First Batch of November Letters

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I Suppose I Have Rachel Miller to Thank for This

Dear Pastor Wilson,

I apologize in advance bc this is a bit lengthy- brevity is NOT one of my gifts. ;)

With as much vitriol as you receive on the regular, I thought I would write to encourage you. I confess, as of about 2 weeks ago, I considered myself in the camp of Ms. Miller. I hated you bc I believed everything she and those like her said about you. I relied on THEIR interpretations of your words and was satisfied with the lone quotes of yours they cited to “prove” their positions. I argued vehemently with my husband that you were a misogynist patriarch who held to antiquated interpretations of Scripture re: the ontological natures of men and women. I REALLY hated that you referred to feminists as “small-breasted biddies”. But then, Ms. Miller wrote “Misquoting Wilson?” I read all the quotes of yours that she intended as “proof” that she didn’t misquote you in her book. And as I read each one, I found myself going “wait, THAT”S what he says? well that doesn’t sound unbiblical at all! why is she twisting these quotes to mean what I’m pretty sure they were never intended to mean??” THEN, when she demonstrated her complete and utter failure to comprehend what Mark Jones was saying about friendship in marriage, I came to the final conclusion that Ms. Miller has a serious agenda against not only you, but ALL pastors who hold to a fully complementarian view. And that she’s definitely come unhinged. Since then, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time reading your blog, trying to get to the bottom of the “scandals” you’ve been accused of, and overall just really trying to give you a fair shake. I was DELIGHTED to find your wife’s book on being a pastor’s wife and read it in a day (my husband is currently a student at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary). I’m now in a discussion group for Genevan Commons ladies where we’re reading The Fruit of Her Hands together and I’m so excited to read ALL (well, almost all…I’ll probably leave Fidelity to the men ;) ) of your books, your wife’s books, and your daughters’ books. My husband has told me it’s going to be a “Wilson Christmas” lol. OH, and I’m working my way through Rachel and Rebekah’s podcast and am constantly encouraged by these women you’ve raised. I praise God for what he’s done with your life and I’ve repented of my hatred of you. I’m ashamed to even have to type that. But I wanted you to know all this. I just hate that you’re so misunderstood but I commend you for not backing down. God has, is, and will continue to use you mightily and you and your family are in my prayers.

PS. Are you really from Annapolis, MD?? Bc that’s where I grew up :) . . .

PPS. I have to admit, we love your teaching so much that for a second we started checking out real estate prices in Idaho . . . if any intern positions open up in your church I’m PRETTY sure my husband would be interested, hehe

PPPS. I still don’t like the “small-breasted biddies” comment but that’s a different conversation ;)

Sincerely,
A Former Wilson “Hater” ;)

Dear Former Hater, thanks very much for this. Yes, I really grew up in Annapolis. I love getting a fair shake, whenever it happens.

From the NQN Blast Radius

“This is why secularists and liberals, who are not committed to inerrancy, are often more to be trusted with what the Scriptures actually say because they are not ever stuck with defending the final results. They can say, for example, that the apostle Paul told certain busybody women to “go home” (Tit. 2:5) and wasn’t that just a laugh riot?”

Yes. That’s right–and very revealing/clarifying. Thank you, Pastor Wilson, for your work in general and for this important insight in particular.

Paul

Paul, thanks very much.

Thank you for being honest and unapologetic about what you call the ‘angular’ portions of scripture rather than trying to explain them away.

Jeff

Jeff, thanks. If we are talking with nonbelievers, and we are not honest with our own text, why should they believe we are being honest about anything?

I just finished reading “Inerrancy as the Queen Mum of Evangelicalism.”

First, I was far too impressed with myself for being able to divine, with little effort, where the article was going based on the title. I only mention that because I think it rather funny that I really thought for a moment that I had just demonstrated my own rather impressive erudition by getting exactly what I was meant to when I read the title. Mind you, I am typically much harder to impress when I am considering the feats of others.

Second, well, that article was a bull’s-eye, sir. Not the fifty point kind, either. A full hundred. You could have selected any number of issues about which the Bible speaks and on which Evangelicals are only too happy to ignore it once their imagined spot at the cool kid’s table is threatened or the threat of any level of actual conflict is implied.

Ever watched as an elder, during Sunday worship, stands silently up front, hands folded politely at the waist, while the female “worship leader” leads the congregation in corporate scripture reading and prayer? I have. Many times. Sometimes I wonder why Evangelicals bother with the Bible at all.

I appreciate the fact that there are other people out there who see it, even if our numbers are relatively few. There is something comforting about not being the only one, even if the madness doesn’t appear to be letting up at all.

Andrew

Andrew, thank you. Yes, there are many issues, and many passages, where this kind of thing occurs.

Thanks Pastor Wilson,

Having gone through the Reformed seminary system I do have concern that we are slipping into an exegesis of Titus 2 where the Apostle Paul is described as “culturally bound.” I have also heard it argued that morality “evolves” in the sense that slavery was good in the Bible and it is bad now. Some are even giving up on the language of “inerrancy” due to the problem of submission/authority.

Nathan

Nathan, yes. And at a certain point, the slippery slope really does take over.

RE: Inerrancy as the Queen Mum of Evangelicalism | BOOM! Right out of the gate smashing the Evangelical idol we’ve made out of “inerrancy,” instead of actually believing it and obeying it! I can’t wait for the rest of the month of November! Also, I believe AD Robles has started his own #WinsomeNovember or #Wovember at the request of his theological puppet master, Pastor Doug Wilson!

Trey

Trey, yeah, well somebody should tell Robles that it was supposed to be Woe-Vember.

Hiding Privilege

This thought of hiding privilege rather than checking it was in the back of my mind and my pastor used C.S. Lewis’ “Holiday by the Sea Analogy” in his Lord’s Day sermon. I reflected at how this great analogy would be interacted with in our current cultural context. Can you imagine how Big Eva would respond to the thought that a child playing with mud in the slums was inferior to a child playing at the sea?

In our day the progressive want to hide their privilege and accuse any call to enjoy the blessings of civility and order as “colonialism.” They would reprimand Lewis and say that he is racist, imperialistic, and bigoted. How dare you insinuate the minority child in their slum as having base desires and that the sea is better? We should after all celebrate the slum. We should extol the virtue of mud pie making. It is hateful to suggest this child look beyond the slum to the sea shore.

In so doing, not only does the progressive expose that they are incapable of evaluating this world properly and assigning value, but they actually enforce and endorse people to stay in the slums. If we remove the ability to assign beauty according to God’s standards in keeping with his word, we introduce a slavery to lesser things, a delusional in which we ascribe equal ascetic and inherent beauty to these lesser things.

And sadly, the bigwigs in this parade of condescension themselves enjoy the beach while advocating for policies that keep the multitudes trapped in the slums.

Michael

Michael, thanks very much. Yes, exactly.

Book Reviews

Hello Pastor Wilson,

My name is José Casillas. I’m currently in my 3rd and last year of law school at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. I write to you seeking advice on the issue of book reviews.

I was recently agreed to write book reviews for the School’s Law Journal. This is the first time I’d be doing such a task. How do I determine when to stay balanced and when to be incisive of the ideas presented in the book?

Thanks in advance.

José

José, I would just give basic principles. First, always tell the truth, say what you think. Second, depending on the demands of charity, don’t write everything you think. Third, make sure you have heard the author honestly and fairly. And if you do these things, your reviews can be both balanced and incisive.

Sin Tax

Regarding this quote from Nation of Rebels —

Does this mean that you would affirm a tax on carbon products in the same way alcohol and tobacco are taxed?

Just trying to see if I understand this correctly.

Thanks.

Jordan

Jordan, no. I oppose “sin taxes” because it sets up contrary incentives. While the user is supposedly being discouraged from the use of whatever, the government is incentivized to want more of it. And, on top of that, I have not been persuaded that carbon is even a problem, as alcohol and tobacco can be.

Random Discipline Question

I’ve read much of your writing on the topic of child rearing and discipline and found it to be extremely insightful. I have a seven month old son, who is beginning to show signs of purposeful rebellion (ex: screaming when he doesn’t get his way, clenching his fists in anger, etc). He is too young to speak or fully understand all of my words, so I’m finding it difficult to know how to best “train him in the way he should go.”

Is he too young to correct? If not, would you use a simple and calm “no” or explain every correction using biblical reasoning? At what age did you find your children ready to receive biblical discipline?

Thank you for any insight you can give!

Rebecca

Rebecca, he is too young to spank, but he is not too young to correct. A lot depends upon what the issue is. You can correct him by flicking his hand when he reaches for the electric outlets. You can correct him by removing the temptation, as in, the vase on the coffee table. If darkness has descended upon him, and he crabby about everything, feed him, change his diapers, tell him to count it all joy when he meets various trials, and put him in his crib.

Taleb

Every time you mention Taleb, I think you talk about the commenter who asked you about The Black Swan. I believe I was that commenter long ago, on a blog platform far away, lost to the annals of history.

I’m glad you’ve gotten enjoyment and edification out of his works, and can mash it up with your other wisdom to provide some fresh insights that I continually benefit from. I never thought my little comment would be that type of seed, and it’s a fun example of the internet actually living up to its optimistic promises.

Matt

Matt, thank you. I owe you a great deal for that nudge.

Atheist Objections

I’m not writing about any particular article. But I would like to say that I think it would be interesting to have a blog/book/some sort of content that responds to atheist objections to presuppositionalism. From what I can tell, it seems like this kind of argumentation is not taken super-seriously in atheist circles. Someone that comes to mind is guys like Matt Dilahunty, who I know is a pretty smart and logical guy who has a lot to say about Christianity. It would be cool to see Doug interact with critiques against his arguments for Christianity.

Will

Will, thanks.

Fragile Eva

Big Eva: Nice and Fragile…

Thank you for your thoughts in this article. I cannot remember whether it was you or Pastor Toby who opened my eyes that conflict is often a good thing and that it was there before the fall. Since I heard or read about that (can’t remember), I have exhorted many in my local church that the conflicts we deal with are often good for us and not always as we love to say “attacks from the enemy”.

Keep up the good work!

PS… as I was writing, I remembered I heard it from you first, something about being prepared to plant turnips on Mars.

Jordan

Jordan, thanks. I think it was growing corn on asteroids. And perhaps it was Nate who pointed out that there was conflict before the Fall?

What Was That About?

My wife and I had been greatly enjoying your Amazon Prime series Man Rampant. We watched the first two episodes and absorbed every word, agreeing that it was simply some of the best stuff we had ever seen. Clear, concise, biblical insight. Then came episode three, which we had eagerly anticipated. Still don’t know exactly what that one was about (even though, going in, I thought I had an idea from some of your previous writings). Think we could get a do-over?

All in all, though, an EXCELLENT series. Hope to see more of this in the future.

Phillip

Phillip, thanks. I don’t know that we can actually do a do-over. But perhaps a watch-over?

Bold or Mean?

“Bold-hearted men are always called mean-spirited by cowards.” — C.H. Spurgeon

The coward does not dare to say what he means unless he’s saying the daring are “mean.” The courageous dares to say what he means even when it means being called names.

Cowardice is not just content with niceness, it aims at it. It prefers milquetoast to the toaster. As a result, it considers meanness the deadliest vice and niceness the cardinal virtue.

But Christ did not command niceness, but kindness; He did not condemn being mean, but malice, clamor, slander, wrath, etc.. (Eph 4:31-32)

Boldness is not callous indifference, but it does develops callouses from counting the cost of being considered mean and paying the bill in cash.

To be bold will mean being considered mean by some.
To be kind will mean being considered unkind by many.
By the standard of niceness, boldness is mean.
By the standard of righteousness, boldness is a mean.

Todd

Todd, thank you and amen.

Outlawing Abortion

A few thoughts on the difficulty of illegalizing abortion.

In the Man Rampart episode ‘The State vs Your Family’ you contrast the ‘modern’ view of society as a collection of atomized individuals with the Burkean concept of little platoons or molecules. I think widespread acceptance of the ‘modern’ view is behind the current laws governing divorce and abortion, and that we should work to re-establish a ‘molecular’ view of society. This works out such that laws against abortion can not view the people involved as atomized individuals.

I’ve heard the statistic that 1 in 3 women in the U.S. get abortions, I don’t know if that’s accurate or propaganda to make abortion seem more common than it is, but given the number of abortions per year if we were to make abortion illegal this second we will have made a significant number of women in the U.S. criminals which would be unenforceable.

Along with the need for laws to recognize the ‘molecular’ nature of society we have to deal with the fact that given God’s created order of the universe a mother killing her children is inherently self destructive. We say that abortion is murder, but abortion is self destructive in a way that murder isn’t, and we don’t have laws against any similar self destructive acts.

In order to protect the lives of babies we have to protect the existence of families, so our laws should not be primarily about the rights of the individual but the rights of the family. Seeing that abortion disproportionately occurs in black society is it therefore the case that the most anti abortion law we could pass is to find a way to release a (figurative) ton of black men from prison?

Christopher

Christopher, a couple objections spring to mind. It is not sufficient to want to reduce the number of abortions. We want to outlaw it. And even when it is outlawed, and still occurs anyway, we want everyone to know that the society at large was not complicit in the killing. Other forms of murder are against the law without eradicating all murders, but at least the approval of society is not part of the problem.

Organ Donation

Thank you for getting the word out on “unethically sourced” vaccines. You veered into another unsung medical ethics issue along the way, one at the other side of the pro-life spectrum: so called “brain dead” organ transplantation.

Basically, according to Scripture, there is no such category as “brain dead”; either the soul remains in the body or has departed. As such, removal of organs from a warm, breathing (albeit with a ventilator) human with a beating heart actually causes their death and is in effect the medical murder of a vulnerable person. The term “brain dead” was actually coined to pave the way to make organ transplants possible; to help make the family willing to allow the harvest of organs in people with little chance of recovery, to salve consciences with a feeling of altruism.

Of course, the voluntary donation from a living donor (who remains alive after the procedure) of one of a pair of organs, or part of a lobed organ is in the best Christian tradition. But removing organs from a sick, helpless person actually causes their death and is in fact murder.

Heidi

Heidi, yes. If our society does not know how to define human life, the very last thing we should do is set up some economic incentives that will prevent us from ever defining it accurately.

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Chadd
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Chadd

Phillip, I had a similar takeaway. I am through the first three episodes and I loved the first two – albeit I am familiar with Mr. Rigney and Dr. Merkle. But some of the things Mr. Renn said in episode three did not sit right with me. Multiple times I said to myself, “Surely Pastor Wilson doesn’t fully agree with that, I’m sure he’ll push back.” My only thought was that maybe this is supposed to be more of an interview format than a true discussion/debate. Also, it seemed tough to get a word in edge wise with Mr. Renn.… Read more »

kyriosity
Member

Dear “Former Hater,”

There are a lot of former Marylanders in Moscow. I’m from Baltimore, myself. Also your husband might want to check out Greyfrairs (https://www.christkirk.com/get-involved/greyfriars-hall/). 🙂

Christopher Casey
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Christopher Casey

Doug, just leaving a quick comment to say thank you for your helpful objections in response to my letter.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Will, I think that public debates between atheists and Christian apologists are usually unproductive. Very few minds are changed either way, and I’m not sure that anyone is arguing with a willingness to be persuaded. But atheists dislike presuppositional arguments more than classical or evidentiary arguments because they see them as intellectually dishonest. Fair argument depends on agreement about the rules by which a truth claim can be verified or falsified and it requires that each side accept the other as operating rationally within the terms of the debate. And both sides should be equally wiling to recognize faulty syllogisms… Read more »

Gray
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Gray

When Jesus said: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”, do you think that He was positing a presuppositional argument?

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

His answer was in response to the hypothetical ‘gotcha’ question that the Sadducees had posed about marriage and the afterlife.

The Sadducees believed in God and accepted the text of Hebrew Bible as authoritative. Their problem was that they regarded the idea of life after death as an extra-biblical tradition which found no support in the text itself.

Therefore, the Sadducees were the presuppositionalists in that encounter.

john k
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john k

From what I see, atheists apparently presuppose the validity of logic. How is the justification of that outside the terms of debate?

Of course presuppositionalists, like all apologists, should avoid flippant arguments that disrespect debate opponents.

Presppositionalism is not necessarily aiming at certainty (the psychological absence of all doubt), but at a sufficient basis for knowledge and faith, beyond mere probability.

Asking for presuppositions to be proven true renders them no longer presuppositions, and makes the human mind an autonomous judge. That doesn’t mean that there is no place for discussing why we might think them valid and necessary.

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

The problem is that, to those who encounter it, presuppositionalism appears exactly as one of those “flippant arguments that disrespect debate opponents”.

Witnessing presuppositionalist arguments used in the wild feels like sitting down to watch a cooking show expecting to learn how to prepare Boeuf Bourguignon – except all that the chef does is march over to the oven, extract a covered pot and exclaim “Voila! C’est complet! Magnifique! Thank you so much for tuning into our show! Bye!”

john k
Guest
john k

“Voila!” is not wholly owned by presuppositionalists. Most views can be boiled down to a pithy sentence or two. (For example, “Voila! Papal infallibility!”)

Robert
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Robert

Doug’s father never argues Scripture. He declares it as truth and his behavior matched his declaration. You are there to win people, not arguments. His father has led thousands to the Lord.

Matt
Guest
Matt

The entire notion of apologetics or debating religion feels so early 2000sish. Does anyone really care about this anymore? The advent of the internet brought millions of geographically isolated atheists together to simultaneously vent all of their resentments and frustrations at their surrounding religious society. We called it “New Atheism” and it spawned gigabytes of articles, message boards, databases, etc covering just about every single argument for or against religion in just about every single way. And then it just kinda faded. The atheists had said their piece, all possible arguments had been covered, and everyone moved on to other… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

Last week, Scott Alexander examined the question of what happened to all the “New Atheists”. His conclusion was that they have almost all morphed into Social Justice Warriors:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/10/30/new-atheism-the-godlessness-that-failed/

Ironically, they now seem to have embraced their own flavor of presuppositionalism: all arguments necessarily derive from and build upon the foundational, undeniable, metaphysical truth that all who disagree with the SJW worldview are bigoted and hate-filed racists. This is not a presupposition that they are willing to examine logically.

john k
Guest
john k

How did presuppositionalism come to mean “not examining presuppositions”? That’s the opposite of presuppositionalism!

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

“Examining presuppositions” in presuppositionalism seems mostly, in my experience, to be used on the offense rather than the defense.

JP Stewart
Member

This video interview (a downloadable audio is available if you scroll down) is a great examination of that. It’s one Christian interviewing two former “New Athests” who are now more like trad-con atheists after the falling out in Atheistland.