From 2005-2007, I read and listened to everything I could from R.C. Sproul. Then I moved to John Piper. For the last couple years, the author du jour has been Douglas Wilson.
So a few weeks ago when my colleague handed me a stack of 52 back issues from Wilson’s Credenda Agenda (C/R), I was elated. The issues I had were published between 1995 and 2011, and having read them in no particular order weeks, I had fun surfing through articles referencing Y2K, Beanie babies, the OJ trial, Sega games and sermons on cassette.
If you are not familiar with this very thoughtful pastor and theologian, I’d encourage you to give him a look. Here’s a snapshot of his beliefs.
1. Religious folk, not the pagans, should be in the cross hairs of Christians. C/R is a bimonthly satirical periodical written by a dozen or so Reformed guys (and girl). Since Jesus spent little time attacking prostitutes and drunkards, and most of his time rebuking and mocking the Jewish Torah-thumpers, they try to do the same. That means they aim their sling of skylarking not at Madonna, but Thomas Kinkade, Left Behind, trendy youth pastors, Christianity Today and everything else they find silly in evangelicalism.
2. Satire is a valuable, biblical tool. Wilson gets so much criticism for his sarcasm (“Clinton has the ethical integrity of Caligula”) that he wrote The Serrated Edge as a defense of Christian satire. He writes with spunk and conviction. He won’t, for example, take it easy on pastor’s wives from his own denomination who are going liberal. “I am very sorry to be put in the position of having to show rudeness to a lady. But Mrs. Irons wants to be a Christian writer and thinker, and she is not up to the task. And if she can’t stand the heat, she should get back in the kitchen.”
3. “All of Christ, for all of life, for all the world.” As postmillennial believer, Wilson wants to reform everything (e.g. government, education, music, food), bringing all things into line with the Word of God. His motto above fits. He believes the millennium will slowly, progressively become a golden age. Lets get busy, he says. So he talks a lot about the good life, and using forklifts to disseminate Christmas gift to the grandkids. Amill and premill believers, however, are more apt to talk about the suffering and decline of this present world. Here’s an example of one of the magazine’s intros: “The magazine is designed as a tribute to the good life, the life that can only be known in a world in subjection to the Trinity. This life is one full of meat on the grill, wine in the belly and ketchup on the shorts. C/A attempts to revel in these and all other causes for faithful laughter. Especially kites.”
4. WE ARE FAM-UH-LEE! C/E is heavily geared toward the home, every issue having separate articles on children, parenting, husbands, and wives. Doug goes after husbands and fathers and Nancy Wilson writes about issues facing mothers and wives, anywhere from contact sports and hospitality to tomboys and chick flicks. This is where the Wilson’s are strongest.
5. Federal Vision – Federal Vision is an effort to articulate a consistent paedobaptist theology. A few years back FV was an enormous controversy in the Reformed world, with imputation, justification, and the New Perspective on Paul under discussion. But the hullabaloo can be boiled down to one thing: children. It is paedobaptism taken to its logical conclusion, which is why FV embrace paedocommunion. They correctly point out the inconsistencies in the PCA’s take on paedobaptism, with quotes from Peter Leithart like: “Paedocommunion lurks behind the whole Federal Vision debate. Paedocommunion disambiguates the ambiguous “God is/isn’t your God” that paedobaptism without paedocommunion declares to our children.” In other words: “If sprinkling your baby means ‘God is your God’, why not let Johnny take communion?” That is a strong argument.
I agree with John Piper that FV (though not heretical) is very confusing. They say things like “we deny the common misunderstanding of baptismal regeneration” but later aver, “baptism formally engrafts a person [including children] into the Church, which means that baptism is into the Regeneration.” Douglas Wilson has said that baptism and communion are effectual means of salvation to worthy receivers. The Federal (Covenant) Vision of parents is an expectation for their children’s conversion. It is an effort to revive the doctrine of covenant succession (God has promised salvation to the children of faithful Christian parents). An effort, I believe, without biblical merit.