Monthly Archives: December 2013

What is the “Plain Meaning” of Scripture in Light of Man’s Life as the Only Legitimate Standard of TRUTH (part one)

Church historian, neo-Calvinism scholar and critic, Paul Dohse, has highlighted the difference between two interpretive approaches to Scripture:  the Historical Grammatical approach and the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic.  For a detailed study of these methods, visit Paul’s site at www.paulspassingthoughts.com.  Briefly, however, the Redemptive approach is what many neo-Calvinists refer to as the “Cross-centered” interpretation of the Bible.  It places all Scripture within the context of the Cross…and truly, this sounds very humble, and deep, and contemplative, and studious, and holy.

Trust me. It isn’t.

The premise of this approach is summarized by the famous phrase (or infamous, if you happen to be a Sovereign Grace Ministries survivor like myself, who was cudgeled with this theology for years in that highly dubious institution) “you must preach the gospel to yourself everyday”.  Again, Paul Dohse does an excellent job deconstructing this idea and and exposing it to the wisdom and discernment of the clear light of day, revealing it for the heresy and false teaching that it is.

This hermeneutic, then, demands that the entire Bible be vetted and valued according to the standard of man’s depravity; that man is, at the root of his very being, which thus directly extends the totality of his SELF, morally corrupt and utterly evil.  This doctrine–total depravity, regardless of how the Reformed crowed equivocates their position–demands that man’s sin has nothing whatsoever to do with man’s choices, but instead has everything to do with his very existence.  His person is not only depraved, but is–more accurately stated–DEPRAVITY itself.  As if depravity, which is purely a conceptual abstraction, is a material entity which consumes man and replaces him, physically, as he exists in the universe and before God.  As if depravity itself is a thing.  Of course the implications for God as man’s Creator according to this idea should terrify those who concede it, for truly it makes God not only the author of evil, but makes evil an infinite moral equivalent of God’s goodness.

But it doesn’t terrify them because the nature of this Redemptive interpretation demands that man deny all his rational faculties and his very reason, and thus, whatever heinous implications it and its conjunctive doctrine have for God are shrugged off as nothing more than yet another example of man’s inherent depraved nature and his inability to apprehend God’s “truth”.

Because of this assumption–man’s complete ontological moral failure–all of the Bible is a narrative concerning what you can’t possibly do and what you can’t possibly understand, and thus, Jesus must do for you.  The Bible has nothing of YOU in mind, as if you were in any way sufficient for understanding the gravity of God’s “words”, let alone capable of carrying out His edicts, commandments, moral instructions/imperatives and so forth.  In short, the Bible means only “Cross” to you–your failed epistemology notwithstanding–and is thus merely a treatise of…well, God talking about Himself, period.  The point is that you, your life and existence, is beside the point.  And so the Cross is no longer a symbol of God’s divine love and acceptance of humanity, nor is it regarded as the terrible centerpiece in a glorious act of raw and pure Self-sacrifice for the Creation God loves.  No, the Cross, according to the Redemptive Hermeneutic, is useful for nothing more noble than bludgeoning human beings with their own cosmic worthlessness.

*

The other interpretive method, as I mentioned, is the Historical Grammatical approach.  This is an approach which portends to be quite a bit less allegorical/metaphorical than the Redemptive approach.  Ostensibly, the grammatical approach is more straight forward; an approach to Scripture which relies upon, as I have heard and read, “a plain reading of the text”.  The fundamental assumption of this method, as I have understood it, is that “words mean things”, and that by this very notion man is, by logical extension, capable of apprehending the proper and perfunctory meaning of what he reads; and is further able to efficaciously apply it to his life’s context.  The Scripture is not (entirely) allegorical/metaphorical, but is rather more of a literal work…to be interpreted as literal, and not as an arrow, necessarily, perpetually pointing away from man and to Christ’s “finished work”.  The “work” of pursuing moral goodness is presumed to be as much man’s responsibility as it is Christ’s.  Man is not considered a rank embarrassment to his Creator, but a partner who engages God and apprehends His commands, entreaties, and seeks to apply them.  Ostensibly, the Grammatical method assumes that man is not fundamentally flawed metaphysically and epistemologically, and is therefore in a position to apply and understand what he reads in the Bible.

A person who interprets the Bible according to the Grammatical approach, using an adjective I have only recently heard (the last year or so), might be referred to as a “biblicist”; while an employer of the Redemptive approach might be known as…well, a Calvinist.  For indeed, the “Cross-centered” approach was certainly John Calvin’s approach, as even a cursory reading of his Institutes of the Christian Religion will reveal.  And, to be honest, I submit that all of Reformed orthodoxy presumes a “Cross-centered” hermeneutic.  There is no Reformed Christian I have ever met who will concede that man at his root has moral equivalency with God, and this makes them Redemptive users by default (all the grammatical approach people are saying “wait a damn minute…we don’t concede that either”…relax, I’ll be getting to you all).  If man is wholly lower than God, morally speaking, then he IS totally depraved.  There is no such rational thing as a dichotomy of both GOOD and EVIL which resides at the root singularity of an individual human being.  It cannot possibly be.  Man is either GOOD or he is EVIL, period.  There is no such thing as an in between…unless we choose to define GOOD and EVIL as pure abstractions (which they are), in which case man is at his root physical being, morally innocent, abstracting “good” and “evil” for practical (life and self-affirming) purposes.  Which makes Good and Evil purely functions of assumptions which drive actions (which they are).  But more on that later.

Now, while I truly do appreciate the ostensible intention of the grammatical interpretive approach, which is to provide a credible rebuttal to the humanity-razing juggernaut of Reformed theology, I must confess that in practical reality I find disturbingly little difference in this approach from the redemptive approach when you get past the “plain meaning” of the grammatical assumption and realize that there is, in fact, no such thing as a “plain” meaning of any text…at least not in the sense that I submit they think it means, which is: that words exist in a vacuum of epistemology and language; that words have meaning outside of the context of a human life now…that is, at the moment the human being is considering them and their implications.  Because their implications and their meaning is always going to be first and singularly a function of the individual human agent who is, again, considering them NOW, at the moment that agent exists…which is always NOW.  Meaning, you always, inexorably exist now…not before, after, later, or in past; you ARE is an axiomatic metaphysical statement (not to be confused with God’s I AM, which is both a metaphysical statement and a positional statement: CREATOR of THAT which YOU ARE and all you observe) and therefore, the words you consider will always be subject to YOUR present context…words simply cannot exist outside of the context of an individual human being.  And that is the reason that there is absolutely no non-contextual, literal, and plain meaning of any text.  All text is vetted by the life of the individual human being engaging them at that moment, and no other.

Let me slow it down a bit.

The truth, I submit, behind the phrase “the plain meaning of the text” is that somehow the only real difference between the grammatical approach and the redemptive approach is, well…merely a matter of semantics, so to speak.  That is, both actually believe that the Biblical text has a “plain” meaning.  They simply disagree about what that plain meaning is.  The redemption crowd will claim that the “plain” meaning of the text is an allegory for Christ’s “work” on the Cross (I find that term funny…I have never heard of someone undergoing an execution as “working”), and that to the specially enlightened and called, this is perfunctorily self-evident.  They would likely suggest that one could simply realize that, per his or her total depravity, the entire Bible (except for the bits that the Young Earth folks draft into the service of their faux science) is a treatise on man’s categorical need for CROSS because the entire Bible can “plainly” be seen as a divine proclamation of man’s moral bankruptcy, as well as a perpetual cosmic flogging to drive him to his ontological death through visceral pain, shame, suffering, and naked embarrassment.

The grammatical crowd, on the other hand, claims that the “plain” meaning of the text is the text.  That the words mean what they mean; and I suppose the point is that interpretation of the text then is not actually necessary.  The words speak for themselves, in the scriptural context as well as any other…for the words have a “literal” and a “plain” meaning which is transferable from context to context to context; from time and place to time and place, to this person or that.  And thus, since there is no context to consider, it is insinuated that the reader should be able to simply pick up the biblical text and superimpose it upon his or her life with no regard for the historical setting of the bible, the view of the writer, or his or her own life, which again, quite literally and plainly in its own right, is the root of all truth for that individual.  The “plain” meaning is a one-size-fits-all approach, with the usual equivocations (when you read the literature) allowing for the inherent logical failures which prove that the exception to the rule means that the rule is utterly irrelevant.  Not that that matters.  You see, just as with any other scholar trying to defend the holes in his theory by merely adjusting its definition as the criticisms arise, you will find plenty of apologists for this approach who will declare that the “plain” meaning of the text doesn’t actually apply to the parts of the bible which are obviously figurative.  Of course, what they either ignore or fail to realize is that “text” is just another term for “words”, and if words have a “plain” and “literal” meaning, which is somehow its root which is removed from context, standing alone in a hermeneutic vacuum, then figurative language is quite impossible.  For if Jesus Christ is the Lion of Judah, then the “plain meaning” demands that Jesus walks on four legs and roars.  Obviously, this is ludicrous.  So what is the reader supposed to make of the phrase “Lion of Judah”?  He or she is supposed to apply it to the context of human life and realize the metaphorical meaning of it and the resulting implications and then act accordingly, as the notion serves to perpetuate and affirm his or her individual human existence.  Thus, the REAL meaning of words is always contextual…it is, in fact, never “literal”.  What they describe as the infinite “plain” meaning is really but one usage of any given term, phrase, or text, depending on, again, context.  There is no vacuum of meaning, and thus, no meaning is ever plain.  Interpretation of words by individual human beings is always demanded.  And this means that words cannot interpret themselves, but require a standard of TRUTH in order that their meaning and value be determined…that is, used in efficacious service to that standard.

The standard of TRUTH, again, is the only rational one we can concede:  individual human life.  There is no other standard.  For any standard ever defined must start with human life.  The creator of the standard IS the standard.  Man gets to define TRUTH as himself…his life, by pure and rank default, which is his very existence as a conscious self-aware agent.  All ideas must affirm him in order to be true.  Yes, even God.

And God does affirm, make no mistake.  He is the paragon of affirmation.  He is the Creator.  And if that is not affirming human individual life then really, what the hell is?

(Stay tuned for part two)

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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.

Can Confronting Evil Be Itself Evil?: Examing another peculiar Burleson-ism

Reading Wade Burleson’s latest post on his site, www.wadeburleson.org, he offers this disturbing insight:

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.

Personal healing is “profit and pleasure”? Hmm…

But that’s not really the big problem.  The big problem is, once again, Wade’s doctrinal assumptions.  Okay…first, the boring stuff, then will examine the comment in all its Reformed glory.

Oh, before that, and by the way, I submit that a comment like this is merely a further reminder to us that Reformed pastors do not belong within a hundred miles of a church pulpit.  Run.  Run home.  Lock your doors and bar the windows.  For I have seen the zombie apocalypse, and the virus comes in the form of smiling Calvinists.

The beginning and end of all epistemology, that is, all knowledge, is the individual human SELF (which I describe as the inexorable condition of the physical body merged with the conceptual “I”; or the physical self and the conceptual self).  It is categorically axiomatic that the entirety of one’s life is comprised of a single infinite agent, and by physical extension this also applies to the root of man’s epistemology (how he knows what he knows, via conceptual abstractions):  oneself.  There is no disputing this.  There is no rational disagreement.  You must EXIST before you can know anything; therefore, all knowledge you have begins and ends with you.  Again, you are the singular infinite constant in your life.  This perspective forms the epistemological root of the conceptual human self.

All your actions have one single, infinite agent…the constant of your physical existence:  you (oneself).   And this means that all actions must be in service to YOU.  Because you are the infinite absolute in your mind and in your body, everything is done, literally, OF yourself and BY yourself.  That is, you can have no thought and perform no action which is NOT ultimately and infinitely self-serving.  This is the nature of man’s existence.  As soon as man concedes “I” and “I think”, there is no turning back.  He has embarked on a journey of the SELF, and again, all things are thought and all things done in direct service to the self.

This is a difficult thing to grasp, I understand…for many will argue that suicide, for instance, or “selfless living”, or “sacrificial giving” is proof that my statement is false.  But think about it for a minute…how do you commit suicide while denying yourself?  How do you sacrificially give or selflessly live apart from yourself?  Every action is in service to an assumption/abstraction/idea/concept, and that assumption was derived from YOU, according to an idea that YOU accepted was GOOD.  Your ability to BE is the direct source of every idea you concede or deny, doctrine you hold or retreat from, every revelation you accept or reject.  And this is to say then that for whatever reason YOU conceded the truth of the idea you act in service to; YOU had to decide to integrate it.  The action then must be likewise of you, and the outcome then must also, logically, lead squarely back to you.  You commit suicide because YOU have decided it is GOOD, and the same for “sacrificial giving” and “selfless living”.  GOOD for whom?  For others?  It is impossible for others to be the DIRECT beneficiary of what you think and do.  The first and infinite and absolute cause is YOU…thus, any actions and consequences are directly in service to yourself infinitely and absolutely, regardless of how you might qualify them by some kind of external, abstract standard of “Good and Evil”.  You commit suicide because it suits YOU first. You give to the Calvinist despot behind the plexiglass because it suits YOU first…there is no such thing as “putting others before yourself” in any metaphysically rational way; there is only loving others AS yourself.

And why others?  Because we know that we are human selves by observation; and the greatest affirmation that our observations are valid and efficacious is the interaction we have with other people.  Language confirms our ability  co-organize our environment effectively for life, and thus confirms the existence of other “selves”.  And by observing them, we know that we are indeed a true and valid SELF.  Therefore, our observation confirms BOTH us and others as whole, actual, human individuals.

But make no mistake, the idea that you can live for others, or that you somehow can exist without being the FIRST and most important beneficiary of your life is a lie.  And further, it is a truism that the only reason you can do good is because you ARE good…remember that. Because this is something that Wade will never concede with any metaphysical certainty.

And that is why his doctrine is false and worships death.

Actions which are in service to “death”, that is, the denial and destruction of the SELF cannot possibly be GOOD, because they fundamentally deny the existence of the SELF, which must EXIST before GOOD can have any value or meaning.  Thus, Wade’s statement is a logical fallacy; an epistemological impossibility, and it is rooted in again a philosophy which worships death, NOT life.

Self-gain is the ONLY gain.  The idea that an action which is in service to self–even, as Wade says, confronting evil for the purposes of “personal healing”–must be rejected is rape of logic at its worst.  The idea that that somehow human beings getting something of benefit solely for themselves he rejects as evil.  Why?  Because Wade’s doctrine rejects the SELF as any standard of truth.  The idea then is the DEATH of human beings is the greatest “good” they can do.  And this is of course utter nonsense, and isn’t Christian in the least.  It defies human existence completely, and flies in the face of what must be true in order for GOOD  to exist in the world:  man’s LIFE.  If there is no man, then there can be no good…again, this is axiomatic.  It takes a MAN to define good, and it takes a LIFE then for man to exist.  If you don’t exist, and we don’t exist, then GOOD does not exist, because GOOD is an concept that is solely for the benefit of man.  God does not need to be GOOD apart from man…God just needs to be IS.  God only becomes GOOD as he is revealed as Creator.  Whose Creator?  Man’s Creator.  Man understands God is GOOD because God Created his LIFE, and affirms it, and affirms that confronting evil for personal healing is not only acceptable to God but is the single greatest moral action a human being can take.

If you cannot act in service to self, then there is no way you can act in service to anyone else.  Because only YOU can give value to those you observe; your existence is a prerequisite for you defining them as valuable, and thus, worth your thoughts and time and actions and possessions.  Without YOU, in other words, there IS no other, by definition.  So all acts are “selfish” in this sense then.  And the only question which remains then is what are you gathering for yourself?  How are you promoting your own life?  Are you engaging others in a way that declares the inexorable truth that LIFE is GOOD, and that YOU are GOOD?  Are you reaping reward based on the reasonable assumption that you understand your worth by directly observing others?  And are you then functioning according to the rational axiom that this means that THEY must be inherently worthy as well?  If this is your philosophy, you will do good, and you will not have to feel guilty of your gain.  What YOU reap, YOU sow, remember?  And if your life is truly in service to YOU–which then, if YOU is rationally defined, must automatically declare OTHERS of equal worth–then you will reap reward.  You will live life fully, you will be selfish in a way that promotes LIFE, especially your own, not in a way that violates it.

Denying your life in “service” to others is an impossible metaphysical contradiction.  Impossible.  This philosophy is altruism…and altruism is evil.  Altruism denies individuals as the standard of truth.  Altruism HATES life…it sets up a standard outside of man and then demands that he commit suicide in service to it.  That he murder himself, and in the process, deny the humanity and worth of others.  It is passing children through fire; it is not holding them close and saying I love you because God has made you YOU.

So, confronting evil for personal gain is GOOD.  Personal gain derived from a philosophy which lauds human worth is GOOD.  The only way personal gain is evil is if it at the expense of others…as a result of violating others.  But how can confronting evil violate others?  On the contrary, confronting evil for personal gain is the very GOOD God demands of us.  How in the hell can there be any scenario where confronting evil is evil?!  The very notion is a contradiction in terms.  Confronting evil is ALWAYS good…there is no such rational nor Christian thing as confronting of evil being itself an evil act.  That’s simply absurd!  And Wade is a PASTOR?  What, if a man comes into my house intent on murdering me and my family and I stop him…is that not the very definition of personal gain? And is that not also a perfect example of moral good?  Wade’s tongue is like a flailing fish at times, slapping everyone in the boat whilst trying to “reason” with them.

There is absolutely no sense to his statement above at all.  No. Sense.  Do not concede it.  Do not believe it.  Deny it.  YOU are good, and seeking your GOOD, when it is truly GOOD, is GOOD.  There is NO violation of others when you pursue GOOD for yourself.  It is an impossible concept.  Because true good, like true love, will never violate others in service to self.  There is no such thing then as true “healing” or true good which is at the expense of others.  Which makes Wade’s statement categorically irrational.

Violating others is sin, not because it is “not putting others first”; it is sin because a violation of another is tantamount to a violation of YOU.  And if you deny yourself by violating others then who is God supposed to save?  What is God supposed to make of you?  You have denied other, and in doing so must deny yourself, and thus deny God.  And this is why I warn Calvinists so fervently.  When you approach God’s throne with a philosophy that intentionally denies your own existence, what do you expect God to do with you.?  If you cannot acknowledge your moral and existential worth because you have decided that only the REMOVAL (death) of you is “good” before God and others, then what is God going to say, do you think?  He can very well say, without any hypocrisy on His part, “I never knew you.”  Because you have taken it upon yourself to declare yourself irrelevant, and thus non-existent, with respect to truth and goodness, by putting it perpetually away from yourself.  And since TRUTH and GOODNESS can only be efficacious concepts if you EXIST, then you have, by declaring yourself pervasively depraved, removed yourself from the Promise.  For God is a God of not the dead, but the living, remember?

Yes…Avoiding Doctrine Certainly is Less Disruptive and More Nurturing

“I think part of the reason it hasn’t done so, apart from our own watchful openness, is that Deb/Dee delete comments meant to be disruptive. How many on this thread alone? Thanks, you two!

There will always be a few who arrive in a group wanting it to fail and they need to be disarmed of those intentions, (while also being aware that mere bias is not a reason to disarm). It’s a tough row to hoe, steep learning curve, but there’s no other way to create a nurturing successful group.”

That was a comment left yesterday over at www.warburgwatch.com.

I won’t mention who the commenter was…doesn’t matter.  The point is that this kind of attitude is why discernment blogs are doomed to fail in the long run.  In the short run, there is an uptick in self-esteem…the abused have a voice, ostensibly, and they have a “community” of fellow Christians who pat them on the shoulder and tell them they are going to be just fine…God still loves them, sit down with us, and maybe we’ll organize a little get together in person sometime in the future and all of us can come together and have a great little gathering where we’ll exchange recipes and stories and put names with faces.  Never happens by the way.  It would ruin the the experience, trust me. Faces to names reminds you that human beings are really at stake here, and human beings aren’t the point, they are the problem.  Someone will be too fat, or too thin, or won’t look right, or won’t have the right demeanor, or will be too abrasive, or have the wrong haircut, or be too rich or too poor…they won’t meet that idol of our external standards.  Yep, the people will fuck up the good vibes, because there will be some who just won’t conform in person they way we think they do online. The presence of actual people will be too “disruptive”.  And that’s why it never happens.  Too much baggage…too many opinions, and no moderation.  Also, remember, Church people need a leader, of course, because as the commenter above said, they love nurturing above all else.  They are kind of like dogs and cats that way.  It’s why no one wants to talk about doctrine.

So, as I was saying…these people feel free for the first time in a long time; and this freedom high can last for a while, and it is intoxicating, and beautiful.  Hell, I was right there, man, for well over a year.  I mean, they’ve just gone from a destructive relationship with tyranny to–again ostensibly–a place where they are free to be themselves, to speak their minds, to rail against abuse and shake a righteous fist or two, and rightfully so, at the despots running a large portion of American churches.  Moderators like Dee and Deb, and many others after their same kind, pat them on the shoulder and assure them that they are not crazy.

The only problem is…well, think of it this way:  if a crazy person tells you you’re not crazy then you probably shouldn’t take much comfort in that.

Because here is the problem:  ideas.  Sooner or later people like me and others after MY kind come along and begin to question the point of such a place.  I mean, I was in like Flynn over there at Wartburg Watch for a good while…I even defended Dee and Deb to some of my blogging friends who warned me that they had precious little to contribute to the fight against tyranny; and they certainly weren’t the least bit interested in looking at doctrine.

No, no, I said.  Dee and Deb.  They are good people.  They are nice people.

But I was wrong.

Doctrine.  Yes, that’s another problem.

So I came along and after a while my high was wearing off, and I was getting a little too comfortable.  And this was making me decidedly uncomfortable.  I noticed that we on the blog were becoming…well, just like the commenter above said, too obsessed with being nurtured and shielded by “meanies” who actually wanted Warburg Watch to, you know, generate a philosophy which was able to rationally answer the evil spewing forth like vomit from Reformed churches like SGM.  And I saw that this wasn’t happening, and more, was NEVER going to happen because that was never the point of Wartburg.  Dee and Deb either will not or cannot intellectually confront tyrannical ideas.  That for me was a big problem.

We the commenters were becoming like animals…seeking comfort; to be taken care of, but not particularly seeing any actual VALUE in other human beings, and refusing to define human life as GOOD.  Why? Because confronting doctrine was NOT nurturing.  It was judging and being mean.  And lo and behold, we could never at Wartburg actually define the thing we had been talking about forever:  love.  And that scared the shit out of me.  Human life was not defined as an object of LOVE, a STANDARD of GOOD. There was and is a constant resistance, I submit, to defining just how we know love is love, without ultimately appealing to the “mysteries of God.”  And when I tried to define it, I was accused of trying to “explain God”.  Well, if God is love, shouldn’t love be explained, since love is the whole point of living, then?

But they consistently resisted, and still resist defining a standard of love.  They are unable or unwilling to define just how they understand that love is love; by what yardstick are our actions measured?  Dee and Deb and even Wade do not define love, because love is a philosophical/epistemological/doctrinal topic.  It isn’t emotions; it isn’t saccharine camaraderie; it is something which must be reasoned.  And this scares the shit out of people because once love is a matter of doctrine then all of that discernment blog high, all of that camaraderie goes away.  Because in reality…all of it, must be in service to that which is gauged to be the standard of TRUTH.  And inevitably this standard, by the very doctrine which essentially ALL of these people concede and refuse to renounce, is outside of human beings.  Which means that all of that “nurturing”, all of that “freedom” doesn’t mean a hill of beans.  Sooner or later, the same demands which abused many of the commenters in the past will be made of them once again:  sacrifice yourself to the doctrine.  Accept the suffering and abuse as divine payment for your existence.  When push comes to shove, be willing to die, not for LOVE, because that is never defined, and not for God, for God does not need your death or your life, but for someone’s idea.  An idea which you cannot possibly disagree with because YOU and YOUR LIFE are wholly irrelevant to its truth.

It is only true in spite of you, never because of you.

So, for a while, yes, take comfort in the nurturing; take comfort under the watchful eyes of Dee and Deb  who are ready to pounce with a vengeance on anyone who comes along and says, “The vibe is nice here, but when are we going to discuss WHY abuse happens; and why are we okay with it?”

The “when” is never.  Because what you see on Wartburg Watch is the END of itself.  The lovefest is the whole point.  And notice that abuse still keeps happening.  Every day, new stories here, there and everywhere.  Nothing changes, nothing gets stopped, many words are written, things “publicized”, but there is no real challenge…because the Wartburg lovefest is the end of itself, I submit; there is no loftier objective.  And this is true with not just their site, but most discernment blogs out there.  Because when ideas are off the table as topics of discussion in the interest of actually seeing abuse stop, then all you can reasonably expect is to have a place where mean people like me who are not content to concede the same doctrine he conceded before when he was in the tyrannical shit but only this time in a place that is more “comfortable” and “nurturing”, are removed unceremoniously from the blog as a “disruption”.  When all I want is for someone to stand up and say God likes people, and he thinks they have worth; and thus, loving human life is a TRUTH which is as GOOD as loving God.  And the fact that those who even suggest that a Reformed pastor cannot be in a position to really confront abuse because of their doctrine are booted from “nurturing” blogs should speak volumes as to their priorities.

Because they are really okay with the abuse.  Mark my words.  Now, I’m not suggesting they are okay with it on some kind of intentional, conscious level, or that they are abusers.  What I am saying is that they are on the moral hook for defending their decision to support doctrine that hates humanity…and if they don’t think it does, then they are on the hook for arguing just how someone can be pervasively depraved and yet loved by God; I’m waiting for an answer that is not a contradiction in terms.  It never happens, because you must have the courage to confront orthodoxy, and courage is something they do not possess.  Courage offends people, and so it must be evil.

And what I am saying is that since they have decided that the doctrine (ideas, assumptions) to which theses churches concede to is fine, and doctrinal assumptions which place man in a perpetual state of moral depravity and inadequate epistemology can somehow in no way drive abusive behavior, then they have, ipso facto, deprived themselves of even a single rational argument as to WHY there shouldn’t be abuse in the church.  The doctrine that they defend by their silence (and by the rank silencing of those who would wish to discuss doctrine–in the interests of dismantling abuse the only way that actually works, by destroying the false biblical assumptions which laud it), demands the destruction of human beings.  The scary truth is that human suffering is precisely how we can viscerally know that the doctrine is “sound”.  In other words, suffering and trauma are how we know that God hates evil; because according to Reformed doctrine humanity’s very existence is the root of all evil.  If suffering ceases, if abuse becomes a byword, and removing abuse and suffering becomes a full-on objective of our religion, then it must be conceded that human life is GOOD.  And that is something you will never hear any good Calvinist declare with metaphysical certainty.

Never.

Remember, when one has no rational standard for love, then it becomes impossible for one to really define it.  And that is precisely what is happening at Wartburg Watch.  “No disruption” and “nurturing” have been substituted for real love…for a deep abiding affection for, and a deep desire to affirm and promote human life as the reason we were created and saved in the first place.  Comfort replaces love.  The intoxicating high of the “discernment community” has replaced a true heart for healing the abused.

And this is not “drama”, Julie Anne.  This is serious, serious business.  And the fact that people continue to pretend to care while affirming doctrine that declares people worthless at their metaphysical root is some serious hypocrisy.

The “church” may not be overcome in the end, but I fear that it will be no thanks to the church.

Wade Burleson and Commenter Ken: Defending Wartburg Watch’s community of commenters against Reformed theology’s epistemological madness

This is a neo-Reformed assault launched against the Wartburg Watch by Wade Burleson and some commenter named Ken.  I have no love for that site as I’m sure you have gathered by now, but I will call out mystic oppression when I see it, and this is mystic lording at its most subtle finest.

Wade Burleson UNITED STATES on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 10:33 PM said:

ken wrote:

@ dee:

Got tied up with a couple customers, Dee. Wasn’t intending on skipping out that long. I’m very glad you post the majority of people’s comments and show the real world, but it wasn’t really what I was getting at.

 Maybe this would help explain my concern: there is a difference between a genuine comradery that develops when people are drawn to this site because of their painful/wrongful experience with authoritarian leadership in the church (I commend you guys for this) and comradery that results from being analytical and critical (not so good, imo). The latter is my concern in that it produces extremely fertile soil for the seeds of self-righteous banter to take root. I’ve seen it in my own life when I started seeing and identifying the huge problems in “church” as I knew it years ago. I’m still guilty of it at times and need to repent of it. I am no better than they are, will always have error in my thinking regarding Christ and His Kingdom, and am in desperate/continual need of the grace of God in all areas of my life…especially my attitude towards others with whom I disagree.

 So, yes, I realize not everyone who comments is professing to love Christ here, but among those (a rather large group) that have claimed to love Christ there seems to be much joy and satisfaction in finding fault. Just my humble opinion, but it seems your comments frequently incite that aspect of response, rather than curb it with a graceful reminder.

 What do you think – does that make any sense? I know there is a fine line here, and am not sure I have the ability to articulate it. Thanks for your patience with me!

 Dee and Deb,

 The above comment by Ken (whom I do not know) is worthy of our serious contemplation. The spirit in which he writes gives evidence of the Spirit possibly speaking through him. Nobody has commented on his comment, so I thought I’d highlight it lest it be missed. What he’s written, in my estimation, is very profound.

 Now to a couple of other issues at hand. It should be obvious to everyone what happened to Mefferd. When someone’s livelihood is at stake, one’s silence is understandable. However, in the end, truth will always win. I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and reflect on the truth that in the age of the Internet, stunning silence speaks ten times louder than ten thousand blogs. It has the REVERSE effect intended. So, hang on – its only beginning.

 Second, to the two of you (Dee and Deb) – your labor of love in running a blog that has hundreds and thousands of daily readers is amazing. Don’t get discouraged. It’s difficult to walk the line between truth and love (No, it is not.). I see you doing it well. Continue – loving people where they are, including those who disagree with you theologically, and you will continue to make an impact with your truth writing.

Praying for you guys and Rachelle and I love you both!

Wade

(Bold print added for emphasis, and bod print in parenthesis are mine.)

So says Wade Burelson, resident e-pastor over at Wartburg Watch (www.wartburgwatch.com).  Now, there is a ton of philosophically and theologically ridiculous stuff going on in this comment; and notice that half of the comment is a re-post of another comment by this Ken guy.

Both of them are birds of a despotic feather in my opinion, because both of them concede the idea that man is not capable of making any  moral distinctions, and thus by logical extension is incapable of taking moral action.  This is certainly implied when Ken declares:

“I am no better than they are, will always have error in my thinking regarding Christ and His Kingdom, and am in desperate/continual need of the grace of God in all areas of my life…especially my attitude towards others with whom I disagree.”

It should be standard operating procedure that any rational human being be infuriated at statements like this.  This is rational larceny at its glittering finest…literally.   Ken’s statement utterly robs you of your ability to apprehend truth, to call evil, evil and good, good.  He openly admits that HE has no such inherent ability to make such judgments…that God, by his “grace”, does it for him, even though this defies any logic.  For if Ken cannot help but have “error in his thinking” then how can he pretend to understand God well enough to even know that he cannot help but have “error in his thinking”?  For that statement is, itself, a declarative absolute…the very thing his statement utterly DENIES he is capable of.  If his thinking is perpetually in error then why in the fuck should I believe that he has anything useful to add to the conversation?  If he preaches Jesus, why should anyone listen to him?  He flat out concedes that even HE doesn’t really know what he thinks he knows; that his entire epistemology is pervasively flawed at its root.  

Asinine!  And this is what Wade thinks could “possibly be the Holy Spirit”?!  How long…O, how long will “Christians” continue to exchange reason for madness?! 

Bullshit in its finest, and it tasks my temper.  For there is no such thing as “partly good” or “partly evil” in order that you can make such a statement that you “cannot fully know” what you think (as if thinking is somehow subject to abstract concepts like “knowing and not knowing”…NO, you either are thinking or you are not thinking; when you think, you think ABSOLUTELY.  Your MIND is THE absolute, not the concepts you use to organize what you observe).  The very notion is irrational piffle.  Evil and good are mutually exclusive absolutes.  If you cannot fully concede good and fully act in service to it, and fully concede evil, and fully act to avoid it or destroy it, then you are morally broken, defunct, and irrelevant to LIFE.

Aaaaaand….here we are again, right back to Calvinism.  For those of you who were or are Calvinists, you know that this is exactly what they believe.  Human beings, saved or unsaved, are morally useless, never fully understanding good, and thus, by extension, never fully understanding evil.  They are “lukewarm”, as Christ would say, and are fit for nothing as a matter of metaphysical course. This is why this theology utterly condemns to hell all men and women, and must appeal to God’s rank and arbitrary “election” for salvation.  Nothing you and I ever say or do at all, good or bad, really matters, because your entire existence is perfectly broken and irrelevant.

With respect to the “tone”, or “attitude”, or “bitterness”, or “fault-finding” of Wartburg’s commenters:  Well, what the fuck do Ken and Wade propose these poor propagandized people do?  I mean, Ken and Wade and Dee and Deb divorce doctrine from behavior, so what do they expect the comments to look like when you have a group of people who want to decry spiritual tyranny and are invited to do so and yet are gagged when it comes to actually discussing the ideas which drive it?  If you attack the precious “orthodoxy” and “sound doctrine” (which is basically pure Calvinism), you are an apostate and a heretic and Dee gives you the left boot of fellowship right into moderation oblivion.  And according to Ken and Wade if you attack the behavior and actions of others you are “self righteous”, and “pridefully” ignoring your own proclivities to utter sinfulness…you deny your TOTAL depravity.  If you judge others’ actions on the basis that they are not in keeping with proper doctrine, you pretend that you have the same wisdom and authority as PASTOR, who is divinely called by God and thus somehow specially dispensed to know a bunch of shit you don’t.  Which means you are assuming THEIR authority to gauge degrees of “orthodoxy”, which puts you in the position of trying to actually BE God (because there is no distinction between Pastor and God in reformed theology/Calvinism as fair as the laity is concerned), which makes you vulnerable to excommunication, Church “discipline”, or worse.

The purpose of this philosophy (Reformed/Calvinist) then should be obvious:  to use fear of death and hell to compel the masses into a specific ideology in order to serve that ideology, in order that those who “lead” may grow in power.  Make no mistake, there is nothing Christian about any of this thinking.  Calvinism and Reformed theology have roots which do not find their way back to Jewish Law nor to the Revelation of God which is the source of the Torah.  Calvinism and Reformed theology are the evil spawn of Gnosticism, which is one of the many bloodthirsty sons of Platonism…the university and bulwark of all tyranny.  To declare that people are wholly unable to make moral judgments of either behavior or doctrine (or motives, or intentions, or “heart”) is to remove humanity from itself.  By putting an awareness of TRUTH utterly outside the metaphysical and epistemological boundaries of human beings, those who proclaim themselves, hypocritically, as “called” to lead are in a position of absolute power and control.  THEY alone, by God’s Will, have a monopoly on all LIFE…they alone get to say what is true and what is not; and since the reasons for doing so are completely beyond the “average” person’s ability to apprehend, by purposeful divine mandate, these “leaders” are in an indefatigable position to control absolutely.  Whenever and in whatever way they want.  Capriciousness has no definition in such a worldview.  Actions are right not based on the consistency of them to a standard of reason or life or truth or anything else;  actions are “right” merely because they say so; and they are God as far as you are concerned.  And you should know that neither they or you are, according to their “sound doctrine”, able to make ANY distinction between their words and God’s words; their authority and God’s authority.

So, notice what Wade does here.  He invokes “possibly” the Holy Spirit in service to the doctrine he accepts. That’s right…not in service to “truth” or “good”, because both of those things are entirely subservient to doctrinal orthodoxy in reformed theology.  TRUTH and GOOD, even God’s GOOD, is not the standard of their doctrine, but the opposite is true.  If it isn’t doctrinally sound (which means consistent with their interpretive premises, which deny human life as the standard of truth), then it cannot be GOOD and it cannot be TRUE.  This makes TRUTH and morality a function of the gnosis–the Pastor’s special knowledge–and not the other way around.  And this of course makes truth and good something which is BEYOND the scope and context of man’s life.  And the hounds of hell are free to run wild amongst the human race.

Let me explain.

Now, Wade qualifies his statement about the Holy Spirit with “possibly”, which is wise. But allow me to pontificate on the dangers of holding to the doctrinal beliefs Wade presumes, and the precarious and dangerous position it places him in, as a Pastor; because you must understand, whether they admit it or not, reformed theology demands a spiritual caste system.  In other words, it demands that the ecclesiastical leadership possess the “gnosis”, the divine knowledge, which eludes “normal” people like you and I.  It requires that Pastors have “authority”, and authority is the power of force/punishment, and this is defended precisely by appealing to the their special relationship with God.

So, notice what happens when one does not have a rational epistemological plumb line…that is, a rational standard of TRUTH (which must be and can be nothing other than man’s LIFE)  by which to vet all ideas and notions so that their efficacy to truth can be reasonably seen and reasonably observed.  The Holy Spirit becomes subservient to what?  That’s right.  To doctrine.  And what does the doctrine say?  It says that Pastors are spiritual authorities.  And what does that mean?  It means that they have a special revelation from God that you cannot have…it has been bestowed upon them, despite this assumption being categorically contradictory to every point in TULIP.  Somehow, God has decided that they are “worthy” (but not worthy…making God’s truth nothing more than rational insanity).  So, I submit that if Wade reads something that sounds reeeeeaaaally good and reeeaaally in keeping with what HE believes and what HIS heart thinks, then, viola! the Holy Spirit this must have been.

This is very, very dangerous ground for him and any other Reformed pastor to stand upon.  But they don’t lose a wink of sleep over this of course, because…well, think about it.  I mean, if you are God, for all intents and purposes.  Ce la vie.  It’s all good.  You don’t have to fear God, for God serves YOU…that is, God’s truth is YOUR truth.  Fear is incompatible to the Pastor who decides that his every whim is divine.  What do they have to be afraid of?  The Holy Spirit becomes merely another useful servant in their quest to perpetuate their own power as “God in the stead”.

And they go on, never really understanding how terrified they should be that they believe this kind of “orthodoxy”.

You see, conceding that man’s life is not the plumb line for truth, even though it is the only  rational standard, leads to every sort of evil, and every manner of violent and tyrannical consequence.  This should not be hard to graps.  And when I say evil, I don’t even mean Hitler evil (which it does lead to…all tyranny can be traced to Platonism; and certainly Reformed theology is Platonist in its foundations).  I mean…using God Himself as a means to the end of your own power.  Yes, THAT kind of evil.  Even typing that last sentence made me shudder and tremble.  Do you not see that when the plumb line of  TRUTH is OUTSIDE of man’s life then man cannot ever be in a position to know truth, by definition.  Which means he cannot know God!

But God is relevant not because He is TRUTH outside of man but precisely because man can know Him as TRUE.  Man can define God, and define God properly AS God, because epistemological understanding is utterly within the scope of man’s existence!  If man’s epistemology is subservient to a TRUTH outside of him then God loses all definition; all relevance, all meaning.  And those that fill the vast moral vacuum which rips through the universe like a galaxy sized black hole can declare NOTHING off limits to their own power.  THEY are the only ones who are somehow able to have a useful epistemology…that is, they are the only ones who can say what is “true” and what is not.  This means that they do not serve God, but God must serve them because TRUTH is categorically ruled by them.  God only has any meaning when THEY define Him.

Now, they will declare “God’s revelation” as the source of their knowledge and authority, but understand that this cannot be true.  For in order for God’s revelation to be understood—to have any useful relevance–then man must possess innately an ability to properly judge his own reality/context in order to see that God’s revelation is “right”.  In other words, man must possess the inherent ability to be “revealed upon”.  Which means that any revelation must coincide with man’s root EXISTENCE.  It is the fact that man IS which makes it possible for God to reveal TRUTHS to him.  Man has an innate standard of truth by which he can automatically apprehend God’s revelation.  That standard is of course his LIFE.  Thus, man can know God is God because such knowledge is rationally compatible with man’s EXISTENCE.

But if we say that man’s existence is purely subjective to God’s truth, then man’s very BEING, his very SELF, can by no means be any kind of vehicle to understand what God reveals.  Man’s life is irrelevant to God’s truth being true.  This makes no rational sense, but it is precisely what reformed theology teaches.  And this means that truth, inherently, cannot be known by man because “truth” ignores man’s very existence as a prerequisite for it being true.  This makes man’s epistemology (how he knows what he knows) totally useless!  Which puts God, Himself, as a “truth”, beyond the scope of man’s life. Man cannot know God, and God cannot know man, because “knowledge” must be KNOWN by someONE, and according to the doctrine you cannot appeal to your LIFE—your someONE, so to speak—as a means for knowing anything.  So, by their own doctrine, the neo-reformers declare that man cannot be “revealed upon” because man’s life, man’s EXISTENCE,  is an insufficient vehicle for knowledge.  And if man cannot be revealed upon because his existence is wanting as a receptacle for knowledge, then how in the hell can they appeal to divine revelation as the source of their authority?

The answer is, they cannot.  So, by their own doctrine they remove God from man entirely and place themselves in His position as the source of all power and authority over life and death, meaning and truth, good and evil.  And if this is a philosophy which saves man and does not destroy him then God is a farce.  The only way for God to be God is if man is capable of reconciling God to the affirmation of his own life, his own existence, if for no other reason than your LIFE is the only objective, observable, actual means you have of knowing ANYTHING, including and especially God.  It is axiomatic to declare that all you know as true begins and ends with your existence.  This is not blasphemy…on the contrary, by recognizing that human life as the standard of GOOD we can easily reconcile the Bible and God to TRUTH.  Why is God, God?  Because He is NECESSARY, not to the destruction of human life, but to the preservation, affirmation, and CREATION of it.  How in the world can anyone declare this philosophy unbiblical?

By being a gnostic, that’s how. By exchanging the truth for a lie.  By pretending that human life/existence is incidental at best to TRUTH. And notice how motherfucking convenient this idea is to the acquisition and maintaining of absolute power.  It’s a hook in a sea of madness…and many are being reeled up.  They expect to see heaven, but all they’ll get is a boat full of hell.  And into the cooler go their souls.

Propaganda is Violence: Answering Joseph Goebbels

Yesterday while perusing the latest Wartburg Watch comments thread, as I’m sometimes wont, I came across a comment by one who calls himself “Eagle”.  In his post he quotes Joseph Goebbels, who as you probably already know was Hitler’s very prodigious Minister of Propaganda before becoming Chancellor of the Third Reich for about five minutes before ignominiously blowing his own brains out.

I don’t recall Eagle’s context for the quote, except to say that it was to make a disparaging comparison between  Goebbels and some neo-Calvinist…which I would normally say is fine, but I cannot make such a judgement until I know that Eagle has rejected Calvinism himself.  Which I hope he has, but he’s still a ubiquitous regular on Wartburg Watch so I’m not so sure.  Generally, the outspoken anti-Calvinists are run out of town on a rail over there, as Dee makes a sport of criticizing the perfunctory abuse which is a direct consequence of the very doctrines she concedes are just fine and dandy, and then pretends that she somehow manages to pull this off by exorcising motives/assumptions from actions, which is hypocritical at best, so…shrug. Who knows?

At any rate, Eagle’s context is quite immaterial, having nothing to do with the point I want to make.  It is the quote which caught my attention, not the context of it within the comments thread.

Ostensibly elegant and with a thin veneer of civility about it, one might imagine for a fleeting moment, if the author of the quote was not immediately named, that Goebbels is not the utter psychopath that he most certainly was.  An evil, vile man, he was a vociferous proponent of “final solution” and, in an act almost as horrific, he and his wife, while huddling in Hitlers bunker just hours before the Communists came to cave it in, poisoned to death their SIX children before killing themselves.

Such an evil man means that ANYTHING he utters needs to be parsed with the pen of reason and utterly debunked.  I decided to do my part by  responding to this quote.  Hopefully I can show that Goebbels’ ostensible wisdom is just that, purely ostensible…a superficial, razor thin facade which masks a thoroughly deranged personality.  If anyone ever should be condemned to hell for exchanging the truth for a lie, reason for madness, it is this man.

Here is his quote…notice the charade of appealing to reason while categorically throwing it, kicking and screaming as it goes, over a cliff:

“To attract people, to win over people to that which I have realized as being true, that is called propaganda.  In the beginning, there is the understanding, this understanding uses propaganda as a tool to find those men that shall turn understanding into politics.  Success is the important thing.  Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners.  It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct.  I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry.  The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right.  I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things that I say in the Pharus Hall.  That is a matter of practice, not of theory.  We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses.  Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing.  It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.  Those are found in other circumstances.  I find them when thinking at my desk, but not in the meeting hall.”

My response:

(Part one)

If it is really truth one is seeking to disseminate then propaganda should be unnecessary.  To appeal to the masses truth needs only a ration defense…which should be quite perfunctory if it is indeed truth.  The masses will be persuaded when they see all other ideas fall before its certitude.  Truth then, again, does not need propaganda, but merely propagation.  It needs only brave men and women who are willing to enter into the arena of ideas and fell the impostors of truth.  Debate, then, not propaganda, is the only reasonable and civil course for the swaying of the masses, who are quite capable of, perhaps not the rigors of parsing through the lies (for that is the philosopher’s job; and it is not so much a matter of intellect as it is of interest), but of seeing a false idea collapse under the weight of its own contradictions; and see truth rise from the ashes.  No, truth does not need propaganda, lies need propaganda.  And the distinction between the two is hardly makeable, and this should speak volumes of the “truths” the propagandists peddle.

(Part two)

If reason is excluded from the entreaty, then how is it possible to teach or persuade people to truth?  There is no truth without reason.  And if it is reason then it is not propaganda…for reason is truth, revealed in its various, consistently connected logical foundations.  Therefore, if reason is truth then propaganda is irrelevant, for there can be no coupling of reason with propaganda because there can be no coupling of reason with what is inherently unreasonable.  So propaganda can teach nothing, by definition, because there is no such thing as an unreasonable truth…this is a contradiction in terms.  Propaganda then is force, it is slavery.  It can only compel by deceit, which is inherently violent in its opinion and treatment of humanity.

Further, propaganda is a false dichotomy, pretending to teach truth while never appealing to it, by Goebbel’s own definition.  And if this is the assumption, then death is the standard of “truth”, never life…because a truth that does not require life demands death.  For if life is irrelevant to truth then the only rational service man can perform for it is to die.  For this truth, it must be said, functions perfectly without him.  Man’s life, being irrelevant, poses a stumbling block to truth, and thus the human SELF must give way.

Therefore, the reason propaganda is needed is because no one will sit still and be told they must die in service to an idea which is true only when man’s existence is excluded from the equation;  an idea which is true because it lay beyond the boundaries of human life.  Propaganda is always needed when the assumption is that the truth is so special, so divine, that it can only be mysteriously bestowed upon specific men who are “called” to stand in as truth incarnate…as God’s proxies, as it were.  Humanity in general must be beyond the understanding of the “truth” as truth is declared to exist beyond the scope of man’s life…eluding his own metaphysical reality and his entire epistemology.

The reason for propaganda then is to force mass compliance to an idea which cannot be reasonably defended because it is proclaimed to be “higher than man”, and this statement itself is rationally indefensible. For there is NO truth outside of man.  And any idea which cannot be reasonably defended to affirm and promote the only rational standard for any notion whatsoever–man’s life–cannot possibly be true.

 

Learn the Hypocrisy Two Step Over at Wartburg Watch: Action divorced from assumption (“motive”)

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/11/30/crossway-to-release-new-book-in-2014-points-are-being-made/

John A UNITED STATES on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 08:59 AM said:

“The group on this site seems to have grown very critical, cynical , and even self righteous. Reading through these posts I am amazed at the confidence with which any of you reveal the motives and intentions of others. Only God knows the heart. I’m not saying don’t judge but I am saying many of you take it too far when you state as absolute fact things that nobody can know.”

April on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 12:49 PM said:

“log in your eye, speck in theirs–can you not see that you are presuming to judge people’s hearts and motives? Only God can do that. To many, you come off as ridiculously more evil than those you seek to vilify (and to many others, as a bunch of theologically illiterate [and grammatically challenged] whiners).”

dee UNITED STATES on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 08:45 AM said:

John A wrote:

My point is that your criteria is subjective, unverifiable, exaggerated, and absurd.
I know some are tired of the argument but you cannot judge the hearts motives or intentions of these men with such a broad brush approach.

OK-now I am getting weary of your statements like this. Either put up or shut up. Tell me exactly where I have judged the motives of people. I have asked this of you already and I am not going to start off my week with you starting up with this again.

I have said it before, and I will say it again one more time, I don’t judge motives because it is impossible. Only God can do that. I look at words that people say and actions that they take. Frankly, none of us can fully judge our own motives, including you.”

*

Now, let me ask.  Are you, like me, wondering just what they are talking about?  Both are judging the motives of each other while they deny that anyone but God can judge motives.  Huh?  And this saying, right out of the Reformed Theology Indoctrination for the Purposes of Pure Control of the Masses primer:  “Frankly, none of us can fully judge our own motives, including you”…honestly, I don’t even know what the fuck that means.  If you act without knowing why you act, you belong in an institution, not moderating a “discernment” blog.  This is like the cosmic spiritual insanity plea.

“Dear Lord, have mercy.  After all, I cannot really know why I do the things I do, because by doctrinal definition truth is subservient to our pervasive depravity.  So, doesn’t this make You ultimately to blame here?  I mean, if we are being fair about it?  If you want to be Creator, take some responsibility for a change, why don’t You?  If I’m an evil ignoramus, isn’t both the “evil” and “ignoramus” part Your fault?  At the very least can we drag that scumbag Adam in here?”

See…now we see the Calvinism inherent in the system.  Notice how with this little phrase Dee undercuts her entire existence as a discernment blog operator:  “We can’t fully understand our own motives.”  Then how in the fuck does she get away with criticizing, well…anyone?  If motives are never in question, then how can we consider an action evil?  She concedes the “we are all just sinners saved by grace” and in the same breath condemns men for their actions!

Welcome, one and all, to the Wartburg Watch’s Dance of the Hypocrisy Two Step.  May it serve to dazzle and delight your family this Christmas as you appeal to your own infinite acceptance by God and utterly condemn others with absolutely no rationale at all.  Just because it’s that way.  After all, if we cannot judge others motives and reasons, how much less can I explain why God loves me and hates you?

*

Once again the battle of wits rages over at Wartburg Watch, ending in a hopeless and sad little draw…as usual.  But what is even sadder is that the opponents both approach the argument from the same philosophical assumption:  The doctrine doesn’t matter.  Wrong or right, rational or insane, since only “God can judge the heart/motives”, the assumptions which drive behavior cannot be something we can ever actually know.  So, let’s make the fight about behavior, and not the doctrine which drives it. Let’s change the leaders out, and leave the ideas in place.  Because…that always seems to work, doesn’t it?

Both opponents in this fight use the God’s Mystery get-out-of-jail-free card. They both deny that its possible to know the the doctrine which is in the heart of a person–that you can’t possibly know what they really believe–and this is why doctrine doesn’t matter.  Action must be judged in a vacuum, fully divorced from the “heart”.  This conveniently absolves the antagonist from any moral responsibility because they have simply decided that the human being–as a thinking, volitional agent–is removed from the equation.  Thus, they aren’t on the moral hook for their criticisms because they divorce brain from body.  After all, you cannot sin against an action or a word.  So if we cut the person in two, we are always in the moral right, because we don’t target people, we target words and actions.

This is what that rascally and brilliant metaphysician, John Immel, would call a rational atrocity…a rational larceny (two of the best phrases ever).  A pitiful attempt to take the moral high ground by using argumentative slight of hand and ad hominem.

In the right corner, Dee, wearing compassionate Calvinism trunks of many colors, given to her by her Father, who loves her bestest of all…just because.  And in the left corner, John A and April who are wearing identical trunks because they say, no, their Father, who is the same Father, loves them bestest of all…just because.  The fight will begin once we figure out just who the Father is cheering for. Because that?  Will tell us who wins even before the first punch is thrown.  You see, it’s all about who is loved more by daddy just because.  Just because, for some reason, he says that they are just so damn special that no one else would understand.

“We don’t judge the heart motives, we only judge actions. Pfft…only God can judge the heart motives.”

Let me explain something…little “truisms” like this that never get examined is why there is tyranny run amok in the church and in the state, and why so few people are just too fucking tired to think anymore.  Every time they get a good idea, some “absolute” like this gets plastered like a mental blindfold and they refuse to tear it off. But the “Bible says it” (and I don’t actually concede it does) goes the dancing monkey, spinning in circles.  And since the Bible is the replacement Primary Consciousness for God in Christianity these days, there isn’t any REASON to think because clearly, other men have already done all the thinking the world will ever need FOR them.  They’ve got their little bumper stickers on autoplay in their heads and there simply isn’t room for reason between the little cracks of ramshackle theology.  Whatever holes are big enough to fill with logically defensible arguments have been jammed full of “God’s mystery”.  Little insane ideas like “we don’t judge motives, just actions” allows people to get away with the most egregious, self-righteous and vile criticism all the while proclaiming their own innocence of any malice or evil intention.  Why?  Because if motives/assumptions are divorced from action then by what standard can their OWN hearts be judged?  They can get away with any degree of evil speech and psychological violence and even rank murder (when you take the assumption to its logical conclusion) and NEVER have to defend their own behavior because saying you don’t judge “motives” is tantamount to saying that motives don’t matter.  And if motives don’t matter, and are off the table as a topic of discussion because they are a “mystery” that only God can know, then the minute a critical eye is turned upon them…well, notice what Dee does.

“Ah, ah, ah…” she says, waggling her index finger before your nose like your fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kranklefrauer, “I will sit here all day long and judge motives and the minute you look to judge mine, out comes my gigantic and universal trump card of “God’s Mystery”.  Motives are mystery, the old saying goes, and so I will kindly thank you to take your criticism elsewhere, young man.  You don’t judge me.  Even I can’t judge me.”

In other words, Dee, trained to do so as she is by conceding the very doctrine that drives the evil behavior she “confronts” on her blog (and forms the motives…yes, I said it; see, Dee, it isn’t that hard to not be a hypocrite…just say it: I judge your motives), flips the script.  She changes the rules on a whim and a sniff of the wind.  It’s blowing against her…the critical eyes are condemning HER.  The motherfucking nerve of them!  Don’t they realize that MOTIVE is off limits!  Only God knows my motive! she declares.  How DARE they challenge the purity of my assumptions by pretending that MY actions can be linked to my assumptions! she cries in fury.

“Off to the Wartburg dungeon!”  She screams…and off they go.  Just like that.  For no other reason than doing the exact same thing Dee does.  Questioning the actions by looking at the assumptions.  Yes, yes she does…because it is impossible to only judge actions.  Im. Poss. I. Ble.

“Dee, why are you all such assholes?” John A innocently asks, daring to enter the shark tank of the “poor” and the “abused” where bloody teeth surely await him…he knows this all to well, and shudders.  “You judge and judge and pretend to know the heart of all you despise when you cannot possibly know that; and further, according to your own words, your own “doctrine”, motives cannot even be known, they are God’s purview solely, and thus what is your appeal for savaging these people?  If you insist on divorcing action from assumptions which drive it, then by what moral standard can you judge them?  For it is obvious to those not gone insane by hubris and a massively self-serving blog apparatus that action in a vacuum cannot possibly be declared “evil fruit”…for if the fruit is found far from the trees, how can you declare it evil?  You know not which tree it came from.  And even if you knew, if you divorce fruit from the root entirely, on a metaphysical level, then even if the fruit is rotten it must be the tree’s fault.  And you cannot criticize the tree,  you say…for only God sees the tree.  So…whats with all the rationally insane  and self-serving platitudes?”

*

The question isn’t “are you judging motives”.  The question (if you want to get all Biblical about is) is are you judging motives correctly?  Are you able to see enough in order to draw a logical conclusions as to the morality of a person’s motive?  The answer to this is sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  But make no mistake, actions cannot exist in a vacuum when perpetrated by a self-aware, volitional agent.  You MUST judge actions because JUDGE implies a rendering of a decision concerning moral innocence or moral guilt.  If you judge a person’s actions you ARE judging their heart/motive/doctrine/assumption ipso facto.  So, the Bible’s point is that you better have a pretty good idea of what you are observing so that when you do judge, you are doing it according to a defensible rational standard.  Otherwise, you are a hypocrite and are denying the right of SELF to your fellow man.  And that’s not cool at all.

So…what’s really going on here with this little tidbit of Wartburg Watch intellectual laziness (that they are so well known for)?  Well, I submit it is this:  Dee is free to judge motives all day long and savage the targets of her ire and when someone decides to turn a critical eye upon her she claims how dare they?…my motives are pure, and you can’t see them anyway.  And when they say, “but you are judging motives so why so upset that we judge yours”, she says I am not judging motives at all, only God can do that. And when they look at her all confused and say  “Then why judge at all since action without motive is by definition utterly meaningless and thus must be a-moral?”  And Dee replies “How dare you advise me to do something rational in service to my ideas…especially when the assumptions for doing so puts me on the moral hook for my own actions.  How dare you take away my safety net of epistemological purity, which is “Ignorance is bliss”.  I intend to appeal to ignorance of motives should God ask me to defend my tirades.  Just in case I’m out of line here and am violating other Christians and God calls me out on it, I need to be able to say “But I never judged motives; I never judged the “heart””.

Well…isn’t that just convenient, Dee?  You don’t judge motives, so you can be just as horrible as you like and you can never be held to moral account because it is merely the “fruit” you are judging.  The person is as innocent in your eyes as a baby’s powdered bottom, I suppose you are saying.  So when CJ turns a blind eye to abuse in the Church, for all you know, his motives may have been of the heavenliest kind, hmm? There may be blood but as long as Ceej is seeing Twinkies and Buttercups in his mind’s eye, then how can he be judged, right, Dee?

THIS is what you argue when someone calls out your invective? Good luck with that.  And by the looks of your blog’s popularity, you are having copious amounts of good luck with that.  And that?  Is really depressing.

Aaaaaaaand….this is when Dee gets backed into her epistemological corner–which is easy to do–and the fire flies from her eyeballs and in a flash all that is left of poor old John A is a smoldering little circle in the comments thread.  Once again, the brute force of blog moderation saves the day.  The Hypocritical Two Step can go on, spinning and spinning and spinning in the barn, with party favors and used napkins and styrofoam cups littering the happy floor, into epistemological oblivion, leaving a trail of tyranny and human destruction in its wake.  And this force?  Is otherwise known as shutting the opposition the hell up because physical oppression, not ideas, are the root of all philosophical victories, I suppose.

Sigh.

Now, somewhere in there (I’m too tired to even go look now) Dee challenges John A to point out where she has judged motives.  I didn’t wait around for John to oblige, but went on my own search.  This took me a whopping twenty seconds to find.  Here is Dee…er, not judging motives:

“This post [by Mark Driscoll] is either divorced from the reality of his situation or he is throwing the blame onto others, especially Satan and women.  They are the problem, not him.  This is a case study for psychologists.” 

“How could Driscoll write this without taking into consideration the growing scandal?  Or did he?  Is it an admission of sorts?  Is he saying “the devil made him do it?”

From http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/11/29/mark-driscoll-and-d-a-carson-believe-pastors-who-plagiarize-should-resign/