Life is right at the center of God’s purposes for this dead world of ours. But the way into this new world He is fashioning is quite similar to the way we got into the old world — we have to be born into it. A new world, a new creation, requires, of necessity, a new birth. – Doug Wilson, An Evangelical Center, Blog and Mablog, 9/27/2012
How’s this for an odd chain of thoughts. Carl Trueman asked why The Gospel Coalition takes a stance on complementarianism. I commented on that. Doug Wilson commented not so much on Carl’s question but on an illustration Carl used to make his point. Now I’m about to comment on a throwaway statement Doug made in his post. Confused? Don’t worry about it, here’s what Doug said,
I preached from a psalm of David this morning (68), called it the word of God, but freely acknowledge that it was penned by a man who couldn’t be an elder in our church, adultery and murder being the initial reasons that might be given. How’s that for weird? Life is funny that way.
Doug said that King David, the man after God’s own heart “couldn’t be an elder in our church” primarily because he slept with Bathsheba and killed Uriah to cover that up. He did do that and Doug hints that there might be other reasons.
So why is this worth commenting on? To get to the reason and then on to my point, I need to do some Venn VU meters, if such a thing existed. Here goes.
Doug and Carl and I are all of the Protestant, Reformed tradition. That does not mean we agree on every point of doctrine. I’m baptistic whereas Doug and Carl are Presbyterian. Where we agree is on some principles of the unity of scripture and redemptive history. Where I differ from them is that I don’t believe that circumcision is replaced by baptism and so I don’t think that the children of believers should be baptized. Carl and Doug differ in how far they go with that. Doug believes that since baptized babies are part of the New Covenant they should be given communion. And there are people who are even farther and say that “covenant children” are regenerate and saved but may grow to reject those gifts of the covenant and become apostate.
The reason all this can be represented by Venn VU meters instead of a 0 to 10 scale is because there are boundaries between these different clumps of theology but within each there are varying degrees. If we were to put them on a 0 to 10 scale, the scale would be the degree of continuity between the old covenant and the new covenant. None of us would be zero but you get the idea. If I’m a 5 and the last group I mentioned are 10, then Carl would be a 7 and Doug would be an 8.
Before I proceed, I hope I’m being fair here. I don’t want to misrepresent anyone and I don’t mean to be insulting to Carl or Doug, I’m simply trying to paint a picture of where the various folks are. If anyone is offended by this illustration or thinks it is unfair, I totally apologize.
All of that to say that Doug believes in a good degree of continuity between the old and new covenants. And that’s where I have a problem with him saying that David could not be an elder in his church, especially for the reasons he cited. What I’m going to try to do now is explain my problem with his statement from within his perspective. Wish me luck.
Israel’s kings and priests are referred to as Israel’s shepherds, see Jeremiah 2:8 and Ezekiel 34:23 for example. David was a shepherd when he was called to be the king and as a king he was to be a shepherd of Israel. Same thing with Moses. Of course the fulfillment of David and Moses was Jesus and elders are not kings and prophets the way they were. However, they are charged to shepherd the flock of God under the authority of the Great Shepherd Jesus (1 Pet 5:1-4) so in that way, elders are shepherds.
So in the old covenant, David was qualified to be an elder/shepherd and God didn’t remove him from that office even after the Bathsheba/Uriah failure. If in the old economy David was fit to lead, why is he not in the new? David did commit adultery and murder but he also showed the fruits of repentance in 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51. Apparently God forgave him for it too. His child died but that is the last mention of it. As a matter of fact, when David sinned and counted a census in 2 Samuel 24 the punishment was worse.
So if God did not remove David from the office of elder/shepherd in the church/state of Israel, why should we deny him that role? Well, Doug did indicate that there might be other issues that would bar David from being an elder. The one that comes to mind is that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” and David had many (1 Chron 3:1-9). In my book that would disqualify him right away but there is more to be considered. Since we’re seeking to make David an elder in Doug’s church and David is dead, we might assume that David is resurrected. If that’s the case, he is no longer married (Matt 22:30) so perhaps he’s still eligible.
Alright, I’ve picked enough nits here. My point is that Doug sees a strong connection between old and new and so excluding David from church leadership in the new when he was the head of the church in the old seems inconsistent. It is a good kind of inconsistent since we’re letting the New Testament have the final word on church leadership.
Now some might object that they don’t want to accept the possibility that the Bible teaches that the earth is a flat disk, resting on the back of a turtle. Well, it doesn’t teach that, but if the ancient world did think that, and the Scriptures used turtle terminology straight across without missing a beat, you would have two choices. You could ditch the faith, or you could go with the turtles. What you shouldn’t do is get a couple of graduate degrees from a formerly evangelical seminary, in which process you were trained to run evasively through sitz im leben metaphors like you were a Heisman trophy contender, stiff arm out. – Doug Wilson, Hell and Hellenism, Blog and Mablog
“So we see that the sabbath can be broken, not only by those who walk away from it in contempt, but also by those who swing it around in such a way as to bloody the noses of others. The problem of sabbatarian sabbath-breaking can begin very subtly. It has taken hold when the first question asked is, ‘What am I not allowed to do on Sunday?’ The desire for such direction is a very natural one, but if we are not careful, the end result will be a rabbinical ruling on whether it is lawful to shoot hoop in the driveway, or push buttons on the microwave. Of course, we will at some point choose to avoid certain things on the Lord’s Day, but we must ensure that it is the natural result of what we have embraced — the sabbath is a positive ordinance” – Doug Wilson, A Primer on Worship and Reformation, p. 66
Doug Wilson’s wisdom on social media:
Technology is a gift and blessing from God and, as such, it is a form of wealth. We are not permitted to think that wealth is sinful in and of itself, but we are required to remember at all times that it presents to us a peculiar set of temptations.
Because the Bible doesn’t mention Facebook, or Twitter, or other forms of social media by name, many people just assume all bets are off, and that they can do whatever they want. Unfortunately, what they want usually works out to a colossal waste of time at best, and at worst, it spirals down into immorality and vice.
But there are glorious opportunities involved here, opportunities that ought not to be squandered. Instead of gossip, or random updates about a bunch of nothing, use social media to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Use it to encourage the saints—Scripture says that every word should be used to edify the one who hears. And use it to call out tyranny and coercion wherever you see it—and if you don’t see it anywhere, it is because your eyes aren’t open.
Make it a point to post, a significant percentage of the time, encouraging Scriptures, quotations from Chesterton, memes that confound the sanctimonious, sermon clips, and book reviews. And don’t do it like you are being super-spiritual either. Just be normal—but remember that normal ought to be biblically normed.
“Once you grant that the world works this way, anyone who comes bustling up to you with stories about men who came back from the dead is a prima facie nutjob. Simple. But you need to look at your closed-system-universe again and look more closely at the price tag this time. Not only is this vast concourse of atoms spared the spectacle of a Jewish carpenter coming back from the grave, it is also spared all forms of immaterial realities. This would include, unfortunately, your arguments and thoughts. They are as immaterial as Farley’s ghost. Show me your arguments for atheism under a microscope. Then I will think about believing them. What color are they? How much do they weigh? What are they made of?” (Doug Wilson, Letters From a Christian Citizen, pp. 80-81).
It is sometimes hard for us to grasp how profound the problem of modern superficiality is. Religious life in America is, by and large, superficial from the very top of the wet spot on the pavement to the very bottom of the wet spot on the pavement. – Doug Wilson, Blog and Mablog, No Relation
[Answering the objection of the infinite regress, “who created the creator?”] Unless there is a known principle excluding the eternality of anything at all, there could be no basis for such an objection. And were we to cook up such a principle, we would find that it excluded, not only God, but the possibility of us having a universe at all. Something is eternal. That something is either God, as we believe, or it is matter — stuff — as Hitchens believes. If infinite regresses are incoherent and any stopping point to head off that regress is always arbitrary by definition, then how’d we get here?” – Douglas Wilson, God Is, p. 31
Why, the question is posed, with furrowed brow, did Obama withhold that certificate for years, spending millions to keep it out of public view, when it was always within his power to release it (as he just did). Hmmm? Well, obviously he was throwing chum into the water, trying to attract serious Republican presidential candidates. And all he got was Donald Trump! He was shark fishing and came back with a really big tuna. I think we should all hold our tummies and laugh for a while. – Doug Wilson, Blog and Mablog, Hold Our Tummies and Laugh for a While.
Excellent observation. Politicians will use politics for political gain, won’t they?
Ah, Doug Wilson (no, that’s not him to the left there.) My admiration for him comes and goes like the tide. It is currently rising. Not sure why, but it just is. Must be the moon.
Anyway, Doug has written in response to the rise of the New Atheists and today I came across one of his blog entries in which he responds to Christopher Hitchens’ book God is Not Great. I haven’t read it and don’t plan to but from what Doug has said it sounds like Hitchens is taking a better approach than Dawkins and others. I mean, he’s still wrong, but at least it is a different approach. And so Wilson takes a different approach with him. While Wilson appreciates Hitchens’ literary style, he nails him on a glaring gap in the atheist argument: ethics. I totally agree with Wilson on this, how can the atheist tell me that religion is not just wrong but also a bad thing? What is “bad” based on? Here’s how Wilson sharpens the end of the stick before poking it in Hutchens’ eye:
An incoherent approach would go something like this: There is no God; there is no fixed standard of morality overarching all of us, and so we must all pull together and submit to the resultant fixed standard. I don’t get it either.
Simple and elegant isn’t it. What Wilson asks quite elegantly is So What? He enters into Hitchens’ world and then presses his argument against him. Who is Hitchens, or anyone else for that matter, to tell me that religion is good or bad? Hitchens must first assume that there is a good, an objective good, a good that transcends mere personal whims, a good that he can appeal to in order to determine that religion ain’t it.
But here’s where Wilson’s argument (apparently) won’t hold. Read On…