Pooh’s Think

… with comments

Why Are They Getting It Wrong?

Thomas Baxter has another post up at Ministry Watchman, which you can see here. This time Baxter is aiming at the entire reformed Mafia, which obviously includes hit-man Doug Wilson. Baxter asks the question, “Why is the Reformed Community Getting It Wrong?” I am not sure Baxter answers the question, although he gives a nice portrayal of the problem:

… it is important to reflect on the following truth. Dr. RC Sproul Sr, Dr. RC Sproul Jr, Mr. Tim Dick, Mr. John Duncan, Rev. Doug Wilson, Mr. Doug Phillips, Esq., and a host of other Reformed “Christian Celebrities” contradict their public teachings …On the other hand, Ted Haggard is now enjoying the freedom of confession, repentance, and God-ordained discipline. Unfortunately, today’s group of Reformed “celebrities” that appear so willing to engage in or provide the rationale for disciplining others … also appear to avoid any type of accountability themselves, preferring the bluster of threats or the filing of actual lawsuits…

As for answering the question, I think there is a full set of partial answers that I do not have time to fully address at the moment. For now however, please consider the following:

The “reformed community” has hardly been a vibrant form of Christianity the last century, and it was the Celebrities that helped put it more on the map to begin with. RC Sproul was highly effective in putting on the makeup and rolling the cameras: evangelicals could now have a deeper and enjoyable knowledge of certain fascinating doctrines. “Renewing Your Mind” became the fun time talking about gnosis at RC’s coffee shop lectures. (Of course, the Pauline phrase “renewing your mind” has little to do with doctrine to begin with; but reformed folks have always been good at finding pieces of language to get them out of the real Pauline story.) That RC was one of those pop-philosophers and pop-apologists made it all the more fun, particularly given his evidentialist bent.

And it was precisely what was so dead about much reformed theology, including its ludicrous timeless systems, ideas, and concepts, that made it so agreeable to many people. One could now get their head into the heavenly proposition sets of eternal knowledge, grasping Boettner’s determinism or the scholastic’s covenant idea. Technical theological terms and definitions could be memorized in order to separate one’s self from the unclean animals we call arminians and evangelicals. It should not be surprising then to find the most notable gnostic heresy in the contemporary church to be a direct spin off from the “truly reformed”: Theonomy is a timeless, non-eschatological, anti-narrative approach applied to the biblical language of “law.” It mangles and distorts everything important about the gospel story, and yet it finds itself so much at home within the reformed tradition, as does Reconstructionism. Kinism and patriarchy are also significantly wedded to this sort of hermeneutic, and clearly also spin offs specifically from the reformed tradition. Look at the fruits.

As for the problem of “accountability,” one clear reason for this is the way that notions about authority, covenant, and Lordship permeate thought and practice in the reformed community. Marriage becomes oath-bond, worship becomes renewal of land-grant Treaty, and religious experience reduces to covenant keeping. Men become patriarchs with intrinsic “authority,” and church leaders become primarily “rulers,” who demand loyalty and obedience after building an entire ecclesiology out of one or two statements from the New Testament. Baptism becomes only a half-way covenantal stance; what is required for full Christian status is membership oaths, pledging fidelity to a particular group of men. You are not fully a covenant-folk until you are in covenant with a local congregation. Perverse dichotomies are erected, separating leaders from laymen. Wilson went so far as to separate the priesthood of the ordained minister from the laymen of both elders and non-elders.

Finally, the pride expressed by leadership is expressed by the tradition at large. The reformed community is the most arrogant American splinter group around. “We have arrived” seems like a good motto for the reformed tradition to me; but as Brian McLaren insightfully noted, the Reformed Tradition will be the first to have an identity crisis given how wedded it is to the intellectual tools of modernity. Indeed, I think this is precisely what you see right now, both in the moral scandals, and also theological confusion: I must say, I have to side with the Federal Vision group to some extent simply because of how arrogant, close minded, and incompetent the reformed response to it was. And this is really the role Doug Wilson plays in all of this: he is a leach sucking from a half-dead corpse. It was the “truly reformed” theological foolishness as well as the horrible lack of family and church “culture” within even reformed leadership that allowed Wilson to be an accurate prophet; people ate up his stuff because of how starved they were. RC Sproul was out playing golf and the pastor’s kid was busy banging with the girl next door.


November 7, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Do you really think the word “banging” is the best one?

    Comment by Kevin P. | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  2. Yes. Is there something unfitting about the use of this word? I was just trying to be as accurate as possible given the context. Would you suggest something different?

    Michael Metzler
    “The Blog With Posting Privileges For All”

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  3. The word itself is a wee bit coarse. Plus, you make it sound as if RC Jr was actually fornicating with someone.

    Comment by Kevin P. | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  4. Ok. I guess I’ll go ahead and change the word. Thanks. This comment section really is becoming hellpful….Wait! This isn’t my blog! I can’t change the word. Oh well.

    I didn’t mean to insinuate anything about Junior here; I guess Senior has been a pastor for a number of years now, but he wasn’t when I knew him, so I certainly would not have meant to reference Senior with the word “pastor.”

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  5. Michael,

    Watching you be subjected to your same antics, here at this site, is delightful. You are participating in your own forum without the ability to control everything. Your bizarre saga gets wierder everyday.

    We’re all peering at you, here in this strange new zoo of your own creation. You are suddenly less active inside your new environment. Do you not like the daily rations ? Are the handlers not grooming you enough ? Is it unpleasant contending with the smell of your own excrement ?

    Flip or swing or do something, please. All the kids are getting board with your self-loathing.

    Oh well, take a look kids. See the pitiful monkey boy who is so much more intelligent and devout than everyone. Yes, that’s him smelling the rotten banana peel in the back. He calls those “compelling ideas.”


    Comment by Skullasaurus | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  6. Thank you very much Skull. If I knew how to activate the old comments I used to get without activating comments in general, I could show folks how well you have illustrated how bored I got with non-moderated comments. You are certainly one of those skullasaurus’ in the Wood! If there is any rational critique here, I apologize, I can’t yet see it. I’m assuming there was no argumentative point made; but I’m glad you were able to talk about the smell of my excrement. You must be a Credenda fan, since this goes very well with their cultured front cover for the issue dedicated to ridiculing folks who dare be “stinkers” to the priesthood. Now that you have joined us here in this strange photo-copy of my web site, I would be delighted to know what you think about theonomy, patriachalism, Phil Johnson’s praise of Turk’s blog justice, the Ligonier law suit, Wilson’s recent lies, authority in the home, the narrative structure of scripture, RC Sproul Jr’s despising of his discipline, his Father’s eager awaiting of the CREC’s acquittal, Plantinga’s understanding of the sensus divinitatis, Tim Bayly’s censorship of Corrie, the truth of covenant theology, the nature of consciousness, and the problem of evil. You are reading my blog, right? Glad you are enjoying it.

    Take care and hope to hear from you soon. I certainly have nothing else better to do in life but read more great material for Mr. Skull.

    Michael Metzler
    From the Real Wood
    509-330-1503 (cell phone; 24 hours a day)

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  7. Come over here close to the glass and I’ll whisper my responses. I won’t hurt you, come here boy :

    theonomy_is bogus if spelled with a big T

    patriachalism_is what the OT and NT prescribe_hope you practice it at home when you’re paying attention to someone other than yourself

    Phil Johnson’s praise of Turk’s blog justice_unintersted

    the Ligonier law suit_was dismissed_wonder why Vance won’t discuss how wrong his reports were about SDG and his various other untruths_man have you been a lap dog of the first order on that one_is Vance your real father or something ?

    Wilson’s recent lies_Wilson is as irrelevent today as the past decade, the only ones who think otherwise are his quirky subjects_you apparently had to learn that the hard way

    authority in the home_taught in OT & NT_hope you practice it

    the narrative structure of scripture_multiple simultaneous strands

    RC Sproul Jr’s despising of his discipline_uninterested_he’s the CREC’S problem now

    his Father’s eager awaiting of the CREC’s acquittal_ ???_who are you Kreskin ?

    Plantinga’s understanding of the sensus divinitatis_could care less_there are much better treatments to consider

    Tim Bayly’s censorship of Corrie_could care less

    the truth of covenant theology_that it is true_dispensationalism is a joke

    the nature of consciousness_something I’m sure you talk about after X file reruns_if you had any friends that would come over

    the problem of evil_it’s a real problem_you dole out a good bit of it daily

    Now do that trick with your lips and roll over, come on

    watch kids, he’s gonna beat his chest


    Comment by Skullasaurus | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  8. Thank you. So you are at least a mild theonomist, apparently a big supporter of any standard form of patriachalism, highly apposed to the exposure of the Ligonier Law Suit, support the CREC’s judicial non-judicial imposition (it is now their problem??), could care less about Doug Wilson since he is a liar, want to pretend that you are a philosopher (Plantinga is one of those less important philosophers on the “sensus divinatis”), think that “covenant theology” is the rejection of dispensationalism, fail to realize that consciousness one of the most debated and researched fields in philosophy and the sciences, and apparently enjoy embracing Christian propositions while acting like you are possessed by a demon. Interesting character sketch. Thanks for sharing. Since you know where I live, should I be scared? So, are you a kinist?


    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  9. flurfle blofo igga igga mosho gubby gub

    I am possessed by the adolescent fury of Metzlergeist

    I talk and talk but am not sure why. I’ve alienated everyone because I fight imaginary foes.

    My desperate sense of self-importance taints all meaningful human pursuits.

    Dude, your own dog wants to poop on your computer. I’m thinkin, at that point, it’s time to explore other options.

    Where can I get a snow cone ?


    Comment by Skullasaurus | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  10. Michael,

    Knock it off about Kinism. You’re starting to sound like an abolitionist shill.
    You’re not helping me if you go off the script. Let’s just keep the focus on our agenda. It’s obvious we’re running out of gas with this thing and your posts are getting more and more obscure.

    Frank Vance

    Comment by Frank Vance | November 7, 2006 | Reply

  11. Mr. Metzler,

    Now I understand why you don’t permit comments on your own blog. Does the teaching “ministry” of Doug Wilson bear some responsibility for the training of such agents saboteur?

    While I disagree with much of your analysis of Reformed theology I support your right to criticize. I’m Reformed but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the current leadership in Reformed circles leaves much to be desired. However, to equate Reformed theology with its modern leadership, while failing to acknowledge the tremendous historic contributions that Reformed theology has brought to the world is very short-sighted.

    You are at least partially correct in your synopsis that much of the present Reformed leadership represents a “we have arrived” attitude, but such arrogance in itself is a betrayal, not an affirmation, of the Reformation — ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda.

    Comment by Frank Vance | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  12. Frank,

    If you want the reformed tradition to stay alive you will have to reject kinism. The reformed tradition that you want to see re-established has nothing to do with kinism, and it has been universally met with disgust from liberal Christians, conservative Christians, reformed Christians, and all secularists. By ‘kinism’ I do not mean some sanitized communitarian proposal, but rather the Nazi like racism that is interested in whether or not the future wife of my son contributes to the gene pool for blue eyes. Kinism is one of the most filthy aberrations from the gospel story I have seen, and I have probably 98 percent of the American populace to back me up. I am therefore a bit perplexed that you would find my mentioning of this a matter of running out of gas; I feel like I just got my car out of first gear. Kinism is also a more extreme expression of theonomy, and so will be included automatically in so far as I discuss theonomy as an abberation from better expressions of the reformed tradition. However, you should know that I’m glad I have been able to defend your cause and encourage you; but this doesn’t make me a Vance shill either. So I would prefer to be able to talk about what I want. If you have an argument fine, but please don’t start making ad hom attacks about the quality of my writing as soon as I don’t serve your own purpose.


    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  13. “I am therefore a bit perplexed that you would find my mentioning of this a matter of running out of gas”


    Apparently you failed to recognize my meaning when I accused some here of being agents saboteur. So let me put it more plainly for you. I am not the author of comment #10.

    In the future let me suggest that you first email me, rather than publicly posting concerns which would be more prudent to keep private matters.

    Comment by Frank Vance | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  14. Yes! I think you could have been a little bit more clear that you were not the author of comment #10. I’ll email you privately next time to double check. I’m a faithful friend, but don’t find trusting folks to be of as much use to me after the last year. And I think I’m done with this wonderful open forum of discussion. It has certainly served the cause of truth! I’ll plan on activating my comments again around middle of January.

    Michael Metzler

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  15. Michael,
    I have changed the wording of your post for you.

    Comment by Pooh | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  16. Thanks for the change, Michael.

    Comment by Kevin P. | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  17. Thanks for changing it here.

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  18. Michael,

    For every issue you care about, Frank Vance will be a problematic ally for half of them. Your defense of him leaves you vulnerable to numerous charges, not the least of which is hypocrisy. He is allied with Kinists (read the various posts to him from Little Geneva and others), he is a theonomist and he has church troubles that go back further than yours. He doesn’t work and his wife supports the family.

    I’ve got more baggage than both of you combined. I rarely post by name, I prefer aliases (ie Thomas Baxter, my wife Jennifer uses Teacher and others, etc).

    I’m just saying this to let you know that blog identities hide some important distinctions. You have been inadvertantly aiding enemies (Frank, Steinhausen, etc.) of your core concerns.

    Mark Epstein

    Comment by Mark Epstein | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  19. the only reason number 10 got me was because of number 11.

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 8, 2006 | Reply

  20. I will not be back here, just so you know. If someone posts under my name after #20 it will not be me.

    Michael Metzler
    mother’s maiden name: Ezell

    Comment by Michael Metzler | November 8, 2006 | Reply

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