Reformed Is Not Enough (1)

From Chapter 16 (“Heretics And The Covenant”) of Doug Wilson’s book, Reformed Is Not Enough (RINE):

“In a time teeming with heresies, we have no shortage of wrong responses to heresy. This is because an arch-heresy underlies many orthodox responses to more obvious heresy, the arch-heresy of individualism. Because of this, we have allowed ourselves to be maneuvered into a place where we are forced to make a false choice between unity and purity. In order to avoid this error, we must be like Timothy, who was told to ‘study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15-21)” (Wilson, RINE).

How is it possible for an “arch-heresy” to underlie an “orthodox response”? And how is it possible for a response to be truly “orthodox” if an “arch-heresy” underlies it?

To most Calvinists those teeming “heresies” are “ISM flies” circling the heads of false shepherds and those who blindly follow them. In tolerant Calvinist theology it’s NOT the false shepherd (nor those being deceived) who both fall into the ditch; rather it is only the “ISM fly” who falls into the ditch. Observe:

“Men are often better Christians than they are logicians. There is a vast chasm between maintaining, as I do, that semi-Pelagians (and Pelagians too, for that matter) can be saved, and maintaining, which I do not, that semi-Pelagianism saves” (Doug Wilson, Better Christians Than Logicians, Blog & Mablog).

Doug Wilson would not say that PelagianISM (the Pelagian gospel) saves. But he does think PelagIANS can be true Christians — this is what he meant by “can be saved.” To Wilson, the PelagIAN who denies such things as original sin are not necessarily unbelievers since they are most likely bad logicians in their heads, but good Christians in their hearts. If this be the case, then one ought to tell Paul that his “hasty anathema” of the false teachers in Galatians 1:8-9 failed to consider that their heretical confession stemmed from a logically errant head and a regenerate (albeit felicitously inconsistent) heart. [Note how the unbiblical distinction between the head and the heart is a great way for heretics to explain away verses like Mark 16:16 and Galatians 1:8-9.]

“On that day, Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him. And they questioned Him, saying, Teacher, Moses said, If any should die not having children, his brother shall marry his wife, and shall raise up seed to his brother. And seven brothers were with us. And having married, the first expired, and not having seed left his wife to his brother. In the same way also the second, and the third, until the seven. And last of all, the woman also died. Then in the resurrection, of which of the seven will she be wife? For all had her. And answering, Jesus said to them, You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are as the angels of God in Heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that spoken to you by God, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not God of the dead, but of the living. And hearing, the crowds were astonished at His doctrine. But hearing that He had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees were gathered together” (Matthew 22:23-34).

Answering the TOLERANT CALVINIST FOOL according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes:

“Men are often better Christians than they are logicians. There is a vast chasm between maintaining, as I do, that [Sadducees] (and [Pharisees] too, for that matter) can be saved, and maintaining, which I do not, that [SadduceeISM] saves.”

Tolerant Calvinist heretics like Doug Wilson go around splatting heretical “ISM flies” while the actual human heretics helplessly witness the carnage with pain in their heart since that “ISM fly” is truly their pet and the apple of their eye (cf. 1 John 4:1-3).

“So what problem is created by the heretic? For instance, we have some who reason that since these other fellows (liberals, etc.) are certainly part of the visible Church, then our relationship with them should be collegial …Others reason … [s]ince they are clearly not Christians, except in name, the only appropriate response is to go the individualistic route and ‘come out from among her and be ye separate'” (Wilson, RINE).

What did Gresham Machen do? Did Machen “come out from among her and be ye separate”? Who is “her”? The Great Whore? What is the spiritual state (regenerate or unregenerate) of those heretics who are “clearly not Christians, except in name”? Machen “came out from among those” he did NOT judge as “clearly not Christians.” He came out from among those who (according to his blinded judgment) might have been true Christians, and thus Machen was guilty of schism. He would NOT judge liberals as “clearly not Christians”:

“The greatest menace to the Christian Church today comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within; it comes from the presence within the Church of a type of faith and practice that is anti-Christian to the core. We are not dealing here with delicate personal questions; we are not presuming to say whether such and such an individual man is a Christian or not. God only can decide such questions; no man can say with assurance whether the attitude of certain individual ‘liberals’ toward Christ is saving faith or not. But one thing is perfectly plain — whether or no liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity” (Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 159-160).

I wonder if Doug Wilson could name JUST ONE professing Christian liberal who is “clearly not a Christian.” I doubt it since Wilson has also said this:

“A man must believe in Jesus, which is not the same thing as affirming what believing in Jesus means, with the right level of doctrinal precision” (Doug Wilson, Better Chrisitans Than Logicians, Blog & Mablog).

Doug Wilson (seemingly) dared to judge an actual professing Christian lost: “… they are clearly not Christians, except in name.” BUT in other writings of his he CANNOT consistently do that since these “liberals” might be illogical Christians who have yet to attain “the right level of doctrinal precision.”

“But the problem here is that it is hard to find the brakes. We soon find ourselves members of the church of just one, and we are starting to have doubts about him. The first option undervalues the importance of covenant-keeping. The second undervalues the importance of covenant membership. There is a third way” (Wilson, RINE).

Doug Wilson has a false notion of Christian candour and catholic (universal) spirit since he does NOT make his judgments by the true gospel but by the false gospel. Wilson is a heretical lead-foot who will occasionally “pump the breaks” (by his standard) by disallowing heretics from entering his pulpit.

“We must receive everyone who is lawfully baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as a fellow Christian. This means they are counted as a member of the covenant, which is not the same thing as saying they are faithful to it. But this is a fallen world, and we must note that to say that someone is a ‘husband’ is not necessarily a compliment — it may be the grounds for the accusation against him. In other words, certain fellow Christians are to be considered our mortal enemies. When someone breaks covenant in our midst, we have more choices than two — that of leaving to form our own splinter group, or staying in order to join in the debauchery” (Wilson, RINE).

I would like Doug Wilson to NAME ONE fellow Christian who he would consider a “mortal enemy.” Will he do it? Can he do it? Don’t hold your breath. Wilson may be sensitive to the “split P’s” epithet (“P” is for “Presbyterian) and so he does not want to split (i.e., splinter) any more. I’ve heard that the Presbyterian Synagogue of Satan has a history of splintering (splitting) more than any denomination.

“So what does the Bible say about heresy in our midst?

First, the Bible teaches that heresy reveals faithfulness — God sends heresies to test us, to find out what is really in our hearts (1 Cor. 11:17-20; Deut. 13:3). We learn here that heresies are rebellion and that they serve to help manifest those who are approved by God, or, put another way, to identify those who have not joined in the rebellion and who are resisting it” (Wilson, RINE).

And Wilson (with all the tolerant Calvinist hordes), have shown themselves to be partakers of the cardiac rebellion against the Most High God. This rebellion is seen in their speaking peace when there is no peace to God-haters, their establishing of their own righteousness under the guise of a “non-meritorious condition,” and their belief in a “partially-sovereign no-god.”

“Secondly, we should note that heresy is obvious. There are some who have a hard time finding it — scholars, scribblers, and other scribes, but to most believers, heresy is obvious. ‘Now the works of the flesh are manifest’ (Gal. 5:19-21). One of the works of the flesh that follow in this list is the work of sectarian heresy. Here we also see that God will punish the heretic. But for our purposes here, we should note that the sheep don’t have to go to graduate school to find out the difference between a shepherd and a wolf. Heresy is obvious — denying the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, or that God knows the future. These are not difficult questions” (Wilson, RINE).

Heresy is obvious, says Wilson. And since the sheep need not attend graduate school to discern the true from the false (cf. John 10:4-5), identifying heretics as well is obvious. But is it obvious to Wilson who are to be judged unregenerate? Are all wolves without exception unregenerate? Are all without exception who follow these wolves unregenerate?

If Wilson is not being disingenuous or emitting bombastic bluster bereft of backbone, would he be willing to NAME ONE professing Christian heretic who denied the deity of Christ? Those familiar with Wilson may recall that he believes that persons (e.g., infants) ignorant of Christ’s deity are regenerate, but here above Wilson is speaking of a knowing denial.

“In the third place, heresy is sectarian — ‘For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them’ (Acts 20:29-30). Such men want a following they can call their own. In order to get them, heretics have to make a distinction between what they are saying and what faithful ministers say. Heretics speak perverse things for two reasons — one is that as enemies of God they hate His truth, and the other is that there is no other way to split off a segment of the flock for themselves. So heresy is sectarian. A warning is in order here. This does not mean that sectarian cannot be orthodox, for he can be, but we should still be most careful about the sin of schism. Sectarians are in peculiar danger because lack of accountability is never good” (Wilson, RINE).

Heretics like Wilson (and other tolerant Calvinists) hate the truth of the gospel with the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ at its very heart. They stumble at this Stumbling Stone and are offended at this Rock of Offense when they judge those who count the cross as foolishness as their “wonderfully muddled” or “felicitously inconsistent” “weaker brethren.”

“In the fourth place, heresy falls headlong — despite the swift destruction it brings, heresies can still be popular (2 Pet. 2:1-2). And while Peter says that heretics bring on themselves swift destruction, he does not say how this comes about” (Wilson, RINE).

How well we know the popularity of tolerant Calvinism that spits in Christ’s face and treats His efficacious cross-work as an optional or non-essential add-on to the gospel.

“What are we to do about it? It is no sin against charity to identify the problem. According to Scripture, heretics are to be identified — the congregation at Rome is told to mark or identify men who cause divisions and who offend against the doctrine received (Rom. 16:17-18). They are to be marked so that they might be avoided. The identification if related to this avoidance. Heretics are to be rejected — Titus is told to ‘reject’ a heretic after one and two admonitions (Tit. 3:9-11). The language of one and two indicates some sort of formal discipline. But reject as what? A teacher? A communicant? My understanding is that this injunction is given to Titus in his role as an apostolic emissary, overseeing the installation of pastors and elders. They are rejected, in the first instance, from positions of teaching and preaching. None of this in to be done in a panic because heresy is useful — ‘But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work’ (2 Tim. 2:15-21)” (Wilson, RINE).

Identify the problem Wilson. Identify the heretic BY NAME. And don’t merely call him a “heretic” (if you’d even go THAT far), but actually judge this “heretic,” this “wolf” to be unregenerate. Go ahead. Do it. Do it NOW.

“Paul’s illustration here is telling. A great house — which is what the house of the covenant is –contains many different kinds of vessels. We have everything there — the exquisite vase of Athanasius in the entryway, the sold mahoghany book rack of a John Calvin, the solid silver jewelry case of an Anselm. But off in the bedrooms, we have the chamber pots of Pelagianism, and back in the kitchen we find the battered aluminum can of openness theism full of potato peelings, which some think constitutes the solution to the problem of evil. This is what it means to have a great mansion, and so we should remember the limited usefulness of heresy, when kept in its dumpster-bound place” (Wilson, RINE).

Note that Wilson mentioned the ACTUAL PERSONS (e.g., Calvin, Athanasius, Anselm) with regard to the “honorable vessels,” while only mentioning the DOCTRINAL ISMS with regard to the “dishonorable vessels.” Chamber pots of PelagianISM. Battered aluminum can of openness theISM full of (probably smelly) potato peelings. Wilson makes the anti-Biblical disconnect between the PERSON and the DOCTRINE that they believe in (cf. 1 John 4:1-3):

“Men are often better Christians than they are logicians. There is a vast chasm between maintaining, as I do, that semi-Pelagians (and Pelagians too, for that matter) can be saved, and maintaining, which I do not, that semi-Pelagianism saves” (Doug Wilson, Better Christians Than Logicians, Blog & Mablog).

If Wilson would be consistent with regard to the openness theism garbage can “kept in its dumpster-bound place” I should be able to walk right inside the “great mansion,” lift the garbage can lid and have John Sanders or Gregory Boyd pop up their potato-peel-covered heads and say “Hi Chris.” But instead of my finding the actual false teachers in there, I’d probably just end up seeing a pile of heretical potato peel ISMS.