Friday, September 18, 2015

My Final Post and New Developments

This is my final post at this blog.   I want to summarize some conclusions reached and address some problems that have come up.  I thank God that I have been a small (albeit very small) part of the group exposing and warning the cultish activities in some CREC churches.  I really have nothing to add that Spiritual Sounding Board, Wartburg, K. Botkin, and others haven’t added.  

Theologically, I have remained Protestant (and will do so).  I think my defenses of Sola Scriptura, a Protestant understanding of tradition, and a Protestant rebuttal to Anchorite claims are sound.  But I get tired of correcting misunderstandings.  More on that later.

When I first made this blog I held to a Barthian epistemology and view of God--namely rejecting substance metaphysics.  After spending a few years reading and interacting with JP Moreland and Alvin Plantinga, I believe a Barthian epistemology is a trainwreck and his view of God a non-starter.  

Accordingly, I have moved away from dialectical theology.

I have a new blog.

I have several goals:

  1. I want to pursue the connections between the church fathers and the doctrine of the soul.
  2. I believe that a patristic understanding of the soul allows for real healing.  
  3. Physical healing often needs physical treatments.  However, there is also a correlation between neuroscience and philosophy of the mind (see the book Heartmath).   
  4. This is critical in terms of pastoral counseling, as the recent disasters in Moscow, ID make clear.  Telling victims to “get over it” and not go to court, besides tampering with witnesses (which is illegal), ignores many dimensions which remained unhealed.  
  5. Healing must be total and wholistic, which many of the Fathers intuitively recognized.
  6. While I can’t agree with some of the theological overtones behind monastic theology, there are interesting parallels between the monastics and later psychology (at least at its best)
    1. Monastics urged one to confide in a confessor.  Not so much to “get my sins forgiven,” but to reveal what my baggage is.  
    2. A strict diet of good foods (which does include fasting) and self-denial makes the acolyte acknowledge weak points.
    3. While I can’t buy into Hesychast models of prayer, there are different breathing methods that calm the body and some scholars suggest a parallel between the physical heart and the mind (Moreland, Kingdom Triangle, ch. 6).  Interestingly, the fathers often spoke of “nous” and the “heart.”
  7. This blog has been very harsh on “convertskii.”  I’ve now come to the point that if someone wants to convert to Rome or EO, there is little I can do to stop him.  Nor really should I.  Contrary to some convertskii narratives, we do make choices and do use our sinful western rational judgment.  St Paul says every man stands or falls before his own master.   However, I’ve come to realize that some people might have defensible rationales (!!!) for becoming EO.  I’m here to help that person either stay Protestant or make an informed judgment on EO before jumping ship only to find the same garbage elsewhere.  
  8. I want my new blog to help on the narratives. I've realized that I probably know more about Russian and Balkan history than 99% of Americans (and more than 100% of news anchors). I know how tempting it is to paint Kosovo Poltje as a crisis point. I want to deconstruct a few narratives while still affirming what is good in those narratives.
  9. And I realize I've read a lot about the church fathers. I don't want to boast but neither will I engage in false humility. And I've come to realize that the picture is very complicated. The Fathers affirmed a lot of things I probably won't affirm, yet we don't see them (at least early on) affirming what Convertskii want them to affirm.
  10. Once I made peace with myself that Protestants can experience Kingdom Power, go to heaven, and the like, I realized I didn't need to change my church identity based on someone else's narrative about his own salvation (Orthodox Bridge).

A parting shot across the bow

one of the victims' father is speaking up.

A response to Sumpter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Disagreement = satanist

Wilson tries to defend his actions by pointing to a warning by CS Lewis on the tyrannical Nanny State. In Screwtape Letters and The Abolition of Man Lewis pointed out that “therapeutic punishment” is always more tyrannical than retributive punishment.  If you do something wrong--steal from the IRS, witness-tampering, molesting a two-year old, etc--then you receive the penalty appropriate to the crime and that’s it.  Punishment over.  The Nanny State sees you as sick and wants to “rehab” you until you are better.  Of course, it will determine when, if ever, you are better.

Like of all of Wilson’s posts, he deflects any blame from himself by pointing to the abortion industry.  “Yeah, attacking the victim and covering up pedophiles might be bad, but you should see the abortion industry.”  True, the abortion industry is bad, but that’s not what I am talking about at the moment.  Further, when Wendell Berry tried to pull the same stunt you called him on it.  

But in this post is Wilson even talking about the Sitler/Wight scandal?  It’s hard to say, initially.  He does leave us hints.  

In controversies over abuse, victims, brokenness, and so on, this is why appeals to justice (i.e. let’s find out what actually happened) so often fall on deaf ears. They don’t care about executing the right prisoner. That is not what this is about. They don’t need to find out if you were the culprit. All they need to know is whether you are the patient.

Since he is talking about victims of “abuse,” he probably doesn’t mean Planned Parenthood.  So I take this to be a reference to Sitler.  

But before you are allowed to attack him, he brings up Jesus.

This is why proclamation of the gospel has two parts. The first concerns the objective content of the gospel — what God has done for us as sinners. The contents of the Apostles Creed would be a wonderful summary of the message of the objective gospel in this sense. Christ born, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ ascended, and Christ pouring out His Spirit of forgiveness on a lost and truculent world.

This is great and true and all.  I never once doubted Sitler’s repentance (though his failing a lie detector test--something the Wilsonistas ignore--did give me pause).  The problem is not “Can Jesus forgive him?”  The problem is, “Granted that Jesus forgave him, we must also realize that the abuser is still wired a certain way and we have to protect other sheep, including the abuser’s (future) children.”  Jesus’s objective dying for me or anyone else doesn’t change the fact that we still have physiological garbage.  This is what St Gregory the Theologian called ataktos, chaotic flux, baggage.  

The passions must be healed.  This is a lifelong process.  The CREC has never been known for self-denial and biblical ascetism.

Anyone who disagrees is a Satanist

This quote should bother you,

So when confronted with the frenzied spirit of accusation, that central tactic and technique of the father of lies, the only appropriate response is to declare the gospel, and to take refuge in the gospel by declaring it. This is why — all through last week’s outcries — I turned again and again to the death of Jesus Christ for sinners. When I did this, I was not changing the subject. That is what all of this is about.

Translated: anyone who accuses me is under the Father of Lies.  This is why anyone hoping for reform within the CREC is deluding himself.  As long as the pope of the CREC associates “accusations of him” with “The Father of Lies,” well, why bother?

So no, there is nothing to fix. No, not at all. This is what we are called to. Jesus died outside the camp, and He died in a contemptible place. We are not told to bring that cross of His inside the city limits, silverplate it, and start leaving baskets of fruit in front of it.

This is worse than anything Jay Adams has ever written.  It's like saying, "There can't possibly be anything wrong with your brain. Therefore, you're okay."

Let’s put it this way:

If a man murders someone, asks Jesus to forgive him, and then hides behind the altar when the cops show up, what do you do? (This was a common situation in some ancient churches.  LOL)

A homosexual struggles with his desires but repents and believes in Jesus.  His sin is objectively covered by Jesus, yet he still wrestles with his desires.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hide ya womens, y'all

So one of the sites documenting the Sitler/Wilson connection was hit with a court order to remove a video.  Another interesting post, while not documenting any criminal activity, but nonetheless creepy, is here. It raises the question over how widespread this mentality is in the CREC.  I suspect, while maybe not universal, is more widespread than one would wish.

What are some consequences for the larger Evangelical world on this?
  1. I don't think this will bring Wilson down.  He's weathered storms before.  I do think it will further discredit the CREC in general.  
  2. It took some steam about of the Reformed world's anti-abortion polemic.  A few months ago when the Daleiden videos were released, we were drunk with battle joy and Wilson was leading the charge. Praise God the witness will go on, but no one can rally behind him any more.  
  3. I think the Evangelical egalitarian movement will get a shot in the arm.  It's really hard to lose a debate against Patriarchy at this moment.
  4. I am finding it harder to argue against people converting to Eastern Orthodoxy.  Almost all of these "converts" are from the CREC.  Let that sink in.  And when I urge them not to, they could easily respond, "Yeah, well, I don't want my daughter to get raped and have the elders cover it up and threaten excommunication on the victim."  Admittedly, I can't really rebut that point.
  5. It would help to have the NAPARC world formally identify and condemn the CREC.  Granted, it means nothing in day to day life, but it is official and would warn other families.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

About to launch some old Doug Wilson posts/criticisms

Back when I was flirting with Eastern Orthodoxy I had a lot of posts criticizing some of Wilson's wackier statements.  I might try to find those and launch them, especially in light of the current scandal(s).

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Penultimate post on Moscow

I doubt this will be the last post on the issue.  But it will be the last one I play as investigative historian blogger on.  The more I read up on the back stories the more it felt like I was investigating the Mafia.  None of this happens in a vacuum.  You realize that the connections go way back.  And we had been warned at least five years ago, but the Reformed world stayed largely silent (and it's not just Doug Wilson who sees repentance as a panacea).

(Sorry that you now have nightmares, but that is what it feels like).  And like investigating the Mafia you get the suspicion that this could explode.

Will this work?  Will this take down Wilson's Empire?  I doubt it.  At least it won't convince his disciples to renounce him.  He can do no wrong.  Truly they are a cult.  But I'm not worried about them.  Will this convince John Piper and The Gospel Coalition to sever ties?  We shall see.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Moscow Scandal Linkstorm

I am not doing this with rancor.  Since all of this is public and most of these links are links to court documents (or links to links with court documents), very little is my opinion.  And it isn't slander. Just the facts.  The only reason I give a damn is because there is a CREC church in my home town.   Presbyterianism is mortally wounded in northern La.  There are a few struggling communions but the CREC church is the dominant one.  And when people here I am Presbyterian, they say, "Oh yeah, just like ____________."

I have friends who, while not connected to the local CREC, are familiar with it and Wilson's doctrine.  (And can we drop the CREC act?  It's Wilson's denomination and that's that).  They will not join Auburn but neither have they divorced themselves from Wilson's theology.   I hope this post convinces them to do so.

Katie Botkin makes connections between Jamin Wight and Wilson (accessed 10 September 2015).  Some of Botkin’s implications, if this tweet is accurate, are quite interesting.
wilson jamin natalie tweet.jpg

Wartburg Watch points to new website on Sitler, implying bigger revelations are to follow (accessed 10 September 2015).

Interactive site and timeline on Sitler (accessed 10 September 2015).

R.C. Sproul Jr-Sitler connection (accessed 10 September 2015).

BalyBlog distances themselves from Wilson (accessed 10 September 2015).  

During the Phillips-Lourdes scandal, Wilson refused to identify the victim as a victim (accessed 10 September 2015).

Some background on the Jamin Wight story (accessed 10 September 2015), with links to Natalie Rose’s blog.  It also points out that Wight was a member, not of Wilson’s church but Leithart’s.  
  • If Rose’s report can be believed, Wilson and Co. sat on the accused’s side of the courtroom.
  • Wilson/Leithart (Leithart’s ministerial jurisdiction has never been clear) placed under church discipline.
  • Rose’s original account (accessed 10 September 2015).
  • Most recent account of the above is here (accessed 10 September 2015).

Court documents on the original Jamin Wight case (accessed 10 September 2015).

This claims that Wight was abusive to his family in 2013 (accessed 10 September 2015).

Doug Wilson on Marriage (Botkin).  Mostly summarizes the issue but does list that there was a court recording ten days before the marriage (accessed 10 September 2015).

But can you make babies?

The main problem in talking to Wilsonistas is that when critics point out that maybe marrying off a pedophile to a naive girl isn't wise, we are met with, "We are all sinners?" or "Don't you believe in God's grace?"

The problem is that Wilsonistas collapse and identify God's grace with marrying and making babies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On the Moscow, ID sex scandal cover up

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. He admits to having sexually abused children ranging in age from 2 to 12 across three states: Virginia, Washington, and Idaho. (Background court documents). Also see here. (Trigger warning: graphic!).  More documents.
  2. Why cannot Sitler pass a lie detector test?  
  3. 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.  
  4. (3) provides the context for (2).  Supposing it is just slander on Sitler, please address (2).  
  5. 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?
  6. What did Wilson say was the punishment for pedophiles?  
  7. 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.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Evangelical Prayer Masters, or a Protestant reads the desert fathers

My aim in this post is two-fold:  explain how J.P. Moreland and Dallas Willard offered a way for Evangelicals to read the Desert Fathers and explain how Christ Church in Moscow, ID could better deal with a sex-offender.

Willard and Moreland

J.P. Moreland's Love your God with all Your Mind is somewhat legendary in the Evangelical Community.  He brought "discipleship training" to a hard-core intellectual level.  The book has few rivals.  He branched out in 2007 by showing that "intellectual formation" is only one "leg" of the Kingdom Triangle.  The other two are spiritual formation and kingdom power.

Spiritual formation isn't a new concept with evangelicals.   Since Richard Foster's (mostly good) Celebration of Discipline, Evangelicals have tried to incorporate spiritual disciplines beyond that of the daily "quiet time."  But what do you do when you read the practices of Desert Fathers?  It's hard for Protestants to really "connect" with monastic figures.  Protestants--at their best--are known for having the healthiest view of married sexuality (studies show this), have a vision for transforming culture, and the like.  None of this seems to match desert spirituality.

In Moreland's Kingdom Triangle and The Lost Virtue of Happiness he addresses several exercises for "calming the soul."  He was accused of New-Agey techniques.  He then responded that he is following neuroscientists.  I can take it a step further.  Many of Moreland's (and by extension, Willard's) suggestions are in some form related to the practices of the Desert Fathers.


And this leads us to psychology.  I believe the Bible is sufficient for doctrine.   Stated another way: I believe the Bible is sufficient for the Bible's doctrine.  However, I don't believe the Bible is meant to solve every medical and neurological issue simply by chanting the Bible over the person.  And no, this doesn't make me a Freudian, so stop it.

Natural revelation is real.  Not every "method" is "touchy feely" psychology.  The Desert Fathers--without following them on some doctrinal specifics--probably knew what they were talking about on how to achieve stillness, detachment, and focus.  Of course, some issues might require medical counterbalances, so I will stop here.

And Demons

Doug Wilson is facing a storm right now because--to put it simply--he knowingly brought a pedophile into his church, married him to a girl in the church, and encouraged them to have babies.  Some will defend it saying "Grace" or "would you deny him marriage?"  Isn't marriage supposed to enable the man to grow in holiness?  Yes.  Other things being equal.

When you engage in depraved acts with an infant, you lose a lot of privileges.  Forever.  Sorry.  So what should he do?  What no one has said on either side is the obvious point:  the man is demonized.  We need to get clear on what daimonidzomai really means.  It doesn't necessarily mean (though it could include) the demon taking full control.  It could simply mean "demonized."  Part of getting rid of it is exorcism.  Another part is simply "starving the demons out."  Deny the passions.  And given how deep-rooted the demons are, you probably aren't going to get rid of them by listening to a sermon once a week.

Somebody on Doug's blog suggested what I had been thinking:  join a monastery.  There were the usual objections: "Protestants don't like that" or "Celibacy doesn't work."  I'll ignore the first one.  No, celibacy usually doesn't work.  However, he shouldn't join just any monastery.  He should go to the desert and live with some desert fathers for 30 years.  These are cranky old guys who smell like sweat and incense.  They have long beards. And they don't put up with nonsense. The whole "celibacy" thing really shouldn't be a problem.  You will starve the demons out.  You will have knowledge that you are protecting society.

The other option is to join the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Review of Eastern Orthodox Internet Resources

Given that Leviathan is in full battle mode against American Christians, my time is better spent trying to strengthen the brethren rather than deconstructing groups like Eastern Orthodoxy.  Please understand what I just said.  I called them "Christians."  I'm not sure given their views on the One True Church if they can return the favor, but no matter.

Here is my review of the following EO websites and the resources they offer.

Ancient Faith Radio.  Like any site with multiple programs, this is hit or miss.  Still, a lot of the material is fantastic and they branch out.

Patristic Nectar. This is Fr Josiah Trenham's ministry.  The audio quality is excellent, as is most of the material.  The only downside is the price.  More often than not, you are paying $7+ for 30 minutes of audio.

Orthodox Bridge.  I'm really trying to be nice.  I guess the best thing I can say is if you are looking for citations from St Ignatios, then this site is as good as any.  They advertise themselves as Reformed-Orthodox bridge, but it's just a one-way street.  They don't like it when you ask questions they can't answer.  My main problem is that this site sets up converts for spiritual disaster.  They make it sound like the American Orthodox church is growing steadily and Protestantism will collapse any day now.  If you convert to Orthodoxy for their reasons, you will be disappointed. There are good reasons.  They just haven't given any.