There is little new I can add to the ongoing train-wreck which is Doug Wilson’s ecclesiology. I have no new court documents (sidenote: Wilson’s defenders rarely engage those) and I am already late to the scandal. So why write something? Several reasons:
- People sometimes ask me questions on Facebook or elsewhere on what I think about ____. While my word isn’t that important, some think it is. And if my meager post keeps some people from joining these CREC churches, then so be it.
- I want to provide a snapshot of the key facts in the scandal. Whenever the scandal is discussed, both sides immediately harp on the key Christian slang words, “Judgmental,” “grace,” “Jesus forgives,” Pharisee!” What is immediately lost is “Did he actually do __?” I grant that I am a Pharisees. Fine. Answer the question.
- Rebut many assumptions behind Wilson’s deviant theology. I was about to write “ecclesiology” or “family views,” then I realized for Canon Press they are basically the same thing. In short, and I know this is becoming cliche, his area is a cult. Plain and simple.
- Conclusion: Since Wilson has been a vocal name in the War for Life and the War for the Family, often writing good stuff, this gives ammo to the secular crowd. And it would be hard to argue with them, admittedly.
(For the record. Just because I link to a site does not mean I endorse the site. I have long disliked the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their“hustling” has gotten so bad that even Democrats are embarrassed. Still. Broken clock and all)
It appears about ten years ago S. Sitler came to Moscow, ID. Previously, he had molested a two year old. Apparently Wilson kicked him out of school and informed the police. If true, this clears Wilson of level-one police culpability. (Most people--public servants, anyway--are required by law to inform the police of this stuff). He is not out of the woods, yet.
Given that Wilson is a theonomist, what is his view on sexual crimes of this nature? He writes in Fidelity (Canon Press, 1999),
"When we are dealing with young children who are abused by adults (pederasty, child porn, etc.), the penalty for those guilty of the crime should be death." (p. 75)
Sitler came back to Wilson. Presumably having repented. (I cannot know if his repentance was genuine. Let’s say it was. I am simply reporting the facts of the case and what both civil and biblical law require the actions to be in response).
The facts against Sitler. These are black-and-white. In terms of justice and the civil public space, it is irrelevant if Sitler repented. It is irrelevant if I am “casting the first stone” or am “mean” or “not being like Jesus or something.” Just the facts:
- Why cannot Sitler pass a lie detector test?
- Can the words “Sitler” and “sexual stimulation” and “his child” be used in the same sentence? Wilson’s followers say that isn’t true--only hearsay. Maybe. My source isn’t someone’s blog but an official penal site.
- (3) provides the context for (2). Supposing it is just slander on Sitler, please address (2).
- Even supposing Sitler has a right to marry from a Christian point of view, he can never have a normal relationship with his child(ren!). Is “Dominionism” really worth screwing up lives?
- What did Wilson say was the punishment for pedophiles?
- Wilson informed his church, true. But by Wilson’s own words the session informed the church on 13 December 2005. Here is the catch: Was Sitler worshiping with the Christ Kirk community within this timeline in a way that Wilson knew of Sitler’s actions before he was sentenced? Did the ChristKirk community know this before Sitler came?
That’s all I’m really going to say on the legal aspect. There are supposed to be court cases this week.
Canon Press Theology
If all that matters were simply the above (1)-(7), then we can let the matter stop. If the legal system can’t take care of it, then the problems are too big anyway. But that’s not all. Others have commented on Wilson’s view of women in the church and home.
(P8) What is the role of women in the Canon Press community? Stated differently, what is the active role of women in the Canon Press community apart from the leadership of the male?
(P9) What is the role of single women in the Canon Press orbit?
(P8) and (P9) set the stage for another problem. Wilson tells everyone that he, in his defense, had no grounds for prohibiting a “lawful marriage.” What this means is that he couldn’t find a chapter and verse saying he couldn’t. This is biblicism run amok. Wisdom literature teaches us that we don’t always have to have a proof-text. Is it wise? They didn’t ask this question.
(P10) Is it the goal of the Christian life to get married and have babies? This question is ambiguous. We will rephrase it.
(P10’) Is the “fallen” (defined as someone who committed a terrible sin but has repented) Christian guaranteed equal access to the marriage/family life?
Many “Wilsonistas” say it yes. They assert it but never argue it. This doesn’t appear to be the Apostle Paul’s position. The Wilsonistas say, “If you can, and why can’t you?, by all means get married.” Paul said if you aren’t married now, then you might not need to get married (1 Cor. 7:7-8, 26-28). We can now conclude premise 10:
(P10*) There are many good reasons for staying single.
(P10a*) The church is not obligated to provide you for disregarding (P10*)
The Wilsonistas will say that married sex provides a legitimate outlet for sexual passion. That is true in normal cases. But psychology and counseling have shown that men/women who are addicted to porn do not become unaddicted because they get married. The problem is still there, even if there is an “outlet” for it. And the outlet does not solve the problem.
This is also true if the spouse is a convicted pedophile. Where is the wisdom in his “outlet” providing him with more victims? Wilsonistas will respond, “Would you deny him the opportunity for a family?”
There are alternatives. None of them fun, but they are noble and workable. He can join a monastery in the desert and spend the next 30 years denying himself. Surround himself with a handful of elderly, cantankerous men who do not put up with nonsense. And who knows, he might be able to find peace and stillness in a way that he wouldn’t in Moscow, ID.
Moving to another note:
(P11) I have only rarely (I think twice) seen Wilson say, “Yeah, I was wrong.” Whenever he is criticized he, a) plays the victim and b) ridicules the actual victim. He (and by extension, his disciples) cannot take criticism.
I think his inability to take criticism is tied with his church’s irregular court structure. Technically speaking, it (the CREC) isn’t a real denomination. In fact, I don’t think it claims to be.
A Bastard Ecclesiology
T. J. Harris argues, cogently I believe, that the CREC cannot address the issue of ordination succession because the CREC isn’t a properly ordained denomination. Harris points out that if you make “baptism everything as a gateway” yet only require baptism be “in the Name,” then your ecclesiology will self-destruct. He notes the following situation:
Now if some guys get together in a friend’s kitchen and baptize his infant, there are only four possible ways to combine the concept of baptism and church in describing what happened:
1. The guys standing around in the kitchen constitute the visible church2. The visible church is a purely formal concept, without any actuality let alone visibility3. The ritual they perform is not in fact a baptism4. Baptism is not sufficient to gain entry into the visible church
On a related note:
(P12) On what grounds and by whom was Wilson ordained to the ministry? I checked his website under “Autobiographical Fragments” and didn’t find anything. The best scenario I can reconstruct is this:
(P12a) He was a guitar player for churches who got cornered into preaching.
(P12b) He is a Baptist pastor that becomes a Paedobaptist pastor. Yet no word of “lawful ordination.”
I didn’t see anything about a lawful ordination. Which church with established church courts ordained Wilson? I’m not arguing for apostolic succession (though my EO and RCC friends are probably chuckling right now) but basic Presbyterianism. Fair enough, Wilson didn’t start out as a Presbyterian. I am trying to think of ways he could have a retroactive ordination
(P12c) Someone like Steve Wilkins (already ordained in the PCA) ordain him. I don’t think this happened.
Someone can say I am making a big deal and this is like asking for Obama’s birth certificate. Perhaps. All he has to do (or one of his minions) is to produce the credentials. The larger point is he did not become a minister through established channels. There is nothing magical about said channels, but they do have a discipline with (theoretical, in the PCA anyway) checks and balances.
I write this so people will be warned of entering the CREC. It is a denomination born in sin. Well, it’s not even a denomination but a confederation. Not everyone in the CREC is a Wilsonista, but Wilson is the de facto Pope. He’s too powerful to challenge. Please note that if you enter this “confederation” you will enter a group that did provide cover for pedophiles, marries pedophiles to their women, encourages babies-victims from said union, and is beyond any church court of appeal.
And they travel at conferences. Which means some might come to your home town.
On the prolife/profamily front: I grant that Wilson has penned some good stuff. It is plutonium now. You can’t touch it.