The Wittenburg door

11855393_10100693562552284_539379594_nDear members of Christ Church, Trinity and the CREC at large,

I know and love many of you. It’s important that you know that I don’t hate Doug Wilson, that I bear him no ill-will, and that, if I am proven wrong about him, I will issue a public apology or factual correction. From the many letters of communication I’ve seen between Wilson, his elders, and various people they have deemed to be under church discipline or potentially warranting it, the CREC is stringent in wanting specific confession of specific sins to the specific audience they deem to be in need of it. Because my blog is public, and because I’m making public statements about him, and because I hold myself to journalistic/factual integrity, I’m demanding something similar from myself. And this is pretty normal: the magazine that I run will print corrections and re-vamps digital copies if we inadvertently make a factual error; if we were to back the wrong candidate, so to speak (the magazine does not address politics, but you get my drift) we would make public note of this.

But I want Doug Wilson to hold himself to the same standard.

And this is where he has spectacularly, and very publicly, failed.

Even if you think that Wilson is in the right in the Sitler/Wight situations, despite more and more people within the church coming forward to voice their concerns to the contrary, do you think that Wilson has never made a pastoral error in the public sphere? That all the name-calling on his blog, all the factual statements he’s made, everything — it’s all above reproach? That Wilson has never done a single thing in the entire course of his ministry that should require him to have said “you know, I was wrong about this, and I’m sorry”?

I’ve scoured his blog, his books, personal letters from him and his elders, and I’ve never seen him apologize or admit fault for a single specific thing (other than some general “this was badly worded” or some other waffling non-apology). I’ve asked others to do the same. If, in fact, anyone can point me to a place where Wilson made public apology over something in the past, I’ll be happy to amend this post.

So, given all of this: is Wilson the kind of demigod who actually never does anything wrong, or is he the kind of demigod who deflects his wrongdoing, bad decisions and poor pastoral choices onto other people and other situations?

And what does Wilson call people who do this 100% of the time? He calls them unrepentant. If they continue to be unrepentant, he tells them they’re barred from taking communion. He tells them they’re “bitter.” That their anger and blame-shifting are preventing them from true repentance.

So, because Wilson has placed himself in a position of authority where you answer to no one because he is at the forefront and pinnacle of a denomination that he made up, and he kicks out or sidelines anyone who seriously questions him, Matt 18 has to come from those outside the denomination and from, at least in non-technical ways, below Wilson in hierarchy.

The difference is, I don’t pretend to know what Wilson’s specific sins are. I will say that to all appearances, Wilson is exhibiting pride and arrogance. That according to the laws of Idaho, he potentially committed witness tampering, if he in fact encouraged Gary Greenfield not to allow Natalie’s case to go to trail and held up suspension of the Lord’s Supper as one of his methods of persuasion. That in cases of sexual assault, he seems to have soundly violated the tenants of Isaiah 42:3, (“a bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice”); Malachi 2:7-8 (“For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek information from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi”); and Psalm 82 (“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked”).

But this is “to all appearances.” What exactly Wilson has done wrong is something he, at least in my opinion, should figure out for himself.

And rest assured that there are many in your midst (or just outside it) who are questioning Wilson. People have been contacting me to tell me that “the emperor has no clothes” and to say things like “there are still many good and godly people [in the CREC], including many of those who now blindly defend Doug and Toby and think they are taking a stand for the Bible and grace of God. May the Lord have mercy on them.”

36 thoughts on “The Wittenburg door

  1. From everything I can see, Doug is a very cowardly and arrogant man who seems to believe that his pulpit is far more important than the mere victims of a pedophile who Doug consorts with. It’s extremely disturbing and it reads like something out of a Stephen King novel.

    1. I think you’re right, Dash. Doug, in fact, show no sign of ever being sorry for anything. He seems to think that he is without fault.

  2. I pray for Doug Wilson. “Hurt people hurt people.” His relationship with his father can’t have been good if this is the result: arrogant, authoritarian, unloving, unkind, lacking empathy etc.

    Was his dad an alcoholic? Abuser? Absent? That’s what these guys like him all have in common in my experience.

      1. Thanks for explaining that part of DW’s background, Katie. It’s curious how he got to this place..arrogant. Too much power?

      2. Well, that his dad was a pastor does not in any way exclude abuse, as you know. Many many pastors are abusive. I am the 63 year old son of a Baptist preacher and have known, directly, many many preachers. They are every so friendly and social. They hold positions of respect in a community and they are called on when help is needed, even if only to marry and bury. As for abuse, I would count them as included in any other group of folks excessively involved in something. Every once in awhile I have known a balanced preacher, one that is comfortable serving the source of belief without trying to force the same belief on others. In far more cases, I have witnessed ignorant men spout abuse left and right in God’s name. So the fact that Wilson’s dad may have been a preacher does not demonstrate any evidence of genuine caring and love in his early life. The fact that he is untouchable now is some evidence otherwise.

    1. Wittenberg? There’s an interesting linguistic story there. Although it’s all imaginary, since the door in question is actually to a garden shed. But burg = fortress; berg = mountain. Somehow changing the spelling seems a propos.

  3. Hi Katie. I have not read all of the comments concerning the Doug Wilson posts, so I apologize if I am being redundant. I’m sure you’ve seen Doug’s response to a commenter on his blog:

    Douglas Wilson Mod • a day ago
    Sarah Anne, I tried to reply at that blog but could not. I will say it here. She says that Gary and Natalie both gave permission to print that letter. If she posted that in writing, with permission from Gary, Pat, and Natalie for me to answer questions about the letter, I would be happy to do so. Delighted in fact. Just be prepared — it will shut down the party, which you might not want.

    I’m sure you know the “she” refers to you. Have you considered openly stipulating permission from the above parties, therefore allowing Doug to offer his defense on your blog? Of course, everyone knows he would obfuscate every allegation in his 10,000 word defense/offense, but you could set some ground rules: These are the questions, you have 130 characters to answer each one.

    1. Doug made the same comment on this blog (in the post before this). But he’s stipulating that I need written permission from Pat, who isn’t even mentioned in the letter. E.g., he’s not actually going to respond. Nor has he responded to the response I made to his comment. But sure, if Doug wanted to issue a response on this blog, that would be fine. He wouldn’t in a million years, though. He doesn’t cede control of the dialogue like that.

  4. If we stay with Occam’s razor, then the absence of apologies coming from Wilson significantly reduces the choices. For example, it’s possible that Wilson really is perfect — the most perfect man to ever walk the earth since Christ. Of course, this is highly unlikely but it’s possible nonetheless. The closest possibility to immaculation (is that a word?) is the perfection reflected by narcissists, who need all the world to marvel at their flawlessness. A subset of narcissism offers a third possibility, which strikes me as the most likely — namely, Wilson is psychopath.

    He disregards laws and social mores; he disregards the rights of others; he fails to feel remorse or guilt; and he has a tendency to display violent behavior (certainly in his so-called prayers). Others may believe that he does not fit this profile but they would be hard pressed to give an example that contradicts, especially in the case at hand.

    By siding with Wight, Wilson disregards laws and social mores.
    By siding with Wight, Wilson disregards the rights of the victim and her father.
    Wilson has shown no remorse or guilt at all in this circumstance.
    By siding with Wight and blaming Gary, Wilson nonchalantly identifies with violent behavior.

    And those inclined to excuse Wilson’s inexcusable behavior should remember that he responded to the serial pedophile just as he responded to Wight. He disregarded the law; he disregarded the victims’ rights; he has shown no guilt or remorse; and ultimately he landed with the violent felon who kidnaps children from their cribs to molest them.

  5. As attorneys across the nation have pointed out about the letter, it’s considered to be obstruction of justice (can be intimidating a witness) and it is grounds for arrest, prosecution and jail or prison time.

  6. ? This is the first I’m hearing about this and my family attends a CREC church in Texas. Where can I get more info about the back story and details so I can bring this up with the session of our church?

    1. Dear CREC Member in Texas:

      Here are some important resources about child sexual abuse in the church. All churches should have comprehensive plans in place for dealing with sexual abuse and the prevention of it. It is currently the No. 1 reason that churches get sued every single year (the sexual abuse of minors) and have been sued for years, according to insurance companies like Church Mutual (the largest insurer of churches in the US) and attorneys like Richard Hammer at Church Law & Tax. According to the insurance companies and the attorneys, there is an epidemic of child sexual abuse in the conservative evangelical church that rivals or exceeds that of the Catholic Church (which has had to change its ways due to decades of litigation, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions).

      https://www.churchmutual.com/media/safetyResources/files/SafetyTipsSenSubject.pdf

      http://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2015/june/top-5-reasons-churches-end-up-in-court.html (Note: Much of the content on Richard Hammer’s website is for paid subscribers only.)

    2. CREC Member in Texas,

      Please scroll all the way to the bottom the page here to see the video on child sexual abuse prevention that was done by Pastor Jimmy Hinton. Jimmy turned in his pastor/father for sexually abusing children in the same Church of Christ church that they have both pastored. (The church is located in PA. and was founded more than 100 years ago.) Jimmy’s father is serving a life sentence in prison for sexually abusing 23 known victims. He groomed their families and them.

      Jimmy, his Mom Clara Hinton (Finding a Healing Place blog) and the rest of their family have been advocates for sexually abused children, the prevention of child sexual abuse, and to help train families and churches.

      I hope you will find the video helpful and send it to your other friends, family and church members

    3. I would urge caution. I know from personal experience that it’s very risky bringing up anything negative about the great Douglas Wilson to the elders of any CREC church. Doug Wilson is held in very high esteem in those circles with few exceptions. If you bring it up just expect it to be dismissed with a wave of the hand. You’ll probably be referred to his Open Letter from Christ Church on Steven Sitler. But if you read that letter thoughtfully you’ll see that he just digs himself into a deeper hole. He comes off as anything but pastoral, and that’s because he really is not a pastor in any stretch of the imagination.

      I know there are some good CREC churches out there, but they’re the exception. Hopefully yours is an exception. If it is your church will do what a few others have done over the years and get out of the CREC altogether. I wouldn’t count on that happening though. Doug Wilson hero worship is a major reason why churches sign up with the CREC in the first place. It’s his own personal fan club.

      As the old adage goes “the body rots from the head down.” As far removed as we were from Moscow Idaho I could still plainly smell Wilson’s putrid rottenness in my little CREC church. I tried to bring attention to my CREC elders years ago about Wilson’s evils, including his harboring and protecting pedophiles (and yes it’s been well know for quite a few years now). But they practically worship the man, so all I got for my well documented trouble were threats that I’d better keep my mouth shut or face disciplinary action for causing division in the body. So I got out of that church and out of the CREC and I’ll never have anything to do with a CREC church ever again.

      I hope it goes better for you.

  7. I know very little about the CREC so I’m hoping someone on the inside can answer this question. Why, with all his emphasis on the authority of the elders and the session–did Doug Wilson disregard (or modify, or reduce?) the judgment of the session of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian, Sitler’s home church? They wrote that Sitler had exhibited grievous, persistent sexual immorality that caused them to fear for his soul, and therefore had to be removed from the church. Simply honoring their judgment might have prevented the subsequent abuses.

    Wouldn’t elders normally honor the judgment of another session? Or is it not *all* elders, just *Doug’s* elders that everyone has to respect?

  8. Hi All,
    Here is a great video from Pastor Jimmy Hinton about how to protect children from child sexual abuse. Jimmy turned in his pastor-father for sexually abusing children at their church. His father was convicted and is now serving a life sentence.

    Jimmy’s mom Clara has a blog called Finding a Healing Place. This video was from her blog. Their family has dealt honestly and painfully and correctly with a pedophile in their own family. They are now ministering to others. Bless them!

    http://www.findingahealingplace.com/resources-that-will-help/

    http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2015/03/22/Christian-minister-Jimmy-Hinton-teaches-churches-to-guard-against-pedophiles-like-his-father-John-Wayne-Hinton/stories/201503220056

  9. Finally, a decent, heartfelt, sincere apology from a pastor involved in one of the sexual abuse cases who does not pastor at Doug Wilson’s church. This pastor apologized to Natalie and her parents for his part, and he asked for their forgiveness which they have given them. Good man. Good Christian. Good pastor! What a stand-up guy! Thank you, Sir!

    This was posted yesterday on Facebook.

    https://www.facebook.com/Leithart

    “A message from Peter J. Leithart

    I write this with a great deal of reluctance. I have refrained from making any public statements about the recent internet turmoil over two sexual abuse incidents that took place in Moscow, Idaho while I worked there as a faculty member at New St Andrews College and served as pastor of Trinity Reformed Church. I have been concerned that anything I say would add fuel to an overheated debate.

    Besides, I’m ambivalent about the wisdom of hashing through these terrible events on media that are poorly suited to the careful, sensitive treatment that sexual abuse demands. Evil must be exposed, but I doubt that the internet is the best place to do it. Inevitably, the ones who are most wholly forgotten are the ones who were most deeply damaged.

    A few friends, though, have urged me to say something publicly, since, as has been reported, I was pastor of one of the abusers. These friends thought it would be useful for me to clarify my actions and offer my retrospective assessment of my performance as pastor. Other leaders from Trinity or Christ Church might see things differently, and my comments below are not intended as criticism of them or anyone else. I speak only for myself.

    First, I was pastor at Trinity Reformed Church when a member of the church, Jamin Wight, was charged with sexually abuse of a minor, a young teenage girl. By the time I learned of the abuse, it had ceased.

    Second, the report implies that I sided with Jamin. That is accurate in some ways. I did sit with him in court, as the report claims; I visited and wrote to Jamin while he was in his court-ordered program; I continued to be his friend and pastor. I believed, and still believe, that I had a duty to provide pastoral counsel and care to Jamin. Neither I nor the other elders at Trinity ignored or excused Jamin’s sin, and there was no attempt on my part or Doug Wilson’s to cover it up.

    Third, it is true, as was reported, that Jamin remained a member “in good standing” at Trinity. That means that he did not come under formal church discipline and was not excommunicated. It does not mean we excused his sin. We rebuked him, and I and the elders of Trinity admonished him repeatedly to repent fully. At the time, I believed he was repentant.

    It is clear now that I made major errors of judgment. Fundamentally, I misjudged Jamin, badly. I thought he was a godly young man who had fallen into sin. That was wrong. In the course of trying to pastor Jamin through other crises in his life, I came to realize that he is deceptive and highly manipulative, and that I allowed him to manipulate me. A number of the things I said about Jamin to the congregation and court at the time his abuse was uncovered were spun in Jamin’s favor; I am ashamed to realize that I used Jamin’s talking points. Though I never doubted that Jamin was guilty, I trusted his account of the circumstances more readily and longer than I should have, and conversely I disbelieved the victim’s parents (to the best of my recollection, I had no direct contact with the victim, who was a member of Christ Church). I should have seen through Jamin, and didn’t.

    As a result, I didn’t appreciate how much damage Jamin did and I was naive about the effect that the abuse had on the victim’s family. I recently asked her and her parents to forgive my pastoral failures, which they have done.

    – Peter J. Leithart”

    1. Wonderful letter. Wilson basically has nowhere left to hide. I’m sure he’ll keep bloviating away, though, until he gets arrested and/or someone hauls his sorry ass into court.

    2. Rev. Leithart has just demonstrated to the world something that Doug Wilson is incapable of — humility and contrition. Leithart isn’t a sociopath either, and herein lies the difference between the two men.

      I’m glad that fences are being mended between Leithart, the victim and her family. It’s been a long time in coming, but it should prove helpful to them in their recovery process. Nevertheless this apology was too long in coming.

      Knowing as we do the absolute control that Doug WIlson exercises over his cultish realm in Moscow, and the fact that Wilson once controlled Leithart’s paycheck, we can see how he was likely compelled to toe the Wilson line over the Jamin Wight scandal. Anyone who believes that Leithart had automony to act as he willed in that matter doesn’t understand how things work in Wilson Land.

      But things have changed. Leithart is now free to step out of line with Wilson without fear of retaliation, at least of a monetary nature. And herein lies the rub: It’s difficult to know if Leithart is now suddenly expressing opinions contrary to Wilson because he’s driven by conscience, or only because he can get away with it. In other words, is he acting based on practical considerations or, rather, is this motivaed by genunine moral conviction? He offers us here no explanation. If he would have addressed that issue now I’d have a lot more respect for him, even if it were to just say, “I was a coward and shouldn’t have just gone along with Doug’s dictates.”

      1. It’s obvious that no one wants to go to open war with Wilson. He must have a tremendous amount of dirt on people accumulated in his pastoral archives. He basically admitted as much in a recent blog post.

        I’m thrilled that I’m an outsider and I can laugh at Doug Wilson’s ridiculously high-handed tactics, knowing he can’t ever get to me. It’s ludicrous.

  10. @Former CREC Church Member,

    I am glad you made your escape from that abusive church system. Your questions about Leithart’s motivations are valid. I am still glad that he said something, even now, because he could have remained silent.

    I hope that the State of Idaho changes many of their laws, which seem quite weak and archaic, compared to other states: everything from sex crimes to domestic violence and on and on. They have received much criticism from their own citizens on Facebook for these lax laws that permitted Steven Sitler to not be sitting in prison and the other sex offender, as well as have received criticism from across the nation and around the world.

    1. Agreed. Idaho definitely needs harsher penalties for such horrific crimes as child molestation. But what I don’t get is why hasn’t Sitler been criminally charged in any of the other state where it’s known that he also molested children? He confessed to molesting multiple children in multiple states, something like close to 200 children, and Wilson well knew it too. Sitler’s plea deal in Idaho only covered his crimes committed in Idaho and never precluded his being charged by any of the other states where he’d also molested children.

      I’ve been totally baffled by what’s happened. Why is molesting a child treated like such a minor crime? Or at least that’s the way it gets prosecuted across state lines. For all practical purposes raping a grown woman is dealt with far more aggressively than molesting a child when, in my opinion, they should be treated on par with one another. To show how this works you’ve got cases of truckers picking up women and raping them, across multiple state lines. When they get apprehended, charged and prosecuted in one state, do the other states where they committed rape just say, “Oh, okay, Texas took care of that guy so we won’t prosecute him here too”? No way. After Texas has tried and convicted them all the other states line up to extradite him to stand trial in their states too. But what’s happened in the Sitler case is just the opposite and it’s an utter travesty of justice.

      As an example, it came out that Steven Sitler molested children in R.C. Sproul Jr’s church where Sitler spent the summer immediately before heading off to Moscow and NSA. It appears that R.C. Sproul Jr. did pretty much the same thing that Wilson did and covered it up. Had R.C. Sproul Jr reported Steven Sitler as a child molester to the Virginia authorities, rather than covering it up, it’s likely Sitler would still be behind bars to this day, unmarried, and unable to molest his own baby son. How can justice be served when the so-called “shepherds” keep protecting wolves?

      1. When belief is held above human love, even the love one’s own child, then Gawd can order a father to kill his own son and be obeyed, or Gawd can kill his own son instead, and everybody watches. It must be okay. Now, once you have a fellow who is willing to go along with such ideas, well then, wolves (to the rest of us) are little lambs coming to Gawd’s slaughter to a pastor (many churches) and they are just what was ordered. They may be sick and reoffend but their sins are washed away! And if you are a member in one of those churches, keep your eyes open. Gawd’s choice, the pastor, feels no need to inform you of pedophiles in your midst. (Rest assured though that a daughter of this pastor will never be hanging around the mall alone with said pedophile! She wouldn’t be allowed a mall anyway, I suspect!) Because Gawd says, CONTROL, DEMEAN, SHAME, BLAME and don’t forget to hug your kids!

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