My response to a Twitter storm regarding Wade Burleson and the NYT
The NYT posted: First They Fought About Masks. Then Over the Soul of the City. Subtitle In Enid, Okla., pandemic politics prompted a fundamental question: What does it mean to be an American? Whose version of the country will prevail?
If you read the story in its entirety, you will learn about Wade.
A prominent supporter of the recall effort was Ms. Crabtree’s pastor, Wade Burleson, whose church, Emmanuel Enid, is the largest in town. Enid has a substantial upper middle class, with large homes and a gated community near a country club and a golf course, and many of those families are part of the church’s 3,000-strong congregation.
Mr. Burleson, 59, served two terms as president of the Southern Baptists of Oklahoma, the largest evangelical denomination in the state. He was considered a moderate in the Southern Baptist tradition, calling for greater leadership roles for women and speaking out for victims of sexual abuse, including asking church leaders to create a database to track predators, an unpopular stance.
But in the early months of the pandemic, he started speaking against mask mandates. He promoted the work of Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a Ukrainian-born doctor turned right-wing media star, who claimed to have a novel treatment for the coronavirus. Mr. Burleson used apocalyptic language, invoking Nazi doctors as a specter of where mask and vaccine mandates could end up. Mandates, he argues, are the first steps toward complete government control, and he feels called to warn people.
Here is where I want to stop and explain my friendship with Wade. First, it should be noted that I have been a strong advocate of the vaccine and boosters, taking an early stand on the matter. I have always followed the mask mandates for the area that I am in at any one time. I have also strongly opposed the efforts of anti-vaxxers and my writing will show that.
Shortly after I started blogging, I became concerned about the vehemence of the Mark Driscoll bros, receiving emails that were pretty disgusting. I was shocked at what I learned about Sovereign Grace and CJ Mahaney. As I spoke out, I received threats and derogatory comments from The Gospel Coalition Bros like Joe Carter who accused me of libel. Although a friend was helping to write during that time, the weight of the blog fell on my shoulders.
There was a time when I began to feel that I might quit blogging, especially as I discovered more and more stories of churches and sexual abuse, especially in the SBC. I also began to realize that women were not held in high esteem by many of the complementarian folks. I began to call the hard-core Calvinists “Calvinistas” since it seemed their beliefs were weaponized against all who might disagree with their obviously superior stance on the faith. I felt alone and discouraged.
Then I got a call from Wade Burleson who asked me to come out to Enid to spend the weekend with Rachelle and him. They encouraged me and we found common ground on the sex abuse issue as well as the role of women in the church. Without them, I may have left blogging behind.
Wade is not an authoritarian. He does not demand that his friends follow him in lockstep. He tips towards Calvinism; I do not. He is open to young-earth creationism; I am a theistic evolutionist. He loves the SBC. He knows I am now Lutheran. He was supportive of me as I wandered in the post-evangelical wilderness, looking for a church home. He was the only pastor who came to the dessert for the women of the For Such a Time as This rally. The only one… He called women on his staff “pastors” which probably caused the SBC to look the other way.
It was due to the support of Wade and (Dr.) Rachelle that I continued to blog. Wade will always be my friend, even when we disagree. I am saddened by those who claim I must drop a friend because he disagrees with me. That isn’t going to happen.
What about EChurch@Wartburg?
In the meantime, I have decided to feature talks and sermons by a number of Christian pastors, leaders, and teachers in EChurch@Wartburg. There is a lot out there and I think it will be fun and challenging.
The Stories of 2021
- Of course, the biggest shock of the year was Ravi Zacharias’ story. In 2015, I asked a question in a post. “If he lied about all of this (meaning his bio) what else is he lying about?” I had no idea how much we didn’t know.
- A good collection was at Julie Roys. She links to stories about Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacharias, John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist, etc.
- I would also like to add the implosion of David Platt and McLean Bible Church found here.
- Religion News added their take on 2021 in From the Capitol insurrection to the Taliban takeover: The defining religion stories of 2021
- The Gospel Coalition wrote Top Theology Stories of 2021 In it, they mention the podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill produced by Christianity Today. If you have not listened to this, you are missing out on some good information.
- Christianity Today posted CT’s Top 20 Stories of 2021 These include Beth Moore’s departure from the SBC, the problems surrounding Josh Duggar, and the splintering of the evangelical soul. Looks like they agree with me on the David Platt mess. Platt was one of those diehard Calvinistas and in this, we see his exhibition of the authoritarianism found in the Calvinist soul.
- Although it is not religious in flavor, the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell is striking fear into the hearts of men who used the young women she procured for Epstein. I think Prince Andrew is getting worried.
- I would also like to add the story surrounding the um… stories….told by PJ Smyth finally being questioned. Special thanks to Todd Wilhelm who has dogged Smyth for years.
So what did they forget? What do you think the most dramatic story is of 2021?