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Read The Book, Not the Critiques
on September 1, 2005
Doug Wilson is a bit of lightening rod. Whether it is the good people of Moscow, ID or his fellow Reformed brethren, Wilson has a tendency to cause people to either love him or hate. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy him - it hasn't always been that way, but I had the opportunity to meet him in person and he exemplified Christian humility. He, in a sense, has a Pauline aspect to him and his writing, "strong in letter", although I wouldn't call him weak in person. With that said, I will get into this review:
First, please read the book and not simply buy into some of the negative reviews. The reviews I have read, for the most part, are great distortions of the contents of this book. For example, two negative reviews here ("Right-Wing Propaganda" and "A Great Defense of R.C. Theology") are completely misguided. So, if someone claims that Wilson believes in "baptismal regeneration" or absolutizes the statement "Christians can fall away" demonstrates that they have not read Wilson charitably, but looking to find fault and responding merely to words rather than the argument. Within the context of this book, his language is clear. Next, this book has nothing to do with "right-wing" anything. Please, please, please read the book.
Second, the contents: In Part I, in order to lay the ground work, Wilson goes through the "Bona Fides" (Calvinistic, Evangelical, Reformation, Tradition & Systematics, & Individualism). Anyone that believes Wilson denies "justification by faith alone", "Calvinism", or thinks he believes in "baptismal regeneration" simply has not read this section closely. He clearly holds to the WCF respecting the sovereignty of God and imputation of Christ's righteousness. Part II delves into the "Covenant, Church, & Sacraments". I wish he would tweak certain things here and there, but as an introduction to the "objectivity of the covenant", this section serves as a suitable helper, especially reintroducing many within the Church to the Reformational view of the sacraments (not sacerdotalism). Part III covers "Apostasy and Assurance". Here he discusses Assurance, Apostasy, Heretics and the Covenant, Sons of Belial, False Brothers, Blessings and Curses. This is an important section, because he helps with many of the practical implications of the "objectivity of the covenant", which "Reformed", as usually set up as simply 5 points, will often break down. The fourth and final section discusses "Faith and Good Works". This section will assure anyone that believes he denies justification by "faith alone", and will cause the Reformed, which are often too influenced by Luther hermeneutic, to rejoice in the Torah of the Lord. He ends the book with a brief critique of the "New Perspective on Paul", which is often accused of being a part of. This should make that point moot, but since enough people have said he is, it has some sticking power.
Third, acquire the book and read it for yourself. The Scriptures, I believe, are opened up more clearly through the lens of the covenant rather than the "five points" proper. For those that want to protest, claiming this is a recent phenomenon must recognize that Dordt was only 400 years ago. The "five points", in light of Church history, is relative newcomer. With that said, there is nothing in this book that denies the essence of the Reformation, but it will help you gain a rich understanding of the Reformation and, more importantly, your Bible.
This is a good book, popularly written, and will allow you to get into the nut and bolts of Wilson's thinking.