim needs to exist to identify the offense to his or her person or property. Since by Calvinist definition this is impossible, how in the world can you seriously think that you are every going to be in a position to declare good from evil; truth from falsehood; abuse from blessing? You cannot. And so when Wade thus says “Just pray more”, you have no choice but to concede. And because it is impossible contradiction which defines his entire philosophy, it will be impossible contradiction and epistemological and metaphysical chaos which must provide the solution. In the sense that you can function in any way at all as a “self” you are obliged to obey him. To disagree is to assume that you can rise above either God’s determinism or your total depravity and actually “perceive” TRUTH and thus declare that a sin has been committed. To claim that you can know good from evil. And this is nothing more, in the reformed construct, than a symptom of your evil pride. After all, isn’t that what got man in trouble in the first place, thinking he could be like God? To the Calvinist, thinking you can accuse PASTOR is the exact same sin. The only way to salvation is to deny you exist as a human being, and thus you are “saved” by not knowing anything at all. Not even whether or not you are actually saved.
I tell you, it is just a plum peach of a philosophy.
Stay tuned for part 5