If I had [a dream like Paul's Macedonian vision] today, I wouldn't know. I would have to think and pray about it. I would be no more bound to go than I would be bound to go if the Macedonian call had been a phone call (or an email) asking me to come.—good stuff from Doug Wilson
"My musings on this remind me of the guy who decided to make peace at Gettysburg by walking between the armies wearing a blue coat and gray trousers. And that worked so well . . ."
—more from Doug
ead THIS, then come back.
Let me say to begin with that it's neither the tailored Confederate pants nor the ill-fitting Yankee shirt that makes me want to shoot Doug Wilson. It's those ridiculous tap-dancing shoes.
It takes a very talented two-step artist to hopscotch around the many overturned cans of writhing worms Mark Driscoll's prophetic claims and recent jeremiad against cessationism have left strewn around the dance-floor. Doug attempts some impressively fast footwork, but without the necessary finesse. He comes off looking suspiciously like he's just doing the Curly Shuffle.
OK, Doug did have several good things to say, including the quote I've put at the top of this post. When he's right, he's capable of breathtaking clarity and remarkable gems of pithy wisdom. When he wants to obfuscate, he does that with supreme skill, too.
The latter is what I think he was doing throughout most of the post I've quoted above.
Remember: Mark Driscoll claims God has put a TV in his head which regularly plays explicit videos of sexual crimes and acts of fornication. Those claims (and Driscoll's other recent attacks on cessationists) have caused (or widened) a rift between Mark and certain stodgy, outspoken cessationists.
Doug Wilson acknowledges that Driscoll's assertions and allegations are, well, bizarre. But from Doug's perspective, it seems, the disagreement itself is an even more troubling and more pressing problem. Doug says there's wrong—serious wrong (perhaps even equal wrong?)—on both sides.
But Doug believes the whole conflict might be cleared up with a parley: "I would like to see us work out the protocols for how to talk about such things," he writes. "[And I] think it would be good if Phil and Mark could get together to work it through."
Doug recommends (and evidently concurs with) a post by Toby Sumpter, who likewise acknowledges that Driscoll's claims are "weird and goofy." But, says Toby, "I don't believe [Driscoll's misdeeds] rise nearly to the level of sin or scandal that [Phil] Johnson suggests."
Really? If it's not grossly sinful, certainly scandalous, and probably blasphemous to recount to one's congregation the play-by-play details of an adulterous couple's secret tryst (up to and including the coital position) and then claim one knows those details because God Himself revealed them through a prophetic peep show—then I wonder what kind of claim one would have to make to rise to the requisite level of opprobrium.
Even among the more skeevy televangelists, the only one I know of who has claimed to receive a "revelation" as obscene as what Driscoll described is Kenneth Hagin. Anyone who thinks Driscoll's claims are a misdemeanor indiscretion isn't thinking clearly. No one in Reformed circles would think it a minor matter if, say, Dave Hunt or Hank Hanegraaff claimed that kind of kinky supernatural insight into other people's private sins.
And setting aside that issue (plus the inappropriateness and tastelessness of how Driscoll publicly recounted his visions), let's not forget that Driscoll rather emphatically encouraged people in his church who have similarly suggestive imaginations to experiment with this kind of mystical "revelation" when they counsel and disciple others. That, as I said Monday, puts his people directly in harm's way spiritually. And it's not just the stub-your-toe-and-it-hurts kind of danger; this actually encourages weak and undiscerning people to flirt with eternal peril.
It also sets up a manipulative form of counseling that fosters spiritual abuse.
And so on.
Again, it's pretty hard for me to imagine what kind of pastoral malfeasance would rise to a high level of scandal and wickedness if stuff like that does not.
Anyway, what annoyed me even more about Doug Wilson's argument was the suggestion that cessationists must share the blame for teaching such as Driscoll's because we haven't "debated this one deeply enough." We haven't yet hammered out suitable "protocols" for explaining and dealing with "remarkable guidances, provisions, answers to prayer, striking bits of random knowledge, etc."
See, I think Doug knows better than that. He can probably cite from memory more Puritan and Reformed works than most pastors have read in their whole lives. I'm certain he knows about the doctrine of divine providence. And if so, he surely knows full well that the historic Reformed understanding of that doctrine is robust enough to account for any and every authentic incident of divine guidance, provision, answer to prayer, striking bit of random knowledge, and extraordinary providence that has ever occurred.
I've blogged on that issue many times before, so I won't rehash it today. I'll just say I'm disappointed in Doug for implying that cessationists aren't able to account for (or are unwilling to acknowledge) extraordinary providences, and that this has been some kind of long-standing deficiency or overlooked area in Reformed theology. That simply is not true.
Moreover, it doesn't take a Calvinistic Doctor of Divinity to understand that it is quite possible within the standard categories of historic Reformed cessationist teaching to avoid deism and do full justice to the immanence of God without claiming that God is still giving fresh revelation daily. It is most certainly not "worldly" to deny that the apostolic signs are still fully operative today (especially given the scaled-back, terribly fallible way these "gifts" supposedly operate in the modern charismatic movement). In other words, Driscoll's "Cessationism is Worldly" speech cannot be easily or blithely dismissed as excusable misunderstanding—and surely Doug Wilson recognizes that.
What precipitated Doug's post yesterday is that in a few weeks Driscoll will be one of the speakers at a conference sponsored by Wilson's church. Toby Sumpter writes, "Hopefully through this conference in particular a few bridges can be built between Seattle and Moscow, between Driscoll and Wilson, between us Presbyterians and the more groovy parts of the body of Christ. Hopefully we can learn from Driscoll, and hopefully, like good friends, we might have something to offer him."
Hopefully, that's diplomatic language suggesting that Wilson and other CREC leaders plan to raise these issues in face-to-face talks with Driscoll and (hopefully) they will try more earnestly to change his mind on the cessationism question—or at the very least persuade him to repent of these luridly sensational, highly doubtful, and spiritually dangerous claims.
(Perhaps while they're at it they can get him to lay off impugning cessationists as deists and crypto-atheists.)
But I think Doug Wilson and his fellow CREC leaders also have an even more important duty. And I want to close by encouraging them to fulfill that duty:
Doug, please give some kind of clear, unequivocal denunciation, warning, and disclaimer about this nonsense, for the sake of your own flock and the wider body of your disciples—especially the young lambs among them. Some of them will very likely think Driscoll's presence at The Grace Agenda Conference signifies the CREC's and Doug Wilson's imprimatur on the corpus of Driscoll's teaching—including not only the "weird and goofy" stuff, but also the ungodly, dangerous, and patently unbiblical notion that sometimes "eyes full of adultery" (2 Peter 2:14) might actually be a kind of special spiritual gift.
The thought sends a shudder through my soul.