A Question for Doug Wilson Fans

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Semper Fidelis, Oct 7, 2015.

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  1. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that I am not a "fan" of Doug Wilson, nor do I seek to absolve him of any wrong doing. What I will say is that when I heard about some of the controversial issues surrounding him, I made it a goal of mine to try to be fair in my conclusions concerning him. So, a little over a year ago I determined to listen to every sermon of his for an entire year, to determine if he was preaching a false gospel or any other heresy. This month it has been a year, and I can say with certainty that the man does preach the gospel. Not once do I recall him preaching any false gospel or heresy, although he certainly did say a few things that I (as a Baptist) would disagree with.

    Of course, I have not read any of his books or listened to any of his other speaking engagements. In those areas I am completely ignorant and cannot speak to them. What I do know is that, whatever may be said of the man, he has been preaching the true gospel for the past year. In fact, I honestly have to say that one of the best presentations of the gospel I ever heard was in this sermon from last October:


    That is all that I wished to say regarding this discussion, as I am not qualified to say any more.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I am not denying that he will say propositions that sometimes line up with Gospel propositions. I am simply pointing out that his establishment throws women and children under the bus and given that he is pope of the denomination he created, he is beyond all ecclesiastical appeal.
  3. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Doug Wilson can be confusing to understand. He seems to say some things that make you say, "of course, he is orthodox", and then others that make you scratch your head. Of course, he is unambiguous about a variety of things that we would outright reject (the easiest is paedo-communion). He also seems to be very confused in his polity, as he serves alongside elders that affirm credo-baptism as well as paedo-baptists, and yet is in a church that encourages paedo-communion. The whole thing is very confusing. Read the constitution for his church sometime if you wish to see the sort of general confusion that surrounds this ministry. When it comes to the things of our Lord, confusion is not a virtue (1 Cor. 14:33).

    You see, there are things that members of this board believe (credo-baptism, congregationalism, hymns in worship, etc.) that I would outright reject, and there are things that I believe that others would outright reject (paedo-baptism, Presbyterian polity, Exclusive Psalmody, Covenanting, etc.). But the thing is that we are very clear with each other and I appreciate that. It is what allows iron to sharpen iron. Clear differences of opinion that are not confused, backed with robust discussion through the Scriptures. This is virtually impossible to the sort of hodge-podge theology that Mr. Wilson and others espouse in the Federal Vision camp.

    But over the years, I've found the following to be the truly big danger signs with Doug Wilson:
    • He's effectively the head (Pope/Bishop/Grand Poobah, etc.) of his own denomination and I would find it hard to imagine him to be the subject of discipline or correction.
    • Has never been ordained or formally trained, and believes this puts him in hallowed company.
    • Has an ego the size of the state I live in.
    • Doesn't seem to understand Historic Reformed formulations too well, and quickly dismisses them.
    • He can be terribly unclear. This often happens with men who think they are smarter than they really are. And is quite unsuited for someone in pastoral ministry to begin with, but especially problematic with people who are not geniuses, yet believe they are. I've worked with many men like this.

    In a sense, he's the sort of man you should avoid even if he was completely orthodox in his formulations. The biggest problem with Doug Wilson that I have is that he's really not the sort of man you want in pastoral ministry. He's a bit of a rabble-rouser, loves controversy, and in general has no real accountability as he's the "rockstar" of the CREC. When people take issue with him, instead of humbly and soberly considering their claims and interacting - he can have a tendency to "turn things to 11": sometimes make light of the issue, and to generally continue merrily along unashamedly. When there are legitimate concerns, here is how he responds:

    Excuse me, but this is not the sort of response I expect from a minister when people have concerns over a pedophile. This is the sort of behavior from someone who knows that no one in the visible church can truly keep him accountable.

    I think is it fascinating to see how the Lord has been shaking the church recently, with many high profile men with this sort of personality coming under greater scrutiny. I am glad to see it.
  4. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I would add a couple of fundamental danger in Wilson's teaching:

    1. He tends to convert wisdom literature into apodictic law. In other words, he turns wisdom principles about how one ought to raise a child or wisdom literature concerning how a child will turn out based on certain principles into "thou shalt" formulas. If you've ever listened to his child rearing teachings at any length he proceeds from his application of a wisdom principle, turns it into a normative principle and then builds upon that principle to make other applications that turn his opinions into "thus saith the Lord". It is a very dangerous approach to wisdom and is, in part, the reason where many of the patriarchal and covenant succession people get off the rails.

    2. This is related to the first danger. Because certain wisdom principles are turned into apodictic laws: "if you raise a child in a certain way then they will not depart from the faith..." this leads to an expectation that what the Scriptures promise is that parenting is a means of grace and that failure of a child to have saving faith is probably mostly attributed to the failure of good parenting: praying with your kids, disciplining, training them, etc. When you read Wilson's response to the blog's criticism you see some of this stuff at play - foundational to a "successful" home is the father being the strong, patriarchal priest of his house (being Christ for his wife in another strain of the analogy of love that Paul uses) and the mother functioning properly to raise the kids properly so that the children might continue in the faith they are baptized in.

    3. Because of this strong expectation that the parental or "family covenantal" means of grace will lead to a child that follows the Lord, there is a deprecation of the notion of union with Christ. Wilson has taught, as other FV do, that all baptized people are in Covenant and are united to Christ in a certain sense. It is this foundational error that is most dangerous in the theology of Wilson. It's the idea that the things signified in baptism do not belong only to those to whom the grace belongs (the elect) but that all participate, in some sense, in the life of Christ. When one turns from the Church the consideration tends to turn back not to the operation of the Spirit but to whether or not all the familial "means of grace" misfired.
  5. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    It is a bit of a misnomer to say that Spurgeon didn't believe in ordination as such. He simply did not believe the ceremonial aspect of the imposition of hands to be something that continued after the apostolic period. In this, he fell right in line with his predecessor John Gill who believed that the vote of a local church extending a call to a man to be their pastor, when accepted, constituted his ordination.

    Dr. Gill says:

    The election and call of them, with their acceptance, is ordination. The essence of ordination lies in the voluntary choice and call of the people, and in the voluntary acceptance of that call by the person chosen and called; for this affair must be by mutual consent and agreement, which joins them together as pastor and people. And this is done among themselves; and public ordination, so called, is no other than a declaration of that. - Gill, A Body of Doctrinal & Practical Divinity, p. 867

    Gill fleshes his position out in greater detail in his Body of Practical Divinity which I would recommend one read for a better understanding of issue. Along with Gill's view was the rejection of the idea that ordination conferred any ecclesiastical authority beyond the local church that had chose him as their pastor. So when the tie between pastor and people was dissolved, for whatever reason, so also was that man's ordination. In other words, he denied the idea of any man being a minister "at large" in any sense.

    Our church recognizes the laying on of the hands of the Eldership as a biblical practice which is valuable for setting a man apart in a visible way before the congregation. But I do believe, with Gill, that the essence of ordination consists of the "common suffrage of the church." And that it only extends to that man for the duration of his call with that church. When the tie is dissolved, his possession of that office is ceased. There is no such thing as a pastor without a flock.

    Baptist Confession of Faith, XXVI:9:

    The way appointed by Christ for the Calling of any person, fitted, and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the Office of Bishop, or Elder, in a Church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the Church it self; and Solemnly set apart by Fasting and Prayer, with imposition of hands of the Eldership of the Church, if there be any before Constituted therein; And of a Deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by Prayer, and the like Imposition of hands.​
  6. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    I did not in any way misrepresent the position of C.H. Spurgeon, which may be seen in a few places, particularly his article "Ordination and Religious Titles" in Sword and Trowel, v. 4 (1874), 111-117.

    In fact, in the cited material itself (that alleges misrepresentation), I conclude both of the block quotes with the heart of what Spurgeon believed was required (a divine call and congregational approbation), which is in no way substantively different from what the one alleging error admitted. This is not my position, of course, but I am capable of rightly representing a position with which I may differ and have done so in keeping with Spurgeon's own words (who himself, interestingly, was not uncritical of Gill, on other grounds).

  7. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Dr. Strange, I never accused you "misrepresenting" Spurgeon's view. What I spoke of was really more innocent. I said that saying Spurgeon did not believe in ordination in any sense was a "misnomer," (i.e. a slightly inaccurate use of terms). Do accept my apology if I have offended you.
  8. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    With regards to blog post titled "A Question for Doug Wilson Fans" I would say:

    First, I am not a Doug Wilson "fan." I do recognize the problems with Wilson's doctrinal views. I do not however, regard him as a heretic and on several occasions, I have found his teaching to be helpful. I am also thankful for his clear witness of the Gospel to unbelievers in universities and in debates. While I agree with some of the criticisms made here, I fear some of the them are unfair and opportunistic. I would even say they reveal problems in the bloggers thinking. For instance, I would be interested in knowing what exactly she objects to with regard to the selections she has quoted from Wilson on patriarchy and marriage. She puts it forward as if what is said in those quotes is altogether wrong. Which in my mind, makes me wonder about her own views of men, women and marriage. Lastly, I think on the whole, the tenor and spirit of the blog seems to me a violation of the ninth commandment. I can truly appreciate the objections she has with his theology and doctrine, what concerns me is the willingness to attack his name and character with little or no evidence. It reads like a hit piece. It does not seriously interact with Wilson on any point of dispute.

    I am sure some will disagree with me. That is fine, I am just giving my impressions of the blog post.
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    While I can't go into all of it now, everything I've ever said about Wilson can be documented with court documents, police records, and Wilson's own writings. While the following picture might appear light-hearted, it does demonstrate how the CREC can view women.

    crec eve.jpg

    This explains why CREC elders would encourage a naive girl to marry a pedophile who was serving a life-sentence and why CREC pastors would sit on the side of the convicted rapist in court and then in writing urge the rape victim to repent of sexual immorality and cut her and her father off from communion.
  10. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I've read the back and forth on this matter. I doubt Wilson's enemies have as good a handle on the issue as the pretend to. And such is the nature of these things. We were not there. We do not have all the facts. We have not spoken with the parties involved. That isn't to say that Wilson's actions are unblameable and shouldn't be questioned. But I sense a willingness by some to accept a bad report and a unwillingness to even consider Wilson's reasoning for his actions.

    Dealing with men who are guilty of crimes of a sexual nature within the context of the local church presents unique challenges to pastoral ministry. Finding the balance between wisdom, justice, mercy, and love is not easy. Having dealt with these kinds of cases in my own ministry, I would be reluctant to condemn.

    And while you mention CREC, was their not also the involvement of an OPC session in this matter?
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's fairly clear cut.

    The OPC warned the CREC when Sitler came in the area, but since neither Sitler nor Katie TRavis were communicant OPC members, I'm not sure of the OPC's relevance.

    ut I sense a willingness by some to accept a bad report and a unwillingness to even consider Wilson's reasoning for his actions.

    I've read Wilson's statements, the court documents, and the witnesses' statements. What's there not to consider at this point? Everytime Wilsonistas are brought under the light (not saying you are a Wilson disciple), they always bring the same line, "But you haven't heard Wilson's report."

    Yes I have. Unless he has new evidence he wants to disclose.
  12. Captain Picard

    Captain Picard Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, if Wilson had refused to marry Sitler, all other churches, pastors, and justices of the peace on the planet would have evaporated.
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The implied premise is that they could have gone to them. Yes, they could have. And those other officials could have shared in the stupidity and Wilson would have been in the clear. Instead, he blessed a union with a convicted pedophile and prayed that she would bear babies for this pedophile (who has since been sexually aroused by his infant son).

    Her life is ruined. Little Timmy can never be alone with his daddy. Who wants to explain that one to him?

    A fairy tale ending.
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Didn't she invite herself to the party?
  15. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    The reason that our Lord provides undershepherds for His sheep is so that the sheep will be counseled against becoming wolf food.
  16. Captain Picard

    Captain Picard Puritan Board Freshman

    Even were I to grant every one of the ideas about Sitler, the situation, and pedophiles generally that are essayed by the armchair quarterbacks on this, I would at worst call this a tragic mistake rather than attributing the sinister intent to Wilson that most people seem to be.
  17. Unoriginalname

    Unoriginalname Puritan Board Junior

    No it shows a complete lack of rationality in Wilson, and his responses show a need to be the final authority. The man acted beyond foolishly as the supposed shepherd of those involved and his blog posts show a complete inability for him to take hold of any guilt for his folly. Saying something like "oh well someone else would have married them" is folly and skirts the issue. If some other fool married them it would be on them, instead the everwise Wilson did.
  18. Captain Picard

    Captain Picard Puritan Board Freshman

    Does the Scripture authorize pastors to forbid persons to marry or have children because they have specific prior sin issues?

    If you're going to ignore the fact that the wedding was likely to take place anyway, that's the only question even remotely relevant to the whole situation.
  19. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Under that rationale, any pastor should participate in homosexual 'marriages', because the 'wedding' is likely to take place anyway.

    But if someone chooses to play with wolves, they really shouldn't be considered the victim when they get bitten. Folks need to take ownership of their poor decisions. And in this case, she appears to still be happy with the choices that she made, doesn't she?
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Yes and she bears a lot of the responsibility. But she is also in a church situation that encourages her to shut up and listen to the men-folk.
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I am not aware of Scripture saying yay or nay. I am not saying Wilson sinned in this particular situation. I am just saying he is not very bright and was quite foolish. And this pattern of foolishness has been going on for a long time.
  22. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Whether she did or didn't invite herself to the party is not the question. What ultimately is at issue are the obligations and the scriptural and wisdom considerations governing the actions of Christ's ministers faced with that situation and whether Wilson complied with those obligations and considerations.
  23. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    I understand that is the core discussion here. But I was responding specifically to the comment which suggested her life had been ruined (her present actions seem to suggest that she may not share that view) and by implication, she's a victim.

    As to the core issue - we can't know what all might have been discussed in pre-maritial counseling, and so can't discuss the pastor's actions there, but I'm fully on board with the position that no pastor should have participated in the ceremony itself. Whether such participation reflects naiveté or hubris in this case, I don't know.
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    One of the reasons why a person should not attend a wedding that they believe is improper is that a person's attendance at a wedding actually makes them a party to its solemnization. When I attend a wedding I'm not only asked if there's any reason why the two ought not to be married but then I'm a witness before God that the two have been joined and it is my responsibility, in part, that they would keep their vows.

    It's the height of hypocrisy for someone like Doug Wilson, who hyper-elevates the status of the husband as head and assigns all sorts of un-Biblical categories to it (based on the methodology I already articulated) to say: "Hey, they're going to get married anyway."

    Really? So he ought to be the one in the Church he pastors to solemnize and require his flock to participate in the solemnization? A union, after all, that places the woman under the headship of the man? He cannot simply fall back on the: "Well, whatever two consenting adults want to do..." whenever it's convenient.

    At a minimum he could refuse to marry them. He could also have protected the woman from the folly of marrying. After all, didn't she have some strong patriarchal head that could have forbidden the marriage?

    The "they're going to get married anyway" defense works for a libertine person but not for people that promote patriarchy as the basic unit for the salvation of children.
  25. Captain Picard

    Captain Picard Puritan Board Freshman

    In fairness, I don't think they "they're going to get married anyway" was an argument as much being advanced by Wilson as it was one being advanced by me. And I don't necessarily share 100% of Wilson's views on marriage and gender anyway.

    I still think that this thread started with calling Wilson a snake, a pope, a heretic, a denier of the solas, and comparable to Arius,
    then shifted to "how awful that he performed the marriage", and is now on "it wasn't sin, he is just a fool". At least maybe I succeeded in dialing back the rhetoric a bit.
  26. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    What specifically do you mean by this statement? And what do you do with I Corinthians 14:34, 35: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church"?

    Do you believe a women shouldn't listen to their fathers, husbands, and elders? You sound an awful lot like the feminists who speak in much the same way.
  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Actually, the "they're going to get married anyway" was advanced by Wilson in some of his interactions.

    I edited my initial post because I thought "snake" was too strong but still consider him very dangerous. We've covered his pastoral irregularities among other things about why he is dangerous.

    I would add that he is a disturber of the peace and purity of the Church. He could have stayed out of Reformed Church's dealing with the Federal Vision issues but chose to weigh in - primarily, it seems, because he believes he can just opine on things with impunity.

    Wilson is not Reformed and could not be ordained in the historic Reformed Churches given his views. He ought to respect our distinctives but, instead, pretends as if what he's teaching is normal Reformed thinking and disrupts the Church's peace and purity by those he influences with his rhetorical skills.
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Jacob is not talking about women speaking in the context of public worship. I think that point is pretty clear from the context of the whole discussion. He is not saying that women should not listen to their male leaders, but that the precise form of deference to male authority that is promoted within such circles is unhealthy.
  29. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think you got it right the first time; Doug Wilson is one of the most slippery customers that I have ever come across. He also has a great "gift" of making nonsense sound attractive.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Yeah, I am not promoting priestesses or anything in worship, but I can point to cases where the women were encouraged to shut up and trust the men-folk's advice in the CREC.

    Why we left the CREC: The Engagement.

    And when Natalie Rose would comment on Wilson's blog, calling him to account with specific, objective evidence that destroyed his whole narrative, he refused to engage her. The reasoning is simple. She is a "she."
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