The Unknowable Gospel According to Wade Burleson: Why Reformed theologians cannot confront evil, and give succor to abuse

In his usual Calvinist form:

“When the act of confronting evil is borne out of a desire for personal gain (healing), then the confrontation itself is in danger of becoming actively evil by seeking to take from or harm another human being for one’s personal profit and pleasure.”

Wade Burleson, E-Pastor, www.wartburgwatch.com

And this is an astute comment by David, from the previous post’s thread:

“Besides that, aren’t the Calvinists forgetting their own supposed doctrines of justification by faith alone and once saved always saved? If you have faith in Jesus and you happen to engage in the “sin” (falsely-so-called) of rejoicing when the Calvinist enemies of God get squashed, what’s God going to do to you? Damn you? My oh my! They’ve forgotten their own theology.”

My response:

David…of course you are completely right about this. Like Lydia said before, it is mystifying the level of cognitive dissonance that passes for “truth”.

But I submit they haven’t forgotten their theology; on the contrary, they are quite conscious of its inherent rational flaws.  They are aware, and simply do not care.  Rational flaws, you see, get punted into the cosmic abyss of God’s mystery (thanks to John Immel for his most excellent phraseology) So, its not a memory problem, it is a philosophical one.  They fully concede that “mystery”–what I refer to as rank contradictions in assumptions; because there can be NO mystery inherent in any legitimate epistemology–is at the root of their belief system.  They have no problem surrendering their reason to a theology that ultimately declares them completely inadequate vessels for knowledge.  The reason Wade pushes for being “nice” and “graceful” to rank evil actions is precisely because he is FULLY AWARE that his doctrine demands immoral equivalency (the hardworking, church going old man is as morally corrupt as the 18 year old SGM child rapist).  So, it is always best to fall back on “but for the grace of God go I”, lest you be “evil” in confronting “evil”.

Now, let’s look at this “evil in confronting evil” Burleson-ism again, because it speaks volumes as to how dangerous these Reformed pastors are; and how inadequate they are as teachers of…well, anything, but particularly God’s moral standards.  This idea of “being evil, or having evil motives in confronting evil” is a wholly impossible scenario.  Because if there is evil in your assumptions for confronting evil, then your problem is that you don’t have a real definition of evil, and thus, cannot be in a position to confront it, because you don’t really know what it is.  Your assumptions drive your actions, you see, and if your assumptions are wrong then so is the definition of what you think you are confronting.

That might be a little confusing.  Let me see if I can break it down.

What I mean is that if you are a hypocrite, you cannot really confront evil.  It takes a proper understanding of evil to confront evil…and if you had a proper understanding then your motive for confronting evil would be naturally good.  By Wade’s statement above it is clear that his assumptions cannot ever place him in a position to truly confront evil because he concedes, I submit, that he cannot really define evil; and that is reason enough to scare people off of Reformed theology .  Again, if you truly think that evil assumptions can drive behavior which confronts evil, then it is obvious that your very definition of evil is flawed.

That is why this doctrine is so vile…it destroys all moral definitions and creates a cult of moral relativism.  You MUST surrender all your judgements to the mystics who are, somehow, the ONLY ones in a position to have true revelations; to be in a position to possess real, efficacious “truth”.  And these men will stand at the podium and teach people that it is not really possible for you to confront evil in your lives; and to teach you that “healing” is somehow selfish gain.  It is a dreadfully un-Christian and unbiblical theology.  They completely distort the notions of mercy and “turning the other cheek” and “not rejoicing over ones enemies”.  The real reason Christians are to act in mercy and grace is not because all people are morally bankrupt and worthless and therefore cannot possess knowledge of anything with any certainty, but because they HAVE fundamental worth,and are thus fully capable of making rational and epistemologically sound moral distinctions…because they understand that all TRUTH starts with the human life, which is their singular, inexorable, perpetual frame of reference.  We respect the fundamental goodness of the humanity of all people as God’s creation, which is why we are not to take pleasure in the fact that there are some people who choose to deny their own selves, and God in the process, by engaging in wickedness.  Like David said, we are to ultimately rejoice in the destruction of evil (not people) because it represents the triumph of God and man’s existence; and we are to reject belief systems which demand man’s death in service to some subjective standard outside himself.

You see, Calvinist theology rejoices in the death of MAN, while true Christian theology rejoices in the death of EVIL.  And this is really the crux of the difference between God’s truth and the World’s truth.  The world loves external, subjective standards.  They smirk and smile when they think of “god” (whatever primary consciousness happens to be in question at the moment…political party, culture, race, tribe, science, philosophy, nation, “bible”, leader, cult, CJ Mahaney etc., etc.) bringing destruction to cities full of people.  But godly philosophy laments the destruction of humanity…it cries like the prophets at the thought of God’s creation being consumed in His wrath.  It pleads and begs with humanity, like God does so often, to turn from its wicked ways; its denial of human self and human life and God’s truth.  It does not take pleasure and get giddy about the destruction of human beings.

But Reformed theology does.  Because goodness only comes in spite of man, never because of man.  To them, God hates you with a hate that has no end.  If there is any love towards you it is only because, somehow God has possessed you, in spite of you.  He loves Himself, and that’s all.

But back to my other point:  it is not that they have horrible memories when it comes to their theology, it is that they totally concede that God’s “mystery” is the backbone of all physical and metaphysical and epistemological reality.

But the problem is that anything which is truly an “unknowable” mystery cannot possibly be relevant to man’s life.  If it is outside of man’s capacity to integrate into how he organizes his environment, then it is pointless.  Mystery cannot ever be rationally grafted into any serious philosophy.  “Allowing for mystery” is one thing, but it is unreasonable to actually ACT on what is NOT known, which is precisely Wades’ point:  all your behavior is in service to that which you don’t know…which is, according to his doctrine of Total Depravity, everything.  You and life your life exist as a purely function of God’s mystery.  Which means that there cannot ever be a YOU in there because YOU can’t even really know YOU…you are a vessel with a hole in the bottom.  Whatever truth you think you have is fleeting, nebulous…never still and always just out of reach.

They think:  well, we’ll understand in heaven. But the problem with this idea is that if whatever you don’t know isn’t actually relevant NOW, then there is no reason to think it will be relevant THEN.  If it isn’t going to help you to get to heaven, because you can’t know it, then it is meaningless. And if it is only relevant in heaven then why bother even bringing it up now?  Concentrate on what you KNOW, not what you don’t.  And if the sole end and beginning of its relevance is “trust God’s mystery”, then…well, where is the reason behind that statement?  It goes right back to the fundamentals of Reformed epistemology:  there is no way you can ever really know anything, because your mind is ultimately corrupt.  You are to trust that God is doing things in your life that you don’t understand, and so you just let go and let all manner of life happen.  Because confronting evil? Isn’t possible for you, really.  So turning the other cheek to a slap in the face becomes turning the other cheek to a serial rapist in your church.  And the fact that Reformed epistemology is utterly rooted in “God is doing things you can’t understand” means your understanding is irrelevant to life and living; both now and in heaven.  Assuming that people who engage in a wholesale rejection of humanity actually get there.

You are not really you.  That is the beginning and end of Reformed theology.  And that is why discernment blogs which do not confront the doctrine will never curb abuse. Because, as I said before, to them–exhibit A being, I submit, the Wartburg Watch–evil is a disposition, not a philosophy.  As long as you are nice, you must be good.  And they never realize that by conceding the doctrine they have conceded that they cannot possibly qualify “nice” in the first place.  They have no definition of good or evil, and so they cannot have a definition of anything else.

Remember, any philosophy which does not require man’s life to be true will require man’s death to the same objective.

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17 thoughts on “The Unknowable Gospel According to Wade Burleson: Why Reformed theologians cannot confront evil, and give succor to abuse

  1. But I submit they haven’t forgotten their theology; on the contrary, they are quite conscious of its inherent rational flaws. They are aware, and simply do not care. Rational flaws, you see, get punted into the cosmic abyss of God’s mystery (thanks to John Immel for his most excellent phraseology) So, its not a memory problem, it is a philosophical one. They fully concede that “mystery”–what I refer to as rank contradictions in assumptions; because there can be NO mystery inherent in any legitimate epistemology–is at the root of their belief system. They have no problem surrendering their reason to a theology that ultimately declares them completely inadequate vessels for knowledge. The reason Wade pushes for being “nice” and “graceful” to rank evil actions is precisely because he is FULLY AWARE that his doctrine demands immoral equivalency (the hardworking, church going old man is as morally corrupt as the 18 year old SGM child rapist). So, it is always best to fall back on “but for the grace of God go I”, lest you be “evil” in confronting “evil”.””

    I don’t know. I have a different view. I think they formed their views very young and guys like Wade have been “teaching” them so they are constantly reinforced. Those who follow this teaching stay within their ghetto constantly reinforcing the ST.

    But now with the internet, the practical application of what they believe becomes a problem. So they appeal to mystery. But when they seriously engage those who point out the logical errors and lack of practical application of their doctrine, they have no where to go but mystery. I have seen it over and over with those who will engage. They always resort to ad hominem or use some other tactic to be superior in understanding. You hear all the time, you did not understand what he was teaching, you misheard him, yada, yada. Most appeal to history or some dead guy for truth. And read back into scritpure what the dead guy taught. They have no real ability to think for themselves in practicalities of living as a believer. It is all indoctrination.

    Once the mere followers get out of the ghetto and start seriously engaging they have no where to go with practical application because it is easy to “catch them out”. By that I mean they start talking in “choice” or volition language without even realizing it. I have seen it over and over. I mean why are they engaging those outside their doctrine at all if God is the one who is controlling it all? Why not let it go since God is controllling it all?

    They totally out themselves over time. How can they hold a person accountable for their belief system if God is controlling it all? How can they expect a person to change their mind? So if they really believe in the determinist god paradigm, they rarely act like it. Just as Wade telling TWW to beware of sinning by confronting evil he totally negates his own doctrinal beliefs. Obviously TWW is being controlled.

    The only way they can override that God is controlling everything is if they believe God set up special people (philosopher king) to teach others what is correct. God overrides it for the philosopher king? Therefore those who are really of God agree with them. It is a great gig. All bases are covered.

    I would say getting out of their ghetto is the best thing for them. However, pride of ST has usually taken root. It is hard to admit you believed horrible evil things about God for many years.

    So, do they know? I don’t think so. Not sure they are capable as it is indoctrination.

  2. I agree with you that it is indoctrination. But I think that part of the reason they like to stay within the comfort of their cliques is because they understand that they will get creamed in any debate with someone who points out the kinds of contradiction that you and David are highlighting. THEY have to define the terms of the interaction because the moment someone refuses to concede mystery, their argument has no where to go. So, yes…you are right, they live in a protective bubble of sorts, feeding them the same old gnosticism, believing that somehow the way to salvation is to deny the relevancy of one’s entire existence, and they shake their heads ruefully at the “deceived” world, who are deceived because God wants it that way and yet are somehow culpable for their own damnation. As I said, they confuse “mystery” with “enlightenment” and “revelation” when you get down to it. Those who accept that all man knows is ultimately a mystery, with no real answers, and no reason from which to view reality are those who are the one’s God’s chosen to reveal Himself to. Go figure that one out.

    As for indoctrination? Oh…for certain. You’ll get no argument from me on that. It is downright cultish;the entire belief system ultimately rooted in fear and punishment in order to compel behavior. They, the leaders, do this I submit because they understand that mystery is all they have…and they know that since they have no way to convince people rationally, the SS MUST be in the wings waiting to be unleashed on anyone who threatens to upset the hierarchy.

    But I might concede that active knowledge of the “mystery” roots of the theology may be present in more or less degree depending on the person. The young generation BLANK guy probably thinks he’s the smartest fucking person in the room, while a Pastor might understand that, while he doesn’t have a leg to stand on rationally, he always has “mystery” and “authority”.

  3. Argo –

    Here is the thing about the “mystery” stuff, in my reading of the NT, it appears that the “Mystery(ies)” have been revealed. I can’t remember just where, but I know I have recently read that what was “mystery” is now revealed. So, I just don’t get their continual fallback to “mystery.” It’s as if these pastors are saying that Jesus hasn’t come and the mystery(ies) have not been revealed. I’m not sure what scriptures they are referring to when they refer to mystery.

    On another note, (not sure what this means and I was a bit confused about it myself) Dee went over to Wade’s blog and high fived his response to comments at TWW, then she came back to TWW and was irritated that Ken seemed to have hijacked the thread and was sending people down the path to be abused again.

  4. “THEY have to define the terms of the interaction because the moment someone refuses to concede mystery, their argument has no where to go. ”

    Yep,. this is why they constantly refer to things like “tone” or you are sinning by questioning or not being nice or are in danger of being just as evil by confronting evil, etc, etc. The latest one used ALL the time in YRR circles is thatyou are “bearing false witness”. This one is used when debating doctrine!

    Anything is used to frame the debate to their advantage and define the terms of engagement. This is how they take the higher ground so to speak. I don’t play. A big part of this is NOT caring about their affirmation or whether they think you are nice enough. When folks conceed that, it is over. And I saw them doing this all over TWW with Wade and Ken. The totalitarian niceness was winning because everyone likes Wade and he has become an untouchable.

  5. “On another note, (not sure what this means and I was a bit confused about it myself) Dee went over to Wade’s blog and high fived his response to comments at TWW, then she came back to TWW and was irritated that Ken seemed to have hijacked the thread and was sending people down the path to be abused again.”

    IMO, This is where the philosopher king part comes in. Wade is special, Ken is not. Even though Wade affirmed Ken’s comment and agreed with him then writing up a long blog post to explain it all but NEVER really giving anyone specific examples of what was wrong at TWW (I think Wade was referring to the current blog post and comments–why wouldn’t he have been? He had not mentioned such things before on many blog posts)

    I do think Wade smacked them down with his affirmation of Ken’s very vague comments. I don’t think they feel like they can tell Wade they totally disagree and victims are more important than what he might see as being gleeful when confronting evil. (he never once gave a specific example)

    I think a lot of this goes back to what happened to Wade in 2007 or so. He blogged confronting evil in the SBC for a long time. Then took down his blog. Then put it back up with a different focus. He was very careful who he really went after seriously with no reservations. (and he was right!). BUT–They were pretty much non Calvinists. He has blogged about problems with some Calvinists but is more careful to praise them a lot in the blog post.

    I don’t think TWW recognized what Ken was really doing early on. He was setting himself up as superior trying to use the typical humility tactic. It became so obvious later on, they could not ignore it. But old Wade got a pass. I hope it does not keep TWW commenters from being honest and open. I fear they will worry about looking gleeful knowing Wade is watching as the pastor of the blog.

  6. Precisely my thoughts about TWW. As I said before, spiritual tyranny is not a specific disposition. it is a specific philosophy. The failure of Dee to make that distinction is why her site constantly fails to highlight the REAL problems. Rational larceny in the name of “sound doctrine” gets a pass every time. And the “nice” Reformed pastor is preferred over the “abusive” Reformed pastor…and yet the roots of the doctrine are IDENTICAL.

    So, Wade gets a pass when he claims that seeking healing by confronting evil is self-serving (that’s a lie), and he gets a pass when he declares the perpetrators of hyper-authoritarianism in churches are the laity, not the pastors, for their “lack of interest in prayer”. And people like Ken, who is merely parroting Wade’s own doctrine, is ignominiously tossed from the blog by the back of his pants and the scruff of his neck for “annoying” Dee.

    With Dee, she has to like you. If she doesn’t like you, your fucked. It doesn’t matter that you agree with her pastor, You give off a bad “vibe”, or “tone”…and thus, are a detriment to her blog’s “healing”.

    Like you said, the cognitive dissonance is staggering.

  7. Bridget,

    Yes, yes, and yes. I noticed the same thing. Ken gets Dee’s left boot of fellowship for doing what? Nothing more than responding to comments directed at him and agreeing with Wades own doctrine!

    It was WADE who pointed out Ken’s initial comment, which no one was answering. Wade chimes in saying this could be the Holy Spirit speaking to the blog. So people start engaging Ken–because PASTOR has spoken–asking questions, and he responds…and lo and behold, today we “learn” from Dee that Ken has hijacked the blog, become annoying, and is interrupting the impressive and copious amounts of “healing” going on at the never ending Wartburg love-in and coffee talk.

    I don’t agree with Ken in the least in his despotic and utterly irrational interpretations, but I can tell you that he did nothing wrong except be the very same Reformed shill that Wade is. And for that? Dee will send him packing, and Wade will get his very own post next Saturday at e-church.

    Nothing about Dee’s perspective makes any sense at all. And what stuns me is that she consistently fails to see the serious personality bias that drives her choices about who gets “death by moderation” and who gets to remain and give or get healing.

    Dee’s treatment of Ken, who again merely agreed with Wade (and was likely spurred on by Wade’s “possibly the Holy Spirit” comment) is a prime example of how Dee reeeeeally knows how to be cruel when she wants to . I actually feel sorry for him, and like I said, I couldn’t disagree with his spiritual tyranny more. I think deep down Dee has some serious rational flaws, and she is too sure of her virtual love potion for her own good. She has replaced emotion with what God really demands: a philosophy rooted in the rationality of LOVE, not the EMOTION of love, because love is NOT that.

    And I will tell you something else. She does not take kindly to being disagreed with, and that will produce nothing except a massively self serving apparatus, which is quickly what that site is becoming. This angry dismissal of any challenge is a struggle many blog owners have (myself included…but I like to think I’m better), and I have seen even people I consider friends to be downright cruel in how they respond to their detractors…I have physically winced at times. But remember ,if you can defend your ideas by reason, you never have to fear confrontation and disagreement; and you thus you never have to use anger as a mask for intellectual laziness and complacency.

  8. “I do think Wade smacked them down with his affirmation of Ken’s very vague comments. I don’t think they feel like they can tell Wade they totally disagree and victims are more important than what he might see as being gleeful when confronting evil. (he never once gave a specific example).”

    Lydia,

    This is an excellent observation. I totally agree.

  9. Bridget, was it 1 Corin 2? Very interesting section, nonetheless.

    Argo, your last few posts have me almost speechless. It’s actually painful to read about the disturbing and harmful things that you are confronting. But so glad you and others are doing just that. Thank you.

  10. Oasis,

    I am speechless too. The doctrine always finds its way to the end of a gun or a match at the stake.

    But I am glad you find it as disturbing as I do! Revulsion is reason! Meaning, your disgust is a symptom of your mind winning. And that is awesome.

    The more we proclaim the worth of human life as the standard of love, the more we affirm our Creator, who only makes GOOD things.

  11. Oasis –

    Yes, but also in Romans, Ephesians, Colossians. The mystery is always discussed as having now been revealed . . . in Christ! But apparently I’m not supposed to know this 😉

  12. Argo, plenty of revulsion here. Not really sure if it’s nausea or if I popped 29 blood vessels. But your blog is pretty comforting.

    Bridget, we aren’t supposed to know much at all. One thing that really gets me is that God claims to be Love, and wants us to love others…yet, even though we have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we should consider ourselves perpetually confused and unable to discern the difference between good and evil, or to know what love truly is…no, when the doctrine comes along to blaspheme and contradict, “Mystery! Mystery! Horrifying and nonsensical mystery!”

  13. Holy moley! I went to look again and Wade does say that what Ken wrote was from the Holy Spirit. I am astonished. I don’t know about you guys but my experience is that the HS is always specific when convicting of sin. Never vague leaving you wondering exactly what it is you might of said or done.

    I am wondering why Wade thinks it his place to declare to a group what the HS. is communicating to each individual there.

    This is giving me the creeps.

  14. I have a different theory too. Look at Wade’s response to me on the post about confronting evil at his site. Everything that comes out of these guys is double talk. You are not allowed to celebrate the downfall of your enemies on one level but you are on another level at the same time. They’ve designed their theology to where it always justifies them and condemns everyone else. Its like little kids playing monopoly. The rules are always whatever makes them win and you lose. Its no deeper than that.

    But rational people are not comfortable with rules that always change, like these psychos are. The sort of cognitive dissonance involved in believing that God ordains everything while also claiming there is freewill on some level, or in claiming that a particular action is both a sin and not a sin at once, is not something people with any sense can tolerate. But these schitzos who deserve to be in mental institutions don’t know how to operate on any level but that of never-ending contradiction. Funny how they’re always the ones who make it to the highest levels of church leadership. What does that say?

  15. The only mystery in the NT is the coming of Jesus. In Paul’s writings the mystery is simply the coming of Jesus. The coming of Jesus was hidden in ages past so that the ruler/god of this world figure would not be able to figure it out and prepare for that coming, and so he would be tricked into crucifying Jesus and ensuring his own destruction. But now, that mystery is revealed. And its the one and only mystery that there ever was.

  16. The mystery is clearly revealed and most clearly more clearly than anywhere else, in Colossians 2.

    Particularly verses 14 and 15. The mystery is that God had it planned from the beginning that Jesus would defeat and disarm all the principalities and powers, archons (rulers) and so on by the cross, “making an open show of them in it.”

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