A brief and respectful note to Doug Wilson

Over the last few days, there has been quite a brouhaha on the web over a quote that Together For the Gospel contributor Jared Wilson posted from an older book, Fidelity, by Doug Wilson (no relation). The material was both shrilly denounced and shrilly defended from several sides.

By far the most balanced summary of the responses can be found in this post from Alistair.

In observing the entire thing, I just wanted to add the following. I’ve felt this way on many occasions, but have refrained from ever saying anything about it openly. This seemed like as good of opportunity as ever.

From comments on the post linked above:

“Pastor Wilson may have too great of an attraction to a clever turn of phrase, and the associated incessant projection of smartness, for the good of his thinking or his hearers. Being accountable for one’s words, and being prepared to retract or apologize for them on occasions (without, of course, merely allowing all of the objections of your critics), is necessary if you are to retain credibility. We all sin or slip in our words on occasions: if we never apologize or retract a statement we may gain a sense of rhetorical self-righteousness, but we stand to lose much of the respect and hearing of others in the process.”

Yes indeed.

Doug, Doug, Doug, you’ve written so many books. I’ve read a bunch of them over the past 10 years. Some of the ideas I don’t agree with, but much of it is so very good. But in those thousands of pages, thousands of quickly written posts on your blog, do you not ever miss the mark? Not once? Not a single word? You came close to hinting so once with that extra chapter to The Serrated Edge that you posted a few years back, but even that was phrased more as, “I’m writing this because a bunch of boneheads misunderstood what I wrote the first time.” Not, “What I wrote the first time could be misunderstood.”. A little humility, just a little would go a LONG way for your credibility.

You often say you must not compromise scripture by apologizing for its language. Indeed. But you need not do that to apologize for some of your own first drafts at times. It’s not the same thing. Some of us really want to think the best of you Doug, (you do after all, live just down the street) but you make it hard sometimes. So there you go. Keep up the good work. And when it’s not the best work ever, then please stop insisting your diverse audience overcome the communication breakdown by simply reading your mind. Thanks.