For All Doug Wilson’s Theological Acumen

A new commandment I give to you, that you be a complementarian…

A new commandment I give to you, that you be an inerrantist…

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another…

I did all I could to stay out of the fray. But I was too amazed. To catch up with what has happened, you should probably start from what should have been the end of it.

But that was not the end of it. Not by a long shot. Doug Wilson, in contradistinction to Jared Wilson, went on the offensive. And by “offensive” I mean offensive. Chaplain Mike sets up the responses side by side here.

So, for all his theological acumen…for all his wit, he cannot see that he has failed at the one thing the Scriptures calls the most important. Whether it is Jesus answering the question of the greatest commandment or Paul distinguishing between the greatest of these – love is set up to be the singular distinguishing trait among Christian ethics.

And yet Wilson finds himself in the position of shrugging off any need for kindness because he has good theology and “they” do not. So he insults them by calling them “feminist bedwetters” and a “sob sister rugby scrum.”

Then he mocks them.

Here’s what I don’t get – why not just make your case and step away? Wilson is a great writer. He is witty and clever. But it doesn’t happen. Whereas sometimes an apology can ring hollow, this defense has the tin of arrogance.

He didn’t have to be so cruel and offensive. But he was. Why? Because hitting all the acceptable theological points is what counts. Loving those who you disagree with – even on important topics – is far enough down the list to be written off. Once we’ve worked our way down the list of necessary convictions, we are supposed to be far too impressed to care that love is missing.

And those of you who know me personally, you already know that I probably agree with Wilson in theology more than I do those he is attacking. I attend an evangelical conservative Presbyterian church. But we are light years apart on this.

I do not think you get a free pass on lovingkindness simply because you have your theological ducks in a row and the ones whom you disagree with don’t. I also do not think this is “Christianity Lite” – to have this expectation of love.

A word to young pastors and the YRR. Do not go down this path. Hold on to all those theological convictions outside of the early creeds loosely. Learn to love those who do not hold them at all. Make your theological/denominational differences optional for others to be a part of the body and to be your friends. Hold tight to the the thematic ethic of the NT to love – one another, enemies, everyone. Be patient with those who are not with you on even some of the most critical points of theology. Yes, it is loving to preach and teach the truth! But it is infinitely important to also love in a way that those whom you disagree with will see you as loving.

My deep fear is not a country going down the tubes. It is not theological liberalism. It is not the entertainment industry. My deep fear that will not let me go – though I am through with pastoring – is a church that mirrors the political divide that is at each other’s throats far more than it mirrors Jesus –

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

4 thoughts on “For All Doug Wilson’s Theological Acumen

  1. Donna Femmer Riemann July 23, 2012 / 8:24 am

    I always feel a bit silly and definitley out of my league when I comment on one of your blogs but here goes. When my daughter was a little girl I searched and searched for an active, safe accepting summer program for her. After looking at the YMCA and area churches I only found such a program ay the Jewish Community Center Association (JCCA). Being a single mother with a disbled child was tough but they provided one-on-one help for Ash and financial assistance to me. She did everything the “normal” kids did. When I would pick her up in the afternoons she would be playing right along side all of them and many of them would be helping her. She spent six wonderful summers there and loved it. Even today when we pass the JCCA complex she says she wishes she could go back.

    You may wonder what my little story has to do with the point you are trying to
    make. Well, one Sunday at church I was talking to an Elder or Deacon or whatever, we called them Board Members and I was telling him about the loving care Ashley received at the JCCA. I also shared with him my struggle to find something I could afford that would give my sweet daughter the care and acceptance she deserved and how I wished I could have found such a program within the Christian community. He said to me “Unfortunately, sometimes other religions have to show us how to be Christian and I’m just glad that she’s well cared for”. It’s true, what he said, but it shouldn’t be.

  2. nataliealbertson July 23, 2012 / 10:22 am

    I ran across this post randomly on Twitter, and I’m so glad that I did! I couldn’t agree more with you. I’ve been following this back-and-forth between RHE and Jared C. Wilson, and now Doug Wilson who is really only engaging himself, and quite frankly I find Doug Wilson to be disgusting and an embarrassment to Christ. Like you said, I don’t understand why he has to use his sarcastic tone and offensive side-comments. Just say what you need to say and engage in a civil debate. His kind of speech has never changed a single mind or softened a single heart.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy July 24, 2012 / 11:10 am

    He didn’t have to be so cruel and offensive. But he was. Why? Because hitting all the acceptable theological points is what counts. Loving those who you disagree with – even on important topics – is far enough down the list to be written off.

    Perfectly Parsed, Truly Reformed Theology. Predestined as one of the Elect before the Creation of the World.

    I do not think you get a free pass on lovingkindness simply because you have your theological ducks in a row and the ones whom you disagree with don’t.

    The Communists were into this, too. They called it “Purity of Ideology” and had ways of dealing with those who did not have their Ideological ducks in a row.

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