Lord’s Day 43

I love the Heidelberg Catechism. Even as I’ve left once and for all the denomination I grew up in I maintain a preference for its confessional standards over against the Westminster tradition. Lots of people have Lord’s Day 1 memorized; I myself ended up memorizing Lord’s Days 9 and 10 a couple summers ago as my father was undergoing his third set of cancer treatments. That was a very hard period for me. Little did I know that as that trial passed another, much worse one would arise–and that one has yet to abate.

But today I find myself thinking of Lord’s Day 43. A number of events have brought it to mind. For one, I was falsely accused of something. The person making the accusation was a church officebearer and there was no evidence, no basis on which to make it. Yet he made it, not to me, but to a group of denominational officials, who then passed it on to another such group, who then gave my father the third degree about it. These men are all leaders in a Christian denomination. Unfounded accusations, gossip, and rumor-mongering should be beneath such, no? But apparently not.

So. From the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 43.

112. Q.
What is required
in the ninth commandment?
A.
I must not give false testimony against anyone,
twist no one’s words,
not gossip or slander,
nor condemn or join in condemning anyone
rashly and unheard.
Rather, I must avoid all lying and deceit
as the devil’s own works,
under penalty of God’s heavy wrath.
In court and everywhere else,
I must love the truth,
speak and confess it honestly,
and do what I can
to defend and promote
my neighbour’s honour and reputation.

In the aftermath of my father’s clergy killing (calling it an aftermath seems wrong now, as it’s clear his character is still being assassinated), I am not the only one being gossiped about and accused of things behind my back.  It’s happening again and again to others who have been victimized throughout this ordeal. In fact, I found out secondhand a year ago that I was being negatively talked about, and more recently than that that I was deliberately excluded from helping out in a church function which was also last year. All this has been going on that long.

The Catechism enjoins Christians to love the truth and show love for their neighbor by promoting his good name. It also says rightly that “lying and deceit” are “the devil’s own works”. What that says about the churchy, kind people where I live, I leave to the reader to decide.

A Word About Doug Wilson (Part 2)

In Part 1 I summarized and put forth the reasons why Doug Wilson has a well-deserved bad reputation among some inside and outside of the church, and why those Reformed and Presbyterian believers who are fond of him might do well to distance themselves just a bit.

I am not writing about this in a vacuum, and am in fact indebted to numerous other bloggers and writers. Here are some places where one can find more information:

Katie Botkin’s post, “The Man Who Would Be King”, is a good starting point for those who aren’t familiar with Wilson at all, or who are but aren’t aware of the controversies or don’t know much in detail about them. Her blog has several interesting and pertinent posts, actually.

The Truth About Moscow is a site I check frequently for the latest Wilson-related news. (To anyone who would accuse me of liking drama too much, let me just point out that Wilson seems to love getting attention and shocking people, so he and his fans really shouldn’t complain when some of that attention is negative and critical.) Ulysses is quite good at promptly and nicely compiling and presenting all the data that comes his way. I might add that he holds to the Reformed faith as well. Added 2 September 2016: see here and here for helpful overviews of the Wilson empire.

I already mentioned Rachel Miller by name. She too is Reformed and espouses the biblical view of the husband/wife relationship and church governance—which lends her some credibility, I think, when she scrutinizes Wilson and shares her findings regarding, e.g., plagiarism, sex/gender roles, slander.

Natalie Greenfield was the sex abuse victim I alluded to in Part 1. Her blog is about the experience and aftermath of the abuse overall, as well as a place to discuss abuse in general and its presence in communities and churches. There are a number of places where she talks about what happened, and her account differs markedly from Doug Wilson’s.

I wasn’t aware of Cicero’s background, so I did a google check—how happy I am to see that not only is he a Calvinist, he’s in the continental tradition like I am (Heidelberg forever!). Anyway, his blog has a handful of interesting and insightful articles. I might also add that he is a former Moscow resident and once sympathized with Wilson’s position on a number of issues, but no longer.

If you want another conservative Presbyterian, you might wander over to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Mortification of Spin blog, where you may eventually find a number of posts in which Carl Trueman, Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) pastor and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, indicates agreement with Wilson’s critics, even linking directly to Rachel Miller (and to another writer worth examining, Rod Dreher). This particular repost—regarding Mrs. Miller’s most recent discovery of plagiarism in a Wilson work—by the esteemed Englishman is especially entertaining to me, mainly because of the tagline underneath its title on the main blog: “Who saw this coming? Other than everybody, that is.”

In addition, Dr. R. Scott Clark, professor at Westminster Seminary California, mentions Wilson—though not by name—in this post about abuse in the church.

CREC Memes appears to be run largely by disgruntled ex-CREC members, or people with CREC connections.

Finally, there’s the Doug Wilson Archiveand all the other sites it will direct you to. It asks this question (and several others): If Doug Wilson is a completely righteous and innocent man, how did so much evidence accumulate against him? And, unless one is willing to dismiss all, that is, every last one, of Wilson’s detractors as gospel-denying secularists, liberals, haters, or liars, that’s a very good question.

Once more I close with Rachel Miller’s question:

To all those Reformed, Presbyterians out there who are willing to look past the recent Wilson controversies, is it time to consider if what you like is worth defending? For anything that he’s written that you’ve appreciated, isn’t there someone else who has said something similar without all the baggage? Are the qualifiers worth it?

A Word About Doug Wilson (Part 1)

I wrote this some months ago. I put off sharing it for some reason I don’t quite remember, then sort of forgot about it, but recent events—to wit, the subject and his church supporting the efforts of a convicted pedophile to be reunited to his infant son whom he admits arouses him—have brought it to mind again. So.

To my fellow Reformed/Presbyterian brothers and sisters who are fans of Doug Wilson:

I call you my fellows because I too am Reformed; I hold to the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Westminster Standards as accurate summaries of biblical teaching. Moreover—and this is relevant—I am not an egalitarian, for I believe that the Scriptures plainly teach male headship within the context of the home and the church. In short, I am theologically rather conservative.

Frankly, I find it disturbing how many of you like Doug Wilson, speak favorably of him, quote him, link to his blog, etc. Some of you may very well do this out of ignorance of the controversies swirling around him. Perhaps you only know his books and haven’t seen his blog, where many of his really nasty writings are. Others are aware of the controversies but dismiss them as tale-bearing. For the former, I hope what I write here is useful in apprising you of the matters. For the latter, I can only hope that looking at each link and really digging through the huge amount of material there is—including the man’s own writings, which some of these sites will direct you to—makes you reconsider your stance. To both groups: even if you aren’t convinced of the validity of the criticisms and allegations described here, I hope you at least use discretion when promoting him. So much of what he says and stands for—his own words—are needlessly offensive to unbelievers and weaker believers. The gospel itself is an offense, yes; but he goes out of his way to be a jerk. And I say that as Calvinist Christian who holds to what the Heidelberg Catechism says about the Ninth Commandment. I do not share these things lightly.

There is substantial evidence—including eyewitness testimony and, where pertinent, official church or court documents—to the effect that Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho is a liar, a plagiarist1, and a defender of child rapists (according to the way Idaho state law defines rape; that needs to be pointed out because Mr. Wilson has gone on the record saying that one of the rapists “is not a sexual predator”, and making similar claims). He will stop at nothing to silence or discredit those who disagree with him, his actions ranging from the outright despicable, such as threatening the victim of one of the aforesaid rapists with releasing private journals, smearing her family, and demonstrably lying about her and her family’s role in what happened to her2, to the less glaring but still unpastoral ad hominem attacks, especially against women, whom he will not hesitate to deride using crude, and again, unpastoral language.3 History also shows he would sooner cover up (using threats if necessary) the illegal activity of people closely affiliated with his work and ministry in Moscow, such as the operation of a casino and drug-dealing, rather than suffer the consequences of it being exposed (i.e., the harm done the image of his church, denomination, and schools). The language he employs in his blog is often sexist and crass, and I would maintain, inexcusable—what’s he going for? Shock value? Even if the point is just to entertain, in what way is it at all conscionable for a Christian man, let alone a minister of the Word, to have his fans compete to come up with the best nickname for Melania Trump’s breasts? If Ephesians 5:4 doesn’t apply to pastors, just who does it apply to?

I will refrain from commenting on some of the other controversies swirling around him, such as his views of American slavery, or his Federal Vision teachings (which, while perhaps hard to pin down exactly, are nonetheless manifestly at odds with the Westminster Standards). Those matters are secondary when it comes to evaluating his character. That may be made known through his speech and actions. And those demonstrate that he is a corrupt, deceptive, narcissistic fraud of a pastor.

Harsh language, I know, but that’s how thoroughly disgusting his behavior is and should be recognized as. It’s evil. It’s also a poor Christian witness, to say the least. I have a friend who lives in Pullman, WA—that’s right by Moscow for those of you who don’t know—and Wilson, in his words, is “a blight”. And he was able to confirm for me that, aside from those who attend Christ Church or are involved in the New Saint Andrews, Greyfriars, or Logos schools, Wilson is practically universally disliked in the area. Of course the opinion of the world isn’t a perfect test of character, but first, my friend and his family are conservative Christians, and second, an elder in the church ought to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), and “well thought of by outsiders” (v. 7). Between the cover-ups, the plagiarism, and the ungodly speech, Doug Wilson has given people of the Palouse plenty of reason to suspect him. And Moscow residents in fact think so ill of him that he has to use a proxy to buy property! Yet he revels in all the controversy, enjoying every opportunity he has to insult and mock his “enemies”—but I repeat myself—which seems hardly to fit the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15-16.

Look at the articles I’ve linked above, and, if you’re of a mind to, look at the articles I link to in Part 2. Read carefully; it behooves us as followers of our Lord to be able to make a reasoned case, with integrity, for our stance on matters such as this. How much has to be said and written, how much dirt on the man has to be accumulated, before you will allow that maybe his detractors are right? These aren’t a bunch of angry feminists and “intoleristas” making a fuss and railing against the conservative complementarian Reformed pastor. Some of them, it’s true, are what he might call feminists (I would say he uses that word rather loosely), some are unabashedly egalitarian in their understanding of marriage and gender roles, and some are most definitely not fans of the institutional church, or at least of its “Reformed” expressions (it’s worth noting that in some cases the anti-male headship and anti-church mentalities are largely because of what they saw and experienced in communities led or influenced by Doug Wilson or others like him); but others still hold to the Ephesians 5 prescription for marriage and are faithful Calvinists besides. How many people from both sides of the various debates need to speak out before you start hearing them? How many ex-Christ Church members, or people disaffected with the denomination he founded, the CREC (Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches; or, as one critic said, tongue-in-cheek: Charlatans Rationalizing Egregious Carnality) need to tell their story before you listen?

How much has to be said before you see The Doug for what he is?

And again, if you’re still of a mind to dismiss the myriad of diverse voices raised against Wilson, I hope you can at least stop linking to his blog and recommending his books. Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) blogger Rachel Miller, after examining such things as his lack of academic credentials, his Federal Vision beliefs, his treatment of people who disagree with him, his views of women, his teachings on marriage, etc., put it well:

To all those Reformed, Presbyterians out there who are willing to look past the recent Wilson controversies, is it time to consider if what you like is worth defending? For anything that he’s written that you’ve appreciated, isn’t there someone else who has said something similar without all the baggage? Are the qualifiers worth it?

See Part 2 for additional resources about Doug Wilson.

1There are too many pages I could link here. I settled on the The Truth About Moscow because posts there tend to quote from or summarize, and link to, others which go into greater depth. I’d like to draw special attention to this one, though. It’s just too rich.

2See also here for a helpful summary and examination of what he said at that “Heads of Households” meeting. And see here, too!

3I did not link to anything here because the sort of thing I’m referring to—indeed, some of the specific quotes I have in mind—will crop up if you check out all the pages I linked to. To keep up the tradition of linking to Katie Botkin’s blog in the footnotes, though, I’ll direct you to this relevant piece. Some of the quotes are in there.