There is a problem, I believe, with how some in Reformed Christianity handle Doug Wilson. And I want to make my case plain here.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me begin by acknowledging that the guy drives me nuts. But that’s my problem, not his. I find it intensely irritating that a man who has never formally studied theology in less than a generation has found himself as one of the leaders of a theological movement. So there you go.
The line I have encountered with many good Reformed brothers has been that when Doug is good, he is good. And when he is bad, he is terrible. And so there is this ambivalence about him. “Eat the meat, spit out the bones” as it were. And at some level, I can accept this. We should give credit where credit is due. We should be truth-tellers. The ninth commandment applies, even in Doug Wilson’s case (by the way, I’m not picking on just Doug…he represents, for me, the FV more generally…he’s merely a high-profile example).
But I have two problems with this typical assessment.
First, it ignores the severe harm that this man has caused to churches and Christians in the Reformed tradition. Whole congregations have been rent asunder. I cannot conceive of how taking Federal Husband seriously results in anything remotely approaching the mutual submission of Galatians 5. And yet whole families have left NAPARC churches in favor of the teaching and practice of CREC or CREC-like congregations.
This leads me to my second objection (and this is what really burns my biscuits): Mr. Wilson has been on a quarter-century project of co-opting the Reformed tradition. Does anything communicate the point more clearly than the title of his remarkably irresponsible book ‘Reformed’ Is Not Enough. The implication is clear: he is really Reformed, but we merely call ourselves such a name. Historically, such a claim is balderdash, but he seems at ease with making it.
I heard a man preach the sermon at an ordination and installation this morning, and one of his texts was from Acts 20:29-30, which read, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
The quality of D.W.’s writing might vary, but when our ambivalence overlooks the gauntlet thrown down by Scripture, I’m not sure that we fare much better.