I found Doug Wilson via the treatment of him by Paul VanderKlay. The PVK treatment is here; Wilson’s video being treated is here. I will comment mostly on Wilson’s points, but a few of PVK’s as well. Wilson’s entire video is fourteen minutes, so if you want to skip my comments, it is a short watch.
Who is Doug Wilson?
Douglas James Wilson (born 1953) is a conservative Reformed and evangelical theologian, pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, faculty member at New Saint Andrews College, and author and speaker.
What does he say about himself?
Theology that Bites Back
I want to advance a Chestertonian Calvinism on education, sex and culture, theology, politics, book reviews, postmodernism, expository studies, along with other random tidbits that come into my head. In theology I am an evangelical, postmill, Calvinist, Reformed, and Presbyterian, pretty much in that order.
Not someone the mainstream would embrace. Also, not someone that many Christians would embrace.
To the video. Wilson begins: “One of the things I learned from the late Gary North was the three-fold division regarding the different kinds of religion.” These are: Power religion, Escape religion, and Dominion religion. Reading how Wilson describes himself, one can also see this as pretty-much applicable to Gary North.
Before diving into the Evangelical applications of these, he applies these three subsets to the prevailing “religion” of our broader society. It is power, and he labels these “power monkeys.”
The dominant religion of our day is power religion: they are after control, nothing but control, and no remainder. They want to control everything.
This aligns perfectly with Jonathan Pageau’s view of leaving nothing on the fringe, of a totalizing system of control. It is the desire of Tim Cook, as presented in his speech at the ADL. It is contrary to what is written in Scripture regarding the fringe.
Leviticus 19: 9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
Leave some room on the edge; there should always be a space for the outsider.
Returning to Wilson:
No lovers of liberty here. No sons of liberty will be welcome in the suffocating world they are creating.
Again, sounding like Pageau. Modern society wants total inclusion, an all-encompassing system. And if you don’t completely agree and approve, you will be the one who is excluded.
Returning to Wilson, today’s society has abandoned the belief in a pre-destining God. Now, I will set aside the “pre-destining” part (as the point remains without debating doctrine); we can agree that they have abandoned a belief in God, the God as understood from the Bible.
When a sovereign God goes, these are the kind of johnnies who immediately see a job opening. They want to replace the sovereignty of God with the sovereignty of man, and by “man” they mean some men, and by “some men” they mean them.
This is the current climate. And this current climate calls for “a different sort of climate change.” (Wilson really has a way with words.) “But not all Evangelicals think so.” He then describes these three kinds of Evangelicals, again along the lines presented by North.
First, Power religion. These are the friends of the regime, friends of those who want to control you. They want to be fully cooperative with this regime. They assume the very best of the CDC and the worst of their parishioners.
They believe that helping the tyrants forge your chains should be called something like “loving your neighbor.”
Which coincides with a point I often make – Christians such as these want to take the lazy way out of “loving thy neighbor,” by supporting and even imploring the state to do the work for them.
Returning to Wilson: These are the woke Christians, transformationalists who want the kind of transformations being sought by the commies and the cool kids – “the devil and all his minions.”
They reject transformations that are sought in obedience to the great commission, but accept any transformations that are demanded by the progressive agenda, to which, after the fact, they are willing to attach a Bible verse.
They accept progress without any reference to God, hence progress ends up defined in terms that invariably increases the power of the state.
They attach Bible verses the way a junior high kid in a Christian school attaches them to a science fair project long after the research is done.
PVK sees this as those who are chasing the culture – women’s lib in the 70s comes into their church in the 80s, etc.
Returning to Wilson, these power-religion types are “winsome,” believing that winsomeness can move the Overton Window. It cannot. The Overton Window will be moved only by people who are willing and courageous to speak outside of the Overton window.
Next: Escape religion – waiting quietly until the rapture, wanting to escape this world unnoticed. This includes those who think the world is a place of irredeemable evil. Nothing can be done about this, so these escapists must just figure out how to cope. The world cannot be transformed; our job is to survive this world, not change it.
Third: Dominion religion – those who seek to labor under the grace of God, seeking to load those labors up with Deuteronomic blessings in this life and the life to come. This is the historic Reformed tradition.
They believe that the task of the Church is to disciple all the nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus taught.
This group believes that the only standard for conservatism and progressivism needs to be the Holy Scriptures. These are Biblical progressives, progressing toward the work that the Holy Spirit has in mind for the future of our world.
Per PVK, these are the folks that the people on the left fear, the really scary folks. Per me, I see it as filtered through the natural law ethic, which can only be fully achieved if grounded in Christianity. I know North doesn’t see the natural law ethic at all; Wilson, I cannot say.
PVK on the seeming contradiction of dominion vs. liberty:
It will be tough for Doug Wilson to square his dominion posture with this tradition of [classical] liberalism, even though you will hear Doug Wilson talk about liberty.
I don’t see it this way. I don’t know what Wilson thinks on this, but one can have Dominion without theocracy (i.e., limiting liberalism). The Church can speak the truths as Wilson describes without taking political power. As politics is downstream of culture, if the Church does this duty (instead of chasing the culture or asking the state to do the work of the Church), the politics will follow.
Which comes to Wilson’s thoughts on how to break free of the Overton Window. Many Christians, especially in the second category of Escapists, just go along with this current slide into oblivion, thinking that they will get chances to occasionally push back against it – although it really doesn’t matter, because the world is irredeemable anyway and they will soon enough be freed from it.
What [these Christians] do not realize is that the Overton Window cannot be moved from inside the window. That can only be done from outside the window, by people who are willing to say things that are outside of the acceptable range of discourse.
If the Overton Window is to be moved back in any way, it will have to be done by someone very disreputable. The appetite for this can be found in the popularity of Donald Trump (what he said, far more than what he accomplished).
Wilson then offered another of his very colorful metaphors for what the Evangelical leaders have been doing: he is writing these words while on a flight to the northwest. How much will it change his final destination if he gets out of his seat and walks in the opposite direction, to the southeast? Well, obviously, not at all.
From my little exposure to Doug Wilson (so far, one video), I like this guy.
Another metaphor, from Wilson:
The now thoroughly discredited leadership of the Evangelical movement has been our Neville Chamberlain, and our last two years of chaos have been our Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
The Reformed leadership (and I would say that Christian leadership of virtually all traditions) has abdicated this field in all ways. There are some who have been addressing these issues capably (he cites a list of names, none of who I have heard of – yes, my fault, but also reflects the reality of what Wilson would next say).
Christian leaders such as these were delegated to the backroom at the Evangelical conferences.
VanderKlay does a follow-up video where he touches on Gary North, and discusses his “Specific Answers” website. He reads a portion of North’s essay, The War Between Three Types of Religions. He doesn’t see any potential for success here. Yet, he knows he hasn’t really presented any alternative.
A Church teaching Scripture, good tradition, and natural law ethics – willing to speak against violations of same – is the only alternative.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.