A Few Reasons Why Doug Wilson Needs to be Avoided

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by JOwen, Jun 24, 2009.

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  1. JOwen

    JOwen Puritan Board Junior

    Someone, I can't recall who, asked for some quotes from Wilson himself regarding his erroneous teachings. I forgot I had these...

    Doug Wilson Quotes From the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference.

    “The church today has adopted a number of assumptions that are diametrically opposed to what the word of God teaches. Now when we recognize that we have met the enemy, and he is us. This means that in Christian circles, in evangelical circles and particularly in reformed circles, we have to stop confessing our sins and start confessing our virtues. The things that we thought were our strengths are the things that have been dogging us for a long, long time, for a number of centuries. For 350 years in this country, we have been getting some of the fundamental issues with regard to the word of God, and the covenant, and the gospel, and what is a Christian, we have been getting them wrong” (page 20, line 23-28. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “When we say that all of God’s word is perfect, converting the soul. When we don’t divide it up into law and gospel, when we don’t say law over here, gospel over there, when we say it’s all gospel, it’s all law, it’s all good” (page 21, line 29,30. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “We say, for example, well we want to make sure this kid really understands the Lord’s Supper before he partakes. Oh, like you really understand it? Who understands it, who fully understands the Lord’s Supper, raise your hand, I dare you. Little Johnny, you grow up big and strong and after you have grown up big and strong, then we will give you some food. And then, of course, he keels over. He dies of starvation, wonders off, apostatizes and then we say, “oh, see? He died of starvation. It’s a good thing we didn’t give him any food. He died.” He died because you weren’t feed him” (page 22, line 12-17. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “The Bible says, we say basically, well before you can come to the Lord’s table, you’ve got to, you’ve got to be like an adult. Jesus says before you come to the kingdom of God, you adults have got be like a child. Jesus says, you adults, you’ve got to work on being more childlike and we say, you children have got to be working on becoming more adult like. And what’s more, you reformed people say that the gold sanctifies the alter. Well, no, no, we don’t say that last one. Well, why not, go ahead, why stop where you stop. God says this, we turn it on its head, upside down, backward. We couldn’t get it more entirely wrong. And then we say, well, this is our tradition, we just want to protect the purity of the faith and. That’s not how you protect the purity of the covenant people of God. You don’t protect the purity of the covenant by starving covenant members” (page 22, line 18-27. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “Wisdom is vindicated by her children", Jesus says. Well we have to understand is that Jesus said, whoever stumbles one of these little ones, it would be better for him to tie a millstone around his neck and have him be thrown into the sea. And we in the reformed tradition, I am talking specifically the American reformed tradition, we have 350 years of “millstone ‘r us.” Well, that’s how we think. Well, some kids stumble, some kids stumble, that’s a shame, that’s a shame, it’s a shame when kids stumble, but we have to preserve the purity of the table. Who put you in charge of it? Who told you it was your table? The Lord is the head to the table and he defends it quite nicely (page 22, line 28-32, page 23, line 1-3. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “If we abandon the Hellenistic ontological division between invisible and visible and adopted a more Hebraic biblical way of thinking and toppled the whole thing on its side, the invisible church is the eschatological church and the visible church is the historical church. Now notice what this does, if I topple the whole thing on its side and it is now in history, the eschatological church is now the historical church and it is at the culmination of history, all right, and the visible church is that same church at an earlier point in time. You don’t create the question which of these two churches is the true church” (page 28, line 8-13. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “All right, there are questions that reformed exegetes have been dishonest with and perseverance of the saints is one of the prime areas where we say these are hypothetical warnings and they are plainly in the text very, very real warnings” (page 34, line 27-30. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “The true church is the church in history, the gathered throng of all professing households assembled in covenant around the word in Christ’s sacraments whether they understand that or not. Okay, they are not saved by works, they are not saved by passing a test. They are saved because of their connection to Christ and if they have that connection to Christ, they’re saved” (page 36, line 3-6. Doug Wilson: Visible and Invisible Church Revisited Tape 2).

    “If you adopt some of the things that were adopted in the seventeenth century about visible and invisible church, if you adopt some of the thinking about election, you have to go in this Reformed Baptist direction. And this Reformed Baptist assumption is the assumption that those who fall away from the covenant were never really members of it” (page 104, line 23-27. Doug Wilson: Doug Wilson: Curses of the New Covenant Tape 7).
     
  2. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    Doug Wilson is certainly not the best theologian ever to grace the Church. There are a good deal more quotes that could be provided that give evidence of his questionable theology. However, I wouldn't quite say avoid him altogether. I have read some of his stuff on marriage which is quite good.
     
  3. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    “If you adopt some of the things that were adopted in the seventeenth century about visible and invisible church, if you adopt some of the thinking about election, you have to go in this Reformed Baptist direction. And this Reformed Baptist assumption is the assumption that those who fall away from the covenant were never really members of it” (page 104, line 23-27. Doug Wilson: Doug Wilson: Curses of the New Covenant Tape 7).

    This stuff that the FV advocates go on about is quite easily resolved if its pointed out to people that they can be in the covenant in one sense and not of the covenant in another sense or vice versa.

    And this is taught throughout the Bible; weren't the wicked Israelites and Jews that the prophets and Christ condemned not in the covenant in one sense and not of the covenant in another sense? Weren't they chosen in the sense that God had put them among the Jewish people and not elect in the sense that they did not show they were God's true people? Clear distinctions have to be made between different aspects and senses.

    If Federal Visionists are trying to be or are accidentally confusing in these matters they are a grave danger to the church - particularly conservative evangelical and Reformed presbyterianism. The Devil is the author of confusion.
     
  4. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    That last line about adopting some of the 17th century things about the visible/invisible church and going in a reformed baptist direction is quite ridiculous. It wasn't Reformed Baptists who were making these distinctions; it was the Reformed themselves, and they weren't going in any Reformed Baptist direction, and we still aren't. Silly Douglas, rhetoric is for people who can't use logic.
     
  5. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Great work, Pastor L.
     
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    One thing to consider here is that while Mr. Wilson is right on some things, he is wrong especially in the context of the federal vision as a whole. Don't forget, he co-authored the book The Federal Vision which as a whole confuses or denies justification, imputation, the visible/invisible church distinction, sanctification, union with Christ, emphasizes paedocommunion... all sorts of views we would say are not confessional or are unorthodox.

    The other part is that he is a leader of this errant theology and defends and gives place to others who are more errant than he is.

    Biblically, to whom much is given, much is required. (Scripture) teachers will be judged by a higher standard. Whether he has intended it or not, he has promoted schism and disrespected church authority (discipline).

    We don't consider individual statements or positions at a given time in a vacuum.
     
  7. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    It was me that requested someone ante up with some Wilson quotes...in none of those quotes did Wilson actually postulate a false gospel...were some of his assertions wrong? Yes. Another gospel? No.

    To my mind, some of what Wilson says is a "corrective" to the way we do Church...so I take his words as pastoral rather than attempting to be theologically precise...sometimes what he says is an over-reaction rather than a corrective. By the same token, when people insist Wilson preaches another gospel, they haven't corrected Doug Wilson: They have also over-reacted.
     
  8. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This is very disturbing. It's all gospel? It's all law? He and St. Paul are not in agreement if this is taken or being understood in the correct context. And seeing how he views the Covenant of Works, I would have to assume that I am understanding his context.
     
  9. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Craig, those quotes came from one of the conference messages. It was even more disturbing to listen to the actual presentation. There were worse things taught and said in His messages,and he was in agreement with the other speakers . I might have the messages saved somewhere on my computer.
    While he is an educated man,and many have enjoyed some of his ideas on christian education you might want to exercise much caution here.
     
  10. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps I was wrong in what I was seeing in his statements, but saying that a person could be saved and then lost seems like a different gospel than then one I have read in scripture.

    The opening paragraph of the OP seems to have him saying that he gets what a Christian is, but nobody else does. Definition of a cult.

    I'd want to see more of what he is saying to decide if he is way out there, or just moderately out there.
     
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Can anyone illumine us to Doug Wilson's views of corporate justification and corporate regeneration?
     
  12. ExGentibus

    ExGentibus Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow, that is quite a collection of disconcerting teachings! All is law and all is Gospel?? The visible/invisible distinction is a baptist invention? No perseverance?
    I agree with pastor Lewis, better avoid this kind of utter confusion unless for apologetical purposes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
  13. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    :offtopic: Where did Mr. Wilson receive his theological training?
     
  14. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I might be mistaken, but I am pretty sure he never went to seminary. (not that that's an automatic black mark on his record)
     
  15. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    Where is greenbaggins when you need him? :gpl:
     
  16. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    None of those quotes show that Wilson postulates a false gospel? Are you planning to limit the gospel to the words (apart from meaning) 'saved by grace alone through faith alone'? Is that sufficient for you?

    Wilson teaches that TRUE, LIVING union with Jesus Christ is conferred upon every single baptized member of the church - EVERY ONE. He embraces the FV false understanding of John 15, wherein every baptized member (whom he calls "true Christians") is in living union with Christ, having the sap of Christ (his blood) flowing in them. There is massive confusion concerning union with Christ (and thus salvation, and thus the gospel) in what Wilson promotes.... If you don't see this as a problem in his conception (and promotion) of the gospel, then I fear we have little to discuss.
     
  17. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    I totally agree with Todd here. Wilson has not properly distinguished between Law and Gospel. Martin Luther said that a true theologian, i.e., a theologian of the cross, is one who properly distinguishes between Law and Gospel. Wilson and others want to mix the two together. Paul couldn't be any clearer however when he said, "The Law is not of faith." Mixing Law and Gospel=another Gospel.

    -----Added 6/25/2009 at 08:42:46 EST-----

    I can't see how any of what Wilson says in the Federal Vision and other writings is a corrective to the Church.
     
  18. cbryant

    cbryant Puritan Board Freshman

    According to his wikipedia page (take that for what its worth I suppose) he has a B.A. in Classical Studies, B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in Philosophy all from the University of Idaho.
     
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I am not defending the FV approach to the problem but their form of Covenantalism is an over-reaction to a real problem that exists in many Reformed circles these days. As correctives go, men often go to the opposite extremes they come out of instead of settling into an Orthodox position.

    There is a tendency to depreciate the importance of the Covenant among some Reformed to assume that nothing real is conferred in the Sacrament. There is also a bit of fatalism with respect to God electing children that doesn't deal with the real sin of neglect where parents fail to train their childrn in the way the Scriptures command.

    Of course the Standards and Puritan causistry have practical theological wisdom to how the precepts (what we are commanded) work themselves together with the decree of God (what God only knows) but many Reformed get caught in the abstraction of the Invisible Kingdom forgetting that where we labor is in the Visible.

    Thus, I find the FV complaints about the Reformed Confessions to be hollow because they're always aiming their criticisms at the wrong thing - some modern expressions of Reformed theology that are variously anti-nomian or forget the injunctions in the Confessions about "improving our baptisms" and the like. They act as if the only alternative to their mono-Covenantalism is anti-nomianism and a Zwinglian view of the Sacraments.

    I've said this before but I believe one of the things that made many FV proponents so recalcitrant is that they couldn't stand the idea of being lectured about the Confession from people that had huge logs in their eyes concerning the Confession. In other words, if the Scriptures tell us to raise our kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord then its hard to receive criticism from a fellow who thinks that any third use of the Law violates his exclusive "BT-only" rule that you should never enjoin from the Word but only exhort about what Christ has done. The attitude might be: "Well, I might be doing too much but I'd rather err on the side of thinking too much about where my kids stand in the Covenant than not at all...." As with so many apparently "Either-Or" choices, the solution was not either or but the Confessional understanding all along, which neither group is faithful to.
     
  20. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    Rich,

    I think you nailed things pretty well. I do think FV (overall) is heterodox and a number of the proponents are preaching a false gospel.

    I think Wilson tries to sound sticky on this...I believe he is trying to be "corrective" by saying things that sound equivocal. He believes in personal regeneration (which is what we all on the PB affirm)...in regard to corporate regeneration, I don't believe he means "regeneration" in the same sense as actually being "born again". There are promises with *real meaning* and *curses with real meaning* attached to being a member of the visible body. In the end, I came to understand that Wilson rejects the notion of the visible/invisible church but really ends up affirming it *while also* affirming the covenantal "strings" attached to professing faith, being baptized, and being numbered with the Church.

    -----Added 6/25/2009 at 09:58:57 EST-----

    As I noted before, Wilson ends up affirming the visible/invisible Church...those that "fall away" are part of the visible church only...which has *real* covenantal strings attached b/c they've failed to live up to a faith they professed to be real.

    As far as "all law being gospel"...there are promises attached to the Law. It is not all "curse", otherwise we'd have no third use of the Law nor would it make sense that David found it renewing to meditate upon it.

    Wilson is opposing a distinctively Lutheran view of the Law/Gospel divide...a view that sees only division and no unity. So yes, Law is also Gospel just not in the same sense...again, I think Wilson speaks pastorally and not with theological precision. It sounds equivocal, but who doesn't do this at times when he preaches? Especially if he is trying to preach a corrective.
     
  21. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    But what he ALSO says is that those who fell away had real, living, vital UNION with Christ.

    What of that? Is that not a gross perversion of Gospel truth?
     
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The way to deal with this is to take on board anything that's Biblical and then make clear distinctions.

    Fair enough Israel was elect/chosen in some sense. They were chosen to grow up under the sound of the Gospel, which is a great privilege. But we know that individuals weren't deemed elect unto salvation until they "brought forth fruit unto salvation".

    (The idea that God intended that people automatically assume that they were justified merely because they were in the Covenant and had managed to keep their noses relatively clean is ridiculous. Clearly by the first century, Pharisees like Saul thought that, but he was caught out by the fact that even if you keep your nose clean and stay free from "big" outward sins, you still have deep down sins like covetousness that have to be washed away. Covenantal nomism is good - no-one wants scandal and discipline problems in the church - but it's not good enough to justify you.)

    The same goes for Covenant children today; they are chosen by God to have special priviledges, promises and responsibilities. But we can't say any individual child is elect unto salvation until we see the fruits.

    God told the Israelites that it was not enough that they were circumcised outwardly and they needed circumcision of the heart. In like manner today's Covenant children should be reminded that it is not enough to be baptised with water; it is but a token to remind them that they need to be baptised in the Spirit/regenerated/hearts washed in Jesus' blood. See e.g. the Larger Catechism Q on ''improving'' your baptism.

    This wouldn't be enough for the Visionistas, but it takes the Covenant seriously without being dangerously confusing.
     
  23. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The problem with Wilson, in my opinion, is not so much what he affirms, although there are problems there, but what he is unwilling to deny, that's the problem. I once told someone (and got blasted to Mars because of it) that I thought Wilson was orthodox on justification by faith alone, but that I would not ordain him in my Presbytery.

    On the issue of union with Christ, he does go too far in interpreting John 15 in the FV sense, but he does not go near as far as, say, Wilkins does. For instance, recently (and the chronology is important for someone like Wilson) he said that those who "fall away" were never regenerated in the Westminsterian sense. What is confusing here is that he sometimes uses regeneration to refer to the entire redemptive-historical new epoch, as he claims is in use in Matthew 19:28. We need to be very careful about which views we impute to Wilson, and which views he merely tolerates among his fellow FV'ers.

    Wilson never had any formal theological training. As a result, he has grown on some of these issues. For instance, he used to think that the visible/invisible church distinction was a load of rubbish, and he used to speak of tipping that distinction over on its side and making it into the historical/eschatological distinction (he said this both in the AAPC lectures, and in RINE). However, recently, he admitted that the v/i distinction is not only distinct from the h/e distinction, but that both distinctions are biblical.

    You have to understand also the historical context for Wilson. He is quite the poster boy for the FV. Since he is a "pale ale," he is constantly making this move to say "Well, I'm orthodox, so what's your problem with Wilkins?" And yet, as soon as one makes a blanket statement about all FV belief, he quickly notes that FV'ers don't agree on everything. I've lost count of the number of times he has pulled that one off.
     
  24. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Someone should send this quote of Doug Wilson's to John Piper and see if he really wants him at his conference then.
     
  25. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    Would that really work? Sven said that rhetoric is for people who can't use logic...

    Theognome
     
  26. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    That sets what's really at issue *clearly*.

    I'd rather if people are going to talk about Wilson's dangers that they talk about what is unbiblical about him...paedocommunion, for example (and that goes hand in hand with what he will not deny).

    He clearly affirms the gospel, it's the other quirky things that may push people along a slippery slope if they don't read him with care.
     
  27. JTDyck

    JTDyck Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that Doug Wilson often speaks as a corrective. But that is not the work of a preacher. We are commanded to declare the truth, not to act as a "corrective". That is the work of the Holy Spirit. He will correct according to His sovereign purpose when He applies the preaching of the Word to the hearts of His own sheep.

    And if Wilson does not speak or write with care, then why should I bother to take the time to read him with care?
     
  28. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    Speaking correctively is the role of a pastor if he is also an effective preacher. The Apostles didn't always speak "clearly" (you know, using precise theological terminology). As an example, consider the word "salvation" was used to convey a number of different things: justification, echatologically, sanctification, etc.

    So I wonder if the role of a pastor is to speak the language of academic/systematic theology, or to address the idols of our day...which includes neat theological frameworks that have no room for the grace of law nor the real promises and threats to those unfaithful to the covenant that are part of the visible Church.
     
  29. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    With all due respect sir I believe you are wrong. Of course the Bible doesn't use the language of 21st century reformed theology. You do not expect it too, heck Calvin doesn't even use the same terminology as modern day calvinists and confessionally reformed persons. In in a hundred years from now Reformed terminology will be different. Thats the beauty of language. The Bible is 100% consistant in its theology but because of the human nature of scripture (a divine authorship also YES, but God using humans with their unique experiences). When we discuss the bible text itself we should not use systematic theological language however when he discuss the biblical text and what it teaches that is the where systematic theology kicks in and helps us explain the entireity of the message.
     
  30. JTDyck

    JTDyck Puritan Board Freshman

    I have heard similar statements from Doug Wilson and that is where a great deal of my concern arises. Actually, the Word of God always speaks clearly. It is unequivocal. In each place where the Bible uses the word "salvation" God meant to say one thing about it. He never intended for us to express our personal opinions about it or to make it doubtful.

    It is important for God's people to know the language of systematic theology. That is one of the great lessons of the Athanasian Creed where the use of a non-Biblical theological word, homoousios, was used to distinguish truth from error. Arians can not sign on to that creed and one of their arguments is that it uses a word that is not in the Bible. Theological words and definitions clarify. When the truth is clearly declared it cannot fail to address the idols of our day. A great deal of heresy can be spread by only using Bible verses, but ignoring their context.

    So, for instance, just because the term "born again" has been abused by bad preaching and even popular preachers, it does not mean that we should no longer use it. But it may call for more frequent and precise definition.

    All this must be done from the heart - not to raise eyebrows, but to convict the sinner of the truth of God's Word and his need for repentance.
     
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