Monthly Archives: November 2013

Slip of the Tongue, or Just Slippery? (PART FIVE)

“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

In Wade’s theology, that is, Reformed Theology, the human being is a victim of God’s sovereign, determining and absolute control; and yet those who suffer in this life for a variety of reasons (with those exempt from God’s arbitrary election unto salvation burning forever in the barbeque pit of God’s cosmic ho-down) are somehow, despite God’s absolute control, in which the choice of man cannot possibly exist (as determinism is mutually exclusive to consciousness), wholly culpable for the sin which brings Gods “just” wrath upon his head.

Even in the best case scenario offered by the more sympathetic Calvinists wherein man’s sins are chalked up to his indefatigable and irresistible “sin nature” (defined by an impressive cache of proof-texts interpreted almost categorically through a lens of gnostic philosophical assumptions), man’s personal responsibility for his divine punishment is still impossible.  For in light of God’s raw determinism, in which, according to R.C. Sproul, nary a single molecule escapes His premeditated Will, coupled with the irresistible influence of man’s sin nature, which is the functional arm of his Total Depravity, man’s self-will/volition, which is necessary if we want to declare man acts according to choice–that is, interprets and applies ideas according to a standard of TRUTH which must be the life of the SELF (the conceptualized self plus the physical self), fed to him via his senses and vetted through the conceptualized self…yes, in light of the utter determinism of man’s sin nature and God’s absolute universal control, any notion of man’s “will” cannot possibly exist.

Between God’s sovereignty and the sin nature, man as an agent which can even be defined at all as physically and metaphysically distinct from the forces outside of him which determine him is totally fucked.  There is no room for man…as an individual life-form in the physical sense, nor as a thinking being in a metaphysical/epistemological sense.  And yet somehow, apart from any reasonable, measurable, knowable standard, man is still ultimately culpable for his punishment–which, as we learned from Wade, can occur randomly in the form of pastoral authoritarianism.  It’s all man’s fault.

And this is the argument I believe Wade is making:  any abuse is ultimately, via his inexorable wicked core; his depraved self; his sin nature, man’s perfect fault.  And thus Wade, like many a good Calvinist, is compelled, they think, as those called to preach the “truth” of man’s pervasive depravity, to search the roots of evil in the hearts of ALL human kind.  And this means that, yes, even in the case of the most horrific actions perpetrated upon humanity, Wade will spend just as much time searching out the roots of the abuse within the hearts of the victims as he will spend searching for it within the hearts of the perpetrators.  In Wade’s peculiar and evil philosophy, the victim is just as much a part of the evil as the one who actually employs it.  There is no cause and effect…there is, in light of Wade’s devotion to the utter determinism of God’s sovereignty and man’s inexorable depravity/sin nature, only effect.  And that effect is always YOUR SIN.  Period.  Full stop.  And that is why he has no problem making a statement like the one I posted above, wherein he completely shreds the distinction between good and evil, ushers in antinomianism and moral relativism like the four winds, strips man of his identity and SELF, and makes TRUTH utterly unknowable to anyone, even himself…and as such, rips God Himself away from the people of the earth, creating an impossible chasm between God and His children.  This is Wade’s (and Calvinism’s in general) solution to man’s evil and God’s frustration.  And this is what passes for “sound doctrine”.  Honestly, I do not understand how those who call themselves the emissaries of God can so little fear and understand Him.

Well, the answer is:  they are not.  God’s emissaries, that is.  And they are certainly not “called” to offer the removal of God from his people as the solution to the woes of the universe.  Life, not death, is the Word of God; is the Love of God.  That these pastors teach otherwise is not lost on our Lord…and I can assure you, He is not amused with their inept handling of of his Name.

But I believe Wade sees no conflict within the theology.  According to the doctrine, a fundamental TRUTH is that man is always responsible for the suffering and torture God brings, so why the hell should man be given absolution if the suffering and torture is brought by a fellow human being, like an abusive pastor?  After all, Wade is unable according to his doctrine to make a distinction between the two bringers of torment.  In the name of Sovereignty, ALL that happens, happens at the hands of God’s absolute, determining Will, and thus, a person abusing is functionally the same thing as God, Himself, abusing.  Again, Wade can appeal to no rational distinction…and thus, what this really means is that there can be no such thing as actual abuseFor suffering is always a direct result of man’s total depravity and God’s sovereign control.  The term “abuse” implies moral failure as juxtaposed to moral innocence.  But in light of the doctrine of Total Depravity man can never be in a position of moral innocence…ever.  And further,  God, who controls all cannot commit moral failure, and so he cannot possibly ordain ABUSE, but only “just judgment”. 

In light of God’s absolute perfection, all of man’s moral failure is exactly the same between human beings.  No one is “better” than anyone else. This is the point of Total Depravity…no one is “good enough for God; and as such, no one’s sin is any worse than anyone’s else…for all are totally depraved next to God.  And therefore, if Wade wants to be consistent with his doctrine, it is impossible for him to declare the victim “just” and the perpetrator “evil”.  BOTH are evil…and so he looks to qualify or quantify the same “cause” within both for the effect of abuse,  which is man’s complete depravity.  IF you are abused, you MUST have done something to deserve the suffering, because your total depravity demands that you cannot possibly be innocent in the matter.  Your depravity is TOTAL, and thus, at the root of all suffering, just like everything else, we must find and highlight your SIN.  Wade is obliged to consider this when discussing even the most heinous of crimes against life.  At the root of your abuse is YOUR sin…YOUR failure…YOUR odious SELF.  And so Wade looks around for things that “might be the cause” of abuse within the victim.  In the case of the comment I posted at the top of this article, it is your “lack of interest in prayer”.  In the case of the wife whose husband smacks her face, as I mentioned in my response to Wade, it is her failure to get dinner ready on time.  In the case of people waning and cracking under the weight of an theocratic dictatorship, it might be their false religion (they are Muslims, thus, God is merely punishing them for their wrong beliefs), in the case of Americans suffering under the weight of a Marxist president…well, I have heard people in my church blame the laity (Christians in general) for “not voting”, or “not being vocal enough against gay marriage”, or simply being too lazy to become politically active…and God is punishing our indifference accordingly.  In the case of a three-year-old child who is sexually abused in a neo-Calvinist mega church whilst the leadership bends over backwards to both look the other way and protect the reputation of their Tyrant Pastor, Wade’s theology can always fall back on the pure existence of the child, since a three-year-old is hardly self-aware enough to warrant a more specific charge.  But no matter, existence is quite enough.  Because in light of man’s utter depravity, which must be the root of humanity itself, God MUST hate man, period.  Thus, it is the very BEING of a person which obliges God to torment them and to heap violence upon them.  You see?  It’s always YOU!  The fact that YOU ARE HERE is why you suffer, you filthy worm!

And this is why Wade will never let the victim off the hook…if there is a crime, somehow God is certainly teaching them about their own evil.  Nothing happens in a vacuum of human free will, remember.  The evil abuser could not have acted alone.  God must have been there, determining his actions (though most Calvinists will NEVER have the balls to admit this, but will equivocate like cowards until the sun burns out) in the interest of giving the victim the “grace to perceive” the level of his or her depravity, so that they might change.  And it’s always within this falsely altruistic context:  yes, you were raped seventeen times by a pastor in your church when you were a three-year-old little girl; yes, your father beat you within an inch of your life for nothing more than spilling a glass of milk when you were a little boy; yes, your husband humiliates you in public because you are a little overweight, whilst he sports a triple chin , but it’s only God loving on you.  It’s only God letting you know how much you need Jesus.

Vile teachers.  Their condemnation is deserved.

Part six coming soon.

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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