An elephant that brings his own china shop with him, Doug Wilson seems to create controversy effortlessly.
This is part of a series which I'm calling "Interesting Voices". You can see the whole series here. They run the spectrum from conservative to progressive, little known to well known. They may or may not already be familiar with mirror-reading. I may or may not agree with them theologically, but regardless, I think they are interesting voices speaking to the Christian community today. The purpose of the series is to both raise awareness of mirror-reading and to introduce you to these voices.
Yes, I know the typical china shop metaphor calls for a bull, but when I think of a bull, I think of one that's angry, snorting and exerting force while bucking and kicking and whose sole purpose is destruction. I think that is not in-line with Doug Wilson's calm demeanor. I picture him instead as an elephant walking through the china shop nonchalantly, knocking over things simply as a byproduct of the path that he's on. However, he can be provocative at times (as you'll see below). I sometimes wonder if Doug said something in a forest and no one was there to hear, would they still be offended?
Doug pastors at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He's written several books, and he writes online at a blog with one of the cleverest titles ever: Blog and Mablog. I first discovered Doug by watching a documentary called "Collision". It documents a series of debates between Doug and the late Christopher Hitchens. Here is the trailer:
Doug is a presuppositionalist, which I'm not a fan of, but atheists don't seem to encounter it much, so it is fun to watch them grapple with it for the first time. Hitchens, however, seemed to enjoy the new challenge that it presented, since it is different from what he had typically encountered. After Hitchens died, Doug released this gracious but pointed video:
Doug ran into some controversy when he and some others spoke on Federal Vision at a conference. It wasn't intended, or expected for that matter, to stir up any hostilities, but the aftermath of the conference resulted in a few denominations branding Federal Vision as a heresy. Here is Doug discussing what Federal Vision is:
He also has been pegged as a racist by some because of some of the things he's written. Doug would dispute that claim, and he and Thabiti Anyabwile engage in a discussion regarding his book "Black and Tan" that clarify some of his views.
Doug has also been vocal on his stance regarding homosexuality. His lecture at University of Indiana caused quite a stir. The students were less than charitable:
I was impressed with his patience with the crowd. You can watch the entire lecture and Q&A here:
Although he's thought of as intolerant by many, he appears to be a tolerator of the intolerant while still holding to his beliefs. However, Doug, at times, does stoke the fire as the inflammatory picture below shows:
He certainly won't make any fast friends in the LGBQT community with pics like that. Not that he's trying to.
There is another documentary that stars Doug, and it highlights some of the controversy surrounding his lecture at IU. Here is the trailer:
He is also a cessasionist but always engages charismatics in a gracious way. Here he is with Mark Driscoll talking about spiritual gifts:
He also debated Adrian Warnock shortly after Macarthur's Strange Fire conference. At times, I felt he and Adrian were simply debating semantics, and Doug might be closer to being a charismatic than he thinks.
Doug was also interviewed on Rethinking Hell and gives one of the best defenses of the traditional view that I've heard:
Doug is also a preterist, and you may find the following video interesting, where he, Piper, Hamilton and Storms discuss eschatology:
I'm sorry if I didn't mention your favorite offensive thing that Doug has said. I'm sure there will be more before I can hit the "save and publish" button for this post.
Doug Wilson and Mirror-Reading
I listened to this sermon of his on Ephesians 1. There was virtually no mirror-reading. He does give some historical background to Ephesus, but when it came to reconstructing the situation and the false teachings that Paul was responding to, there was nothing. He instead approaches Ephesians primarily as a theology book instead of as a letter.
However, I also listened to his sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:21-25 and was pleased to find some mirror-reading going on. He even talks about how 1 Corinthians is like hearing half of a phone conversation. If only he would say that of every book in the Bible. He describes the divisions that were taking place in the Church of Corinth at the time: Legal business disputes, social group status, food issues, idolatry accommodations, sexual relationship issues, spiritual gifts and the Lord's supper. He also touches on the Jew/Gentile dispute, and talks about how the Gentiles said that they had baptism and the Lord's supper. Doug shows how Paul responded by pointing to 1 Corinthians 10:1-4:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Questions For Doug Wilson
I’ve listed a couple of open questions to Doug below. I welcome a response from Doug, whether as a guest post, a response on his own blog or simply in the comments below.
1. What are your thoughts on mirror-reading?
2. Did you want to respond to anything that I've written above?
Questions For My Readers
What do you think of Doug? Do you agree with his views? Who else do you think is an "interesting voice"?