An old rhyme by Douglas Wilson:
Ode to the Bish
There once was a bishop named Spong
Who decided to just get along.
He embraced the zeitgeist;
In a churchified heist,
And sold out the Creed for a song.
(Douglas Wilson, Untune the Sky: Occasional, Stammering Verse, (Veritas Press, 2001), p. 139.
And my responsive riff off Wilson’s ode:
Ode to the Squish
There once was a wordsmith named Doug.
With a 5-point stout in his mug.
Is Spong a muddled brother?
Pre-conditions, add another?
Daur ye say ‘pass’ in my lug?
This Letter to Credenda Agenda (linked just above) written by Marc D. Carpenter typifies (at least) two common tolerant Calvinist affinities — namely, non sequiturs and slander. My “Is Spong a muddled brother? Pre-conditions, add another?” is an allusion to Wilson’s December 18, 2007 piece, Better Christians Than Logicians:
On December 24, 2007 Marc D. Carpenter made the following accurate observations in response to the linked Wilson article:
“I just noticed this – Wilson said that Pelagians ‘can be saved’ — which doesn’t mean that he believes that they are unregenerate and may be saved in the future; he’s saying that Pelagians may be saved people!
For those of you who don’t know, Pelagians deny original sin and deny that Adam’s sin is imputed to anyone and deny that all humans are conceived in sin. It is a ‘purer’ form of works salvation, because no ‘grace’ is mixed in at all.”
I then responded to Marc’s comments [my 2007 comments may be lightly edited with clarity and intelligibility in mind–CD].
Doug Wilson writes:
“Piper points out, rightly, that this should not ‘make us cavalier’ about guarding the purity of the gospel, but rather it is simply the recognition ‘that men’s hearts are often better than their heads’ (pp. 24-25). 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.”
Wilson would not say that PelagianISM (the Pelagian gospel) saves. But he does think Pelagians can be true Christians — which is what he meant by “can be saved.” To Wilson, the Pelagians who deny original sin and affirm no grace are not necessarily unbelievers since they are most likely
“bad logicians in their heads,” but “good Christians in their hearts.”
If this is the case, then one might as well tell the Apostle Paul that in his anathema of the false gospelers in Galatians 1:8-9, he (Paul) failed to take into account that they are saved in spite of their theology and it is due to bad logic and not an unregenerate state, that they are espousing damnable heresy.
[Please note that the unbiblical distinction between the head and the heart is a great way to explain away verses like Mark 16:16 and Galatians 1:8-9.]
To Wilson, grace gives a doctrinal license to sin. That is, no matter how great the heresy, Mr. Wilson will not judge even Pelagians lost, since to him it would be to deny salvation by grace. So Galatians 1:8-9 is irrelevant in the theology of Doug Wilson. If Wilson were consistent in his rejection of Scripture, he would tell the Apostle Paul that he should not say that ANYONE is anathema (cf. Galatians 1:8-9) since we are “saved by grace and not by doctrinal precision, etc.” [Please see Doctrinal Regeneration and Some Form of Doctrinal Perfectionism? for refutations of scores of fashionable canards–CD]
In reply to what Marc said about the doctrine of Pelagians I had written:
“Correct. And if anyone would say that a Pelagian is a non-believer of the gospel and thus unregenerate, then Wilson will say that you are denying the gospel of free grace. If someone says that those who deny grace and affirm works are lost, then Wilson will say that you are denying grace. This makes no Biblical sense whatsoever.”
Marc then replied to what I said above:
“Yes, like we were talking about this past Sunday, if you judge someone to be lost based on ANYTHING, then people like Doug Wilson will say that you believe that the absence of or antithesis of this ANYTHING is a condition or prerequisite to salvation. So if you judge someone to be lost because he does not believe in original sin, then people like Doug Wilson will say that you believe that belief in original sin is a condition or prerequisite to salvation. You can stick anything in there, just like you were saying in your conversation with Tim Etherington — even the deity of Christ. So if you judge someone lost because he does not believe in the deity of Christ, then people like Doug Wilson will say that you believe the belief in the deity of Christ is a condition or prerequisite to salvation. The belief in the deity of Christ is an example of that ‘tiny doctrinal work’ that Wilson mentions. If we say that all regenerate people believe in the deity of Christ, then those like Wilson would say that we do not believe in sola fide, since we believe in a ‘tiny doctrinal work’ that must be a prerequisite.”
So there is the important and informative background to my poem and this post: Ode to the Squish.