13 August 2010

My conversation with Douglas Wilson

I know, I really should get back to the Book of Mormon and the Quran. But I've found something that's even more fun to do. I'm discussing the Bible with Doug Wilson.

Doug has a blog called Blog and Mablog, and you can find it here. It, of course, is visited mostly by his followers, but anyone can register and comment. And so far at least, all of my comments have been posted.

As you may know, Douglas Wilson has recently become (even more) famous by touring the country with Christopher Hitchens. They even made a movie about it called "Collision" (which I don't recommend, by the way). I've mentioned their online debates and movie before, and I've discussed Doug Wilson's views several times.

OK. So what, you say. Why am I so interested in Doug Wilson's views?

Well, Doug Wilson and I live in the same town (Moscow, Idaho), and people from all over the country (and even the world) move here to the Palouse to join his church. He has a college downtown (New Saint Andrews College) a K-12 school (Logos), a church (Christ Church), several Christ Church businesses, and maybe (I'm guessing here) a thousand or so of Doug's followers in a town of 22,000 or so.

Christ Church is a large enough group to affect our local politics and public school system. But it's not Doug Wilson's followers that bother me: it's Doug Wilson's beliefs.

Doug used to talk openly and often about his beliefs, but ever since news about his pro-slavery book came out, he's stopped doing that. So I honestly don't know what he believes anymore.

So I went to his blog to find out. And I found something that surprised me: an old post from 2005 that was directed at me. So of course, I had to answer that. Here's the post and my reply.

I didn't get a response from that, so I thought I'd try again. In another post, Doug mentioned Philistine foreskins and there's no way I could resist that. (No response on that one either.)

And yesterday, when he began to talk about sodomites, lesbians, and virtual perverts, I just could help but jump in. I got one response from Doug in the form of a parable, along with a dozen or so from his followers. But so far there's been no answer to any of my questions to Doug.

Anyway that's my excuse for not blogging the Quran.


Jim Thompson said...

Lots and lots of good interviews.

Also he does interview theist philosophers.

twillight said...

Don't worry toom uch about not telling us streight the scriptures.
Half of the fun certainly comes from looking at the followers :)

Drew said...

I admire your courage (stupidity?) for posting on his blog as many times as you did without receiving coherent, relevant responses. I'm sure a lot of Christians read them and just became really confused - perhaps they are waiting to be consoled by their pastor before replying?

Edwin Dai said...

Douglas Wilson believes that God's laws remains unchanged but the administrative issues surrounding the law have. What do you have to say about such an explanation Steve?

Steve Wells said...

Could you elaborate a bit about that Edwin? What "administrative issues" have changed?

And how do you know what Douglas Wilson believes?

Unknown said...

"Dwindling In Unbelief" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors here.


Unknown said...

It is folks like Douglas Wilson that are the great hope of humanists, rationalists and everybody not needing a fairy tale to get through the day. His literal interpretations expose the bible for what it really is, not for the cherry-picked fluff most christians think it is..

Edwin Dai said...

Sorry Steve. Let me be clearer. I do not know what Douglas believes in. However, from my reading, it appears that what he is saying is that the law remains unchanged (e.g. it is still wrong to curse your parents), but the administrative issues have (i.e. we don't stone errant teenagers anymore).

What do you have to say about such an "explanation" concerning the Bible's more difficult verses?

Steve Wells said...

I'm not sure what he means by that (that God's laws remains unchanged but the administrative issues surrounding the law have), Edwin. That's why I'm asking questions at his blog.

I guess he means that we shouldn't burn or stone people to death anymore as God commands in the Bible. We should kill them using more modern methods.

But I'll keep asking as long as he allows me to comment at his blog and I'll let you know here if I get any answers.

Darren Delgado said...

Edwin Dai said...
Sorry Steve. Let me be clearer. I do not know what Douglas believes in. However, from my reading, it appears that what he is saying is that the law remains unchanged (e.g. it is still wrong to curse your parents), but the administrative issues have (i.e. we don't stone errant teenagers anymore).

I'm uncomfortable with anyone believing in a God who ever thought that was a good idea.

Even if they claim he stopped thinking it was a good idea to stone people for minor moral infractions 2,000 years ago, he still thought it was a good idea before that, and that's disturbing.

Xaratherus said...

Talk about walking into the lion's den.

As I said in my comments regarding your other recent Wilson post, at least you are fairly certain of where you stand with him - although given that he's kept mum about his 'pro-slavery' viewpoints, perhaps he's realized that such moronic bigotry doesn't put a lot of butts in his pews (and money in his collection plates).

Xaratherus said...

I'd like to cross-post in response to something I just read in the comments on Wilson's blog about "metrosexuals, sodomites, catamites, lesbians, virtual perverts, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals":

Doug Sowers said:
"You still don't understand. We are talking about a society that is righteous!"

I understand him perfectly. What he fails to understand is the concept that this idea - of a government who stones to death (or burns to death) any of the above individuals, in the name of a god who is supposedly "love" - is, in no way, just or loving.

I would post my answer there, but frankly, as a gay man myself, I would prefer not to provide any sort of connection to myself on such a blatantly hateful site.

Markus said...

I find the notion that God's policies are intact, but that "administrative issues" have changed to be quite interesting. Reminds me of every day work situations when that certain group of employees claim "we've been doing things this way for so long because that's the way it was and we liked it!" or "because we never got the memo!"

So now I'm trying to imagine how the "administration" of Deuteronomy 22:20-21 might have changed. Not a nice verse at all really. But God is without error and always gives precise instructions. Yet there's no recorded memo regarding a permitted change in God policy interpretation and implementation. Maybe God did send a memorandum? But where is it? Does Doug Wilson have a copy to share? I mean, what if all our daughters really needed wasn't a calcified projectile upside the head, but simply a "good talking to"? Yet Christians have stopped asking and searching for more information on these questions. Ambiguity and bronze age antiquity are great hiding places. They will cling to the original operations and policy manual no matter how outdated and wrong the instructions were, and no matter how dramatically the organization and world around them may have grown and changed.

Of course we know that there isn't a lost, canon memo pertaining to a change in the execution, interpretation and administration" of God's laws. Deuteronomy 22:20-21 means exactly what it says it does. She's either a virgin or rocks must fly.

Throwing around the idea of changes to "administration issues" simply complicates matters to try and explain what's going on. It only creates more questions than it tries to answer.

Xaratherus said...

@Markus: "Throwing around the idea of changes to "administration issues" simply complicates matters to try and explain what's going on."

I don't know that I'd consider it to complicate matters.

It's pretty clear to me why they claim these changes: Because an attempt to hold to Bronze/Iron Age concepts of crime and punishment would lose them followers.

As (some) people become more educated, they are more likely to notice contradictions, and respond to preachers/pastors/ministers with comments like, "Wait, but if your deity is love, then how can it condone stoning someone to death for not being a virgin on their wedding day? Is that really that bad?"

So they alter the doctrine, or gloss over parts of it, in order to keep butts in the pews and coins in the collection plate.

D.O.K said...

@Xaratherus & Markus

Wow - do you people even READ the bible before posting. You want to see the memo from God advising Christians to no longer follow the old law? Here - i can give you EXACT reference to such memo!!!!!!

God had planned the change in law from the very beggining - He spoke about this in Jeremiah 31. He didn't "change His mind" - He had always planned it to be this way - From the start of Creation, He had always planned to send His Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins. (1Peter 1 : 19 - 20, 2 Tim : 1:9)

The convenant changed because the law - though defining what sin was, gave no freedom from sin. The law bound men to sin - there was no way to be releved from it. (Rom 7:7-13) (Gal 5:1-4)

Matthew 5:17 tells that Jesus came to FULFILL the law - Living it perfectly and then bringing it to COMPLETION (Romans 10:4).

Paul tells us in Collossians 2:14 that the old law was NAILED TO THE CROSS (it DIED when Jesus died on the cross) - Ephesians 2:15 says that Jesus aboloshied the law in His flesh!

Hebrew 10:9 talks about God taking away the first law to establish the second - we must become dead to the old law so as to be joined the new one (Romans 7:4-6). We cannot follow both laws - the first one must die for the second to be fulfilled. (Romans 7:1-4).

We cannot keep only part of the law - The word says if we choose to keep some of it we must uphold it in its entirety (Galatians 5:3), but that if we try to do this then we are not living in Christ (Galatians 5:4)

Galatians 3:24 - 25 says that the old law was our tutor to bring us to Christ we are to learn from it, and let it teach us but once Christ came it no longer had dominion over us. We can still learn from its examples but when we are determining what God would have us do today, we must turn to the current law - The examples of Jesus Christ.

I am not hypocritical or too weak to follow the old law - The church i attend DOES NOT "gloss over" parts of the bible that don't suit just to keep people in the pews (we also don't have pews, or collection plates. We have comfy chairs and bags for "offerings"). We SIMPLY follow the word of God! We are Righteous. We are Free!

Hebrews 7:18-19 (New King James Version)
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope (Jesus Christ), through which we draw near to God.

Xaratherus said...

"Wow - do you people even READ the bible before posting"

Yes, actually - I've read the Bible cover to cover several times.

Matthew 5:17-18: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Fulfill has several definitions. One of them happens to be "to satisfy, or complete expectations".

Given the context of the passage, and the inclusion of the very specific wording that Christ did not come to abolish (a term with only definition "to do away with wholly") the law, it seems a very poor interpretation to me to claim that "fulfill [the law]" could somehow mean "complete the law so that it is done away with wholly".

When coupled with the fact that Christ supposedly continued to say that the law would not be altered in any way - even by a single letter - until "everything is accomplished", I find it less than accurate to somehow claim that these passages do away with the laws of the Old Testament.

Now, what does make sense, given the language and the context, is the use of 'fulfill' in its alternate meaning: "To put into effect or carry out". If Christ's passage is interpreted as, "I come not to do wholly away with the laws, but to put them into effect," then the phrase fits both the context and the vocabulary chosen.

By the way, the arguing of semantics regarding the fact that you don't use pews or collection plates at your church makes me laugh. Pews or chairs, baskets or bags - it doesn't make a difference.

So far you've failed to provide me any convincing reason to think that your church (like thousands of others) isn't interpreting the Bible in such a way as to make it palatable to a non-Iron Age, (mostly) literate, and better-educated society so as to keep the congregation numbers up and to keep the alms dropping into the "collection bags".

Steve Wells said...

DOK, I understand that your church doesn't think the Old Testament laws should be applied today. But Douglas Wilson disagrees with you on that. (He's a reconstructionist, though he doesn't call himself that.) He reads the same Bible as you do and thinks that he is just as righteous as you think you are.

Before commenting further about Doug Wilson (that is what this thread is about, you know), I suggest you read these short statements about his beliefs.
Why are we writing about this
Knowing where to draw the line
Your eye shall not pit.

D.O.K said...

@Steve - i do apologise (sincerely) for going OT on your thread and having my say about the law - it was more in reply to the conversation between Xaratherus and Markus about why christians "gloss over" the old law.

I read some parts of the links you posted of things written and said by Douglas Wilson. To tell you the absolute truth, i don't know who this guy is, and i have never heard of him before now (I guess I'm kind of thankful that his teachings haven't made it as far as Australia). Do i agree with the things he says? Quite simply - No! I believe Jesus established a new life, a new example for us to live by and i don't believe that all of what Mr Wilson preaches lines up with what Jesus taught. But then if you were to ask Douglas Wilson about my beliefs i'm sure he would have a few things to say about what i believe too.

In the end though, and i have said this before, like Rev. Fred Phelps, this guys is preaching intolerence, hate and division and no matter how hard i try, i don't ever remember being taught, or having read anywhere in the Word where Jesus taught or lived any of these things.

Look, i totally understand that every Catholic, Protestant, Apostolic, Penticostal, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist etc etc etc has a different interpretation on what the word says.

I get that my understanding of the word is just another to throw into the mix, and i can't prove to you that what i believe is the "right" understanding (not that i think you would be open to anything i said anyway becuase i am a Christian and you don't seem to like us in general :), so i can't sit here and go over and over how the Word is in interpreted within me. That is how i read it when i read it - i don't spend ages twisting and contorting it til it means what i want it to mean, and a lot of that stuff i haven't even been taught through the church (as it tends to be a "given" in our beliefs rather then something that has to be taught) its just when i open the bible to read, this is the understanding that is shaped in me from those words.

I do *believe* that when Jesus said "until everything is accomplished" He meant the cross. Therefore everything was accomplished by the cross and the law was fulfilled to completion then. I believe The new law began after Jesus died that it starts from Acts when the Holy Spirit descended onto earth.

Also - the 'comfy chairs and "offering" bags' comment was intended as a joke as like you said - it *doesn't* make a difference :) Just that even the thought of sitting in pews for over an hour makes my back ache.

D.O.K said...

@Xaratherus : Sorry one more thing i forgot to address.

"Abolish the law" - The law hasn't disappeared - it is still there, it is just that someone else fulfilled it perfectly for us as human's could not (honestly - you've read it - its IMPOSSIBLE to live), therefore it is aboloshed FOR US and we are NOT required to fulfill it OURSELVES.

Trying to live to it is like ignoring what Jesus did for us. So instead we try to be Christ-like (not CHRIST but Christ-like) and follow HIS example.

If we fall short of that example we are not required ot make sacrifices etc as the sacrifice has already been made. We simply repent (turn away from what we were doing) and continue on.

In saying all that, some of the old law - like lying, murdering, stealing, judging etc were all taught by Jesus too - so there are still things in the old law that we live to but not becuase it is in the old law, but because it is part of the new.

Xaratherus said...

I hate to continue harping, but:

D.O.K. said: "therefore it is aboloshed FOR US and we are NOT required to fulfill it OURSELVES."

Matthew 5:17 said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

Misspelling aside, your interpretation seems to prove my comment on an earlier blog. You say it yourself: There is no possible way that anyone (especially in the modern day) could live by the laws put forth in Leviticus and the rest of the Old Testament.

And so you interpret "fulfilled" to mean you don't have to follow them, because they were abolished for you - when the passage very clearly says otherwise.

I repeat: You claim that the New Testament removes the necessity that you follow the Old Testament laws, when in fact it very specifically says that Christ had no intention of abolishing the law - not even "the smallest letter".

We could go back and forth on this, but it's really pretty pointless to continue doing so, I think.

Xaratherus said...

Missed that part:

As for disliking Christians? Not int he least. Don't mistake debate for hate. My mother is a Christian; my sister is Catholic; one of my good friends is Muslim. We may disagree, but that doesn't mean I consider them unintelligent.

I guess what I'm pointing out is that, to a non-believer, the plethora of interpretations (coupled with personal interpretations like yours) are one of the reasons we can't lend any real credence to religion. We ask ourselves, "How can you build any sort of life philosophy on a book that is interpreted differently by every person who reads it?"

Markus said...

If Jesus "fulfilled the law", did he fulfill part of it or all of it? The "not one tittle" part reads to me like he fulfilled it all with no exceptions. So there you have it. It is all fulfilled. So no more animal sacrifices required because Jesus was the "final sacrifice". But does this mean no more stonings of non-virgins on their father's doorstep on their wedding night? Or do we keep doing that one? What about mouthy teenagers? Can we keep killing them? Hmmm, let's see what Yahweh's memo has to say about those rul.....um, a little help here?

It's a good thing I know where some rocks are - you know, in case I ever need them.

D.O.K said...

Markus - i know some pretty terrible teenagers, sometimes i think there should be harsher punishment or that parents should have ANY RIGHTS AT ALL to discipline their kids (ALAS, it would seem they do not... in fact it seems THE KIDS have all the rights - and they know it!)

But Galatians 5 says that if someone is going to try and uphold part of the law then ALL of the law must be upheld, but in doing so they are alienating themselves from Christ. Jesus fulfilled the ENTIRE law because he lived COMPLETELY without sin.

I don't believe Christians need to make sacrifices for their sin, and i don't believe they need to punish others for sin - as there is no law for us to uphold, just a right way of living.

Something else i find interesting is how Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. 'Fasting' is seen as a way by christians to get closer to God, eliminating other distractions so we can focus truly on God, but why would Jesus need to do that since He was completely in peace, at one with God?

I think He did it to remove that veil for us. So that we would not have to fast or strive to be close to God, that there wasn't a requirement for that sort of thing anymore, we could be in peace with God too, without climbing a ladder or fasting or striving or trying to be a "perfect christian" (of which there is no such thing) to get there.

I think Jesus fulfilled more on the cross then what people know.