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Mother Kirk: Essays on Church Life Paperback – June 7, 2001
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This is a very practical, pastoral guide to many of the countless issues that arise in conservative Christian churches. ---Peter J. Leithart, Theopolis (from the foreword)
About the Author
Douglas Wilson is a Senior Fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College. Wilson is the author of numerous books on education, theology, and culture, including: The Case for Classical Christian Education, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Mother Kirk, and Angels in the Architecture, as well as biographies on both Anne Bradstreet and John Knox.
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Probably one of the most offensive stances was his commentary on the pro-life movement (Translation: The Reformed should pray that the children of the heathen die as God's enemies and with a "more power to ya" attitude. This is social darwinism at its finest.) GAG!:
Chapter X: "The Life of the Church"
Moving Beyond Pro-Life (sub-title in Chapter X)
Pgs 245 - 246
In the hard providence of God, He sometimes allows His enemies to destroy themselves. When the pagan nations outside Israel sent their children into the fires of Molech, Israel wasn't called to blockade the fire and rescue the babies. And when Israelite kings followed Molech, the people were not commanded to revolt. Israelites were to make sure they didn't kill their own children (Lev 20), but God-haters were left to destroy themselves (Is 57:13; Jer 5:19; 6:19, 21)...
Let them kill themselves, for "God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Rom 1:28), even "murder" (Rom 1:29). This is the wrath of God...
[W]e must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshipers and their children. This is far more secular than biblical.
We must remember the antithesis. Scripture always remembers that deep chasm between those seeking to honor God and those who hate him. But this has not been a part of contemporary pro-life rhetoric.
The unbelievers are destroying themselves in a frenzy of child-murder and fruitless sodomy. Let them go. These are hard words. But Christians must learn to say them. Paul taught us that the children of God-haters are "foul" or "unclean" (I Cor 7:14). We must come to the day when the Christian can truly rebuke those who are "without natural affection" and say - "The ancient psalmist blessed the one who would take little ones of those who hate God and dash them on the rock (Ps 137:9). We see by your pro-abortion position that you clearly agree with this kind of treatment. And we in the Church, in a way you cannot truly comprehend, are now prepared to say amen."
This book is on the church, but it is much more than that. It is nothing less than a manifesto on "How to be Church for the World." He is not afraid to speak truth, even hard truth. As he says in the book, "when Christians call for smooth words, easy words, the result is hard people. When we submit to hard words, we become the tender-hearted of God ... Marriages dissolve, heresies proliferate, parents abandon children, churches split, children heap contempt on their parents ... bitterness, rancor, envy, and malice abound - and all because the people will not abide that loathsome jackhammer, 'Thou shalt not.'" (p. 77).
The book is full of practical advice on things to do with your ministry - for instance, how to start a literature ministry. Wilson's approach to church has led a tenth of people in his town to worship with his church. They got so many people that they had to start another church just to fit everyone who wanted to "do church" they way they do. Our Lord says to judge men by their fruits, and the fruits of Wilson's covenant community in Idaho is certainly indicative of his approach - which is simply to teach and live out the whole covenant gospel, in family, church, and in community. And unlike many of the megachurches, Wilson's approach is not an unchallenging no-nevermind Christianity. The qualifications for being a pastor or elder or decon in the church are stiff, and Wilson lays them out brilliantly. The book also includes a "Questions for Elders and Their Wives" based on the biblical criteria. They're tough, but no more than God's standards for those leading the church.
He covers translation issues (and his analysis is so clear that it alone is nearly worth the price of the book), preaching, the sacraments, the sabbath, the liturgical principles (order of worship), worship music (this is the weakest section of the book), church structure and heirarchy, the character of the minister, and the life of the church, as well as taking a Scriptural approach to issues like abortion, women ministers, youth ministry, the church's place in politics (both local as well as national), marriage licenses, evangelism, and the place of apologetics.
I was surprised by the claims of some of the reviewers here. One claims that Wilson merely proof-texts, but a flip through the book shows that he comments and elucidates on a lot of passages, and cites many more, often including context as well. Some of this is unavoidable since the book is a manifesto covering the bird's eye of a large number of topics. Many references allow the reader to read up in interested areas. And speaking of references, one review also claims that Wilson merely cites himself. I'm not sure why this common practice is such a problem for that reviewer, but in any case a quick thumb through the notes reveals that Wilson only cites himself 9 times (twice for the same book, once simply acknowledging that a subsection appeared elsewhere, bringing the actual total down to 6 times.
Another reviewer noted that they were repulsed by some of the things Wilson said, especially by a quote on abortion. This quote as they give it in the review is thus, "[W]e must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshipers and their children. This is far more secular than biblical."
This is not what the book says. This gives the impression that Wilson encourages violent revolution. Here is the actual quote: "[W]e must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after our children. We ought not take up arms to overthrow the established authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshipers and their children. This is far more secular than biblical." (245). The rest of the quoted material appears in the book, but only the hard words are quoted. Context makes it clear that "God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23), and neither should we. But if they persist in loving death after hearing the truth over the course of decades, then ... let them kill themselves." (245).
Secondly, Wilson grounds his position in original sin, writing "whenever a descendant of Adam dies, he is receiving nothing less than he deserves. In Adam we all die. ... The administration of this death, however, is in the hands of the sovereign God alone . . . We bear the image of God, and whenever anyone is slain outside of the due process of law, the land is defiled in blood," (244). Perhaps we should listen to God rather than to hold Him to standards higher than He commands. Perhaps we should listen to what God says when He judges rebellious cultures and nations in history rather than complain that God's position is too unpleasant for covenant-breakers.
For a breath of fresh air, air that is unafraid to call sin what it is and that God judges it in history, air that says precisely what God says without flinching or embarrassment, pick up this book.