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.”