Slip of the Tongue, or Just Slippery?: More hijinks from Pastor Wade Burleson and Wartburg Watch (PART FOUR)

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





10 thoughts on “Slip of the Tongue, or Just Slippery?: More hijinks from Pastor Wade Burleson and Wartburg Watch (PART FOUR)

  1. I guess I’m still struggling to understand how there can be a difference between what Merlin Burleson THINKS he wrote vs what he in fact wrote.

    What then does the think he wrote? How exactly does one equivocate on this metaphysical presumption? Tyranny = a failure of the tyrannized to have an “interest” in asking god to alter the behavior of the tyrant. Which can only mean that tyranny is the fault of the tyrannized.

    How is there a third option? By his own definition he agrees in principle with pastoral authority … he just objects to “excessive” pastoral authority. And the solution to said “excessive pastoral authority” framed in the exhortation is directly tied to a lack of interest in beseeching mystical forces.

    Merlin Burleson is committed to the principle of pastoral authority and says that the force of that outworking is outside of pastoral control. IF he won’t condemn the principle of authority qua authority what other options for culpability are there?

  2. Hi John,
    Throughout the comments thread, after I expressed my dismay at his statement in my own comment, which was immediately and categorically condemned by the righteous Deb, Wade attempted to “clarify” and “explain” what he “really meant”. Honestly, I don’t remember any thing he wrote because I reject it as irrelevant equivocation. The words he used in his original statement were clear enough to me; and yes,should be clear enough to anyone willing to approach the issue absent an agenda.

    The funny thing is that from the article Lydia linked here this morning it seems that Wade sort of doesn’t really believe in “authority”…and from what I have read of him on Wartburg and his blog (briefly, albeit) that honestly doesn’t appear to be his bag. I’m willing to concede that perhaps to him, at least in that example, authority=authoritarianism…he just doesn’t clarify his position in that comment.

    So I struggled to understand just what in the hell he could thus be referring to…that is, if he doesn’t accept pastoral authority, then by what reason can he make such an egregious claim? Because, you’re right, it does seem contradictory on the one hand to deny authority structures and then blame the congregation for those very same authority structures as if they are a de facto aspect of a pastors scope of practice. Meaning, yes, we have pastoral authority implicit in the position, but the reason isn’t the Pastor’s evil or stupidity or psychological sickness, it is the the product of the LAITY’S sin. So the Pastor gets to assume authority, which Wade concedes is “wrong”, but gets a pass on the wrongness because apparently the pastor isn’t really responsible for knowing the difference between right and wrong…and so it isn’t really sin as far as the pastor is concerned, it is merely a reflection of the inexorable and utter depravity of the congregation (and humanity in general). There are tyrants merely because people suck…it isn’t the tyrant’s fault. Human beings are getting what their depravity deserves…and you can’t thus blame the messenger. The messenger being the pastor in this example.

    That’s why this post took such a long time coming. I finally figured out that Wade may not be on the authority bag, but he is utterly devoted to the evil doctrine of Pervasive Depravity. There is no such thing as an innocent victim. Everyone is but a sinner saved by grace. In light of your depravity, you can never be in a position to claim victim status, because you are unable to perceive TRUTH, and thus discern good from evil, and thus truly understand whether you are unjustly suffering or merely suffering because you deserve it. And since your depravity is absolute (and it is, I don’t buy that “you aren’t as evil as you could be” bullshit…total means total; the concept itself is infinite), any suffering is automatically deserved. This is the precise metaphysic which defines most all of Wade’s philosophy. And, to make us shudder even more, this is EXACTLY the defense CJ Mahaney gave when he was paraded naked down the streets of Mystic Hypocrite City on the back of a fucking float. And exactly why any Calvinist who attempts to judge him is a total hypocrite, and twice as bad as CJ himself. At least CJ is consistent in his tyranny.

    And, like I said, at the end of the day, the functional outcome of Wade’s assumptions leads to the exact same conclusion as every other authoritarian Calvinist tyrant: absolute pastoral authority is, in fact, an inherent and natural component of orthodox theology. The Pastor can do anything he damn well pleases. Your only recourse is your death, because that is your “biblical role” as the sheep and not the shepherd.

  3. 1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”
    2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
    3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,
    4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,
    5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
    6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?
    7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
    8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
    9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”
    10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
    11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
    12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
    13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.
    14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
    15 Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
    16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

    Let’s see what’s in this story —

    Does God lay any responsibility on (dead!) Abel when Cain murdered him? (Abel was a sinner too — maybe he didn’t pray for Cain?)

    God warns Cain ahead of time about his jealousy. God even tells Cain that it is up to him (Cain) to do well.

    “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

    But YOU must rule over it — this statement also confirms free will.

    What is amazing about this passage is that God DOESN’T take Cain’s life for murdering his brother. God let’s him live AND even marks him to keep him safe!! — What’s this about?

    Hmmmm . . . wondering where those others (who might kill Cain) came from? Seems there were peeps roaming around out there in the wilderness before Cain took a wife (a mystery woman herself, mind you) and had kiddos.

    Anyway, the point of this passage seems to be about doing well (or you might run into problems) and ruling over yourself. Doesn’t seem like God is claiming any oversight for Cains actions, nor is God saying that Abel should have done something better/different keep from getting killed. (But maybe I just don’t get it?!)

  4. “That’s why this post took such a long time coming. I finally figured out that Wade may not be on the authority bag, but he is utterly devoted to the evil doctrine of Pervasive Depravity. There is no such thing as an innocent victim. Everyone is but a sinner saved by grace. In light of your depravity, you can never be in a position to claim victim status, because you are unable to perceive TRUTH, and thus discern good from evil, and thus truly understand whether you are unjustly suffering or merely suffering because you deserve it. ”

    Total depravity is a big part of it. But I think you are missing something else when trying to figure all this out. Wade wants to be liked. So, when confronted about specific points on his doctrinal stance he taught publicly, he tends to “agree” and then”over explain” making it sounds like he is agreeing with you when he really isn’t. In other words, his explanations sound like agreements but then what he teaches sounds like he does not agree with himself. It is hard to track if you are not paying attention.

    In his determinist god construct everyone is guilty and no one is guilty. Everyone is responsible and no one is responsible. (You can only pick this up by reading him over a period of time in interactions). Many miss it because he is so nice and has been a supporter of gender equality. But some victims of serious heinous crimes picked up on it right away, confronted him, got no where and stopped commenting.

    He is totally antinomian when you peel back the layers. In other words, if I were raped, he would be the last person I would look to for comfort or understanding from a spiritual point of view. He would be comforting my rapist, too, and not understanding why I would have a problem with that.

  5. “But YOU must rule over it — this statement also confirms free will.”


    “What is amazing about this passage is that God DOESN’T take Cain’s life for murdering his brother. God let’s him live AND even marks him to keep him safe!! — What’s this about?”

    The key is in verse 16 where he went away from the presence of the Lord. He would live but apart from God and with the pagans. Not a great life, btw.

  6. Lydia….

    Oh… I get it. Wade is one of those guys that presumes there must be a mediated middle. Or maybe better said: he considers absolutes to be unkind. So this leads him to endlessly parse both sides of the moral coin. That would explain some of his more bizarre doctrinal hedging. And why calling him Merlin Burleson is so very very appropriate.


    I have a friend who is very much like that. His only absolute in life if that there “are no absolutes.” He thinks I’m extreme but it is fun to watch his inner turmoil when point out that I can’t be extreme ALL the time . . . so I must not be extreme. LOLOL

    Well, Argo . . . if Lydia’s assessment is right, this is why you get no traction in your counter arguments. You are calling him on his “inconsistency” and he is merely nods and says “yes, I’m only being broad minded . . . see how nice I am?” So his doctrinal inconsistencies are really a badge of honor.

    And this would also explain his tenacious commitment to soft determinism: God determines everything but sorta not really . . . “see how nice I am.”


    John, Read this post and see if you can pick up on what I am talking about.

    Here is a snippet:

    Kristen: “As an Arminian I believe that God must put the desire to be rescued in the human heart. The difference is that I don’t believe God makes the desire so overwhelmingly strong that humans have no power to refuse.”

    Wade: “I think you are misunderstanding what I believe, Kristen. I have never believed, have never taught, and have never written that any human being does not have the power to refuse.

    I have always believed, taught, and written that God makes His love is so captivating, so alluring, so charming, so dazzling, so enthralling, so mesmerizing, so spellbinding (gospel comes from “good spell”), so magnetizing, so enrapturing, so gripping, so compelling, so hypnotizing, and so absolutely “sweep me off my feet” enamoring that I cannot, will not, and must not refuse, though I have the power to do so.


  8. John, See the problem? He claims humans have the ability to refuse God but at the same time Wade is communicating that God overrides that ability (for some, I suppose) so you cannot, will not and must not refuse Him.

    So which is it? According to Wade It is both!

    Which is impossible but then we know they appeal to mystery when that is pointed out.

  9. Ah yes… I do remember reading this. I think I commented on this specific paragraph over at Wartburg and they promptly shut the thread down. LOL

    It was this paragraph that prompted me to dub him Merlin Burleson.

    This is of course mere soft determinism but now I see the real motive underlying the doctrinal assertion: Wade’s whole effort is to frame determinism in the most “positive” way possible. He is trying to make determinism “nice” so he makes it sound like a box of Lucky Charms.

    Yeah …. Uh… this is an insidious twist on the Calvinist construct. It is kind of like merging Calvinism with John Dewey’s Pragmatism . . . and that is a viscous intellectual stew.

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