Molly Worthen on Douglas Wilson

worthen_mollyThe kind lady at the local Christian bookstore has been poised with my cell phone number in hand for a few days now, knowing my determination to somehow find an April issue of Christianity Today somewhere in San Diego. “Is there someone you know in this issue?” she asked. “Yes, there is.” Molly Worthen now has a seven page article on my old teacher, titled “The Controversialist.”


I received the call Friday afternoon. A pleasant sense of accomplishment came over me once the magazine was physically in my hands.  A trip to Borders Books and Barnes and Noble had already turned out dry; neither of the local stores still carry Christianity Today. Although, I did accidentally see the name ‘Christopher Hitchens’ while browsing the magazine stands. Hitchens has decided to write a letter to the president of the United States – no more arrogant than arguing with God I suppose. The same was true for the local libraries: no Christianity Today and plenty of Hitchens. The small local library here in Cardiff By The Sea has likely never carried Christianity Today. Yet, the last time I stopped in, someone had thrown the most recent issue of Vanity Fair on top of the displayed weekend newspaper.


I went down to the Seaside Market to get a 6 pack of Heineken after writing the rough draft of this entry and once again had the experience. I found the latest issue of Vanity Fair staring at me at the checkout stand. Heineken is more difficult to locate at a grocery store than Christopher Hitchens. And this was only out of four magazines: three magazines of hot women and one with half naked men wearing barrels. It was the barrels that grabbed my attention. Perhaps Hitchens is becoming, unknowingly, the Big Brother he despises – he is everywhere, and he lets us all know what he thinks we ought to think.  


After this journey in search for April’s issue, there is little question in my mind why Worthen opens her piece with a paragraph extolling the accomplishments and status of, not Douglas Wilson, but my Big Brother Hitchens.  In reality, I do not recall knowing of the man before the Kirk came up with her latest marketing idea. Once again, I owe a good deal to my teacher Douglas Wilson. Another four books by Hitchens are on their way.


Before getting to the obvious task at hand, I wish to first seek some patience from the reader.  I keep saying that Pooh’s Think, Part 2, is not “about Douglas Wilson,” only to then continue writing about Douglas Wilson.  And it will not end here.  Not only is my analysis of Wilson’s debate (Canon Press) with Hitchens incomplete, I also have the two hour discussion between Hitchens and the four-and-a-half apologists at the Christian Book Expo to address – and boy was that something.  And now here is Molly Worthen once again writing about my beloved Kirk: “Wilson is becoming someone who even those minding their own business in the noncontroversial ‘mainstream’ cannot afford to ignore.” If other scholars would stop writing articles about Wilson or giving Wilson the stage lights of ‘debate,’ I could get further along with my book and write posts on something else.  As it is, I ask you to bear with me just a little bit longer. 


But I am starting to wonder if my promise to say off topic was a bit premature.  After all, if I was the only expert on the European Green Crab, would anyone object to my authoring a site dedicated to that species? I would think that my task would produce additional justification; the species of my expertise has been almost extinct the last 400 years.




Molly Worthen is once again to be commended for her judicious reporting on the Kirk.  Her first task, in 2006, was a piece for the New York Times Magazine, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”    She touched briefly on Douglas Wilson, of all appearances a “lumber jack,” but that was not the focus of her thesis. The Christian soldiers were the students, fellows, and doctors of New St. Andrews College.  In this latest, the topic just is Douglas Wilson, the controversialist. I recommend reading the article, and not just my response below. I will post a link to the article here as soon as one is available.


A New Douglas Wilson?

The full page picture of Wilson standing in his library struck me as odd. Same clothes, same wrinkly skin on the top of the hands, same hair style, same loosely fitted watch he loves fidgeting with.  The beard is getting whiter and thinner, but essentially the same.  The faint cheerful smirk seems classic Wilson, as long as I imagine slightly different lighting. But those eyes portray something different. I am not looking at Wilson when I look at those eyes. There is no hideous strength staring back. I am looking at me.  


This thought led to another:  Why did Worthen not note the very different presence Wilson now has in his small town in Idaho?  The year of 2008 did not look anything like the year of 2006, or any of the years preceding. This remarkable fact would seem to fit snuggly into Worthen’s structuring narrative of Wilson’s life: “a would-be prophet goes mainstream.”


For his Sabbath exhortation in August of 2007, Wilson pronounced the official end of the local war in Moscow, Idaho:


Those who have made the controversies erupt in the past are largely a spent force. We needed to take them seriously for a time, when we were in the thick of it, but the need for that has largely diminished. There are still a few things here and there, but we are not in the same position we were in a few years ago—with many thanks to God for it. . . the jiggy taunt response is completely inappropriate for those whom we are now addressing—the community of Moscow at large. These are folks who do not have any vested interest in fighting with us, but all they know are bits and pieces from the last few years. They don’t have any grounded reason for being worried over what we might do, but they might still feel that way. Just slightly nervous—how you might feel, for example, if the Mormons were going to build there, or the followers of TuCar Gaharaji. We want our presence in Moscow—personally, educationally, culturally, and architecturally—to be a blessing to the entire town. The flaps are largely over—and so our demeanor in this entire endeavor should be that of gratitude to God and sensitive reassurance to our well-meaning neighbors.



But untrue to Worthen’s narrative, this says little about a change in strategy now aimed in the direction of the mainstream. Flustered over James Dobson’s rival cultural impact, Wilson has always aimed at the mainstream. His method now looks a bit different, but the appearance is superficial. Wilson has, as he once explained to me in private, “played with the cards that were dealt.” After having to call off the local culture war, which just so happened to correspond to the year of the atheists, Wilson now has some new cards. Perhaps Worthen has made the understandable mistake of seeing the “well-placed . . . very clever dig against a global village atheist” as an alternative strategic direction to Wilson’s contrived culture war in Moscow. I would argue that the strategic direction remains the same.


Doublethink & War

Wilson’s war in Moscow was generated for the purpose of provoking liberal unbelievers so that their reactions could later be labeled as persecution. If the persecution card was played successfully, Wilson could have propelled himself into the mainstream almost overnight.  This tactic worked well within the Kirk, and it almost worked on the outside. If it was not for the late revelation of Southern Slavery: As It Was, this tactic probably would have done the trick. Wilson was greatly disappointed when World Magazine – despite Wilson’s protests – reported on Wilson’s and Wilkin’s alleged plagiarism instead of the intoleristas’ persecution. World was “missing the real story.” Wilson explained to a small group of us ministerial students that World was not willing to tell the real story because they were trying to politically take him out. John McArthur, RC Sproul, and Billy Graham, Wilson explained, were soon to retire, and would leave a significant leadership vacuum.  According to Wilson, World wanted to fill that void and saw Wilson as a close competitor. 


Did Wilson intentionally deceive the Kirk into living through a fictive culture war? Was he honest when he told us that World failed to support this fiction because they were trying to take him out?  Was Wilson having missiles directed into the homes of the proles?  I think it better to begin with an easier question: Do I know that Wilson is capable of lying?  My answer now is “yes and no.”  Orwell’s psychology of doublespeak, as analyzed at the end of 1984, gives us some insights into how the mind of Wilson now works – in my humble opinion. Wilson does not lie, he pseudo-lies, if I may create a technical term. On less than a zeroeth approximation, a pseudo-lie is a cognitive stance that registers somewhere on the deception scale (did I create another technical term?) somewhere between what we normally consider explicit lying and what Harry Frankfurt calls bullshit, which is not lying at all. The bullshitter utters propositional statements of fact for purely practical purposes and is entirely ambivalent to whether the world make the statements truth or false. 


Once Wilson makes the pseudo-lie complete, the imaginative construct the pseudo-lie brings into existence fits so coherently into Wilson’s world of the Kirk, it eventually operates as sincere truth.  On some level, Wilson might now really be convinced that persecution was the real story World missed, along with the fact that “fire fell on Moscow, as upon Elijah’s altar,” even after Wilson “doused it with water.”  As with Orwell’s doublespeak, it takes conscious labor to create the fiction and to talk one’s self into keeping faith in the face of obtuse cognitive dissonance, but then the rest of the complex process is taken over by the more sophisticated unconscious mind. Once the pseudo-lie comprises a script in the progressively constructed deep narrative, it becomes a new piece of reality. The Kirk is not at war with Moscow.  The Kirk has never been at war with Moscow.  The Kirk is at war with mainstream atheism.  Therefore, the Kirk has always been at war with mainstream atheism.


A Mainstream Prophet

Whether or not there is any truth to Wilson’s claim about World Magazine – there probably is not – the explanation illustrates Wilson’s early attempt at going mainstream as quickly as possible, a real possibility given his skill set of manipulation and control. And Wilson has made significant advances in this direction. Credenda Agenda began with a somewhat mainstream audience due to its unique wit and classical references, and at mid-career, Wilson was writing regularly for Ligonier’s Table Talk. Wilson was once a featured speaker at Ligonier’s conference (I believe he shared the pulpit with John Macarthur and John Piper). Early in his career, Wilson chose Darwinian evolution as a topic to debate at the two local universities and was never shy in debating mainstream atheists. And before Hitchens, Wilson had been able to rhetorically dominate. Wilson was the one chosen to fill in for a debate Greg Bahnsen had scheduled before greeted with a heart attack.


Even the Federal Vision controversy became Wilson’s attempt at going mainstream. Wilson explained to me in private that he was trying to be the one to hold both opposing parties together, consistent with his plea for both sides of the debate to be men of the Westminster Confession rather than papist schismatics. He sent an entire box of Canon Press books to N.T. Wright, who later made appearances at CRE related events. If this tactic worked, Wilson would have had a chance at becoming at least mainstream conservative reformed.  Further, the Federal Vision was a liberal adoption of textual and philosophical points of view from ecumenical theology.  On this issue, Wilson’s opponents, not the Federal Vision associates,  represent the protective enclave of ignorant and dogmatic arrogance. 


Consider also Wilson’s son Nate. Nate has been given nepotistic place as the young prince of the Kirk, and ever since, Wilson has publicly defended – boasted even – the practice of nepotism. By his mid-twenties Nate was editor of Credenda Agenda, promoted up the ladder as a New St. Andrew’s faculty member (the one faculty member who protested ultimately lost his job), and Nate was given an office in the new Kirk administrative building that would have been well suited for the Kirk’s CEO or vice president.


Nate knows that he cannot question Wilson’s story-world or the specifics of his theology (my friend Luke had to become postmillennial in his eschatology before he could marry Nate’s sister), but consistent with Wilson’s aim at the mainstream, Nate can at least opt to just have nothing to do with it. Nate cannot go on record rejecting Christianity, of course, but it seems to me at this point that he enjoys a cognitive life that has little to do with conservative Christianity.  Nate is able to live outside his father’s Kirk world by creating his own mini-worlds best suited for children.  On some level, Nate seems to understand what he is doing as he continues to explain to us that he is just all around “childish.” If you go to his current web site, you will see his attempt at convincing the growing readership of his popular children books that he is not religious at all. Nate says of himself: 


I was born in 1978 to a couple of Jesus People hippies. . . . My father accidentally became a pastor (it’s a long story and I was very young) and has been one ever since. . . . . My father helped to found a school with a classical emphasis, which I attended K-12. I have a real fondness for the classics (ancient and modern) as a result. Through my elementary years I spent innumerable hours enjoying and getting into trouble with my friend Joe Casebolt. . . . .  In some elementary grade or other, we were assigned a class presentation on the subject of religion. We constructed an idol (of sorts) out of legos and when the time came we walked calmly to the front of the room, bound a lego-man to a popsicle stake, and lit him on fire. His head swelled up nicely. I couldn’t tell you what grade we received, but our classmates approved. . . . .Not everything I write is for children, but all of it is childish. I love the dark flavor of Flannery O’Connor and the supra-realism of Borges, though I can’t help but try to add the laughter of G. K. Chesterton. P. G. Wodehouse and C. S. Lewis have been with me my entire life, and always will be. J. R. R. Tolkien cannot be imitated. . . .


So, Nate’s father, a Jesus People hippy, became a pastor by accident, and for all we know is still a Jesus People hippy pastor. Nate went to a school with a classical emphasis and he therefore loves the classics (leaving out ‘Christian’ in a statement like this is unheard of in the Kirk).  And to make it clear that he is not a Christian and has never attended the brain-washing lectures of a religious institution, Nate informs his readers that he was once assigned a presentation on “the subject of religion.” When this subject just happened to present itself – presumably just once sometime in his elementary years – Nate burns a Lego man on a popsicle stake. This is a curious way to talk about an education that had religion as the core of every class and every subject K through 12. The current website of Nate’s school states, “Logos School provides a biblically-based curriculum and teaches subjects as parts of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center.”  Nate appreciates O’Connor for her “dark flavor” and Wodehouse and C.S. Lewis for the “laughter.”  I have much more to say about young prince Nate, but you might have to read my book for that:  The Kirk: Mother of War.


But now that Nate is mainstream with Random House, everything has turned out all right for prophet Wilson and his young prince.  Nate now writes for Christianity Today online, explaining his deep appreciation for both Hitchens and Wilson as their two profound lives poetically intermingle.


Beliefs vs. Social Situation

To support her narrative trajectory for Wilson, Worthen views Wilson’s history through the lens of the troublemaking beliefs found in an old, small booklet on the South and Wilson’s theoretical theonomy – a move consistent with some of the common lore about the Kirk. In doing so, Worthen rests too much on the assumption that Wilson’s statements “about theonomy and race relations are not merely contrarian tactics” but “his firm beliefs.” I am not sure how Worthen would know this.  Worthen assumes an answer to what I take to be one of the remaining important questions about Douglas Wilson.  This dispositionalist assumption on psychology is matched by an absence of what I think makes Wilson and the Kirk such a potentially fruitful study for anthropology: the social situation.   How does Wilson do it? Why? What are the mechanisms in our social world that someone like Wilson can begin tinkering with to grow his power? How has the social world been tinkering with Wilson? I submit that whatever explanatory mechanisms we can locate within the Kirk are not – either in nature or importance -  merely contrarian tactics, and after first knowing and then studying Douglas Wilson, I am still mystified as to how to even begin classifying what he does and does not ‘believe’ on some of the more important subjects. That would seem to be the end of the scientific journey. 


More fascinating and relevant than Wilson’s alleged “firm beliefs” on slavery or the execution of adulterers was Wilson’s refusal to ever offer a hint of apology or humility or even a moment’s reflection throughout the ‘controversy’ that erupted. This is classic Wilson, and necessary for his social prowess in the Kirk: Wilson is able to ooze pious humility for the faithful while enjoying an ever morphing robust set of ‘beliefs’ on any topic with a ‘firmness’ no less cock-sure than the Almighty’s. This provides a stable anchor for his following lambs, an effect only accentuated for those in the blood-relative clan. I recall some of the students of New St. Andrews, during its second year of existence, teasing Wilson’s eldest daughter, Bekah. They summarized her method of debate with the creed: “Douglas Wilson is my epistemology.”


Wilson was a master of humble dogmatism, which allowed his fanatical mind to largely stay off the radar screen. That God was speaking through Wilson was always an implicit implication – a trivial conclusion, really, since it reduces to the fact that Wilson was a good Christian preacher. Did you know it is a mainstream reformed teaching that when an ordained minister preaches, he is speaking the very words of God? Not many real preachers around these days. But what of the explicit arrogance and ridicule? This was reserved only for the ‘enemy’ – whether without or within – but who would care about something as inhuman and vile as an enemy? From personal experience, I am assured, there is nothing in an enemy worth any care at all.



This concludes what I consider to be the most important considerations in light of Worthen’s new article.  I want to now turn to a less consequential concern. Worthen did not let the plagiarism deal go. As Wilson rightly mentioned, either go all the way on it, or leave it alone. An act of explicit plagiarism really has very little to do with Wilson or the Kirk, and has been illegitimately seized upon by Wilson’s critics, as well as envious reformed prudes, such as Calvin Biesner of Knox Seminary. Worthen does not mention that the sections in the booklet that were ‘plagiarized’ were not written by Wilson and he would likely have not had any way of knowing they were taken from another book. Further, Wilkins, the author of the plagiarism, lectures on this material frequently to my personal knowledge and his explanation that quotes become lecture notes and then much later accidental book material seems credible. I recall happening upon one of Wilkins’ books on the civil war at Barnes and Noble not too long after he was willing to ‘co-author’ this little photo-copied five by eight booklet for Wilson’s garage publishing business.


Journalism on this point has been opportunistic and lazy – Worthen only accidentally so, falling on the tale end of it.  No one would have ever known about this photo-copied hand-out if it were not for political enemies Wilson had in Moscow – and precisely the ones he would have had whether he was a mere humble parish priest that preached against the sin of homosexuality or the next Jim Jones.  And Wilson is justified in pointing out that he was able to respond to all this with his own book, a book given praise by Eugene Genovese, one of America’s leading historians on this the subject.


I have already noted this in my book, but with a twist:


The charge about full and intentional ‘plagiarism’ was hardly substantiated, and any truth to the accusation was just the tip of the iceberg: Wilson’s entire cultural project was one big plagiarized trick. From the early days, Wilson and Jones would plow through books, journalistic pieces, magazines, of all sorts and from all genres and time periods, simply grabbing anything that could be useful for their cultural project. The resulting work of art, comprised of nothing that was not gleaned willy nilly was then announcing as God’s next revelation from Heaven to prophet Wilson for the next golden age in Idaho.  You could say that Wilson’s project, along with the peculiarities of his creative mind, did not permit the citing of sources.


Wilson’s Accomplishments

Hopefully, in the future, Worthen can supplement her investigation of the Kirk by capturing a bit more of Wilson’s accomplishments. In her 2006 article, Worthen was willing to point the reader to the inane moralism of some young female students at New St. Andrews, some that perhaps had only been in Moscow for a number of months: “Two girls balanced mugs of tea on their knees and wondered how Heloise could disregard God’s command against fornication.” But also worthy of mention is the dominate culture of well groomed, mature virgin women marrying in the Kirk, most with an unlikely chance of ever greeting an abusive husband or divorce. Likewise, I’ve never seen one of Wilson’s daughters offer a moralist comment.  Wilson encouraged Bekah, his eldest (currently home-schooling five children at Oxford), to dress like a bit of a hotty just to spite the devil of conservative prudishness. 


Further, the aesthetic and communal dimensions of the Kirk are attached to an imaginative, transcendent world punctuated by some of the most earthy ‘non-Christian’ cultural expressions in America. In Worthen’s 2006 article, she was able, to a degree, bring the reader into the world of the Kirk.  She was there, on the ground, and invited you to experience it all with her.  This recent article on Wilson has a different feel. It reads less like the work of an investigative anthropologist. But the Kirk, as a Lady of War, is mostly inside. She is a Mother of War in her more masculine confrontation with the world without, but the war begins with the orgiastic ritual within (HT: The Situationist) : imprecatory prayers against local people, barbaric songs from the Davidic kingdom produced in beautiful, post-Renaissance four part harmony, weekly covenant renewals at the foot of Mount Sinai, authoritative words from heaven spoken through the prophet Wilson, the winks, stares, warnings, and praise of the chief social engineer, and the not so fictive drinking and eating of the Son of God’s blood and flesh as administered by the ruling class of men.


Worthen Opens the Can of Worms

With that said, I call attention again to my admiration for the careful insight Worthen does offer. As with her 2006 piece, she does not do violence to Wilson’s world for the naive student at New St. Andrews or the faithful parishioner at Christ Church.  New St. Andrews, in fact, has taken quotes from the article as if Worthen was writing a marketing piece for Wilson and the college.   


And Wilson, true to one of his traditional political tactics, informs his readership that the article is surprisingly well done.  Wilson writes:  


Despite that kind of criticism from me, CT did a good job with this article. If anyone had told me fifteen years ago that I would get respectful treatment like this from CT and something significantly less than that from World magazine, I would have said the idea was laughable.


Yet, for the discerning reader, there is a different message. Worthen is informing the general public about this new rising evangelical leader, shyly pondering – after mentioning one commentator’s note that Wilson is a “scoundrel” – if evangelicalism will reject Wilson outright now that she has kindly opened the can of worms. Worthen’s concluding point was that for mainstream evangelicalism, opinions the apologist has on the life that follows the claims of Mere Christianity might be considered more important than a “very clever dig against a global village atheist.” And Worthen is not so shy in at least revealing that, to all appearances, Wilson is eager for a strategic relationship with Hitchens that he hopes will wipe away any bad press about his “beliefs.”


Perhaps now the investigative journalism can go the second mile. Wilson and the Kirk is an anthropological sandbox right in our back yard. I suggest a more empirical approach that would leave aside any pronouncements about Wilson’s ‘beliefs’ until the research is concluded. Wilson’s “take on the Westminster Confession” is one of his most innocent achievements. We should be talking rather about Wilson’s “merely” “contrarian tactics,” and how Wilson needs a strategic relationship with Hitchens to wash the blood of priest craft that still stains his hands.  It seems that Hitchens can smell the blood from his response to Wilson so far.


In the end, I suspect there might be a bit more Douglas Wilson in the typical evangelical religious leader than Worthen is willing to assume. By coming to a knowledge of the priest we come to know Wilson and by coming to a knowledge of Wilson, we come to know the priest.




I conclude with some factual corrections:


1) Worthen writes, “Wilson’s congregation, Christ Church, was growing so rapidly that he didn’t have time to escape to seminary.” This brings more darkness than light to Wilson’s life narrative; so much so, I will submit it is false. Wilson had already started New St. Andrews and Credenda Agenda before the church began to see significant growth.  When I arrived in 1995, we were still at one service in Logos School’s auditorium, seating around 100 people (150 tops). Wilson was around 40 years old by that time. He had already earned an M.A. degree in philosophy and he explained to me that he had considered leaving in order to obtain a PhD but decided instead to stay permanently in Moscow.


In 1993 Wilson was constitutionally required to step down as pastor after every ruling elder voted him out. This would have been a perfect opportunity for something along the lines of seminary time. But Wilson’s thirst for social power, the bringing forth of the Kirk in strategic Moscow, was too great. Taking care of the elders was child play (if it were not for the revelation of primary documents associated with 1993 there might have never been a Pooh’s Think) . Besides, Seminary would have been no consequence in the Kirk. As Wilson’s younger son-in-law explained to me, Wilson already has an equivalent of three PhDs anyways. And if you have been to a reformed seminary, you would know it comical that someone of Wilson’s accomplishments, maturity, and rhetorical force should be required to go sit in a desk with the latest crack-pot junior preacher. The one standard the young, self-anointed preacher must meet to enroll in the most prestigious reformed seminary is purely financial.


2) It is a common mistake to lump Van Til with the Reconstructionists. Worthen helps perpetuate this myth – unknowingly I assume – by ambiguously noting Rousas John Rushdoony’s studies under Cornelius Van Til.  Van Til did enjoy metaphors of warfare (few Christians resist the temptation), but he and the majority of his following have no ideological connection to Reconstructionism. The reconstructionists simply co-opted Van Til’s triumphal fideism for their own syncretic creedal purposes.  Van Til made Christian truth necessary for genuine knowledge of the world. Greg Bahnsen just connected dots in an unexpected way: man could not gain genuine knowledge of just law or informal moral code, as well as the distinction between the two, without the law-code of the bible.


3) Wilson has already corrected one important mistake.  The April Fool’s joke advertising University lectures such as “Breasts as Embodied Intuitions” was not performed by a ministerial candidate. Yet, Wilson failed to mention the real identity. It was Doug Jones, Wilson’s right hand gentle thug that helps clean up messes within the Kirk. Jones is an intriguingly weird man generally, but I will not digress.


4) There is another error associated with this that Wilson was happy to let go.  Worthen quotes Wilson explaining that this bizarre ‘practical joke’ was an attempt to reply with a sense of humor while they “were beleaguered, under siege.”  This is an ambiguous statement.  This could refer to the very real threat of public topless women at the time, but I doubt Wilson would want his culture war to go on historical record as the siege of some good looking local breasts (bad for New St. Andrew’s enrollment goals for an even gender mix I suppose).  The only other meaning I can think of is that Wilson is claiming Jones’ practical joke to be a satirical response to the intolerista persecution.  But if so, this is false. Jones pulled this stunt far before Wilson was able to create the imaginary intolerista.  Wilson and Jones were simply trying to gain attention at this time.  Not too many months prior to this stunt, Wilson offered his perplexity as to why the local paper still did not even know about New St. Andrews.


5) Worthen says that no Reformed denomination would welcome Wilson’s church since it had some Baptist allowances in doctrine and practice.  This has been a common rhetorical response from Wilson when asked why he did not submit his church to the accountability of a larger denomination.  But from my recollection, this is not necessarily true.  Roy Atwood and Wilson visited a PCA assembly early on and I believe the PCA wanted to have them join on the spot.  Wilson’s original justification for staying autonomous was pastoral: he would frighten too many congregants if they officially became “Presbyterian.” Just a couple years later, our church was for all intents and purposes officially Presbyterian, but by then it was too late. Wilson had been a busy bee setting up his new Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals. 


There is another fact worth mentioning here, one I would mention regularly while a student at Westminster Theological Seminary West. Inconsistent with reformed tradition Wilson was not schismatically breaking off from a larger denomination, but was rather gathering independent churches into a larger confederation. 


6) Worthen says that Wilson’s church was one of three that co-founded this new denomination.  Technically, this is probably true, but it does not seem rightly nuanced. Wilson wrote the constitutional documents, and the two other churches were already dependent spin-offs of Wilson’s church.


7) Lastly, I do not think of Credenda Agenda as a publication on reformed theology. It is intended to be a ‘cultural journal,’ with practical wisdom, fiction, poetry, and theological responses to current events. Explicit exegesis or theology is sprinkled in only gingerly.  The publication presented itself as Classical Protestantism, not ‘reformed.’


The End.   









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  1. No comments have been added to your blog article after ten days? I’m the first? Your piece is f-ing brilliant, and I’m glad I found it after reading Worthen’s interview with The Controversialist in the April 09 Christianity Today. You bring to light a lot of questions I had after reading Worthen’s article, and answer them brilliantly.


    Comment by Edward T. Babinski — April 15, 2009 @ 5:06 pm


  2. Glad you enjoyed it! I mainly write posts like this to upset people, but making them happy is a worthwhile goal too.


    Comment by metzler — April 15, 2009 @ 8:32 pm


  3. I wonder if you’re new book will make a passing reference to this cat…


    Comment by Concerned — June 13, 2009 @ 11:59 pm


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