Answering Some Ire Fire

One of my recent points, and one that drew some ire fire, was my contention that liberalism is inherently and tyrannically coercive, and that liberals, by advocating the programs of liberalism, are thereby advocating coercion.

Not being an anarchist, I believe that some forms of coercion are good and necessary, but because I also believe that cops, legislators, judges, and SWAT teams are made up of sinners, it is absolutely necessary for us to know that we have warrant from the Almighty God before we try to make anybody do anything. Before fining someone, or flogging him, or putting him in jail, or exiling him, or executing him, which pretty much exhausts the options, we had better know that what we are doing is authorized by God.If it is, well and good. If it is not, then we are abusing someone created in the image of God, and God is going to hold us accountable for it. We should either coerce with a clean conscience (and an open Bible), or not at all.

Liberals do not like this form of argument, because they want to pretend that there is nothing whatever coercive about what they are doing. They are not taxing certain individuals at abusive rates while simultaneously threatening the inadequately cooperative with imprisonment. No, what they are actually doing is that they are “asking” the “wealthy” to pay their “fair share.” Oh, since you put it that way . . .

Look. If you don’t do what they say, at some point in the proceedings, men with guns are going to show up at your house. I do not have a problem with this if those men with guns are going after a pedophile, or rapist, or a murderer. Go ahead. Coerce away. If you need them, I will provide you with the verses that show that God approves of this kind of coercion. But if they are showing up at a man’s house because he got tired of having bureaucrats pee a bunch of his money into the Potomac, then something has gone wrong somewhere. The liberal idea of democracy is three coyotes and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

They don’t want any limiting principle, in principle. Thus far, and no farther, is not a phrase that they like to find in the mouths of the voting public. It reminds them too much of that flag with the rattlesnake on it.

But in order to have a genuine limiting principle, one that works, it has to be grounded in the work and words of the God who made us all. One nation, under God.

So they abuse language to hide the coercive nature of their project. And one of their signature moves is to turn the tables on anyone who identifies and objects to their coercions. It is “coercive” to identify what they are doing. It hurts their feelings. Well, tough.

I am going to appeal to Girard here, but I need to say that the outset that Girard tries to throw all his valuable insights away by refusing to embrace the propitiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice. But even though he tries to throw those insights away, I will not do so.

One of the things that Girard noticed about the Scriptures, not to mention human history, is that oppression is always respectable, and that the victim who protests that oppression is not respectable. He is told to shut up. Persecutors always feel persecuted. The oppressor feels oppressed, and is highly indignant when the victim won’t shut up. When the victim writes a psalm of lament, he is not playing the dutiful role that he was assigned. The victim is therefore the troublemaker, and must be dealt with.

One time Jesus told His interlocutors that they were trying to kill Him. They said He was nuts.

“Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?” (John 7:19-20).

Jesus knew the play that was being run on Him, and the people running the play did not know.

It is the same kind of thing here. Liberals want to stay respectable. This is why their threats are couched in the interrogative. Let’s “ask” everybody to do this, and haul them off if they don’t. They want to draw a veil over their bloody and violent ways. If anyone pulls the veil back, then he is the troublemaker. Such a man is — to borrow the words of Ahab — a troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17).

Wanting to leave people to their lawful pursuits is not coercive. And neither is it coercive to identify those who will not — for love or money — leave them alone.

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94 thoughts on “Answering Some Ire Fire

  1. It’s odd seeing someone who obviously feels persecuted, and who has been accused of scapegoating, answering that by saying “yeah, but they’re persecuting!”

    Nor does this post begin to answer the charge, which is not that it is wrong to claim that some liberals in some areas they care about coerce–as if it would be wrong to point out that we are all enslaved by the libido dominandi. The charge is that you are using sin as an excuse for offering pagan sacrifices, and that this is manifested in your use of “they always…” style statements (which this post does not avoid), in imputation of motives, in using your disagreement with (common) liberal means as a justification to refuse to consider an end they are offering, in the responses your post generated, which were mocking liberals (when the articles mocked actually help give answers to some of the problems in the healthy movement), and in your use of these generalizations to poison the well, corresponding with an encouragement of others to do the same, and in your absolute refusal to act like someone who has made Proverbs 18:17 your life verse, though you had (evidently, in a fit of Pharisaical doing your good works to be seen by man, but refusing to do the same good works when you can’t sound a trumpet before you on them.

    That is, this isn’t “ire fire”, but correction. If you will not listen to correction, Proverbs describes what sort of person you are. But I will try one more time: You seem to think you sound like Luther, standing up for the liberty of the Christian. You are correct, you sound like Luther. But the Luther of Von den Jüden und iren Lügen. You would do well to stop, before this is a cause of embarrassment and apostasy among your followers as that work is among his.

  2. It’s improtant to remember that liberalism exists as part of a narrative about hte West.  This narrative says that we’ve come a long way from the ‘dark ages’ when people were ignorant and barbaric.  We’ve attained civilization and enlightenment, but we can still go further.  Because we have such ideals, in fact, we can go much further until we meet them.  A “city of man” is attainable according to this narrative.  It will not be bland and oppressive, but full of diversity and flexible to the degree possible.  Certain things have to be done to get there.  We of course need taxes and people must throw their support behind the cause.  We need to get on the right side of history, in other words.  Some coercion is necessary as not everone knows what’s good for them.  It’s a secular version of theonomy or dominionism, both of which are very Western in nature.  They both descend from the idea that imperatives exist that should be enforced, whether through an Inquisition or through the modern state (Spengler).

  3. Pastor Wilson,
    You like the word “coercion.” I like the word “force.” I feel like I might be splitting hairs here, but coerce has a very negative connotation (fine!). Not all of what a government does is negative. As you mention, stopping sinners from sinning (ie murder, rape, etc.) against innocents is not coercion so to speak. Now, you are absolutely correct that all government is conducted by force. The question is what is the right force (non-negative connotation)? As far as I am concerned, the Christian worldview is the only coherent basis for using government force. All other force is (wait for it) coercion. I think that is a big difference. It also happens to make me a theonomist. Thanks for another great post.

  4. Matthew,

    Could you please lay out your argument in logical form without the rhetoric? I am truly trying to follow what you are saying, but your “argument” style does not help.
     
    It is clear that you disagree with Pastor Wilson. It is not clear why you do. I can go through your last post and dissect what you are “arguing” (arguing in the logical sense, not “having a spat” sense) but that is hard work that I think is incumbent upon you–the person making the case–to do.

    Grace and Peace to you.
     
     

  5. Mathew
     
    Here are the logical elements of your last post. (I may have missed some)

    -
     

     
    1. The charge is that you are using sin as an excuse for offering pagan sacrifice. (me: this is your conclusion)
     

    -
     

    Your supporting predicates in support of your conclusion are:
     

    -
     
     

    2. this is manifested in your use of “they always…” style statements (which this post does not avoid),
     


     
     

    3. in imputation of motives,
     


     

    4. in using your disagreement with (common) liberal means as a justification to refuse to consider an end they are offering,
     
     


     
     

    5. in the responses your post generated, which were mocking liberals (when the articles mocked actually help give answers to some of the problems in the healthy movement),
     
     
     


     

    7 … in your use of these generalizations to poison the well..
     


     
     

    8. , corresponding with an encouragement of others to do the same,
     
     

    -
     

    9. and in your absolute refusal to act like someone who has made Proverbs 18:17 your life verse,
     
     
     


     

    10. though you had (evidently, in a fit of Pharisaical doing your good works to be seen by man, but refusing to do the same good works when you can’t sound a trumpet before you on them.??? (me, there is a missing parenthesis here. I do not understand this at all).
     
     

    -
     

    11. “…”
     

    -

     
    12. There is no 12. The rest of your comment is finger-wagging.
     

     
     
     
    So, by my reading, your charge against Pastor Wilson is (I am paraphrasing your words)
     


     

    Pastor Wilson…
     
    1. Because of  your use of “they always…” style statements
     


     

     
    2. Your imputation of motives.
     


     

     
    3. Your refusal to consider “liberal ends”
     
     


     

     
    4. The responses others made to your post.
     


     

    5. Your poisoning of the well via generalizations.
     


     

     
    6. Your encouragement of others to poison the well.
     
     


     

     
    7. Your refusal to act like someone who as made “He that first states his own cause seemeth just, but then his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.” his life verse.

     
     


     
     

     
    8. Leads to the conclusion that you are: “Using sin as an excuse for offering pagan sacrifices”
     
     


     
     

    I am troubled by what I am seeing. By laying out what you have presented to us, Mathew, I am seriously afraid that I am conversing with a mentally ill man. May God bless you my brother in Christ.
     
     
     
     
     
    -
     

  6. The charge is that you are using sin as an excuse for offering pagan sacrifices”

    Can somebody please translate what this means?

    Oh, here we go…

    this is manifested in your use of “they always…” style statements (which this post does not avoid), in imputation of motives, in using your disagreement with (common) liberal means as a justification to refuse to consider an end they are offering, in the responses your post generated, which were mocking liberals (when the articles mocked actually help give answers to some of the problems in the healthy movement), and in your use of these generalizations to poison the well, corresponding with an encouragement of others to do the same, and in your absolute refusal to act like someone who has made Proverbs 18:17 your life verse, though you had (evidently, in a fit of Pharisaical doing your good works to be seen by man, but refusing to do the same good works when you can’t sound a trumpet before you on them.”

    Thanks for clearing that up, Matthew.

    Waitaminnit… what?!

    Is it just me, or does it seem that Mr Petersen is a very uptight, fairly educated, amazingly persistent, and utterly incoherent critic of Doug Wilson? 
    Maybe I’m just out of my element here – along with John Piper, R.C.Sproul, et al.

  7. For the sake of clarity, in my response to Mathew above, I first posted his points in the order he presents them. That happens in the first series 1 through 12.  I then re-arrange his argument to list his premises in order, followed by the conclusion. This is in the second series 1 through 8.
     


     

    Upon seeing Mathew’s thought process, I am having serious concerns about his mental health. I ask your prayerful guidance on this.
     
     

  8. And Seth, do not ask that!    Because Matthew will jump in here and provide a surfeit of examples demonstrating the times where he did, in part, agree with a word or two in the middle of twenty paragraphs of desperate disagreement; thereby negating any criticism of his incessant and exhausting nitpickery. Of course, nitpicking would not be so trying if they did not sound so highfalutin … and if they actually made sense.
    (Wait for it….. )

  9. Upon some prayer and thought, I don’t think (nor know) that Mathew is mentally ill. Here is why.
     


     
     

     
     
    I have seen and participated in this argument pattern before; I have presented these types of argument myself (I was much better at it, btw {to my shame}). 
     

    This is the argument pattern of sin.
     


     

     
    This is the crack addict justifying why you must give her $20.00 for the purse that was just stolen as she was on her way to buy bread for her children.
     


     

     
    This is the adulterer blaming her for his infidelity.
     


     

     
    This is ‘The Reverend’  blaming the Christian for being divisive.
     


     
     

    This is Mathew….

  10. Timothy, in the interest of perspicuity, the narrative I presented is not something that I own, but that I recognize.  I think I quoted Spengler, who in “The Decline of the West” spoke of Western coercion….he talked about how early Christianity was something thrown out there for people to take or leave, in the tradition of Jesus, until the powers that be took hold of it.  Then it became a set of imperatives to be enforced, culminating in the great Kantian imperative which some of us still recognize.  Then, it ends in statism: government tells us what’s good and what’s bad, enforcing the good and punishing the bad, in the interests of improvement.  World-improvement replaces Christianity, according to Spengler.  But both, in the West, take on the character of something that must be enforced.  He called this sentiment Faustian. 

  11. Jon,
    Thank you. Your post made it clear that you where just informing us. Your sentence “Certain things have to be done to get there.” made me want to make sure of that. (:

  12. Matthew N. Petersen is outraged!  Incensed!  How dare Wilson describe liberalism!  For some reason Petersen wishes to pretend that we don’t know what liberalism stands for, and that it can’t be generalized and rejected.  Liberalism is apparently too elusive to ever be criticized.  Classic pomo deconstruction diversion tactic if there ever was one.
                                                                                                                                          
    Christians need to realize that when the establishment unrepentant heart of sin is confronted, it won’t matter how cautiously, lovingly, charitably, or generously you make your approach (see Lot offering his daughters to the Sodomites and notice how they interpreted his gesture, Gen 19:9).  Expect outright rejection, just like Jesus did when He confronted evil.  We aren’t better than Him.  Expect to lose cultural status and respect (unless you are Phil Robertson and don’t have any to lose).  We aren’t suddenly going to invent a way of talking about the sin of homosexuality, or the sin of being generous with other people’s money, in a way that will sound reasonable to those caught up in that way of life.  We should stop trying.  The reasonableness of Scripture comes from its Author, not from the response of the unrepentant.  We should just try to speak plainly, sincerely, calmly, and let the invitation of repentance go where the Spirit takes it.  Petersen wants to hurl accusations of a lack of charity, and paint Wilson as judgmental, but that’s just a page right out of the liberal play book.

  13. Wilson wrote:

    “oppression is always respectable, and that the victim who protests that oppression is not respectable”

    This is an interesting concept.  It may explain why the unborn are the perfect target of liberalism.  They don’t protest.
                                                                                                                                           
    Jon wrote:

    “It’s a secular version of theonomy or dominionism,”

    This is a good observation.  The liberal knows what sort of world they want, and they aren’t ashamed to use any power and force available to them to get it.  They will use guilt and shame (or worse) to discourage others from pursuing a different kind of world.

  14. Howdy, Matt. You write:

    It’s odd seeing someone who obviously feels persecuted, and who has been accused of scapegoating, answering that by saying “yeah, but they’re persecuting!”

    I hope you’ll allow me to suggest that charity might entail puzzling over this thing that seems odd to you before comparing Doug to Luther on one of his anti-semitic days. I take it that you mean Doug’s reply is following a tit-for-tat mentality in which he feels justified in demonizing others because they’re demonizing him. Well, maybe. But could it be that he’s responding to your charge of scapegoating by laboring to show exactly why he puts a certain amount of blame on coercive liberals?
    How much blame? Again, as I understand him, the extent to which they’re being idolatrously coercive is the extent to which they’re to blame for the mess we’re in as a country. Insofar as they’re not being coercive but are just granola-munching dudes with beards and bandanas minding their own business, then they’re not to blame.
    But note that my qualification (the presence or absence of coercion) sucks out our ability to identify them as liberals. “A guy with a beard who enjoys granola” is a spot on description of ol’ DW (I can’t make any claims about the bandana, but I’m sure he’s got a few).
    In other words, the argument (if I’ve understood him) rests on the position that idolatrous coercion is the motor that drives liberalism. So when he’s talking about ‘liberals,’ if someone isn’t being coercive in such a way that they’re enforcing their own will instead of God’s revealed will, they don’t fall under the liberal label even if they would say ‘yes’ when asked if they were a liberal or not. 
    This is where I find your comments unhelpful. You seem to think that because people who call themselves liberals aren’t 100% pure molten evil and people who call themselves conservatives are demonstrably not the epitome of virtue, then we can’t speak of the philosophies as if they meant anything. Under this assumption you see Doug as stereo-typing and scapegoating. But that’s not what he’s up to. He’s talking about liberals as if they believed in liberalism, and he’s talking about liberalism as if it stood for a coercive mess of a political philosophy. 
    All I mean to say, especially because it seems like you and Doug might know each other, is that patience might be in order before you run the reductio ad Jüdenhass. If idolatrous coercion really does lie at the heart of consistent liberalism, then to love a liberal includes exposing their lies. 

  15. Well, shucks. Trying again after the quote:

    .luaP

    I hope you’ll allow me to suggest that charity might entail puzzling over this thing that seems odd to you before comparing Doug to Luther on one of his anti-semitic days. I take it that you mean Doug’s reply is following a tit-for-tat mentality in which he feels justified in demonizing others because they’re demonizing him. Well, maybe. But could it be that he’s responding to your charge of scapegoating by laboring to show exactly why he puts a certain amount of blame on coercive liberals?

    deirrub

    How much blame? Again, as I understand him, the extent to which they’re being idolatrously coercive is the extent to which they’re to blame for the mess we’re in as a country. Insofar as they’re not being coercive but are just granola-munching dudes with beards and bandanas minding their own business, then they’re not to blame. But note that my qualification (the presence or absence of coercion) sucks out our ability to identify them as liberals. “A guy with a beard who enjoys granola” is a spot on description of ol’ DW (I can’t make any claims about the bandana, but I’m sure he’s got a few). In other words, the argument (if I’ve understood him) rests on the position that idolatrous coercion is the motor that drives liberalism. So when he’s talking about ‘liberals,’ if someone isn’t being coercive in such a way that they’re enforcing their own will instead of God’s revealed will, they don’t fall under the liberal label even if they would say ‘yes’ when asked if they were a liberal or not.

    I

    This is where I find your comments unhelpful. You seem to think that because people who call themselves liberals aren’t 100% pure molten evil and people who call themselves conservatives are demonstrably not the epitome of virtue, then we can’t speak of the philosophies as if they meant anything. Under this assumption you see Doug as stereo-typing and scapegoating. But that’s not what he’s up to. He’s talking about liberals as if they believed in liberalism, and he’s talking about liberalism as if it stood for a coercive mess of a political philosophy.  All I mean to say, especially because it seems like you and Doug might know each other, is that patience might be in order before you run the reductio ad Jüdenhass. If idolatrous coercion really does lie at the heart of consistent liberalism, then to love a liberal includes exposing their lies.

  16. You refer to “them” many times in this post, but who are “they”?

    Liberals do not like this form of argument, because they want to pretend that there is nothing whatever coercive about what they are doing. They are not taxing certain individuals at abusive rates while simultaneously threatening the inadequately cooperative with imprisonment. No, what they are actually doing is that they are “asking” the “wealthy” to pay their “fair share.” Oh, since you put it that way . . .

    Your problem here is that you don’t understand what liberals believe or why they believe it.  A liberal would readily acknowledge that e.g. paying taxes is “coercive”, insofar that it is mandated by law and you will get in trouble for not doing it.  They just disagree with you both that “coerciveness” is a kind of synonym for “oppression”, and that taxation must only be for some purpose that is derived by some specific reading of the Bible.  They also view the government as an integral part of society, rather than an alien organization imposed on the Real Red State America.

    Look. If you don’t do what they say, at some point in the proceedings, men with guns are going to show up at your house.

    Well yes, and if we lived in Rushdoonyland and didn’t do what “they” say, then at some point the guns come out.  What exactly is being proven here?

    The oppressor feels oppressed, and is highly indignant when the victim won’t shut up.

    That is true, for instance capitalists always hate it when labor just won’t shut up and take their subsistence wages…oh wait, that wasn’t what you meant?

  17. Aaron Richmond wrote:

    “If idolatrous coercion really does lie at the heart of consistent liberalism, then to love a liberal includes exposing their lies.”

    Well said.  Very reasonable comment.  The issue is not whether Petersen knows liberal exceptions to the kinds of things Wilson describes.  That’s irrelevant when addressing the -ism as a whole.  For example, there could conceivably be some liberal who thinks the government should be smaller, but liberalism has hitched itself to the State for its power.  See Pelosi and Reid, etc.  Small government liberals (if there are any) don’t carry sway with those liberals of actual influence.
                                                                                                                                                  
    Whether Petersen likes it or not, there are various things which liberalism has come to be associated with.  Generally speaking, homosexuals, and the homosexual movement associates itself with the liberal, not the conservative.  Abortionists associate along the same lines.  Atheists and evolution activists too.  Those against gun ownership tend to associate with the liberal rather than with the conservative.  Those who openly favor big government tend to associate with liberal over conservative.  Those who reject the authority of Scripture within the Church tend to associate with liberal over conservative.  We could go on and on, and trot out many names as examples of all this, but it would be a waste of everyone’s time.  Perhaps Petersen could even name a handful of exceptions too, but would anyone know who they were?
                                                                                                                                                  
    There were some first-century Pharisees who repented and believed Jesus too.  There were not enough of them to change Jesus’ tactics when addressing Pharisees as sons of Hell.  Sometimes sin must be called out and named as sin in broad terms, in broad daylight.  The particular kind of thing that Doug is calling out really is a sin, and it has a predominant face in our day… liberalism.  That doesn’t mean liberalism encapsulates all sin, or that those who don’t identify with liberalism aren’t guilty of some of the exact same sins (see the establishment Republicans).  Liberals aren’t beyond repentance.

  18. Matt wrote:

    “A liberal would readily acknowledge that e.g. paying taxes is “coercive”, insofar that it is mandated by law and you will get in trouble for not doing it.”

    Actually, Harry Reid went on at length in this interview pretending that taxes are voluntary:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7mRSI8yWwg
    Reid has a reputation as a brazen liar though.
                                                                                                                                                 
    Matt continues:

    “Well yes, and if we lived in Rushdoonyland and didn’t do what “they” say, then at some point the guns come out.  What exactly is being proven here?”

    Matt seems to be confused about Doug’s position on the role of the State, or else he simply didn’t bother to read what Doug said in this very article:

    “I do not have a problem with this if those men with guns are going after a pedophile, or rapist, or a murderer. Go ahead. Coerce away. If you need them, I will provide you with the verses that show that God approves of this kind of coercion. But if they are showing up at a man’s house because he got tired of having bureaucrats pee a bunch of his money into the Potomac, then something has gone wrong somewhere.”

    Doug said repeatedly that he isn’t opposed to coercion against things that are rightfully in the jurisdiction of the State, such as murder.  Matt should pay closer attention and not distort what Doug said.

  19. “Persecutors always feel persecuted. The oppressor feels oppressed”
    This reminds me of every “war on Christmas” segment I’ve seen on fox news. 
    I don’t know what the North American church would do with actual persecution. 

  20. Ben, you raise an interesting point.  We’ve not seen real persecuation yet.  What would we do in the event that it were to occur?  Could we survive it?  We already scream and cry when society doesn’t go along with Christiantiy.  What on earth would we do if we were in the position of the earliest Christians who feared for their very lives?

  21. I think part of Matt Peterson’s frustration comes from the fact that Pastor Wilson hasn’t backed up his claim about the general coercive nature of liberalism with a large foundation of individual examples.  And to that point, Pastor Wilson, it might be helpful if you provided some links to, say, the liberal coercion involved in forcing gas stations to buy gas with ethanol, or the merciless regulations which the EPA has been churning out against the energy industry during Obama’s reign, or Mich. Obama’s weighty war against obesity and the cases where law enforcement have raided stores in search of foods with too much fat… Lots of examples to choose from.
    However, Matt, you really should consider that your comment to Pastor Wilson seems to stamp its toes with self-authoritative importance. “Hey! You’re not accepting my correction” is not the most persuasive way to correct an older, wiser brother in Christ, much less in public. Let’s swap Proverbs verses for a couple moments here – while we ponder Prov. 18:17, you should probably chew on Proverbs 25:15b for a while. 
    In Christ, 
    your friend Luke

  22. Ben Bowman wrote:

    “Persecutors always feel persecuted. The oppressor feels oppressed” This reminds me of every “war on Christmas” segment I’ve seen on fox news.  I don’t know what the North American church would do with actual persecution.

    This is something to consider, and Christians should take caution not to overreact in either direction.  For example, is it the North American church running the story on the “war on Christmas”, or is it Fox News?  There is a difference.  As another example, when Rachel Held Evans wags her finger at Christians over the phrase “Happy Holidays”, is it because Christians are wailing crocodile tears of persecution, or is it because Christians are pointing out a clear example of the grip of political correctness over our culture?  There is a difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
    Crocodile tears of oppression are something that we are used to from liberals, and it is easy to assume that Christians must be using the same tools.  That’s not always the case, and we should look carefully to hear what fellow Christians are actually saying.  Oppression is not found in having to see or hear someone else’s freedom of religion in public (as some atheists must argue when they file their cases).  Rather persecution is being told that you must bow to someone else’s god, or that you can’t observe your freedom of religion in public because it might offend someone else.   The founding fathers felt very strongly about freedom of speech and freedom of practice, but freedom of religion is distinct from freedom from religion.  Similarly, when liberal women are told their employer won’t be providing abortifacients under their health care plan, this is not an instance of persecution.  When Christian employers are told that they must provide birth control, this is an example of oppressive government violation of religious convictions.

  23. Doug – you’re stuck in a mode of thinking called the “myth of ownership.” You should read the book by the same title.
    Let’s do a thought experiment – say you and I ship out on a dinghy and get stranded on an unowned island in the Pacific. Presumably we agree that, as long as the island was completely unowned when we arrived, you and I would both have access to the entire island. But if one day I forcibly exclude you from one whole side of the island claiming it as my own, what would you think of that? Would you think my coercion justified? Wouldn’t you wonder who gave me the right to claim it and expel you from it? What if my side had all the coconut trees and yours had none?
    My point is this – private land ownership *always* depends on someone initially taking unowned property, claiming it as his, and kicking other people off of it. It’s unavoidably coercive. That’s the only way land goes from being unowned to being owned, and without that process, there’s no capitalism. That’s what property law does – it’s how our society has taken unowned land (or maybe owned land), divided it among us, and decided who owns what. 
    Having accepted this, it becomes clear that it makes no sense to object to tax increases, for example, because they’re coercive. Procedurally, they’re no more or less coercive than the entire rest of the system. A tax increase simply changes the underlying property law that determines who owns what. You can object to a tax increase because it doesn’t fit your notions of who’s entitled to what, but if you like the system of private property, it doesn’t really make sense to object that it’s too coercive.

  24. Bill Hickman and Timothy are stranded on a desert isle.
     

     
    Bill, being industrious, builds a shelter , a garden, fishing tools and the rudiments of animal husbandry. Timothy, seeing the fruits of Bill’s labor quotes Bill Hickman’s post  when he takes Bill’s property from him.
     

     
    Didn’t John Locke cover this stuff about 300 years ago?
     
     

  25. Doug said repeatedly that he isn’t opposed to coercion against things that are rightfully in the jurisdiction of the State, such as murder.

    In other words, Doug isn’t opposed to coercion against things he thinks ought to be coerced against.  What he and you seem to miss is that this renders his whole “it’s coercive” critique against anything he doesn’t agree with incoherent.  Who cares if it is coercive.

  26. Matt said:

    In other words, Doug isn’t opposed to coercion against things he thinks ought to be coerced against.  What he and you seem to miss is that this renders his whole “it’s coercive” critique against anything he doesn’t agree with incoherent.  Who cares if it is coercive.

    This seems a truism.  Of course Doug says that coercion is correct in certain areas and that he wants to coerce the things that he thinks ought to be coerced.  No one disagrees with his own held belief.  The argument, as I take it, is about what ought to be coerced–that which is Biblical (speaking generally and not taking for granted that not all sins should be illegal–and that coercion of anything else is unjust and sinful oppression.

    _

    The standard for all of this is of course the Gospel and what the LORD has said.  There is no sin or evil there.  What God oppresses is for our good, and is therefore not unjust or evil.

    _

    Doug is not arguing neither for nor from a neutral standpoint or worldview when it comes to good and evil.  But then again, no one does.

  27. I’m afraid your charitable take of Mr Petersen falls short, Mr Nieuwsma. Far from thinking Doug is wiser than he, Matthew seems to think Doug Wilson is among the most foolish – and dangerous – bloggers on earth. I mean, how else does one explain the constant hounding critique and the use of terms like “Sacred Violence”  and “Pagan Sacrifices”, etc. to describe what Wilson is saying?

  28. Katecho, good point about Christians pointing out clear examples of the grip of political correctness over our culture.  The Left doesn’t like to have this pointed out, because then they’d have to put forth cogent arguments for their positions.  It seems they’d much prefer to “correct” our speech than to engage the actual issues.  As Doug, and others, have commented, it’s the Left’s way of attempting to shut us up.  But we are accountable to God, not to the Left.

  29. Jay, I also agree that Mr Petersen’s comments are way over the top, and way over the line.  I think Mr Petersen needs to stop attempting to act like a modern prophet who’s calling down the wrath upon Pastor Wilson.

  30. Timothy:

    Let me state succinctly what I think is the problem, and what I do not think is the problem: It is not that Pr. Wilson thinks liberals behave poorly. They often do–as do conservatives. Indeed, it is a truism that liberals behave poorly, not because they are “liberal”, but because they are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. What is problematic is that his response to “liberals” seems nearly identical to Rachel Held Evan’s response to “conquer and colonize”, which is a problematic response not because she’s not right–as if only if Pr. Wilson had done poor exegesis her antics would be justified–but because she is judging superficially, encouraging others to do so, writing in a way calculated to cause offense and to make the offended think of her as their protector, pointing and leering rather than thinking, and generally, scapegoating her opposition. My objection is that Pr. Wilson is acting nearly identically to her–that though Pr. Wilson is correct that liberals are sinners, he is using that as an excuse to act like RHE. Or, coming back to my last paragraph, which is true, not just ranting, he’s acting like Luther writing about Jews.

    Regarding your asking me to detail my argument: I don’t understand what you find problematic. Is it “pagan sacrifices” that’s confusing you? I switched to that because when I used tamer words, people were suddenly shocked when I said he’s behaving “vilely”. But I had accused him of much worse than “vile actions” throughout. 

    Or is it because of the missing close parenthesis? Yeah, that was a mistake. Or perhaps it was an intentional dis-fluency to make you attend to what I’d written. :P I meant to say “though you had claimed it was such”, and close the parenthesis at the end.

    As far as I can tell, I coherently, and succinctly, noted the points I find highly problematic in Pr. Wilson’s treatment of liberals. All you have to do to find that is read the second paragraph, stopping at each comma. I’m not sure why you think that’s difficult, though you say it is. And each point I delineate there is an accusation of sin. Here is a charge against you, here is a charge against you, here is a charge against you, here is a charge against you. In sum, you are scapegoating, that is, are looking to another sacrifice beside the One Sacrifice of Christ.

    The first paragraph explains why his response to the charges simply does not grapple with the charges. He says that if someone is scapegoating, they feel persecuted. I have argued that he’s scapegoating. Yet, that he feels persecuted is offered as evidence on that he is not scapegoating–or perhaps that he is justified in scapegoating, it’s not clear from the post that he even grapples with the possibility of conservatives responding to liberal sins in kind.

  31. Timothy -
    A: I stand on a piece of land. B: I begin working on a piece of land. C: I own the land.  How did you get from B to C? I can understand why a person would naturally own the fruits of his labor, but why would his work entitle him to the land itself? I think it’s a non-sequitur.

  32. Bill,
    People can and do improve land. Without ownership of it, then there is no point in investing ones time in improving it. I am going to leave the discussion at that. I have a government education and I do not know enough Locke to comment with authority.


     

     

  33. Petersen is still posed in full guilt infliction mode, but he’s likely to pull a muscle.  Petersen seems to be saying that there is essentially no moral distinction which can be made between the philosophy of the liberal and of the conservative– as if all are equally valid on their own.  Petersen seems to allow that the only criticism is that which applies evenly to all fallen offspring of Adam and Eve.  Criticism must be “fair”.  In other words, Petersen is drinking from the fountain of egalitarianism.  Unless he is singling out Doug Wilson, of course.  In which case he feels free to criticize his eyes out, calling Doug a vile, antisemitic, crucifier of Christ.
                                                                                                                                                    
    It’s a bit like watching someone try to defend the Pharisees after Jesus has just stepped on their toes with His full weight.  “Well, you know, the Pharisees are just doing their best as children of Adam, and they mean well.  When they stumble don’t even think that it has anything to do with their Phariseeism, they’re only human.”
                                                                                                                                                   
    Our goal is not to offend carelessly, or falsely, but sometimes the point of Christian speech really is confrontation and rebuke.

    “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.  One of the lawyers *said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”  But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”  — Luke 11:43-46

    Petersen cherishes his ability to rebuke and heap scorn on Wilson, but his reason for rebuking Wilson is because Wilson is a rebuker.  See how the double standard works?

  34. Doug, I have learned a lot from Girard. I never took him as a bastion of Christian orthodoxy but was interested in where he denies the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ? I have read I See Satan Fall Like Lightning and Scapegoat and don’t remember it there.

  35. Or put it this way Timothy: I think Pr. Wilson is acting how you think I’m acting. If you’re right about how I’m acting, whether I am in fact correct and Pr. Wilson is acting wrong doesn’t justify me. We may well both be wrong. Likewise in my charge: I believe liberals often act wrong. I have given several examples on previous threads: PC is often used as a straightjacket. The Huffington Post acted vilely in its treatment of senators who oppose the rape exception for abortion, particularly, regarding Mourdock. Though liberals are right on global warming, they often do the same regarding so called stupid, scientifically-illiterate, hicks. The boycott of Scot Card seems to me to belong in the same category (though the boycott wasn’t terribly successful). But that liberals sometimes fail (we all do–that’s what it is to be human) doesn’t excuse our imitation of their failure. And it doesn’t excuse a refusal to consider their side before hearing it. If we can conclude “on this issue in this way, they are attempting to coerce” that serves as a reductio on this particular methods. (Though we should be duly skeptical of our own attempts at reasoning.) But it does not excuse listening to the issue, or to other methods. (Or to their attempts to argue that it not in fact coercive, and that our judgment is hasty.)

    But the only answer to my charge has been to try to prove that liberals are in fact acting bad. Which is entirely aside the issue.

  36. Katecho: Again, stop sitting in the seat of the scornful. 

    Petersen seems to be saying that there is essentially no moral distinction which can be made between the philosophy of the liberal and of the conservative– as if all are equally valid on their own. 

    This is simply a lie. Again, I warn you: If you continue to lie about others, and scorn then, Jesus Christ will lie about you, and scorn you (with the crooked he shows himself crooked). I would suggest you repent now.

  37. Finally, no I don’t mind if Pr. Wilson rebukes people. The issue is that he is not rebuking anyone–especially, not anyone listening. He’s coddling his listeners, and scapegoating “them”.

  38. Matthew,
    1. Your primary objection, then, is that Doug is rebuking a group of people (liberals) rather than specific people? What is the functional difference between that and Jesus rebuking the Pharisees? We know there were at least a few Pharisees that didn’t belong to that group.
    2. You’re seriously claiming Jesus will lie? “Crooked” is also translated “shrewd” or “tortuous”.

  39. So Wilson is guilty for rebuking liberals, and guilty for not rebuking them?  Looks like Wilson is damned by Petersen no matter what he does.  I’m seeing this as a pattern with Matthew.
                                                                                                                                                   
    If Wilson isn’t rebuking anyone, why did they print those posters in Moscow saying, “Idaho is too Great for Hate”?  Seems like somebody at least felt like they were being “oppressed”.
                                                                                                                                                   
    If Wilson was just coddling his listeners, he wouldn’t be naming and warning against all kinds of possible traps and snares of sin that Christians can and have gotten into, particularly from his own congregation (a good bit of content here is from preaching that is delivered at Christ Church and goes straight to the blog).  So it seems that a significant part of Petersen’s difficulty is that he is just very very poor at diagnosing other people’s failures.

  40. Mathew,

    Do you think that your premises 1 through 7 below lead to your conclusion 8?
    Please just answer yes or no.  Your argument is below.

    Pastor Wilson…..
      1. Because of  your use of “they always…” style statements  

    –  

      2. Your imputation of motives.  

    –  

      3. Your refusal to consider “liberal ends”    

    –  

      4. The responses others made to your post.  

    –  

    5. Your poisoning of the well via generalizations.  

    –  

      6. Your encouragement of others to poison the well.    

    –  

      7. Your refusal to act like someone who as made “He that first states his own cause seemeth just, but then his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.” his life verse.    

    –    

      8. Leads to the conclusion that you are: “Using sin as an excuse for offering pagan sacrifices”    

  41. Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “But that liberals sometimes fail (we all do–that’s what it is to be human) doesn’t excuse our imitation of their failure. And it doesn’t excuse a refusal to consider their side before hearing it.”

    I’m increasingly convinced that Petersen doesn’t acknowledge any moral deficit in the philosophy of liberalism and Statism.  He seems to grant that liberals can act badly, but only to the extent that conservatives and minarchists do too.  Petersen seems to want to call it a wash (in this company at least).  When the liberal fails, it’s because of their methodology or personality, not their principles.
                                                                                                                                                               
    In the meantime, Wilson goes after liberal principles, such as the misuse of coercion by the State.  The failure of liberalism is in its principles.  Liberalism is primarily about the rejection of God’s authority, whether that be through “higher criticism” of Scripture, or through undermining the authority of the Church in culture (handing its roles over to the expanding State), or through private licentiousness.

  42. Matthew Petersen, what would happen if we applied your critiques (insofar as they are coherent) to words of our Lord, or the writings of St Paul? 
    Aren’t they often guilty of precisely the sorts of things that bother you vis Doug?
    Example: by your definition of a “they always” statement, how would Paul not qualify as a target of your ire? And isn’t the Bible rife with generalizations? And who could doubt that, given your own translation of the term “Sacred Violence”, the majority of the writers of the Old and New Testaments stand in dire need of correction – if not condemnation?

  43. I think 90% of the commenters here are allied against Matt Petersen. This won’t work.

    1. Matt Petersen isn’t going to change because of your comment on a blog.
    2. You’re spending most of your time arguing with one guy, when you could be profitably discussing with each other. 
    3. Communal debate does good stuff. Communal haggling births more haggling, and that’s a baby not even the mother loves.

    That being said: could we collectively agree to move on from Matt? I think his stick-up of the reformed debate train is working, but he’s got one gun, and the train has steam built up. Let’s roll out.

  44. katecho,
    Why do you seem to rarely, if ever, address the people you are disagreeing with by name, as if you are actually talking to a person?  Do you consider them a lost cause not worthy of being addressed as a human being and only useful in so far that they can serve to be a teaching example for the audience? Or is this interpretation uncharitable?  I’m genuinely curious.  I agree with you most of the time, but you sound patronizing.  Is there a rationale behind it?
    Tim
    Tim

  45. Timothy: Not quite. I think the conclusion is that he’s scapegoating.

    The missing step, one I took from Pr. Wilson, is that scapegoating is a type of pagan sacrifice. I think Pr. Wilson is doing this, and that, as Pr. Wilson says in the first link, “To the extent that they “continue the sacrifices,” they are testifying that they do not hold to the one true sacrifice.” That is, in his sacrifices of liberals, he is testifying that he does not hold to the One True Sacrifice. He’s trying to supplement it with the sacrifice of liberals. Perhaps I should have been more clear regarding that point, but I believe I was very clear on that point earlier in the discussion.

    The reason for the heated rhetoric (and perhaps it was mistaken) is that when I would spell out my charges, everyone thought I was simply trying to defend the liberals. But that isn’t my point at all. This coercive attitude toward “Others” is something that plagues both sides of U.S. political discourse, and something that liberals often participate in too. But that doesn’t excuse us doing it back. We should turn the other cheek. So I decided I needed to be explicit what the charge is, and why I find it heinous.

  46. Mathew,
    First, thank you for answering Yes or No.

    Your arguments are not clear. You could make them clear by composing them in familiar logical forms. Wikipedia has an introduction to the format if you are unfamiliar with it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deductive_reasoning . It is hard work, but given the gravity of the charges you level at Pastor Wilson, I think it is incumbent upon you to do so in ways that are clear to others.
     


     

     
    I mean no disrespect, but from now on, when I encounter one of your poorly formed mini-thesis, I am only going to respond with “Please clarify.”
     


     

     
     

  47. Now back to your argument.
     
    Your argument in short form is:
    p1: Pastor Wilson scapegoats.
    p2: Scapegoating is a form of Pagan Sacrifice.
    Conclusion: Therefore Pastor Wilson engages in Pagan Sacrifice.
     
    Yes?

  48. Jay: I think that’s a fair question, and I’ll try to answer it later–it will take some time. May I first respond to your earlier accusation:

    Matthew seems to think Doug Wilson is among the most foolish – and dangerous – bloggers on earth. I mean, how else does one explain the constant hounding critique and the use of terms like “Sacred Violence”  and “Pagan Sacrifices”, etc. to describe what Wilson is saying?

    Actually, I don’t think he’s among the most foolish. I have tried very hard to listen to him on other posts while critiquing his attitude toward liberals–as my questions on his “millennials” thread, and my laud of his “face of Christ” post show. I am frustrated by his thin response on the first thread, but the frustration is not because I’m upset at him, but because I would sincerely like him to interact with me, not give me canned answers that don’t take me seriously. If he doesn’t have time to interact, a “thanks for the comment, sorry I don’t have time to deal with it further” would be much nicer. And I sincerely did like his post on the face of Christ.

    Additionally, my comment regarding Luther on the Jews was not intended to say “Pr. Wilson is doing something so bad, it’s like Luther’s comments on the Jews”, but because I believe there is a very deep correspondence between the two sorts of actions (though Pr. Wilson’s is more understandable, since he’s joining Limbaugh et al., rather than throwing the first stone, and because there really is some threat to Pr. Wilson’s way of life from liberals), and, more importantly, because I’m usually very sympathetic to Luther. If someone of Luther’s stature can fall into that sort of evil, is it really too much of a stretch to think Pr. Wilson could too? Which brings me to the question of whether my accusations are over the top. They are if they aren’t plausible. But there’s nothing wrong with charging Pr. Wilson of great evil if Pr. Wilson is committing that evil.

    Two more comments: First, you are simultaneously accusing me of being nit-picky, and of making huge charges. I may in fact be mistaken that the charges I’m making stick, but I’m surely not being nit-picky. If I am correct, and Pr. Wilson is egregiously refusing to listen (I don’t need to rehearse the reasons for that conclusion, I’ve stated it many times before), nit-picking is not the word to describe what I’m doing.

    Finally, I made a few comments and people have kept on trying to engage me about them. I have responded to comments that simply refuse to listen to what I’m saying, and that completely dismiss my point by patiently, repeatedly, laying out my argument. Perhaps this has been misguided, but it isn’t exactly true that I’ve been hounding anyone.

  49. Timothy: Yes, I suppose you could say that’s my argument, though I think I take those two points as roughly equivalent. That argument is more A therefore A. The support for A is what I posted in the first comment. I have before linked to Pr. Wilson’s articles explaining scapegoating, and have explained what scapegoating is too. (Perhaps you missed those threads?) Perhaps I should rehearse that in every comment, but I feel that may be excessive.

  50. Bill, People can and do improve land. Without ownership of it, then there is no point in investing ones time in improving it. I am going to leave the discussion at that. I have a government education and I do not know enough Locke to comment with authority.
    Of course, if the person upriver blocks access to the water table, the your land becomes worthless. That is what happened to a lot of Mexican farm land when the Hoover Dam went online.

  51. This coercive attitude toward “Others” is something that plagues both sides of U.S. political discourse, and something that liberals often participate in too. But that doesn’t excuse us doing it back. We should turn the other cheek. So I decided I needed to be explicit what the charge is, and why I find it heinous.
     

    Laying explicit charges is good. Backing them up is good too. I am not a theologian, so the topic of ‘turning the other cheek’ is an interesting one. What I like about Pastor Wilson’s discourses is that he brings in the totality of Scripture in contrast to “red letter bible” quoting.
     

    -
     

    Given this bit of information, It appears that you just want Pastor Wilson to shut up and turn the other cheek. In retrospect, all the arguments you have given are really just your wish that he would do that. Your severe charges of “Pagan Sacrifice” and “Sacred Violence” are fancy ways of driving home that point.
    Is that a fair statement?

  52. I’m still not all sure why you find the first post confusing. Here’s an outline, with comments in “quotes”:

    This doesn’t answer the charges I had raised. Indeed, it ironically provides evidence for them.

    He said feeling persecuted was a necessary condition for scapegoating, then argues that he’s being persecuted. While “P->Q, Q therefore P” is invalid, Q is evidence for P. It’s ironic because his premise is that Q is a necessary condition for scapegoating, provides an argument that he meets condition Q, and then leaves it there,  without considering the charge that he is scapegoating.

    This post doesn’t answer the charge. It treats it like the charge is A, but it isn’t. The charge (which I and others have repeatedly made) is: B,C,D,E,F, G;lskdfhoihj.

    I think this is straightforward, except for the nonsense at the very end.

    I’m not guilty of “ire fire”, which the title of your post accuses me of. This is a serious charge, that godly men can fall into, to real disaster, and you would do well not to act so scornful of the charge.

  53. Given this bit of information, It appears that you just want Pastor Wilson to shut up and turn the other cheek. In retrospect, all the arguments you have given are really just your wish that he would do that. Your severe charges of “Pagan Sacrifice” and “Sacred Violence” are fancy ways of driving home that point. Is that a fair statement?

    No, I don’t think so. What I want him to do is start listening. “Sacred violence” etc. is a precise charge, and refers to a particular type of action that is very very damaging, and which Pr. Wilson has described in the past as participating in Pagan Sacrifices (the link is above). The Christian answer to the temptation is to turn the other cheek instead. 

    On the issue in question, I would like him to be willing to listen to what people have to say, even if they vote democrat or Green, even if there are people in the same movement who advocate silly things (like a tax on full-fat milk), and even if they seek to achieve their ends through what he initially thinks problematic means–though he should listen to the ends more than the means if he thinks the means are problematic.

  54. Timothy: It’s possible that Pr. Wilson has considered what I said, and rejected it. However, all the evidence points to he rejected it, but never considered it. His “answer” is nothing of the sort. And rather than acting like he’s considered it, he mocks me, calling it “ire fire”. Anyway, I have seen almost no evidence that (till your recent comments) anyone in the comments has even begun to try to consider what I was saying. I have had to *repeatedly* deny that I was saying that liberals are right and conservatives wrong, or that he shouldn’t oppose liberal errors.

  55. I have patiently, and repeatedly, been willing to attempt to explain myself to a number of people who were getting me drastically wrong–indeed, who didn’t seem to be willing to try to get what I was saying correct before attacking. Even you decided I must be insane at first. But I did not yell at you for that, I merely patiently explained myself, and asked what the source of your confusion was. I probably should stop commenting, but I haven’t kept at it because of an inability to let something go, but because people keep asking me questions.

  56. Finally, it’s hard to see how can consider a charge without even raising questions, and seeking to have those questions addressed. If he were considering my charge, I’d expect a little actual interaction with what I am saying. And an “answer” that actually, you know, answers, or at least, gets the charges right.

  57.  The argument, as I take it, is about what ought to be coerced–that which is Biblical (speaking generally and not taking for granted that not all sins should be illegal–and that coercion of anything else is unjust and sinful oppression.

    But that’s the problem…no argument is offered.  The whole post amounts to a restatement of the position. 

  58. Mathew.
     
    My brother in Christ. You pack a lot of passion into a lot of words that fly by faster than most people can– or care to–catch them. You are clearly frustrated that Pastor Wilson does not take the time to talk to you directly and angry when his ‘ire fire’ singes a bit.
     
    I submit a few conjectures in his defense. 1. he is busy. 2. he is an elder of the Church and should be granted deference. 3. it just may be that as a pastor–who’s mission is to husband the Church–he is letting the comment threads play out and develop into a mature example of Christian behavior by letting you–Job like–stew a bit in your open sores while listening to the various Eliphazes, Bildands,  and Zophars of the comment section torment you.

    Finally, what if he cannot answer you? What if there is no good answer to what you are asking? What if you are in error? Have you considered that possibility?
     
     

  59. I’m a bit late to the game, but concerning the exchange between Timothy and Bill Hickman above:
    Bill, here is Locke’s argument from his Second Treatise, Section 27:

        

    “Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.”

      

    States are not created so that they may create private property. States are created in order to recognize the private property that individuals have created by their own labor.

  60. Dan, I’m glad to see you still here. You said earlier that you think we should look at arguments, and not impute motives, but somehow I missed it and didn’t respond. The trouble with that comment is that I have not said anything to imply what motives Pr. Wilson has, but he refused to listen to some people’s arguments because they were “liberal”, and because of supposed motives they have. Since then, that’s been the issue.

    I don’t mind that Pr. Wilson doesn’t take the time to interact. I mind that he takes the time to interact rudely. Calling it “ire fire” doesn’t bother me, but it is imputation of motives, and extremely rude. I overlooked it, because it didn’t really bother me, but it’s just rich for you guys to act like I’m sounding demonic when I have repeatedly overlooked your rudeness. That’s my point regarding it. I agree with reasons 1. But that he’s an elder means he has a particular responsibility not to be a wolf, but a shepherd. But he’s being a wolf. It is, of course, possible that I’m in error. However, your claim that I should consider that I may be in error is a bit rich. You really should have a grasp of what I’m saying before you act like I  must be in error–and you shouldn’t defend someone in his absolute refusal to listen and consider the possibility that he is in error (regarding Pollan), if you’re going to make a charge like that. But yes, I have considered it. I am confidant I am not, and that Our Lord will hold him accountable for it. But, if someone wants to show me that I’m wrong, I’ll listen. (Or I would have, I’m not coming back.) However, before they can take up that proof, they should know at least the first thing about what I’m saying.

  61. Dan,
    I agree. It is obvious that Mathew’s grasp  of logical reasoning is lacking; he, therefore, rhetoric is the way to go with him.  cheers.

  62. Many people, both liberal and conservative, wish for government to monitor and regulate our lives.  We will face government control to the degree that people are unable to self-govern.

  63. Matthew Petersen, thank you for your polite response to an earlier question I had.
    I would much prefer a reply to a far more important question. Namely “what would happen if we applied your critiques (insofar as they are coherent) to words of our Lord, or the writings of St Paul?  Aren’t they often guilty of precisely the sorts of things that bother you vis Doug? Example: by your definition of a “they always” statement, how would Paul not qualify as a target of your ire? And isn’t the Bible rife with generalizations? And who could doubt that, given your own translation of the term “Sacred Violence”, the majority of the writers of the Old and New Testaments stand in dire need of correction – if not condemnation?”
    Perhaps I am to dense to have noticed how or where you have answered these, but I still do not understand how you can possibly reconcile these things.

  64. Jay: The quick answer is that struggling with that question actually caused Girard to stop being an atheist, and become a Christian. He had intended to include a section in one of his books about how the Bible is also guilty of scapegoating, but found he couldn’t quite get everything to fit, so he didn’t include it in his book, spend about a decade thinking about the issue, and eventually embraced Christ (because of his theory, not as a rejection of his theory), married his girlfriend, and had their children baptized. I’ll facebook message you a reply that tries to grapple with the question in specifics.

  65. In evading Jay’s question, Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “about how the Bible is also guilty of scapegoating”

    Petersen’s theme on this blog seems to be all about assigning guilt.  One wonders if Doug Wilson is guilty of scapegoating in the same way that the Bible is also guilty.  In that case, is Doug still guilty?  Guilty before whom?
                                                                                                                                                                   
    If the Bible is guilty, perhaps I don’t want to be right.  I might be content being guilty the way the Bible is guilty.  I do find it odd that Petersen feels there is a standard beneath which God’s Word is found guilty.

  66. I agree, Mr Petersen’s comment about how the Bible is also guilty of scapegoating is just plain loopy.  But I’m sure he’ll tell us that we “misunderstood” what he was saying.  I truly have never seen such foolish reasoning on this blog than Mr Petersen’s.  And he digs himself into even deeper holes by writing very long replies explaining how he doesn’t understand why he wasn’t understood, and how everyone is taking him out of context, etc.  All that is bad enough, but the way he tries to act like a modern prophet and call down the wrath upon Pastor Wilson is purely adolescent.  Mr Petersen, you have no authority whatsoever to say that “Our Lord will hold him accountable” for supposedly being too “rude” for your liking.  Enough already, Mr Petersen.  Either toughen up, or look in the mirror.  

  67. While I find Matthew’s comments perplexing and exhausting, I think you two do need to read his last comment a little more closely. I don’t think he was claiming the the Bible was guilty of scapegoating. He was merely saying that Girard was trying to show how the Bible was guilty of scapegoating.

    That being said, I would be interested in his answer to Jay’s question.

  68. Matt Robinson wrote:

    “I don’t think he was claiming the the Bible was guilty of scapegoating. He was merely saying that Girard was trying to show how the Bible was guilty of scapegoating.”

    I could see that interpretation, if I squint really hard.  But the difficulty is that Jay had specifically asked Petersen if Scripture itself was guilty of the same kinds of sacred violence, generalizations, and scapegoating that Petersen blames Wilson for.  This was the very question on the table.  If Petersen doesn’t think the Bible is guilty of scapegoating, why does he bother to bring Girard into the discussion in support of the notion?  And why leave the statement of the Bible’s guilt hanging without qualification?  Could Petersen want folks to arrive at a certain conclusion about him, so that he can then hold them guilty of that too.  I’m happy to back up and give Petersen another shot at the question.  At this point he either thinks the Bible is guilty of the very things he accuses Wilson of, or else he hasn’t answered Jay’s question.

  69. I echo what Katecho said.  Jay’s whole point was to ask Mr Petersen if he thinks the Bible is guilty of the very things he accuses Wilson of.  And Mr Petersen’s immediate response was that Girard “had intended to include a section in one of his books about how the Bible is also guilty of scapegoating, but found he couldn’t quite get everything to fit, so he didn’t include it in his book”.  Okay, but so what?.  Mr Petersen didn’t address the question at hand, but that’s not surprising at this point.  And he left the question of the Bible’s guilt hanging out there.  In reading his plethora of blog posts, he does like to use the term “scapegoating” a lot.  So perhaps the reference to Girard was another opportunity to use the word again.  But I could be wrong.

  70. In his reply Matthew says that the Bible is actually not guilty of scapegoating (according to Girard). It appears that he means that it is also not guilty (unlike that “wolf” Wilson) of “they always” statements and other harmful generalizations.
     A quick perusal through your Bibles and anyone should be able to find language not only similar to pastor Wilson, but far more striking in it’s use of generalization, “they always” statements, and so-called “scapegoating”. 
    Jesus’ condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees comes immediately to mind. (While we know that some Pharisees actually became followers of Jesus. Also, we may presume that not every single scribe was guilty of that which Jesus decried. What about the Rich? 
    James says of them “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
    Then there’s Paul’s vehemence against those of “The Circumcision”. The Apostle wanted these guys to ‘mutilate themselves’. 
    I’m pretty sure all readers of this blog have been thinking of this classic:
    “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

    The plain fact is that, according to Mr Petersen’s own standard, the Word of God should be found guilty of the charges laid against Doug Wilson.

  71. I did not say the Bible is guilty of scapegoating, but that Girard at first thought it was, and discovered it wasn’t. And indeed, that this fact led him to Christ. I said nearly the exact opposite of what you’re saying I said.

  72. So it seems the only thing Matthew N. Petersen is sure of is that Wilson is guilty and should be silent.  Since broad generalizations are routinely used in Scripture, the mere use of them by Wilson is not enough to condemn him.  Wilson’s generalizations may, in fact, be quite legitimate, making Wilson innocent regarding their use.  The irony of this is that Wilson then makes the perfect scapegoat for Petersen to victimize.  The ideal scapegoat is innocent of the charges.  Petersen has cast his own role for himself.  Will Petersen cast any more stones?

  73. Matt Robinson: You said ” I would be interested in his answer to Jay’s question.” I’m not going to post here, but if you facebook message me I’ll send you an answer. I’m on facebook with the same name as here, but I can’t find you.

  74. Matthew, it is strange that you should seek to correspond privately in order to enlighten us as to your specific answers regarding the scapegoating Scriptures, et al. You are quite bold and public in your condemnations and complaints… why so reticent in response to cross examinations of your own positions?  This is especially puzzling in light of the simplicity and specificity in which the questions were asked. A straightforward question should provide the finest means available in this format for you make a strong case for your argument, no? It is clear from the vast majority of responses in this thread that you have, at best, been sorely misunderstood. Here is your chance. If you can show that Wilson has transgressed in a manner that simply does not correspond with the same method as used by the writers of sacred Scripture, you shall have greatly edified your position. If you cannot, then you’ll find that you have been applying a buzzsaw to the branch upon which you are sitting.  
    Good luck… and happy landings.

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