It Can Be Difficult But We Need To Open Our Eyes And Pay Attention To The Facts

I am not going to quote this article on the Heidelblog because some of the language in it is not fit for a family publication. If you chose to read the latest exposé (see below) of the Kirk in Moscow, ID you have been forewarned. The language quoted and the stories reported, as told to the author by alleged victims of the Kirk, are shocking. Another caution is in order. The article was published in VICE Magazine. I would not ordinarily promote an article in VICE but it is well researched and written. Defenders of the Kirk have responded not by denying the substance of the charges but by attacking the publication.

Evidence about the nature of the Kirk has mounted over the years (see below) and more than one person has said to me something to the effect of, “I did not want to believe it.” It can be difficult to get to grips with the facts especially at a distance and absent direct experience but accept the facts we must. It is important that we face the facts because the well being of people and the reputation of the church is in question. Families are still leaving congregations , uprooting families, and moving to Moscow to join the Kirk and its associated enterprises. 


Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Bookmarking this page. One thing that came out in one of the screenshots was that Wilson said since he wasn’t ordained, he wasn’t bound to confidentiality. Of course, I don’t think Wilson still uses that particular line anymore.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    I appreciate your efforts to continue exposing those in Moscow for who – and what – they are. I am continually astounded that such accusations, patterns of misconduct, and heterodox (at best) teaching by Wilson and his ilk can be so quickly dismissed or outright ignored simply because he is, “on our side,” in the so-called culture wars.

    Plagiarism? Abusiveness in the church? Hyper-patriarchalism? Slander? A denial of the biblical view of the doctrine by which the church stands or falls? (this is not a comprehensive list) Apparently, none of these matter so long as one’s political commentary and activism are aligned with our own convictions. How so many otherwise reasonable folks can excuse, tolerate, or even associate with Wilson et al. in spite of these demonstrated patterns of behavior and un-orthodox theology is beyond me.

  3. For those who haven’t clicked the link — this is horrifying. It goes well beyond any normal defense of male headship, even in the most conservative Reformed churches I’ve ever known. This article portrays a theological justification of sexual abuse. I have seen criminal cases in my local circuit court that lead to prison sentences for people doing the things that the article says the church supports, or at least tolerates.

    I say that not as an enemy, but as a man who for a long time admired some of what Doug Wilson was doing, at least until the URC and other NAPARC denominations clearly demonstrated that his version of federal vision theology is not just another variant of the longstanding differences between the Dutch Reformed and Westminster confessional traditions on the nature of the covenant, but rather is at a much more serious level. Kuyper and Schilder may have taken more than a few steps down the road where Wilson has gone, but they never ended up where he ended, and a good case can be made that he is walking down a very different road of his own making that long ago branched off from that taken by Schilder and before him by Kuyper.

    Even then, I thought Wilson was doing at least some good in the civil realm and in promoting classical Christian education. After all, if we can make common cause with Roman Catholics in the pro-life movement, why not Wilson, who is far closer to us theologically than most modern evangelicals involved in political activism?

    I’ve always had problems with Wilson from a theological perspective. My views are much more like New England Puritanism than like Wilson, and while Wilson may admire the politics of the Puritan commonwealth, he likely would have been thrown into a New England prison in the early to mid-1600s for his preaching, at least before the Half-Way Covenant views took hold, a movement that prioritized covenant over conversion, and one with which Wilson may have more than a little in common. However, this article shows a view of male headship which, if it is accurately presenting the facts, crossed over a line from problematic theology to justifying criminal conduct.

    I understand all too well the problems of relying on secular media reports of church matters. By definition, non-Christians do not understand the gospel or (as in the case of those raised in Christian homes who never professed faith or who deny the faith once professed) have rejected it. Non-Christians cannot be expected to understand fine points and details and nuances of doctrine, even if they get the “big picture” right, and often they don’t get that right either.

    Also, there’s a big difference between relying on the testimony of a person excommunicated from a church who may have an agenda to attack Christianity, and relying on the testimony of a person who has left a church because of disagreement with doctrine or life issues and is now a member of a Bible-believing evangelical church. The article doesn’t make clear whether Wilson’s critics are attacking Wilson’s activities or attacking conservative Christianity in general, and there is a very big difference between those two.

    What the article does do is that it documents what appears to be a pattern of demanding strict standards of moral purity in dress and premarital conduct for women, while tolerating what can only be called sexual abuse on the part of men, both in marriage and before marriage. Marital rape is rape. A husband using a champagne bottle as an instrument of rape, and who “once pointed a loaded gun” at his wife, needs to be placed under church discipline, not defended by his church and and protected from prosecution by the criminal courts.

    I get it that any church which tries to emphasize biblical standards in morality is going to be attacked in today’s culture, let alone a church which affirms male headship. Some of that may well be at work in the agenda of Vice Magazine.

    Even so, the incidents being cited, if they are true or anywhere close to being true, would be grounds for an inquiry by virtually any conservative presbytery, classis, or association of churches. Wilson, his church, and the other affiliated churches mentioned in the article may be innocent and the accusations may be false. However, I’ve seen fundamental Baptists in my state sanctioned by their associations for far less serious accusations that proved to be true, despite the accusations initially being made by unbelievers with an agenda and the churches being in groups with far less authority over their member churches.

    Vice Magazine may well have a goal of tarring and discrediting conservative Christians.

    That doesn’t mean the behavior cited didn’t happen, and if it did, it needs to be dealt with, either by formal ecclesiastical process, or if that proves impossible, by public warnings and rebukes by other churches and Christian leaders.

    The model of what happened with Mark Driscoll, in which World Magazine had the credibility in conservative Reformed circles to expose the problems, and Driscoll’s own elders in his own church and his own association of churches eventually acted, though belatedly, would seem to apply here. Perhaps that is impossible in this case, but it did work in at least one prominent case with another prominent leader.

    Wilson and the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches leaders may differ from the NAPARC denominations on important matters of doctrine. However, they want to be Reformed and call themselves Reformed and (unlike Driscoll) have a traditional Reformed ecclesiastical structure. Where they do not differ from other conservative Reformed churches is on the importance of personal sexual morality. If anything, Wilson and CREC are stricter, and if these allegations have any basis in fact at all, they need to be evaluated.

    Many Reformed laymen do not understand details of covenantal theology, and there are legitimate disagreements on that matter even among trained theologians. Most conservative Christians, regardless of theology, understand that there are big problems with a church defending a husband who pointed a gun at his wife and engaged in marital rape.

    That’s not male headship. That’s a crime, and it is deserving of punishment by both ecclesiastical and magisterial authority.

  4. No matter how it’s boiled down, the Moscow Kirk is built around a person who is not Christ. Wilson continues to grow in popularity, having made strong links with Jeff Durbin and James White of Apologia Church of Tempe, Arizona, and other Particular Baptists, just as they continue to appeal to men in Presbyterian and Reformed circles. The explosion of migration of families to the Christian Redoubt is surely benefitting Wilson, as well. The internet has been a powerful tool, with CrossPolitic Studio and their “Laugh, Fight, and Feast Club” recently holding a well-attended national conference.

    There are many things attractive in the appeal to those who are sick of post-modern madness and desire a better world for their families. What better than to link arms with like-minded men who happen to be “Reformed-ish?” No need to wait for Christ’s return when you can bring it about with a bit of reconstructionism. I say this because I once found it appealing. Wilson is a powerful writer, oozing testosterone. I was weary of being Lot in Sodom, and saw the Redoubt as better place for my family. I was not grounded sufficiently in doctrine to recognize the false teaching, nor did I know the inside story. Thanks to the NAPARC and the Heidelblog, I’m not there.

  5. So I have noticed that Mark Sumpter (the dad of the associate pastor Toby Sumpter of Christ Church; Toby is Wilson’s right hand man) is a graduate of WSC. Mark’s an OPC pastor. I know Toby used to be an OPC pastor. So presumably Toby went to seminary somewhere. Any idea where he went? I have searched far and wide for that information but have been unable to find it. I have not seen Mark post anything online in response to the article, but neither have the Moscow folks posted much either aside from obscure, generalized things about lies being spread.

  6. Thank you for publishing these resources. My concern involves the LOGOS schools and the curriculum they provide to private schools presenting themselves as ‘Christian’. Are you familiar with the curriculum of LOGOS schools? We have two in southern Oregon.

  7. Dr. Clark, I am surprised that in your list of resources you include the site “Doug Wilson Believes.” The reason being, on the “About” page, the author points his/her readers to people like Peter Enns and Rachel Held Evans for instruction on how to interpret the Bible. Why promote this? Surely there are better (more biblical?) resources critiquing Wilson’s theology? And that not just with snippets (most likely) taken out of context, but full, thoughtful critiques?

    I understand that one of the problems with critiquing Wilson is the sheer volume of his published work over the decades. That notwithstanding, I guess I expect a higher standard. I ask this with genuine appreciation and admiration for your work on the Heidelblog/cast.

    • Jay,

      Create a web page collating his errors and I’ll link to it. Let me know. Thanks.

      I’ve been trying to get people to pay attention to these problems for years. People won’t read summaries. They won’t read ecclesiastical reports (e.g., the RCUS report). I’ve written essays.

      You say “surely…”. Where is it Jay? I’ve not seen it.

      Out of context? Evidence?

      I’ll add a caveat.

Comments are closed.