A Friend Comments on Kevin Johnson, Part 2
Regarding Kevin Johnson’s response to my email, please note that I addressed only one element of his original argument, which I labeled “raw manipulation.” Furthermore, I cited Titus 3:10 to support my position that Christian leaders should leave Douglas Wilson alone because he is a divisive, schismatic man who creates factions and he teaches unorthodox doctrine. In this email, I will not interact with KJ’s straw men or his misrepresentations. I will stay on my single point and answer his objections.
KJ took issue with my use of Titus, suggesting that the Reformers would see that text differently. He wrote:
My guess is that the Reformers had a very different understanding of Titus 3:10 than this person does. . . . Also, when will we ever get past this simplistic proof-text quoting of Scripture as if verses of Scripture were written to buttress ridiculously held claims like the one above? Talk about quoting out of context!
I believe that KJ’s pooh-poohing of Scripture reveals too much and I am sure that it accounts for his emotionalism and his unhealthy reliance upon icons. Regardless, I hold with the Puritans that “one good text is as good as a thousand,” even if this is too “simplistic” for KJ. But since he invoked the Reformers’ opinions on Titus, I am confident that this comment from John Calvin will correct his mistaken “guess” by showing I did not misinterpret my proof text. And I remind KJ that the esteemed Reformer did not emerge from a Cracker Jack box:
When he commands him to avoid such persons, it is as if he said that he must not toil hard to satisfy them, and even that there is nothing better than to cut off the handle for fighting which they are eager to find. This is a highly necessary admonition; for even they who would willingly take no part in strifes of words are sometimes drawn by shame into controversy, because they think that it would be shameful cowardice to quit the field. . . . We must now see what he means by the word heretic. . . Thus under this name he includes all ambitious, unruly, contentious persons, who, led away by sinful passions, disturb the peace of the Church, and raise disputings. In short, every person who, by his overweening pride, breaks up the unity of the Church, is pronounced by Paul to be a “heretic.” (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., Reprint, 1993], 341)
Notice that Calvin specifically stated we should not let heretics cow us into controversy, which was the only point of KJ’s that I addressed after he baited Clark, writing,
So, when Wilson challenged Clark to a debate, you’d think a guy with this much negative to say about these things would immediately accept.
Hopefully Calvin’s comments put that issue to rest, which leaves only one question: Is Douglas Wilson a heretic? Put another way, Does Calvin’s description of a heretic apply to Wilson — Can we say that Douglas Wilson, “by his overweening pride, breaks up the unity of the Church”?
Rather than rely upon me, an anonymous poster, I encourage KJ to consider the testimony of two other witnesses. The first is Church of the King–Santa Cruz, and the second is Reverend Kevin Johnson, host of Reformed Catholicism.
I call my first witness. According to COTK’s testimony, Douglas Wilson labored diligently for two years to divide the unity of COTK, and Douglas Wilson “did not adhere to courtesies and Christian ethics common among church leaders” in order to achieve his goal of splitting the church. In other words, Douglas Wilson broke up the unity of COTK. This testimony is compelling and it should suffice to answer the question. If it does not, then I ask KJ how many churches does Doug Wilson have to split before he concludes that Wilson “breaks up the unity of the Church”?
I now call my second witness, Reverend Kevin Johnson, who has a well-documented record of his concerns about Douglas Wilson. According to this “Open Letter to Douglas Wilson,” written by Reverend Johnson, the author clearly implies that Wilson is not “truly interested in the peace of the Church.” And according to this post, which the author titled “Someone Just Needs to Take Away Douglas Wilson’s Keyboard,” the witness testifies that he believes Wilson is “Not in the least bit concerned with properly representing his ‘opponent’s’ position.” While this testimony does not address the question of Douglas Wilson’s impact on the unity of the church, I believe that it raises doubt about the man’s character. This post, however, is directly on point because our witness publicly distresses over how his inability to communicate with Douglas Wilson, which he believes is not unique to himself, may impact the unity of the Church:
Aside from the condescending posture of being lectured like a little baby as to the idea that “words like true and false have relevance here”, I am just at a loss to understand how to communicate with a man like Wilson (is it even possible?) about how his critique is utterly the same as any other uninformed critique as those who chose to oppose him for the Auburn material he somewhat haphazardly put out as bait for the sharks to feed upon. . . . I just don’t understand how to communicate to someone who pretends (knowingly or not) he has an objective view of a matter (like condemning what McLaren has written) that things are not necessarily as they seem, as he necessarily sees them, or that intelligent and reasonable men could honestly disagree with him.
I would really appreciate advice on how to deal with the people who take these sorts of overly dogmatic stances in the first place. I would like to believe that Wilson is being rational here in his critique of McLaren. . . . How can these men be turned to an understanding of the faith and their office as elders that does not require them to condemn anyone who holds an opinion different than their own little preferential/prejudicial understandings of this or that pet issue? . . . Open to hear suggestions . . . because I truly do not understand them and would like to know how to work with them in achieving a better understanding of things with an eye to the unity of the Church. (emphasis added)
Please note that my witness actually wonders if it is possible to communicate with Wilson. Given his concern, I wonder why he would want Dr. Clark to debate the man. But I suppose that is a matter for another post. The point is clear. Kevin Johnson bore witness to his profound frustration with Douglas Wilson’s uninformed pronouncements and his personal desire to maintain unity in the face of such prejudicial understanding.
And since KJ asked for advice on how to deal with people like Wilson, I want to leave him with Titus 3:10, which states, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject.”
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