Wilson’s Warrior Children

This entire article may be a fool’s errand. I mean, it’s easy to watch two men mud-wrestling from afar with the hopes that none of the mud lands me as a spectator. But there are some fights so nasty that the mud is unavoidable. And if you are one to pray for rain, you certainly have to deal with the mud. That’s somewhat how I feel reading the responses to Kevin DeYoung’s article that raised concerns over the “Moscow Mood.” As a whole, I thought DeYoung’s article addressed some very fair concerns about the trajectory of what is clearly a movement that should concern Christians in terms of mission and witness. Yet the responses indicate, as I suspected, that the issues plaguing Christians over the end of Christendom are far beyond that of a mood.

I’m not convinced you can take on Doug Wilson over style. As one friend said, that’s like teeing up your head and Wilson likes to swing with bats. Jared Longshore likes the metaphor since he expressed that DeYoung certainly teed this up for Wilson, but he just didn’t mention the bat. Yet, to engage Wilson over style a losing battle—every time. Many will silently read a piece like DeYoung’s and say, “just another critique of ‘Moscow man bad’ over tone.” There is much more to the issue, of course—things to which DeYoung alluded—but to make any progress in helping people see clearly through the issues, theological substance has to drive the critique.

But the present confusion of Christ and culture is complex, and we American Christians do not like complexity. There is a sense that something must be done to curb the flood of iniquity coming upon us. It’s a tough pill to swallow in accepting that what happens in culture is the will of God, especially as he executes his righteous judgments. But exactly what our calling should be in a moment like ours dominates the minds of Christians in the West. Wilson has taken the reigns and is offering a vision forward that few seem to have. Yes, it’s all about vision. And I agree, other current eschatologies are not resonating with people at the moment in terms of vision. No matter how many different reasons Wilson may present as to why people are flocking to Moscow, what undergirds it all is an eschatology that gives people a sense of doing something to stop the avalanche of our culture. And therein lies the heart of the issue.

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Chris Gordon | “Wilson’s Warrior Children” | Dec 5, 2023


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Posted by Chris Gordon | Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Categorized Christ and Culture, HeidelQuotes, Theonomy | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Gordon

Chris Gordon was ordained to the Ministry of the Word in October 2004. He is a native of Central California, and prior to answering God’s call into the ministry, he was a high school Bible teacher in the central Californian valley. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Seminary California. He previously served the Lynden United Reformed Church from 2004 to July 2012, and is presently Preaching Pastor at the Escondido United Reformed Church and is the radio host and teacher on Abounding Grace Radio.

18 comments

  1. Never wrestle with a pig.

    The pig likes it, and you both get muddy.

    I’m thankful that you and KdY have marked out the pattern of hubris, lack of contrition and bad theology.

    We can and should pray God would grant evangelical repentance.

    Act 7:60  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

    2Ti 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
    2Ti 2:25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
    2Ti 2:26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

  2. I can’t help thinking that all we see and hear from DW is really something like a schtick. A means of gathering an audience by way of a performance. Can he honestly be as aware of all that he says and does with absolute confidence that this is what is right and true for all Christian thinking people or is this something along the lines of a QAnon thing where only he has the means/inside knowledge/manpower to pull this off. It all smells rather gnostic to me.
    Mine is a rather simplistic view, surely nothing compared to KdY or CG. Better left to them to do the heavy lifting.

    • Nick, I think you’re insight is quite valid and possesses more depth than you give yourself credit for. “Performance” is a phenomenon well established in Western culture. What makes it attractive is the instant attention it affords. It is an instant stage from which the expressive self can achieve a meteor-like impression on all who are by means of technology captive audiences.

      Anger in our culture has taken this path. To rage in public is headline-getting. It leads to re-posting, and is further cultivated by all the “Likes” and comments which cascade in its wake. This is why Peter Wood has used the term “angri-culture” to describe our times.

      That this model of discourse is adopted (even if adapted) by Christian “leaders” is ironic beyond description. All glitter, even that seen and celebrated among “Christians”, is made in Babylon. Rage, even if practiced by Christians, is the calling card of the Dragon. And, as C.S. Lewis so memorably put it, to enter heaven, we cannot bring even the smallest souvenir of hell.

  3. You know, I’ve come to see Wilson as more dangerous than any creepy, smarmy televangelist. What he and his clan/kingdom are doing to the young men of faith (and their wives/family, etc) is akin to cultic programming. It’s truly, truly wicked. There is no freedom, no grace, just a Mormonistic sorta shut-in sense of works paranoia. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. Most of these people know none of that. How tragic!

  4. “While we might look at the psalm-singing, the community, the safe space, the building of schools and churches in Moscow as good things (and I do indeed admire much of it)”
    Good article. He gets to the heart of the matter and I know CG is not afraid to expose DW, FV and Moscow. However, I still have one question. I tried to ask him on his site, but could not find a way to so, so I am asking here. What is admirable about these specific things I quote, when they are done by a deceptive man? I have read and listened to a number of articles and podcasts lately that are crtical of DW, but they add the comment that good things are being done there in Moscow. Each author has their own personal opinion about what is good, but it would be nice if the authors would state exactly how it is good.
    I guess I see DW in the same way that Paul saw the false apostles of his day. He says they are decptive servants of Satan and he would like to cut the ground from under them. In the same way that DW has No Quarter November, the ministers of Christ should show him no theological quarter. The problem with Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing is that are in sheep’s clothing. They mix bad theology with good theology and try to deceive the elect. Paul says Satan’s workers masquerade as Angels of Light just as Satan does and that is what DW does.
    Not only has this man been condemned by many Reformed Denominations, which is about as close to a universal condemnation as one could get now, but he deceptively influences many and over time has changed the content and nature of the dialogue within the evangelical community. This is no small thing. Until DW publically, in a straightforward and understandable manner, repents and asks forgiveness for his bad theology and transgressions, he should be avoided as any other false teacher, such as those found in the Mormons, Jehovah Witness, etc. And teachers should warn the flock in the same manner as they would warn them about the above mentioned cults.
    So, in view of the above, I am asking the question for CG, or anyone, to help me understand in what way there are good things coming out of Moscow.
    I realize my language is blunt, but it does not mean I am not open to being enlightened.
    Again, I want to emphasize, this is a good article and I am thankful that CG has written it. I am sure that he understands better than I do how bad DW is and has probably witnessed the demise of many through DW and FV teachings. I commend him for being courageous to expose DW and am confident he will continue to do so.

    • I didn’t interpret his “admiration” of those specifics as if he was judging them as ultimately good. He doesn’t appear to give Wilson’s theology any quarter. He only admits Wilson has built something which some looking in from outside without context may view favorably. A blanket criticism of everything Wilson does could imply resentment and a lack of good faith, potentially causing the people he is attempting to reach to dismiss the valid points which are more important. In context, I don’t think saying something is admirable automatically deems it as ultimately “good.” I may say I admire the work of the Catholic church in building hospitals or orphanages. This doesn’t mean these works are acceptable before God, but recognizes their zeal and efforts which exceed my own. Each of the things Gordon listed as admirable would be considered good in a gospel centered context and we can respect that Wilson has built something, even if we ultimately find the consequences of what he has built are negative and leading people astray from the gospel. I took that to be the ultimate point of the article.

  5. I group Revoice, LDR, and DW as social justic warriors, making these similar mistakes in emphasis:

    over-realized rather than cruciform
    already rather than not yet
    public rather than private
    us rather than Holy Spirit
    we will rather than Jesus did
    humor rather than piety
    performing for people rather than for God
    activism rather than worship
    external rather than internal
    professional rather than prophetic
    political rather than religious
    I could go on…

    I sympathize with these emphasis points and it’s very hard to speak against them well when they are mostly just points of emphasis.

    I think the best way to track them is to see them taught from multiple Scripture texts but I’m not familiar with the preaching of DW or Sumpter. Racial readings of the ministry of Christ will teach the prophetic “all nations” as an ethnic component that we can reproduce and ourselves prophetically embody. Especially rebounding from the Revoice/LDR social justice stuff, DW can be a good counter attraction, almost a remedy. Almost! But if Sumpter is going to teach the reclamation of “Christian lands” while holding a job as pastor, I suspect that will show up in the Genesis promises, in how he applies exodus, the OT wars, missions in the NT, all the way through to the streets of gold and New Jerusalem. This would be the same exegetical mistake. But I need to be charitable — I’m only guessing!

    If only some charitable professor could assign a few grad students to chart the actual teaching deviations!

    One more way to see the emphasis shift:
    Spokeperson rather than Pastor

  6. Joe, I am not a professor, in the academic sense, and I struggle with charity toward false prophets and “another gospel,” but I agree with Mary that what comes out of Moscow is wicked. It is wicked, I believe, because it is not the Gospel, so it offers bread but gives stones, offers freedom but gives burdens, offers grace but gives acrimony. I cannot call the DW/Moscow worldview good, even as a counter attraction, and I cannot swallow the whole, because some points are wholesome. All that might be called “good, but . . .” is tainted by the fundamental abandonment of the only good and eternal Gospel. Whatever is, in fact, good in the mouth of DW has been purloined, in my opinion, from what is truly good, true, and beautiful.

  7. Thanks Lola.

    I probably wasn’t as precise with my language as I should have been. When I said “good counter attraction” I meant “potent counter attraction.”

    Let me try to illustrate what I’m thinking: In a prosperity Gospel setting, the literal promises (land and offspring, milk and honey, wealth and abundant life, etc) that were re-real-ized/fulfilled in Christ are applied literally to us. i.e. God wants you to be rich! All you have to do is … attend church, work hard with your hands, pray unceasingly, use the gifts you have to prosper your city, etc etc

    Those actions (work hard, pray, seek the prosperity of your city) are all excellent teachings of the law of God (even though they don’t save us)

    If I’m coming from a difficult antinomian place, perhaps taught the Gospel but NOT the law, (too much NOT YET and not enough ALREADY) then this radical change will appear for a while as excellent truth. It will seem a potent remedy to having no law at all.

    My interest in this piece of the puzzle is exploring the overlap between social justice warriors on the left (Sex & Race) and those on the right (Christian business/land/government etc).

    Setting those good teachings of the law (work hard, pray, seek the prosperity of your city) into the prophetic context of the promises that are yes and amen in Christ changes them and their meaning. It blurs what the angels stooped to see with what WE ourselves are doing.

    My pastor has the authority to exhort me to work hard so that I can care for my family. But he has no authority to teach that I am promised physical wealth or literal land based on prophetic promises or divine intervention.

    I undersand that DW as a celebrity spokesman has said any number of astonishing things. My idea of charity was not to defend him per se but because I had not charted his preaching. Based on the St Louis exegesis on race and sex I think the Moscow preaching is making the same errors in a different direction… But I’m speculating!

  8. Lola & Angela,
    My description of wrong “emphasis” may seem a bit weak compared to bold cries of “false prophet.” I’m trying to help give language to what we’re seeing based on a movement model:

    Bryan Chappell: The Charismatic movement was concerned that the Church was not rightly applying the New Testament gifts of the Spirit; the Theonomy movement was concerned that the Church was not rightly applying the Old Testament law; the New Perspective is concerned that the Church has not rightly applied the corporate nature of the covenant. All of these movements have had some legitimate concerns, but all err in subtly moving the emphasis of the Gospel from a Christ-centered provision of grace to proper expressions of human performance.
    The advocates of the Charismatic and Theonomic movements were also intelligent, zealous in conviction, concerned that the rest of the Church was not Biblical enough, claimed that their positions were historic, and RARELY STATED A POSITION THAT WAS UNORTHODOX. But, over the course of time (and through the sad experiences of numerous churches), those movements were shown by their fruit to be divisive, and they largely faded from view.

    • That is an excellent point, these movements “all err in moving the emphasis of the Gospel from a Christ-centred provision of grace to proper expressions of human performance.” That is exactly the problem! They have replaced the Gospel with the law. They have committed the same error that Paul condemns in Galatians.

    • Perhaps I’m not understanding Bryan Chappell, but how could he possibly say that the charismatic movement has “largely faded from view?” If anything, it’s growing and winning, and that’s not a good thing.

      The growth of the officially Pentecostal and charismatic bodies is obvious, but that’s not my point. When people go to an Assemblies of God church, they expect certain things and that’s legitimate. They’re open about what they believe, and if people want that, they know where to find it.

      The problem is that even in circles far removed from actual tonguespeaking, an entertainment-focused attitude toward worship (what I call “happy-clappy”) has been present now for so long that it’s not even a generational issue between “traditional” worship for older people and “contemporary” worship for younger people. There are people in “normal” non-charismatic denominations whose parents and even grandparents have thought for decades that a charismatic “spirit-filled” approach toward worship is the normal and expected position that all evangelicals should have, and anything else is “dead,” “dry,” or “dull” worship that doesn’t glorify God.

      I wish I could say that the problems were limited to exuberant worship with guitars and overhead projectors. (Not necessarily bad in all contexts, and I’ve used all three of them myself though I would not do that today because they imply things that Reformed people shouldn’t want to get anywhere close to implying.) The charismatic approach toward private revelation and “seeking the still small voice of God” (usually not God at all, and possibly a demon) has become normalized all over the evangelical church. To criticize such practices often raises eyebrows and causes the critics to be asked questions on whether they affirm the validity of supernatural religion, since most critics of those practices today are liberals in the dying denominations of mainline Protestantism.

      I certainly concur with Chappell that the charismatic movement, when it moves into non-charismatic denominations, has been very divisive. The “worship wars” of an earlier generation make that clear. But the lack of “worship wars” today in many churches, far from meaning the charismatic movement has receded into the background, means it has won by “winning hearts and minds” to a view of worship and how we find God’s will for our life which simply is not compatible with sola scriptura, total depravity, or the sovereignty of God.

      Chappell’s quote: “The advocates of the Charismatic and Theonomic movements were also intelligent, zealous in conviction, concerned that the rest of the Church was not Biblical enough, claimed that their positions were historic, and RARELY STATED A POSITION THAT WAS UNORTHODOX. But, over the course of time (and through the sad experiences of numerous churches), those movements were shown by their fruit to be divisive, and they largely faded from view.”

    • Darrell,
      I was interested in this quote and found the source. http://www.onthewing.org/user/Chapell_NewPerspective.pdf

      The context is a 2005 letter regarding how these issues concern the PCA. I don’t know the history, but is it possible he was referring to all these “movements” only as they concerned their proponents within the PCA? If so, your last paragraph, regarding whether the charismatic movement actually faded or whether it won, is particularly relevant.

  9. Error’s in Wilson’s theology, primarily over his continued association with aspects of Federal Vision theology, are indeed worth noting, primarily because those positions taken to their logical ends (which he does not) are merely another backdoor to Catholicism. However, you are right to note that KDY’s article did amount to little more than whining about tone, in the same way that Ahab accused Elijah of bringing trouble to Israel. Wilson is vindicated here in his stance that the modern church is far more concerned by the pointing out of uncomfortable truths than it is concerned about the truths themselves.
    The current evangelical strategy of tone policing, whinging rebukes, and striking out against anything that rocks the boat is why the Church is losing men. The theologians that believe the only way to act is to be the genteel statesmen, who never says anything against modern culture without first watering it down to such a degree it makes no impact, are the problem, not Wilson’s tone in this regard. If the PCA wants to have an orthodox future, wants to encourage its best and brightest men instead of driving them into the arms of Wilson, then it needs to abandon these petty snipes. Make room in their ranks for fighters, not just thinkers. Stop disparaging the rough-and-tumble men who don’t care about playing nice with foolishness. The proper answer to Doug Wilson, which I feel few in the PCA recognize, is to make better Doug Wilsons of their own- men with all his wit, grit, and tenacity, and none of his FV baggage. Men who want to do more than blow a trumpet that only sounds retreat.

    • Petty snipes? KDY’s argument was far from a petty snipe. It’s a legitimate concern and it was well argued on his end. It is not “whining” to point out the Wilson loves to engage in mocking, logical fallacies and/or filthy language. Often being used against other Christians who dare to oppose him.

      On another note, Wilson himself affirms the entirety of the joint Federal Vision statement, not merely “aspects”. He has NEVER disavowed it. Not to mention he also seems to flirt or endorse ESS too.

      We don’t need any more Doug Wilson clones. The man is a reprehensible individual who spreads a false gospel combined with a litany of abuse cases against women and children and other horrendous behavior. Not to mention his army of cultish supporters are some of the vilest ever to be encountered when attempting to engage in debate on the Internet.

      Men leaving the church? Even if we assume this is true, one asks if it’s because they seek to have their ears tickled with what THEY want to be true. Considering so many men in this culture, even in the church, have been brainwashed by the “manosphere, red-pill culture”, one wonders if it’s the problem of these men in question rather than the church. The only reason the cult of Doug grows is due to culture war idolatry, not solid theology.

      It would be wise to do more research on this man…
      https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/not-another-dw-thread.112514/

    • Wilson is excessive and many cases problematic theologically (not including his post-millenial eschatology) you are correct in your observation that when challenged substance is obscured by criticism of delivery. There is an abundance of “what would Jesus do” in these debates but ignoring offense and addressing the meat I think would be more in order. Also, including legitimate views, like post-millenialism, is just not smart thinking. I really like KDY and Chris and share their concern over Moscow.

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