Making the Most, or WWASWPD?

Scripture exhorts the person of God to “make the most of every opportunity” to proclaim, defend, and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ — and to do so in what First Thessalonians 5:6-8 calls a “sober” manner. It is in this context that I ask the question above — in dealing with evidence of bad theology and unapologetic sin, What Would A Sober, Wise, Pastor Do? I’ll suggest here a few improvements over yesterday’s flap over the repeal of anti-miscenegenation laws, a sexually debauched culture, and pastoral snarkiness.

Most of the pastors I know have an appreciation of wit and wordplay, and I myself often use humor in my writing. I even did a stand-up gig once and some improv, and no one who knows me would suggest that I’m at all humorless. But the mature pastors I know join me in being entirely serious, entirely sober, when confronted with the kind of racist hermeneutic Wilson had appear on his blog yesterday from David Hodge. Wilson is assuredly not responsible for Hodges’ blather, nor for Chris Witmer’s confusion, but he is responsible for clearly denouncing the error and offering a better way. His “mallet, duct tape, etc.” answer, while probably suggesting that he found Hodge to be a bit off, was at best inadequate. There’s a time for straight talk, and that time, I would think, is when someone has infected your medium — blog, pulpit, book, radio show — with divisive, dangerous ideas represented as Biblical ideals.

If I were a pastor who so curiously attracts racists, kinists, separatists, paleo-Confederates, and slavery apologists, and particularly if I were an enthusiastic member of the last two groups, I’d do what I could to slam the door shut on any suggestion that I was a racist — that is, if it mattered to me. But I don’t think it matters to Wilson — not just because of his choice of affiliates, but because
of his less-than-sober response to the racism spouted by Hodge. A man who is deeply concerned about the sin of racism and the horror of a Biblical attempt to defend it is a man who speaks clearly in denouncing it.

Wilson is not that man.

What would a Biblically sober, pastorally-wise response look like? Well, first, it wouldn’t allow for the kinds of affiliations and alliances Wilson has willingly embraced, because they cast aspersions on the Gospel. It damages the witness of Christ to ally oneself with those who long for a return to the good ol’ days of segregation, anti-miscegenation laws, “social order,” and who think, and say, that slavery was a pretty good deal for the enslaved. A sober, wise, pastoral, man of God would shed anything that links him to sinful theology and conduct, and if once associated with any, would then renounce it forcefully, publicly, and immediately. We expect that, minimally, from a pastor found to have had a fling with a prostitute. Surely cavorting with or inviting alliance with racists is as damaging to the Gospel and as polluting of the Christian walk, although hesitation in assenting to that is why the Church is so impotent now. We don’t see squandered opportunities to speak truth, or the easy acceptance of the unacceptable, as sin; we prefer to define our sins in terms of the bedroom, the bank account, and whatever substance someone might be abusing. Those things are bad, and I don’t at all accuse Wilson of committing these sins, but they tend to not have the far-reaching effect that pastoral thundering about stupid things does. He has tremendous influence in Reformed circles. With that comes tremendous responsibility.

It’ll come as no surprise at all to my readers that I have a lot of faults. One of them, however, isn’t that I’m evasive about what I believe, cowardly in proclaiming it, or afraid to defend it. Further, I only care about what Doug Wilson says because I care about the Gospel — deeply — and I grieve at how he’s butchered it. There is a better way to be a pastor, writer, teacher, and man of God. I intend to call him and anyone else to it when I see public error promulgated by those who claim the name of Christ and dishonor him in their work. I invite any of you to call me on it if I get it wrong — if I get the facts wrong, or if I dishonor Christ. I may not agree with you; I may beat you to it. But I won’t back down from believing in and proclaiming a better way — a Gospel witness marked by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.

It’s a privilege to have a bully pulpit, but bullying and buffoonery are a poor, poor substitute for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, mercy, and self control. That, plus a love for the truth and a concern for souls, defines the response of a sober, wise, pastoral man or woman of God. So WWASWPD? Exactly what Doug Wilson hasn’t . . .

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