Douglas Wilson books on the family

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Stephen L Smith, Feb 11, 2019.

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  1. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Hi. I am aware of people in my church circles reading Douglas Wilson books on the family. I was wondering if this was a good trend? Given his links to the FV, is there something on his view of the covenant that would affect his view of the family? To what degree should his books on the family be read with discernment?

    Appreciate any thoughts.
     
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Bad trend. I'm actually friends with a few old school FV guys and even they are alarmed at what he said (and they had missed).
     
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  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Avoid those books. One of my biggest regrets is spending so much time reading c. 20 books by Doug Wilson between 2006-08. Although I was always very opposed to the Federal Vision, the legalism and shoddy logic in his works rubbed off on me too much. Hence, I was greatly encouraged a while back when I heard that my current minister tells people to avoid him.

    Some will say that Doug Wilson's FV views do not come out in the volumes on the family, but I beg to differ. The Federal Husband book advocates monocovenantalism (in other words, the denial of a prelapsarian covenant of works with Adam), an error that has consistently proved to be a gateway drug to the FV and other aberrations. Moreover, I think it is naïve to divorce the legalism of those books from the self-righteous legalism of the FV.

    Doug Wilson is truly the wisest fool in Christendom, which makes him especially dangerous. He appears to be the moderate voice of the FV movement and has even distanced himself from the label now, but not from the underlying theology. In truth, he is just a lot more slippery than other FVers.
     
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  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not going to quote it here, but there is his infamous quote on how the nature of a man is to penetrate and the nature of a woman is surrender, receive.

    When I first read Future Men I wondered why there was a question on weed at the very end of the book. It seemed out of nowhere. And then when I read up on the Moscow controversies, a number of FV pastors' sons were smoking weed at New St Andrews.
     
  5. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Wilson's practical books are better than his theological books. However, it seems to me that Wilson over-reacts to feminism with a version bordering on the patriarchy movement. Believe me, no one hates feminism more than I do. However, patriarchy and patriarchy look-a-likes are not the answer either. That being said, Wilson does have some good things to say about marriage and family.
     
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  6. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    There are far too many good things to read than to indulge anything by Mr. Wilson. Made up my mind a long time ago that his thoughts, expressed anywhere or in any way, are not a necessity for the Christian life. If he has anything good to offer, that good can be found elsewhere without having to indulge him.
     
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  7. Bill Duncan

    Bill Duncan Puritan Board Freshman

    Ditto to other's statements. I fell into doctrinal (FV), and paedocommunion error by following a homeschool friendly crowd that read his stuff. He called it Covenant Communion, so I bit. I was very gullible. Caused me years of difficulty. Subtle but dangerous traps. Actually kept me off of this board because I took exception to interpretation of LC 173 for many years. Didn't like my children lumped in with the ignorant and scandalous, which was lingering damage from this journey down Wilson's path of reasoning.
     
  8. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    My wife and I were some time ago in a CanRC church that used a lot of his books. His book on marriage was the primary text for our pre-marital counselling. I was aware of his FV issues then, but I tried to give his other books a chance. What drove me crazy about his practical books was that Wilson tends to take intriguing counter-cultural positions, describes them colorfully and winsomely (thus their appeal) but then defends them with shoddy exegesis or no exegesis at all and still practically applies a "thus saith the Lord" to them. He knows nothing of good and necessary consequence.

    Even if you agree with some of the positions he takes in the realm of family, manhood, marriage, etc., he's not a useful guide to them because of how he gets there. It's easy to see his appeal to otherwise well-meaning folks, and I wish we had more communicators as gifted as him among the orthodox, but it's still not worth it.
     
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Exactly. He takes what could be considered a legitimate, specific application of a principle and makes it the law of the Medes and Persians.

    And to echo Lane above, some are going to take Wilson's anti-feminism stance as "He is strong on biblical values," and then caricature all of Wilson's opponents as Butch Feminists
     
  10. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks everyone. Good food for thought.
     
  11. LadyCalvinist

    LadyCalvinist Puritan Board Junior

    I have question about one of his books, Angels in the Architecture. I recently bought it and now wonder if I should have. Also, I have a workbook on logic that he co-wrote. Is that any good?

    Thanks.
     
  12. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Diane, the book you mention has some interesting ideas about architecture that will make one ponder something that most people don't normally think about: what does the form of a building communicate? This is a good question. Wilson likes the Medieval stuff a bit too much for my taste, and he took his principles rather to an extreme when he preached on the rooms of the house at his church (???). But there are some useful things in there. The logic book is more valuable than the first book you mentioned.
     
  13. pippin

    pippin Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm always surprised by the amount that Wilson writes and the breadth of his work. For instance, I'm not sure why Wilson is particularly qualified to write logic textbooks.
     
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    It's not horrible, and despite Wilson, it's even decent in some places. It's premise is fundamentally wrong. The Middle Ages were not the Protestant Tolkien-esque world that enjoyed married sex that Wilson makes it out to be.
     
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Are you saying that the quote by Wilson is wrong? Or just that it received flak?
     
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    How do you define patriarchy and patriarchy-look-alikes, and why are they bad?
     
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Can you give any examples of these "intriguing counter-cultural positions"?
     
  18. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Wilson took a principle that is biologically true in a very limited sense and made it sound like a Criminal Minds episode. It's like everything he says: it could be true if qualified a million times, but he doesn't do that. He makes it the Law of the Medes and Persians.
     
  19. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Do you think it is more of a male's nature to conquer and thrust out in expeditions and wars, and a female's nature to receive and nurture and bring in.

    This seems somewhat true in a broader sense than merely biologically/sexually.

    Take all the damage wrought by liberal females supporting open immigration, for example versus the old days of patriarchy when the West went out and conquered others.
     
  20. Bill Duncan

    Bill Duncan Puritan Board Freshman

    You should meet my wife! She will conquer and thrust you out if you mess with anything she has received and nurtured.
     
  21. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's been a good 6 or 7 years since I've read any of his books so details escape me, but it's the same sort of stuff that gets a lot of play on his blog and social media. Hyper-complementarianism, masculinity, etc. He doesn't generally allow for a lot of nuance or diversity in his positions. He's right to point out the issues with feminism and how men have failed in their duty in so many cases, but to hear him speak you would think the only way to be a real man is to grow a beard, wear flannel, and have a woodshop in your garage and that skinny jeans are the downfall of civilization.
     
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  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I agree concerning the part about the skinny jeans.
     
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  23. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I’m not giving up my murse, dad bag or whatever you want to call it though. :)
     
  24. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Patriarchy movements tend to emphasize male headship to the point where the women are basically doormats. So with daughters, for instance, the father has both arrangement power and veto power over marriages. The daughter has little to no say at all in who she marries (my personal views align with Voddie Baucham's: father and daughter are a team who work together to find the right guy). In many cases, the father has the "right" to require the son-in-law to live close by such that it is not really a new household that is formed, but rather an extension of the father's house. This falls foul of the "leave and cleave" principle in Genesis 1. There is almost no delegation of responsibilities to the wife, and the husband micromanages everything in the house.

    As much as I hate feminism (and I really, really do hate it!), patriarchy is very much an over-reaction that is just as bad, in my opinion, as the feminism it seeks to answer. It relegates women to second-class citizenship in the family, and their only duty is to submit (I have no idea how they reconcile their views with, say, Proverbs 31). This results in highly authoritarian hierarchies that more closely resemble Roman absolutist families (with the father having the power of life and death) than biblical models. What usually happens is that the father never serves his family. He only rules. This plays into men's selfishness more than most structures I've seen.
     
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I really don't know. Statements like that presuppose a uniform understanding of nature/substance which is binding across all locales. Wilson's danger is that he takes what might work as a specific application of biblical teaching and makes it universal. And then his disciples apply it, which is why there have been so many abuse scandals in Moscow, ID
    Yes and no. The problem is that you can find so many exceptions that it becomes a new rule.
     
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  26. Peter Hyatt

    Peter Hyatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the quest for novelty is often personality driven. The personalities that enjoy clever insults to reveal their own supremacy, seem drawn to him.
     
  27. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, this was my problem with his family oriented books as well. One can easily see how such a generality can be brought to strange and outlandish conclusions and, according to Wilson's hermeneutic, there really isn't anything to prevent this as he's already released it from the constraints of good and necessary consequence.
     
  28. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just read William Gouge, Of Domesticall Duties.
     
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  29. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

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