Two years ago, Wade Burleson published a book entitled "Fraudulent Authority: Pastors Who Seek to Rule Over Others". As readers of this blog know, Wade Burleson is a pastor in Oklahoma who reached out to me about 10 years ago when things got a little "rocky", and he was a great help to me and my family during that time period.
Wade's "web blog" back in the 2005 time frame was one of the first "blogs" that was used to expose some shady activities in the Southern Baptist Convention. His boldness in daring to publicly write about his disagreements over significant doctrinal decisions impacting missionaries of the SBC International Mission Board got him into hot water with the heavies (bullies) in the SBC, leading to him eventually resigning his position on the board. But Wade believed it was his moral obligation to shine a light on what was being done behind closed doors at the IMB and adversely affecting many missionaries.
Wade was a trailblazer - who would have thought that someone could use the Internet to bypass the media and the church elites to get his message out to the regular church pew sitter, unfiltered? How else could Grandma Betty in Podunk Baptist Church find out what the IMB was up to, using the money she gave? Wade did, and others, including this blogger, used "webblogs" or "blogs" to get a message out directly to the pew sitter, at virtually no cost and with no filters and absolutely zero control of the religious leaders. Blogs became a tool to expose misdeeds and frauds in the church - like Ergun Caner found out, 10 years after he perpetrated his "I was raised to do that which was done on 11 September" fraud.
Also, readers will recall how Wade called out the terrible treatment of Sheri Klouda, the seminary professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, who was fired by Paige Patterson because, well, she was guilty of the awful "offense" of being a woman who was teaching men at a seminary. I wrote several articles regarding the Klouda controversy as it spilled over into the topics relevant to this blog at the time.
But Wade's book "Fraudulent Authority" is a must-read for baptists who take seriously their church membership. Much of what is taught in Southern Baptist churches - especially in mega churches - regarding the position of "pastor" is not according to the bible. You owe it to yourself and your church to read this book. People are waking up to abuses in the church - not just sexual, but spiritual and financial. Don't keep your head in the sand. Inform yourself.
One of the interesting chapters of Wade's book is the one entitled "A Warning to Those Who Rule Over Others for Material Gain". This is an important chapter for members of mega churches where the pastor has ruled over the church and in the process has amassed a fortune for themselves and their family on the backs of the church. Here is an excerpt from that chapter:
"It is striking to discover that Jesus says very little about the corrupt Roman and Judean political leaders of his day.....Ironic, is it not, that modern evangelical preachers rail against and condemn President Obama [and] state governmental leaders...but there is an appalling silence when it comes to religious leaders who become rich off the tithes and offerings of God's people?"
Wade then goes on to explain that the parable of "The Rich Man and Lazarus" in Luke 16 is often used by pastors to tell the peeps that hell is real, and that those who don't let go of their riches in this world and give their tithes and offerings to their church might wake up one day and find themselves in hell begging for a drop of water.
But Wade points out that the "rich man" was not just some random rich man in Jesus' parable. He was Caiaphus the high priest, the equivalent to the modern day "man of God" who got filthy rich from his religious service.
Wade concludes the chapter by saying:
"The great problem of Jesus' day were religious leaders who controlled and dominated the people for their personal gain. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a warning today for any authoritarian religious leader who uses his position of authority for personal gain."
I say a hearty "Amen" to that.