Beyond Plagiarism: The Politics Of A Cult

Wilson was gracious to me in all of these private interactions, but he made it clear that if I disagreed with him publicly I would be undermining his work for God’s kingdom. As he wrote in one e-mail, “either you remain out of the fracas,” referring to the tempest then swirling around the booklet, “or you fight alongside me, or you get co-opted by their side,” referring to the secular “intoleristas” who opposed his ministry. In sum, unless I was willing to endorse his views or remain silent, I would inevitably aid the cause of his enemies–and his enemies were God’s enemies.

I was reminded of this position on numerous occasions in the coming months. When I finally decided to share my concerns at my church’s men’s meeting, one of the members in attendance interrupted my presentation to say that I was “sinning” by questioning Wilson’s historical teaching. Then when I criticized Wilson’s scholarship in a brief letter to World magazine (in response to an article on the controversy in Moscow that quoted me), one of the elders at Wilson’s church e-mailed my pastor (copying me) to say that “God’s enemies really love this stuff” (emphasis added).

—Robert Tracy McKenzie, “How Not to Argue Historically: Thoughts On Southern Slavery As It Was

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  1. Wilson is a morphing eclectic who, when asked “Hey Doug, what do you believe this week?”, had no answer. True story.

    Been compiling this list for awhile, maybe someone will find it useful?

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who claims to be friendly to Christianity but actually rejects or is hostile to Christianity.

    There is the introduction of “humanism, nihilism, escapism, syncretism, eclecticism, spiritism and other occultism, polytheism, liberal theology, monism, paganism, gnosticism, rationalism and pantheism.”
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxiii.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that prohibits freethinking and individual expression.

    Authoritarianism and coercion are present in varying degrees.

    “Members must obey explicitly or be punished or excommunicated.”
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxiii.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who deny biblical Christianity by adding to or taking away from its contents.

    The Bible is misinterpreted by systematic design:
    Through new revelation,
    Through “alien” methods of interpretation (mysticism, symbolism, subjectivism),
    Through rationalism, deductive formalism, or other epistemological or philosophical grids (e.g. Platonism).

    What characterizes a cult?

    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who “…subject their members to psychological, physical and spiritual harm through cult dynamics that reject biblical, ethical and pastoral standards.”
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxiv.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious but who restrict independent thought and study.

    There may be a rejection of logic and reason (misology and absurdity), or such an emphasis on reason and logic that there is no place for mystery (Rationalism—reason is the test for truth).
    There may also be unquestioned allegiance to the group’s leader, despite great deficiencies in moral character.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who publicly advocate tolerance of other religious groups but privately teaches exclusivism and intolerance.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who may base their teachings on undocumented evidence, or subjective experience.

    Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who claim true spirituality and a genuine experience, but often offer what are occult practices and beliefs.

    These may be redefined using seemingly “neutral, divine, scientific or psychological categories, but what is present is occult activity in a group’s history and current practice.”
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxiv.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious who misrepresent the history or actions of its leaders and organization.

    This is done “usually because a group’s history and leader(s) are a moral and spiritual embarrassment, denying the claim to divine revelation and guidance.”
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxiv.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that is religious that evidences paranoia or are “persecution conscious.”

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that uses some form of intimidation or deception on insiders and outsiders.

    What characterizes a cult?
    A cult is an organization or group that operates behind a veil of secrecy, with sanctions against those who violate their “code of silence.”

    How do we define a cult?
    A separate religious group generally claiming compatibility with Christianity but whose doctrines contradict those of historic Christianity and whose practices and ethical standards violate those of biblical Christianity.
    Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, p. xxii.

  2. This “Wilson” – Isn’t that your dear, good old friend from Federal Vision? If so, don’t “God’s enemies” love YOUR stuff as well? Well, I don’t mind being an enemy of THAT “God”!
    Has McKenzie seen through Federal Vision, the way he has seen through the other?

  3. After reading the Introduction to Wilson’s Black & Tan: A Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America, I tore the book into four sections and discarded it. (Don’t ask me why four sections; but I’ve only thrown one other book away, and that was Frank Page’s Trouble with the TULIP. Let’s not got there.) But this further information is very telling, I think. Thank you for the link! I read McKenzie’s post also.


    Thank you for your post as well — very insightful!

  4. What is scary is that this sounds a lot like the spin-offs concerning Vision Forum movement (and I am not making a value-judgment on Vision Forum; just noting their followers).

  5. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

  6. I have to admit that I don’t have all that high a regard for Doug Wilson, who seems to be trying to say he’s More Reformed than Thou while teaching such questionable things like FV. The linked article only confirms a few doubts about his ministry and writings.

    Yes, there is a lot of doubletalk and lying on race matters in America, and some of it unfairly targets the South. As one raised among Yankee progressives, I am very much aware of a lot of hypocrisy among them–birth control as a way to keep numbers of “those people” down; don’t let “those people” anywhere near useful training programs (many forget that organized labor was long closed to black workers); “they” can’t learn decent grammar, so let them write in a manner that’s certain to keep them at the back of the employment line.

    Also, I’ve noticed that Southern racism is often “cheesy”, that is, quick to make qualifications and exceptions; real principled racism that thinks all blacks are a “problem” is something I’ve seen mostly up North (then again, I’ve never made the attempt to know real Ku Kluxers or the like Perhaps the influence of Christianity on so many Southerners made it easier to either persuade or shame them into re-examining their own kind of racism while scientific pride keeps too many of us Northrons secretly hiding ours behind a “progressive” mask.

    Also, reading Eugene Genovese’s _Roll Jordan, Roll_ was an eye-opnener on slavery. Sure, I’m glad the peculiar institution died, and I’d hate to see it re-instituted. But I guess the “black legend” of Anglophone America was, well, at least partly a legend invented to justify the self-righteousness of a section of the country.

    This being said, despite a long association with the PCA, I have no nostalgia for the Confederacy, and find Robert Lewis Dabney’s ideas about black people repulsive (although I respect what he has to say about various other doctrinal loci).

    Maybe, when it comes to race and ethnicity, we should do some creative thinking about how we North American Reformed folk can apply texts like Eph. 2:11 ff.

    Also, I understand that somewhere, Jonathan Edwards looked forward to a day when “Negroes and Indians” would be writing books on divinity. Apparently, he thought the destiny of non-white America was to be Christianized and become the peers of Christian white people. Can anyone trace a citation on this?

    • Kepha, your Edwards quotation can be found in The History of the Work of Redemption, which itself can be found in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (vol. 1; Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 609:

      There is a kind of vail now cast over the greater part of the world, which keeps them in darkness; but then this vail shall be destroyed: Isa. 25:7. “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” Then all countries and nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail every where. It may be hoped, that then many of the Negroes and Indians will be divines, and that excellent books will be published in Africa, in Ethiopia, in Tartary, and other now the most barbarous countries; and not only learned men, but others of more ordinary education, shall then be very knowing in religion: Isa. 32:3, 4. “The eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge.” Knowledge then shall be very universal among all sorts of persons; Jer. 31:34. “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”

  7. Thanks for posting this extract. Doug Wilson’s views on slavery and his reaction to even gentle criticism of his error only further goes to prove he is neither a scholar nor a gentleman.



  8. Just a squalor.

    Whilst not being able to trace a citation to support Kepha, I can comment that Edwards would have to have been an adamant not to have been influenced thus far by his might-have-been son-in-law.

    The term “Racial Preconceptions” can be found on Google, but the difference between it and Racial Prejudice should be appreciated much more and much more generally – We even have an example of divinely inspired racial preconception in Titus 1:12-13. However, if our Preconceptions allow us to support discriminatory measures, we might as well be prejudiced. A Nazi acquaintance of my grandparents, when reminded that a person of whom he spoke highly was a Jew, bellowed out (emphasis on the first word) “I decide who is a Jew!” – but if this didn’t move him to resist the holocaust, he’s just as guilty as …

    I have been told that to “keep those people down” was ever the thinking of Rev Malthus and his successors, from the very start, so I cannot but endorse Kepha’s thinking on this matter.

    Kepha’s thinking on the nature of northerners and southerners echoes what the academic physician William Makgoba had to say about South African academia’s liberals – However, nothing in SA seems to be “black and white” (Forgive the unfortunate terminology).

    It is amazing how “Gone With The Wind” has escaped the criticisms that Wilson’s writings have justly attracted (Even more amazing is the criticism it, particularly the film, has avoided for its concealed advocacy of marital rape).

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