Over the course of several years, I’ve damaged my public relationship with Doug Wilson by my own sins of the tongue. I have made certain criticisms of his views and writings, most of which I still believe to be valid. But the manner in which I have written and delivered those criticisms has not been loving or respectful.
Specifically, I have imputed motives to Doug — accusing him of teaching and writing things for ignoble reasons that I really didn’t have any way to know. This was is a form of slander. I spoke with him this morning on the telephone, and asked his forgiveness for that, and for harboring resentment against him.
I think this is also the place to make a clarification and retraction. In the course of our discussion of paedocommunion, I said that Doug was reasoning in a “semi-Marcionite” manner, and that his view was “gnostic.” These two labels were rather inflammatory, and I think I was all too happy to let them start fires.
The “semi-Marcionite” label is one I took from Peter Leithart’s dissertation, The Priesthood of the Plebs. Leithart uses it to denote the methodological mistake of thinking that we cannot look to the Old Testament’s rituals to learn about the mechanics of the New Testament’s rituals. Leithart says that Luther, Calvin, and the entire Reformed tradition are all semi-Marcionite in their way of thinking about the sacraments. So it is a widespread error, but in Leithart’s usage, a very narrowly defined one. I still believe that Doug Wilson is making this mistake, but he certainly does not reject the authority of the Old Testament. My choice of label was an inflammatory one, and the criticism would have been better made without the label.
The gnostic label was a similarly poor choice. I used it to denote the idea that men are saved by thinking, rather than by covenantal union with Christ. Again, I believe that the amount of attention that Wilson thinks is necessary to profitably receive the Lord’s Supper is basically a low-grade requirement of thinking. But he has clarified that he is not a “cognitivist”, and that the attention he wants children to pay is only an enabling condition, not an efficient one. At any rate, the discussion was not helped by my use of the “gnostic” label. It served only to increase heat and tension, and I didn’t use it out of love for Doug, but in an attempt to make my criticism more “damaging.”
Thank you, Pastor Wilson, for being a gracious gentleman, and for forgiving me and praying with me.