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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Epic ZZ Top Beard - Wilson Miscellanies

Rumors spreadin' round/That Swiss town...I think that there is a growing concensus in the Reformed world that Douglas Wilson is a mixed bagged in respect to the quality of his ideas. The vast majority of his writings compel me to respond with a hearty "Amen!" Other times, however, I get a little nervous at his teachings (i.e. the Auburn Avenue/Federal Vision silliness). Sometimes, I can only scratch my head and say "where did you get that from?"

From the hearty "Amen!" category, I got a kick out of how he worded this admonision concerning angry husbands:

Biblical patriarchy is not a problem for those who believe the Bible (1
Cor. 11: 3). But there is a kind of patriarchy that wants to be a law unto
itself with no accountability from nobody nohow. Not only is there to be no
accountability, even to raise the point that such things might be occurring in
our "Bible-believing" midst is seen as a capitulation to the feminists. But more
is involved in answering the feminists than growing an epic ZZ Top beard, and
starting a home-centered brain surgery center in the garage....

Some years ago, in the course of a sermon, I addressed the problem of angry
husbands. I said something like, "God prohibits this crap. Knock it off." goatee doesn't qualify as an "epic" beard, but if it'll ruffle the feminists, I'll keep it coming. Maybe I'll be able to get it to John Calvin-length.

As for the "nervous" category, I'll just say that I don't understand the concerns that drive Wilson's Federal Vision hyper-covenantalism. Personally, I'm a "If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It" Vision guy, and am more than content with the 3 Forms of Unity. The way to "recover" the objectivity of the covenant, it seems to me, is to, well... teach the objectivity of the covenant. Of the pastoral concerns that supposedly stand behind the Federal Vision, I don't see how being true to the Creeds and Confessions that the Reformed world already has is not a sufficient corrective to the individualism, pietism, subjectivism, and lack of assurance that ails much of Christendom. The solution is not to downplay the invisible church, teach that "if you're baptized, you're in" the covenant regardless of a credible profession of faith, mono-covenantalism (downplaying the covenant of works), an almost-but-not-quite ex opere operato view of sacraments, encourage paedocommunion, and tell us that the infants of believers have faith from the womb. Being Reformed is enough, the problem is that the Church not Reformed enough, and I think Wilson would agree in principle.

I often get the feeling that my plain-Jane, vanilla confessionalism is simply not sexy enough for the FV crowd. I like Wilson because he is the most moderate (and clearest) thinker of the bunch - he refers to himself as an "amber ale" in his discussion with Mike Horton. [As a side note, I do often wonder if this stuff would fly in a presbytery that he didn't himself create. The FV has had a mixed report card on the presbytery level of the PCA (the exoneration of Steve Wilkins vs. the Mississippi Valley Report), although the matter has not yet seen the General Assembly.]

I'll save a fuller analysis of the Federal Vision for other blog posts, but I'll just say that I'd be alot less nervous if Wilson would decisively and unamibugously distance himself from the more extremist elements of the FV movement. One must always make associations wisely, so I wish Wilson wouldn't stand so close to the moonbats. He's much, much better than all that.

Lastly, in the "scratch my head" category, I this in his blog post today:

But many of us have been taught that God does not intend to save the vast
majority of the human race, and this is what they are convinced the Bible says.
Because of our shared commitment to the objective revelation of God in
Scripture, I would hope to convince my amill and premill brothers that we have
some glorious times ahead of us as Christ is effectually brought to the nations.

I'm not sure that even a post-mill eschatology necessarily leads to this conclusion. Furthermore, I detect a similar hyperventilation at all biblical uses of words like "all", "world", and "nations" that I am used to hearing from my Arminian brethren. I'm sure Wilson would have plenty of ammunition to argue against me in cross-exam, but it seems to me that a prima facie reading of Scripture, replete with "remnant" and "narrow gate" themes, along with simple empirical study of man's history so far, does not support the thesis that the majority of the human race will be saved, even if there is going to be an uber-revival in the (latter) last days.

Like all human beings, Wilson is not perfect. As in all matters, use discernment when reading him, but do read him, or you are depriving yourself of much spiritual good. Just crank up the "discernment" meter a few extra notches. So separate the wheat from the chaff in his writings, and enjoy.


  • I believe sir, that if you were to talk to Wilson directly he would argue that if we did follow the three forms of unity we would end up with his sort of teaching on the objectivity of the covenant. I will leave quotes from the various chatechisms for a time when I have them in front of me, but Wilson would want to argue that a proper reading of the traditional chatechisms and confessions of the reformed church is exactly what he is arguing.

    But then again, this is just my opinion based purely on the fact that I have spoken to him personally about it his federal vision arguments. After all I have attended his church on occasion. :)

    By Blogger p35flash, at 3:53 PM  

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