Johnny Appleseed

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The following column ran last night in our local newspaper, responding to another set of recycled charges from Nick Gier, which he leveled against us in the paper last week.

“Oh, good,” the Moscow community is thinking to itself. “Another round of attacks on Doug Wilson, followed shortly thereafter by his replies. We sure are glad that The Daily News identified the desperate public need for this kind of discussion and leapt to fill the void.”

I am referring, of course, to Nick Gier’s column of last Friday (August 3, 2007), in which he enumerated a number of Bad Things connected to me and my ilk, central among them being the fact that my Christian faith has been inadequately docile in the presence of enlightened thought, with that thought apparently represented best by the circles that Nick travels in.

If mistakes and blunders were little black kernels, Nick Gier would be a veritable Johnny Appleseed. Let me give just a few examples, and then move on to my main point. He says that I am the “head of an expanding college.” I am neither president nor dean. He says that I am the owner of “more and more downtown real estate.” I don’t own anything downtown. I own my house on the edge of town and a pick-up truck. I hope that’s okay. He says that in 2003, he was surprised to learn that I had become a Calvinist. I had made that discreditable move fifteen years earlier, so Dr. Gier hardly qualifies as Dr. Thumb on the Pulse here. He also identifies me, contradictorily, as a neo-Confederate and a nationalist. As it happens, I am neither. And what made him identify me as a nationalist? My opposition to the war in Iraq? My preaching and writing against the emerging American empire? My opposition to the reigning idolatries of both political parties? This reminds me of the old children’s joke—”What’s the difference between a hippopotamus and a mailbox” “I don’t know, what?” “I’m sure not going to send you to mail any letters!”

So this brings me to the main point of my response here, which is this. I was recently talking to someone who had been upset at the injustice of this latest round of attacks on us, and who had suggested that we perhaps complain to the appropriate people—we were talking about scurrilous flyers about us distributed downtown and at the mall. My response was no, I didn’t want to do that. The reason I gave is that I want them to be the complainers. They appear to be making a permanent vocation of it, and we really don’t want to live that way.

And so this is the real relevance of our emphasis on the triune nature of God. Nick asserted that we were “questionable Trinitarians,” but it is our robust conviction that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons. Because God is eternally triune, this means that He is not the ultimate Loner. He is not the cosmic Hermit, with nothing to do and no one to love before the universe was created. The apostle John tells us that God is love, and this is only possible because the Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the love of each for the other. God is love. God Himself is an eternal community, and we are created in His image. This means that we were created by Him to live in community, and so this is something that we are seeking to learn how to do from the gospel of Jesus. It is a lesson that our small, divided town of Moscow very much needs to learn.

In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has established a new template for being human, and it is our responsibility as Christians to grow up into that pattern. As we do this, we will make our own mistakes, commit our own blunders. And others will radically misunderstand us, and accuse us of all kinds of outlandish things. But we are convinced of two things, both dismissed in Nick’s title. He called us “fraudulent Calvinists, questionable Trinitarians.” But we really do believe that God controls all things, and we also believe that the God who does this is love. And what is the only logical response to this? No complaints.

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