Many people in the Reformed/Calvinist community warn their flocks about Doug Wilson for his involvement in the Federal Vision. He now says he no longer identifies with the Federal Vision, and many Calvinist ministers retort that he still has the same theological views regardless of whether he identifies with the movement. Wilson says pretty much the same thing on his blog:
This statement represents a change in what I will call what I believe. It does not represent any substantial shift or sea change in the content of what I believe. I was, am, and will remain a Westminster Puritan within an irenic river of historic Reformed orthodoxy. I am making this lexical shift for the sake of clarity and communication—defining more precisely what was already there. Good fences make good neighbors, and so do good nouns and adjectives.
This represents no change in my friendships or personal commitments, or denominational relationships. All my friends are still my friends. Although I am currently the presiding minister of the CREC, this statement is in no way a statement on behalf of that body of churches. What I am saying here represents my views only. I hope that it has a good effect elsewhere, but I am not speaking on behalf of anyone else.
I trust that a proper development of doctrinal precision can be matched by a corresponding zeal for doctrinal charity. Charity and clarity should not be at odds. They even rhyme.
I would still want affirm everything I signed off on in the Federal Vision statement, but would also want to point out two things about that statement. First, it was a consensus document. I would now want to go further in some directions with that statement while other signatories would almost certainly want to go further in other directions. And that brings us to the second point. Some of those areas of divergence would be highlighted in the postscript to the statement, and the tension that exists there in that section does require some sort of resolution. I am attempting that resolution here.
In short, I believe the statement was fine as far as it went, but does not say everything that needs to be said. My proposal for a true resolution is to sign away all rights to the label federal vision. What I used to call oatmeal stout federal vision should now just be called federal vision. What I used to call amber ale federal vision should just be called . . . something else. I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner.
Personally, I don’t see how you can call yourself a subscriber to the Westminster Standards if you’re modifying them into a form of “covenantal Arminianism” which not Calvinism at all.
Wilson is also a post-millennialist. That, by itself, is not a huge issue since Calvinists have held many views about eschatology. BB Warfield, for example, was a post-millennialist. Those who hold this eschatological view can tend towards a triumphalism that isn’t warranted by Scripture. As an amillennialist, I think this present evil age is going to get worse as in the days of Noah. That said, Paul is certainly a triumphalist in the sense that with Christ, we’re on the winning side in the long run and we need to fix our hopes on that.
In summary, I condemn Wilson’s views of the end times and his doctrines of justification and perseverance of the saints as far as they disagree with the Westminster Standards. I think the Joint Federal Vision Statement was unnecessary if you already subscribe to the Standards. I wouldn’t attend his church because of his involvement in the Federal Vision.
With all that said, he’s completely right about the state of Reformed churches these days – particularly the PCA – and their capitulation on so many cultural issues. The PCA, in particular, is about to cave-in to the “Side B” homosexualists within its ranks as he explains here:
He’s also correct about the Reformed community’s cave-in on sex roles:
He’s right that no one in the Reformed world is leading the charge against the issues that are tearing it apart. He actually tackles these issues, provides a platform to those who also want to tackle these issues like CR Wiley, and has a plan. He fights on issues that matter to the laity. As a minister and Christian thought leader, he’s like Ullyses S. Grant as a general: definitely not a perfect man but he fights, and fights strategically.
Here’s my charge of you’re a NAPARC minister and you don’t like Wilson and won’t recommend ANY of his books or books of those associated with him: what else should I read? Where else should I turn for advice on how to be a biblical man? Why aren’t you tackling the issues of Side “B” Christianity, feminism, the Federal Vision, the loss of community and Christian worldview from your pulpit? As a general rule, the biggest cultural problems inevitably flood into the church and are the least preached-on or handled by elder boards. I’ve brought up the lack of men in church and the lack of guidance to young men and young fathers. I’ve brought up the lack of discipleship for young women who want to be good mothers. I’ve discussed how Side B Christianity was going to split the PCA. I’ve discussed the isolation experienced by many Calvinists in many parts of the country. To all these things, I’ve received shrugs or changes-of-subject. With the divorce rate in excess of 60%, men dropping out of the workforce, a lack of even Christian families, cultural collapse and looming persecution, we need leadership from the church just as the first and second century church lead the flock through difficult times. If we don’t get leadership, we’re going to do what seems right in our own eyes. Every man for himself! Is that what we want?
Say what you want about Wilson, but he at least sees the problems and is willing to tackle them. He’s not in the mushy middle – pastoral flotsam like so many ministers today who just fail to combat the liberals within their denominations until yet another collapses into liberalism.