In dialogue with Doug Wilson and the ‘pop Calvinists,’ at least Wilson is consistent

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on December 14, 2023.

Twenty-three years after John Piper called Doug Wilson an “absolute genius at sarcasm and irony,” pop Calvinists are still wringing their hands over how to respond to the conservative Reformed pastor from Moscow, Idaho.

“You’re very clever, really clever. And I think we need you like crazy,” Piper said of Wilson back then.

Referring to Wilson’s Credenda/Agenda publication, which was a conservative Reformed cultural and theological journal published from 1989 to 2012, Piper admitted, “I can O.D. on it fast because it is so well done from a rhetorical standpoint.”

As Al Mohler and R.C. Sproul sat quietly, Piper confessed he felt conflicted reading Credenda/Agenda because the magazine gave him a guilty pleasure — engaging his wiring “to be a person who puts down stupidity” while also making it “hard to manifest tenderness.”

Now the latest overflow of adulation and angst comes from Kevin DeYoung.

“I know a lot of good Christians who have been helped by Wilson,” he wrote. “Wilson is to be commended … deserves credit for being unafraid to take unpopular positions.” DeYoung went on to describe Wilson’s writing as “an angular, muscular, forthright Christianity in an age of compromise and defection.” He explained conservatives are attracted to Wilson’s “intellectual convictions because they were first attracted to the cultural aesthetic and the political posture that Wilson so skillfully embodies.”

Despite his fascination with Wilson, DeYoung attempts to put his finger on what he thinks is the real problem: Wilson’s “Moscow mood.”

No Quarter November

“For eleven months out of the year, I’m notoriously timid, as cautious and polite as a Southern Baptist raising funds for the ERLC,” Wilson states in the promotional video for what he calls No Quarter November. “But the month of November is a time for taking no prisoners and for granting no quarter. If you think of my blog as a shotgun, this is the month when I saw off all my typical careful qualifications and blast away with a double-barreled shorty.”

“Everything we do this month will be focused on one singular goal. We want to help you apocalypse-proof your family,” he proposes as his apron-wearing wife sets a turkey down in front of his plate.

For Wilson, making your family apocalypse proof means recognizing what is a violation against God’s royal decrees and then repenting without beating around the bush.

“Like my parents taught me, a strong family isn’t possible without quick, full and honest confession of sin, without any wussy excuse making,” he asserts. “And especially now, it’s just as important not to confess and repent of things that aren’t really sins because lying is bad and so is being a wuss.”

After his turkey dinner is interrupted by a flashing red light and a perimeter breach alarm, Wilson gets up from the table, wields a blowtorch backpack to light a cigar, and then strolls out into the cold, blistery snowstorm to set ablaze cardboard cutouts of Disney characters and social media logos.

With everything from Elsa to the Instagram logo burning, the choice for conservative evangelical Calvinists seems to be between following Wilson’s culture war strategy of lighting cigars and burning cardboard in the snow while trying not to be a wuss or following DeYoung’s culture war strategy of toting “your brood of children through Target” because the “future belongs to the fecund.”

Both Wilson and DeYoung like to be on top

Of course, Wilson and DeYoung would claim to be promoting a theologically robust tower that stands much more firm and tall than the attention grabbing images they project.

To Wilson, “a marriage is a little kingdom and the husband is a little king. Once married, he is the king of that little kingdom, and his decisions have real authority.”

Likewise, to DeYoung, “Patriarchy is inevitable. … What school or church or city center or rural hamlet is better off when fathers no longer rule? … The choice is not between patriarchy and enlightened democracy, but between patriarchy and anarchy.”

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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